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Managed Services & Service Desk Update

The last twelve months have seen the start of one of the largest internal projects undertaken by EACS’ Managed Services division. This involved the replacement of our Service Management Tool (a previous version of Microsoft CRM) with System Center Service Manager and Cireson.

The journey started when we identified that our current tool  would not be able to provide the features and functionality we needed to further develop our Service Desk and Service Management offerings.

Despite our strong skills and track record in the implementation of System Center solutions, we needed to ensure the tool we invested in truly matched our requirements.

We were clear in what we wanted our new Service Management application to do. We created a list of features and functionality needed, ranking these from essential to nice to have. The final list, which was constructed by all main stakeholders within the business, had over fifty headings to assess the suitability of prospective solutions.

The selection process was mainly conducted by our Technical Director, Service Desk Manager and Service Delivery Manager. Products that were evaluated included ConnectWise, ServiceNow and Autotask (which are all recognised and widely used tools in the industry), before we came to the decision that System Center Service Manager with Cireson (to provide a web interface) was our solution of choice.

It was agreed that the implementation must be handled with the same quality of approach as that used for our external clients, so a Project Board was commissioned and a Project Manager and System Center Technical Lead assigned.

As with all successful projects, planning was crucial. A phased approach to the deployment was adopted to ensure that following the incident and problem installation, enhanced management reporting, client portals and change management would be added.

Testing was another key ingredient before the system went live. Over three months of time was allocated to put both Service Manager and Cireson through its paces. Testing was conducted by representatives from the Service Desk including Analysts, the Service Desk Manager and Service Management. Any problems, or added development needed, were quickly fed back to the EACS’ System Center Technical Lead to address immediately, so as not to delay the go live date.

Go live was planned for 1st May and one week prior all Service Desk staff received hands on training to ensure all elements of the new tool were covered, service management processes were re-enforced and technical questions addressed.

On 1st May at 08:00 Service Manager/ Cireson was successfully launched. EACS operates a Continual Service Improvement Plan which means all stakeholders for the new tool were encouraged to make suggestions for enhancements that could either improve the efficiency of the tool or, even better, heighten the overall customer experience for Service Desk users. The plan still remains in place today and is regularly reviewed and actioned.

The initial benefit for our customers as a result of this project is the ability to view open or closed incidents and service requests online with their respective case notes and history.

System Center Service Manager with Cireson has provided EACS with a firm foundation to further enhance services and improve overall customer experience. Over the coming months the following will be implemented: the ability to log calls via a web portal, the introduction of self-help guides and the ability to report in detail on the amount of incidents logged. Now customers looking to adopt Cireson themselves  can draw upon the knowledge and experience  EACS has gained from our journey into the implementation and development of a service management tool. This is both from a technical perspective, as well as input from the operational teams involved in the deployment.

Watch the video case study

Increasing IT Efficiency and Reducing Costs at one of the UK’s Largest Housing Associations

house-webThe company: The housing association provides and manages more than 70,000 high quality, affordable properties, including sheltered housing and delivers a range of services to around 200,000 people across England.

The challenge: increasing efficiency and reducing infrastructure management costs against a framework of welfare reform and tighter budgets

IT is key to the way the association provides services to its many residents. The IT department runs around 500 Windows servers at major sites throughout the UK, supporting 3,000 end-user Windows 7 laptops. The in-house infrastructure team had both technical and business reasons for reviewing how it managed physical and virtual technology environments across multiple locations. It had been using a proprietary management and monitoring solution but “felt vulnerable”, according to the Infrastructure Team Leader.

He explains: “The software we used had changed ownership and was maintained by an external contractor, as we had no in-house skills to support it – making it an expensive resource. Although it had served us well, it couldn’t provide the flexibility or levels of granularity we now needed to meet our long term strategic technology roadmap. We also wanted to extend the solution beyond monitoring and automate basic remediation tasks so that we could reduce our support costs even further.”

There were also compelling business reasons for IT change. Welfare reform has put enormous new pressures on providers of social housing. Instead of receiving a single monthly payment from local authorities, they now have to collect rent directly from each household. As a result they have had to develop new business processes and deploy new systems, leading to escalating support costs. Meanwhile, revenue has taken a major hit, as housing associations now have to bear the brunt of any rent evasion.

The new business processes have significantly increased the workload of IT staff, and so the association needed a modern, integrated and automated infrastructure management solution to reduce the workload and help to offset these new costs.

The solution: Microsoft System Center implemented by EACS to provide integrated monitoring and management

As the housing association was very much a Microsoft house, Microsoft System Center was an obvious contender. However, the team needed to be sure that this would provide a truly integrated monitoring solution, offering both the basic remediation procedures it needed and the flexibility to support any sudden growth through possible acquisitions in the future, which would require the rapid deployment of additional equipment.

“It was vitally important that the technology we chose should not hinder our plans for business growth,” explains the team leader. “We wanted external confirmation that System Center would accommodate all our requirements, right through to our future use of the cloud, whatever route that might take.

“Microsoft recommended partnering with EACS as they were specialists in delivering their private cloud solutions. A number of my colleagues had already worked with EACS on other projects, so our expectations were high. I’m delighted to say that these expectations were fully met.”

EACS began with a series of high level overviews to ensure that, in essence, System Center ticked all the housing association’s boxes. Next came more detailed workshops, looking at how the association could utilise each component with its bespoke elements.

Once the association had confirmed that System Center was the product it wanted, EACS engaged a project manager to create the Project Initiation Document, which provided details of and a timeline for each phase of the implementation. An EACS consultant worked on-site during each phase, carrying out the configuration and providing documentation and training. They repeated the process in a very controlled, structured, organised way for each phase of the project.

