College Mergers and MATs: The Challenge for Service Delivery
Picture this: you’re a member of a Service Desk at an education institution, and you discover that your school is undergoing a merger with several other colleges in the area. The service delivery department is now expected to cater not only for the staff and students that it already serves, but staff and students in other buildings, in other schools. There are now several factors to account for, most of which simply don’t exist in your current workplace. Other institutions may use different equipment, they may have a different way of working, and the user might not even be aware that they’re logging a ticket with an operator residing miles away, working in a completely separate building.
It’s a daunting prospect, but it’s also an opportunity to rebrand your department and provide a more professional, streamlined service to your users.
How do you support multiple institutions from a single Service Desk?
So, your institution is undergoing a merger, and now you need a single Service Desk to provide for all of the colleges in your trust. Before you look at anything technological (for example, a self-service portal) you must first take a look at your processes. One of the most common issues schools find when undergoing a merger is the level of disparity between the different processes of the individual institutions. A simple example could be that in one college, a student may require and make regular use of a tablet, but another institution may not support that equipment.
At first this may seem impossible to work around, but the key here is to find the commonalities between your processes. You may find that, in some ways, you have a very similar method of working - a few tweaks and you have your first shared process. Other things may not be so similar. Find out what makes these processes different and what is blocking you from making them shared. Can you merge them? Or, can you make a new process that works for everybody?
Creating these shared processes can be hard, and it might mean a restructure of the roles and responsibilities of those on the support desk in order to accommodate, but it is much easier to address this first. Having shared processes makes your life much easier when the supporting technology arrives.
Maintaining shared processes and the next steps
It’s important to have a core project team to create and own the shared processes throughout the merger. This team will not only be responsible for shared processes but will also have the task of configuring the supporting helpdesk tool, setting up a platform for all of the teams to work from in order to provide a shared service.
This team must have a stakeholder from each of the members of the merger. Separate perspectives will prevent the implementation of any decisions that would make it impossible for some of the schools to work efficiently.
Clarity and communication – creating a professional mindset
Once these shared processes are in place, and they have the technology to support them, it is important that they are communicated to the staff and students of all the schools, so they know what to expect. This is a fantastic opportunity to rebrand your service delivery department as a professional, streamlined service, so make it fun!
Lots of institutions will involve the staff and students in competitions to name the new service department, and the minds of students are fantastic for this. Use this as an opportunity to sell them the benefits of shared resources. Staff could now walk on to another site that is miles away and instantly have WiFi connection, thanks to the shared service.
It is important to make the rebranding of the service department engaging to your users. After the implementation of these shared processes, the way they will interact with the Service Desk will inevitably change. The operator they log a ticket with may no longer just be down the hall, so even if at first the processes aren’t quite optimised behind the scenes, it is important for your users to maintain a professional mindset from the very beginning. Then, once your shared processes are finalised and validated, your users are already used to the professional way of working you expect from them.
The importance of continual collaboration
The process of collaboration doesn’t end once your shared processes are in place. The very nature of a merger dictates a continuous level of collaboration between members, so keep working together! It is key to retain this way of working, as there is always room for improvement.
Keep asking for feedback from staff and students and work on their suggestions. A really great idea from one college could be implemented across all of them, which is why it’s so important to continue collaborating. This allows you to leverage the opportunities and resources of the other institutions, completing the vision you set out with at the beginning.