Support Works Helpdesk
SupportWorks is a HelpDesk Manager application for service oriented
organisations. The overriding principle behind SupportWorks is maximum
efficiency in WorkFlow management.
The software has been designed from the outset to be absolutely the easiest
to use - benchmarks are constantly re-defined amongst the mainstream
competitors, yet SupportWorks remains the most straightforward. This is
particularly significant to IT departments, which often include Contract staff
and personnel with evolving working requirements - adherence to Service Level
Agreements in force can be used to determine their working practices.
Problem ownership is another 'cultural' option that can be deployed as a
control. Local and Internet E-Mail integration is an area of outstanding
functionality in the product - indeed this is used to integrate Helpdesk
operations in the UK, USA and Germany for one client. Incidents can be logged
by the 'customer' at the point of source, who will then be kept updated on the
status by Mail upon request.
Management can also use the real-time reporting to write queries
automatically and generate statistics and graphs that can posted via E-Mail.
These reports can also be set to display on a live VDU in the department.
The product was first developed in 1994, when one of the worlds largest
Pharmaceutical corporations recognised a need for automation of their IT support
function. Acting as consultants, Hornbill Systems scoured the marketplace for
suitable solutions and presented their findings to the Board of Directors.
After careful consideration it was apparent that the mainstream vendors could
not offer the power or flexibility demanded by this information-driven mixed
operating environment. SupportWorks has been running at the clients Central
London site for over 18 months in 16 bit form.
Functionality upgrades are undertaken on a quarterly basis without
compromising the integrity of the service offered. There are typically 10
concurrent users on a Windows for Workgroups platform, who have logged over
Hornbill offer Hotline support to the client, which currently encompasses
less than 1 incident per month. The client does not require user documentation
or external training for new users - testimony to the simplicity and stability
of the product.
As a consequence of SupportWorks success, Hornbill have implemented a
schedule for the further development and marketing of the product. The largest
UK manufacturer of PC Multimedia products now uses our software to support their
Trade and End-User customer base, currently numbering in excess of 10,000. Due
to the growing emphasis on customer service, and in particular the emergence of
IT departments as self-financing centres, Hornbill are now beta-testing the 32
bit version of SupportWorks - enabling more users, greater performance and
unsurpassed resilience. This version is due to market in October - porting of
data and user transference from the current version has been a primary
SupportWorks client will run on Windows NT, Windows 95 and Windows for
Workgroups and OS/2. Support-Works server will run on Windows 95(Workgroup
version) and Windows NT(corporate version). The server requires a minimum of a
Pentium 100Mhz processor with 16MB of RAM and 20MB of Hard Disk Space. TCP/IP
must be running and an ODBC driver must be enabled - we recommend the Intersolv
ODBC drivers, due to speed and stability. The client requires a minimum of a
386DX processor with 8MB RAM, 5MB Disk space and TCP/IP.
The program supports all common database types - Access, Dbase, SQL, etc.
Supportworks has been written in C++ for resilience and adaptability.
In many large organisations the incoming calls to the Helpdesk are
initially fielded by a 'receptionist' who logs the calls and then assigns them
to the appropriate team member - this is how SupportWorks is currently
configured. Where the initial recipient takes responsibility for the call they
must remember to 'Accept' the call. It can easily be reset to assign the call to
the initial recipient.
To log a new Support call click on the 'New' button on the left-hand end
of the Toolbar (underneath the File menu). If you have a mail message open when
you log a call, the customer and message details will be automatically
transferred into the new call window. This will bring up the 'Log New Call for
xxxx' window, where xxxx is your personal identifier. The cursor will be
blinking in the 'Customer ID' field - you can enter a code which your department
has assigned to each user. If you do not have the user codes press the TAB
key to move down to the 'Fullname' field - the format generally employed is
Surname, FirstName - you can just enter the Surname (or even just the first part
of it) and then press TAB to search the database for that user. If the user is
found the field will be populated by their full name.
If there are many users with that surname, the Browse Customers window
will appear and let you select the correct match. If the user is not found you
can use the 'Set up now' option to enter a new customer or the alphabet keys in
the Browse Customers window.
