Kreis-Verwaltung Ostholstein increases service level with EcholoN
Until 2014, a proprietary ticket and help desk system was used by the Ostholstein Verwaltungs-Gesellschaft to support the maintenance of the local IT infrastructures and to ensure that the EDP is ready for operation. The inadequate further development of the solution and the underlying database, as well as the inability to integrate new processes, ultimately prompted the district administrative authority in 2015 to change the outdated ticket system in favor of process-oriented and easy-to-use software for service and IT support. In EcholoN from the Hamburg service management specialist mIT solutions GmbH, the Ostholstein Verwaltungs-Gesellschaft finally found a scalable solution that would not only allow individual workflow control, but also sustainably improve the quality of the support.
Tourist magnet: Grömitzer cliffs in Ostholstein
With around 198,000 inhabitants, the 185 km long Baltic Sea coast and an area of almost 1,400 square kilometers, the Ostholstein district is one of the largest coastal districts and the most tourist-intensive regions in Germany. The district of Ostholstein, the most northeastern district of the Hamburg metropolitan region, today has six cities, three offices with a total of 19 municipalities and eleven municipalities.
Help desk system at the end of its life cycle
With its administrative headquarters in the district town of Eutin, the Kreis-Verwaltung Ostholstein currently employs around 500 people. Michael Fasen, Head of Information Technology, takes care of the maintenance of hardware and software with his 8-member organizational, support and technical team. The tasks of the IT support team include all services related to the information and communication infrastructure, from software and infrastructure consulting to the provision of PC workstations to client and server-side maintenance of the office-specific specialist applications. The help desk system for handling internal support inquiries, which was still in use until 2014, was, however, an "outdated model" that could no longer efficiently map the support processes of day-to-day business.
“For example, reliable contract management was not possible. The licenses and contracts associated with the respective software and hardware systems could not be stored directly in the system, which made automated monitoring of deadlines impossible. In addition, there was a lack of modeling tools, for example to create new processes in the system or to simplify the process for the IT supply of new employees. Since the provider-side system and database maintenance was discontinued and there are no external interfaces, we finally made the decision in 2015 to separate ourselves from our old system”, explains Arne Asmus, technician at the Kreis-Verwaltung Ostholstein.
Easy and flexible system wanted
First of all, a system of one's own was to be set up together with a development partner, based on an existing technology framework, but this was rejected in the absence of a suitable data model, which had to be programmed in a complex manner. In order to facilitate the subsequent search for a suitable solution, the most important requirements for the new system were defined and documented in the next step. So that all colleagues can use the tool effectively in their day-to-day business, even without a long training period, the new tool should have a simple and intuitive user interface. Since the solution was also to be expanded into a service portal for the entire workforce, a German-language interface was just as much a knock-out criterion as a German-language solution support, which promises fast and competent help if necessary.
"In the evaluation phase, we also questioned our internal processes and put them to the test. However, in order to be able to integrate new processes in the future or to adapt them to new requirements, the future system not only had to take a process-oriented approach, but also bring along a modeling routine to adapt our workflows", explains Arne Asmus.
The Kreis-Verwaltung Ostholstein with its approximately 500 employees is based in the district town of Eutin.
In the next step, various ticket and service systems were evaluated in detail and checked for their suitability against your own specifications. “While some were too complex, others lacked either functionality or flexibility. In the end, only EcholoN from mIT solutions was able to offer us a suitable overall package in terms of scope of services, openness, future viability and flexibility in order to realize our project with as few cuts as possible”, continues Asmus. At the beginning of 2015, the migration and implementation phase for the introduction of EcholoN at the Kreis-Verwaltung Ostholstein finally began.
The subsequent customizing process required a clear formulation of the requirements that the support department must meet internally and externally. This also had to be transformed into a developer language or broken down to the technical level in order to then be able to map and reliably implement these requirements and processes in EcholoN. Even during the migration of the inventory data, which proved to be the first test of fire, the mIT consultants were able to demonstrate their expert know-how and their solution competence. The partially inconsistent data model of the old system made it impossible to transfer data directly to EcholoN. The challenge was to convert the existing, freely related tables into the new data model. A consistency check if e.g. required fields or field contents were missing, did not exist in the old system.
These deficiencies only came to light when the consistency check was integrated in EcholoN. With professional and very result-oriented support from the mIT project team, the faulty data model could then be quickly cleaned up and reliably transformed. In the second step, the CMDB configuration was carried out so that the 1st and 2nd level support could ensure a smooth system changeover within a day. In June 2015 the new EcholoN system was "up and running". In a third step, contract management was finally implemented and the central service portal went online.
On the way to a "single point of contact"
With the aim of providing employees with a tool to record and track service cases, the Ostholstein district administration set up an online service portal based on EcholoN for the first time. It is planned to establish a single point of contact in the medium term, through which all requests will be recorded centrally. While the inquiries used to come in by phone or email, which were then initially created as tickets and transferred to the help desk system, the employees now have an online ticket portal that can be used to record the tickets directly and to view the status of the inquiry at any time - along with history and contacts. Thanks to a stored communication workflow, the employee receives an automatic push message with every status change.
"As a result, we have already been able to significantly reduce the 'multi-channel volume' and the number of telephone queries. We have not only gained process transparency sustainably, but are also able to process follow-up orders more efficiently. If an employee needs a new job, for example, we can use the ticket to initiate further activities such as office preparation by painters and electricians without having to create a separate process for each. Today, all of this has been documented very precisely and is no longer handled via the 'floor radio'", Arne Asmus gives an example.
Separation of 1st and 2nd level support
The inbox in the e-mail inbox is scanned every half hour and classified semi-automatically by assigning it directly to the respective processes in the EcholoN system. The 1st level support then qualifies the incoming mails in the EcholoN mail basket in order to then trigger a new process if necessary. Since the system introduction, the district administration Ostholstein has also benefited for the first time from a clean separation of 1st and 2nd level support and a clear allocation of roles, which has a very positive effect on the overall support quality. For the IT team, the focus is less on determining key figures when processing tickets, the special added value of EcholoN is primarily the improved customer orientation, high reliability, effective process support and transparency in process management.
The ability to define and document processes is a function with high practical added value for day-to-day business. "In this way we model e.g. Workflows for the integration of new employees in the district administration. Which employees have to be involved, which departments have to be notified, which systems and information have to be provided and which authorizations have to be set up? These processes are closely linked to our Enterprise Content Management System in order to establish a comprehensive information dialogue in the district administration.
EcholoN gives it all in the standard and enables us to standardize processes in a comfortable way and to raise them to a new level", praises Arne Asmus. "In addition, EcholoN also gives us the option of opening our portal to the Internet, for example to connect partners to whom we delegate certain tasks, e.g. for setting up storage systems, server configurations or setting up active directories."
Today, ten employees in the district administration work with the EcholoN Smart Clients, while 1,000 web clients are available for the employees to use the service portal. Since 2017, the contract management in EcholoN has also been expanded to include maintenance contracts.