A ticketing system is the most basic software solution available for the IT helpdesk, to assist the support team (or person) to help their co-workers with a step up in the order and management of fixing IT issues. One step up from an Excel spreadsheet – and yes most small companies do start with this – a ticketing system provides the core and most basic functionality of the ITSM tool that nearly every organisation with an IT department eventually requires.
A ticketing system keeps a record of all communications between a support person or team and their internal customers – other employees – or third party customer. A ‘ticket’ is simply a digital identifier and record of an IT related issue that includes relevant details of what happened, which person raised the request for help, and what is being or has been done to resolve the issue. This begins the process of formalising and structuring IT support, albeit in a reactive manner, to ensure reported incidents are recorded and not ‘lost’, forgotten or pushed down the list. Ticketing also helps to maintain communications and a consistent service level for all helpdesk customers, though it may equally be possible to start to prioritise responses for more critical workers requiring a fast-track resolution. Usually communicating by phone or email initially, IT support will generally raise the ticket on behalf of the customer, though at the next stage of service desk maturity, self service and other communications tools can begin to make the process more involved for the customer as they can then log and maybe attempt to resolve the problem themselves.
Most IT services have basic or more complex Service Level Agreements (SLAs) that reflect the contract with customers and state how quickly new incidents should be resolved. A ticketing system should track these metrics by automatically recording the time and date whenever a ticket is updated, and provide easily-accessible basic reporting and graphs to show how successful or otherwise the IT team is in fixing issues.
Ticketing can be seen as one small but vital function of an ITSM tool, meaning that while every service management tool includes a ticketing module, a pure-play ticketing system is not enough to ensure the long term planning and delivery of a successful IT services strategy.