There are a number of processes involved in providing technical support. Some are reactive and deal with incidents as they occur. Others are proactive and are aimed at preventing incidents in the first place or generally improving the service. FITS contains all of the processes you need for efficient and effective technical support.
Each time technical support staff identify (or respond to) an ICT-related incident, log it, investigate it, diagnose and resolve it, they are carrying out a process. In many organisations, this process is haphazard and involves ‘fire-fighting’ rather than managing and controlling ICT services. FITS is a framework of guidelines designed especially with schools in mind, to ensure that ICT services are efficient, effective and good value for money.
Based on good practice in ICT support, FITS can be used in all schools irrespective of size or the technology in use. The guidelines should be adapted and adopted to fit each school individually, based on the school's resources and needs.
The benefits of using FITS
The emphasis of FITS is on proactive tasks as well as reactive ones. It views technical support not just as a function responsible for resolving incidents, but as a service provider whose main objective is to prevent incidents from occurring in the first place. We see this as the ultimate goal of technical support and we aim to help you make it happen.
There are many benefits of FITS. Here are just a few:
Secondary schools and larger primary schools that undertake their own technical support will benefit from implementing all of the FITS processes.
Even if you currently have a means of recording and monitoring incidents, FITS can help you to identify areas of your ICT support services that could be improved, and provide management information that may help you argue the case for increased resources.
If your school relies on an external provider for the majority of your ICT management and support, you will find that FITS will help you control and manage the ICT provision in your school.
An overview of FITS
In FITS there are 10 main processes, each covering a different area of best practice technical support and each with a complete and separate set of material devoted to it. Within these main processes there are a number of sub-processes covering best practice for operations management, change management and the strategic processes.
However, there are inter-dependencies between them and common 'best practice' themes across them all. We would also like to demonstrate to you that these processes can help you outside of the ICT arena so that you might consider this before embarking on implementation.
Details of a suggested implementation timetable are listed under our section on Implementation of FITS.
Whilst the FITS processes are presented separately they are most effectively implemented in a structured way. We aim to advise you on how to implement these processes in a controlled and successful manner, acknowledging the fact that you are likely to have limited resources. We therefore recommend that you read Approach to implementing FITS and Implementation of FITS before starting.
The FITS Processes
The FITS processes are a manageable and relevant set of procedures based on many years’ experience of ICT support providers all over the UK that are ready to be implemented in schools.
They are grouped under four main areas:
Is the single point of contact within the school for all users of ICT and the services provided by technical support
To detect, diagnose and resolve ICT incidents as quickly as possible and minimise their adverse impact on normal operation.
The detection of the underlying causes of incidents and their resolution and prevention.
This is the process that takes control of all aspects of security on your network.
This involves managed and recorded introduction of changes to hardware, software, services or documentation to minimise disruption to ICT operation and maintain accurate configuration information.
Provides day-to-day administrative services in support of the technology in the ICT infrastructure.
Defines, tracks and maintains data and data resources in the school's ICT environment.
Directory services management
This area covers setting up and administering the directory services on the school's network. It stores information such as names of users, computers and other equipment etc. as objects with descriptive attributes.
Print and output management
This ensures that all printed and electronic material is produced in the most efficient and cost-effective manner, using the most appropriate hardware and software available.
Performance and monitoring
This area deals with the detection of infrastructure activity and its impact on the components.
In order for your network to work properly, every component of the network must work properly. Preventative maintenance is concerned with anything that can be done to prevent any component of your infrastructure from failing.
The aim of this section is to minimise the impact on ICT service of an environmental disaster and put in place and communicate a plan for recovery.
The purpose of capacity planning is to ensure that the ICT infrastructure meets the needs of ICT users at all times. It includes identifying capacity issues, establishing trends in usage peaks and troughs and finding points of failure that may have already occurred, ideally before an end-user reports it to the service desk.
This area is concerned with keeping ICT services available in accordance with user requirements as detailed in your service level agreement.
This section focuses on methods that can be employed to help monitor and reduce the amount of energy used by your school's ICT infrastructure.
The managed and recorded introduction of changes to hardware, software, services or documentation to minimise disruption to ICT operation and maintain accurate configuration information.
The aim is to plan, test and manage the successful implementation of software and hardware. To define release policy and to ensure that master copies of all software are secured centrally.
This aims to keep the components installed on the network (hardware, software and services) up to date with the latest patches and updates.
Implementing and maintaining up-to-date records of ICT hardware, software, services and documentation, and showing the relationships between them.
Service level management
The process of defining, agreeing and documenting the service levels that are acceptable and achievable and monitoring actual performance against these levels.
Here the aim is to ensure that the ICT and technical resources are implemented and managed in a cost effective way. The process ensures that the ICT infrastructure costs are justifiable and meet the needs of ICT users at all times.
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