When the Information Center was first established, it did not keep any records of the problems and solutions given to common computer related problems. As Horton states, "the Information Center relied on the broad knowledge of our employees to solve our clients computer's needs." The problem with this approach was that on many occasions people who were inexperienced with any given problem would then have to spend many hours working on something that another employee had already resolved for another user. Given such inefficiencies, the then director decided to begin documenting the problems and solutions to the problems. When the idea was implemented, one of the employees was dedicated to write manuals which were then given to all employees providing computer support. Although this provided some relief in the amount of work that was necessary to solve a problem, it still was time consuming to find the answer in a manual that was becoming increasingly lengthy.

IC employees created several versions of homemade databases until 1995, when it decided to implement a DOS-based help desk software package named CallOnUs. The vendor updated the system in 1997, but, after that, it ceased providing support. When the decision was made, CallOnUs was not one of the leading software applications to support help desk services. The price for top competitors ranged between $20,000 and $34,000 while CallOnUs was purchase by IC for $5,400.

CallOnUs has two interconnected purposes. It is used as a call tracking system to record and prioritize a customer's e-mail, phone, or walk-in requests. Employees log the requests as incidents in the system and assign them to a queue for troubleshooting. The system tracked the history of the incident from origin to completion. The CallOnUs system also functions as a knowledge base and contains more than five thousand documents. These documents include procedures, policies, and information used by the IC staff. They use this information when interacting with customers, training new staff, and supporting the staff of the smaller medical units when troubleshooting incidents.

Universal Call Distributing

In the early days of the Computer Clients Services Unit, a few employees provided technical support as part of their obligations. There was no dedicated call center to support users. Instead, the user called the CSS employee. This did not pose a problem at first, but, as the number of users grew, employee personal telephone lines were completely overtaken by hospital employees requesting help. At the request of the employees that were taking those phone calls, the then director of the Client Services Unit decided to purchase software to handle technical support. Since the Unit had not budgeted for such a purchase that year, the criterion for selection was, once again, price. Unfortunately, the technology at the time of installation was already outdated. While more sophisticated systems were becoming available, the IC was unaware of the developing technologies that could better support the center's future growth, primarily because they did not do much research into the product selection. The phone system that supports the help desk routes customer phone calls through the IC. Given its primitive features, the phone system has no way of tracking calls and producing reports to analyze production. As Horton stated, "metrics are implemented to understand how we are doing and find ways to do better." Without a way of producing call statistics, the IC is merely reacting to the loudest complaints instead of proactively analyzing deficiencies and determining solutions.

Information Center Web Site

In 2000, the Information Center implemented a Web site to support users. At this time, it was clear that the evolving hospital intranet could also accommodate technical-support material. Because the IC did not have a person with Web technologies expertise, it hired an outside independent consultant to develop the page. The IC Web site includes a search engine for the CallOnUs knowledge base. There are also various links to information that can solve customer questions. The function of the site is to provide efficient self-help for the hospital user community. Hospital users can reach the CallOnUs knowledge base from the Glenview Hospital home page. From the home page, users first click on Staff Support, then on Information Center, then on Support Services, and finally on the "search for a solution" link that uses the CallOnUs knowledge base. The Information Center's Web site has 40 links presented in two panels on its main page. One panel is organized alphabetically while the other is organized by main topics. The link to reach the CallOnUs database is in the alphabetized panel. When users reach the knowledge base, they have several search options. One method is to use the general search engine that accepts multiple word entries. The user can search by keyword or by symptom. If the user cannot find the solution, the other option is to send an e-mail to the IC, for which the address is at the bottom of the knowledge base page.

Annals of Cases on Information Technology
SQL Tips & Techniques (Miscellaneous)
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2005
Pages: 367 © 2008-2017.
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