Machine Learning Authors: Zakia Bouachraoui, Liz McMillan, Roger Strukhoff, Pat Romanski, Carmen Gonzalez

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Machine Learning : Case Study

Help Desk Ticketing System Using Visual WebGui

The Internet Help Desk provides a branded solution and 24/7 skilled staffing

Golden West Technologies provides Internet Help Desk services to many small to medium sized Internet Service Providers (ISPs) throughout the United States.  Golden West Technologies prides itself on offering excellent service levels to its clients.  The Internet Help Desk provides a branded solution, 24/7 skilled staffing, digital call recording, customizable escalation and outage procedures, and a fully redundant data center environment.

In order to provide superior service to our ISP's, it was deemed necessary to build in-house a custom, robust, and full featured ticketing system. In this effort, Visual WebGui provided the framework for our developer to produce a functional RIA and deploy the first phase of the ticketing system in 8 months.

Business needs
A call center environment is one of milliseconds which equate to bottom line financial gains or losses.  The current home grown ticketing system built with traditional ASP did not provide the features and functionality to dramatically impact the reduction in call times or first call resolution statistics.

For this reason, a new ticketing system needed to be built to a highly specific set of requirements.  These functional requirements focused on capitalizing on all the possible efficiencies that could be gained in the current problem resolution processes.  The problem resolution process needed to be a process and policy implemented through the application which is at the core of the system.

Another major requirement at the core involved allowing the ticketing system to be accessed externally by clients.  Finally, the ability to interface with the phone system was paramount.  When a customer calls the help desk and that call is received at a technicians' station, the interface with the phone system allowed for the launching of an instance of the site. This allows to automatically search for the customer, and open a new ticket or open an existing ticket for the customer, providing the technician with little or no effort at the beginning of the call.

Consequently, Golden West Technologies needed a new solution that could provide help desk technicians with a flow through problem resolution process including access to all supporting tools for resolving or escalating tickets.  The traditional training environment was where most time was spent in giving technicians the knowledge for resolving many different types of problems. However, Golden West Technologies looked to move this problem resolution process into a rich internet application that would allow improved efficiency, policy enforcement, consistency, and first call resolution gains.

The challenge set forth involved the need for building a web-based solution that can be securely accessed via a web browser and still provide the same functionality of a rich desktop application.  The software solution requirements for functional richness needed to be coupled with a quick market deployment, which was even more important as only one developer with limited exposure to a C#, .NET Framework and AJAX environment was allocated.  An additional seasoned WinForms developer assisted in designing and managing the development effort.

The Solution
After spending a significant amount of time researching other AJAX frameworks, it was certain that the required web development technology existed for developing the solution.  However, no other framework provided the ease in development that Visual WebGui provided which allowed for focus on the most important aspect of the solution - the business requirements, processes, and logic.

Visual WebGui provided the platform to build a solution that actualized the requirements and met the challenges as a cost effective alternative to other RIA platforms.  The drag and drop page development experience was an enormous benefit.  This compared to the hours it would take to build the same pages with traditional ASP environments.  "Visual WebGui claims of 90% reduction in development time and providing the bridge between desktop and web technologies were substantiated through the design, development, and deployment of our help desk software solution," said Brian Butterfield.

Visual WebGui allowed to deploy a secure by design website which contributed to the overall solution's security by not allowing any technician to hack into the website which was a problem with the previous solution. The previous solution involved a series of HTML and JavaScript files that, at times, contained confidential information as in passwords.

There was limited effort in deploying the application which provided the IT department with a level of comfort in the solution.  The administrators who were used to website directories populated with folder and files of all types and sizes also appreciated the organization of the deployed site.

"There is no other software platform on the market today that can give traditional desktop application developers the ability to transition that knowledge and experience directly to a web development environment - providing an unprecedented development experience," Butterfield said.

The exact savings is difficult to calculate when comparing the utilization of the Visual WebGui platform to other RIA frameworks.  However, it is clear that Golden West Technologies experienced a significant savings in the cost of development after completing the development and deployment of this complete solution with a single developer in only 8 months.

Screen shots
The ticket entry screen: This is the main screen for an help desk technician providing support for the customer.  This screen contain customer information and remarks, current ticket status including previous call information and escalation, and ticket history information including access to all recorded calls.

Problem resolution screen: The purpose of the problem resolution screen (figure 2) is to provide the help desk technician with a policy enforcing troubleshooting process.  The technician, while on the phone with the customer, will ask and respond to a series of questions by which the responses are stored with the ticket.  At the same time, the technician has at their disposal a wealth of tools including modem/router images, configuration information, various software screenshots, and troubleshooting wikis.

Whiteboard screen: The purpose of the whiteboard screen (figure 3) is to keep the various technicians informed of information dealing with all of the individuals ISP's.  This may include outage notifications and/or general troubleshooting information.

The ticket queue screen: This is a general grid view of all of the tickets in the various states or queues within the system.


More Stories By Marissa Levy

Marissa is a technology writer based in Jerusalem, Israel covering the local software, wireless, and start-up markets. Prior to her coverage of Israeli hi-tech, Marissa worked as a reporter in several English language news outlets. Her writing has been featured in prominent publications such as USA TODAY, FOXNews.com, and the Jerusalem Post. She holds degrees in Journalism and Political Science from The George Washington University in Washington, DC. She can be reached at [email protected]

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