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 Use of Remedy at the University of Calgary

University of Calgary Information Technologies (UCIT) has been using a software tool, the Remedy environment for several years.  There are two forms of Remedy; a Help Desk application and a Rapid Application Development environment.  We have extensive experience with both components.

Remedy as a Help Desk tool

One of Remedy Corporations core products is the Action Request Services (ARS). We use it to track and monitor the trouble calls for approximately 2000 UCIT Desktop Technology (IT-DTP) clients.  Inventory and billing are automated, but the key business process that has been of most value is the processing of calls to the IT-DTP Help Desk.

When a trouble call is received, a record (called a trouble ticket) is generated, complete with:

·       all the pertinent information on the problem

·       all the details of the callers desktop unit (CPU, printer, age, display, warrantee information), which are already held in the Remedy databases

·       and all the details pertaining to the caller (ID, name, department, location, etc.), which are normally already held in the Remedy databases

Since the bulk of the information is already known to ARS (stored in its inventories), the recording of a trouble call takes only a few keystrokes.

The trouble ticket is then electronically assigned to a technician.  The technician may be physically anywhere (trouble tickets may be accessed using the web), but is most likely to be a close location within IT-DTP.  If the problem is not appropriate for that technician, or the technician is elsewise occupied, it can be forwarded in its entirety to another technician.  If it is not resolved in an appropriate length of time, management is automatically notified for proper assignment of escalation status (the problem is now given a higher priority).  When the problem is completed, a log of the corrective action is attached for future reference (for statistical purposes, as a reference if similar problems occur, etc.).  In addition, a record of all trouble calls is maintained forever for auditing and statistical purposes.  

Expanding the Help Desk use

  1. Recently, the Help Desk application has been expanded to include the UCIT students help desk (7th floor, Math Sciences).  In this case the screens for gathering information are different, as different information is required, but the background application is the same.  Since much of the application is common to both situations, very little development effort was required to add the new Help Desk application (a good example of efficient application design).

  2. In March/April, 2003, UCIT will be using Remedy to track all problems calls to the Administrative and DTP Help Desk.  A 24 x 7 web interface will be created through the my UofC Portal for users to submit a call for assistance.


Remedy as a Rapid Application Development tool  

In addition to the Help Desk application, Remedy contains a complete development environment allowing UCIT to quickly develop any number of additional tracking and workflow applications.

Recognizing the value of being able to provide “quick wins” to the institution, IT has allocated 2.5 FTE to Remedy development.  These include resources which range from a senior analyst with +20 years of experience to an Intern from the Universities Cooperative Education program.  These resources are exclusively assigned to Remedy development work.

Here are some facts about the Remedy Application Development environment.  Applications:

·       can be created and delivered very quickly compared to other development environments.  Prototypes can be competed in the order of days.  Completed applications can be delivered in the order of weeks

·       can be modified as required by IT, as the business process evolves

·       can be delivered via the Web or Portal as required

·       can be linked to various institutional data bases and services (LDAP directory services, Secure ID, Teleweb, e-mail, Data Warehouse, etc.)

Ideal Remedy applications include an inventory component and a workflow component.

Within IT, we have created applications to track and monitor system changes, record request for systems changes and track Authorization Access (in response to a recent report from the provincial Auditor). 

However, a better example of Remedy’s power is the recently completed “Rights Flow” application which tracks the digitization of documents related to local histories. The Our Roots project, funded by the Department of Canadian Heritage, is led by The University of Calgary Press, along with Laval University and over 20 partners from across the country. The goal is to digitize and make available on the web (http://www.ourroots.ca) a comprehensive collection of published and copyright-cleared French and English Canadian local histories.

As the lead institution, the University of Calgary keeps track of copyright approvals and the stages of digitization, while partners work from bibliographies to identify appropriate publications and contribute scanned images and metadata. Prior to the commencement of the Remedy project, the Our Roots control center was a huge white board with hundreds of details. With the Rights Flow software, anyone with authorized and authenticated Web access can track progress at each stage of the workflow. Duplication of titles among the regions can be caught early and there is a permanent record of all the copyright clearance agreements by individual title or author. Using floating licenses and taking advantage of the time differences across the country as well as shift work here in Calgary, the project will make efficient use of a small number of software licenses and web-based access. Files are backed up on the UCIT Remedy server. Software upgrades are also applied by IT.

The next stage in Rights Flow is to track the full digitization workflow (copyright, scanning, metadata creation) and look at an interface to update the descriptive metadata fields in the main Our Roots database. For further information on the Rights Flow application, please contact Mary Westell at Information Resources, University of Calgary Libraries (westell@ucalgary.ca).


Calgary Remedy Users Group (CRUG)

In an effort to align ourselves with other expertise in the Remedy environment, UCIT and the Information Resources ITS unit recently sponsored the Calgary and Region Remedy Users Group on January 31.  The CRUG brought together representatives from Remedy Corporation and Remedy developers from the Oil and Gas Industry, telecommunications industry,  as well as other educational institutional to exchange information on development concepts and discuss using Remedy to resolve a wide variety of workflow problems.  UCIT is planning to continue to sponsor the CRUG.

New Projects 

The use of Remedy on Campus has generated considerable interest.  Other applications either approved or under consideration include:


1.     Parking Office.  

Track parking ticket appeals.  This application will connect the appeal form to any additional digitized information (such as scans of the submitted hand written appeal form), for tracking purposes (answer phone, email queries as to the status of the appeal).  Future phases of this project are projected to include the electronic submission of forms by the patrons and the potential for the appeals committee to meet virtually (i.e. vote on appeals from their desk using Remedy Web), possibly reducing the need for potentially difficult to arrange meetings.


2.     Registrar's Office. 

Student self serve/Workflow.  We have discussed the possibility of creating applications to track various student request processes. The potential benefits include request self service (web), centralized digitization of documents, more responsive status reporting to students and reducing the paperflow to and from the Faculties.

3.     Printing Services. 

Student self serve/Workflow.   We have discussed the possibility of creating an application to allow users to format, view and submit their requests for stationary (business cards, letterhead) over the Web. The potential benefits include reduced paperflow and handling thereof, and in the future, automated billing.

4.     New Student Orientation. 

Student Exit Survey.  We have been approached by the Orientation office (UC 101) to create an application to replace the current student orientation exit survey. The potential benefits include reduced cost, better user interface and reduced effort in the creation of summary reporting.

5.     Human Resources. 

Student Exit Survey.  The IMAG unit within Human Resources has asked us to create applications to track Faculty immigration status, track sessional layoffs and sebbatical leaves. Each of these applications will reduce paperflow and increase business efficiency.


Contact Information

If you have any questions concerning the use of Remedy at The University of Calgary, please contact the author of this article:

Jim Standen
Manager, General Information Systems,
Information Technologies
University of Calgary
email: jstanden@ucalgary.ca
phone: (403) 220-4430

From an article published in the Winter 2003 edition of the UCIT Big Byte and the University of Calgary InfoServe Volume 10, Number 3, April, 2003.