We are excited to inform you that Track-It! will be represented at BMC Engage for the 2nd year in a row. The Track-It! sessions for the 2015 BMC Engage User Conference have now been posted to the Engage website. We look forward to meeting you and helping you get the most out of Track-It! Early bird registration pricing is still in effect until August 7th so register soon!
For information about Engage, a list of all the Track-It! sessions available or to register today, visit http://bit.ly/trackit_engage.
We hope to see you there!!
SQL Server CALs are Client Access Licenses and are required by Microsoft licensing in order for client computers to access a SQL Server. Seems simple enough. However, you don't need CALs in some scenarios. Sometimes they are covered by Software Assurance. What's that you ask? It is like a free upgrade maintenance program for Microsoft software that you can subscribe to. Sometimes CALs are covered by MSDN subscriptions. Sometimes, you don't need CALs at all. If you use Server, Processor or Core based licensing, you may already have what you need. If you are using Core+CAL licensing or Server+CAL licensing for your SQL server, you may or may not need CALs depending on how many you already have and how many you need. If you are using SQL Express edition, you don't need Core, Server or CAL licenses because Express Edition is free.
Confused yet? Most people are at this point.
In very general terms, SQL Server is a database server, which users can access directly or indirectly through an application. In either case, whether accessed directly or indirectly, users require licenses.
In the case of Track-It!, you have Help Desk Technicians and End Users. Those 2 groups of people access the SQL Server indirectly through either the Track-It! Windows Client, Track-It! Web Client or Track-It! Mobile Client. If you have 5 help desk technicians and 100 end users that they support, you will either need 105 CALs or a version of SQL Server that has Processor or Core licensing to cover those users. You might be curious about the Track-It! Audit or the Track-It! Discovery or other products. Those products collect data that is copied up to the Track-It! Server as XML and the Track-It! Server imports that data into the SQL server so you do not need CALs for all the systems being scanned or audited.
The best answer to this question is to contact a Microsoft dealer in your area or speak with whomever you purchase your Microsoft licenses from already.
If you don't know who to contact, visit the site below and chat with a Microsoft licensing expert who can help you.
Here is a great blog on Microsoft Licensing that also helps explain this.
There are some important changes coming for the Track-It! Support team that will allow them to take advantage of some of the infrastructure we have here at BMC. The full details of the changes are documented in the letter below from our director of Track-It! support.
I receive this question from users periodically and I hate to start off by saying "It depends", but it does.
This type of setup, while fairly common, is not something to be taken lightly nor something that our Track-It! technical support team has expertise in. Please bear in mind that the things discussed in this article are necessary considerations for any public facing website that must interface with an internal network. These cautions and suggestions are not specific to Track-It! Web and involve a number of systems and settings that are outside of the context of Track-It! Web. There are many factors involved with setting up this type of scenario and doing so in a way that is appropriate and secure for your environment. The setup will involve important decisions and configurations in your environment which our technical support team will not have knowledge of or be able to answer for you. While they may be able to guide you in best practices and examples of what most people do, they cannot make the decision for you or configure the system for you.
To begin, there are several different ways you can accomplish this task depending on your technical ability, the resources you have available at your company/location, how you want to present this information to the users (raw IP address vs. pretty domain name) and how secure your system needs to be.
Generally speaking, this type of setup should not be attempted by someone without experience with these types of configurations as you could potentially expose your network and internal systems to external intruders. This type of setup normally requires assistance from someone who is experienced with advanced network security, working with a DMZ, IIS web server setup, domain registration, domain hosting, DNS configuration, Proxies, SSL and firewall/switch configuration. The process can be fairly involved depending on the configuration used.
Normally, working with someone with IIS Admin experience and network security, Track-It! Web is installed on a separate IIS Web server placed in a DMZ. That server is given an external IP address so that users out on the internet can access it. It is best practice to also obtain an SSL cert and install it on the web server so that all connections to the Track-It! Web site are performed securely over HTTPS. If you want a nice domain name like mycompany.com/helpdesk then you would need to work with a website administrator to get that URL/Domain setup and pointed to the public IP address or to add a /helpdesk virtual directory entry that points to your Track-It! Web server. The Track-It! Web server also has to have access to the Track-It! server and to the Track-It! SQL server. This can be done by opening ports, using proxies and other methods that people much smarter than I have come up with and understand how to set up. However you do it, at the end of the day, the Track-It! Web server needs to have a public IP address, be segregated outside your internal network for security and still have access to the SQL and Track-It! servers.
