Workflow Rules: The Hemi of the IT Managed Service Provider’s PSA Tool

Ahhh, the power of a Professional Services Automation (PSA) tool. To us in IT, it’s almost as gratifying as getting behind the wheel of an old school Charger and hearing the roar of a tricked out Hemi…ok, maybe it’s not that exciting, but still… 

Automation is at the heart of why we subscribe to this class of applications. With automation, the magic happens in 3 key areas: 

  • The cost of service support is reduced 
  • The quality of services is increased 
  • The mundane is eliminated 

In this article, we’ll cover 3 uses for Workflow Rules (WFR):  

  • Communications (both internal and external) 
  • Control or Updating workflows 
  • Alerts 

How Workflow Rules Help You  

Successful customer communications are all about:  

  • Letting them know their request has been received 
  • Updating them throughout the remediation process 
  • Informing them when their request has been completed 

Sounds simple enough, right? From an Internal perspective, communication takes on the form of assignments and scheduling. 

The beauty of Workflow Rules is that they can be programmed for immediate response, such as an Acknowledgment, or can be delayed as a reminder that you’ll be on site at a later date.  

Using Workflow Rules provides consistency in messaging as well as efficiency in providing direct-to-the-Customer or pre-formatted notifications. Pre-formatted notifications are a way that notifications can be reviewed and sent faster than crafting them from scratch or by using quick parts. 

HDI’s Customer Service Representative training points out that 80% of Customers leave their Managed Service Provider due to lack of communicationsnot the inability to fix their stuff 

With such a high risk of lack of communication leading to churn, it is no wonder that the first place Managed Service Providers turn to using WFRs to provide consistent Customer facing communications.  

Another advantage is setting up the WFR to reach out to both the correct Customer contact as well as the Internal contacts. WFRs also control Customer-dependent contact lists. This saves the Technician time in looking up Customer specific contact information – and the potential of disappointing a Customer when one of them deviates from standard protocol. 

TIP: Creating a big bold banner at the top of the notification informs the recipients why they are receiving another email. Creating a different banner for Customer facing and Internal notifications alert the Internal users when the Customer is on the thread. 

Updating Workflows = Greater IT MSP Efficiency 

Efficiency is gained when workflow rules are used to update most of the fields in a ticket. This enables someone to fill in a few of the Ticket fields and move on to the next request. This also drives consistency in following Incident or Service Request procedures. 

For example, when Triaging a Customer’s request, there are a few key fields you should pay attention to, such as: 

  • Priority  
  • Contract/Services 
  • Issue/Sub-Issue  

Once these three fields are set and the ticket is saved, WFRs can then move the ticket along to the proper workflow and complete the rest of the fields needed such as: queue, work type, primary resource, estimated time, etc. 

WFRs Save Your IT MSP Time in So Many Ways 

Another time-saving use of WFRs is for closing out the service requests. The Technician can change the status to “Waiting Customer Acceptance.” This would then fire off a completion notification to the Customer asking if they agree.  

If there’s no response in 48 hours, WFR follows up with a pending close letting the Customer know that since we have not heard back, we assume all is OK and will be closing the ticket.  

In addition to this, we also set this ticket’s status to pending close. 24 hours later, the WFR follows up with a “We have Closed out the service request” notification to the Customer and changes the status to complete. 

There are many other examples, and with a little creativity, the number of applications can be innumerable.  

A word of caution: Just because WFRs are powerful and flexible does not mean that every operation merits a WFR. Where they are most valuable is when the operation is repeated many times per day, and actually elevates more mindless operations rather than creating a WFR for every “what if” situation. 

The Many Types of Alerts, Explained 

Alerts are a special type of communication whereby the recipient is not in the loop and most of the time is unaware of the Customer’s request. 

Alerts can take on the form of: 

  1. RMM 
  2. Backup 
  3. SLA 
  4. Critical Ticket Create 
  5. Closed OP 
  6. Waiting for Review, etc. 

 RMM: 

RMM notifications are useful as they let the Customer know which alerts are being worked on. Yes, Quarterly Business Reviews will inform the Customer of the volume of service received, but it also makes sense to reinforce throughout the year what work is being done on their behalf under the Managed Service Agreement. 

Backup:  

This is usually set up as a machine-to-machine notification whereby the Backup system creates a ticket in the PSA tool. While the parser creates the ticket, WFR can move the ticket along in the process. 

SLA: 

These notifications go to management advising them of an impending due date being missed. This allows management time to step in and see if the contractual agreements can be met. 

Critical Ticket Created: 

In the case of Critical requests, a broader group of internal people need to know that a Critical Customer request has been received. This is different than the Customer Facing acknowledgment and uses the Internal notification banner mentioned above.  

In a well-run IT Service Delivery operation, this notification is used to inform stakeholders of the progress of the remediation.  Engagement most likely has commenced even before the Ticket, and this notification has been created. 

Closed Op and Waiting for Review: 

Let’s close with a focus on the Sales side of the house to show that WFR drives processes dependent on both Sales and Engineering.  

In reality, when both Sales and Service Delivery work together, they provide a great Customer experience. Especially when projects moving through the Sales pipeline, which are dependent on Service Delivery, are using WFRs to drive the process and keep everyone informed benefits the Managed Service Provider as well as the Customer.  Sales and Service Delivery rarely communicating, normally is not a big deal.  In the case of Projects, due to the risk and amount of labor, communication is critical. 

Please share in the reply below the WFR you are most proud of implementing, so we can all cheer your success!

Leave a Reply