Ottawa airport seeks help for new terminal

While it may not be the most fashionable technology, for the Ottawa International Airport, help desk software is proving to be uplifting.

The goal, according to Dan Hudon, Ottawa International Airport’s informatics support specialist, was to extend the facility’s help desk beyond first-call support to become a critical source for IT services.

The Ottawa/Gatineau region facility recently opened a $310-million, three-story terminal building. The new open concept terminal is intended to serve over three million passengers a year and is designed to simplify connections between air and ground transportation.

The challenge was that the new facility was designed to be more customer service-friendly than the old terminal, Hudon said. Unlike the old terminal, the new facility had to be able to support the airlines that use the “common-use” computer terminals, network and always-on infrastructure.

“We felt that a help desk was a good stepping stone to give proper customer service to our tenants and the traveling public at large,” Hudon said. The groundwork for the airport project began in 2001. To facilitate this, the help desk needed to be robust enough to handle the trouble calls and dispatch repair persons in a timely manner.

The old infrastructure wasn’t as scalable — if a particular computer terminal went down, there was considerable downtime spent getting support reps dispatched to the site, Hudon said.

Hudon said the facility was seeking an affordable, off-the-shelf help desk solution. Ultimately the airport turned to HelpSTAR software from Help Desk Technology International Corp. The Mississauga, Ont.-based company recently released HelpSTAR 8.0, help desk software designed to track software and IT assets and help maintain licence compliance.

According to Igal Hauer, president of Help Desk Technology International, the software serves to handle internal projects and user requests, significantly easing the burden on the IT department.

The product is available in both client/server and Web-based versions running on Microsoft Access, Microsoft Data Engine (MSDE) or Microsoft SQL. Administrators can set guidelines defining the number of end user contacts permissible for an incident to be designated as a first-call resolution when the call is closed. Reports can then be generated to measure incidents that were and were not resolved on the first call, aiding in identifying areas requiring additional staff training or other improvements.

HelpSTAR is designed for medium-sized organizations or divisions of larger enterprises with 10 and 100 support reps servicing up to 10,000 workers; the program boosts problem handling via its intelligent queuing, first-call resolution analysis tools and end user self-help, all intended to cut down on call volume into the help desk, Hauer said.

In researching similar help desk software products, according to Hudon, HelpSTAR stood out “because it gave us a lot of a large scale enterprise solution but at an affordable price, being that we are a small- to medium-sized business.” The learning curve took several months to a year, Hudon said. Service calls are logged via e-mail and automatically authenticate against users in the system. “Training took about a year to really get used to the new systems and understand the impact on the new businesses,” Hudon said.

The new infrastructure means that there is less reliance on the IT staff, Hudon said, adding that the benefits are realized in improved customer service. The software records, tracks and solves trouble calls from the moment they are created until they’re resolved.

“It allows us to actually send out support reps more efficiently and in a timely manner, which reduces the costs to IT,” he added

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