UC Davis Case Study


by Leslie Cook


UC Davis was the winner of the HDI Service Improvement Award in 2014. The finalists were honored, and the winner announced at FUSION 14 in Washington, D.C.

University of California, Davis, is located in northern California. In 2014, it was ranked thirty-eighth on U.S. News and World Report’s list of the best colleges and universities. It currently enrolls 33,000+ students and has 100 undergraduate majors, ninety graduate programs, and six professional schools (education, law, management, nursing, medicine, and veterinary medicine).

The Virtual Service Desk at UC Davis supports more than 100,000 customers—that is, anyone who has a computing account, which includes applicants, students, faculty, visiting scholars, staff, and retirees. Between August 2013 and June 2014, more than 53,000 incidents and service requests were recorded in the service desk’s ITSM system.

What was the situation before the launch of the service improvement initiative?

Prior to the launch of our service improvement initiative, there was a gap between the perceptions of the staff who provided IT services and the customers who received them. IT services were requested and captured using multiple ticket management tools (RT, Remedy, Jira, etc.) and more than seventy email addresses. This contributed to our customers’ perception of IT services as difficult to obtain, complicated, and confusing.

What was the improvement strategy?

The improvement plan included the following: establishing a governance model focusing on the needs of ITSM on campus; implementing knowledge management to make providing service and support more efficient and consistent; implementing a flexible ITSM tool that would ensure college autonomy and still allow the university to leverage economies of scale; develop a service catalog to market the features and benefits of IT’s services and give customers a central location to find information about those services; and, finally, implementing an online reporting tool to facilitate service level management.

Which processes and tools had to be implemented, modified, or leveraged to support the improvement strategy?

Executing our improvement strategy required the implementation of a number of processes and tools:

  • ServiceNow: Enabled the creation of a virtual service desk, which allowed customers to contact the service desk via a single email address (versus seventy).
  • Governance model: Guided the planning, design, development, and deployment of service capabilities; the committee comprised stakeholders who eventually became the ITSM Technical Committee.
  • Mission and values: Developed mission and value statements, as well as a visual look and feel (identity and branding) to identify tools and services.
  • ITSM website and monthly e-newsletter: Developed resents ITSM theory and research, and provides an overview of the project team and technical committee; e-newsletter shares release notes and other important information.
  • Service level reporting: Implemented Logi Analytics, a web-based business intelligence product, to aggregate, manage, and monitor metrics from multiple sources; future implementations will push this information to the web, where it will be available to interested stakeholders.
  • Service catalog: Developed in Drupal, the service catalog includes 150+ services, both business and technical; future phases will see the launch of an “Emerging Services” feature to give service owners and project managers the ability to market services before they go into production.
  • IT Express: Revitalized central service desk by improving training, changing the hours of operation to align with campus needs, adding chat and remote control functionalities, redesigning the website, and launching a Facebook page to improve campus communication. These changes help the service desk meet its goals of providing a multichannel support model and improving the customer experience.
  • Student Support Program: Developed program to provide UC Davis students with practical job and project experience, from web development and user experience design to technical support and technical writing.
  • Knowledge base: Launched new knowledge base that is integrated into ServiceNow; refreshed the content and look and feel.
  • Employee self-service portal: Created portal to provide employees with access to IT services, the knowledge base, and support request forms.

What organizational changes (cultural, structural, or political) had to be implemented or modified to support the improvement strategy?

A nimble, lean project team and strong support from participating stakeholders helped move the project along at a quick pace, and the team’s grassroots, collaborative approach, coupled with utilization of the agile methodology, helped the team achieve more than they thought possible within a short amount of time.

A focus on user experience guided efforts and decision-making, ensuring that all levels and types of customer interactions were considered. Additionally, providing customers with an effective mechanism and process for providing feedback and suggestions for improvement—and quickly integrating the feedback into the development process—improved the customer experience and ultimately helped the team gain new customers on campus.

What were some of the lessons learned?

After just a year, this multiphase initiative is still in its infancy, and yet it has already yielded many important benefits. At UC Davis, it has resulted in greater operational efficiency, and it has enhanced customer service. It has also brought the IT service community together in the pursuit of common goals. This is a strategy that other campuses could adapt and implement to suit their own environments so they, too, can deliver services better, faster, with greater consistency and at lower cost.

One of the most important things we’ve learned so far is that ITSM isn’t just about the process and the tools; it’s also about engaging and delighting customers. By listening to our customers and designing tools and services with their perspective in mind, we will continue to pursue—and achieve—our goal of creating a customer experience from the outside in.

Has your organization successfully implemented or improved one or more service offerings? Get recognized for your work! Apply for the HDI Service Improvement Award.

Tag(s): case study, service quality