Welcome to the Autumn version of the UniDesk Newsletter. We can’t believe it’s September already although we have had the occasional heatwave recently to remind us of the warm summer months. Many of us will be returning to the office in some form of hybrid working over the coming weeks and our support to you will continue no matter where we are working.
In this issue:
- An update from the Chair of the UniDesk Board
- Service Developments for the UniDesk Service
- Upgrading with the Quarterly Release Process
- UniDesk Change Freeze
We recognise that this is an important time of the year for all our members and wish you all the best with your start of term and welcoming new and returning students on and off campus. We’ll do our best to ensure that UniDesk supports you all of the way!
Dawn Dodd and Catherine Hetherington
Service Owners of UniDesk
Our Board Meeting was very much future-focused. Colin Watt provided an update on the project to Optimise the UniDesk Services reporting delivery of significant enhancements for Quick Calls and the Person Import process. Catherine and Dawn also updated the Board on recent service developments on Chat, enhancing APIs and reporting. We were also pleased to report that all member environments have been upgraded smoothly through the first Quarterly Release process i.e. no more major upgrade projects!
As most of you will know, availability of TOPdesk SaaS environments has been a significant concern recently. Jeroen Boks (CIO) and Luis Soares (MD, UK) from TOPdesk joined the Board meeting to provide an update. They provided reassurances that the recent major incident had now been resolved and discussed some of the steps being taken to prevent future reoccurrence. TOPdesk apologised for the disruption caused and emphasised the importance of the UniDesk Service and the value of their relationship with the UniDesk Team. The Board welcomed this update and thanked TOPdesk for their effective communication throughout this major incident.
UniDesk 4th in ucisa survey
And finally, each year ucisa carries out a survey of Corporate Information Systems in use across the UK HE and FE sectors. The 2020 survey results have now been published and we are pleased to report that the UniDesk National Service was named as the 4th most used ITSM with our technology partner TOPdesk the most used overall. This is a great result for our service and TOPdesk!
Mark Ritchie, Chair UniDesk Board
Over the last few months we have been focusing on further developments for our UniDesk Service. We asked the UniDesk Board in March to prioritise from a list of 13 service development proposals and the top runners were Chat, Reporting and enhancing the API followed closely by Quick Calls. We have also been implementing some changes to improve the resilience of our Person Import process.
Chat – we created an extensive list of requirements with help from our Chat Evaluation Group and evaluated these against the native TOPdesk chat. As the TOPdesk offering has not met our requirements, we will be evaluating third party chat products which integrate with TOPdesk and provide recommendations on Chat for the UniDesk Service
Reporting – a set of standard reports have been created by the UoE ITIL team in consultation with schools and colleges. These are ready to roll out to UniDesk Test environments for feedback before creating in your Live environments
API – the Board have accepted that a subset of TOPdesk APIs will be granted write access. Members will be required to adhere to a list of conditions to ensure the API doesn’t wreak havoc on their environments!
Quick Calls – over the summer a number of enhancements from a longstanding list of requests from our UniDesk community were implemented into Quick Calls V2. This includes: selecting your own colour scheme for accessibility; logging multiple calls from the same template; the ability to log Quick Calls as the logged in operator for better reporting and changes to simplify using Quick Calls as an administrator
Person Import Process – UniDesk is now able to offer a direct Azure AD import for person records. UHI have been the first to adopt the new process with Ulster and RCA hot on their heels. We also thank Board members for supporting the migration to the new process
UniDesk Quarterly Release Process
The UniDesk Service has now joined the TOPdesk SaaS Quarterly Release Group with updates expected every quarter.
The first quarterly release cycle for the UniDesk Service was successfully completed during July with updates installed during the overnight maintenance window.
This quarterly release included features to improve operator convenience, general operability and increased accessibility. Some installed (but not yet released) functionality for future discussion includes the Knowledge API, Kanban features, and automatic call assignment.
To support members during the release process the UniDesk Team produced:
- A new UniDesk SaaS Guide to communicate the most important UniDesk SaaS service information for UPMs and Institutional Administrators
- A Quarterly Release wiki to provide summary release guidance to UPMs and Administrators.
We welcome any feedback members have on the quarterly release process and the release wiki so that we can improve the overall experience for the next upgrade. So please get in touch if you have any ideas for improvements. The release date for the next quarterly release will be announced as soon as this is confirmed by TOPdesk. Now that the first upgrade cycle has been completed we will also shortly be reinstating the UniDesk CAB process.
UniDesk Change Freeze
To minimise the risk of outages or service failures during the critical start of term period, Information Services at UoE has implemented a ‘Change Freeze’ on all University of Edinburgh IT services from 7th September to 27th September.
We have requested a similar Change Freeze with TOPdesk and they will be aligning with these dates. We have also extended the TOPdesk change freeze into October to take account of the later start of term period for members in England.
Please note that TOPdesk and University of Edinburgh will implement essential emergency changes and remedial works during the Change Freeze where these are required.