Bank optimizes IT service: software solution standardizes, simplifies and streamlines operations and help desk support

28 March 2007

Just a few years ago, Union Bank maintained only two data servers and a handful of applications at its branches, which were connected with a 56k phone line. Today, the bank is flourishing on the technology front with its own dedicated data center, including redundant connections to each office, as well as a separate disaster-recovery facility.

To maintain its technology-driven business operations, the bank's IT department established a help desk for bank employees to log trouble calls related to desktop, network, WAN, telephone and security issues.

According to Don Goodhue, information technology officer at the bank, "Prior to embracing a formal help desk system, we received technical requests by phone and email, which was not a very efficient process for us, since we did not have an application that allowed us to centrally track and manage our activities. Financial institutions are highly regulated, and our auditors were urging us to embrace a more formal method of tracking IT tasks and requests. With that in mind, we began our search for a unified IT service desk solution."

Union Bank is a wholly owned subsidiary of Union Bankshares, operating 13 full-service branches in northern Vermont and northern New Hampshire, as well as a loan center in St. Albans, Vt. With headquarters in Morrisville, Vt., Union Bank, with more than $390 million in assets, has served the financial needs of its surrounding communities since 1891.

Addressing its help desk processes, Goodhue knew the bank would need an application that was easy to use, and one that could scale with growth. "We wanted a solution that could track issues and even keep records of our employees who received technical support from us," he says.

Goodhue evaluated several help desk solutions and considered custom applications. He ultimately selected Alloy Navigator from Alloy Software based on a number of factors, including breadth of functionality, reasonable price point and asset-tracking features. "One feature that piqued our interest was the Web portal, enabling my team to log into the system remotely," Goodhue explains.

Alloy Navigator provides a centralized service desk platform to proactively administer all aspects of IT service management. The software offers a suite of tools to standardize, simplify and streamline IT operations, and improve service delivery, including self-service. Leveraging industry best practices, Alloy Navigator enables organizations to automate incident, problem, change, configuration and service management.

Among the tools provided by the software are: incident and problem management, change management, asset management; knowledge management, software licensing compliance, and management reporting. Alloy Navigator uses a configuration management database (CMDB) as the core foundation for the service support processes. Using the CMDB, Union Bank can manage the complete lifecycle of each individual component in its IT infrastructure, allowing for the flexible administration of a continuously changing network.

According to Goodhue, the other solutions his team evaluated were either too expensive, too difficult to use or lacked the core functionality Union Bank needed to support its help desk processes.

"The installation and customization of the product was a breeze," states Goodhue. "It did not take us long to get up and running, which was one of the reasons we selected this product. Also, the Web portal allowed all employees access to the system without having to install software on every PC. This was a big advantage for us."

Alloy Navigator is installed on a Windows 2003 server at Union Bank headquarters, while the database is on a separate SQL server. "We also have the technician console on each PC in the IT department," explains Goodhue. "Additionally, Alloy Navigator is linked to our Exchange server, and all employees can log into the help desk through a Web browser."

Today, Alloy Navigator has become the central repository for everything Union Bank does related to information technology. "We have been tracking hardware, software, contracts, and procedure documents, and building a knowledge base since deploying the product," he adds. "This year, we have expanded into asset tagging with barcode labels and now track all IT invoices in the system. We can then export this information and send it to our accounting department so they can manage the financial aspects of our IT assets. We couldn't imagine doing this process as easily with any other system."

In addition to using Alloy Navigator for asset management and to track IT service and support requests, Union Bank is using the product for change management, software license compliance, service-level agreement management and reporting.

Since deploying the product, Union Bank has had the capability to track and manage, on average, more than 300 service requests per month. These requests can range from password resets to new IT projects.

According to Goodhue, the number one benefit the company has seen since deploying Alloy Navigator is that everything is organized in a central location. This has also allowed the company to recognize significant cost savings. As the company continues to grow and scale its IT operations, Alloy Navigator is helping keep pace with the changing assets, employees and regulations, he says.

"This product has changed our overall support operations for the better," says Goodhue. "For IT, the product has added a systematic approach to our operations and also has given us a better grasp on how we are managing resolution times, service levels and so much more."

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