There are no excuses for overlooking a service request in the IT department at United Federal Credit Union.
The $1.5 billion credit union in St. Joseph, Mich., relies on service desk software from Oakville, Ont.-based technology company HelpSTAR, a customizable platform that allows employees to view and prioritize every one of their service and support-related tasks.
HelpSTAR’s help desk software benefits service-oriented organizations across many industries. Available in client and server and Web-based versions, the software helps organizations manage their service to-do lists with features such as intelligent task queues, self-help tools, reminders and alarms. The company works with roughly 30 credit unions and first partnered with UFCU six years ago.
While the software can be used across multiple departments within a company, UFCU has thus far used it to bring ease and organization exclusively to its IT department. More than 500 employees in the credit union’s corporate headquarters and 22 branches use the software and its tools to open, track and close service requests. They also utilize knowledge based tools for users to learn how to solve problems without having to open a request.
“The software doesn’t just communicate what the tasks are, it keeps users linked to the tasks at hand,” said Rick DaSilva, professional service senior consultant at HelpSTAR.
One benefit of the software that UFCU employees especially enjoy is its familiar design, said UFCU Platform Engineer Ken Seales. When running, it looks similar to Microsoft Office, he noted.
Seales and DaSilva said in the six years of their partnership, both organizations have experienced growth together. As UFCU’s needs have changed, HelpSTAR has developed new software features.
“They’ve always accommodated us, and we’ve grown together in a parallel manner,” Seales said. “Some of the features we use have been there from the beginning of our partnership, but in the last few years, we’ve made leaps.”
Role-based access control, which allows organizations to set up system access rules on a user role group basis, is one feature HelpSTAR implemented for the growing credit union after their partnership began. Before, UFCU had to assign system access rules on a user-by-user basis, which consumed additional time and resources, Seales said.
Aside from allowing the credit union to easily control who can access what, HelpSTAR’s service desk software lets UFCU create automated reminders. For example, if an IT support desk employee does not respond to a service request in a timely manner, the credit union can arrange for an automatic reminder to be sent to the employee once every 15 minutes.
Seales said another feature that has brought an element of freedom to employees is the software’s password reset option. Employees can now reset their forgotten passwords by answering a series of security questions, whereas in the past, they had to call an IT support staff member – whom they couldn’t always reach due to time zone differences or service desk hours – to complete a password reset.
He added one of the biggest benefits of working with HelpSTAR is that if UFCU employees come up with an idea for a new feature that has not yet been incorporated into the platform, they can submit a feature request to the company. Plus, the platform allows IT personnel to add instructional problem-solving content, which help give employees the ability to resolve IT issues on their own.
Seales said the time employees have saved by using HelpSTAR’s software is extremely valuable. By making it easier for employees to solve problems on their own and IT staff to get through tasks more efficiently, time is maximized on both ends. The software also allows news to spread quickly. Messages about temporary system outages, for example, can be posted to a sidebar area for employees to view.
DaSilva agreed that thanks to the software, UFCU employees gain valuable time they may have otherwise spent on phone calls and organizing work tasks on their own.
“It streamlines everything,” DaSilva said. “Within the system, there is one place where users can view all the requests that require their attention, and it’s prioritized. They can get right to getting the job done.”
Seales also stressed that the quality of the ongoing support UFCU receives from the HelpSTAR team is very high. HelpSTAR provides clients with continuous training via phone calls and virtual meetings, and also hosts in-person workshops, one of which Seales attended last December. Looking ahead, UFCU plans to expand the use of the service desk software into other departments, Seales said.