Web-based solution cuts down IT support time

Software delegates common IT tasks to users, allowing IT resources to focus on higher priority projects

Auckland-based software company Activate Technologies has developed software that automates and delegates common IT tasks to users, allowing IT resources to focus on higher priority projects.

The web-based solution enables users to request routine IT administration help online, which they previously would have to go to helpdesk for, says Shaun Blackmore, director of Activate Technologies.

This could include requesting access to an email distribution list or access to folders, or setting up new users or installing a new application, he says.

One of the main benefits is reducing the time IT support staff spend on manual processes requested by users. Blackmore says that roughly half of the administration workload done by IT staff could, and should, be delegated to users.

The software, called Activate, provides users with a catalogue of options from which they choose the desired option. The choice is then approved by the business owner, for example the manager of the financial department, and once that is done the service is added, he says.

“It might be as simple as adding the user to a group, or it [could] involve communicating with SMS [Microsoft Systems Management Server] or some other software distribution product to actually install the software,” says Blackmore. “As long as the request is approved relatively quickly, a user could [for example] have an application installed within a few minutes.”

Another benefit of Activate is auditing and logging user activity, he says.

“The system delegates the authority and control to the business owners. So, for a distribution list [for example] it allows [the IT department] to delegate all of the email and rights out to the business. The business [owner] can then create email distribution lists and add people,” he says.

The system also automatically cleans distribution lists, making sure that they are up to date.

Auckland District Health Board has been using Activate for 18 months.

“We managed to give away the provisioning from the network support team, and [by doing that] we saved 25% of network support [resources],” says John Irving, network manager of ADHB.

New-user provisioning time has been reduced from 14 days to less than two days, thanks to the process, Irving says. The software has also helped to reduce overall service delivery time.

Activate enables Active Directory to be used as a corporate directory and a phone list, says Blackmore. Users are able to search AD and also update their own data.

“So there is no excuse for not having an up to date corporate directory.”

“[The software] is really about enabling users to make things like AD and email work for the business in a more concise and accurate manner,” he adds.

Implementation of the software is relatively quick, usually just a matter of hours, says Blackmore. The main challenge is getting all of the business data into the system.

“If [users] for example want to do a manager approval, they need to know who the manager is.”

To help this situation, Activate Technologies uses a staged approach, getting the helpdesk to use the software at the first stage and delegating tasks from there.

Blackmore developed the initial version of Activate three years ago, when he was working as an IT consultant. The product has been used by customers for a year and some customers, for example Air New Zealand, have used the system for three years, starting with a pre-release version.

The software costs $50 per user.

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