• The method used by a managed service provider (MSP) to handle service requests can determine its ability to efficiently resolve your business’s IT issues.
  • An established ticket-priority system is necessary for a managed IT services provider to determine which requests require immediate resolution and to respond to those issues accordingly.
  • An organized structure for managing tickets benefits both the MSP and its clients.
  • A priority method bridges the gap between the managed IT services provider’s responsibilities and your company’s expectations.

IT help desk and ticket-priority systems

“An MSP that does not have the discipline to employ a ticket-priority system will likely be unable to accurately prioritize client issues as they occur. Such a system develops standards, clarity, and a very clear, upfront contract outlining how the MSP will deliver services based on the service level agreement.”—Nicholas Gikonyo (Former Vice President, Managed Services at Aldridge)

How ticket-priority systems work 

The purpose of a ticket-priority system is to ensure the managed IT services provider aligns the right resources and response times with the severity of service requests received. Generally, the MSP will assign a priority one through five status to reflect the business impact of the issue; priority one being the most urgent and priority five being the least.

Priority One

In most cases, a priority one or two ticket will require the MSP to respond 24/7/365 and resolve the problem in less than four hours. The designated response and resolution times should be specified in the managed IT services provider’s service level agreement (SLA) with your business. Critical issues include anything that would immediately halt your business’s ability to continue operations. For example, if multiple on-site or virtual servers, internet, or email systems are down throughout your organization and there’s no viable workaround in place, the MSP should classify the ticket as a priority one. The managed IT services provider should work to restore your company’s operations as soon as possible to minimize downtime and avoid costs to the business.

Priority Two

A priority two ticket would likely reflect an issue that does not completely disrupt your business functions, but still causes multiple user workflow disruptions and restricts access to a critical system or application. If, for example, a single server is completely down, the managed IT services provider should classify the service ticket as a priority two issue.

Priority Three

Priority three concerns generally involve a problem related to an individual user that affects their ability to do their job.

Priority Four and Five

Priority four and five tickets likely do not represent any disruptions in workflow and generally involve tasks such as employee on-boarding requests, the testing of new hardware or software, or explaining or correcting how a certain function works.

Benefits of a ticket-priority system

The alternative to a ticket-priority system is the use of a first-come, first-served approach to service. A managed IT services provider who utilizes such a method is likely a less operationally mature firm and may be subject to disingenuous and inefficient processes for managing your company’s IT problems.

A first-come, first-served system may result in the following service disadvantages.

Critical issues put on hold

Responding to tickets in the order in which they are received allows a ticket concerning a less critical issue, such as a printing malfunction, to surpass a request that could potentially threaten the well-being of another business.

“Cherry-picking” the easiest tasks

Without a ticket-priority system, technicians may postpone addressing more difficult requests by selecting less time-consuming tickets to resolve. This can cause a delay in fixing business-critical problems as the technician may wait for another employee to handle the task.

Cutting the line

An MSP without a standard system in place may allow clients to “jump the line” despite the low-impact nature of their request. The first-come, first-served system is comparable to a coffee shop where customers in a rush to get their product may beg the cashier to let them go first despite the long line of people who were already waiting. Without a set of standardized processes in place, an MSP may be more likely to show preference to customers who continuously express frustration regarding their issue in order to avoid receiving a negative review or losing the client’s business.

A ticket-priority system holds the IT outsourcing provider accountable for their response and for resolution of your business’s problem while maintaining transparency in the process. The use of a specified, standard technique of service ensures the managed service provider has the ability and the resources to delegate tasks and remedy problems in an organized manner. A ticket-priority system can provide your business the necessary support it needs to continue operating with minimal disruptions.

Issues with assigned priority levels 

Naturally, every system may have exceptions and there may be instances where a ticket is classified at a lower priority level than your business deems appropriate. A valuable MSP will likely offer your organization the option to change the priority level of the issue concerned if you believe it to be critical to your operations. For example, consider a doctor’s office with 15 users and five PCs. If the practice experiences a single computer failure that prevents employees from using that device, the MSP may classify the issue as the same priority as a law firm that has 200 people and experiences the same computer failure.

However, the doctor’s office may require the affected computer to be functioning in order to see patients in a particular room, thus affecting 20% of their business. In such a situation, the managed IT services provider should allow the client to adjust the status of their problem and expedite its resolution to match the business impact of the issue.

Aldridge employs a well-organized, ticket-priority system to maintain a transparent resolution process for our clients. See how we can remedy your business’s IT issues.