Strictly Education improves quality and consistency with Richmond ServiceDesk

This case study explains how Richmond ServiceDesk has helped Strictly Education overhaul its IT support and deliver a better service to customers.

Project background

Strictly Education is a managed service provider supporting more than 120 educational institutions in London and across the UK.  The services offered to the education sector are broadly divided into three strands: traditional IT service desk; support for project teams working in the field; and helping schools with issues related to SIMS – the management information system for schools developed by Capita. 

Phil Ratcliffe, Technical Service Desk Manager, says that 12 staff handle around 700 incidents per month, with queries ranging from simple password resets through to complex usability and downtime issues.  The aim of the service desk is to provide a high quality support experience, and to eliminate the need for repeat calls where possible.  One of its challenges is managing the seasonal element of its support traffic, with certain systems and processes called into action at key term times creating spikes in support calls.


“Working with Richmond Systems has been brilliant: the
product is very good and the support is very good.”

Strictly Education has been working with Richmond for three years.  Prior to May 2013 when Richmond ServiceDesk was implemented, Strictly Education was using mylittlehelpdesk, a freeware programme once popular in the education sector.  Phil explains why the product was ripe for replacement.  “The incumbent helpdesk was limited – basically a call logging system – with the reporting standing out as being particularly restricting for us.  It wasn’t telling us about repeat problems and this was stopping us being proactive.” 

Charlie Bennett, Head of Service, and his team then began looking at the solutions available.  “We did a lot of research on the various service desks available and Richmond Systems gave us the ‘best fit’ for what we were trying to achieve. Also the people made it easy to work with, and the on-going costs were better than most.”

Why Richmond ServiceDesk?
The decision to work with Richmond was quickly validated.  “Working with Richmond Systems has been brilliant: the product is very good and the support is very good.  The team at Richmond are very accommodating – regularly checking how we’re doing, carrying out updates and making changes as our requirements alter. With Richmond, we have more of a partnership than a straightforward business engagement.”

Phil says that the latest version of Richmond ServiceDesk, a fully web-based service desk with the level of functionality typically only offered by desktop products, is a great fit for the business.  “If anything, it is better than client/server tools.  It has a great look and feel, is easy to navigate, easy to use, and offers the best elements of a cloud-based tool and a traditional desktop service desk.”

Service improvements
To meet the challenge of managing seasonal spikes in support calls, Phil and the team make use of the reporting functionality within Richmond to analyse why the volumes increase, then either fix the problem at the source or educate schools that are struggling with the same issue multiple times.   “Everything is logged and categorised within Richmond, so we can see exactly where ongoing issues are occurring.”

Quality and consistency has improved as well.  “Work orders are created for field technicians so they know exactly what they are doing when they arrive, which improves the quality and speed of service. Previously, the technicians would produce reports based on the work carried out and email it to us, now they log it straight into Richmond, which is more accurate and means we have a clear picture of everything that is happening.” 

“Richmond helps us keep focus on the calls that are most important, and has been critical for allowing us to continue meeting our four-hour response time SLA.  It’s important to remember that without the service desk we wouldn’t have any statistics to work with. This means that on a monthly basis the figures are analysed by each head of service (SIMS and Technical) who then report back to the board on progress and problems. Also because it sets targets on response and resolution times, our efficiency has improved.”

After the first three months of using Richmond (May to July 2013), 89% of the incident response targets were met and 82% of them were resolved within their targets times. By the end of July 2014, 95% of response targets were met along with 89% of resolutions.  “Looking at July 2015, we are meeting 97.5% of response targets and 92.5% of resolution,” says Phil.

Why “free” doesn’t always mean value
The successes seen since using Richmond have convinced Phil that the value offered far outweighs any cost savings realised by using free helpdesk software.  “I’ve seen free helpdesk software used in certain schools and in my experience wouldn’t recommend it, there’s always something lacking in the tools I’ve looked at, and the benefits of Richmond means it delivers value.  For us, there’s a lot of bespoke elements to a service desk and a free software tool wouldn’t be flexible enough.”

Future plans
The confidence that Phil has in Richmond and the product means he is constantly investigating further improvements.  “The more I find out what I can do with Richmond, the more impressed I am.  We’re currently looking at its abilities for tracking our projects and it seems to offer a really useful solution for this.”

To further improve its service, Strictly Education is currently implementing the Customer Portal found within Richmond.  The current pilot gives schools a single sign-in which allows them to log and track their own support calls and log into the Strictly Education Portal.  A planned expansion of the service in September 2015 is expected to further improve the logging process for customers and give the service desk more time to fix issues rather than inputting data. “We’ll also be looking at the knowledge base functionality with Richmond, I think that offering customers self-service as part of the customer portal will be a revelation,” concludes Phil. 

To learn more about how Richmond Systems can help you tackle your ITSM challenges, improve IT support efficiency and demonstrate business value, call 01428 641616.