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College of Liberal Arts E-News: Biweekly news from the College of Liberal Arts

Two All Beef Patties, Special Sauce...

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Whether or not you eat there, you know what to expect when you enter a fast food restaurant. You can quickly select a meal from a well-organized menu, you are not upset that your food comes in a bag, and you know that it is your job to bus the table.

You have a similar understanding when you go to a fancier restaurant. Your meal will take longer, it will taste better than fast food (hopefully), and it'll be served with real silverware and on a plate. If you don't get such service, you'd be justifiably upset (though, being Minnesotans, we still wouldn't complain).

The restaurant business is stable with a long history; new ideas like drive-thrus and salad bars come about slowly. In contrast, not only is the world of Information Technology a much younger profession, but changes happen very quickly. Those who use the computers rarely have a good sense about what to expect: Will it take a minute or an hour to fix my problem? Do I need this adapter or that one? Should it come in a box or on a plate? This expectation disconnect can cause frustrating communication problems between the user and the technician.

Service Catalog

CLA-OIT is working hard to establish a common understanding about the services we provide and the services CLA faculty, staff, and students need. We want agreement on both what we provide and how we provide it. Our primary effort to build this common understanding is our new Service Catalog.

Through direct interviews with faculty and staff, and years of experience supporting the college, we have written user-friendly descriptions of over 50 services. The descriptions are grouped according to the point-of-view of those we serve, rather than from the technical perspective. We get to the point quickly and describe the benefits you'll get, avoiding a list of technical specifications.

In addition to a point of contact, each service description explains what we do, what we don't do, and what you need to do. Most importantly, we are now describing our service commitments: like how long it may take for a response to your request or how much time it may take to resolve the problem. We strive to respond as quickly as possible to all requests, but these commitments provide a basis for a more realistic expectation and they also give us a standard to evaluate our performance. As necessary, please make us aware if your needs are urgent or otherwise unusual.

Technology Administrators

Documentation is a necessary early step in building common understanding, but it cannot act alone. CLA-OIT's new Technology Administrators lead the human side of our service offerings. Find what you need in our catalog? Call the Service Desk and request it. Not so sure? Set up a meeting with a Tech Admin. Our consulting experts will know our catalog completely, will have time to learn about your needs, and can customize our services to fit them. If services need to be changed or if new services need to be offered, the Tech Admins will advocate on your behalf. In restaurant terms, a Tech Admin is the MaƮtre d'.

Staying Current

The Service Catalog serves to advertise what we do, so IT doesn't seem like a black box. It makes it easier to find the support you want, so you don't have to guess. And it helps both of us stay in sync on what to expect. Since our Service Catalog is designed to evolve and change according to the needs and requirements of the college, the Tech Admins are charged with maintaining an awareness of client needs through close relationships with our faculty, staff, and students.

Please take a few minutes to become familiar with the catalog. Your feedback is welcome and very important to us; send us your suggestions and comments.

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