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”;
- Mark e-mail as read,
- Delete e-mail from the server
- Move e-mail to folder
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!