Once you have this set up, your users should be able to connect to the IP address or URL that you have setup in order to get to Track-It! outside your company network. Other things to consider are the Technician/Mobile Web site and the Self Service site. You will need to have two different public links pointing to each of these if you are exposing both applications outside your network.
I know this article has not explained specific setup steps in order to set up this type of configuration but that is on purpose. Something like this should not be set up by someone who does not fully understand network security, the structure of the network and the policies and regulations of your company and/or industry. In the end I hope this information has been helpful.
I am excited to announce that Track-It! 11.4 is now available! This release is another great step in improving the utility of Track-It! and the productivity of the people who use it. This release contains a few enhancements to existing features, some enhancements that were requested by Track-It! users in the Ideas area here on the Track-It! Community and some defect corrections. Here are some highlights of the release.
Current Track-It! customers can download the 11.4 update from the support portal at support.numarasoftware.com.
The purpose of this advisory is to inform you of recently discovered security vulnerabilities in Track-It! and how to address them.
Please note that for an attacker to take advantage of any of these issues, the attacker must have direct access to the Track-It! application server. If the application server is not exposed to the internet, an attacker would first have to gain access inside your internal network in order to exploit them. However, even if your Track-It! system is not exposed outside your firewall, we still recommend you take the necessary steps to secure the application as soon as possible.
Update to Track-It! 11.4
Due to the nature and complexity of some of the issues, a full version update is required to address all of them. The vulnerabilities in this bulletin are addressed in Track-It! version 11.4, which is now available on the Track-It! support site here. Upgrading to 11.4 is the only way to address all of the discovered vulnerabilities.
Short term remediation
If for some reason you cannot immediately update to Track-It! 11.4, it is recommended to block all communications from untrusted networks (e.g. the Internet) at the firewall, specifically to TCP/UDP ports 9010 to 9020 and to the Track-It! Web webserver. Blocking the above mentioned ports/site to secure the server will also block the use of the Self Service feature and Track-It! Technician Web from external networks. In other words, the Track-It! system will continue to function only within the Intranet network.
Due to the nature of issues 1, 2 and 6 below, we were able to produce individual hotfixes for Track-It! version 11.3. Since these hotfixes do not resolve all the identified issues, we strongly recommend upgrading your Track-It! system to the 11.4 version that includes fixes for all of the identified vulnerabilities.
For more information on each of the items addressed, see the Knowledge Articles listed below.
If you have any questions regarding this security notification, please contact Track-It! Support by opening a case at: BMC Track-It! Support
Since part 1 and part 2 of this series of blogs, I had been building up, reading and preparing for a post where I discuss the steps of building a report from scratch. However, in conversation with quite a few customers who wish to create their own reports, we often advise that they use one of the standard reports from the Track-It! Reports module.
Here’s a basic but useful report that contains both a graph to highlight activity that may need to be reviewed and detail to drill down to individual issues, Overdue Work Orders by Technician.
We can edit the report in Crystal. In Teach yourself Track-It!... Reports. Part 2 Crystal Reports and other useful tools I described where to obtain a licensed copy of Crystal Reports from your support profile, if you are a supported Track-It! customer.
In Track-It!, in the Reports module, with a report I wish to edit select, I can click Export Report from the Tasks list in the top left of the screen in the Technician Client and save to the desktop.
When we open the report in Crystal, this is what we see…
… perhaps a little daunting. Let’s go through what we are presented with here in some detail.
On the left is the Design tab. This is where we do the initial formatting and place objects in the sections you want them to appear in. You can configure how particular data is sorted, grouped and how totals are presented.
This is handled quite cleanly as the data is represented in the Design view, rather than having the data appear itself. It also means that while you are dragging groups around or calculating totals, the data is not actively being retrieved so you are not drawing on resources on the database server or the wider network when doing this.
By default, a report is divided into five areas. In the report we are working with, there are some sub sections in some of the sections – you can see, for example, that the Report Header in Overdue Work Orders by Technician has a Report Header divided into Report Header a, b and c. But as a simple summary of these sections you can refer to this;
Usually the title or any information printed at the top of the first page. Track-it! reports use this section to return if no records are found when run (Report Header b) and to place the bar chart (Report Header c)
Information repeated at the top of each page is placed in the Page Header. This section type is not in use in our example.
