This column is devoted to issues related to technology at the University of St. Thomas. It is a joint effort of Computing and Communication Services, Instructional Support Services and the university libraries. Please send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org .
By Paul Kozak
One of our goals in Computing and Communication Services is to make the most of our purchasing and support resources. In order to do that, we designate certain applications as “supported”; we try to make sure that we can provide supported applications to all St. Thomas faculty and staff, and answer questions about those applications from anyone in the St. Thomas community.
Historically, decisions about what applications to support have been made informally, based on usage trends that we see. Recently, however, we’ve tried to formalize this process, to involve members of the community more directly. Toward that end, we created the Support Standards Team.
The Support Standards Team works with a group called the CCS Partners, who are the Technology Liaisons appointed by each department, as well as other staff members who work directly with technology (e.g., the lab managers). We identify supported applications, set the level of support we’ll provide for each application, and communicate this information to the St. Thomas community.
Last spring semester, we sent out user assessment surveys to all faculty and staff to determine what applications people were using and what sort of support they expected. Based on the survey results, we created two documents. The first details the service levels that CCS provides to our users. The second lists software and hardware used on campus, along with the service levels we provide to each.
One recent major issue that the Support Standards Team worked on was the question of whether to upgrade campus computers to Microsoft Office 2000. Since deploying this package universitywide will affect not only desktop systems but also servers and the campus network, we decided that we need to test Office 2000 before deploying it. Microsoft released Office 2000 near the beginning of the fall semester, so we haven’t had time to test it yet. We will make upgrade plans once testing is complete.
In general, CCS policy is to not release or install new software campus-wide — including new versions of existing software — until we have had the opportunity to test the software for compatibility with existing university systems. For supported applications, the Support Standards Team has identified which versions we are best positioned to support. (In most cases, we support the most current version of the software — Office 2000 is the exception, rather than the rule. If you are using an older version of Internet Explorer, Netscape Communicator, or any of the other standard applications, we encourage you to e-mail CCSPURCHASE to find out about upgrading. You’ll receive the benefits of both improvements in the software, and more complete support from CCS.)
For more information about software on campus (what software is supported, what is provided automatically, and what you can have on request), check out the Faculty and Staff Software Information page on the CCS Web Site. For a list of supported hardware and software, along with the service level that each is supported at, see our Supported Software List. For an explanation of service levels, see our Service Levels document. If you have comments, questions or concerns about this information, please call the CCS Help Desk at (651) 962-6230.