You are hereYeah, That's the Ticket!

Yeah, That's the Ticket!


By steve - Posted on 16 December 2010

Yeah... that's the ticket.
--Tommy Flanagan, The Pathological Liar (Jon Lovitz on SNL)

No matter what size your IT organization, even if it's just you, you need to setup an issue ticket system. My current favorite is the open source project called Mantis (www.mantisbt.org).

A ticket system will help you keep track of every request you get, prioritize them, and keep track of your progress. By running your system on a webserver, like how Mantis runs, you can have access from anywhere in the world. Tickets can be submitted by users, if you like, but I usually prefer to have a technical person put them in. A good ticket system will also let you submit basic ticket information by email...

A ticket system can be used in the traditional "request management" kind of way, where every tech support request, for instance, is entered into the system. But it can also be used for other things like workflow management, project management, or any other use where you have a "job" or an "issue" or a "ticket" and need to track what is being done.

Not only will a good ticket system keep you organized and keep things from falling through the cracks, it will help you set priorities, work as a team, and keep you on track. It is much easier to track progress in different areas on different issues when everyone is used the same shared system.

For clients, I create a separate project with all of their requests. For large projects, I'll create a separate project for just that.

Don't fall into the trap of thinking a spreadsheet or Outlook tasks is going to do it for you. They just don't handle more than 10 things (total) very well. Using a good ticket system will allow you to track EVERYTHING without getting overwhelmed. A good system is so easy to use, it is easier to create a ticket than it is to try to remember what you were going to do today based on a thought you had yesterday.

I love it!

One other big advantage of using a ticket system is that you have a built in "how to" database of completed issues, if you properly document the issues and what was done to resolve them. Have a problem with PDFs? A quick google search or a look at your wiki might do it. If it doesn't, you might be able to find it as a resolved issue in your ticket database. Nice... an issue tracking system AND a self help system--two, two, two mints in one!

I recommend you set up an SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) for your team so that they start implementing the ticket system properly. In my case, people that work for me know that anytime they have to sit down, stand up, or remote in to fix a problem, there has to be a ticket for that issue (that exempts questions you get asked as you walk down the hall, but that is about it). It only takes a few seconds to create a ticket, but tracking what gets done (and where the problems are) is very helpful when planning and managing your team.

No matter what else you do today, install and start using a ticket system. Right now. After three days of adjustment, you'll thank me and wonder why you hadn't started sooner.

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