Tuesday, July 31, 2007

No Ticket, No Problem

One of the hardest things to manage as a DBA is all the different sources we receive requests through. We get walk-ups, emails, calls, tickets, rumors, pigeons, and sometimes even smoke signals. And while it's easy for the boss to say 'no ticket, no problem', as a DBA in the trenches you can't exactly be a dick to your users. You have to take the request in whatever form it manifests itself. Sure, you can try to push everyone to a ticketing system, but it's just not worth it in the long run. Too many times the request is just something small like can I have access to this table or can I get a backup real quick so I can push this new code. Using a ticketing system just isn't always practical or even conducive to good relations.

So what can you do then? I mean, you can't exactly just have people shouting requests at you from down the hall assuming you heard them. What I tend to do is push everyone to email. After all, I get email on my hip and it's easy enough to not get in the way of even the simplest requests. When I'm in a shop that insists on having tickets for everything, I'll take requests through email, and just create the ticket myself. And once I get all these requests coming in, I keep them organized in a master list of some kind. I used to use Excel which has its advantages with sorting, etc. Currently, I use OneNote and I'm liking it just fine. In the past I've also written small web apps to manage my task list too.

The point is though it really doesn't matter what you use. Use whatever is easiest for you and that won't hold you back. Just make sure that whatever you use, you use all the time. If you want to manage tasks in Outlook, then do so. Like I said though, I like OneNote these days. That's mainly because it's easy to copy emails from Outlook. That makes it really easy to reply once the task is done, and it gives me a record of exactly what was requested.


MattK said...

Sometimes the ticketing system is more of a "people management system" than an issue manager. Too often I find that requesters do not take the time to supply the basic/required details in requests, and even in an "emergency" tend to disappear after sending the briefest of requests via e-mail ("it's broke - please fix").

The "no (fully documented) ticket - no problem" approach puts the initial responsibility where it belongs, and produces an audit trail so that when delays in problem resolution occur because details are not supplied, the cause of the delays are apparent.

Usually, it only takes one or two times for this exercise to solve the "lazy requester" problem.

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Sean McCown
I am a Contributing Editor for InfoWorld Magazine, and a frequent contributor to SQLServerCentral.com as well as SSWUG.org. I live with my wife and 3 kids, and have practiced and taught Kenpo for 22yrs now.
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