The Journey to Team Excellence: Houston Independent School District


by Team HDI
March 26, 2018

The Houston Independent School District was a finalist for HDI’s 2018 Team Excellence Award.
Learn more!

The Houston Independent School District (HISD) is the largest school district in the state of Texas and the seventh largest school district in the nation. The district encompasses 310 locations and covers more than 300 square miles. The Information Technology department at HISD is made up of over 200 IT professionals who provide support to 35,000 employees and more than 200,000 students.Houston Independent School District The IT department receives more than 140,000 tickets and 80,000 phone calls per year and completes more than 1,900 change requests annually.

To provide exceptional coverage to customers, the Information Technology Service Desk is open from 6:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and offers a 24-hour emergency line to report outages. Customers can also take advantage of self-service support or submit requests for assistance through a customer portal, 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.

Describe the challenges you faced.

The IT organization had experienced its share of changes. Before Lenny Schad stepped in as CTIO in 2013, the organization was on its fourth CIO in five years. Due to the revolving change in leadership, the IT leadership team faced the challenge of convincing the staff that Schad’s new vision for customer service was not only necessary but imperative to the success of the department. He had high expectations for accomplishing the change, and his commitment to the customers had been apparent through the years.

In the past 18 months, Technology Customer Service faced several challenges. These ranged from designing a new process for hardware rollouts and support, redesigning how to store and share knowledge, and a major business systems rollout.

  • The school district contracted with a major MFP supplier to place over 1200 MFPs in all locations in the district. They also had to install and configure an application to allow all users to scan to email/USB, print and copy, along with using their badges to log onto the machine. Several IT departments worked alongside the Service Desk to work out the best processes for rollout and support after installation.
  • KEYNotes, our new KCS system, was implemented by the IT Customer Service team to ensure our older method of knowledge storage and sharing was streamlined and managed by the analysts. Prior to implementation of the current service and support model, knowledge was housed in silos by individuals in various formats such as OneNote, sticky notes, email, Word, and file storage. Oftentimes, historical information was held onto and failed to be revised within an acceptable amount of time conducive to exceptional customer service. This change has already shown improvement in finding answers and increasing confidence in the analysts that the information is up to date and correct.
  • Last summer we had a major SAP implementation called OneSource, which updated our current SAP implementation and rolled in several other areas including HCM, performance management and learning, onboarding, and BI reporting. This involved business units having to closely integrate with IT. During this process, the IT training team trained more than 29,000 employees on the main system and more than 1900 admins.

Highlight any innovations you introduced to help overcome the challenges.

With these challenges, we have developed a couple of innovations that will help us to manage these and any similar projects in the future. In response to the climate of change and uncertainty, we embarked on a three-year initiative to implement the COBIT framework. It has proven very useful in standardizing documentation and assisting in training new team members as to the way IT is done at HISD. Getting everyone on the same page with clear roles and responsibilities made open and clear communication much easier.

Getting everyone on the same page with clear roles and responsibilities made open and clear communication much easier.
Tweet: Getting everyone on the same page with clear roles and responsibilities made open and clear communication much easier. @ThinkHDI

We also decided to implement KCS after attending an HDI training. KCS was officially implemented April 2017 using SharePoint for version 1. With the analysts input, we designed a way to implement the basic idea and then with fun trainings, meetings, and competitions we rolled it out in late April just for our teams. Currently residing in Sharepoint, KeyNotes is already allowing analysts to provide faster answers producing better customer survey responses in the quality and timeliness areas. By the time school started it contained more than 300 items and was being used by all, including contractors, who loved it. Future expansion is planned to bring in the other IT teams so they can store their information as well as share with first- and second-level support teams. As we continue to build the knowledge, we would like to transfer this to a new ITSM system when made available.

In 2014, we also brought in INSIGNIAM: A Transformation Management Consulting Firm to help IT
managers and directors think, act, and lead differently. Those sessions helped us breakdown barriers and accelerate the positive impact that we were able to make within our organization.


HDI is the first professional association created for the service and support industry. Since its founding in 1989, HDI has remained the source for professional development by offering resources to promote organization-wide success through exceptional customer service. We do this by facilitating collaboration and networking, hosting acclaimed conferences and events, producing renowned publications and research, and certifying and training thousands of professionals each year. At 150,000 people strong, HDI is a community built by industry peers and leaders that gives its members the resources, knowledge, and drive to be great at what they do.


Tag(s): supportworld, workforce enablement, workforce enablement, service management, technology, metrics and measurements, customer experience, customer service, desktop support, support center, hdi conference

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