Program for Computer Installation, Training and Troubleshooting
Saves the Day
by Samuel G. Scalise, L&S Director of Computing Services
More than 30 departments have signed up for a new administrative computer support program in the College of Letters and Science in the past year, although only five were expected to enroll when the program was conceived.
The program provides generic support for PCs and Macintoshes, including installation, training and consulting.
In addition, the program is developing collegewide databases and provides support for departmental WWW home pages, standardized email address routing, a calendar server and limited dial-in access for department managers and chairs.
An attractive feature is the one-stop calls to fix whatever is wrong with computers, but departments can also have their computer environment planned, data organized and can collect the communications tools needed to take advantage of the power on computer desktops.
Eric Broque, assistant vice chancellor, budget and administration, along with The Vice Chancellor and Provost Carol Christ helped launch the program last year when Christ was provost in L&S.
All L&S department chairs and managers were invited to participate in development. Information Systems and Technology was consulted to ensure that all parts of the program were compatible with future campus plans.
Advice from other campuses and from private industry was also solicited.
One philosophical tenet of the program is to provide or develop only those services that cannot be obtained elsewhere in a more cost effective manner.
In sheer size, L&S and its departments are a gigantic business and its computers should be run like a big corporation. Bechtel wouldn't run their computers with 50 independent departments left to their own devices to solve problems. So L&S offers guidance to its departments.
Before the program was launched, the college had a wide range of support levels, from departments without computers at all to those with their personal programming staff. Most, however, made do with a part time student or a staff person working beyond the range of their official job to keep computers running.
By working out cost sharing between the Deans' Office, divisions and departments, L&S was able to offer an attractive product at a reasonable price with enough of a scale to receive discounts from vendors. The cost is based on the number of workstations departments want supported.
Most L&S departments opted to participate in the plan. For one reason, the support program is more affordable than hiring a part-time student. Also, the program offers continuity. Support staff don't graduate and go away. Each department has a primary support contact--they don't have to contact a new person for each problem. There is backup support when the primary contact is unavailable.
On average there is one computer consultant available for every 40 customers, but the consultants work in teams to share expertise.
A person with the right kind of skills is sent out, whether it is a high-level programmer/analyst or a technician. This helps contain costs yet makes quality service the norm.
It was considered important that departments feel that these people are in fact working for them and so they are assigned consultants who come right down the hall and arrive in minutes, not hours or days.
For further information, contact Sam Scalise (Sam_Scalise @LS.Berkeley.EDU, or 201 Campbell Hall).