The Innovation Team at University Tees manages and troubleshoots the company’s entire tech stack, including mission-critical, customer-facing applications. Moving to Spoke’s simple ticketing system improved the team’s operational effectiveness and productivity while providing a better experience for employees.
Don Pawlowski’s Innovation Team at University Tees (“UTees”) has nine people, including developers, a systems administrator, and QA.
Many IT teams at companies of this size (around 200 headcount) only have one or two staff members, but those IT teams don’t have the broad scope of responsibilities of the UTees Innovation Team.
The team isn’t just responsible for conventional internal IT support and solutions, but also for supporting the applications that power customer order-taking and fulfillment. In other words, the Innovation Team literally keeps the revenue of UTees flowing.
For internal support, the team set up specific channels in Slack for employees to post questions and requests. But employees would frequently send direct messages to specific people on the Innovation Team, hoping to get their issues expedited.
But if the recipient was out of the office, then issues would go unnoticed and unattended.
More broadly, since having transitioned away from outsourced to in-house IT services, the team focused on executing, but lacked a formal system to track issues and requests.
Don started looking into systems that would help solve these problems. Something that would allow the team to track and manage everything in one place while providing better service to employees.
“It mainly came down to being able to serve people and then tracking what were what were actually doing, what’s actually happening, and what’s actually broken.”
“The biggest thing for me was just having this streamlined one-stop-shop to send all things that are broken to. I wanted a really easy place that everyone could go and comfortably use to put all their issues in. Everything just goes there so I can assign people to cover for various situations.”
Once Don evaluated Spoke, he was sold. The way Spoke could keep all of UTee’s issues organized with such a simple interface sealed the deal.
“I was just in. I was like, this works. It’s just simple and it just works and that’s what I care about. It’s easy to put stuff in, it’s easy to see what’s going on, and it’s nice that it can filter stuff to certain teams automatically.”
The rest of the Innovation Team embraced Spoke, too.
“My team’s really adjusted to it. It was just so intuitive and easy for them to get on and start using it. There’s not all these crazy bells and whistles. You know, there’s so many tools in our industry that you just pile feature atop of feature. And just makes it an awful user experience. Things like JIRA come to mind. ”
Even the skeptics who had worked with other, more complex ticketing systems were quick to adopt.
“Greg [the systems admin] loved it the second he saw it. And he was probably the one of the hardest charging against having a ticketing system, because he’s seen how bad it’s gone before at other places and didn’t want any part of that.”
And, critically, UTees employees bought-in quickly.
“Our adoption rate was kind of off the charts incredible. People in the company saw the simplicity and just got it, easy. We got the whole company on there in a day. We had a small education campaign around it and everyone just was in there and using it, with a quick onboarding time.”
With Spoke, Don got his wish: an easy-to-use, one-stop-shop for employees and the support team, alike:
“We have the IT and the app support teams on it, and we’re probably going to put our newly created Data team on it. It is super-helpful that Spoke automatically splits out the requests because it’s like a one-stop shop for the end user when something’s broken. I think for them that’s super powerful. They don’t want to have to think about where they’re supposed to send this issue.”
Switching to Spoke has given Don the confidence that he and the rest of the Innovation Team have a better handle on the many issues they’re managing.
“Before Spoke, when it was all in Slack, it was hard to see when stuff was getting accomplished. Having everything in a central place through Spoke makes it easy to see what’s going on. You can just pop in and take a look at the list and see what’s open. You can keep a pulse on it. If there’s a massive problem, you see it a lot sooner. It gives me really good confidence.”
The operational improvements Spoke has brought to the Innovation Team have resulted in concrete productivity gains:
“It definitely has made things on the team a lot more efficient and it’s definitely saved us time. There’s how quickly are we responding to things and then how quickly are we resolving things and I’d say there’s probably 20 percent efficiency gain in either category.”
“I’m a evangelist. I’m a believer. It’s been one of the better moves we’ve made for our team. For a team that didn’t have a ticketing system, Spoke was just perfect.”
And employees are feeling the results:
“There’s that built-in feedback to the end user who submits an issue: We’re looking at this thing. That may or may not have happened before. And so the end user is at least feeling like things are being completed more quickly because they’re getting that feedback.”
Spoke even provided Don with some unexpected benefits, including helping him set realistic expectations with company leadership.
“There’s just never enough capacity to do all the things that the company can and wants to do. Any firepower that I can have in my back pocket is always a good thing.”
“I looked to see how many Spoke requests we’ve had and it was 837. I was like, wow. It’d only been like a month or two so it was kind of shocking. I expected more like 100 or 200.”
“I told the senior leadership team, look, there’s over 800 things that we’ve done in the last month. Support is a cost, so we need to be conscious of if people want a one hour turn-time on issues. That costs us money. I can always go back to that 837 number.”