By Trey Jammes and Robert Choy
The introduction of email and instant messaging (IM) services brought welcome enhancements to the workplace. Both have become highly utilized productivity and communication tools vital to daily work routines. In fact, email and IM represent a significant portion of the Department of State’s official historical records that support the conduct of diplomacy and associated business functions. Simply put, email and IM are mission-enabling mainstays. They facilitate business in a manner that brings convenience and simplicity to communications. Yet, email and IM are more than simple workplace solutions.
In February, after months of dedicated teamwork and determination, the Bureau of Information Resource Management’s (IRM) Operations (OPS) Messaging Systems Office (MSO) Email Division (EML) was certified by the Intentional Standards Organization ISO/IEC 20000 (ISO 20K) for process commitment to quality service management and improvement. The ISO 20000:2018 (20K) certification is the internationally recognized standard for excellence in information technology (IT) service management. In IRM, EML is now the fifth organization to earn this distinguished recognition after the MSO/Smart Messaging and Archive Retrieval Toolset Technical Support Unit, MSO/Mobile Remote Access, Enterprise Network Management (ENM)/Global Telecommunications Systems, and ENM/OPS. Alongside these peers, EML has matured their capability to execute a service management framework that strongly assures customer satisfaction, quality service, and continued service improvement well into 2020 and beyond.
The EML team set the goal of achieving the ISO 20K certification in June 2017 and have been working diligently ever since. Their efforts to prioritize quality service delivery and lead in readiness amid demands to modernize technology set them up for success. One such success story is their work migrating OpenNet email accounts and mailboxes to the cloud. To date, 99 percent of EML managed OpenNet mailboxes are delivered via Microsoft Office 365 cloud services.
“I am very pleased that EML has joined the growing number of IRM Divisions obtaining ISO 20K certification,” said EML Division Chief Trey Jammes. “It demonstrates IRM’s commitment to providing exceptional and efficient delivery of service to Department of State IT users.”
In addition to email, EML provides IM services and backup services to Department personnel and users worldwide. Each year, the OpenNet and ClassNet email systems send and receive more than 1 million emails collectively. EML maintains more than 124,000 OpenNet mailboxes and more than 38,000 on-premise ClassNet mailboxes. Behind the scenes, EML also works to enable an array of workloads—e.g., the transport of SMART cables, the delivery of email and IMs to mobile devices, digital sending, and back-end email relay functionality to applications such as ServiceNow and SharePoint.
EML evolved from IRM’s legacy Information Systems Office (ISO) that operated and maintained Wang, Banyan Vines, and Microsoft Mail platforms in the 1990s. Today, EML is predominantly a Microsoft messaging operation that provides Exchange and Teams (formerly Skype for Business) services on ClassNet and OpenNet. In partnership with IRM’s Transfer Task Force, EML’s technical support team transferred more than 9,000 accounts and mailboxes for transferring personnel during the 2019 Foreign Service summer transfer season.
Adhering to social distancing and stay-at-home orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was imperative for Department personnel to access email and continue collaborating with their teams while they were physically out of the office. EML strived to support continuity of operations and the Department’s mission by providing continuous 24/7 technical support. With 90 percent of their contract labor working remotely, EML successfully met obligations, fulfilling the requirements of their technical support roles (on OpenNet) in a virtual support setting. For ClassNet support, the team maintained a small number of its staff on-site to access network devices. While respecting social distancing guidance, EML could still meet their overall performance goals by closing out incidents and service requests, creating and updating information to the Process Assets Library, and delivering bi-weekly and weekly reports to management.
“Due to the COVID-19 response requirements, EML had to implement remote administration capabilities not only for ourselves but also for administrators at posts and other domestic bureaus,” said Jammes. “In addition, end-user support procedures had to be quickly updated to handle a remote workforce and the suddenly critical Microsoft Teams collaboration application. I am proud that the EML team was able to successfully implement these major changes in a secure manner over a period of just a few weeks.”
Trey Jammes is the division chief in the Email Division in the Bureau of Information Resource Management Messaging Systems Office. Robert Choy is a Vanguard 2.2.1 service line manager in the Email Division in the Bureau of Information Resource Management Messaging Systems Office.