The main body of the report
This appears once at the end of the report. Used, for example, for “grand totals”.
Usually page numbers. Any other information that needs to be repeated at the foot of each page.
There are some additional sections used for groupings, summaries and subtotals, as follows;
Printed once at the beginning of the group, use it for a title or for charts made of data held in the group
Appears once at the end of the group. Can be used for charts and cross tabs.
Crystal Reports contains various “Expert” dialogue boxes to assist with organising various aspects of the report in one place. So in order to see a preview of the structure of the sections, click Tools in the menu bar and select “Section Expert”…
Another “Expert” view to look at, which leads in to my next post, click Database from the menu bar and select “Database Expert”. This is where we can add tables to our amended report via their data source (an ODBC connection to the Track-It! database). We can also see, in the Links tab, a visualisation of the matching of records of one table with the corresponding records of another table.
… and this is a nice link back to the tool I discussed in the last post in this series, the Entity Relationship Diagram of the Track-It! database. This gives us a similar visual representation of the relationship between the tables so that we are able to produce reports, such as this one showing data from “Table A” organised by data held in a “Table B” that has a direct correlation with “Table A” (in this case the WorkOrderStatusId, the numeric value given to Statuses in a Work Order).
So now we’ve seen some aspects of editing an existing report in Crystal Reports, next time I’ll develop this further by going through editing an existing report as a basis for a new report.
A slightly belated Happy Easter to you! I hope you had as enjoyable break as I did!!
This month, I wanted to take the opportunity to hopefully bring to prominence some of the useful material that has been published in the Track-It! Product page that may take some scrolling to eventually find as more and more members of the Track-It! community post new discussions and ideas. So here’s a chance for you to bookmark some of these posts if you missed them first time round.
Customers with a maintenance contract will have access to our Knowledge Base at;
… although much has been posted here in the community with more of an emphasis on “how to” rather than publishing resolutions and work arounds to known issues. There is content I have used when investigating faults with customers, just to ensure I am being thorough, leaving no stone unturned and I have often sent links to some of these posts to customers who have logged a call with our Technical Support team. All the material I’d like to highlight today was published by members of the Support team or by Product Management.
If there is anything posted by a customer/end user that people use as a point of reference to help them with their everyday running of Track-It!, please do link to it in the comments section below this blog. Also, if anybody working with Track-It! has a particular approach or “aide-memoire” that they think would be useful to others, please do post a discussion. Even if it is something that has been covered in BMC Communities before, it still has value since we are all coming from our own unique perspectives.
I vaguely knew what this meant from my ceaseless addiction to American movies and TV. But I had to use Wikipedia to get a proper definition;
101 (term), The first course in a subject taught at a college or university in Australia, Canada, South Africa, or the United States. By extension, "Topic 101" is used generally to indicate the basics of any subject. Used this way, it is always pronounced "one-oh-one".
My colleague Keith Scarborough posted a series of "101s" on the Track-It! Inventory module. They are a really useful source of reference on the subject and while covering off the basics, they go some way to help develop a more advanced understanding of this module.
Track-It! Inventory 101
Track-It! Inventory 101 – Discovery
Track-It! Inventory 101 - Workstation Manager
Track-It! Inventory 101 - Initiating an Audit
Track-It! Inventory 101 - Audit and Merge
In a similar vein, last September I blogged about triggering audits externally from Track-It!, utilising Group Policies in Active Directory so that a user’s PC is audited each time they log in;
Next up, Keith and another colleague, Chris McLane have written some really useful notes and tips on the subject of incoming and outgoing email…
This is by Chris. I found it useful to refer to in a support call the other day, not for intended purpose but just as a reminder about how Track-It! appends replies to Work order notifications to the relevant Work Order when the Email Conversation feature is used;
E-mail replies cause new work orders to be created even though "RE:" rules are in place
This post serves as my reminder that;“The "Use E-mail Monitor Address for e-mail" option should ONLY be enabled in environments where it is necessary to have multiple help desk e-mail addresses that are forwarded to the main E-mail Monitor inbox. Even then, the option should only be enabled if it is absolutely necessary to have notification e-mails appear to come from the address to which e-mails were originally sent."
