IS&T launches 24/7 phone- and email-based computing support for the MIT community
November 27, 2018
Robyn Fizz
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Image of a laptop, phone and 24x7
Image: Bigstock/Golden Sikorka

Is your software behaving badly after midnight? Do you have a question about Webex while at a conference in Seoul? Information Systems and Technology (IS&T) can now lend a hand, no matter when or what time zone you’re in. Through a partnership with CDI Corporation, the IS&T Service Desk can respond to computing questions via phone or email 24/7 – as in all day, every day.

Getting There

The Service Desk’s former weekday-only schedule (M–F, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.) was not meeting the full range of community needs. Each weekday morning (and especially after the weekend), the staff faced a backlog of hundreds of help tickets that had been received since the end of the previous business day. Many after-hours requests for help came from MIT students, who often go into high gear at night.

While IS&T’s online Knowledge Base (KB) is available around the clock, it doesn’t have all the answers – or a hands-on approach to resolving IT troubles.

IS&T’s Provider and Consumer Support group began to investigate how it could keep the community up and running in a 24/7 world that relies on everything from servers to mobile devices. After extensive research, the Service Desk began a pilot with CDI two and a half years ago.

Collaboration at the Core

Together, IS&T and CDI created several strategies to get the off-site team up to speed with IT at MIT:

  • The team members go through at least three weeks of training up front. They familiarize themselves with MIT core systems and services (such as email, Duo, and certificates); practice mock calls with their team; and learn by listening in on active calls.
  • A comprehensive playbook developed for the off-site team includes links to resources like the KB and escalation paths for IS&T’s extensive service offerings.
  • To encourage cultural assimilation, many of the off-site staff visit Cambridge. As part of quarterly reviews, one or two team members take a tour of campus and spend time in the Atlas Service Center in Building E17. This allows them to experience how IT services are delivered to MIT community members in person.

The Official 24/7 Launch

After a two-year pilot, in which the off-site staff handled Service Desk help requests on nights and weekends, IS&T’s 24/7 service went live in April 2018. The off-site team is now on the front lines for all phone calls and email requests. If they can’t find a solution to a computing issue, the support case (tracked in a ticketing system) is sent to the IS&T Service Desk on campus. When this happens, the IS&T staff not only work to resolve the issue, they also create and/or revamp documentation to connect the off-site team to the right resources to answer the question in the future.

The partnership between the Service Desk and CDI has led to faster turnaround times in helping community members with their IT issues. It’s now also easier to identify emerging incidents or problems in real time and alert decision-makers and the community about them.

Spread the Word

IS&T wants to get the word out about the 24/7 service, especially since MIT students stand to benefit from the round-the-clock hours. So give the service a try, anytime, and share the good news.

The Service Desk welcomes feedback on any aspect of its 24/7 support. You can send your comments to ist-feedback@mit.edu.