Stephen D Buyze

“Empowering Managed Service Providers to Increase Profit”

Are You Managing the Services Provided–or Are They Managing You?

Do you know what a reasonable amount of open tickets is, and what defines a backlog? Based on our experience, the average range of open tickets is...

6 Hacks For Reducing Ticket Backlogs

I remember like it was yesterday the time my supervisor and I made a concentrated effort to drive down the number of open tickets. We focused half of our energies on this one effort every single day, and after two months, we had barely made a dent in what felt like an insurmountable number of tickets.

Can you relate? 

My supervisor stopped by my cube one day and said, “You know, we are only talking about 1 to 2% of our annual ticket volume that is open at any one time.”

At that point, I threw in the towel and moved on to other things. In hindsight, even though the quantity seemed daunting, it probably only represented a few days’ worth of work, if new requests had stopped coming in.

So, just what is a reasonable amount of open tickets – and what defines a backlog?

Based on our experience, here are some average open ticket amounts that seem reasonable:

  • 20 Open Tickets per Tech
  • 2 Overdue Tickets per Tech
  • 5-10 in their Ready to Be Resolved Widget
  • 3-5 Waiting …
  • 5-8 Projects

If these numbers do not match up with what you’re experiencing, call Steve to chat.

In my mind, a backlog ticket is the oldest ticket over these parameters, especially if an Incident or Service Request is over 30 days old. Gary Pica in one of his webinars said that any Incident ticket over 30 days old should be deleted, as the Customer will not pay to have it fixed.

Based on this statement, he probably would also say that any Incident ticket over 7 days old is a backlog. I know one MSP who maintains all Incidents and Service Requests completed within 14 days. We regularly coach Service Coordinators and Technicians how to stay within the parameters listed above, so I know it can be done.

Alright, how exactly do you address the oldest tickets in the system? 

Transitioning to the Proactive Managed Service Model

Ask yourself: Are you managing your MSP – or is your MSP managing you?

Here is the process we use to transition Service Delivery operations from a reactive break/fix to a Proactive Managed Service model. After all, if you are just reacting when the phone rings, then the service is managing you.

  • Segment the requests and get the projects out of the support queues and widgets.
  • Schedule all Projects, Recurring Visits & Installations.
  • Determine why tickets do not have a Next SLA Event Due Date and process those tickets into the proper workflow/widget.
  • Keep up with new requests as they flow in:
    1. Triage all New Tickets.
    2. Take action on tickets coming up on Next SLA Event due and Triage/Tech Engagement overdue.
    3. Address Waiting Tickets with no activity for the last three days.

If, after implementing these operational changes there is still a mountain of tickets (more than 20 per Tech), try these strategies:

6 Strategies for Managing Ticket Backlogs at Your MSP:

  • Review all incidents over 30 days old to determine if they are still needed – if so, schedule time to remediate.
  • All Service Requests over 30 days old, schedule.
  • Afterhours Ticket killing party.
  • Wednesday afternoon ticket killing party.
  • Pizza and Beer on Friday afternoon ticket killing party.
  • Select the 5 oldest backlog tickets reported and collaborate on how to get them completed this week. Continue keeping up and addressing the oldest 5 tickets week after week, and in time you will be caught up.

Side Note: You’ve heard us talking about Resource Utilization on more than one occasion. We consider Resource Utilization to be the ratio of Customer-Facing Hours (both Billable and Non-Billable) vs Available Hours. Yes, we’re aware that a significant number of MSP’s consider Resource Utilization to be the number of tickets completed.

However, one thing to remember about metrics is that you need to be careful what you monitor – and how monitoring the metric may affect the workforce. For instance, the same MSP’s who focus on Resource Utilization as tickets are completed are also are the ones very concerned about the re-open rate.

Is there a cause and effect here? Not sure? Call Steve.

If you are not experiencing the nirvana of fewer than 20 tickets per tech, or scheduling projects without crushing availability for Incidents and Service requests, call Steve.
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