AAA Club Takes a Visual Approach to Support Tasks

Operating an effective and efficient help desk is critical for organizations of all shapes and sizes. Ensuring that problems, glitches and breakdowns are addressed and resolved quickly is paramount.

In the past, AAA Allied Group, which provides automobile and travel services to members in portions of Kansas, Ohio, Kentucky and Connecticut, found that IT support teams tackled tasks and tickets for internal users in a somewhat haphazard way. “Oftentimes, people did not have all of their work in one place, and that limited their ability to do their job quickly and efficiently,” reports Rob Pickering, vice president of information technology.

While the previous ticketing system was compliant with the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL), it lacked a rich configuration management database (CMDB) and had no project management capabilities available. “There was no single view available into work and projects,” Pickering recalls. “Support staff had to bounce back and forth across two different systems.”

As a result, support tasks—which can range from removing malware and updating software to replacing a broken keyboard—sometimes fell through the cracks. In addition, staff didn’t always handle tickets in the timeliest and most efficient way possible, he notes.

Integrated Project and Task Management

After some staff members became aware of visual technology and how it could support a more agile approach revolving around DevOps and Kanban, the AAA Allied Group adopted Visual Task Boards from ServiceNow. It began using the integrated project management and task management platform in 2014.

“We now have the ability for everyone to work in one place and see all the things that are relevant,” Pickering explains. The boards aid in the organization and visualization of work by providing multiple views.

For example, a manager can create specific lanes for tasks, such as items that have not been updated in the last five days or those that haven’t yet been assigned to a rep. It’s then possible to view the boards, drag them between different lanes—such as items older than five days and those that require updating—and automatically drop a note on the appropriate support person’s desk.

“Once people began seeing the specific items that required action or updating, the number of incidents that sat idle declined dramatically,” Pickering reports. While most desktop support team members have adopted the tool, the company has made it optional. Even so, with about 80 staff members handling more than 5,000 tickets per month, the results have been impressive.

“People see a list of as many as 40 or 50 items that are queued up and ready for them to tackle, and they are able to see which ones are priorities,” he says. For instance, the number of open incidents that had not been updated for five days dropped by 16 percent. In addition, AAA Allied Group has witnessed a reduction in total ticket counts, as well as higher resolution rates.

“The visual boards are very effective because they allow staff to decide what is relevant for them and spend less time dealing with distractions,” Pickering explains. “The system helps people focus on their work. It eliminates the noise and highlights what’s truly important.”