IT Service Managers: The Impact of Open Tickets on Profit

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IT Service Managers | IT Service Delivery | IT Project Manager

This article is the second in a three-article series on Aligning Service Manager’s focus with the Company’s #1 goal: making more money (profit). Each article will look at either Time to Completion, Number of Open Tickets, or Resource Utilization, what they represent, how to benchmark, track, and improve; and finally, how they make more money for the company. To read the introduction to this series and Time to Completion articles go to

Please Note: My expertise is as a Resource Planning Analyst, so I write from the perspective of mining and transforming data into golden information for Service Managers. In this series the “Gold” is making more money for the Company (profit).

Second article: Number of Open Tickets & Their Impact on Profit

I remember that when I first joined Systems Engineering we tracked all open tickets. Today not all open tickets are tracked, just those “waiting Customer,” or had no activity for X number of days.

Back in 2010, we put a lot of energy in driving down open tickets. After months of doing everything we could, we drove them down from 2.5% of our annual tickets to 1.9%. This .6% decrease seems to be a very little gain after working on it almost full time, and not much to worry about. I mean, all of this is less than the standard deviation of the latest political exit poll, and we all know how accurate they are.

Looking at Open Tickets from a Different Perspective

Let’s look at this from a different perspective. At 2.5% of annual tickets, if new ticket creation stopped, we would have six day’s worth of work before we’d run out. By reducing this down to 1.9%, we were able to reduce the backlog to about three days and three hours of work. Now that seems more significant, especially if this was an average delay of service due to a backlog that continued day in and day out.

Think about it for a moment. If for every service request received, on average, the level of disappointment delivered to the Customer is six days, why in the world would anyone do business with us? The reason this is not more glaring is because it is hidden behind priority levels, squeaky wheels, project disruptions, and a whole host of other inefficiencies robbing profit (the core of this article in case you forgot).

Driving Open Tickets is a Worthwhile Exercise, But…

I remember a time when we (Customer Service and Service Managers) were called to task over this issue. I still picture the day in March of 2013 when the President of Systems Engineering called a meeting of Resource Management and Customer Service personnel. He had just come back from a series of Customer Satisfaction interviews and was hearing how great we were now doing with addressing High Priority Incident requests.

But one Customer had a printer on the 4th floor, and it was taking us over a month to engage. Yes, there were other printers in the building, but the employees on the 4th floor were getting pretty tired of walking down to the 2nd floor, to retrieve their print jobs. The directive to those of us in the room was to find a way to address Low Priority Incidents the way we had with High Priority.

I still believe driving open tickets is a worthwhile exercise, but the impact to profit is not in focusing on closing them. The significant impact is to not have them in the first place. If some remediation effort could be refocused on preventing them to begin with, then this is a win-win-win scenario.

The Customer is…

* First, not impacted by lost productivity,

* Second, the profitability of Managed Service Agreements goes up because less cost-side support is needed to maintain Customer Satisfaction, and

* Third, billable resource is repurposed to higher billable time such as Technology Success visits or Project work.

Benchmark/Track Open Tickets

Benchmarking and tracking open tickets is nothing new and is relatively simple either in Widgets or Live Reports. The only catch is, like Time to Completion, we are only talking about Incident (Reactive, Break/Fix, working in the past/not working now) tickets. Open Installs, Projects, and other service request tickets, in general, are a good thing.

To be Continued …

Stephen Buyze is a Resource Planning Analyst who is “Empowering Service Managers to increase profit.”

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