Help Desk Software Upgraded to Set Up the Framework for IT Service Management

by Joe Lee

When the Hot Line Service evolved to the Help Desk in September 1997, a commercial Help Desk software was deployed to assist the day-to-day operations of the office. (See Network Computing, Issue 12 - September 1997 for details.) Since then, the software has been further developed to automate the submission and processing of CSC Work Requests, desktop maintenance support service, the network registration process, the network port security protection, student resident phone support services, WLAN registration, the departmental server registrations, and so on. The Help Desk report, reflecting user problems, service requests, resolutions and support details, has become a very useful tool for service quality enhancement. With this report, we have a complete way to improve our internal efficiency. (See Network Computing, Issue 45 - September 2005 for details.) However, due to the limited features of the current Help Desk software, we anticipate that it will be unable to fulfil our future needs in service management, and therefore, we need better software with richer functions. Furthermore, when more and more extended applications are developed on top of the software and run on the hardware, performance and redundancy have become important issues.

As documented in the 5-year IS strategic plan, we will step up to the best practices for IT Service Management (ITSM) recommended in the renowned ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library). These recommended best practices can help us streamline our operations, making our services more robust, reliable, maintainable, and efficient. However, the ITIL processes cannot be implemented in a vacuum. The ITSM software provides a developmental framework for the implementation of ITIL processes, including the formation of an Integrated Service Desk that can be beneficial to the University. As such, we have upgraded the Help Desk software to the ITSM software which supports a wider scope of IT service management for our genuine needs in the long run. With ITSM, ITIL processes can be built on top of it for enhancing the service support and service delivery.

In order to avoid single-point of failure and unsatisfactory performance, new servers were acquired to support the new ITSM software. The database is now separated from the application system so that performance can be improved and redundancy can be built into both the database and the application system, providing high availability, reliability and efficiency.

The new ITSM software is now under trial and will be put into production together with some newly developed functions in early May. As a starting point, the out-of-box ITSM software can help us improve problem management, change management and release management in addition to the well received incident management (Help Desk service). Although ITIL processes will not be completely implemented in the near future, getting familiar with the ITSM software and understanding its capabilities will surely facilitate the design and implementation of ITIL processes.