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Buyer's Guide

by Craig Borowski,
Market Research Associate
Last Updated: March 8, 2017

If yours is among the thousands of companies that invest in new help and service desk software every year, you probably want to know more about IT ticketing software. IT ticketing applications are a core function of IT service desk and help desk platforms, and the names are sometimes used interchangeably.

This guide will help you better understand the role of IT ticketing systems. It will explain how they fit into a general IT services management strategy, as well as what to consider when purchasing IT service and help desk platforms.

We’ll discuss the following:

What Is an IT Ticketing System?
Common Functionality of IT Ticketing Systems
The Vendor Landscape
Pricing Models for IT Ticketing Systems

What Is an IT Ticketing System?

IT ticketing software is extremely common, and goes by many different names: incident management software, incident tracking software and trouble ticket software are just a few examples. Though there can be slight functional differences, all of these systems typically serve the following purposes:

  • Assign individual case numbers, or “tickets”, to each problem or issue reported by an end user
  • Help process that ticket by assigning it to the individual or department whose responsibility it is to address the particular problem it identifies
  • Mark progress on the ticket as internal teams work toward a resolution
  • Coordinate the work of different teams and/or the end user or customer, based on the ticket’s level of priority
  • Provide a centralized, real-time view of the problems customers are having
  • Offer insight into developing problems and help companies plan for future service needs

IT ticketing systems include a variety of functions to assist with—and automate—the processes and procedures outlined above. These are discussed below.

Common Functionality of IT Ticketing Systems

While IT ticketing systems do come in a variety of industry-specific platforms (more on those below), there’s a group of core functionalities common to most. These include:

Ticket creation Allows tickets to be created by employees (or, occasionally, end users) to initiate a service request. Some platforms can automatically create tickets from emailed service requests.
Ticket ownership Maintains a record of each ticket’s ownership status, showing which agents have previously collaborated on it and what party is ultimately responsible for its resolution.
Automated handling Ticket ownership is updated and (re-)assigned automatically, based on the company’s specific workflow and predetermined conditions.
Policy enforcement Ticket policy enforcement helps ensure employees follow company policies and procedures—for example, by ensuring they’ve completed all necessary steps before opening, closing or reassigning a ticket.
Knowledge base A knowledge base is a centralized repository of information that agents can refer to, learn from and add to when handling tickets and collaborating with coworkers.
Reporting and analytics These tools measure the company’s ticket processing and provide insight; into, for example, changes in ticket volume that might suggest problems with a product, or the productivity of employees working on different types of tickets.
Custom fields The ability to add custom fields to IT tickets lets companies tailor and expand the system’s capabilities to their own specific needs, the needs of their industry or the needs of customers.

The Vendor Landscape

IT ticketing systems are sold as both on-premise installations and as cloud-deployed solutions. They may be available as stand-alone systems, but are more often bundled with other software applications and suites. These include:

Help desk software: IT ticketing is the central component of help desk software. Help desk software is used to manage IT issues experienced and reported by employees.

Customer service software: Customer service platforms also include ticketing functionality. These systems are used as described above, only the end users are customers instead of employees.

Bug tracking software: Bug tracking software also includes ticketing functionality; however, it’s almost always used internally, and primarily used by software development teams.

Pricing Models for IT Ticketing Systems

There are several different pricing models for IT ticketing systems. These include:

Free and freemium: Products like Freshdesk and Spiceworks offer free cloud-based IT ticketing systems. These can be a good choice for companies with very limited requirements or those that expect a low volume of incoming support requests.

Per-agent, per-month: A majority of IT ticketing systems follow this pricing model. Zendesk, one of the most popular products in this space, has plans that cost $5, $19, $49 and $99 per agent, per month. The cheapest is a barebones option with very limited functionality, while the top tier includes a wide selection of basic and advanced functionality.

One-time fee: Some of the most advanced and enterprise-focused ticketing systems can be purchased with a one-time fee. The fee is usually based on the number of agents who will use the system and the degree of integration and support the purchasing company needs.

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