Best practices eLearning

Professional Support for an Open Source LMS: Interview with Athanasios Papagelis Co-founder & Technical Director at Epignosis Ltd

C.P.: What is one of the reasons that SMEs choose eFront as an eLearning solution?

Athanasios Papagelis – Co-founder & Technical Director at Epignosis Ltd:
One of the reasons that eFront is an extremely successful eLearning solution especially for medium organizations is the fact that is well supported. By saying well supported, I mean that eFront is professionally supported and although designed to last, our clients can always rely that someone is on hand if something does go wrong.

=> I will very much appreciate if you share your thoughts concerning the following question “Is Professional Support  IMPORTANT for an Open Source LMS?”

C.P.: How are you doing regarding support at eFront?
Athanasios Papagelis – Co-founder & Technical Director at Epignosis Ltd:
We use an advance enterprise software to support our worldwide clients that use eFront. All the issues are visible to our support engineers and are tracked online for later reference to our clients. This way we can track:

  • when a support request was initiated,
  • when answered,
  • how many mails were exchanged, and
  • the total resolution time.

C.P.: Could you please share a few important insights on the turnaround of tickets in your infrastructure?
Athanasios Papagelis – Co-founder & Technical Director at Epignosis Ltd:
Support requests can be grouped to different types based on their context and needed communication to reach a solution. It is not uncommon to exchange several emails before we reach a solution. Many clients do not formally describe their problem and some time is lost to reach an understanding on what the problem is exactly.

The easiest type of support requests have to do with questions on how to do this or that — one return email is usually enough to mark it as solved.

Another type of support request is rather suggestions for a new functionality or a better way to achieve something. Whenever we believe it is an important addition we add the request to the roadmap for a future version. These type of requests are solved fast as well.

Next we deal with working environment issues. For example, a client that host eFront at his own infrastructure could not restore a backup due to lack of memory on his server. Many issues are raised due to infrastructure problems (Server characteristics, PHP and Mysql installed, Operating system — and this is a very short list). We usually offer suggestions based on experience for such issues. A few times we may have to login to the client’s system to evaluable the problem and fix it. These are often consuming support requests.

Finally we have bugs. Bugs can be separated to minor (visual, language, …) and major (fatal errors under certain occasions, security issues,..). Bugs are unavoidable for software. What it matters is how fast and in what depth one treats them. Whenever a bug is reported from a client we go through a detailed tracking and reproducing process to define its nature. Bugs are many times crucial for the everyday work of the client so they have priority (based on severity) over all other issues.

Below is a graph that represents the evolution of support requests since August 2011. We always try to keep the number of open issues as low as possible. As a internal quality level we have decided on a maximum of 25 open support issues. We are working toward this target.

Here is a graph that represents the resolution time for tickets. This is a cumulative graph (for example the tickets that were solved in 8 hours include those solved in 2 hours). About 50% of the tickets are solved during a 3 days period. Note that we refer to how many days it took for a request to be solved and not answered. Almost all support requests are answered in the next few hours — but they may need extensive communication to come to a solution. No matter how complex almost all tickets are solved during a 2 weeks period.

C.P.: What your clients say about the quality of support that you offer?

Athanasios Papagelis – Co-founder & Technical Director at Epignosis Ltd:

To answer this question I can only share with you the opinion of our clients concerning support!

Kip Dudley, HR ManagerKalsec Inc. Michigan, United States… The support of the eFront staff is the best in the industry. eFront is by far the best LMS on the market; all others are fighting for second place. I would highly recommend the eFront Enterprise LMS system to any business that wishes to be successful. Thank you eFront team!!”

Blaise Porter, Manager Service ExcellenceFujitsu Australia Limited – North Sydney, Australia“…We found eFront to be the complete solution. It provided an extremely wide array of functionality, but was still simple and easy to use. The technical requirements of the solution were straightforward, which meant that we could rapidly implement the solution. Fujitsu employees have completed over 10,000 courses in the past 12 months using the eFront platform. The platform itself has proved to be very stable and low-maintenance from a technical point of view; The eFront platform has become a standard part of the way we do business in Fujitsu Australia & New Zealand as is a preferred choice for delivering training on many subjects…”

All around I would say that we are doing nice on the support frontier based on the feedback that we receive from our clients and despite the surge on support requests. Still, there is some room of improvement and we work hard towards this direction. In the next few months we will introduce priority support packages bundled with an SLA for those that need a guaranteed response time frame.

Athanasios Papagelis – Co-founder & Technical Director at Epignosis Ltd

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