Over the past few months, at my institution, we have implemented a new Information Technology Service Management (ITSM) tool. After reviewing several different products, we chose to move forward with TeamDynamix. The cost is reasonable (not cheap, but reasonable) even for small higher education institutions (like us). Cost was a factor in our choice, but the power and flexibility of the tool was really the most important factor. As we finish our implementation and start using it every day, I thought it would be interesting to share what we have learned and what we look forward to in the future.
Many people consider ITSM or any other structured and organized system to be “too prescriptive” and oppose the idea of having to do their work around a tool. I’m not that kind of person, and my experience is that people who feel this way either don’t care about sharing information or are quite disorganized. It reminds me of the technician who is too “busy” to organize his workbench but then spends hours of the week looking for various tools and equipment. However, our first experience with TeamDynamix is that while it follows ITSM and ITIL concepts, it is not prescriptive at all. It allows you to completely customize the system and processes to meet your needs.
Why is this an AV problem? Well, since I love kicking the hornet’s nest, my first answer will be this – AV is THIS. But the real reason is that it brings all aspects of an organization together and allows them to share information and resources. If you or your colleagues accumulate information or use a variety of tools to achieve the same goal, you are not doing the right thing for your institution.
In higher education, most of us are in the IT department. There are constant struggles between the AV and IT teams. I have spoken with many AV people who will say things like, “We are forced to use the ticketing system. I think this comment is less about wanting to use a ticketing system and more about seeing and configuring it as a help desk tool only. TeamDynamix allows us to change that perspective. One way to do this is to give our team a very easy to use knowledge base (both for customers and technicians). Now any member of one of our teams can spend approximately five minutes creating a new knowledge article. Whether it is a knowledge article for in-house technicians or for the community does not matter; it can be created and shared in minutes. So, for the AV techs who said, “I’ve said this to the help desk a dozen times,” you can now go to TeamDynamix and write a knowledge article. From now on, you can simply direct your techs to this article.
In addition, for the ticketing aspects, TeamDynamix allows for incredible workflow flexibility. One example we’re currently working on is class capture. Currently, a faculty speaks to an AV technician who trains them and does some programming. Then, the technician sends a message to the teaching support team, which helps the faculty to take this video and upload it to their lesson management system. While it works for one-off cases, this system allows a lot of things to slip through the cracks. TeamDynamix now allows us to send a form to a faculty member and complete a request. A ticket is created, and all the different tasks are included in this ticket and are automatically assigned to the responsible party. Beyond making sure things don’t fall through the cracks, it creates a record of usage and lets the customer know where the process is at. Also, if knowledge base articles have been created on this topic, they can easily be presented to the customer as part of it.
A second important element of TeamDynamix is the project management module. All of us in higher education manage a portfolio of projects in one form or another. Due to the cost of other project management tools, we found ways to put several tools together: a ticketing system, maybe Trello, maybe Slack, or Teams to try and keep track of projects. TeamDynamix offers a unique tool that everyone in your institution can use to track projects. This helps us explain to our clients what we are doing and why their project may not be completed in the time frame they want. We can literally show them a calendar that shows where our time is going in the future. Even our administration will use it. Do you want us to suddenly renovate a conference room? OK, take a look at our plans and decide which one gets pushed back.
While we really love TeamDynamix and totally expect amazing things from it, the great thing we’ve learned from this project is the value of bringing all groups in our IT organization (and other departments) together under one tool. There is no doubt that in this fast-paced world and the physical distance COVID-19 has brought us, shared information is harder to find than ever. Committing to a tool that brings everyone together and pushes them forward in the same direction is obvious.