ITD’s Enterprise Technology Services
When Gov. Brad Little’s order to shelter-in-place went out on March 25, only a handful of ITD employees were set up to work remotely. Within days, Enterprise Technology Services (ETS) guided over 1,600 employees to work from home.
“The team has done an incredible job,” said ITD’s new Chief Information Officer Mark McKinney. “We shifted policies, dropped a lot of protocol, and dug in to make this happen.”
In order to continue operations, employees needed to get at resources and applications that before could only be accessed at work through ITD’s network. To do this from home, a Virtual Private Network (VPN) needed to be established. The task of helping employees set up VPNs fell mainly on the shoulders of ETS’s Service Center.
“Our Service Center is handling well over double the call volume every day and [is] processing hundreds of work-from-home needs since late March,” said McKinney.
The Service Center spends countless hours every day guiding employees through the VPN set up process.
"Before this global crisis, VPNs were used mainly by our contractors and only a handful of employees who traveled,” explained Service Center’s Senior Technician Dave Hammond.
Hammond and the entire ETS team have worked tirelessly and ITD employees are taking notice.
"Dave Hammond was great and very patient as I fumbled through the process,” said Public Information Officer Reed Hollinshead. “That group was faced with a bunch of problems, and ETS/IT stepped up, and responded in a short time. I’ve been very impressed.”
So how does one department implement a large-scale shift and do it seemingly overnight? The answer is planning and teamwork.
ETS started positioning itself to handle remote workers back in 2013 when ITD migrated email capabilities to Microsoft’s cloud platform – Office365 (O365). This allowed users to access email, contacts and calendars from home, eliminating the need to be at an ITD facility. The combination of VPN capabilities and O365 made it possible for users to remain functional while traveling for work, or from their homes. ETS cracked the code years before it was universally needed.
“When our current global health crisis hit, we (ETS) were in a pretty good position to steer our partners and customers to existing functions and capabilities without having to do a lot of heavy lifting behind the scenes, technologically speaking,” said ITD Planning and Governance Manager Tyler Zundel.
ETS’s architecture team also embraced O365 and amid this crisis made Timesheets and other applications like the Office of Transportation Investments (OTIS), TalentED and others available through the O365 portal.
“For many of us at ETS, myself included, we’ve been remotely accessing ITD tech resources for years already, so we knew what ‘done right’ looked like,” said Zundel. “What’s been very impressive to me is how quickly our workforce has adapted.”
That quick adaptation was spurred on by an entire technology department looking to the future, alongside an architecture team implementing rapid innovations on an already solid foundation, and a service department patiently guiding sometimes technologically challenged comrades through the world of VPNs and cloud computing.
“In my opinion, this was one of the most incredible displays of teamwork, communication and productivity that I have seen,” said ITD Solutions Architect Tyler Jackson.
The Service Center wants to remind people they are standing by remotely to help. “Whether it’s through our Service Center, District IT, or our other ETS teams, we are working together to make sure we all have access to continue our daily work,” said Hammond.
The Service Center can be reached by phone at 208-334-8175 or by email at email@example.com.
“We are a behind the scenes team that is a critical part of keeping ITD operational,” said McKinney. “I've only been here five weeks but I can tell you that this team is filled with innovative and creative people with a passion for customer service. This pandemic has been a challenge for me to step into such a role and be forced to manage the team remotely, but it has given me a chance to see the very best of ETS. It makes me certain I landed in the right place.”
Though he's been working like a dog, this is actually Dave's furry companion, Echo Hammond.