Do You Need Your Ticketing System for Real-Time Incident Management?

by Sam Lewis August 27, 2015 | 3 min read

Why Ticketing Systems?

Ticketing systems serve a purpose for their users. They keep track of issues, assign items to other people, and order a large input of requests. But using ticket systems can be fraught with issues: a clunky workflow, mired in process, means that users can’t always move and adapt quickly. They have to spend some of their time updating their workflow in the ticketing system, which means less time for dealing with critical issues. They require a rigorous, structured, manual approach that can slow down work in the heat of the moment.

Why NOT Ticketing Systems?

While ticketing systems are a great way to manage a ticket queue of ongoing requests, we’ve noticed that many operationally mature companies stay away from ticketing systems for their real-time incident management. Instead, they are using a more lightweight solution, like PagerDuty. A lightweight solution, with a focus on automation, allows them to be more agile, and get things done faster.

Real-Time Incident Response Requires Speed

These companies are proving that you don’t need a process-heavy system to get work done. In fact, for real-time incident management, the less process, the better. They’re moving away from a system where a user manually opens a ticket when they see an outage, to monitoring systems automatically generating alerts as problems arise. This means that as soon as something goes wrong, an alert is generated. There is no delay waiting for someone to notice the issue and fill out a form, which means that teams get immediate visibility into what’s going on with the system and can begin work or escalate accordingly.

Ticketing Systems Beyond Real-Time Incident Management

A more lightweight system still allows users to open manual alerts if necessary, much like a ticketing system does. And many companies still have a place for ticketing systems, even if it isn’t their real-time incident management. Here at PagerDuty, we use a ticketing system to track follow up on issues, and generate work estimates for lower priority tasks. Once the critical incident is resolved and service is restored, we’ll create tickets to fix the root causes and make sure the problem doesn’t happen again. One of the benefits of a ticket system is also a weakness: a plethora of fields allow users to track various aspects of an issue, but, for high priority items, those fields are cumbersome and unnecessary.

How Much Process Do You Really Need?

The thing you need to ask yourself is, do you really need that much process to accomplish your tasks? Your IT team will thank you, because it will help them move away from feeling like a help desk. And it helps your organization move faster, and get closer to achieving DevOps Nirvana.