Lone Star College Gets Smart About IT AutomationBy Samuel Greengard
Managing IT systems and help desks is an increasingly challenging proposition. The complexity of systems—and ensuring that everything works correctly on a 24x7 basis—is overwhelming. What's more, there's a need to understand costs related to different tasks and services, and make strategic decisions about how to move forward.
"It's necessary to maximize resources and deliver excellent service to everyone using IT systems," explains Link Alander, vice chancellor and CIO at Lone Star College in Houston.
Lone Start College, which has about 100,000 students scattered across eight primary locations, has in the past struggled with the delivery of IT services and support. At one point, the school even turned to an outsourced provider to oversee in-house service management platforms.
"We had a lot of different challenges, including high availability, quality of service and a need to be efficient with our dollars," Alander recalls. "The problem was magnified by different locations using different systems, but an overall needed to deliver a consistent level of services."
The community college system turned to ServiceNow, and it hasn't looked back. It uses the vendor's complete ITSM suite, Performance Analytics, and platform capabilities to build apps and extend the service model throughout the organization. The technology has helped automate manual processes and improve overall IT integration that spans call centers and IT support, human resources, the legal department and grants.
"Service quality has improved dramatically because we are able to track operations and performance through reporting and metrics," Alander reports. "We are able to tie things back to contracts and costs per service."
In fact, the initiative has helped shift project management from a patchwork of methodologies to a unified and highly focused approach. For example, the school can better track financial aid applications and case management tasks within human resources.
"We have deep views into data, and we're able to tap reporting and analytics to better track performance and deliverables," Alander says.
The initiative has clearly made the grade. Lone Star College has boosted customer satisfaction scores to 4.9 on a scale of 5. It also has trimmed the resolution time for service and support tasks from days to hours. In addition, the college has boosted on-time process performance from about 65 percent to 98 percent, while improving on-budget metrics from 85 percent to 96 percent.
"We have seen huge improvements in our quality of service," Alander says. "It has been a complete game-changer." Finally, the initiative has helped deliver critical data to senior college officials in a format they understand and can act on.
Alander reports that the initiative has been free of any major roadblocks or problems. Although the IT team encountered a few change management issues, staff and users have adapted, and the organization has advanced. What's more, the college continues to roll out capabilities and features to other functions and departments.
"This framework has served as a major asset for the IT department," Alander says. "It has helped the organization achieve business and IT excellence."