Notification e-mails from Track-It! appear to be sent from a user rather than the address configured in the Administration Console
As for this setting – I didn’t know about this when I set out to draft this article. I usually advise customers that the Track-It! Event policies cover off most notification requirements and, on balance probably negate the need for an “auto-reply” to mails to the monitor. But now I have seen this setting in the config file, I can think of one or two recent conversations where this change to the config file will be of use;
How to disable the auto-response e-mail sent to the user after successfully appending additional information
Keith has made contributions about database and server management. This piece discusses the warnings generated by Track-It!;
Track-It! Database 101: Index Health Unsatisfactory warning
… this summarises some of the back-end configuration of the SQL database;Track-It! Database 101:
Transaction Logs and Recovery Model
… and here he devised a more user friendly way of moving a Track-It! installation to new hardware;
How to Move or Copy Track-It!; the newer, simpler method
Benny Morrison worked with the Track-It! Product for a number of years. I have enjoyed his whimsical blogs about Track-It! that he wrote before moving on to our Footprints Product team;
What is Track-It!?
Track-It! is our baby...
… as well as the more conceptual, high level articles he’s written about managing Help Desks in general and how Track-It! may fit into your plans
Getting organized with Track-It! - The top 3 myths about organizing your Help Desk
Cris Coffey is still very much involved in the Product Management of Track-It! and in driving this product page in BMC Communities. You can get a sense of his history with the product here;
15 years. How things have changed.
… and I wanted to emphasise this post Cris made to give you a sense of how important this community to the future evolution of Track-It! and how your Ideas are actively being selected to be integrated in future releases;
First Track-It! release after Ideas module
Finally, more from me. The latest version of Track-It! released is v11.2. If you are planning to upgrade to this version any time soon, you should consider the following;
The Pulse: Track-It! 11.2 Cool Stuff
The Pulse - Track-It! 11.2... Countdown to upgrade
The Pulse - Track-It! 11.x - Office 365 and SMTP and more general Notification troubleshooting tips
The new Track-It! 11.3 release is now in Beta. If you are a current Track-It! customer and are interested in participating in the Beta program, it is not too late.
Just visit the document below to learn more about how to sign up for the program.
This month I wanted to talk about Work Order Resolutions. In Track-It! 11.1, we introduced the ability to;
Rich Text Solutions feature
easy with the Rich Text Resolution field
I’ve had numerous conversations with customers who upgraded from version 11 to version 11.2, missing that we’d added this feature. This has impacted these customers, whose Technicians have been used to entering Plain Text resolutions into a Work Order
… in previous versions, historic resolutions could be seen in their entirety if they only used 2-3 lines of text.
After v11.1, a Technician will only see a preview of the resolution entered and needs to click the “folder” icon to see the entire entry.
… we need to click the Edit icon (the folder in the top right of the resolution) to see the entire entry;
The new functionality is built in with the intent of giving us an end to end repository of solutions, available to both Technicians and end users in the Self Service front end. In this, we are striving to assist Track-It! customers in helping their users to help themselves. Let’s walk through how that might look…
I created a solution from the text from my previous blog post;
I just copied the article in its entirety, since we are pasting into a Rich Text editor, and all of the formatting and images were pasted from the clipboard.
Now, someone needs to configure Stop The Clock in Track-It!, the are able to search for that test in the Self Service front end;
Alternatively, that user logs a Work Order rather than searching Solutions in the Self Service portal, the Technician is able to resolve the Work Order and bring the article into the Resolution as the one they brought to the attention of the Requestor in the Resolution tab;
So this is my interpretation of how we can use the Rich Text formatting to add value to our end users and to start the exercise of populating the Solutions with quality, easy to follow information. This enables us to encourage our end users to draw on this resource and query it for information before they log a call with the Service Desk.
In other news…
When I first joined the Track-It! team back in 2008, we had recently release Track-It! version 8.1. At the time, we were assisting quite a lot of customer with the transition from Track-It! versions 6 & 7 to the new release. Part of the challenge was with the changes to the look and feel of the product, which has now remained largely the same through the course of major releases since that point. As each year progress, it surprises me that we still have an amount of customers looking to upgrade from v7 to something more recent. With this in mind, Kevin Dort asked me to issue a reminder.
