Lately I have been less of a funnel of information and more of a black hole. We have a lot going on, and I will do my best to hit the highlights here. If you ever want to know more about something, please contact me or your manager.
Speaking of managers:
Some of you who are student workers may not know who your manager is. To clarify: Max Cohen, Samuel Rudin and Jeff Bonnichsen are the current student supervisors. You will work with one or more of them on a daily basis; they will assign you tasks, review your work and give you feedback regularly. Lucas Friedrichsen, Chris Sinnett, Ed Ostrander and I (Kirsten Petersen) are managers. We are responsible for hiring/firing, discipline, conflict resolution, as well as performance feedback. If you have a question or problem, you should generally take it to your supervisor first. If you work in more than one area, take the problem to the supervisor you work with most. If your problem is *with* your supervisor, take it to your manager. If you don’t know who your manager is, please look in the TSS Management tool (linked from RefTool).
Please note that all of the full time staff also have a lead role and may assign you tasks and provide feedback on your work. They may share that feedback with your supervisor or manager as well. They are also a fantastic resource to you if you need advice. Just… read the section below about asking questions first.
Asking questions is a good thing.
There is an art to asking questions. You need to be respectful of the other person’s time, you need to bring them the right information to approach the problem, and you need to be willing to learn.
Kirsten’s Guide to Asking Questions:
- Gather all the pertinent information and have it ready. The first thing I will ask you is: who is the customer, and what are they trying to do? If you can’t answer that, it’s back to the drawing board for you, and a pointless interruption for me. Also, it’s a delay in resolving the customer’s problem. You should know if this is a laptop, or a Mac, or if the customer is in Hermiston. You should know if they have another computer to use or are dead in the water. You should be so intimate with the problem and what the customer is trying to accomplish that you can speak for them.
- Tell me what you have tried. I hope it goes without saying, but: you should have tried some things first. And I don’t mean random things. You should have looked at our documentation and troubleshooting templates (TemplateHub). You should have asked the customer a lot of questions. You should have seen the error they are seeing, or checked the logs. When you come to ask me for help, tell me what steps you have tried and exactly what the outcome was. Be as specific as possible. There could be important clues there to help solve the problem.
- Tell me how urgent this problem is. If the customer is still waiting on the phone and they can’t do their job and you have tried everything and are stuck, this is probably urgent. If the customer has a work-around and you are just curious what the right answer is, that’s a very different thing. If I know how urgent this is, I will probably respond differently.
- Be willing to learn. Don’t just punt a problem to me and then wash your hands of it (not that any of you would do that, right!?). You should be coming to me because you want to know how to solve this yourself next time.
- Help others. Let’s say you went looking for an answer in our documentation and could not find it. You had to ask for help, you got the answer, and you learned. That’s great for you, but doesn’t help your coworkers much. Take the initiative and update the documentation – or at a minimum, let your supervisor know that the documentation is lacking.
Things Going On in Client Services, Information Services and OSU
Note: you can always check on the status of large IS projects here: http://is.oregonstate.edu/strategic-plan-projects/project-management
Box is a cloud storage and collaboration platform provided via Internet2 NetPlus. OSU IT leadership met at a storage summit last year to discuss the merits of Box, OneDrive and GoogleDrive, and came to the conclusion that Box provides the best features to meet the university’s needs. In particular, Box should provide better business continuity, better local synchronization tools and better cross-platform feature parity.
In addition, Box is expected to integrate with Office 365 (replacing OneDrive), with Canvas and with Kumo. The project team are targeting Fall term 2016 to make Box available to campus.
A sole source justification has been done for the purchase of Box, and the contract is presently in PACS. A project team has been established, and I am on it. I will provide regular updates here. Currently, we are in a pre-pilot testing phase. The features in the pre-pilot are not what we expected and the implementation team are looking into that problem (it may because we are not under contract yet).
Initially there was much conversation about this service replacing CN-Home and CN-Share, in addition to ONID-FS (the Z drive). CN-Home and ONID-FS home directories seem like a no-brainer, but whether department shares will move to the cloud is a bit unclear at this time.
While it is true that Google Drive is not going away, it is my understanding that the university will declare Box the preferred, supported cloud storage solution.
The Identity & Access Management team have confirmed that OSU will most likely be migrating to Exchange Online around Fall 2016. They ran into some legacy configuration that held them up, and are working through that now.
Getting all employees unified and enabled for Office 365 is still a pre-requisite for Exchange Online, but is almost complete.
Service Desk, ITIL, ITSM and Team Dynamix
Most of the full-time staff in Client Services attended ITIL and ITSM training this week. All of the directors in Information Services and staff from many other units also attended. The goal of the training is to get to a shared understanding of ITIL principles among IT staff who will use Team Dynamix on a regular basis. We couldn’t send student workers to the training, so I will be doing my best to share what we learned with all of you.
ITIL is a set of best practices that is about aligning IT with the needs of the business it supports, and ITSM is a discipline that breaks down IT management into specific processes. The adoption of the new Team Dynamix tool for ticket tracking has been a catalyst for us adopting more ITIL practices. In particular, we will be adopting Incident Management, and will be transforming much of Client Services into a Service Desk that serves as the single point of contact for all services provided by Information Services.
Our director, Andrew Wheeler, will be sharing more information with all of you about these changes soon. I know many of you are concerned about what this means for our service to our customers, and for your daily work, so I am working to share as much information with you now as possible. Please be aware that this project is still very much in the planning phase.
The first stage of creating the Service Desk will be to consolidate workflows of the OSU Computer Helpdesk, CN call center and CN field team. This will be my primary focus for the coming weeks. I am working now on mapping out detailed tasks in TeamWork, and you will all have access to view the project there soon.
The recruitment to fill Tom Loveday’s vacant position is in progress. The position has been posted and is open until Friday, April 29th. The posting is here, and you are welcome to share this with anyone you think would be interested:
The hiring committee members are: Kirsten Petersen, Max Cohen, Keenan Carr and Kaelan Rasmussen. I am also working to add a search advocate from a department outside of Information Services.
Training and Skills Assessment
I will be following up with many of you soon to put together a detailed profile of your skills and to work up a formal training plan. If you already have a LinkedIn profile with that type of information in it, please connect with me there.
Kudos to Chris “CJ” Johnson for suggesting that we shift the student field techs to same-day appointments only. This has allowed us to have greater flexibility in responding to urgent site visit requests.
Kudos to Josh Zheng for advocating for the “call assist” role in the call center. We are still ironing out the mechanics, but the idea is that there will always be a seasoned tech in the call center who is available to assist people in calls. This person stays out of the phones, works the queue, and helps on difficult troubleshoots. This is helping to improve the quality of our service and increase first call resolution. Kudos to Robin Castle as well for helping to make this work.
Kudos to Ken Howard for suggesting that when process changes are made, the impact is clearly spelled out for each of our workflows. This came up when we decided to implement named user licenses for Adobe Creative Cloud and I neglected to consider how that would impact computer imaging. I have committed to follow Ken’s suggestion on future communications of changes.
And a sincere “thank you!” to all of you for patiently answering my many questions, putting up with the massive amount of changes we have been going through, and making suggestions that will ultimately make us all more successful.