New portal transforms the campus tech support experience

Computer station

A new web portal has started transforming the way University of Oregon faculty, staff and students get help with their computers, software, email accounts and other technology.

The UO Service Portal, launched in August, combines a treasure trove of how-to guides with an online help-request function and a listing of information technology services.

The portal's knowledge base provides a do-it-yourself resource for the whole campus community, with step-by-step instructions for solving common tech problems ranging from resetting your Duck ID password to setting up email and using OneDrive cloud storage.

Four units currently are using the service portal a new way to get tech support. Its launch has meant submitting help requests through the portal's webforms instead of through the long-familiar method of email.

Those units include the College of Design, the School of Journalism and Communication, the Division of Student Life and Information Services, whose Technology Service Desk serves all UO students and employees. Additional units are expected to start using the portal in the future.

"We know it may take people a while to get used to contacting campus help desks in a different way, but we’re confident it will pay off in terms of faster resolution of their tech problems,” said Sara Stubbs of Information Services, the UO's central IT department.

So far, the response has been broadly positive.

"I am a big fan," said Sheryl Eyster of the Holden Center for Leadership and Community Engagement. "Although we’ve always had incredible IT support in the Division of Student Life, the wider-reaching portal system has surpassed my expectations of even a higher level of service."

Information Services worked closely with the IT groups in the above departments to launch the service portal, aiming to increase efficiency and effectiveness and improve the tech support experience on campus, both for those seeking help and for those providing it.

"It's extremely convenient and very user-friendly," said Rod Keck of the University Counseling and Testing Center. "I've been using it for requesting email activations, email list creation, port activations, all kinds of IT things. It's just incredibly easy."

To request tech support, people must log in with their Duck ID. The system can then identify each person's department, which helps the portal automatically route their requests to the appropriate IT groups.

"It's just a lot simpler than calling and emailing and trying to find the right people," Keck said. "I don't have to know who to call. I don't have to worry about when a particular person is in the office. I just have to put in my ticket and know it will be routed to the right person."

The service portal's webforms also help ensure that IT staff have the information they need to start working on a problem.

"Previously, the customer would send in a request and might only give me some of the information,” said Martin Abair of the Technology Service Desk. "Then I would need to write back to them to ask them more questions to get all the information I needed to help them."

In some cases, such as for employees seeking access to business applications such as Banner, the portal's webforms replaced clunky paper-based processes that had been used for years, according to Jillian Sallaway of the Technology Service Desk.

"The previous process for requesting Banner accounts was to get a paper form, have it signed physically by your leadership, then get it to us by campus mail or fax, or scan and email it to us," Sallaway said. "Now people complete a form in the service portal that automatically routes to their designated approver. Once approved, their request comes directly to us through the portal."

"It's super fast and easy for them," she said.

Once someone has submitted a help request, the portal also makes it easy for them to track that request, see who is working on it, add comments and respond to questions as needed.

The portal also offers a “report an outage” feature that allows members of the campus community to alert IT staff to problems with IT services, such as if a network fails or Webmail won't load.

Sallaway provided some tips for first-time portal users.

"Don't be afraid to just put in a ticket, even if you're not sure you're doing it right. It will get to the right place," Sallaway said. She also encouraged people to use the portal's search function.

Anyone who uses the portal is invited to share feedback through a dedicated portal help page. Click the green "Request Help" button, log in with your Duck ID, complete the form and submit by clicking the green "Request" button.

Anyone with questions can contact the Technology Service Desk at 541-346-4357 or through the UO Service Portal at https://service.uoregon.edu.

—By Nancy Novitski, University Communications