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4 Monitoring Alerts to Automate Service Desk Tickets and Reduce Downtime

September 24, 2020

4 Monitoring Alerts to Automate Service Desk Tickets and Reduce Downtime

Whether you’re a small business with fewer than 100 employees or a global enterprise with thousands, having an alert system integrated into the service desk can be invaluable. This type of cross-functional integration can trigger automatic incidents in the service desk based on certain monitoring events, particularly issues that impact a significant portion of employees, including critical applications and network infrastructure. IT can get a headstart on the resolution process and communication with impacted users, helping the business save time, money, and productivity.

Make actionable alerts

Before we dive into specific alerts that might trigger incidents in the service desk, let’s talk about the criteria.

“The question is, ‘What’s actionable?’” said Head Geek™ Chrystal Taylor in a recent webcast. “If it’s not actionable you don’t need to send it to your service desk. It’s a waste of a ticket and the techs’ time.”

Build in an actionable and automated checklist when something goes down. When integrating IT operations and IT services, service desk pros can set up a list of to-dos that also triggers when there’s an alert for an outage or performance issue. You can also benefit from using your alerting system to take automated actions and report them in the creation of the service desk incident. This eliminates yet another step by automating repeatable actions, like restarting software applications. That bi-directional communication and automation will help reach a faster resolution, and also help end service providers stay fully informed as troubleshooting progresses.

Setting up monitoring alerts that generate service desk tickets is a great opportunity to break down silos and connect the dots between ITOM and ITSM. This visibility into the service desk environment allows IT pros to communicate issues to key stakeholders and impacted users quickly, find root causes, and deploy workaround solutions as needed. All of this helps the business get back to the work that matters faster. So it begs the question, what are the actionable alerts that your monitoring platform produces? Let’s take a look.

1. Server configuration/performance issues

A server outage, even for just a few minutes, could bring serious consequences. Take emails for example. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of emails going out and coming into employees’ inboxes daily. It may be the primary or preferred method of communication between businesses. If that email server experiences performance issues, important information could be delayed or get stuck in the dreaded outbox.

If IT teams are alerted immediately to an email server outage, service desk pros can now be more proactive. For example, when that email server outage ticket enters the service desk, it might be time to create a problem record to tie all of the related tickets together.

IT can also push a message to the service portal that they’re aware of the email server issue and it will be resolved as soon as possible. When employees log in to submit their issue, they’ll see the notice first and know that the issue is already being addressed. Proactive communication is one of the best ways to promote case deflection.

2. Network performance alerts

Similar to server performance, a reliable network is also crucial to the business. When employees are physically in the office, they rely on the network to not just send emails, but to video chat, schedule meetings, give presentations, and so much more.

Have a plan of action embedded into the alert once it notifies you about a performance issue. This can relieve you of stress figuring out how to handle it and lessen the chance of employees wondering if their laptop or computer has called it quits.

3. Application performance/outage alerts

We’ve all experienced it—closing and attempting to reopen an application only for it to still not load. For businesses that rely heavily on applications like Salesforce, even an outage that lasts a few minutes can be costly. After all, sales teams depend on applications like it to make the business money.

With integrated alerts, impacted employees can automatically be notified with a pop-up message about the outage while service desk pros work to rapidly restore service. After there’s a resolution, another alert can trigger a message letting employees know they can resume working in the application.

4. VPN traffic/performance

Without VPN, gaining access to internal business networks and applications is next to impossible when employees are working remotely. If there’s a sudden influx of remote workers, this can have a noticeable impact on VPN performance—and those remote team members need to know what’s going on.

Like many organizations in 2020, SolarWinds customer Azunna Anyanwu, IT Director at Aronson LLC, shared some of the challenges of moving his entire organization to remote work and the impact it had on VPN. (Pro tip: He credited the smooth transition to an organized IT asset management system and strong relationships with vendors). With more users than ever hitting your VPN at the same time, it’s critical to have rapid visibility into any performance issues if and when they arise.

But what about when employees shouldn’t have access to VPN–like when someone leaves the company?

“If you have a user that no longer works at the company and you’re still seeing traffic from them once that employee exits, an alert system can notify a service technician to disable that user,” said Taylor.

Leverage the CMDB for faster resolution

The CMDB is home to configuration item (CI) data, including upstream and downstream relationships with other CIs. If recurring issues keep popping up with a particular CI, the CMDB can link to other CIs that could be impacted—helping IT teams identify root causes of certain incidents. But how can you easily keep track of these repeat issues? By integrating the service desk with a continuous monitoring tool.

“If you’ve already begun to track from your alerting side of the house, pulling that data-rich information [into the service desk] is going to make sure that you’re looking at the same record so there’s no disconnect between those two teams,” Head Geek Liz Beavers explained. “It can also provide some stability on the service desk side regarding what interdependencies may have been missed.”


Sean Sebring is a Solutions Engineer at SolarWinds ITSM, and is a technical resource for SolarWinds Service Desk customers and prospects. His ITIL certifications include IT service management and IT service strategy, including  ITIL 4.