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Welcome to the SysAid Blog - the place to go to find out where the IT industry is going, and what is SysAid’s role in it.

Patch Management – How To Do It Correctly

Posted by on January 31, 2013 in SysAid
Hello everybody, For a long time already, lots of our existing customers and prospects have been looking for integrated Patch Management capabilities in SysAid. Recently we decided to accept the challenge and look deeper into it. That’s where I come in. As SysAid Product Manager, I'm leading the required research and making sure that the requirements sent to R&D cover all our customer needs in regards to Patch Management within SysAid. It's obvious that patch management is a critical issue. What is also clear is the main objective of a patch management program: to create a consistently configured environment that is secure against known vulnerabilities in operating system and application software.
I found interesting that according to Project Quant Patch Management Survey, most organizations are not happy with their patching processes: 38% rely at least in part on user complaints to validate successful patch deployments; 68% are unable to measure time to deploy patches; 30% of Windows-based computers had not been patched a full three months after Microsoft published a security bulletin. Last month I posted a poll in the SysAid Community to check how you keep your IT infrastructure up-to-date with the latest important security patches and software updates. From the poll results I was able to deduce some very noteworthy points. Firstly, the good news is that most of our customers (94%) are attaching importance to the Patch Management process and dealing with it, this way or another. However, most of our customers (93%) don't have a dedicated tool that provides a comprehensive solution for Patch Management. A significant portion of our customers (60%) use WSUS, which covers Microsoft only and does not provide a comprehensive solution. Talking about browsers for example, then IE has a market share of 26% only, while Chrome (37%), FireFox (23%), and Safari (7%) hold most of the market. Patch Management Survey We see that the vast majority of our customers understand how critical patch management is to their corporate IT services, and so do I, as one who worked for over a decade as IT manager in a large international enterprise with hundreds of servers and thousands of users. But what about the risk we take in applying patches to avoid the risk in not applying them? Sounds confusing, but I’m sure that most of you know what I’m talking about. Applying a patch is installing software—pure and simple. Just like we are careful in new software installations, we also hesitate to apply patches. In some organizations the patch deployment process, mainly to servers, is followed by a well-defined documented process of testing, approval, risk analysis, backup, and so on. So, it’s not by chance that the Patch Management process is defined by ITIL as mainly based on the Change process. Change management is vital to every stage of the patch management process. As with all system modifications, patches and updates must be performed and tracked through the change management system. It is highly unlikely that an enterprise-scale patch management program can be successful without proper integration with the change management system and organization. So while planning the Patch Management integration into SysAid, I took into account not only the technological aspects but also the operational needs. Obviously, the Patch Management solution’s main purpose is to keep servers, workstations, and remote computers up-to-date—automatically—with the latest important security patches and software updates. With that said, I also want to allow our customers, who will be interested, to benefit from the automatic patch deployment using integrated Change Management workflows, to ensure they perform the process properly. For example, let’s say you’re interested in applying all critical security patches automatically on workstations, but in the case of servers you want SysAid to create a Change Record for each server asset with special (out-of-the-box) predefined Patch Management process. By following this process eventually you’d apply the patch on the server, AND you’d have all processes documented too! You’d have the chance to test the patch in a lab, and/or make sure you have a backup in case something goes wrong. You’d plan the downtime and send notifications if necessary. How does that sound? I’ll be hosting a Roundtable next week, on Feb. 5th, to discuss these issues. Would love for you to join us. Please feel free to comment, share ideas, and ask questions. All your inputs are highly appreciated. -Oleg
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5 Tweaks to Revamp Your SysAid Help Desk!

Posted by on January 28, 2013 in Help Desk
I don't have time to spend making technology easier for me to use. If I need to download this, update that, or purchase extra space, newer versions, or whatever it is, in order to make my daily social computer life easier--I'll push it off until tomorrow. And by tomorrow, I mean maybe in 3 months... So to all you IT admins, I have created a list of quick and easy TWEAKS, that's right, things you can do while listening to a Rihanna song on your headphones. These 5 tweaks will really make your SysAid Help Desk more useful and productive. Here they are:

#1: Personalize Your View

Benefit: Monday morning your service desk looks like one long list of service records, and it is often hard figuring out where to start. In order to make things more efficient, SysAid lets you define a list view that will filters that long list. Although you can always use the advanced filter to help sort through the list, defining a list view will provide a more permanent solution for list clutter that you can apply with one click. For example, set up a list view that will filter the list by a specific admin, end user, topic, etc.—it all depends on the SQL query that is set up for this view. Now you can remove or add columns in the list, and create a personalized view to help you be efficient on even the busiest days. How To: Learn how to customize lists here.

#2: Provide More Communication Channels

Benefit: SysAid Service Desk provides different channels for end users to communicate with admins, such as Live Chat and the End-User Portal. But, don’t overlook one of SysAid’s major channels of communication: email integration. Email integration automatically turns emails sent by end users into service records. All you need to do is select a designated email address for your end users to send their problems and requests to, and SysAid will automatically open a service record every time an end user sends an email to this address. From here, you can use different channels for different purposes. For example, use several different email accounts for different departments to better categorize service records. How To: Discover how to use email integration.

#3: Improve Your Processes with Routing and Escalation Rules

Benefit: Let SysAid help you manage your IT tasks by automating your help desk and workflows with routing and escalations rules. Setting routing rules will save you time on dispatching. Simply set up routing rules according to the different categories you need, such as a category for service requests related to the exchange server, and SysAid will automatically route those relevant service records to the right admins as defined by the category. Escalation rules reduce response times and let SysAid work for you. For example, you can set up an automatic response to be sent to your end users for all service requests related to a common subject or problem by setting a new status and a corresponding escalation rule. The automatic response can, for example, send instructions on how to solve the problem at hand. Then, all the admin needs to do is change the status of the service request and the response will be sent—imagine how much time that’ll save! How To: Learn how to set up routing rules and escalation rules.

