Best Practices for Collabware CLM SupportThe support of SharePoint, specifically of third-party add-ins like Collabware CLM within your organization, is a topic that frequently comes in my conversations with organizations.

  • What channels are available to contact Collabware?
  • What are your service levels?
  • Do you offer 7X24, global  support?
  • How does Collabware CLM support fit into my current Help Desk organization?

In this post, I will outline some support best practices based on the experience of existing customers and hopefully answer some of these questions.

Why is support even needed in the first place?  End users run into problems using the technology and business systems we provide for them. Sometimes the problem prevents them from  completing work and other times it is just an annoyance, or things are not working quite like the person expects.

As a result, almost all organizations have an IT support model that includes a Help Desk, or Service Desk, and these are usually structured in a tiers.  The severity of the issue will determine how rapidly the issue is escalated and resolved. The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) framework provides an excellent outline for service management that focuses on aligning IT services with the needs of business.

Tier 1 - Help Desk

This is your first line of support, your users' single point of contact, that receives incident reports related to desktop, network or business applications through calls, email or an online ticketing system. The help desk representative will triage the incident with the end-user, determine the nature of the issue, severity and business impact and attempt to resolve the most common desktop or application issues.

In a large organization, this function may be internal or outsourced and operate around the clock over many time zones.

If the Tier 1 help desk cannot resolve the issue, the issue is escalated to the appropriate Tier 2 contact that will have expertise in that technology domain or business application.

Issues involving SharePoint sites, libraries or documents may be escalated to your SharePoint Tier 2 support team to further diagnose.

Tier 2 - Internal Support Department or Subject Matter Expert (SME)

Your tier 2 support will typically be distributed throughout your organization.  Different departments will have expertise in different areas.  You may have an SAP or PeopleSoft team to handle your HR/Payroll issues, and a SharePoint team to handle SharePoint related issues.

In the case of Collabware CLM, the customer's Tier 2 support is often a combination of the Records Management team and the SharePoint business support teams.

A typical Collabware customer will have 2-4 staff identified as subject matter experts.  They will have completed Collabware CLM training and they will be given access to the Collabware Help Centre portal with the rights to report incidents and request assistance.  Exactly which departments and who is involved in Tier 2 support on the customer side varies by organization.  There is no right answer here, as long as you understand your internal support process and Tier 2 contact protocol.

Tier 2 subject matter experts will look at the issue in more detail, perhaps contact the end-user to clarify details, and try to narrow the problem down.  Is the issue is related to security or permissions, SharePoint site configuration, or a Collabware CLM feature or function?

If the issue is related to Collabware CLM, and the Tier 2 subject matter expert cannot resolve the issue, the issue is escalated to the appropriate Tier 3 contact, in this case, the issue is reported to Collabware through our online Help Centre where it can be logged, tracked and resolved.

Tier 3 - Vendor Support

Collabware typically fits into Tier 3 of the customers support model and this is where we usually get involved with a customer issue.

Our customer support model follows ITIL best practices and defines services levels by severity.  We log and track all problem reports, monitor response times to service levels and solicit feedback from requesters to determine their level of satisfaction with our support service and to identify areas we can improve.

I am happy to report that over the quarter April/May/June, we achieved a 100% satisfaction rating.

Here are our service level and targeted response times.

Severity Definition First Response Time
Severity 1 (High) Product malfunction or failure significantly impacting product functionality.  Many people affected.No workaround is available. Within 2 business hours
Severity 2 (Medium) Product malfunction or failure significantly impacting product functionality.A workaround is available. Within 4 business hours
Severity 3(Low) Product malfunction or failure does not significantly impact core product functionality.Includes non-critical issues, general questions, feature requests, documentation issues. Within 8 business hours

Generally, we are able to answer questions and suggest solutions on the same day the support request is received, however this depends on the complexity of the issue and other customer specific considerations. Collabware product support team updates the requester with periodic status reports and/or estimated target times for support requests that require additional time and effort.

A customer can also escalate a support issue at any time and are provided with the direct contact information for our VP, Product Services.  I'm happy to say that this is a little used option.

Some of the typical issues reported to the Collabware Help Centre include:

  • Documents are not being classified
  • User is unable to declare a document a record
  • How do I do….

Most of our reported issues are more 'how to' questions we can direct customers to documentation and FAQs to resolve.  However, of the remaining issues, 90% are related to  permission issues unique to the customer's specific SharePoint environment.  And in almost all cases, unless their SharePoint site is actually down, users are still able to access their document and their normal work process can continue.

Global Support Considerations

The standard support package at Collabware provides support Monday through Friday 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. PST, excluding Canadian statutory holidays.

If you are a large organization operating in many countries around the world, at first, this may look inadequate.  But let's take a closer look.

Your tier 1 and 2 support levels will address any Severity 1 issue.  These tend to be infrastructure or SharePoint environment related - the platform that Collabware CLM sits atop.

If Collabware CLM is not running, how will this impact end-user?  Documents are not classified or declared automatically? Disposition processes are on hold until the issue is resolved?   Anything missed while Collabware CLM is down will get picked up when Collabware CLM is back up (it's just the way it was designed). And if SharePoint is up, there is always a workaround for the end-user.  Of course we want to get the issue sorted out as soon as possible, however, next business day response has been more than adequate for our largest customers' needs.

I would be remise if I did not talk about language as another consideration for global organizations.  Collabware currently provides support in English.  Many global organizations provide their Tier 1 support in multiple languages and Tier 2 support with English at least as a second language.  We would typically interact with your Tier 2 support in English. However, we recognize that this is not always suitable.

Collabware CLM is the only SharePoint records management add-in that supports multiple languages as part of its installation and configuration.  Collabware CLM labels, help text as well as configuration (file plan record classification titles and descriptions, etc.) are multi language capable and Collabware CLM ships with support for English, French and Spanish out of the box.  Additional languages are available as an additional configuration service.

Customers in North America, Europe and Australia find the Collabware CLM standard support package adequately meets their needs.  Of course, one size does not fit all.   If you truly need 7X24 coverage or multiple language support for Collabware CLM, we will structure a support package for you that will meet your requirements and budget.

Simple, seamless and transparent are hallmarks of our software and it also applies to our support model.

For more information on this topic and other SharePoint Records Management topics, please contact us at Collabware.