Ed Toner

The New Era of Tech Support

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As I review the volume of IT requests created for my team during March 2020, I envision how this pandemic will change our view of technology in the future. A brand new operating stage of tech support has transpired, and I believe it is here to stay.  I am referring to this stage as the Pandemic operational stage.  Once we get back to “normal” operation, I believe we will always need to be ready on short notice to transform again into a Pandemic stage, and this will be the new normal.

So, how do we prepare for a new era of IT? Historically we prepared for continuity of operations, recovery from geographically contained disasters. A data center struck by a tornado; or an agency abandoned its offices due to a fire.  Enter the Pandemic stage, and the critical need to maintain business functions and operational technology, all while expanding geographically from our “brick and mortar” office buildings into our homes.  Our focus during the Pandemic Phase is primarily on giving customers the tools necessary to provide services virtually, from home.

Access to technology is an absolute necessity to our mission.  Granted, we had the capacity to support our customers long before a pandemic took place; we had sufficient VPN connectivity, and MFA was readily available.  Our customers have communicated outage free throughout all of this, although some of them still rely on paper-based and phone-based transactions. Burdensome processes like these cannot sustain though this new era of pandemic operational, and we are making considerable progress to address this in Nebraska. Agencies across the State will continue to digitize paper-based transactions. We will continue as we have over the past five years to automate and streamline business processes, having already invested 121,213 development hours and $15,356,353 into building and supporting a single Enterprise Content Management solution for 24 agencies.

IT Requests in Numbers

The OCIO saw a 73% increase in SRs and 35% increase in IRs, yet the average days to close time is actually shorter compared to the month of February. The charts below show how much work, and the level of service provided by our teams. Note also, the impact of our Self-service offerings.

IT Requests

5 Guidelines for My Team

As we move into the Pandemic Operational era, this will be our process for IT requests:

1. Ensure that everyone across the information technology organization understands the Agencies’ needs, to support citizens, and knows how to prioritize critical tasks.

  • Hardware requests (Completed)
    • 40 Servers added to support DHHS VPN environment
    • 10 Servers added to RDS environment
    • More than 1000 Laptops ordered, imaged and deployed
    • 750 Stockpile phones and 300 MiFi devices ordered and delivered
  • Software Requests (Completed)
    • 1,813 New VPN accounts set up
    • 2,200 MFA accounts assigned
    • 600 Video Conferencing accounts added
    • Increased requests for Personal File Sharing
    • and SFTP
  • Network (Completed)
    • Created new subnets
    • Configured firewall
  • Citizen-Facing Support (Completed)
    • Developed the COVID-19 Nebraska Cases Dashboard together with DHHS
      • 1,240,939 Recorded hits since March 25, 2020
    • Created call Trees for Economic Development, Department of Labor and Department of Health and Human Services

2. Support Teammates moving to a telework status, training users after installation.

  • Customize IVR Call Flows for Agency specific needs / forwarding calls to their home or cellular phones to minimize impact on customer service.
  • Ensure increasing network traffic does not negatively impact response times for Agency applications by offloading bandwidth to the cloud via a direct connect.
  • Provide remote access technology and user guides (written and short video formats)
  • Ensure that ample video conferencing training is available.

3. Focus on technology resilience and continuity by placing a freeze on all non-critical changes to the enterprise technology environment.

  • Minimize any service interruptions to our Agency customers.
  • Provide additional technology resources/capacity to focus on immediate needs.

4. Move the OCIO teammates to telework status or provide for social distancing in the office.

  • Assist teammates who can telework to do so, and minimize the risk of spreading disease amongst teammates who are required to work in the office.
  • Physically increase distance between personnel who remain working in the office to avoid unnecessary interaction with other teammates while at work.
  • Supply Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to teammates who are required to interact with customers face-to-face as they perform daily job duties in the field.
  • Show flexibility in the work environment to all teammates and communicate special circumstances to management.

5. Take care of our health.

As with any change, this event adds additional stress for ourselves, and for our families.

  • Stay Home, Stay Healthy and Stay Connected.
  • Follow the Governor’s six rules to staying healthy.

Stay Home - Six Rules to Keep Nebraska Healthy

What our Customers Say

Nothing is better than customer recognition, and in the past few weeks, I have received ample positive feedback regarding the OCIO teammates.

This comment came from our Deputy Director of Financial Institutions at the Department of Banking and Finance, Kelly Lammers.

Open Quote Hope all is well with your world. From my perspective, the infrastructure is amazing. It has handled all we have recently expected and more. Thanks! - Kelly Close  Quote

And this, from our Parking Coordinator at Administrative Services Building Division,

Open QuoteI would like to commend your staff for their outstanding work performance in assisting me with my computer issues and assisting my ability to work from home. I know they’ve gone above and beyond to assist me with all my needs and have taken the time to double check on any issues that have come up. They’re fabulous and they should receive many, many thanks [from] all of us. – Roxy Close  Quote


Thank you for your hard work to support our customers and the State of Nebraska.