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The topics discussed here grow out of the bread-and-butter issues that confront my consulting and software clients on a daily basis. We'll talk about prosaic stuff like Membership Management, Meetings and Events Management and Fundraising, broader ideas like security and software project management, and the social, cultural, and organizational issues that impact IT decision-making.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Turning Help Desk Tickets into Business Intelligence

I was claiming that getting your informal help desk operation organized with a ticketing system does more than streamline that operation - it provides information that can increase your organization's effectiveness. It can have a real impact on mission. So what information do you want to track in your help desk ticketing system?

Of course you need to know who reported it, how they described it, when it came in, who worked on it, and how it was resolved. But the key is to know what type of requests you are getting, and how much time you spend on each. The values you allow for request type, and whether you allow for a single type or multiple tags, depend on the knowledge you hope to gain. You are trying to partition your universe here, so that you can learn how many and what kinds of problems each area spawns.

You might begin for example with a very simple set of issues.
  • Networking and Hardware Issues.
  • Office Suite Issues.
  • CRM and Database Issues
  • Website Issues
Then break out areas you have specific questions about. For instance, if you are trying to verify that you spend far to much time on new user setups, you might want to break that out on its own. Or if you feel you are inadequately protected against vius and malware attack, add malware protection and recovery to the list. Maybe you want to distinguish between problems that had to be resolved by a vendor (like software bugs) and which you could resolve in house.

Which types of problems you worked on gains more meaning if you log the amount of time you spent in each ticket. Then you know things like: in the first quarter I spent 10 hours helping people search for documents they misfiled, for a cost to the organization of $400.00 of my time and an estimated additional equal amount in lost productivity. So finding a tool that helps with this problem could be worth up to $3,200 a year to us.

Of course you won't know today what questions you want to ask of your data six months from now. So you really ought to allow for multiple topic tags. For example, if a user reports a problem with scanning credit cards, you may want to tag the request with numerous related terms - Point of Sale, Credit Card, Payment Processing, and Accounting. And you probably want to allow for a full text search of the description, in case you are looking for a term you had not thought to use at the time. Now you are really set to answer questions about the support your IT infrastructure has required.

Next we'll look at how the ticketing system can help you deliver that support most effectively.

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Comments on "Turning Help Desk Tickets into Business Intelligence"


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (March 7, 2008 at 7:09 AM) : 

Nice one! Thanks for the article!
BridgeTrak is the tool we use in our company and it includes some of the features you described above.
For example, you can categorize the type of issue request and all issues can be routed to different specialist based on group, experience or knowledge .
The request can include such information like vendor, manufacturer and asset information, product and contract information, related issues. Bridgetrak also offers some useful features like access to an internal knowledgebase for users or reporting capabilities.


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