Ticket to Ride

Much like a Network Management System, a key component of any IT infrastructure includes a support ticketing system. There are hundreds of applications available to meet this need, all with varying features, as well as costs.

For the past ten years, we have been using a product called Web Help Desk. At the time it was one of our better options, offering most of the features we needed at an attractive price. However, over the years the application has dated itself, and it still looks and functions just like it did ten years ago. It had gotten to the point that for the past few years we only used it when we needed to track a ticket for billing purposes. Everything else was handled solely via direct email and phone communications.

As a two-man support team we had managed to make this model work, but we lacked any data to quantify the scope and breadth of the work we do on a daily basis. I knew we needed to make a change and begin tracking all of our support requests through a more modern ticketing system. In early December we fired up a trial of a product called Freshdesk. I was familiar with the Freshworks family of applications from a few years back when I dabbled with their accounting platform, Freshbooks. I knew they had a solid reputation in the industry and their interfaces were always clean and simple. Unfortunately, our trial expired over the holiday break before we had a chance to really dig in under the hood. Luckily a quick call got our trial extended by a few days so we could see if Freshdesk would be a good fit. Within 24 hours I had issued a PO and we were rocking and rolling with Freshdesk.

Since we were moving from an email-based reporting system, the ability to have forwarded emails converted to tickets was crucial. Freshdesk handles this easily, and even finds the original sender of the message to mark as the requestor. Additionally, Freshdesk allowed us to create Companies for each of our Districts, and anytime it sees a new user from a specific @schooldomain.org address, it automatically associates them with that Company. On top of that, users can easily login with their Google account to create tickets and view the status of any existing tickets. This is very slick, and makes user provisioning a breeze!

So far things are progressing nicely. I’ve already been shocked at the sheer volume of requests that we field every day. It’s taken a little bit to get acclimated to the process of logging phone calls, walk-ins, etc., in addition to traditional email requests. Luckily the process is quick and easy, and I’m confident that the data we are gathering will be invaluable as we move forward.

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