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Although ticketing systems come in several flavors, most are designed for a single application. Typical applications, and some of the ways in which a ticketing system can explicitly help, are explained next.
1.3.1. Production Operations Support
Running operations support in a production environment can be very confusing. For example, if a bank financial trading system goes down, the online replacement (hotswap) system needs to step in and take over. Even if this works smoothly, there will be lots of people running around screaming like headless chickens. Under these circumstances it is very easy to see how a fix to a less critical application could be missed or delayed.
You can use a ticketing system to assign tasks as they come in to the next available operative. Tasks which have a higher priority or are critical in nature get fixed first. Simply fixing the current emergency is not enough, though. There needs to be a system in place which tracks the outstanding tasks the ones temporarily on the back-burner and identifies which are the most important to solve next. This is what the banks do and for good reason they work in a permanent state of paranoia. The need for a priority list like this is not limited to banks. It applies to whatever is critical in your environment.
1.3.2. Sales Lead Tracking
A representative of the company is informed of a potential sales lead. This information might come in many forms: a note, an email, a telephone call request, person who hears of a requirement that needs fulfilling, a personal recommendation. What form the lead takes doesn't really matter. The important thing is to not miss the opportunity to close the sale.
If you have a sales lead tracking system in place, you can see which leads are still open and need more work. You also can see which salesperson brings in the most leads, and perhaps most important, which salesperson successfully closes the most leads. This information is immediately available at all times via a number of configurable report options.
Without having this information handy, it is very easy to lose promising leads, or to leave half-finished responses unfinished, neither of which improves customer confidence. If a buyer is unable to buy from you, they will buy from someone else.
1.3.3. Customer Service
A customer contacts the company with a query. In this case we are not talking about a purchase but a service request. The request should still be tracked, even if the contact person can immediately solve the query.
Tracking the request ensures the company has a record of what types of queries are most common. This also can give the company instant feedback on whether or not their users find the published documentation or processes hard to understand, merely sufficient, or easy to follow.
1.3.4. Project Management
A ticketing system can track the items in a project management plan. You can see who is responsible for a task and, when he has finished the task, you will know about it when the status changes. In a project management plan, it is critical to have an overview of the dependencies between separate tasks or work flows.
Imagine that you are in charge of developing a new space station or vehicle. You are particularly interested are particularly interested in the exciting new space telescope which will allow astronomers to peer into the beginning of time. It might be easy to miss the importance of an incidental task, such as installing a reliable, bombproof, redundant air supply for the personnel. The safety team, in this case the interested party, needs to know that the oxygen supply team, the owner of the task, has completed and tested the installation of the air supplies and backups.
This example may seem obvious, but smaller things have caused immense failures. We only have to remember the tragic Challenger Space Shuttle disaster, where the extremely small O-ring seal failed in part because of the extreme temperatures and in part because of bad management pressure and decisions. You can't ignore essential information or equipment no matter how small it is.
A complicated and redundant project like the space shuttle has so many checks and counter-checks that a ticketing system might seem irrelevant yet it needs some way to track all the outstanding tasks and who should work on them.
1.3.5. Network Security
If a system is compromised by a security breach, this event can be entered and tracked as a ticket, and an alert can be sent to the appropriate parties. People responsible for the hardware, the software, the administration, the firewall, the proxy, or the Internet access can be assigned as interested parties to the ticket.
If the documentation team continually gets alerts from network attacks, or if the sales team receives endless notes regarding the current status of a particular firewall configuration, they will start filtering incoming notifications to /dev/null or the dustbin. Being able to assign the appropriate people from different interest groups to a particular ticket is critical to the smooth running of an efficient ticketing system.
Everyone who needs to know can follow the status of the new security breach: what can be done to fix it, what has been done, and whether the problem has been succesfully fixed and the hole plugged. If you don't track this information, there is a high probability that the same attack will break through your defenses again after you've forgotten when and how the original attack broke through.
1.3.6. Engineering (Bug Tracking)
Many open source projects have a public bugs database where users can check if a problem they have is related to a known bug. The database is essential for tracking the history of bugs over time, for example, to determine if developers already tried a proposed change and rejected it for a valid reason. People can find out if the bug they are trying to report has already been reported and not flood the database with duplicate bug reports.
Bug tracking software has been around a long time. The success or failure of any bug tracking solution often depends on how people use the system. It is not enough to simply enter bugs in a database or tracking tool, and then to fix the bugs. The next step an essential one is to close the ticket. Often the QA (Quality Assurance) department will ensure this takes place. A good ticketing system makes this task simple by letting you view the status of all known tickets at once.
The preceding list of potential uses is not exhaustive, but it should give you an idea of the breadth of applications a ticket tracking tool has.
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