Serio are pleased to announce that a major update is due in the next 7 weeks. Many thanks are due to those customers that have helped us with feedback and testing. The status right now is that we are putting the finishing touches to the code, and undertaking final testing. All customers will need to do is to update their client code. An update will follow detailing what is new.
Sunday, 09 Jun 2013
Serio are very pleased to announce that SerioPlus Service Desk has passed the Pink Verify 3.1 and Pink Verify 2011 assessment process in the Incident Management, Problem Management and Change Management disciplines.
The certification is proof of our ongoing commitment to IT Service Management Best Practice.
Well done to the team involved.
You can read more about Pink Verify here.
We expect to be adding a number of other processes in the coming months. For more information please visit our Serio ITIL Helpdesk Software page.
Sunday, 20 May 2012
If you have been reading any IT Service Management Blogs lately then you are certain to have seen the current hype around the integration of Social Media tools into the running of the Service Desk.
So, should you be exploiting social media channels to reach out to your customers from the service desk?
Every large corporate and most Governments around the world have now appointed full time staff to monitor social media to see what is being said about them and to react to the 'buzz'. What is becoming more and more common is for those same organisations to be actively involved in starting the 'buzz'. Social media is not going anywhere, so it is time for us to harness the huge power that exists and use it to proactively communicate with our customers.
The first thing you need to get clear is the difference between social media and social networking. Social Media refers to the material that is distributed via the social networking platforms. Social Networks are the platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Linked in, and you can easily utilize these platforms as part of your communication strategy. With Facebook expected to hit one billion users by August of this year, the chances are the most, if not all of your customers will have Facebook accounts which they will use to varying degrees. Setting up a closed, invitation only, group on facebook for your company will allow you to reach many of these customers via a channel that they are familiar and comfortable with. I personally interact with a number of companies via my facebook account.
Linked-in has a rather more ‘business-like’ feel and reputation, again a closed, invitation only group on linked-In is a good way to communicate with your customer base. Twitter gives you the opportunity to send short, sharp messages to your followers…you will be surprised just what you can say in 140 characters or less!
In the coming days we will discuss just how to harness these platforms for the benefit of your customer service. In the meantime, rather than reinvent the wheel, I suggest you read some of what has been written by Chris Dancy, probably the loudest voice in Social IT right now. Chris’s blog here does a lot to explain exactly what Social IT is.
Thursday, 27 Oct 2011
The confirmed changes and enhancements for the Sat 29th October update are below.
Quicker Engage Login – We have introduced a faster way for clients to contact you through Engage. Whereas previously customers had to enter their Account Code (for example, A154B-N76WK) they can now just enter a much shorter 4-character 'pin' such as A123. The pin for your account is shown on the 'remote support' page within SerioClient.
Data Filters – Serio now allows you to define quite complex expressions to filter out data in Manage Incidents, Problem, Service Requests and Changes. The filters can use boolean operators, string and data comparison operators, data functions and wildcards.
A filter editor is provided to help constructing the queries.
Eg: (branch='Edinburgh' or branch='Glasgow') and priority in ('Critical', 'High')
Text customisation – We've added the ability to change text phrases used within SerioAdmin and SerioClient. Edit a phrase or word once, and wherever that phrase or word appears in the application it will be replaced.
Report Text Customisation – We've made it so that you can change any text on the standard reports contained within SerioReports. For example, you might decide to change the company name displayed at the top or each report to that of your own organisation.
Block Hours – We've extended the support for billing models beyond the current pay-for-time, pay-per-event models by introducing a concept of 'Block Bookings' or 'Block Hours'. Under this new model, customers can purchase time in advance. When technicians then spend this time with customers, they can easily record the time they've spent with customers against this booking.
Tools are available to help managers know when bookings are running out, and the status of bookings can be viewed at any time.
Bookings can also be recurring, automatically renewing on a scheduled basis.
Linked Documents – We've added the ability to upload documents and associate them directly with Company/Branches. The existing ability to upload/download to other entities such as CIs is unaffected.
Custom Ticket Prints – Serio now allows you to define custom ticket printouts. These templates are (typically) designed using an HTML editor, added to Serio, and they then become available when you want to print a ticket. These templates can also be directly emailed from the system, and can be used both from the Service Explorer and from the Manage … chapters.
New CSV Export Option - In Incident/Problem/Change/Service Request Management, a new 'Save to CSV' option has been added: 'Description with Resolution'. If chosen, this option causes the Comments made a the ticket is set to Pending Complete and Complete to be added to the Export (assuming the ticket is resolved).
New Reports – New Billing reports have been added (IB18 and 19) .
