Technology is essential to teaching and learning in the Batavia Public School District 101 in Batavia, Ill., about 40 miles west of Chicago. Without reliable IT infrastructure and processes, learning for our nearly 6,300 students in eight schools effectively stops.
To ensure that our technology enables instead of inhibits, District 101 leveraged Information Technology Infrastructure Library principles to rethink how IT is delivered. Developed in the 1980s, ITIL gives IT leaders a framework of best practices from which to draw in order to provide quality IT services — even with limited resources.
After adopting the basics of ITIL, our IT team has cut major incidents and problems by 50 percent; increased on-time resolution to 82 percent; reduced support requests submitted by 20 percent; and increased customer satisfaction to 97 percent.
Although the size and scope of ITIL may seem impractical, its success in districts that have implemented it proves that it doesn't have to be. Here are five steps that all district IT leaders can take to improve service and demonstrate value.
1. Manage change.
The IT Process Institute reports that 80 percent of unplanned downtime is actually caused by IT itself, just by making configuration changes. Without proper planning and controls — such as ITIL's change management process — unforeseen consequences and downtime will occur.
Once District 101 staff started to manage and document all changes, the constant barrage of major issues stopped.
2. Categorize incidents and service requests.
In terms of support, there's a distinction between "I can't print" and "Please install my new printer." The response to an "incident," in which something is broken, versus a "service
request" is very different.
When we started categorizing our work in this way, patterns became easy to see. Common incidents were identified and prevented, requests for service were predicted and simplified, and our ticket counts dropped dramatically.
3. Prioritize requests.
Teachers and students can't wait indefinitely for IT support — learning opportunities are at stake.
By establishing clear criteria to triage the urgency of requests and setting reasonable resolution targets, request escalation and work distribution between teammates became easier, our on-time resolution rate soared, and teachers got what they expected: prompt service.
4. Provide outstanding customer service.
Courteous service fosters better relationships, congruent expectations and happier people.
By training District 101 IT staff in customer service, our technicians began to self-identify as service providers, our communication with customers improved, and our understanding of teaching and learning evolved. The more we listened and adapted services to our customers' needs, the higher satisfaction rates climbed.
5. Hold I.T. accountable.
High-performing organizations are proactive and have a fundamental belief in continuous improvement.
Using data to guide improvement strategies, we now spend most of our time on projects rather than fighting fires, fulfill more service requests than incidents and have (mostly) happy customers. It's a long journey, but it starts with documenting, counting, benchmarking and process mapping — and constantly seeking opportunities for improvement.