Autotask - How We Stay On Top Of All Your Issues

 

Years ago, when problems took longer to research and resolve, computer companies used manual methods to keep track of customer problems. But these days, most computer companies use a ticketing system. This is usually a web based method of logging pertinent information about problems that customers have with their computers and software and information about priority, schedule, responsibility, and billing. At PC Methods, we use a ticketing software called “Autotask”. 

If you have a service oriented business and don’t already have a ticketing system, call us at the number above and we can help you determine if Autotask would meet your needs.

     Attending an Autotask seminar on an absolutely freezing cold day in Chicago is a reasonable use of time for a staff member. The Autotask seminar in question focused on the many and versatile functions of their Service Desk module.

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     Some of the many suggestions put out there for our consideration by the Autotask training staff were, USE FAVORITES (shortcuts) for more than just speed coding. Keep everything simple! Use Issues & Sub-Issues to make sure no one employee is overloaded with work. Spread the work around and do not let your staff cherry pick only what they want to work on. Using Issues and Sub-Issues also helps you determine what to do and who should effectively do it. 

     Attendees learned that there are SERVICE tickets for new and unique problems, there are INCIDENT tickets for recurring problems within one client and there are PROBLEM tickets for the same incident occurring across a number of clients.

     Using problem tickets requires good documentation and discipline. For instance, the company the ticket is assigned to is not one of the client companies, but it is assigned to YOUR company. Problem tickets by their nature start from the supposition that the root cause of the rash of the same incident occurring or recurring across a broad spectrum of your clients is UNKNOWN. While trying to find the root cause and the solution, it is more reasonable to let the time entries be charged to your company and then, once an implemented and successful solution is in place, spread the time out evenly as billable time to all of the clients involved. This may be obvious, but it still bears saying.

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The advantage of a Problem ticket is that ALL of the individual client incident tickets can easily be associated with it in the program. This allows for ease of information traveling both ways. But be careful, make sure you edit all summary notes that any of your clients will have access to. A person remarked that they had to read their staff the riot act because he spent entirely too much time editing his staff’s rude client references out of the summary notes. Very unprofessional! 

     Holding down the control key and then using the mouse to click on ANYTHING in the Left Navigation Window will open the item up in a new window, not overwrite and replace your current window. That information alone will save many hours. Entering new tickets and projects from the Client Account Window helps to expand your company’s product list in the item configurations. From that window you may also look at past tickets to see whether or not this is a recurring issue. By successfully combining Favorites and Exclusions you can create a new ticket in seconds, not minutes or hours (especially if you have a lot of the same kind of ticket, only for multiple clients).

     Best practices would indicate that site configuration and item configuration should be implemented with an eye toward keeping the entire work flow very simple! Creating a “Triage” queue, issue type and work type with permissions restricted to admin personnel and immediate notifications going to the same admin personnel, lets you stay on top of incoming critical tickets and get them assigned to the correct staff for immediate action. No more losing a job because it got assigned to an obscure, seldom used queue. This prevents staff cherry picking, because a dispatcher assigns the tickets based on load. 

     All of this requires the set up and utilization of the Autotask Incoming Email Processor which is available in every Autotask package. Setting up automatic failure notifications going back to the customer if their incoming email should bounce is critical. There can only be one email address per client, but they can send their email to as many as seven different email addresses that you own and operate.  If you can’t figure it out, there is a WORLD of Autotask live help out there. Use it if you don’t like beating your head against the wall. 

     Having your email set up through Autotask allows your staff to send in emails while on-site at the client’s business. Using hashtags allows various functions. For instance, one of your staff, while on-site at the customer, can send in an email with a #t hashtag to remotely enter their time. Other hashtags include #s for status and #r for role. Autotask is VERY role driven.

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     Establishing days with repetitive tasks, such as Patch Tuesday, and Stray File Removal Friday can clearly help you keep your week at least semi-organized. It also allows a certain percentage of your staff to come in to work knowing exactly what they will be doing that day, which gives admin a tiny bit of a breather. Estimating the time for task completion helps to alleviate cherry picking and dumping too much work onto one staff resource.

     The newest Autotask module is Change Management. Change request tickets are generated from Problem tickets with the specific goal of including customer input to the point that both you and the customer are comfortable with the suggested solution BEFORE it is implemented. The Change Request ticket has to go through a Review Board Phase and, if just one of the people on that review board says “NO”, the solution is rejected. Everyone on the review board must agree before implementation of the solution will be scheduled. The members of the review board should be YOU, THE CLENT, THE STAFF MEMBER YOU HAVE ASSIGNED THIS TO AND THE CLIENT’S IT PERSON, if they have one. It can be smaller (no fewer than 2) or as large as you want to make it, but three or four is ideal. It might sound tedious, but going through this process actually saves a lot of time and eliminates misunderstanding because everything is clearly explained up front and signed off on by the Client and their IT person BEFORE IT IS IMPLEMENTED. No mistakes, no misunderstandings, just proper solutions getting the job done. As in every Autotask ticket type, all information windows are editable. This module will be available with the next service upgrade scheduled for some time in the next two weeks.

 

      

Peter Heinicke

Peter Heinicke

Chicago area ERP consultant with over 40 years of experience in Sage 300, Sage Pro, Quickbooks ERP and other systems

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