New Reports - New report IL26a shows how tickets were received (email, phone etc) by Issue Type. The satisfaction survey reports allow you to specify a resolving Team. It is optional; do this and you'll get a team-by-team view of satisfaction. The first-time fix report has a new version 14a that again allows you to specify one or more resolving teams.
New Reports – Summary reports that can be automatically sent directly to customers (TS5 and TS6).
Emails – The amount of information you can send about Changes and Change Plans, and the specific handling of the Main Change has been strengthened and expanded – meaning you can cite more data in the Task emails you send.
Emails – Extended Data can now be included in any email you send.
SLA Selection – We've added the ability to 'wild card' SLA selection, where many different characteristics of a ticket can be combined to derive an Individual SLA. Company, Branch, Priority, Impact, Ticket Category, Ticket Subcategory, Issue Type can all be combined together. Existing selection criteria remain.
Resolution Email BCC – You can now BCC the resolution email for a ticket to an number of email addresses. This works in much the same way as Broadcast Alerts; define the ticket characteristics that the ticket must match (such as Priority or Company) and then attach to this a list of email addresses. When the resolution email for a ticket is sent to the logging customer, it will be BCC'd to those on your list.
Service Explorer – You can now edit Extended Data information from the Service Explorer, bypassing the need to open the ticket directly.
Extended Data Editor – The Extended Data editor has been improved. It makes better use of screen space and can be maximised, making it easier to work with long free text data.
Assignment Notification – You can now broadcast assignment notifications to the whole team if you choose.
Service Explorer - Depending on when you last took an update, a number of improvements have been made to the Service Explorer. Extended Data is now easier to access, links to CIs from tickets (and vice versa) are easier to follow.
ODBC Driver - Our 'hosted' ODBC drivers has been through a number of revisions to improve interoperability with other tools.
Customised Broadcast Alerts – Broadcast Alert emails can be customised, giving customers an alternative to the standard email template. The template for the email is simply placed into the comment for the Broadcast Alert.
Improvements to Networking Architecture – Client-side networking infrastructure and algorithms have been improved, leading to greater reliability on poor networks.
Copying of Extended Data – Both tickets logged from Quick Logs and from Scheduled Events now both copy Extended Data.
Default Company Branch on Scheduled Events – A System Setting has been added to control the way that the Company/Branch is defaulted for tickets logged via Scheduled Events – either the Customer Company/Branch can be used, or that from the template ticket.
Sunday, 05 Sep 2010
We are pleased to announce the availability of the SerioPlus ODBC Driver. The driver allows SerioPlus customers to use third-party applications such as Access to write their own reports, whilst enjoying all the benefits of a hosted solution.
It works wherever you are, over the Internet, through firewalls. Proxies are supported.
What follows assumes an existing knowledge of using ODBC-based report writers, which I know many customers have in depth, having seen the reports they have created for themselves prior to switching to SerioPlus.
We are delighted to say they can now run these reports on SerioPlus.
Testing and Compatibility
In this release, we have focused mainly on ensuring compatibility with
- MSQRY32.exe (the query tool in Microsoft Office 2010)
- Access 2010 (please read the notes below)
If you use an earlier version of Office we recommend an upgrade to the latest version.
The driver is free to use now for anyone with a SerioPlus account, from December there will be a charge in order to cover the significant bandwidth that is used by some applications (notably Access)
Just download the latest tools from the Plustools download area. Contact support if have not yet bookmarked this.
Setup is like any other ODBC driver. Simply use the pre-existing SerioPlus ODBC profile which is installed when you install the client tools, or setup your own as you would any other ODBC data source.
About the Driver
The driver limits the amount of rows you can download in a single query to 3000, to prevent excessive loading on the SerioPlus servers. Experienced SQL users will know that this is not really a restriction – use the SQL language to aggregate rows on the server prior to download, and retrieval arguments to select just the portion of data you are interested in.
The driver also limits the amount of time a single query can take to 90 seconds. As above, this isn't really a restriction – design your queries intelligently and they will execute in a few seconds or less.
Serio has a number of long string columns. The ODBC driver limits these to the first 4K of content.
The driver has no update capability. If you try to modify data the results will be unpredictable – this is by design.
You cannot use the driver to create tables, indices or stored procedures – this is by design. It's a read-only source.
Special Notes for MS Access Users
If you have pre-existing queries, these queries will be bound to a data source name (the actual name will have been set by you when you created it). Simply create a SerioPlus ODBC profile with the same name to run your queries.
If you are importing tables LINK to the tables. If you import them Access will try to download the entire data in the database onto your computer.
Without doubt, the best way to work with Access is to write focused queries and to have a good understanding of SQL. Having tried customer Access queries designed to look at service level performance, these run quickly and in seconds because they are well designed. If you design your own properly you will enjoy the same results. Used in this way Access is very powerful indeed.