“This worked remarkably well, and everything was delivered within the agreed timescales,” the team leader explains. “The team at EACS understood the special demands of the social housing environment, as well as our technical environment. We were so impressed with their delivery methodology that we have subsequently engaged them on other high profile projects.”

The outcome: improved management and time freed up for more productive tasks. Both end users and staff are happier

The housing association now uses the full suite of Microsoft System Center 2012 R2 components – Configuration Manager, Operations Manager,  Service Manager, Orchestrator and Virtual Machine Manager – with the exception of Server Manager, which  will follow later.

The team leader sums up: “System Center provides a more closely controlled infrastructure with tighter security, meaningful alerts, a considerable degree of automated remediation and fewer outages – all from a very user-friendly management console.

“We had anticipated that automation would free up valuable staff to spend time on more productive tasks. This has proved to be the case and, as a bonus, the tasks that have been eliminated were amongst the most frustrating. This has meant happier end-users and happier IT support staff.”

The solution is flexible and will support the housing association’s future growth. It also puts in place the foundation for Microsoft’s private cloud in the future and acts as a stepping stone towards the association’s longer term cloud computing goals.

Managed Services: Microsoft System Center

Today’s IT landscape is changing. Cloud adoption is accelerating across all use cases. The IT management team therefore requires Unified Management across hybrid cloud, on premise and mobile environments. Microsoft System Center allows customers to realise the benefits of Microsoft Cloud Platforms whilst allowing the monitoring, configuration and protection of traditional on premise IT.

This broad suite of tools covering many technologies brings additional resource challenges to most organisations. Whilst end user support personnel are usually multi skilled, 3rd line engineers and consultants tend to specialise in certain technologies. Few have in-depth skills in areas such as desktops, storage, networking, backup, service desk processes, automation, cloud migration and cloud performance monitoring.

By allowing EACS to provide support services, System Center can be used for its intended purpose, monitoring, automating and protection, without the requirement to recruit either high value individuals or multiple specialists for occasional support incidents. Your IT resources can focus on their core strengths and delivering a reliable and well managed IT service without the worry or distraction associated with a poor performing unified management platform.

Support options

EACS has developed a portfolio of Managed Services for System Center.  Services range from a remote telephone support service to a fully managed service. We will ensure that your Microsoft System Center implementation is performing optimally whether on premise, remotely hosted, or utilising private or public cloud.

Cireson Password Reset – Reduce Costs. Gain Control. Elevate User Happiness

30% of service desk calls are for password resets and they cost on average $25 each.

Eliminate this expensive distraction for your service desk and allow employees to spend their time focusing on the business.

The Cireson Password Reset app for Active Directory is the first phase of many new pre-built apps that support authentication, user provisioning, and is easy to set-up.


Cireson helps reduce costs, gain control, and elevate user happiness across the business by providing an easy to implement, Active Directory integrated, HTML based self-service driven and workflow automation solution.

Return on Investment

It’s ridiculously easy to save your company money with Cireson. Resetting passwords manually is expensive, inefficient and time consuming.

Integration with your Service Desk solution

With straightforward integration into Microsoft Service Manager and all other Service Desk solutions on the market, you create immediate and timely adoption for your end users. A work item will be automatically created and closed directly in your Service Desk to allow for auditing and reporting.

Multi-Factor Self Service Options

Get users back up and running with zero downtime. Cireson offers users secure access 24 hours, 7 days a week with the flexibility of resetting their passwords via text messaging or email.

Password Policy Supported and Enforced

Security across the infrastructure increases, respecting your native directory services password policies to reduce potential access vulnerabilities.

Access Freedom

Using the Cireson Portal, end users are able to reset passwords from any device, anywhere, any time.

Password Reset Reporting

Get insight into how Password Reset is performing and saving money and time across the organisation. Identifies hot spots and trends in the data.

Contact EACS for more information

Big Data & Business Intelligence

Big Data and Business Intelligence are clearly very hot topics in the IT industry at the moment, not just to manage IT infrastructure more effectively, but also to assist the organisation itself to grow and develop. Dashboards help managers and C-level executives to identify the strengths in the organisation and, more importantly, the areas for improvement. By constantly targeting the weakest performing area, levels of investment can be channelled very efficiently in a process of continual business improvement.

In 2015, EACS embarked on a journey to provide better visibility of the state of our business to the Board of Directors. The result is a web-based dashboard solution that is available internally via SharePoint, or externally via PowerBI, that hooks into various data sources including finance, CRM, service desk, Google Analytics, etc; and summarises the data at a high level to provide a picture of progress and performance.

The intention of this solution is to produce an overall score that represents the performance of the business. But this alone will not paint a detailed enough picture without two further areas of context. The first is history. There’s no point knowing that your score is currently 80%, without knowing what it was previously. If, in the previous period, the score was 70% then this is a positive step forward. If however it was 90% then clearly something is going wrong and it warrants further investigation. This is referred to as “direction”.

The second is “depth”. In order to ascertain why the overall score is 80%, one must break that score down into areas, such as finance, sales, etc. Then, each area can be broken down further into constituent Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), which not only have a “value”, but also a “target”, from which a performance “score” can be derived. This aggregated rollup provides a hierarchical model which allows the users of the system to drill down into more detail, to follow the path of poorest performing scores until the true cause of the figure is revealed.

This journey has proved so valuable to EACS that the solution is now being productised so that other organisations can benefit from our development. This will be launched in spring 2016 at our main Optimise IT event in Cambridgeshire. Until then, EACS is keen to speak to other organisations who may be interested in this solution, to discuss the possibility of either beta testing or early adoption. For more information please contact us.