In Track-It! 7, the attachment repository folders were different. When a server backup takes place, these files are not included (\Track-It! Server\WOAttach). So we recommend to follow the steps to move the attachments into the default Track-It! 8 – 11 location, in the \Track-It! Services\FileStorageData\Repositories folders.
How to move the Track-It! attachments to another location
Article ID: TIA03046
This month I wanted to elucidate clearly about configuring Work Order Event Notifications when email in your organisation is hosted in Office 365. I’ll also touch on more general notification troubleshooting advice which is valid if you use a mail solution in The Cloud or host your own.
Work Order Event Notifications and Office 365
The conversation we have in support with customers whose email solution is in the cloud is usually along the lines of “Office 365 requires TLS encryption but Track-It! only supports SSL”. I found a white paper, here, which confirms this;
“The use of TLS/SSL establishes a highly secure client-to-server connection to help provide data confidentiality and integrity between the desktop and the data center. Customers can configure TLS between Office 365 and external servers for both inbound and outbound email. This feature is enabled by default.”
If we go to the outbound email configuration, in Track-It! 11.2 this is in;
Tools > Administration Console > Configuration > Administration > E-mail Configuration > Outgoing E-mail Configuration
… indications are that this is not possible. There is not an option listed for a required TLS encrypted connectection (1).
This appears to be borne out when using the “Send Test E-mail” (2)and the resulting test email fails to be sent to it’s recipient.
Let’s try and clear some of this up.
Authenticate on your SMTP host but do not check the box for SSL and apply the changes. If you choose to click the Send Test E-mail and it fails, do not be disheartened. This is because this button is not using the configuration you have entered in this screen. It is checking whether it is possible to send a message via the SMTP host you have configured but it is doing that using the email settings associated with the Windows account you are logged into the computer with.
So in this scenario, please use this guideline to test your connection to your Office 365 SMTP host… once the above is setup and you have ensured that Track-It! is set to send these messages by its schedule - Tools > Administration Console > Configuration > Help Desk > Work Order Events > Automated Schedule, then create a test Work Order and send a mail to your designated test recipient via the “Email Requestor” button.
We usually find that notifications are sent successfully using the configuration and test outlined above.
Nb – If you have Track-it! configured to “Email Requestor” via your Outlook client, you will need to test outgoing email by matching a Work Order to the Event Policies.
If you continue to struggle with this setup and wish to engage with your local Support team its really useful for us to have a copy of these logs if you have encountered errors while testing;
More General Notification Troubleshooting via the Track-It! Database
While I am on the subject of logs and Notifications, I thought I would quickly share some bits and pieces about where the Notifications register on the Track-It! database. I have learned to rely on these tables when troubleshooting more challenging notification issues.
Open SQL Server Management Studio and connect to the instance where the Track-It! database resides. Expand it in the Object Explorer and then expand the Tables. Scroll down to the “N’s”.
There are three tables I will summarise in this post, NotificationMessage, NotificationStatus and NotificationError.
NotificationMessage contains a line for every notification email that was sent from Track-It!. For the purposes of today’s post, we are concerned with the NotificationStatusId column.
This is the “Automatically generated primary key of the NotificationStatus table”. Essentially, depending on whether the message is in the process of being sent, gets sent successfully, or fails, the NotificationStatus table holds the various statuses that are entered to this column. It is useful to cross reference NotificationMessage with NotificationStatus;
… so if you see a NotificationStatusID of 4 in your NotificationMessage table, you can see that this means “SendFailure” and that will prompt you to look at the NotificationError table;
Obviously, the NotificationMessageId column correlates to the message in the NotificationMessage table. It is easier to insert the cursor into that row’s ErrorMessage entry and select all its contents, copy and paste into Notepad or similar, rather than trying to read the error in SQL Server Management Studio. Here’s some examples;
The requested notification message failed to send. - The SMTP host was not specified.
The requested notification message failed to send. - Mailbox unavailable. The server response was: 5.7.1 Unable to relay for firstname.lastname@example.org
These errors may match to errors posted to the Service Management log file in C:\Windows\Temp but this method provides an “electronic paper trail” where you can follow through each step of the way for a specific message, rather than scrolling through up to 10 MBs worth of event logging, much of it not relevant to the errors you are looking for.
