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Everything about the University of New Mexico’s Albuquerque campus speaks to its place at the heart of the state’s university system: The Pueblo architecture, the beautiful surrounding mountains, and the hustle and bustle of undergrad and graduate students pursuing degrees and research.
Amidst all this activity, the University of New Mexico Information Technology team stays plenty busy.
“I’ve never met an IT shop that’s sitting around waiting for work,” says Tammy Jo “TJ” Martinez, Director of Customer Support for Core Information Technologies department. She and her team serve more than 38,000 staff, student, faculty, and retirees; in addition to managing IT and setting standards for the five branch campuses of the University of New Mexico school system.
While Martinez and her team work hard to provide the best service possible, they are not immune to financial challenges. Like many public institutions, they’ve had funding reduced in the past few years. The message has been clear: do more with less.
With so many people to serve and a tight budget to consider, Martinez and her team decided to retire two separate ITSM solutions used at the University and implement Cherwell® Service Management as the sole platform. In choosing Cherwell, Martinez and her team looked to empower all IT staff to work from one system, managing processes and managing data from a single source of truth – essentially working in every possible way to be more efficient.
One of the main ways Martinez is saving money is, simply, by choosing Cherwell over another solution. “We are taxpayer funded. We went with the lowest bidder and we got tremendous value that we are realizing every day.” Cherwell’s lower-cost licensing model and capacity to support a wide variety of tasks makes it cost-effective.
How great are these cost savings? With Cherwell’s licensing model, Martinez can support 290 users with just 95 licenses, whereas other solutions require a more expensive 1:1, named model. This means that students, accounting for almost half of Martinez’s staff, can use Cherwell on a floating basis. Concurrent licensing can save an organization like UNM between 50-75 percent compared to a named approach.
“Knowledge is power but only when it’s shared. If you hold knowledge, then it is not power. Cherwell, with its tasking capabilities, helps share knowledge across our team.”
TJ Martinez - Director of Customer Support for Core Information Technologies, University of New Mexico
During the relaunch, the goal of unifying all existing IT on campus required breaking down some silos that had developed. The desktop team, the server team, the network team, and others, had grown apart in ways. Martinez wanted to glue them back together with better knowledge sharing between teams.
“Knowledge is power but only when it’s shared. If you hold knowledge, then it is not power. Cherwell, with its tasking capabilities, helps share knowledge across our team,” she says. Martinez uses Cherwell’s task-management capabilities to make sure every person on the team has access to all the information and context about every ticket. She credits Cherwell with helping “make the silo walls a little lower.”
Within Cherwell, the service team doesn’t just record basic information about an issue then pass it to the next group to complete. Instead, the first group to interact with a user captures the context for the problem from the user and makes that information available across departments. With this all-in, all-equal approach to information sharing, issues resolve faster.
“The issue is owned by UNM IT. We’re all one team. We don’t want heroes. We want a dream team,” says Martinez. “Users call into UNM IT and know there’s a single point of contact that will resolve their issue, even if on the back end that issue is managed across multiple teams. This makes the team more efficient,” she says.
“There is a DIY element to Cherwell that we love. You don’t need highly skilled developers and resources to make changes to the system,” says Martinez. When it comes to adding fields, forms, workflows, and more, the general IT staffers can do this work easily and quickly.
UNM has a single Cherwell Administrator who can build blueprints or upgrade versions. But beyond that, the many members of the IT staff can create their own views and dashboards into Cherwell.
In addition, UNM has saved money by using Cherwell in areas besides simple incident and request transactions. Martinez uses Cherwell software to manage operations and maintenance for the entire information services organization, using Cherwell’s Project Management mApp solution. UNM can create projects, quickly identify all tasks associated for decision support and get a comprehensive picture of what teams are working on. The information becomes simpler as it is broken down into tasks and made more easily digestible.
Additionally, because Cherwell provides more operational insight, it prompts the IT organization to do more. They deliver more services and projects because they can better attention, and things are moving much more quickly. Now, the insight brought to the table prompts more action. It’s used to deliver more services and projects. The specialist groups outside and above the service desk pay closer attention to due dates, and run their teams better to meet those due dates, so they don’t have to bounce to another system to keep track of changes and events. It makes everyone more efficient and optimizes their time. “We aren’t stagnant with Cherwell,” says Martinez. “We are developing a roadmap for future customizations.”
One of the easier ways for IT organizations to reduce costs is to reduce labor intensity by providing an IT self-service portal where users can log their own IT issues, research for solutions, and in some cases use simple automation to remain productive, without needing to call or email the service desk. However, like most IT organizations, the initial rollout of the IT self-service portal was very IT-centric, and therefore not utilized very often by the students and faculty members it was designed to support.
Conducting interviews and using data from Cherwell and, Martinez and her team were able to determine user preferences and found that students and faculty members preferred a designed a simpler, user-centric IT self-service portal that was intuitive and easy to navigate.
“We used to require the user to know all the pathways through IT,” she says. Now, the questions are as simple as, “Are you on a computer? Are you on a smartphone?” This improved self-service, along with more articles in the knowledge base, has reduced contacts to the service desk for simple issues, freeing up her team.
Since the relaunch of Cherwell, UNM IT’s first contact resolution has risen to more than 70 percent. And users feel the difference in speed, reporting an average of 4.5 out of 5.0 customer satisfaction score.
“I’m trying to get people to see Cherwell as a single pane of glass,” says Martinez. “Everyone goes there, the customers and the team. That’s evolution and maturity for me.”
More than anything, Martinez is passionate about her work in higher education and the crucial role her team plays. As an alumna of UNM, who earned her degree later in life, she credits the school with launching her successful career. “I don’t want IT to be a roadblock for those students out there who are working so hard to get their degree. We’re educating the next generation of teachers and doctors, maybe even the next Governor of New Mexico.”
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