A service level agreement (SLA) is a contractual obligation between a service provider and one of their clients. An SLA can include details around quality, availability, and general responsibilities for when things go wrong with the services provided. For both clients and service providers, SLAs are crucial for both parties to have common ground and language for expectations. SLAs are often tied to contracts, and as contracts can vary from client to client on their many dimensions, it can be tricky managing them. Most SLAs also have a time sensitivity aspect, which can be difficult to account for depending on how geographically spread the service provider’s workforce is.
Keeping SLAs top of mind, one software company came to us needing a solution for managing their support and professional service offerings. They didn’t want a heavyweight software that would force them to use Gantt charts to view and manage their work, and ease of use was very important to them—they didn’t want to have to click through multiple screens just to find a project. How their ticket management software presents information is critical for them, and ideally they would like to do some amount of change management with the software as well, so they can keep track of what version of software their customers are using when requests come in. As with many companies offering professional services, our client also wants their support engineers to log their time spent so they know what to charge their customers.
For service requests and support tickets, OneDesk has a fully-featured application that fits our client’s needs without requiring much customization. Tickets are created in the OneDesk system by users through one of three ways: manually by internal users, through the customer portal by customers, or via e-mail. The way work is managed in OneDesk is through a simple hierarchy. For our client’s needs, projects and tickets are sufficient to keep work organized without obfuscation. Our client already treats each of their customers as a project, which fits nicely into OneDesk’s structure. In OneDesk’s tickets application, information can be viewed at different levels. With the set of default views, our client can display their tickets as cards, a hierarchical tree, or even in terms of calendar days. They can also set up dependencies between work items so it’s clear when a ticket needs to be completed before another can start. A Gantt chart is another viewing option, but it’s up to our client to decide which view works best for them. Aside from the default options, OneDesk also allows the creation of custom views based on filtering and grouping. These custom views can then serve as dashboards to surface just the metrics most important for our client.
Customizability and flexibility are two of OneDesk’s greatest strengths. In terms of change management, although OneDesk doesn’t necessarily offer this out of the box, to the extent that our client needs, a basic system can be set up. Our client needs to be able to track what version of software their customers are using and having issues with. By creating a custom field on service request tickets called “version”, our client can track what version is associated with the request. This custom field can also limit the kind of data that can be inputted for it, which makes it easier for support engineers to start work right away. As our client sees service requests coming in, they might begin to notice patterns in the kinds of requests logged. When the time is right, our client can set up new ticket types to capture each of the specific service requests. This then allows for different workflows to be created for each ticket type. Once workflows are established, our client can even create workflow automations that will trigger and perform actions based on a set of criteria. This only further streamlines how they manage their work without requiring much manual work.
When doing services and support work, it’s not uncommon for companies to charge their customers based on the time spent working on requests. Our client is no exception, and they were pleased to learn that OneDesk has time tracking built into the ticketing application. When a support engineer is assigned a ticket, they can simply start a timer in OneDesk itself, and stop the timer when they are done their work. Sometimes an engineer can forget to set the timer when they are immersed in their work, which is understandable. OneDesk also offers the ability to add timesheets to tickets, so engineers can update their tickets after the fact. On top of this feature, OneDesk is also available as a mobile application, offering the same functionality for managing tickets and tracking time. This makes it possible for engineers who forget to log their time and then step away from their workstations to still be able to log their time from their phones.
One of our client’s key concerns is being able to maintain and meet their SLAs. Ideally they want to automate actions and restrictions based on SLAs, in particular, they want to create SLAs based on the severity of the service request, time to resolution, and initial response time. OneDesk has built-in functionality around SLAs and the ability to enforce them. Once our client sets up their SLA requirements in OneDesk, they can use workflow automations to apply these SLAs to incoming tickets depending on their priority. This ensures accuracy in terms of knowing when responses and actions should take place based on the severity of the request and when it entered the system. When an SLA is going to be breached, a workflow automation can also be set up to notify our client so they can ensure action is taken in time.
From OneDesk’s customizations to its automations, managing service requests becomes much less of a chore. With even just a little customization, our client is able to get OneDesk doing most of the heavy-lifting for them. Gone are the days of questionable accountability—the combination of time tracking and SLA enforcement available through OneDesk ensures that our client stays on top of their customers’ needs. End users and customers deserve the best quality support and service, which is something that our client agrees with. By switching to OneDesk to manage incoming requests, they are able to provide timely service and keep their customers happy.