Well that’s it for now but I will be posting again quite soon. I wanted to cover Track-It!’s Rich Text editor for Solutions and Resolutions, which some customers are finding irksome. So I will write that up over the next week or so. I just thought it was confusing to have two unrelated topics in this post. I will also be posting Part 3 in the series about Track-It! reports in the coming weeks. I would appreciate any comments to any of my posts, especially if there is anything you would like me to try and explain… I might even be able to coerce a colleague with a bit more specialist knowledge in that particular area to assist us!
I recently posted a simple yet powerful means of reporting in Track-It!. The drawback with reports created from extracted data and formatted in Excel is that they are not integrated with the Track-It! application. You could not, for example, automate these reports so that they are sent on a scheduled basis or share these reports via the Reporting Module.
In order to do this with a custom report, it will need to be written in Crystal Report like all of the standard reports that are included in the off-the-peg application. In the coming weeks I intend to start to look at compiling reports using Crystal so by way of preparation, this post summarises the tools we will need to assist us in this task.
Supported Track-It! Enterprise customers are able to download a copy of Crystal Reports from their support profile at;
While visiting the support site, you can go to the Knowledge Base and bookmark http://downloads.numarasoftware.com/support/11erd/Track-It!_11.htm – The Track-It! 11 SQL Server Physical Data Model. Here you can see, which tables are used by a particular module and how they are connected to each other as well as definitions of each table and their columns.
Finally, you should already have SQL Server Management Studio installed. This will allow you to run SELECT queries so that you are able to compare and contrast with what is output by any report and keep a check on things as you make progress. Customers with a full version of SQL should have this tool already but those who installed SQL Express when they installed Track-It! will have needed to downloaded a copy for free from Microsoft;
SQL 2005 Express
SQL 2008 Express
… so while you are familiarising yourselves with all of this, I am going to identify some simple reports we can start with in my next post. If anyone has any ideas, please do leave a comment below.
This month’s Pulse stays focused on the recently released version 11.2.
I detailed some of these features last month. This month, I wanted to pick up on the upgrade itself. Whether you are prepared to upgrade and what you should do immediately after the upgrade.
The Release Notes are published here. As I discussed last month, the main new features are changes to the email monitor and “stop the clock”. A customer I was speaking to recently suggested that this upgrade should have been a major release – Track-It! 12, his view was that revision was quite fundamental.
From customer to customer, Change Management policy varies quite a lot from what I can discern of the Track-It! customers I come into contact with. Some organisations are quite stringent, others less so. Such a policy along with factors such as time and resource both in terms of people and equipment, will inform the decision on how much testing of this release you can carry before upgrading your live Track-It! installation. It may be that the defects addressed in version 11.2 are rather forcing your hand to get this done sooner rather than later. However, the nature of the way features such as the email monitor work now means that how it interacts with your environment is a key facet. If you are able to build a test server, you can download or make a copy of your Track-It! license file and use that to test. If problems arise in your test environment, support will be able to assist without it affecting your service to your user base. You can keep live on the previous version until all issues are resolved in test.
So, even disregarding all of the above, you decide to run the upgrade with the minimal preparation. Well, early in the upgrade, we see this;
… another opportunity to avail ourselves of information identifying what may be needed when the upgrade completes.
The first link is fairly standard stuff. When each version is released and Remote Control is updated, we provide updated installers for each of the mods customers can opt to use rather than the default setting, where an icon is displayed in the System Tray and users are asked to confirm that a technician can take control on connection to their PC. There are mods for you to change these options;
Option 1 - Hide the Remote icon, and keep the "Confirm Access" prompt (unless the computer is locked or a user is not currently logged on)
Option 2 - Hide the Remote icon, and disable the "Confirm Access" prompt.
Option 3 - Show the Remote icon, and disable the "Confirm Access" prompt (unless the computer is locked or a user is not currently logged on).
The next article linked to provides key information to most customers about changes to the email monitor. In previous versions, there was only a minority that used a POP connection in their email monitor configuration. Most used either the MAPI or Exchange options. Both of these required a client to be installed on the Track-It! server, whether that was the Microsoft Exchange Server MAPI Client and Collaboration Data Objects 1.2.1 or a full Outlook or Groupwise client.
