Project to improve IT customer service wins top UC award

"Building a Service-Oriented Culture" at UC Davis--a project to improve the quality and organization of IT customer service--has won a Golden Award from the University of California's annual Larry L. Sautter program.

The award to Information and Educational Technology is one of three top information-technology prizes given by the UC for 2014. The Sautter program recognizes IT innovations that advance teaching, research, public service and patient care, or that improve the effectiveness of university processes.

"Building a Service-Oriented Culture" helps faculty, students and staff find and obtain IT services, said IET Client Services Manager Anita Nichols, who led the project.

"We want to make our services easier, to bundle them without respect to organizational boundaries so that our customer doesn't have to go three different places to get what they need," she said. This means, for example, presenting IT service information in one consistently maintained online catalog, instead of spreading it over a maze of websites.

"I am truly delighted about the Sautter award," said Associate Chancellor Prasant Mohapatra, who was interim CIO and vice provost of IET from July 2013 until mid-August 2014. "I value the effort immensely, and it will not only influence a change in the service culture at UC Davis, but could propagate to our sister campuses. This project also testifies to the collaborative environment we are breeding on our campus."

Excellence as defined by the customer

The goal is to offer excellent IT-related service, with the customer's experience in mind. The results include "effective and fast resolution of incidents and requests; relevant and useful reporting; or [providing] answers through our knowledge base," says the website for the IT Service Management program, one of the project's core elements.

Service organizations use different methods to organize their work--the IT Express Service Desk, for example, has long had a method for tracking service requests. The "Building a Service-Oriented Culture" project took existing procedures for a range of IET services, and improved them by rebuilding, expanding, and redefining their procedures and standards.

"Within a year, the team took the disparate pieces of an unorganized service management offering and put them together in a way that is cohesive, recognizable, customer-focused, and has ultimately started them on the path to improve the way that IT services are delivered at UC Davis," says the project's Sautter award application.

The team's innovation, the summary continues, "is their approach to IT service management. The & customer experience must be considered every step of the way. Consequently, they developed an approach to guide them that focuses 'outside-in' rather than the traditional 'inside-out.' "

Other project components include the IT Service Catalog and IT Knowledge Base.

The project extends beyond IET. The College of Engineering, Offices of the Chancellor and Provost, School of Education and School of Law also participated, and the project's list of key contributors names 29 people. People at other UC campuses have been contacting Nichols about the project, especially after it won the award in early August.

List of Sautter winners

UC Davis also won a silver Sautter award this year, given to Information Technology Services (part of Safety Services) for its "Environmental Health & Safety Enterprise Risk Management Technology." UC has posted the project applications with details on the Sautter Awards website. The Aug. 19 edition of Dateline carried this article about the awards.

The Sautter program is sponsored by the UC Information Technology Leadership Council.