SupportDesk at International Baccalaureate

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October 3, 2014

Help desk solution passes tough tests at International Baccalaureate

When any of the 2,000 schools around the world which offer the International Baccalaureate course has a problem, it receives a high class performance from the organisation’s help desks.
Backing expert staff behind the scenes of the global education network, which spans 125 countries, are House-on-the-Hill’s SupportDesk ITSM and SupportDesk CSS.

schools for the world’s junior citizens

The International Baccalaureate offers three high quality
and challenging educational programmes for a worldwide community of schools. Over 40 years, the programmes have gained a reputation for their high academic
standards, for preparing students for life in a globalised 21st century, and for helping to develop the future citizens who will create a better, more peaceful world. Today the IB programmes are taught in 2,000 schools around the world to more than 500,000 students.

Its headquarters are in Geneva. However, its largest office is in Cardiff, Wales, home of its curriculum and assessment activities and business and financial operations. The IB’s research activities are based in Bath. Comprehensive support services are provided in English, French and Spanish. Chinese has been added as a fourth language in the Middle Years Programme.

Around 100 IB World Schools in the UK offer one or more of the three IB programmes.

The choice was … House-on-the-Hill

The International Baccalaureate did its homework, studying the market and visiting trade exhibitions before opting for House-on-the-Hill, whose products have already been sold in more than 40 countries.

The tool is used mainly in Cardiff by the help desk which assists Diploma Programme coordinators in the schools and by the internal IT helpdesk as well as IB’s North American offices.

“It fitted in nicely with what we were trying to do,”

recalled Helen Murray, manager of the coordinators help desk which assists administrators of the Diploma Programme.

Each working day the seven staff on the help desk receive around 100 emails and 40 telephone calls but this rises during the very busy examination sessions in May and November each year.

“There is no typical call. Every day is different – that’s why I like the job,” Helen said

Increases in the flow of calls from coordinators may for instance follow upgrades to the IB’s Web-based in-house computer system IBIS – also used to alert stakeholders to latest news – or the introduction of new marking criteria.

The tool has proved invaluable

“Thanks to House-on-the-Hill we can record and analyse the number of calls received and break them down by subject,”

Helen added.

“Each message is logged so we know what has happened. There is an audit trail. The tool has proved to be invaluable. The product is great to use. Logging calls is easy. The speed of the search facility, which we use for example to find a particular school, is good.”

The House-on-the-Hill database is populated with IBIS data such as information on
individual schools

Calls relate to every part of the process – right through to the examination results which can have a profound effect on candidates’ career prospects.

The IB employs around 4,000 examiners with 1,500 or so of them working in each exam session. Using the organisation’s ExamNet Website, they can check information and guidelines as well as their marking allocations. If they have a problem with the site they call the examination administration department staff who may then turn to the ICT help desk.

Learning to manage IT problems better

The internal ICT help desk, which deals with issues reported by the 200 or so staff in Cardiff, takes more than 800 calls a month including queries and requests. Calls can be assigned via House-on-the-Hill’s SupportDesk for IT Service Management (ITSM) to one
of four in-house IT engineers
whose workload includes maintenance of laptops and audio and video-conferencing.

ICT help desk coordinator Shona Douglas, who joined IB after a similar role in the National Health Service in the north of Scotland, also uses the tool to create her own daily ‘To Do’ list as well as compiling reports for senior management.

An important use of SupportDesk relates to internal Service Level Agreements (SLAs). These are governed by priorities rated 1-5, with the top category (such as server failure) stipulating a fix within an hour. If an SLA is about to be breached, the help desk staff’s screen changes colour.

Shona explained that calls mainly relate to password problems, software installation and upgrades, printers not working and routine operational queries.

“House-on-the-Hill works very well for the ICT help desk,” added Mandy Garrett, ICT business analysis manager, who has responsibility for improving business processes.

Specialists among the 30 North American regional office staff in New York use House-on-the-Hill’s Web -based version of SupportDesk ITSM which is also available to their colleagues in other regional offices in Buenos Aires, Geneva and Singapore. Regional offices can assign calls via the Web to Cardiff where servers and an infrastructure team are located.

Stiff tests – but high marks

“House-on-the-Hill’s software is the mainstay of how we do our work,”

said Mandy whose previous roles at the IB included four years as help desk manager and an analyst.

“With SupportDesk CSS we can break down calls by subject. For instance, if we are getting
a disproportionate number of enquiries about geography, we may ask if there is something wrong with the way we are communicating information about that subject. We can compare years and analyse trends. It enables us to tackle problem management.“

Asked to summarise House-on- the-Hill’s role in IB, Mandy Garrett gives the solution high marks.

“It is fundamental to both the ICT and coordinators’ help desks,” she answered.

“It is the basis of how work is logged, recorded, measured and improved. It’s also important to the examinations team. The solution provides the mechanics behind our very customer-focused environment. On a practical level we couldn’t manage without it.”

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