If I was to discuss the most common configuration I come across, a customer would be using an in-house Exchange server and have set the email monitor to use the MAPI setting before upgrade to 11.2. I envisage that, in this scenario, customers would use the IMAP option and configure that from within the Administration Console on completion of the upgrade wizard. In this scenario, The Microsoft Exchange IMAP 4 service must be running on the Exchange server.
That about wraps up another Track-It! Pulse for this month. I will return soon with the next in my series covering Track-it! reports. The next Pulse blogspot will be out in around a month. In the meantime, I would be interested to hear about your experiences of Track-It! 11.2.
In recent months, I have been publishing Pulse articles for Track-It!, reflecting the kinds of queries we are dealing with in support. I will continue to publish those around 20th of each month. Here’s a link to the last one, about new features in Track-It! version 11.2
I also wanted to publish a reasonably regular more personal blog to share tips and tricks to help customers get more from the Track-it! application. Over the next few weeks I wanted to focus on the Reporting module.
We get many customer queries describing requirements for reports that are not included Track-It!
In answering these queries we have quite a well-rehearsed response in the UK support team. These are your options;
So I’ll start off in this post by outlining the simple method of extracting data from Track-It! and creating a report in MS Excel. While I describe this as basic, it is actually quite powerful.
For my example, now we are at the start of a new year, Helpdesk managers might wish to know which of their technicians have open Work Orders remaining that were opened, for example, before 1st November 2013.
The first step for this kind of report is to query and filter the Grid View in the appropriate module (in this case Helpdesk) so that we can extract the data required to create our report. So as a starting point, I have set the Current View to the System View named “Open Work Orders”.
I have highlighted the Current View button at the top of the screen and the bar beneath the grid which displays a summary of the data selection. I can then filter my data further, in this case I want to select Work Orders logged before 1st November 2013. I click on the drop down arrow in the Date Entered column header and select “custom” from the drop down.
I am now looking at all issues entered before 1st November 2013. When I create my simple report, I will be only using the data in the ID column for my count with an Assigned Technician on each Row. So in this instance, those are the only columns I really need to export but it is unnecessary to shed those from the view before export. I can just right click somewhere in the grid, select “Export grid Contents…” and from the Export dialogue I can “Save as type” the .xls format to edit and manipulate in MS Excel. Text would serve just as well for this purpose if I wanted to create or remove some field delimiters when I import into Excel. But I am not doing anything so fancy, so the .xls format is just fine.
I open the file created in Excel and it looks much like the grid I exported it from. I click on the Insert menu and from there, select PivotTable. As mentioned, I want “Assigned Technician” as my Row Labels and ID as my Values. I may need to right click on the object in Values to access the Value Field Settings so that the values are presented as a Count rather than a Sum or Average etc.
So that’s pretty much it – here’s my report “Work Orders opened before 1st Nov 2013 by Technician;
Count of ID
Please don’t be too hard on any of my colleagues here – this was created using test data rather than our open live Incidents from customers!
I will be back with part two sometime in the next month to look at the tools that will help us to create more complex reports in Crystal Reports. In the meantime, if you have any questions or any particular requirements for a report you would like to create yourself, please leave a comment.
The Track-It! Pulse blog is back after a brief interruption in its regular publication schedule. Over the last couple of months, I have been transitioning to being a homeworker. It was important that I was able to get comfortable in my new work environment and be handling incoming Incident tickets without affecting our continuity of service. I hope we succeeded in making the move as smooth as possible, but it did mean my activity in the Community was reduced during the transition. Predictably during that time, the UK support team did see a bit of a spike in incidents reported so it has been both a busy period as well as an interesting experience.
In terms of activity for the Track-It! product from a support point of view, the big news is Track-It! v11.2 has been released. I thought I would have a play around with the Stop the Clock feature, since I have had numerous conversations with customers requesting this enhancement over the years I have been involved with Track-It!. There are also some other bits and pieces of hints and tips I wanted to share that we have picked up assisting customers upgrading to this version in the last couple of weeks.
Stop the Clock
I have to admit I have not logged a call for this feature since it has been introduced. This makes me very optimistic! So this is the first opportunity I’ve had to have a little play with it.
I went into Tools > Administration Console > Lookup Tables > Help Desk > Work Order Statuses and added a new one “Hold”. Straight away, I can see a check box labeled “This status stops the clock” so I tick this.
