Business Services Department
Support Services Plan 2005 - 2009
The Business Services Department of Information Technology provides support for administrative, financial, and telecommunications activities. Business Services (BS) is currently organized into four major areas: 1) Telecommunication Services, 2) Accounting Services, 3) Communications and Web Support, and 4) Systems Support.
The 4 full-time and 2 part-time staff of the Telecommunications Support Team (TST) of Business Services is organized to provide help desk and billing support for telecommunications activities. The Telecommunications Help Desk provides installation and troubleshooting support for network data connectivity, cellular, and telephone services, including Voice Over IP telephony. Working closely with IT Telecommunication and Systems Services (TSS) staff, TST provides customer service to campus departments, faculty, staff, and students and schedules TSS staff when repairs and maintenance are necessary. Telecommunications billing staff provide billing support for all IT services, including telephone, cellular, data storage, server support, etc.
The Accounting Services Team (AST) of the Business Services Department consists of primarily provides centralized accounting support to other IT departments. This accounting support includes support for accounting, purchasing, accounts payable, budgeting, and reporting. The AST consists of 4 full-time staff – one accountant, two accounting associate, seniors, and one office assistant, senior. The Accounting Services Team works closely with central university accounting staff to ensure that Information Technology’s PISTOL and other official financial reports and information are accurate.
One full-time staff provides design and administration of the IT Web site and assists IT departments with creating documents and publications, including the IT Newsletter, for communicating IT products and services. Additionally, one full-time Systems Programmer, Senior provides application systems and technical support for the telecommunications billing system.
The Academic Plan identifies the challenges that lie ahead for funding the purchase, maintenance, and support of existing and future technologies. An efficient, flexible, and accurate accounting system is critical to successfully supporting IT’s role in addressing Action Item 104 of the Academic Plan and to improving the availability and usefulness of financial information for managing ongoing IT operations. Central university accounting reports generated from PISTOL based on the cash method of accounting are not sufficient. Existing IT processes and procedures augment PISTOL reports and provide additional information such as more detailed costs of services. Past internal financial audits have identified the need for financial reports based on the accrual method of accounting. Cost reporting needs to be expanded to include activity-based cost reporting which can be used in determining service fees.
Currently, there are two help desk activities in IT. The Telecommunications Help Desk supports telecommunications activities while the Client Support Services Help Desk supports activities related to the computer desktop. Dual help desks can be confusing to customers. It’s not uncommon for a customer to choose the telecommunications help desk for computer related questions and the CSS help desk for a problem with their telephone. Different software systems are used by each of the help desks to manage activities – Pinnacle Axis and HEAT – sometimes resulting in poor communication and customer service. Improving the integration and communication of these two systems would help to improve the efficiency of help desk activities.
Help desk support is available only from 8am until 5pm Monday through Friday. Today, many classes are taught in the evenings and on weekends as well as entirely online. According to data from the Educause Core Data Survey, the weekly average number of available help desk hours at doctorial universities is 83.5. There are opportunities for expanding existing help desk hours and improving customer service.
With the convergence of the data, voice, and video networks, it is an ideal time to evaluate the delivery of help desk services and the structure for providing help desk support.
IT relies on revenue generating activities to supplement state appropriations for providing IT services to the campus community. Pinnacle Axis is our current telecommunications billing software. With the changing telecommunication environment and implementation of new technologies, such as Voice Over IP telephony, it is imperative to continually review existing systems and access there ability to meet the demands of these new environments.
Currently, UW faculty, staff, and departments can purchase cellular services at discounted rates from either Verizon or Cellular One. There is no discounted service plan available for students. Recent competition in cellular services has resulted in increased coverage areas and possibilities for new partnerships. A number of universities have developed unique relationships with cellular companies for services that have improved services, reduced costs, and increased revenues. While the use of cell phones is increasing (nearly 3 of 4 18 to 22 year olds use a cell phone), many schools have sought ways to not only offer financial incentives to faculty, staff, and students, but also ways to integrate cellular technology into the learning and campus environment.
Action Item 4: Cellular Services. Review existing cellular services and evaluate the benefits of issuing an RFP for improving cellular services for faculty, staff, students, departments, and affiliates.
During the Fall 2004, Blackberry services were offered on a limited-basis to select faculty and staff using the Blackberry redirector service. The redirector service offers limited connectivity to Microsoft Exchange services as compared to using the Blackberry Enterprise Server (BES) to connect to Exchange. BES connectivity allows for real-time access of all exchange services, including email (and attachments) and calendar, as well as Internet connectivity. The redirector on the other hand, allows for receiving and sending email (not including attachments) while other Exchange services, such as calendar, can be transferred to the Blackberry device only when connected directly to your computer.
Changes in existing technologies as well as numerous new technologies have affected the fee-based and non-fee-based services provided by IT to the campus community. In turn, these changes have caused dramatic decreases in some revenue streams, such as long-distance telephone charges, once relied upon to fund many of IT’s activities. It is important to carefully examine existing and potential services, especially fee-based services, in the context of a division-wide marketing plan for campus constituents such as departments, faculty, staff, students, alumni, and affiliates.
Communication is crucial to understanding customer needs and providing high-quality customer service. The recent physical move of business services from the Old Main building to the Ivinson building has been beneficial. Clear procedures and efficient processes are critical to effective communication for all customers.