By Mitch Davis
At Bowdoin College, IT support is an around-the-clock endeavor. Our students are cramming for tests or adding finishing touches to presentations or term papers at 3 in the morning, professors are grading mountains of exams in the middle of the night, and college administrators come in well ahead of the first day of classes to get a head start before the next semester begins. For us, after-hours support calls are the rule rather than the exception, and those calls span a wide range of needs, from requests for help with using the different types of laptops, mobile devices and tablets available today, to assistance with the multitude of applications used on these devices.
In 2010, in line with our goal, we were looking for new ways to expand our depth and hours of support and came across Vitalyst. The company’s core competence is providing expert-level support for all of the applications within the Microsoft Office and Apple iWork suites, and many other applications used by our academic community. Additionally, because Vitalyst already operated on a 24/7 schedule, the company also addressed our need for overflow and off-hours coverage (including summer months when we are incredibly busy because of new faculty arriving, classroom and lab upgrades, and replacing over a quarter of all PCs on campus). After an initial pilot program, and terrific feedback from users who tried the service, we added Vitalyst as an extension to our help desk staff. We now have a dedicated option on our help desk line that goes straight to Vitalyst for application and after-hours support. Even the college president has used Vitalyst for support, and he gave me positive feedback.
We’ve retained all of our in-house resources and added these new capabilities at about two-thirds the cost of staffing it internally.
Our partnership with Vitalyst also offers a cost advantage – we’ve retained all of our in-house resources and added these new capabilities at about two-thirds the cost of staffing it internally. An even greater benefit comes in the form of end-users’ time, and getting them back to work and studies as quickly as possible.
Together, my IT department and Vitalyst have raised the standard of support.