It’s possible that I arrived at the topic of this article after a breakfast which consisted of a doughnut and two cups of coffee. But it does apply to that common issue in IT of poor-quality tickets resulting in poor quality reporting from the Incident Management system, so slightly dusted with powdered sugar, I shall proceed.
Regardless of company size, industry, or environment, Incident tickets are often lacking in similar ways:
- Insufficient description of the issue
- Troubleshooting activities undocumented
- Single-word resolutions such as “done” or “fixed”
- Haphazard categorization
- Prioritization which never deviates from the default
These ticket deficiencies result in reports being near-useless for communicating performance to the business (without attaching significant explanatory notes), issue-trending and proactive Problem identification and identifying Knowledge candidates.
What’s the Cause?
It’s not that the Service Desk and others creating and working on tickets want to do a lackluster job with tickets; often, they just don’t know what the ticket expectations are nor how valuable quality information can be and how it can be used (including in conjunction with other processes).
Take the First Steps in Improving Quality
If you find yourself in this situation, the good news is you can start small and still make improvements in the quality of your Incident tickets using the ticket quality review approach such as:
- Identify 3 – 4 ticket quality problem areas for focus (e.g. Description, Resolution, Priority)
- Create a simple scoring method (e.g. yes, partial, no)
- Perform a small, inclusive sampling of tickets to review
- Ensure feedback is given as soon as possible after the review
- Track quality on the reviewed tickets to determine the progress of improvements
Ensure that you communicate to the Service Desk and other ticket contributors the importance of quality ticket information including how that data will be used as well as the ticket quality review approach (highlighting the 3 – 4 ticket quality focus areas).
Once you have communicated your ticket quality goals and approach, begin regularly reviewing the small sample of tickets and providing feedback. Provide suggested improvements and the value that they bring.
Keep the Momentum
In order to ensure ticket quality improvement is sustained:
- Ensure enough time is made for the reviews (skipping a week or two gives the perception of a lack of importance and priority)
- Share progress and learnings of the quality reviews with the team through regular meetings, progress memos, etc.
- Identify staff that excel in the area of creating quality tickets and ask them for tips and examples to help others.
- Document ticket quality expectations and ensure this is accessible by all in support who created or work tickets. Ensure this document is updated and updates are communicated.
- Make IT Management aware of the progress and benefits, and make sure to let the team know you’re singing their praises.
- As significant improvement in a problem area has been made, consider replacing with a new area of focus.
Build on the Benefits
Through this activity, you have:
- Aligned expectations with staff
- Identified those who can be seen as experts in this area (and potentially train new staff or guide others)
- Have set the foundation to build meaningful (and believable) reports
- Mined tickets for common resolutions to populate Knowledge Articles
- Looked at incident trends to identify Problems
Improving ticket quality is not a difficult or costly endeavor and the benefits to the team and IT’s capabilities can exceed the effort required to implement and maintain the review process.