Teamwork Excellence award 2021: IT Service Desk provides essential support in turbulent year

By Gerald Narciso

In early spring of 2020, as the world shifted and adapted in real-time to the continuous effects of the global pandemic, the IT Service Desk team started a new ritual to deal with the madness.

Every day at 3 pm, the entire team consisting of eight team members would huddle — a socially distanced stand-up meeting — at the IT Service Desk inside Building G on the Abbotsford campus. There, they would discuss every mounting IT request, every new fire to put out, and every new campus safety protocol. Then they would even check in on their own collective well beings.

“It was a scary time for everybody because we were all living it,” says Tracy Evans, service delivery manager at UFV. “There was a lot of uncertainty around the pandemic at that time.

“So essentially, those huddles would really just help us plan and provide a space where we can support each other, because at that time, it was really unfolding by the hour.”

Through their long hours and quick, reactive responses to new challenges, the IT Service Desk team became a collective group of unsung heroes for the UFV community during the pandemic. In recognition of this above and beyond effort, the group was honoured with the 2021 UFV Teamwork Award.

“Their teamwork, dedication, and exceptional service delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic response was a significant contribution to the successful transition to remote work,” says Adam Eason, director of client experience at UFV’s Information and Technology Services, who supported the nomination.

Being able to maximize operational efficiency was a challenge even before the pandemic. The team was without a supervisor — resulting in Evans doubling up on job roles — and were in the middle of onboarding two new co-op students and rolling out a massive IT service management systems project.

As the global pandemic came to the forefront in North America, UFV operations, including the IT Service Desk, went to a remote work model in April 2020. The shorthanded team had to add on mounting IT requests and implementation of new processes as a result of the pandemic to their already capacity-filled schedules.

“It was a very intense time, but the team handled it remarkably well,” says Evans. “The team has certainly risen to the challenge and continued to provide exceptional support, including right up until now. We’re still in the thick of it.”

In addition to the co-op students, Henry Gin joined as the team lead for the IT Service Desk in March, giving the team some much needed IT support to faculty, staff, and students.

“Adapting to change was necessary to meet the challenges that lay before us for transitioning to remote work,” says Gin. “Fostering an environment of exceptional collaboration and having such a tightly integrated and cohesive team was instrumental over the last year. We all supported each other.”

Despite the challenges, some of the most notable accomplishments from the IT Service Desk team were:

  • Implementation of the IT Service Management Portal: a new client portal for logging incidents and services requests for staff and students. There is a huge repository of knowledge base articles that empower staff and students to understand and make best use of  IT Service offerings, which are extensive.
  • Implementation of MS-Teams/Zoom/BlueJeans/Exchange Online/M365 Office Suite: supported the major project team’s implementation of these services into operations while remote.

“All the team members have taken on the challenges and worked through it with excellence,” says Jaskiran Mangat, who works as a service desk analyst. “This experience will always remind me throughout my life how working together brings success.”

The team still meets daily for their customary afternoon huddles, only it’s through the same Microsoft Teams tool they helped roll out. Although the workload has hardly slowed down, this resilient team has taken time to step back and feel appreciative of the award, the accomplishments achieved and most importantly, the camaraderie gained in the most stressful of years.

“I’m extremely proud of the team,” said Gin. “The pandemic was a journey into the unknown for all of us and we rose to each challenge together…no one was left behind. Our diversity was one of our greatest strengths during this time.

“I will remember this time proudly and fondly in my personal and professional experience. It reaffirms to me that a strong team will always rise over adversity.”



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