One of the biggest challenges associations face in the technology realm is how to manage requests to IT. Whether you have an actual IT department or outsource your IT to a third party, you need a system for managing the requests that includes tracking who made the request, when it was made, the urgency/severity of the need, and ultimately, the priority of that request.
Too often, the process often looks like this:
- Staff emails IT with a technology request.
- IT acknowledges the request and "puts it in the queue."
- Months later, staff wonders "what ever happened to my request?"
- Rinse and repeat.
Recently I encountered a great example of an effective IT request process. Following is the process used by Jim Harrold, Database & Online Communities Coordinator, for the California Special Districts Association. I'm sharing Jim's process with his permission.
When I first started here we wanted some sort of ticket system to manage IT support requests as well as projects that involved new technical features. I had lots of experience using Trello from my previous position with a tech company and Monday.com [a project management tool] was a good approximation, but intake forms for non-tech people to use were a bit of a challenge.
I created Wufoo forms and then used Zapier to integrate those forms to Monday.com. There are different Wufoo forms for different types of requests, broken down into three broad categories and a few subtypes. I also created another form that helps staff identify which of the other forms they need for a given request. The flow is:
- Staff click a link in Monday.com to visit Wufoo form #1.
- Wufoo form #1 asks staff to select an option based on the type of issue they are experiencing or the request they want to make.
- Based on their selection, a link to one of three different forms pops up. These are the actual ‘ticket creation’ forms Zapier is connected to.
- Staff follow the link to the appropriate form and fill it out.
- After submitting the form, Wufoo automatically redirects the staff member to Monday.com again
- The Zapier integration grabs all the data from whichever ticket creation form they filled out and creates a new ticket with it.
The Zapier integration is hugely helpful for transparency and facilitates better discussions – staff see that the ticket is created ‘as-written’ instead of being parsed by a third party. Plus it saves me a heck of a lot of time copy/pasting or rewriting stuff.
Jim's process is a great example of making it easy for staff to submit an issue (Wufoo form), guiding the submitter through the process to ensure the request gets sent to the right place (Wufoo forms with questions that pop up different forms based on the answers staff provides), and then providing complete transparency by automatically putting that issue into Monday.com without any staff intervening (Zapier connection).
I often tell my clients the worst thing you can have within your organization is the "IT black hole," where issues are submitted to IT and staff never again hears about the request. Zero transparency leads to zero trust.
A process like the one above will lead to better communication and ultimately more effective implementation of staff requests.