The Schools ICT Unit (SICT) for Bolton Metropolitan Borough Council has recently caught the eye with some pioneering IT services work using the web based ITSM solution, Sostenuto.
23 September 2005
SICT Unit for Bolton Council pioneers Sostenuto:
- Providing IT support to Bolton LEA’s 130 schools
- Integration of non-IT functions offers total service management
- Mobile access allows customers to control issues
- Mobile access means staff can work from home
- Other boroughs set to follow Bolton
The Schools ICT Unit (SICT) for Bolton Metropolitan Borough Council has caught the eye of its peers and other boroughs this summer because of its pioneering IT services work using Sostenuto, a web-based service desk product from Sunrise Software.
Aftab Hussain, assistant SICT Unit manager, says that the flexibility of the recently installed Sostenuto allows functions directly impacting the service desk, but generally run by separate systems, to be centralised. Contracts, quotations, ordering and purchasing are all now being managed by Sostenuto, and the accounts system is integrated into the infrastructure. Hussain details what can be achieved with this system. “We want to make it easy for the schools, the LEA (Local Education Authority) and our own support staff to get their hands on the right information quickly and in any location. For example at present, if the school wants to find out what its overall costs with us are, it would take us two days to pull this information together. With Sostenuto, schools will be able to hook into Chameleon (a web portal) and get the cost straight away.”
Chameleon is a fully browser based portal that offers a point of interaction with Sostenuto which can be customised for every member of staff, partner 3rd party or end user. At Bolton, Chameleon is already being used by mobile support staff, who are now given the choice to log and update incidents through the portal, meaning that they can base themselves at home.
“Previously colleagues were wholly dependent on traditional forms of communication to relay information to and from the unit’s help desk. With the new system they will be able to pick up new information on-line while at the school, as well as having the ability to create, interrogate, update and close calls. Chameleon will also give users within schools the ability to raise calls themselves and monitor its progress online. Colleagues in schools will have the ability to view their SLA (Service Level Agreements) on-line, said Hussain.
SICT Units can no longer rely on their incumbent status to ensure the retention of business. The 130 schools covered by Bolton”s SICT have all remained loyal, but Hussain said that the continuous programme of improvement is vital to maintain this situation, and he said that Sostenuto is central to this programme.
“Sunrise personnel are seen as integral partners in the Unit’s IT service management strategy. Sunrise’s account management team has a good understanding of the Unit’s needs and expectations.
Spreading the word
The centralised, multi-function approach to IT services pioneered by SICT has already caught the eye of others. A lot of our focus will be working with other bodies to help them move in the direction we are. For example, the technical teams within many of the secondary schools are looking to use Sostenuto. Many schools still use scraps of paper and spreadsheets to manage their IT request calls. IT technical teams at the LEA’s Schools ICT Unit and at the schools will be able to jointly manage IT support calls.
Other authorities have already purchased or are considering purchasing Sostenuto as a result of coming to see the work we are doing concluded Hussain.
IT within schools
With PCs, wireless laptops and electronic white boards commonplace in schools, the structure of lessons has changed drastically in the last five years, with pupils often breaking out into small groups. A government agency, BECTA (British Educational Communications and Technology Agency), has recently created a best practice methodology for IT services in schools based on ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library), indicating just how vital IT is now seen to be for the education system.
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