If the spelling is incorrect you can use the 'Modify' button to put it
right. If your database has been properly set up the following fields will be
populated : Equipment ID, Make / Model, Priority & Cost centre. You can
view all the items in the possession of that user by clicking on the drop-down
arrow in Equipment ID. If the users equipment has not been entered you must
enter your Internal code to identify the Hardware used. You can then see the
specification of the equipment they use by clicking the 'View equipment details'
button - by then clicking on the 'Notes' button you can check the exact
- TAB to the 'Problem area' field and select the appropriate category from
the drop-down list
- TAB to the 'Component breakdown' field and select the name of the
- TAB to the 'Problem breakdown' field and select the name of the offending
- Select the 'Priority' assigned to the call.
The users Cost centre will be shown by default - if this support call
is to be cross-charged then select the appropriate department. You should now
click in the 'Problem description' field and type a summary of the support call
and comments. Click the 'Log Call' button. In the 'Confirm New Call' window
you have the option to log the call and assign it to a Representative or defer
the call to a more suitable time (if, for example, the user will not be
available for a number of days - logging the call immediately may cause an
infringement of the Service Level Agreement). Click on the 'Log & Assign'
In the 'Select Support Representative' window you must choose a group and
then an individual to whom the call is assigned. The 'Log Call Confirmation'
message box will appear, which gives the call reference and other information
for the customer. You have the option to 'Send E-Mail' to the customer relaying
the details. The Call then needs to be Accepted by a Support Representative, by
selecting the call from their list of 'Active Calls' and then clicking the
'Accept' button on the toolbar (underneath the Options menu).
On the toolbar there are buttons relating to call management functions.
The call can be re-assigned to another representative, put on hold, updated,
etc. The most significant function is the 'Update' button, whereby you can add
notes on any further progress relating to that incident.
If you need to check the status of another representatives calls, you
should click on the 'View' menu and then 'Switch Support Group / Rep' - choose
the individual concerned from the listings. SupportWorks assigns colours to
calls in the 'Active Calls..' listing. These can be customised - currently they
have the following meanings
- BLACK Pending Work in Progress / Call Closed
- BLUE Unassigned / Unaccepted No one has taken responsibility
GREEN On Hold Awaiting further user input / availability
- RED Off Hold Requires urgent attention
If a call has not been accepted by a group member, and has been on the
system for such a period of time that it is in breach of any Service Level
Agreement, then it will show as a Red item.
Apart from satisfactory problem resolution, one of the factors most
likely to impress a HelpDesk customer is to be kept informed of the status of
their call. SupportWorks offers impressive E-Mail integration - the customer
can post their call by E-Mail and the system can respond and provide the latest
information by return.
In the previous 'Logging a call' section we have seen how the initial
call is acknowledged by the system via E-Mail if required. There remains the
option to Send E-Mail to the customer every time the call is updated. The user
can send E-Mail to SupportWorks, requesting information on the status of their
call by reference number - the system will compile a report and reply. This
feature is not enabled in the beta versions.
In order for the HelpDesk staff to have the latest information at their
fingertips it is important to update the tables containing information relating
to the users supported, their Cost centre, their equipment and configuration.
Because SupportWorks uses industry standard SQL RDBMS all data can be imported
from any other source into SupportWorks tables
Contained within the program there is a 'Quick Reports' and 'Statistics'
facility, under the 'Tools' menu. 'Quick Reports' allows any member of the team
to generate summaries of their personal workload and the performance of the
group as a whole.
'Statistics' is an on-screen facility for measuring a large number of
parameters relating to the activity of the HelpDesk. SupportWorks uses Crystal
Reports to generate a multiplicity of reports - standard items will include Call
Statistics, Call Histories, Equipment data, Analysis by Cost centre. Reports
can be generated by each support representative or by Management to cover the
group performance. There is also the facility to define any specification of
report. Reports can be requested by E-Mail, whereupon the system will generate
the statistics / graphs and return the results by Mail.
SupportWorks enables you to achieve greater customer satisfaction, whilst
maximising the productivity of your existing resources. Tracking the status of
a logged call, in order to adhere to a predetermined Service Level Agreement, is
a particular strength of the product. Keeping the customer informed of the
current position and related activities by E-Mail is a primary consideration.
SupportWorks has been running at beta test sites for in excess of a year
- their requirements have been met and tailored into the product. One of the
final development items is an installation procedure, and until this is
completed, we are only able to offer limited functionality to our beta test
sites, because the product is unable to be automatically configured for your
business in a short time. As you make greater use of our software we will be
interested to learn if you have any further needs, or feel that we do not meet
your expectations in any areas.
©Hornbill Systems Ltd : http://www.hornbill.com.
Email : email@example.com