#4: Increase Self-Service with Password Services

Benefit: Providing your end users with easy self-service options to take care of their issues without submitting a service record will greatly reduce help desk calls. Did you know around 40% of calls to the typical help desk are related to password reset or lockout? Well, SysAid includes a solution for this problem with the Password Services module that allows your end users to securely reset their passwords and unlock their accounts without intervention from the IT staff. So, start using SysAid Password Services and you’ll raise the productivity of both your admins and end users. How To: Read the Password Services Guide.

#5: Discover Your Network with SysAid Agents (Recommended!)

Benefit: While you can use WMI/SNMP to discover your network (without agents) agentless, it is recommended that you choose to discover the network by deploying the SysAid Agent and reap all the benefits that it offers. The main benefit of using the SysAid Agent is that you can fully utilize SysAid’s core features such as: Asset Management, Remote Control, Live Chat, Monitoring, and more. From the end-user side, the SysAid Agent enables the F11 hotkey function, which lets end users submit a service request and automatically attach a screenshot and asset, in one click! So don’t miss out on using the full capabilities of your SysAid Help Desk. How To: Follow the SysAid Agent Deployment Guide here Hope you all use these changes well in 2013!
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My #1 New Year’s Resolution

Posted by on January 24, 2013 in SysAid

2012 marked the year that SysAid got on board and embraced Social Media. Don’t get me wrong, even prior to last year we used the various social channels, like YouTube and LinkedIn, but 2012 was the year we turned a corner.

In 2012, we garnered over 3000 followers on Facebook, started a corporate Twitter account, and our industry commentator, @Joe_The_IT_Guy, is constantly getting rave reviews like this one.

ITSM Twitter praise

While the company as a whole has some incredible plans for 2013 (new UI for the admin-side; regularly-scheduled roundtables to make sure our customers are included in our plans and even have a say in many of our decisions; brand-new website; and so much more), there is something that I can truly say is my #1 New Year’s Resolution – and that is to start a SysAid blog (well I am the Social Media & Community Manager ;).

So, let me welcome you all to the Official SysAid Blog. This is the place to go to find out where the IT industry is going, and what will be SysAid’s role in this. Yes, you’ll find all the industry buzz words as we will undertake the challenge of simplifying the accumulation of information running rampant. SysAid’s seasoned IT experts are ready to share their thoughts with you.

We hope you will visit us often and share with us your thoughts. Commenting below is easy!

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6 Best Practices When Incorporating Online Chat in Your Help Desk

Posted by on May 8, 0201 in Service Desk

Online Chat in your Help Desk

The word "chat" has changed its definition over the years as the internet became an integral part of our everyday lives. Today, when people say, "lets chat about it," it is highly probable that they mean: let's chat on Facebook, Google, Skype or MSN. What is so appealing in using online chat rather than sending an email or talking over the phone? If you have ever used online (or live) chat before, I’m sure you know the answer. With online chat, you have the ability to convey a message briefly, yet very clearly, and unlike an email message—you get an immediate response.

That is why chat is a great tool to utilize when you are providing technical support.

As a customer relations expert in SysAid, I can say that using chat is one of the most effective means of communication with your users. If you are managing a help desk and your performance is being measured by the number of tickets you open and close, you would most definitely find that using a chat console to take questions from your users and answering them on the spot, will dramatically reduce the number of tickets you get.

Here are a few best practices I can give you from my experience, if you would like to incorporate chat in your helpdesk or IT department:

1. Find a chat console that is easy to use and will give the user a nice, smooth experience. If you already use SysAid as your help desk software, then live online chat is completely integrated with the rest of SysAid

2. Place a link to the chat on your web site's homepage, making sure that it is visible immediately when someone clicks on the page. There is a trend now to have chat consoles "pop up" as you enter the site—something more common when they are trying to sell something. Although I'm no expert in marketing, I must say that I'm not a big fan of this approach when it comes to providing support.

3. Take the time to research your help desk, and look for simple recurring issues for which you can write a brief and clear set of instructions. You can then use these scripts to provide a swift answer when a question comes up, and save valuable time.

4. When you are using a pre-written script, always remember to write the first few sentences yourself, on the fly, to give the reply a personal touch, and only then paste the instructions.

5. In my personal opinion, try to avoid scripts that provide auto-responses based on words the end user or customer is using in his/her chat question. More often than not, these auto-responses don't help with the real problem. People like to communicate with people, so make sure you have someone consistently holding a chat shift. It may seem time-consuming, but I assure you that it is worth it.

6. If your chat console allows it, add a picture of the representative to his/her greeting message. Attaching a face to the person on the other side is always a more pleasant experience.

If you implement your new chat room correctly, you will see that the amount of phone calls you get is going to be dramatically reduced as well as the number of tickets you are handling daily. If your users have a good service experience, they will always prefer the chat over picking up the phone. I can tell you that when I personally am looking for support on any website, a chat is the first thing I'm going to look for. Even the bank that I'm working with picked up on the concept and started to implement a chat service. And I'll tell you this—I'm using their services a lot more than I use to, simply because it is faster, and a lot more accessible.

Another upside to chat is that one chat representative can usually take care of more than one chat session at the same time, unlike a phone call where you can handle only one call at a time.

To sum it up, if you get a good tool to work with, and put in some time in researching and understanding your users and the way they come to you for support, you will find the key to providing them with a better and faster support experience.

Please share your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter, Google+, or Facebook where we are always listening.

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