Yes, It REALLY is a thing. Who doesn’t love a nice steaming Pumpkin Spice latte to drink whilst the colours of the leaves are changing? Autumn, or fall for my American friends, is my favourite time of the year, it’s time to bring in all the food that I have been growing in the garden, time to clear the vegetable patches and start to plan for the coming year. Don’t forget it is only 30 days till Halloween as well.

Ask yourself some questions.

What went well over this growing season?

How did the outside influences alter your plans? Perhaps the weather wasn’t as good as you expected.

It’s good to take a step back and take a fresh look at things that you have been working on. You could leave this for six months and have a spring clean, but a lot can change in this time.

We should adopt this same mentality when we look at our ITSM toolset.

Many years ago, I remember an ITSM trainer saying that we don’t need to collect data if we are not going to report on it. I could see his point here. Why collect data just for collecting data’s sake.

Durations, categorisations, interactions…… there’s gold in this data. You just need to find a way of making sense of it.

Whilst all toolsets can tell you how many tickets you opened and closed over a period of time; it is important to be able to drill down into this data to get a more granular view.

You may want to use the set of inbuilt reports that you got with your ITSM tool, or perhaps you want to use some 3rd party BI tool to access the data. Even getting the data out in a csv file can be manipulated using Microsoft Excel.

How can we use this data? Let’s look at typical information that we gets entered or automatically created when we log, for example, an incident.

  • Username
  • Created date and time
  • Service, Category, Sub-category
  • Description
  • How the ticket was created
  • Linked Configuration Item
  • Impact and Urgency.
  • Auto Assigned team based on Categorisation.

With just these few fields we can start to look for trends. We will ignore the description field as these tend to be quite large and don’t lend themselves to lists and reports. This is why most systems have a summary or title field to record a fixed length short description.

Let’s take each field and look to see what we can do with it.

Username

Chances are that once you know the Username, you will automatically be able to pull additional fields from the user or employee table. Think about grouping by department, company or site. Of course, you can always plot these calls over a timeline. Perhaps a user constantly logs a ticket with the same issue. We can be proactive and focus on the underlying issue rather than being reactive.

Does a particular department have a swarm of tickets at a certain time of the year? We can see this and anticipate it.

Created data and time

This tends to be an automatically created field. It’s great to use for the SLA calculation but with some simple manipulation we can report on hours, day names, months, AM or PM. This is a wonderful field for establishing trends over time. Perhaps your service desk may be able to perform better in the morning? Or maybe you could pull in some additional staff for the three months running up to Christmas?

Service, Category and Sub-category

Because of the way that these are structured, simple rolling up of data can be achieved. How many tickets were logged against a particular service? What is the percentage of incident against service requests, and what is the frequency? It is all about patterns, do we have similar incidents? Is this part of a bigger problem that we need to look at? Perhaps you see a pattern with email every Friday afternoon.

How was the ticket created?

What channel was used to log the ticket initially? Your ITSM tool should be able to automatically populate this field, whether it’s by email, via a chat or self-service portal. Monitoring this can help you understand your audience. If there is a change of use from the self-service portal to the telephone, then you need to investigate and understand why this is the case. This information used in conjunction with the company or department name gives you a target audience to ‘sell’ the alternative logging methods to.

Linked Configuration Item

Not all incidents and requests will have a known configuration item linked to them. Those that do allow you to make decisions. How many incidents were logged against that server? What was the total time that was spent fixing those incidents? What was the cost to the organisation? And of course, is this server still economically viable? Maybe it’s time to get rid of it and bring in a new one. These same tickets can be useful to your Purchasing department. Perhaps the number of recurring incidents against a particular asset can be used as leverage when negotiating the next maintenance contract.

Impact and Urgency

Certainly, you can use the calculated priority based on these values to report on. But what about looking deeper into the actual impacts? Just how many tickets were raised that affected the entire company or a department?

Auto assigned team

All good ITSM tools will be able to automatically assign a ticket to the correct resolver group based on its categorization. This of course is not perfect. So how about also recording all those times a ticket was incorrectly categorised? This can be used to refine your categorization questions or if using machine learning, help it. This also is a great way of seeing who gets the most calls. Do you need to reassign staff from one resolver team to another, perhaps at certain points of the year, think about the new influx of students to a campus and their issues, or perhaps password resets after a holiday weekend?

The one thing in common with all these reports is a timescale. Do you want to look back at the last week, month, year, year-on-year etc.? Make sure that your toolset allows for this filter to be easily used.

And remember, this all takes time, to report on the data, it must be collected. You cannot run a yearly report without a minimum of a year’s data being in there. So, take a look at your current reports, are they giving you the information that you need, in a format that is easy to understand.

As a solution engineer, I am always hearing that a prospect wishes to change their ITSM tool as they just can’t get the information they want out of the system. Now it might be time to take stock of your system, grab a hot cup of pumpkin spice Latte and investing some time during the Autumn and Winter to ensure that you can make the right changes in the right areas.

Of course, if you just cannot get the data out because you are stuck without of the box reports or your ITSM tool just doesn’t manage the data in a sensible way, it may be time to start looking around for another toolset.

Learn more about how Ivanti can help you with your ITSM dashboard and reporting today!