Next, into Tools > Administration Console > Lookup Tables > Help Desk >Event Policies, I had pre-configured four Event Policies, high, medium and low as well as the built in default enabled. The high, medium and low policies I had created are all linked to the Priority field, to corresponding Priority names that match my Policy Names. Each have different Due Dates, appropriate to each level of severity (all agreed with my fictional customer) and have different email notification rules, also reflecting how I wish to communicate the progress of the varying severity of Work Order. I edit the policy I have named “high” first.
1. Service Level Agreements will often include an agreed Response Time for Work Orders. We’ve added the Date Responded into the Work Order form and this is where you can set the target time from when the issue is first saved.
2. The actual stop the clock setting and that this only affects Due Date.
So I have stop the clock activated on the three priorities lined to Service Level Agreements via the Event Policy interface.
I created a Work Order and made a couple of changes to it, saving it in an “Open” status each time. On my third save, I used my “Hold” status. Perhaps the end user was unavailable when I went back to them with a question or some hardware was out for a repair with a third party. As soon as I save with me on hold status selected, I am prompted;
… and then for a reason;
… then throughout the time my Work Order is on hold, if it is displayed on-screen, the title bar of includes a reminder, saying “Work Order is on hold. The clock has been stopped” though the Due Date in the Applicable Policies section of the Classification and Schedule tab does display the original Due Date set.
This date/time is recalculated when a “non hold” Status is selected and the Work Order saved. I am prompted to fill the reason comments once more, if I so wish.
Please be aware of your settings in Tools > Administration Console > Configuration > Administration > Operating Hours before embarking on this exercise.
Also, just a reflection from personal experience, I remember in a previous life as a Service Desk Manager in a UK outsourcing organisation, on various contracts we had very specific scenarios for when an issue could be placed on hold. This meant an undue proportion of my time was spent reporting on and reviewing on hold calls to ensure that agents were not abusing a “pending” status so that I was not alerted to any lack of progress of difficult and long standing issues. Now in outsourcing, the company providing the service is under a lot more scrutiny than many internal help desk arrangements, with financial penalties written into contracts for missed targets based on Service Level Agreements. I do understand the demand for the on-hold feature and why we responded to demand developing it. But I would say that I would much prefer to factor in “mean time to close” from previous years’ performance, rather than implementing an on hold status for many scenarios. But as long as the rules around its use are clearly stated both for your Technicians and your Users, and understood by them, hopefully you can implement it without being required to police its use too much.
The E-mail Monitor
With the 11.2 release, I was pleased to see that an email client such as Outlook is now not required for Track-It! to read incoming email and turn them into Work Orders. Most of the customers I speak to have their own Exchange Server set up within their organisation’s domain. In this configuration scenario, I have been suggesting customer use the IMAP setting. You must ensure that the Microsoft Exchange IMAP 4 service is running on the Exchange server to utilise this protocol.
Also, during set-up, you will note in Tools > Administration Console > Configuration > Administration > E-mail Configuration > Incoming E-mail Configuration , there are some options under “Incoming E-mail Settings”;
It appears from my first few engagements to assist with this set-up that these are rules to be applied on completion. I have seen a couple of instances where we configure “Mark email as read”, mirroring how Track-It! would process email in the previous “Exchange Server” or “MAPI” configuration, but now it wants to process all of the old, read emails once more when I go to the Automated Schedule dialogue and click now. So just a tip, please housekeep all old messages to the email monitor out of the mailbox you have been using if you intend, as I suspect most customers do, to keep using the same mailbox you’ve always used for your email monitor’s primary mailbox.
There has been a change to the audit components in v11.2 that require a PC to be running .NET 4 if you intend to audit that machine. This dependency has postponed one or two of my customers’ plans to upgrade. For one such customer it was necessary to carry out this little test.
If, for example, a group policy/login script is used to trigger audits, where the audit executable is not called from the Track-It! server, in this kind of configuration;
… you could retain the old version of audit.exe (or even older, audit32.exe) with the auditcifg.ini and the asset data generated by these components will still merge into the Inventory. track-I
So that’s it for this month. As hinted at earlier, you can now expect a regular post towards the end of each month. This post is intentionally early due to the forthcoming Christmas break.
I plan to continue the theme of version 11.2 in late January, depending on what activity we see across our support teams. If there is anything you would like me to cover then, or expand upon from this post, please do post a comment.
In the meantime, have a wonderful Christmas!