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Are you buried under a mound of aged tickets? The daily demand to keep your technology running smoothly can mean you miss the wood for the trees. As a manager of a high volume Service Desk, it is easy to overlook or even turn a blind eye to ageing tickets. But deep down, you know that this will cause untold problems in the long run.

Ageing tickets can be stuck in limbo for a variety of reasons but in the end, they can bring down the overall perception of your team. You might deliver an excellent service 90% of the time, but unfortunately, it is the other 10% that your users remember first. Let’s look at how to tackle that ticket mountain and keep it from becoming an unstoppable avalanche.

STEP 1 - Reporting aged ticket volumes

We often meet with Support Desk Managers that have limited reporting. The first step to managing aged tickets is to identify them. You have to get visibility. We propose a simple breakdown of volume over time. Look back over the past six months, chart how many tickets are:

  • 1 week+ overdue
  • 2 weeks+ overdue
  • 3 weeks+ overdue

….and so on

You should break this down month by month so you can see if your aged ticket situation is improving or getting worse. This initial analysis helps you identify basic trends before you move on to the next stage.

STEP 2 - Support ticket categorisations

Now you know how many aged tickets you have, where are they coming from? Are they miscategorised? A common mistake is tickets being marked as incidents when in reality they are a development piece. Make sure these tickets have been passed along, followed up and categorised correctly. This simple step might take care of a significant chunk of your ticket mountain.

The other issue with miscategorisation is that it can cause complacency. If you are aware that this is the cause of many overdue tickets, it’s easy to blame the whole pile on incorrect ticket labelling. Running the analysis and doing the tidy up means you have a smaller stack of tickets left to grapple with.

STEP 3 - Analyse what’s left

Now you have set aside all of the miscategorised tickets, you should have a smaller pile of ageing items left in your queue. You’ll most likely find that a high percentage of what remains is ‘waiting for a response from x’. These could be tickets waiting for a response from a vendor, a user or another 3rd party escalation point.

It could be that some of these tickets have in fact been resolved already. If the ticket has disappeared from the view of your desk, it can sit around appearing unsolved when it could be closed.

Another common theme is duplicate tickets. You might have had multiple tickets raised for the same request. It might have been resolved but only the most recent ticket got marked accordingly. There might also be a pattern that flags a weakness in the team. You might uncover weaknesses in your structure, capacity or capabilities.

STEP 4 - The cleanup

Now you have your analysis, you might need to reshape the team so that one part is focusing on clearing the backlog while the rest maintains Business as Usual -it might even involve drafting in extra resources.

If your analysis highlighted skills gaps or a particular piece of work that could fix multiple tickets at once, you can seek out the resource or training required. If you uncovered a patch of tickets that could all be resolved by one piece of work, set aside the time and resources for the fix.

STEP 5 - Maintain your ticket queue

Clearing away that backlog might have seemed impossible at the start, but now you are looking at a clean and tidy ticket queue it all feels worthwhile. Now you just need to make sure it stays this way. Continue the reporting discipline and repeat this cycle each month. Instil a culture of proactivity around aged tickets, chasing up escalated tickets and looking for training opportunities. Once you are in the habit of taking these steps, you will see an impact on user satisfaction and productivity across the business.

If you continue to follow these five simple steps, you should have no problem in staying organised and keeping up-to-date with all of your tickets.