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Giving the gift of manageable IT ticket volumes

In one form or another, each organization has a way of managing their shared issues list between operations and their technology team. Typically, this “management” is embedded in an IT service management solution such as Cherwell, JIRA, or Service Now.

However, regardless of what system is actually being used to manage your ticket volume, there is a significant responsibility placed on the IT team to perform the actual management function.

And with any user-driven function, it’s important to have pre-defined processes in place to ensure users follow the appropriate workflows to utilize the system as effectively as possible.

Yet, as well all know, this doesn’t always happen, and it’s seemingly most prevalent with the usage of IT service management systems.

So what do you do if you’ve lost control of your service management system and your IT ticket volume has you thinking that you’ll never climb out from under the mound of tickets?

Fortunately, we’ve seen this more than a few times, and from our experience working with clients to create a manageable relationship with their service management system, we’ve defined three key steps to getting your ticket volume under control.

  1. Inventory your current ticket volume - This might be seem cumbersome, and it likely will be, but before you can address any problem, you need to understand what the problem is. By doing this you’ll find trends in what tickets are being created.

For example, maybe there is a particular user who accounts for the most tickets or maybe there are duplicate tickets that haven’t been addressed because users are so caught up in the ticketing mess. And often, you’ll find some tickets aren’t being worked because we are waiting on information (because the appropriate information needed wasn’t entered from the beginning).

  1. Establish the new ticketing process – This process will be unique to every hospital, but at the core, this ticketing process should include specifics around:
    1. What type of ticket – Is it an incident or problem? A maintenance request? A small enhancement? Or a project? There should be definitions around what constitutes each so when users enter a ticket so the IT team knows how to prioritize these appropriately within their day-to-day functions. This will also help with step number 3.
    2. Who can enter tickets – Our recommendation is to leave the ticket entering process to managers and above unless it is an incident that requires immediate attention. This limits the amount of users entering the tickets and creates a built-in approval process that requires a manager sign-off before being entered.
    3. What qualifies as an escalated ticket – Without guardrails for escalations, you open up the possibility of rogue users monopolizing IT team for tickets that might not be as high priority as other tickets.
    4. What information needs to be present in each ticket – Each ticket should include a description of what is currently happening, why this is incorrect, what the desired outcome is, the impact (if possible to quantify), when it is needed by, and three or more examples (this is especially important).
    5. What steps users need to take prior to entering a ticket – This specifically references sign-off for workflows that impact multiple user groups. If the billing team wants to update an edit to route to the coding team, there should be approval from both teams.
    6. Ticket closing processes – This is to create transparency with end users on what constitutes a closed ticket. If the ticket is fixed, this obviously should result in a closed ticket, but a more important process to define is how many communication attempts need to be made before closing out a ticket without fixing. You’ll find this will cut down a significant chunk of ticket volume just by clearing out tickets requiring end user information that has never been delivered.
  1. Prioritize ticket volume and work them – After inventorying the ticket volume and establishing a process for working the tickets, prioritize tickets and work them. This is the most obvious of the three key steps, but it’s important to note because when teams have a large ticket volume that they are unable to keep up with, bad habits often form. These bad habits are one-off phone calls from operations to their favorite IT person or emails to another asking to please work on a particular ticket.

The goal of step two is partially to stop this so let’s not let it pop back up again.

We want those users entering tickets so we can use our ticket management system, however, if we don’t work down some of the volume first, those bad habits will likely creep back in.

Again, this is flexible to what works best for organization, but what I have seen be effective is a war room. Get your team in a room for 5-6 hours one time and just focus purely on tickets. In one of my previous engagements, this reduced ticket volume by 30%. It removes the cluster and gets your team excited about continuing ticket reduction work.

Although it is condensed into three steps, fixing the way you manage your ticket volume in your service management software system can be difficult. It’s not just simply making a system fix, it’s changing a culture of issue identification and resolution prioritization. And most importantly, there is not a plug and play model that can work for every organization. You will need to understand the unique intricacies that your organization brings to the table when trying to manage your ticket volume.

If your organization is struggling with managing your ticket volume and issue prioritization, and unfortunately don’t have the time to focus on the correction of your current processes, feel free to reach out to us at The Wilshire Group.

We are proven industry experts with a unique blend of operational and IT knowledge that give us the perfect insight into how to correct ticket managing processes and give you the gift of low ticket volumes.