The IT division of the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), South Africa’s self-funding national development finance institution, is using HEAT, the service management application from FrontRange Solutions, to ensure the effective, efficient operation of the Corporation’s IT staff and network.

"We’d be serving our customers blind without HEAT,” says IDC service desk team leader, Janine Breedt. “Over the years we’ve been exposed to similar applications but there’s nothing like HEAT. It’s so much more than a call logging system. It enables us to keep a realtime finger on the pulse of every IT-related activity and person in the organisation.”

The IDC’s HEAT-managed help desk handles an average of 150 calls a week in serving some 600 internal computer and network users.

“It’s not a big IT help desk, but high availability of systems and guaranteed integrity of data are fundamental to the success of the IDC and its clients,” Breedt says.

“Also, there are times when the network is busier than usual. Trend reports in HEAT enable us to pre-empt those periods and pro-actively put the right people and resources in place.”

HEAT has also put Breedt in a position to accurately monitor the performance of her five-person help desk staff in relation to calls resolved within service level agreements and, therefore, make their targets more relevant and improve their skills.

“HEAT enables you to take for granted that your calls are being logged and allocated to technicians in the most effective and efficient way and that, via email, users are being kept up to speed on the progress of their calls. So you can give attention to other customer relationship issues, such as possible skills shortages where users have been introduced to new technologies.

"In other words, you can be more efficient in identifying your customers’ needs and act on them timeously. That’s where HEAT moves beyond being simply a help desk management tool to assisting with performance management for the rest of the organisation.”

FrontRange Solutions (SA) product manager for Africa, Paul Bornhutter, agrees. “Improving service levels and productivity in one area of an organisation invariably has a knock-on effect on the rest of the organisation. And because HEAT is process rather than feature based, it has a direct positive effect on process management throughout an enterprise.

“For instance, if you the user know that your call will be resolved within a given period of time, you can pro-actively plan the rest of your work around that knowledge. And, at the most basic level, if an organisation’s technology works well almost all the time, the efficiency of users will always be at a higher level than in circumstances where the technology stutters along in a haphazard fashion.”

During 2006, the IDC implemented FrontRange Solutions’ ITSM change management module and is planning to also implement the service level and configuration management modules.

“Even though HEAT is not a module of Frontrange’s ITSM range, the two products integrate seamlessly – making it possible for us to continuously improve our service capabilities with very little effort,” Breedt says. “We can just keep adding extra modules to our existing HEAT platform as the need arises.

“Also, both HEAT and ITSM support CobiT, which is our preferred IT governance framework.”