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Ticketing

More than just ticketing: Service management with the market leader – OTRS

A modern ticketing system is much more than just a helpdesk tool. Ticketing systems form the basis for concerted customer focus and sustainable customer satisfaction. They support the entire IT department: from logging initial problems and errors to the planning and implementation of change. Possible applications include:

  • Establishing support structures
  • Illustrating customer and service information
  • Upgrading and expanding problem and change management
  • Identifying and optimising internal processes and defined workflows
  • Reporting for customers
  • Substantiating service level agreements (SLAs) for customers
  • Ensuring companies work in a more service-oriented manner

The solution for co-ordinated support

The open-source software OTRS is a web-based ticketing system that enables users to comprehensively document all customer and technical support correspondence. Issues such as incident reports, service and information requests that are provided by email, telephone and via the customer web front end can be captured, classified, stored and processed in an efficient and structured manner.

The system is available to all team members and work groups to ensure that only standardised information is released to the customer. Moreover, OTRS monitoring ensures compliance with agreed response times. The modular design of the software provides users with over 1,000 configuration options. This means OTRS can be flexibly integrated into existing structures or expanded and used as a powerful IT service management tool.

Tickets can be shared, combined, linked or passed on to other departments. End users can optionally see the relevant processing status of a ticket in the customer portal or be informed by the ticket editor at clearly defined intervals about the ticket's current status.

Expert recommendation

Even when dealing with non-IT scenarios such as facilities management, customer service or complaint management, ticketing systems add value because they enable different service areas to be mapped to a single OTRS instance.

Many public administration institutions are currently changing roles to become public service providers. As part of this process, the proposed services they will be offering are being reframed at an operational level.

Webshops, insurance and/or Internet providers use ticketing systems to offer their customers a guaranteed, documented and measurable quality of service.

The Internet is revolutionising industry. Products talk to machines and largely control the production process themselves. Accordingly, these changes require new service management solutions that meet the new requirements for integration and flexibility.

Ticketing systems ensure ITIL-compliant process handling

At the end of the 80s, ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library) was adopted as the standard for ensuring IT services and resources were used more effectively. At its core, ITIL consists of a library of best practices that can be called upon as templates for data centres, and helpdesk operations.

OTRS not only follows this recognised international standard, but also supports certification projects such as ISO 27001. Although OTRS is based on ITIL, it does not necessarily require ITIL knowledge for its operation. And this is exactly what many companies are looking for:  an easy-to-use tool that fulfils all the requirements of a modern helpdesk – something that can't be achieved using Outlook and Excel.

ITIL-compliant functionalities of the OTRS ticketing system

Incident and problem management

Should an incident suddenly arise, it will be processed via the incident management feature of the software. This approach provides for quick and easy solutions (e.g. workarounds or a system reboot).  The cause of frequently reoccurring problems is intensively researched (usually by second or third-level support) and worked out via problem management. OTRS also provides corresponding ticket types for dealing with a variety of issues.

With the help of the change management system, changes worked out in this way can then be planned, discussed, tested and finally adopted into production systems.

Change management

As a rule, when changes need to be applied to a production system, they are carried out as part of a "Request for Change" (RFC). Using this approach it is possible to exactly determine who is supposed to do what, when and on which system. OTRS comes with a series of associated templates that help reduce the effort involved in carrying out this maintenance process. Plus, all changes made are directly documented in the ticketing system.

Processes

Defined work processes assist employees in carrying out their daily work. If a company has clearly documented processes, the steps for completing these processes are also clear for the employees involved. And should work stall at any point on an incident, a reminder can be issued by the system, if required. Each employee can track the current progress of the process in the OTRS system.

Practical example: Field staff member reports service outage

A member of your company's field staff contacts the helpdesk and reports that he is unable to access his network drive. The helpdesk representative logs a ticket with a description of the fault in the ticketing system. He then consults the service catalogue to find out which service is actually affected. Here, the system displays a list of all the appropriate services. The helpdesk representative selects the correct service (E.g. "VPN access") and is given information about how urgent service recovery is for this issue and what service level agreements (SLAs) are actually in place.

To resolve the problem, he then turns to the configuration management database (CMDB) where all configuration items (CIs) associated with the company's IT services are documented. Here, in addition to information about the CI's configuration, he can also find details regarding emergency plans as well as any dependencies to other CIs in the system.

By quickly referencing the monitoring system, the helpdesk representative can see that one of the parameters required for the service is displayed as having a status of "critical". A problem ticket has already been created for this particular parameter and a workaround has been released. As a result, the originally reported service issue has also been resolved. The person who reported the outage – the field staff member – now automatically receives a message that VPN access will soon be restored and so the problem is resolved.

Your advantages in using a ticketing system

Integrated IT service management helps users to efficiently process incidents

The automated allocation of requests and queries to the right individual

Presenting a unified company presence to customers and the general public regardless of the number of internal incident handlers

Incident handlers can always stay informed about how a ticket is being processed

The archive of past incidents can be used as a knowledge database

Conclusion and recommendation

Ticketing systems like OTRS have many "out-of-the-box" features, so getting started is easy. However, without good, in-depth knowledge companies and IT administrators can easy create badly configured service management systems, because setting up ITIL-compliant processes requires far more than just installing all the right components.

When applied correctly, ITIL-compliant methods can be invaluable for good service deployment. To achieve this, however, it is necessary that the tools employed (including ticketing, asset management and monitoring systems) are ITIL compliant. So it's important that decisions be made in advance about the tools to be used.

Good functional interaction between the tools is essential for the successful application of ITIL methodologies and so should receive special attention. OTRS can be seamlessly integrated into existing system landscapes. This includes being combined with CMDB and monitoring software such as openITCOCKPIT or ERP/CRM. Because of its comprehensive integration abilities, OTRS is an ideal choice for establishing an integrated enterprise service management solution.