Education's shared service management silo breakers

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In education, silos at the supporting/staffing departments are everywhere, but since they have “worked” for eons, there’s little for breaking them down. Even though IT leaders would like to wield their technological sledgehammers and take a few mighty swings at these silos, usually political weight against them is just too much to bother with. Operations continue to move along as they always have, and most (expect a few) are happy enough to continue as usual. Others sigh, perhaps slump their shoulders and try their best to keep plugging holes in dams (or silos -- not to mix metaphors) hoping the walls will break so that they can start building anew.

Organizational destruction – real or imagined – doesn’t need to take place for an increase in efficiency and fewer silos and expenses to experience real change. Quite the opposite. Organizations can benefit from the coming together of disparate back office hindrances for the benefit of all parties, including teachers, admin staff and even students.   

Service management as silo breaker 

The concept of service management is simply managing the services delivered to users within your organization (teachers, admin staff and students), meaning that you employ solutions to improve insight, reporting and communication between teams and departments no matter where they are located. Service management is gaining ground because the hindrances of sharing very little internally versus seeing the importance of increased transparency about service delivery.

Features that can be implemented as part of a service technology include managing room bookings, supply management and helpdesk ticket tracking – all part of a silo-reduction program as a whole. Schools of all shapes and sizes can reduce their silos and take more of a shared approach to services where everything happens under the same “roof” without the need for “walls” in between.

Not every organization or school district is defined by its service management solution or even its lack of a service management strategy; this is very much an organizational decision, usually defined by departmental and organizational leadership, and is a process-driven effort that determines how info is shared or not. What is usually of most concern is how to establish a shared service desk and shared processes. End users can ask their questions to one point of contact – a portal or a person – so they don’t have to think about who to turn to for answers to their problems. 

Service management approach: process or technology?  

There are a variety of approaches to service management for schools. Some start by sharing a tool then aligning the processes and later changing organizationally to a single shared service desk. Conseil Scolaire Catholique Providence (CSC Providence), the French language school board for southwestern Ontario, Canada, took this approach. It employed a solution well before it rolled it out, Marc Ethier, information technician, said. For nearly a full school year, the IT team was ready to launch, and after internal education and training, the solution was released across its 23 elementary schools and seven high schools. 

Other schools place people together in a shared location to manage services across departments and the organization to align resources. Even if you start by sharing a tool, you have to keep in mind the processes and the organizational impact, as well. This is where some implementations face challenges because they focus on only one of these pillars, but each is equally important to the process. However the approach, the ultimate goal is silo busting. 

Improving reporting 

Reporting capabilities are greatly improved over manual processes. Most schools that have moved into a shared service environment usually say they were not able to track calls or emails, tickets or inefficient processes. Reporting provides visibility into processes, even allowing for higher levels of service while reducing the number of escalating incidents. 

Self-service 

Service management doesn’t end there. Through a self-service portal, users might just become empowered enough to locate and identify solutions to their issues before contacting the service desk, which reduces the workload on service desk analysts, allowing them to focus on more pressing matters. This is exactly what Marc Ethier said he hopes will happen throughout the CSC Providence – improved practices around incident management and problem management.

“Service management technology creates transparency, collaboration and forces communication between departments to identify workflows,” Ethier said. “Plus, the auditing capabilities allow for you to easily perform checks and balances to see where any failures are. And, there’s only one pane of glass for everyone to use to reserve rooms, requests service to their technology, check out technology, request maintenance, etc.”

Ethier said his school district plans to use its cloud-based service management environment to provide a “toolbox” for users to build their own self-service portal, enabling publication of forms, services, knowledge items and more, with news items appearing directly on the main page of the user portal to keep them up to date on new product developments. 

Define efficiency 

In closing, service management solutions and processes are on the rise. They define efficiency in many cases, and they are evolving into the cloud and through other strategies. Most districts using the technology recognize the importance of sharing information with users. Because of this, organizations can interact with their data, share it, and shift that information directly to their users.  

Nancy Van Elsacker Louisnord, President of TOPdesk US 

Image Credit: Štefan Štefančík / Unsplash