First draft. Please add your comments below by posting a reply. You do not necessarily need to quote this document, though you may if you wish.
Expectations of Call Tracking Software
Items are not listed in any particular order of significance.
• Should be able to integrate with AD
• Call entry should be as quick and painless as possible. The user should only have to enter an asset number – not from a drop down list – and the problem. The administrator should be able to set a valid length trigger on the detailed description of the problem. I know this can get tricky, some problems do not need a lot of verbiage to report, but we should be able to set a minimum length for the detailed description. During reporting of the problem, the program should offer, but not insist on the user selecting, possible solutions to a problem. Ideally, the user should only have to enter the asset identifier, the short problem, and the detailed description of the problem to report a call. Of course, we should be able to select whether a user must enter a valid asset identifier to proceed.
• Articles added to the knowledge base should be able to be flagged to be presented to certain classes of users. We might have a technical fix we want our techs to be able to access, but not the end user.
• Users should be able to search the knowledge base without adding a call.
• Attachments to calls or knowledge base articles should be controllable. We might want a tech to be able to open and run an executable attached to a call or article, but not the end user.
• Attachments should be intelligent in that it only exists once and other references to it in the database simply point to the existing file. For example the drivers for a particular NIC do not need to be attached to every machine containing that NIC, only a pointer to the file. Attachments should also be URL’s or UNC’s. That is, we should be able to reference URL's or UNC's in a call and have them work properly.
• Way down the road – should be accessible from portable devices: PocketPC’s, Smart Phones, etc.
• Should be able to spawn sub-tasks from a call. I should be able to create a task for another department/tech to do something from that call. When we create the sub task we should be given the option to indicate further work cannot continue until sub tasks have been completed. If we spawn more than one we should be able to specify if the sub tasks must be completed in a particular order. We should also be able to indicate an expected completion date for the sub tasks.
• We should be able to assign a task to groups of individuals. For example, we have student helpers at GMS and GHS. When a call is entered, based on the qualifications matrix, the program should assign the call to a group of people (GMS Student Techs) and all of them receive notice. Then one of them could log in and take ownership of the call.
• We need to be able to mark certain accounts as building managers. The principal in each building needs to see the calls for each department, through a drop down, but does not necessarily perform service on equipment. This would be a “look but don’t touch” kind of account.
• We should be able to re-open a closed call.
• There should be a place for private comments on the call dialog which are not made part of the knowledge base.
• Canned reports are good, but we ought to be able to construct reports on the fly as needed. I might need to know how many P133’s with Windows 98 and 2gb hard drives I have at a particular building. Or, I might want to know how many machines have less than 256mb RAM.
• The above reports become more meaningful if we have a way to monitor machines through WMI or some other mechanism. Perhaps we are upgrading memory in machines. It would be nice to be able to see through this software how far along we are in the process.
• If we automatically add machines into inventory through the above process we should be able to specify how the asset number is determined. For example, we use a six digit number on our asset tags which is also the name of the machine. However, XP will not allow a purely numeric machine name so we append the building abbreviation to the name. My workstation, for example, is 306990CO. When importing we should be able to tell it to drop all non-numeric characters. This might get tricky since Dell’s will have numbers and letters as their default machine name. If the program can’t tell, it should require us to enter a valid asset number.
• When receiving inventory, we should either specify an existing item or create a new one. The program should then ask for the purchase information (PO #, date, cost, etc) and then ask how many of these items have been received. It should then present a screen with that number of boxes to enter asset number, serial number, and location. In the initial process the program should ask if all of these items are going to the same location. If so, the location column is not needed to receive inventory.
• Inventory should be able to keep track of items we hold as spare parts and set re-order points with email notices to people/groups. For example, we keep toner for Dell Laser Printers. We should be able to say we received five, and specify a re-order point. When that point is reached, an email should be sent to the appropriate people to remind them it is time to reorder.
• We need to be able to deactivate any item or person and have it/them no longer be visible (deleted items, people who have quit or moved, etc).
• Various departments should not necessarily be able to see one another’s calls. I do not need to see Maintenance calls unless there is a specific reason to do so. The program should give me the option, through a drop down, to view those calls, but default to my department. The ability to view other departments’ calls should be selectable through the control panel and should not be changeable by the user.
• When the tech closes a call, we should be able to select sending by email a call recap to the reporting person as well as being able to specify other people/groups that might need to see this recap. It might be nice if the technician were able to specify that others to whom the recap was being sent not be visible to the reporting user. For example, a “problem user.” I should be able to close the call, send them a recap of the trouble ticket and specify that their manager also receive a copy without the original user knowing a copy had been sent to their manager.
• Any dates/times the program needs related to a call should be pre-filled with the current date/time. We should be able to change them, but they should initially be filled.
• I should be able to bring another technician into the call. For example, the call is assigned to me, but I want someone else to be notified when I make updates.