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Users that Submit a Ticket Can Enhance IT Efficiency

Michael O'Dwyer| July 19 2016

| security, IT insights

it-efficiencyTicketing systems are used in large enterprises to manage support requests so the helpdesk isn't pulled in a dozen different directions at once. If you don't submit a ticket, you won't receive the support you need — a pretty practical solution when dealing with a high volume of issues with varying levels of urgency. In fact, many IT teams only offer this method of contact.

Contrary to popular belief, it isn't to "avoid the user at all costs" (as you know), but rather a means of ensuring all support issues are recorded and dealt with as promptly as they can be. It also allows you to track failure trends and improve on future releases as necessary. Modern ticketing systems often include text chat features, document uploading and, in some cases, voice and video conferencing.

Support Requests

This recognition is a double-edged sword, though. As staff gradually realize the major role you play in business continuity, prompt action becomes that much more critical. Any IT crew, regardless of size, must ensure that users can get their attention quickly. Client retention could very well depend on it. By the same token, a loud bullhorn and a frantic "help me" is not enough. Neither is cornering hapless sysadmins in the kitchen.

IT's "bat signal" of choice is meant to be user-friendly. Step one: Submit a ticket. Step two: See step one. Each new ticket causes you to leap into action and the user's problem is solved. Right? Well, in a perfect world. All issues will be resolved, but in such a way that achieves maximum productivity both in and outside support.

Convert the Skeptics

And yet ticket systems still get pushback. Why? The first problem may lie within IT itself. Perhaps support employees resent being tracked. Maybe morale is low amid reduced staffing levels and tickets are seen as weeding out those who are less productive. Don't buy it; all members of IT should be comfortable with this new logical workflow.

"When considering your reporting, you do need to consider and remember: garbage in, garbage out," says Andrew Egan, technical director at Melbourne, Australia-based IT support provider Adept IT. "If you have team members not utilizing the tool properly (for instance, only ever putting in notes and not time entries) your metrics will be out. Not only is it important to have the tool; it's important to use it correctly."

Contradictory Culture

The second possible delay to acceptance lies in the company culture, where IT is viewed as a costly accessory rather than a valuable asset for future projects. Companies may be productivity-based, but this linear way of thinking is detrimental to the effectiveness of the ticketing system. "I know of a ticketing system that automatically applies a minimum of five minutes per ticket entry, which leads to false engineer utilization data," says Egan.

Conversely, if a low maximum is set, IT staff may not have time to resolve a ticket in the time allotted. New adopters are advised to take the stance that each problem is different and will take as long as necessary to complete. IT pros will not spend more than they need on a problem so they can move quickly to the next issue.

You're 'Right There'

Finally, and perhaps the biggest issue with in-house ticketing systems: You come to employees, rather than the other way around. Some, especially at executive level, expect immediate assistance from IT and will visit you to demand action. Others won't create a ticket and claim it's a small problem. "I can't open Excel," "Angry Birds froze the system" or "I can't access the VPN," they claim. Most will resent being told to submit a ticket. You're right there, and you can't possibly be doing anything you can't step away from for a minute (pshhh...).

Hold firm and repeat the request. Eventually it'll sink in. If not, arrange a training session for all users (including IT if resistance is still present). The right training sessions can outline the importance of using the ticketing system and the company benefits of doing so. From your perspective, all problems are logged; if a problem has occurred before or is already being worked on, all team members know it and task duplication is prevented. Sometimes all you need is to relay this point.

Prepare for Collaboration

Egan recommends that the ticketing system is linked to email and other collaboration or messaging tools. This allows one instance of data entry, rather than several. He also points out that a ticketing system is "all important because it goes toward establishing where the pain points are within your infrastructure." An effective solution will work on a technical level not just through incident and problem management, but indicate trends as well: 'A Faulty disk in server1 fails once a day at 3:00 PM' — an incident is logged each time. If rather than just fixing the faulty disk [error] we fixed the raid controller, we could stop the flow of incidents," says Egan, adding that "it shows you what's 'business-as-usual' or break-fix work, and how much time is going toward developing or enhancing your IT platforms — turning it into a profit center, rather than a cost center, as it is more commonly viewed."

For prompt IT support, get your users to submit a ticket for best results. It takes longer to resolve a problem otherwise. Modern helpdesks are trained in the art of camouflage, protocol and ignoring all requests that do not arrive in ticket form (something you should be proud of).

Topics: security, IT insights

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THIS POST WAS WRITTEN BY Michael O'Dwyer

An Irishman based in Hong Kong, Michael O’Dwyer is a business & technology journalist, independent consultant and writer who specializes in writing for enterprise, small business and IT audiences. With 20+ years of experience in everything from IT and electronic component-level failure analysis to process improvement and supply chains (and an in-depth knowledge of Klingon,) Michael is a sought-after writer whose quality sources, deep research and quirky sense of humor ensures he’s welcome in high-profile publications such as The Street and Fortune 100 IT portals.

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