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Ticketing software for SMBs: How to choose and evaluate a ticket management system

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(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/Jirsak)

Using the proper ticketing system is key to resolving issues in a timely manner and should be a fundamental feature of your overall help desk strategy. But with so many tools on the market, how do you know that you are choosing the right one for your business?

In this article, we’ll discuss the essential bones of a ticketing system and take a deep dive into some of the features that make up a successful solution.

Why is a ticketing system needed?

In smaller companies, whenever an employee needs IT support, they can simply walk up to someone on the team and get their issues fixed. But as organizations grow, managing employee issues and internal IT service requests becomes cumbersome. Email, spreadsheets, and shoulder tapping co-workers may work in the beginning, but their speed and limited functionality can’t keep up with the complexity and volume of requests that are raised as a company evolves.

At its core, IT ticketing software is a way to convert all incoming support requests into trackable tickets and centralize communication between requestors and support agents. A ticket management system is used to create, store, and prioritize all types of support requests across multiple departments, including IT, HR, legal, financial, and facilities.

The following is a list of features that nearly all IT ticketing systems have in common. Use this to assess whether or not your organization needs a ticketing system.

A typical ticketing system will provide:

  • A centralized repository for requests
  • Self-service ticket creation for requestors
  • Automated responses to let requestors know that their ticket was created
  • A means of tracking communications between requestors and support agents 
  • Real-time status visibility
  • Data for reporting and analytics

If you only receive 1-2 support requests per week, you probably won’t see much value in having all these features. But if your organization has a few support agents or handles requests daily, you’ll want to consider a support ticket system.

Benefits of using an IT ticketing system

Everything is stored in one place: As a project progresses, all key information ends up being documented in the ticket tracking system so that at any time later, sometimes even years later, it’s not a question of “Whose email is it in?” but “let me look in our ticket tracking system.”

Reporting: In addition to being able to see the status at a glance, most support systems allow you to monitor key performance indicators (KPIs). You can track KPIs such as: employee satisfaction levels, average time to resolution, most active departments, and the performance level of each agent on your support team.

Automation: Automating your internal support saves time and hassle, especially for small teams already stretched thin by the demands of a growing business. Both IT support staff and employees will have access to your internal knowledge base and FAQs right at their fingertips through self-service. Having this information on hand not only saves time but leads to more informed decision making but dramatically cuts down on the number of tickets that would have otherwise been routed to the support agent.

How to choose the best ticketing system for your business

Ticketing software comes in all shapes and sizes. But when it comes to choosing the right fit for your business, things might get a bit tricky. The challenge comes with trying to understand which one solves your problems without inadvertently creating new ones. As with any software, it’s important to do your research while taking into account the following: features, usability, and support.

Decide what you need

Start by defining the scope of service that you're looking to provide. This will help you identify the features and functions that you need your ticketing system to have. One way to do this is by writing a list of features and dividing them into “essential” and “nice to have.”

Once you’ve finalized your list, it will be easy to cross-check the features offered with your requirements.

Choose between an On-premise and a SAAS solution

Ticketing software is usually provided in two different models - Cloud-based and On-premise. The cloud-based model or the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model is the preferred choice of most companies. The process of setting it up is simple and convenient, unlike on-premise ticket software which is hosted locally on your servers and involves additional implementation costs.

Factor in your future needs

Choose a tool that is flexible enough to grow with your business. Some of the factors that can affect the help desk ticketing software scalability are:

  • The maximum number of user seats
  • Data storage capability
  • New verticals in your organization
  • Single or multichannel system

Evaluate the software by trial

Once you find a match based on those factors, try the software on for size. Most services offer a free trial of some sort. For this, you should get your whole team on board to make sure users with different roles are satisfied with the software's performance. Depending on how your help desk operates, 2 to 4 weeks should be an adequate amount of time to test an IT ticketing solution. If you run into any issues during that time, the trial period is also an excellent opportunity to gauge the level of support offered by the software company. 

Get everyone on board

The only way your new ticketing system will work is if you get everyone on board. That means your whole team and upper management. But change isn’t always well-received, so make sure that you take care to ensure that it’s a smooth transition.

Support team: Work together with your team to come up with the best IT ticketing system. Make sure that no one will lag behind and continue using the old systems by equipping everyone with documentation and cutting off access to the old system.

Management: A good ticket system creates transparency in your service team. Help your management use the system to track how agents spend their time to help them optimize their workflow.

Dev team: Work with them to systematize how tickets are transferred over to them for bug fixes or system updates. Make sure you have a clear understanding of when it is or isn’t appropriate to hand issues over to the dev team.

The bottom line is that the best IT ticketing system is the one that actually gets used. In the long run, it will be most advantageous to take your time and choose a tool that is intuitive for all of your employees but flexible enough to accommodate the future needs of your organization.

Danielle Castrow, Businesss Strategest, Roby