Pivot tables are fully supported.
'Invalid Descriptor Index'
If you get this error, it means you have a long string in the middle of a SELECT list, when such columns should always be at the end.
For example, this query is correct and will run without error
select issue_no, issue_desc
from issue where log_date > '2010-09-06'.
This query will produce an 'invalid descriptor index' error
select issue_desc, issue_no
from issue where log_date > '2010-09-06'.
If you get this error, please re-design your query.
SerioPlus ODBC FAQ
Thursday, 17 Jun 2010
This weekend (19-20th June), we're releasing our first required update to the SerioPlus tools (SerioClient, SerioAdmin, and SerioReports). In addition to fixing some bugs, we made some important enhancements which we hope you'll like.
How to install
When you log in on Monday morning, you'll see a message prompting you to download and install the new version - just run the setup and you're ready to go.
Serio Engage (Server Edition)
Server Edition is a new version of Serio Engage that allows you to make secure through-firewall, unattended connections to your customer's servers in order to perform remote maintenance, including reboots.
We will be including one or more free licenses of the new Server Edition of Serio Engage in each SerioPlus account.
New Billing and Itemisation Features New billing features in SerioPlus allow you record all of your billable actions as you take them, along with the amounts charged. You can set-up the standard price bands for your time-based and fixed-fee services (which you can vary on a per company basis). You can then link these price bands to actions (for example, remote support or site visits), and accurately record the amount to be charged to the customer as the action is taken.
Later you can link individual chargeable amounts with an invoice. This enables you to produce itemised bills through SerioReports, giving a detailed breakdown of all your chargeable work, to send in support of your invoice.
We've added some new reports to SerioReports. A new section called 'Billable and Charging Reports' contains a selection of itemisation reports that support the new billing features (see above).
There are also two new Company based activity summary reports (TS5 and TS6 in the 'Daily, Weekly, Monthly Status Reports section'), showing a breakdown of tickets logged for a selected company, along with service level statistics and a graphical summary.
As with all SerioReports, you can schedule these reports for automatic delivery to your customers.
Additionally, we've added a new detailed, per company billable time analysis report (IB18) in the 'Billable and Time Spent Reports'.
We've taken the opportunity to fix the few funnies you've reported to us since the launch of SerioPlus in March.
Some users found that the spellchecker dictionary seemed to be empty when pressing F7 (causing every word in Ticket and Action descriptions to be checked). We've fixed this issue now.
Serio Engage Performance Enhancements
A few changes we've made to the way our servers handle screen-sharing traffic from Serio Engage should enhance its performance for most users.
Problems Browsing Configuration Items from SerioClient
Users with large CMDBs (e.g. many thousands of records), were having problems browsing those through the Service Explorer in SerioClient. This problem has now been resolved.
Lots of Error Messages when your Session Times Out
Some of you found that SerioClient put a large number of error messages on screen after a session time out. Session time outs usually occur after a period of inactivity when your workstation goes into standby mode, cutting it off from our server. They can also happen as a result of our scheduled weekend maintenance, if you leave SerioClient logged on on Friday night.
We've reduced the messages shown on a session time out - you now just see a single message saying "Session Timed Out".
Problems with the Detailed Incident Print (ID1)
We have corrected a problem on the detailed Incident print (ID1) - Ctrl+P from Manage > Incidents - which caused the Configuration Item to be blank on the report (although it was shown if the report was reprinted).
Monday, 17 May 2010
A few improvement are coming down the line for SerioPlus users, likely one week away.
The most significant change we've made is in the area of billing, and allowing you to record the chargeable value (i.e., cash) of activities you undertake for clients
We've created a system that allows you to define standard charging bands, which can either be standard across-the-board or varied from customer to customer.
Using the charging bands, you can nominate specific Actions to be either charged at an hourly rate based on the time taken, or on the basis of a flat fee. The system is designed to be flexible, so if you negotiate something special with the customer then the system will cope with that just fine.
At the 'back end' of the Billing/Charging update we've added a screen that allows you to manage your unbilled charges, and to assign these to invoices as you invoice your customers.
If a customer asks you to justify your charges, production of a fully itemised list will be easy.
A number of new 'cash/billing' reports have also been added.
Remote Tools Update
We've performed a few updates to the Remote Tools in SerioPlus.
Aside from changing the default screen view to 'smooth view' to improve the visual aspects, we've also made it possible to show your own desktop for customer training.
Sunday, 07 Mar 2010
No Server - it's a hosted service. This is the most important change – you no longer need to maintain a server, perform upgrades or backups, worry about security if it's on the Internet. The service is delivered over the Internet where ever you are. The client tools are a free download, install them where you need them.
