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Help on the Way

Philadelphia Insurance implements UniPress Software's FootPrints to automate IT help desk support.

When a technology problem arises in an insurance enterprise, a timely response is critical. For Philadelphia Insurance Co. ($2.5 billion in assets), the inability of its employees to request IT support without calling the IT help desk, and IT's inability to prioritize and track requests, created a bottleneck. All IT support requests from the insurer's 36 offices nationwide were routed to the IT department's help desk, located in the carrier's home office in Bala Cynwyd, Pa. As a result, IT spent most of its time manually documenting and sorting the phone and e-mail requests to identify which ones needed immediate attention, according to Frank Giardina, the carrier's VP of IT.

To free IT from the administrative burdens so it could provide more hands-on technical support, in early 2004, Giardina began looking for a solution that would enable end users to submit service requests over the Internet while also providing the help desk with a means to track and prioritize requests. "We needed a Web-based solution that would allow for self-service and enable users to submit tickets for incidents," he says. "We also wanted the ability to track the different types of calls—calling out the ones that needed attention."

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Giardina examined platforms from three vendors, and by November 2004, Philadelphia Insurance selected Edison, N.J.-based Unipress Software's FootPrints help desk automation software. According to Giardina, FootPrints automatically assigns help desk requests through a self-service Web-based interface, meaning the IT help desk did not have to route the requests manually. "We liked it because it was easy to customize, and it had the built-in capability to do the configuration of the routing and escalation," Giardina explains.

In addition to online submissions, FootPrints also tracks incoming customer requests from other channels, including phone, e-mail and wireless devices, Giardina adds. The solution, he continues, creates a dashboard using business rules automation, service level management, knowledge management and automated metrics, and creates an online questionnaire with prompts. The end-user responds to these prompts and then submits the support request. The system then distributes the ticket to the appropriate IT technician automatically. "With the automated process, the end user is given a selection of issues to choose from," Giardina explains. "They fill out the ticket for us to tell us what's wrong, and that request is automatically routed to the appropriate person."

Philadelphia Insurance's in-house IT staff installed the solution on an HP (Palo Alto, Calif.) server in December 2004 and then configured it to work with the carrier's Microsoft (Redmond, Wash.) SQL Server database over the next few months. Giardina's team then configured the automation rules, which run the online questionnaire, and the insurer set up a month-long training program for employees. FootPrints went live in March 2005.

The solution has made the workload in IT more manageable, Giardina asserts. With the software in place, the IT staff has been able to handle 30 percent more IT requests. "It's definitely made us more efficient and productive," Giardina says.

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