Air Force

July 31, 2014

IT support automation efforts save Air Force money, time

Staff Sgt. Natasha Stannard
42nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala — The Air Force Enterprise Service Desk is revolutionizing information technology service delivery.

The recently launched self-service Information Assurance Officer Express tool has reduced a backlog of more than 130,000 trouble tickets to less than 200 and cut call wait times from more than an hour to less than two minutes during peak hours.

“With such a drastic call wait time, more than 40 percent of customers abandoned their calls, and with the backlog in the tens of thousands, routine trouble tickets often took more than 21 days for ESD to resolve,” said Lt. Col. Eric Trias, 690th Network Support Squadron, Detachment 2, commander.

The tool is the result of a collaborative working group hosted by the detachment in February that included agencies such as the Air Force Network Integration Center, Air Force Directory Services and other units from the 690th Cyber Operations Group. The IAO Express tool was launched in May.

The long wait times and high backlog were mainly attributed to a major reduction in manpower in late 2013. With a smaller staff and increasing workload, keeping up with the high-call volume was near impossible, frustrating customers and making it extremely difficult for ESD technicians to satisfy customer demand, Trias added.

“Come the turn of the year, our backlog just skyrocketed because we couldn’t keep up with the demand,” said Trias. “Because there were so many people trying to reach us, we couldn’t handle them all. If all we did was answer the phone, ask for a name and jot it down, we still wouldn’t be able to answer all the calls, let alone service their requests.”

The IAOs throughout the Air Force depend on the ESD services for support with computer system and network issues within three areas: service requests, incidents and problems. These range from creating new user accounts, to troubleshooting network connectivity issues, to root-cause analysis for repeat incidents. Previously, each time a customer filed a service or incident request, a ticket was issued.

Routine service requests submitted through IAO Express are automatically resolved without the need to generate a trouble ticket or a call to ESD. The tool enables user requests to be completed within a couple of days and not weeks.

An IAO at Air Command and Staff College is already experiencing the positive effects of the tool.

“IAO Express has made my job much easier,” said Senior Airman Benjamin Piper. “Now, instead of waiting for 30 to 60 minutes on the phone, I can complete a task in no time. This system is so easy to use and reduces the pain and frustration of waiting on the phone; it has a feature to keep track of your tickets as well. Hopefully, the Air Force will continue to provide more functional tools [directly] to Air Force users.”

The technicians at the detachment are also enjoying the successes of IAO Express.

“It’s not like you’re trying to chip down a mountain anymore,” said Staff Sgt. Nathan McGreal, Det. 2 operations non-commissioned officer in charge, of the previous backlog. “Our technicians are now able to focus more on advance troubleshooting, a requirement we normally pass on to Tier 2. As a result, customers’ issues will be resolved much quicker and at a lower level.”

“What we have accomplished with the development of IAO Express in just months is a testimony to the team’s commitment of finding innovative solutions, in the midst of resource constraints, to enable the warfighter and ensure we do our best to address their needs in accomplishing the Air Force mission,” Trias said. “We are truly enablers; we’re looking for ways to adapt, overcome, and more importantly, enable our Airmen to do their jobs. We have plans for ESD to become more proactive by finding and fixing issues before users even know they exist.”

In addition, as part of ESD’s automation thrust, users can also change their own non-critical Global Address List information by visiting https://esd.us.af.mil and selecting Self-Help. The IAO Express tool is also accessed through the website.

As for the future of automation, users can look forward to more updates in the fall that will enable automated troubleshooting of incidents via a desktop icon on every user’s workstation, coined “vESD.”




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(U.S. Air Force photo by Airmen 1st Class Cheyenne Morigeau)

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