New support tools. Integrated into SerioPlus are tools for remote desktop sharing, file upload and download to customer desktops, and text chat facilities. These tools will work seamlessly through most firewalls and are an aspect of the service we will continue to develop in the coming months. These tools are there to help you deliver quicker, more efficient support to your customers regardless of their network location.
Integration of the Serio CMDB/CMS into the Service Explorer. The Service Explorer has been a popular addition to the tool, now you can browse and edit Configuration Data directly from the Service Explorer. The Item Diagram is more accessible too – simply click a CI and it will display the Item in visual context.
Updates to Reports, including Scheduled Running. We've added daily, weekly and monthly status reports, and like the rest of the reports package you can schedule this to run reports and email them in PDF to whoever you choose whenever you choose.
Concurrent Licensing. All licensing is now based on an easy to understand concurrent connection model.
Revised Logging Form. We've made some substantial changes to the logging form, to improve ergonomics and reduce time taken to log a ticket.
Web Portal. Your own web portal with zero set-up required. Just click the link on the SerioClient welcome page.
Try it now: Existing customers who wish to try the new service should email
serio-support _at_ serioplus _dot_ com
to obtain a Voucher Code. The Voucher Code will place you on specially-reserved servers away from our public servers.
Sign-up to try here: http://www.seriosoft.com/passport/newpassport.htm
Wednesday, 10 Feb 2010
SerioPlus has moved on in leaps and bounds since our original announcement back in October. The user testing we’ve done has gone extremely well – customers have reported that the application looks and works as expected, is responsive, and works seamlessly on their networks without any configuration changes. Thank you to everyone that took the time to help out and refine the technology.
Most importantly, SerioPlus does not require the customer to have their own server as mentioned here.
This post will address some of the new features we’ve added. Time permitting, we’ll post about how the new architecture differs from the old in the next week or so.
Remote Control & Customer Support
You’re probably thinking that this is nothing new – VNC does this. The features we’ve added to SerioPlus allow you to see & control a users desktop machine through firewalls, with zero config for you as a Serio user. It is just there, and works.
Our aim with this is to remove the need for you (our customer) to resort to VPNs in order to help your customers. We want you to be able to welcome new customers easily and still offer great support.
To make this possible, we've gone further than desktop sharing. SerioPlus also has remote file upload and download – so if you need to send an update you can do so, or if you need access to an error log file, you can do so. Again, this works through the HTTP-based transfer protocols we are using, through most firewalls, and via the SerioPlus servers.
Finally, there is a chat (IM) that works through most firewalls as well. We’ve added this as another means of customers to contact you, and will be an area of future development.
This is also now live. It’s very simple, take any of the reports in SerioReports and schedule them to run at a date and time of your choosing for as many people as you choose. Each report is delivered in PDF format, and each report can be run daily, weekly, or monthly. Again for SerioPlus users, this will be a zero config feature.
We are currently adding a number of summary reports that will show Key Performance Indicators that will be well suited to this.
Configuration Management now integrated into the Service Explorer
We’ve expanded the Service Explorer to include information about Configuration Items (CIs). This data can now be viewed and edited directly from the Service Explorer. We’ve also made the Item Diagram easier to access as well, so you can use it in conjunction with the Service Explorer.
Where we’re at Right Now
All of the major items of functionality we wanted to have are now in place. Most importantly for us, the new server infrastructure has proved itself to be reliable over the past 6 months since it went live. We’ve also managed to identify infrastructure providers that will give us the reliability and performance we need.
We are currently working on a new install program, and are working through a number of user interface updates to SerioClient, SerioAdmin and SerioReports.
Where we want to be in the next 4 months
- We want to allow you have a ‘contact support’ applet you can add to your customers desktops, or that they can download from the internet in a few moments. If they need help, they click to start a text chat session with one of your support agents, who then has access to the file and screen capabilities of SerioPlus. This will all work regardless of firewalls. It’s already possible to log a ticket from text chat, and this is something we want to take further.
- We want you to be able to monitor your computers networks and servers easily, again regardless of firewall issues. We want you to know when your customer has a problem before the customer does.
If you have your own Custom Reports
Custom report writing has always been a tricky issue for any hosted service or application. Our response to this has been to create a (read-only) ODBC driver for SerioPlus (in fact, this is how SerioReports works).
Whilst this works perfectly well for SerioReports, not all of the features required by products such as Crystal are implemented yet (mainly the schema discovery functions), and you should assume that the SerioPlus ODBC driver will not work with products other than SerioReports. We’ll be continuing to develop the SerioPlus ODBC driver in the next 6 months, but in the meantime call us to discuss what possibilities exist for workarounds.