Microsoft Business-Critical SharePoint Consultancy.
In spite of several Line of Business (LOB) systems in place, Petroc College primarily depended on manual work in their IT helpdesk and project management processes. Nexus Open Systems Ltd helped them develop a Business-Critical SharePoint solution by connecting their LOB systems with SharePoint to accelerate business processes and improve cross-departmental collaboration.
Petroc College is one of the South West's leading Further Education (FE) colleges in the United Kingdom, with a catchment area covering more than 1,500 square miles and employing more than 1,000 people. The college serves up to 20,000 students each year including distance and work-based learners all over the UK. The college also undertakes research and development projects, often working with European partners.
Siloed IT Systems
The college wanted to build on the successes of their SharePoint deployment by enhancing existing lines of communication with an equivalent online service. Some of the Line of Business (LOB) systems used at the college were already delivered by SharePoint, but only accessible to the IT team and not available to other department within the organisation. For example they had an IT Helpdesk system- ticket management system in place, but previously staff and students had to raise IT support calls via email and telephone. In turn, it would take time for IT Helpdesk operators to process and manage these calls in SharePoint. More specifically, end-users had to initially log fault tickets with the IT Helpdesk, then subsequently contact the helpdesk again to ask for any ticket updates during the course of the fault remaining open. From an end-user (client) perspective this added delay to the process of receiving updates as they were reliant on waiting for responses to their request for a ticket update. From the IT Helpdesk's perspective this created resource demand unnecessarily, preventing their engineers from actually resolving issues rather than dealing purely with client ticket updates.
Time Consuming Processes
Furthermore, Petroc College had a disparate and fragmented project management system, where external parties and internal staff struggled to 'join up' the flow of projects. With multiple stakeholders providing updates on project tasks and phases, the management of projects was time consuming and non-collaborative in terms of updates.
The college had identified Nexus, as a key partner for Microsoft SharePoint consultancy and services due to their experience and expertise with the SharePoint product set. They have upgraded the SharePoint 2010 installation to a 2013 environment and implemented a Business-Critical SharePoint (BCSP) solution. In this BCSP solution LOB systems, including the IT Helpdesk system - ticket management system and the project management system are connected with SharePoint to improve organisation-wide productivity.
SharePoint Connection with the IT Helpdesk System
After a full audit of the existing SharePoint 2010 environment, the college identified a requirement for their students to have visibility of their helpdesk support calls, as this would improve efficiency and communication between the IT team and their end users. LOB integration with Web Parts and Event Listeners provided student access to the IT Helpdesk system - through the surfacing of helpdesk data, which contained support call information. Petroc College students can now view the progress of their helpdesk calls by using SharePoint to view a previously disparate LOB system.
SharePoint Connection with the Project Management System
Another requirement was working more efficiently with their external partners. The solution was to connect the Project Management System with SharePoint, creating a SharePoint portal, whereby project task tracking, project document updates and workflow can all be managed. The college took advantage of SharePoint document and file management, content management, version control, forums, keyword searching and scheduling calendar in a private extranet. The centralisation of documents improves information sharing between different departments and other parties involved in projects. Now even external partners are able to access information themselves through the centralised collaborative portal instead of calling or emailing.
Upgrade to SharePoint 2013
More recently Nexus have completed a SharePoint migration project for the college by upgrading their SharePoint 2010 installation to a 2013 environment. This project was originally scoped as a migration, however the project resulted in a new installation of SharePoint 2013 and Microsoft Project Server. The installation and configuration of SharePoint 2013 was completed following best practice procedures and configuration. Subsequent to this process User Profile Synchronisation and Enterprise Search was enabled. A trial migration of existing content databases was accomplished, together with the installation of third party solution packages (WSP). Live migration tasks resulted in the delete/backup and restore of content databases, mounting and upgrade of site collections, plus the export/import of WSPs as they were required.
In conclusion, the Business-Critical SharePoint solution through the LOB connections has helped Petroc College to improve communication with internal and external audiences. Some highlights of the Petroc College SharePoint projects include:
- Identification of the IT helpdesk LOB and the project management system as an ideal candidates for SharePoint connectivity
- Integration to existing helpdesk LOB and deploying to staff and students using SharePoint
- SharePoint 2010 â€“ 2013 upgrade
- SharePoint extranet to manage projects with external partners
According to Wayne Gaish, Head of IT, "Petroc are able to realise a comprehensive collaborative toolset using SharePoint 2013, assisted by Nexus in consultancy, architecting, enabling and delivering new SharePoint 2013 services"
Improving Customer Satisfaction
With the connection to the IT Helpdesk system, time has been saved for both end users and engineers, ticket updates are centralised and visible to all parties. This has instilled a sense of customer satisfaction for the helpdesk as a service provider and the clients.
With the new SharePoint portal the college now has a centralised collaborative portal, whereby project task tracking, project document updates and workflow can all be managed. All parties have better visibility into project status, which helps accelerate project completion.
Working with Nexus has enabled confidence in our use of SharePoint and in particular SharePoint 2013 with its new features, which in turn bring quantifiable benefits to the business. Petroc are able to realise a comprehensive collaborative toolset using SharePoint 2013, assisted by Nexus in consultancy, architecting, enabling and delivering new SharePoint 2013 services. The relationship between Petroc and Nexus is beneficial and productive in moving towards achieving some important strategic goals.