Help (4.6) arrives at help desk

Help 4.6 from GWI Software Inc. has streamlined help desk operations for the Division
of Systems and Network Management at the Health and Human Services Department's
Information Technology Service in Rockville, Md.

Help works with Lotus Development Corp.'s Notes groupware. Callers to the 20-employee
help desk first speak with a technician, who logs in a ticket for each call in Help. A
self-building knowledge base in the software from GWI, of Vancouver, Wash., then suggests
resolutions to each problem.

Help 4.6 ''provides an escalation feature''to route calls to help desk employees who
specialize in particular problems, said Connie Shafer, chief of the Network Solutions

The branch serves several HHS agencies, including Health Resources and Services, the
National Institutes of Health, the Office of Public Health and Science, the Office of the
Secretary and the Program Support Center. Shafer said the branch, which received more than
600 calls in October, planned to route all calls through Help by the end of November.

The division began to use the client-server software early last summer, paying about
$11,500 through an open-market buy that included a year's service and upgrades. Help runs
on a Compaq Computer Corp. ProLiant server along with Lotus Notes 4.1. The Novell NetWare
4.01 LAN clients must have 486 or faster processors.

Help desk employees can send reports to callers giving turnaround times for answers and
showing how often the division has had to dispatch technicians for service.

Help's built-in database program keeps case histories on its callers. A solution might
be different for a caller with a first-time problem than for one who has a recurring
problem. ''When someone calls in, we might look up the name and see that this is the third
problem this month,''Shafer said.

The division uses Novell Inc.'s ManageWise 2.0 to take remote control of users'
stations and do certain repairs remotely, she said.

Shafer plans to make Help available over an HHS intranet using Netscape Communications
Corp.'s Navigator browser, Lotus' Domino World Wide Web software and Notes 4.5. When that
is implemented, any HHS user will be able to scan the knowledge base for answers, submit
reports, request information or check on the status of reports.

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