Ticket Management with osTicket


Data Exchange Interfaces

One essential element in the use of any help desk system is the ability to exchange files. Ticketing systems like osTicket therefore provide extensive configuration options for dealing with attachments. By default, the software lets you add attachments. You can limit the number of possible uploads per user and staff member, as well as the file sizes. In the Accepted File Types field, you can also specify the allowable file types explicitly. Below the various configuration tabs, you the two buttons Save Changes and Reset Changes let you save or roll back your changes.

Other essential settings are hidden in the Access submenu. Here you can determine, in particular, the validity period for staff passwords and whether resetting is allowed. To avoid the possibility of third parties misusing your ticketing system, you should enforce registration and login. Templates for authentication and user and staff registration are also available in the Access settings.

Processing tickets, and in particular providing responses, is much easier if you collect the most frequently asked questions and answers in a knowledge base. osTicket has such a system; however, you first need to enable it in Settings | Knowledgebase . The FAQs and the filter function and search form are then available in the customer or employee sections. In the general osTicket settings, you can make various adjustments to the auto-responder and notification configurations.

Filter Requests

Before you can use osTicket to respond to requests from employees or customers in a meaningful way, various organizational preparations must be made. You need to create Help topics that describe the effective approach to filing queries. If your help desk employs several staff, you can use ticket filters to distribute queries automatically.

The filtering mechanism helps you speed up query processing. A sophisticated set of rules can assign incoming requests that match (or do not match) specific criteria to specific employees, support teams, priorities, SLA plans, and previously created Help topics.

Creating a new filter is quite simple: Open the filter configuration in Manage | Ticket Filters and follow the Add New Filter link. Assign a name, the order of execution, and then the filter rules. Filters are processed in order according to an assigned value between 1 and 99.

Make sure the filter is Active in the Filter Status option. You can limit the application of a filter to certain email addresses, forms, and API keys as well. Thanks to filtering rules, you determine the criteria for processing, while defining appropriate follow-up steps as filter actions.

One essential, interactive element of the ticket environment is forms which, for example, let your customers describe their problems and send the results to the help desk team. A few forms already exist in a default installation, but you can generate more input pages in the Manage | Forms submenu.

Follow the Add New Custom Form link, assign a name, description, and the required form fields as a text box, drop-down menu, choice, and so on. The forms are available after you release them to your customers and employees, depending on the restrictions you have in place.

The Manage menu offers more customization options. For example, you can create custom pages and lists and feed specific help desk information to them. In principle, the functionality of the ticket system is expandable via plug-ins, which you copy to the /include/plugins/ directory. Unfortunately, the project documentation provides no information as to what these extensions look like and what functionality they add.

Email Configuration

osTicket supports all major channels of communication for creating tickets. Probably the most important of these is email; the number of email addresses in the system is not limited. Email addressed to the help desk system are converted to support tickets; they can then be managed, edited, and archived with the help of osTicket – this means that you have all your email support in a single, centralized system.

osTicket has a basic set of email templates that the autoresponder accesses and that can be used for instructions, warnings, and responses. In principle, the environment will accept email from various sources. In the current version, osTicket supports piping and polling of POP3 and IMAP accounts. Depending on the filters, the tickets are then forwarded to the appropriate departments or support employees.

Piping should be your preferred option. Although processing incoming email in real time is possible, various adjustments to the email server are required for this. Polling of POP3/IMAP accounts is likely to be the preferred method for small businesses with limited capacity. The Email Addresses section (Emails | Emails ) is used to create the support address, including login and server information, and the email polling interval.

By default, osTicket uses the native PHP mail module for email (Figure 2). Because this delivery route can be problematic for spam filters, you will instead want to use SMTP-based delivery. You can create your own SMTP server configuration for each account in the Email Addresses section. If you do not manage the SMTP server itself, some specifics still need to be observed for the use of an external SMTP server, such as when to block requests. Various hosting services prevent the use of SMTP servers when the environment to be used resides on a different server.

Figure 2: You can create your own email configuration for each account.

If you have shell access to your hosting account, you can test the connection to the SMTP server remote quite simply:

telnet smtp.server.de 25

A blocked connection produces output like this:

telnet: connect to address Connection refused

Depending on the output, you now know whether or not email delivery will work via the intended route.

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