Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools

Quick Wins for IT

  • Deployed the solution in just three months
  • Consolidated ten self service portals into a "One-Stop Shop" for IT on all devices
  • Improved efficiencies and customer satisfaction throughout the school district

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) is a local education agency headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina. With 164 schools, seven administrative sites, 145,000 students, and 20,200 employees, CMS is one of the largest school districts in the United States.

The Challenge: Increasing Utilization of Desired Support Channels

In 2014, Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District challenged its IT department to provide more value for customers with fewer resources. The 2012 roll-out of their original IT self-service portal had been intended to create efficiencies and reduce costs, but it ultimately failed to drive utilization, largely due to the fact that it was derived from the perspective of the IT organization.

“Our initial rollout of self-service was very IT-centric”, says Marsha Nicholson, Assistant Director of Technology at CMS. “IT provided a basic portal that was essentially an online checkbox asking if the user needed help. From there, users were still required to provide a significant amount of information to start the process.” Once it was confirmed that technical assistance was required, users were directed to a laundry list of IT services to sort through and interpret. Because the portal didn’t provide an intuitive experience, it was much easier for users to call or email the help desk than it was to try and self-ticket or self-resolve. “Users were quite understandably frustrated with the process,” notes Nicholson.

Furthermore, CMS had support information and services scattered across 10 different support sites. Despite this, employees across the organization were in the habit of contacting the service desk for anything remotely technical in nature, requiring service desk staff to route non-IT requests to the appropriate departments. This was not a great use of time, especially for a somewhat less experienced and short-staffed service desk.

Given these challenges, Nicholson’s team made the decision to redesign their portal with Cherwell® Service Management software, taking full advantage its architecture to make self-service an asset both to the service desk staff and entire CMS community.

“Because Cherwell’s architecture makes integration with our existing systems seamless, MySupport can streamline cross-departmental processes in ways that were previously not possible.”

Marsha Nicholson - Assistant Director of Technology

The Solution: A One-Stop-Shop Modern Portal Experience

CMS began tackling its self-service woes by establishing a new, centralized self-service portal. From the outset, the “MySupport” portal was designed with the following goal: provide users across the school district with an easy-to-use, “one-stop shop” for support that was accessible on every device.

Nicholson’s team applied Lean methodologies to the portal. Instead of a long list of IT services, they designed a superior user experience within Cherwell, streamlining form fields that intelligently kick off key request and incident management processes. This fully collaborative, interactive self-service portal is easy for users to understand and intuitive for them to use.

CMS’s IT team also wanted to provide a similar experience for other departments, irrespective of the types of issues or requests—even for those handled by systems outside Cherwell Service Management. To provide these capabilities, CMS designed the portal to serve as a corporate intranet, consolidating all ten separate support sites and creating a consistent experience for all users. Not only does this eliminate the need for the service desk to broker non-IT requests, it also improves efficiency throughout the school district. Nicholson explains, “Because Cherwell’s architecture makes integration with our existing systems seamless, MySupport can streamline cross-departmental processes in ways that were previously not possible.”

Through a combination of the IT team’s strategic planning and Cherwell Service Management’s capabilities, CMS has successfully created a one-stop-shop for all its users, accessible across all standard clients, at no additional cost.

The Results: Reduced Contact Volumes, Heightened Customer Satisfaction

MySupport deployed in just three months, without the types of setbacks and delays typical of such large-scale implementations. The portal provides access not only to core IT services, but also to departments outside the boundaries of IT, including those related to virtual learning, child nutrition, human resources and building services.

Thanks to its success, MySupport has reduced the phone contact volume by seven percent and has allowed CMS to completely eliminate free-form email as a contact channel. And, by shifting IT’s role away from the middle man, MySupport improves both IT productivity levels and customer satisfaction. Nicholson explains, “MySupport is really a brand. When users see the logo, they associate positivity and trust with IT. That is a huge win for us.”

As icing on the cake, MySupport was recognized as the “Best Portal Design of 2015” by Cherwell and its community of partners and customers at the annual Cherwell Global Conference—further recognition of the school district’s commitment to ITSM best practices and, most importantly, its internal customers.

“We’re greatly improving transparency,” he says. “And Cherwell has played—and will continue to play—a key role in the process.”