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Ultimate Guide to ITIL Ticket Types and Best Practices for Efficient IT Support

Updated: Mar 28

On average, organisations have 205 ticket types in the service desk and use just 34.


Poor ticket categorisation leads to confusion in the team, inefficient ticket handling, crappy reports and an increased cost per ticket.


I'm certified at the ITIL expert level. Having spent more than 30 years working and consulting in the IT Service Management sector, I have seen what works and what doesn't.


This article will help you;


  • Define your categories & subcategories.

  • Capture the right information the first time.

  • Identify 20 best practices to avoid painful mistakes and dead ends.

What are the different ITIL ticket types?

The ITIL ticket types in an Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) framework are;


  • Incident Tickets: These are for unplanned interruptions and to restore regular service operations as part of Incident Management.


  • Service Request Tickets: For service requests, information, or access as part of Request Management.


  • Problem Tickets: For underlying causes of one or more incidents as part of the Problem Management process.


  • Change Request Tickets: This is for formal proposals for IT service alterations as part of the change management process.


All can be managed through an IT Service Management (ITSM) ticketing system.



ITIL Ticket Types Diagram
The ITIL Ticket Types


lady working on a computer

Incident tickets

So, this is usually the big one: the service desk ticket, where you want super efficient service delivery and explore the data in various reports for trend analysis, etc. 


The ITIL Incident Management process tickets will likely be the backbone for the other types of tickets. For example, categories here will likely influence categories in the Problem Management process.


The Incident Ticket Process


The Incident Management Process
The Incident Management Process


What Categories of Incident Tickets Should I Have?


When considering the categories of incident tickets, start with these;

Category

Sub-Category

Hardware

  • Desktops and Laptops

  • Printers and Scanners

  • Mobile Devices

  • Servers

  • Network Equipment (Routers, Switches)

  • Peripherals (Keyboards, Mice)

Software

  • Operating Systems

  • Applications (Office, CRM, ERP)

  • Email and Communication Tools

  • Databases

  • Development Tools

Network

  • Connectivity Issues

  • VPN Problems

  • Slow Internet/Network Performance

  • Wi-Fi Access

  • DNS Issues

Security

  • Virus and Malware

  • Unauthorised Access

  • Data Breach

  • Phishing Attempts

  • Encryption Issues

Access

  • Password Resets

  • Account Lockouts

  • Permission Issues

  • User Account Setup/Deletion

Services

  • Email Service Disruption

  • Cloud Service Issues

  • Collaboration Tools Downtime

  • Printing Services

  • Backup and Recovery Failures


Are they going to work for everyone? No, but at least with this, you aren't starting by looking at a blank screen.


Keep the categories to no more than two levels, as tempting as it may be to start having sub-sub and sub-sub-sub-sub categories. Keep it so that it makes intuitive sense for people to use.


You'll also likely have some bespoke systems you'll want to track. For example, I worked at a mortgage company and ran their service desk for several years. We had in-house systems and modules within those systems. So, I'd add those in, but only to that level.


What Data Should I Record in my Incident Tickets?

Here's a suggestion, but keep it as simple as possible. Where possible, try to use the system 'out-of-the-box'. Any major ITSM supplier will have configured their solution carefully, so if you start adding bespoke fields, ensure you are clear about why and what you will do with that data.

Section Title

Data Points

Incident Identification Details

  • Ticket Number 

  • Title/Summary

  • Date and Time Reported

  • Reported By

Incident Description

  • Detailed Description

  • Category

  • Sub-category

  • Impact

  • Urgency

  • Priority

Technical Information

  • Affected IT Services

  • Configuration Items (CIs)

  • System/Service Logs

Prioritisation

  • Impact

  • Urgency

  • Priority

Incident Response

  • Assigned To

  • Incident Status 

  • Resolution Details

  • Resolution Date and Time

Communication and Follow-Up

  • Updates

  • Resolution Confirmation

  • Feedback

Post-Incident Analysis

  • Root Cause Analysis (RCA) / Categorisation of Cause

  • Lessons Learned

  • Future Prevention Measures



a man smililng at his computer screen.

Service Request Tickets

So, you may have mixed your incident process and service request ticket process. 


If you haven't already separated these processes, then you should. It'll help both the speed of resolution of the tickets and help you with your reporting. Service requests are not the same as Incident requests.


The IT Service Requests Process


The Request Management Process
The Request Management Process


What Categories of Service Request Tickets Should I Have?


Here are some suggested request ticket types:

Category

Sub-Category

User Services

  • New employee onboarding

  • Employee offboarding

  • User account management

  • Email account setup

  • VPN access setup

Hardware Requests

  • Laptop/desktop provisioning

  • Mobile device provisioning

  • Printer and peripheral setup

  • Hardware repair or replacement

Software Requests

  • Software installation or upgrade

  • License assignment

  • Access to shared drives/folders

  • Software troubleshooting

Access Requests

  • File or folder access

  • Application access

  • Database access

  • Network access permissions

Information Requests

  • How-to guides and documentation

  • Policy and procedure information

  • Training material request

Communication Services

  • Mobile phone services

  • VoIP services setup

  • Conference call setup

Facilities Services

  • Access card issuance

  • Office move and setup

  • Secure storage requests

Security Services

  • Security awareness training

  • Password reset tools

  • Two-factor authentication setup

Collaboration Tools

  • Email distribution lists set up

  • Collaboration platform access

  • Video conferencing setup


If you have an IT service catalogue, the service request tickets should mirror its options. There may be options online through a portal to allow for self-registration of requests from the customers/users.


What Data Should I Record in my IT Service Request Tickets?

IT Service Requests will be similar in structure to Incident tickets, but here are some suggestions:

Section Title

Data Points

Service Request Details

  • Ticket Number

  • Title/Summary

  • Request Type

  • Date and Time Submitted 

  • Submitted By

Request Description

  • Detailed Description 

  • Justification

  • Category

  • Sub-category

Prioritisation

  • Impact

  • Urgency

  • Priority

Approval and Authorisation

  • Approval Status

  • Approved By

  • Approval Date

Request Fulfillment Details

  • Assigned To

  • Fulfillment Plan

  • Status

  • Expected Fulfillment Date

Cost and Resources

  • Estimated Cost

  • Resources Required

Communication and Follow-Up

  • Updates 

  • Completion Confirmation

  • Feedback

Documentation and Knowledge Sharing

  • Resolution Details

  • Knowledge Article



a woman talking at her computer

Problem Tickets

Problem tickets are about investigating the root causes of incident tickets. So, why for example you have to keep rebooting that one damn server every Thursday afternoon. The purpose behind incident tickets is to get it rebooted and working again, but the problem ticket says, 'Hey, there's a trend here'.


I said earlier that your problem tickets will likely align closely with your incident ticket types, but maybe not 100%. Having a common basis does help with linking problems to incident tickets.


The Problem Ticket Process

The Problem Management Process
The Problem Management Process

What Categories of Problem Tickets Should I Have?


Here are some common problem ticket types;

Category

Sub-Category

Infrastructure

  • Network Issues

  • Server Failures

  • Storage Problems

  • Power and Cooling

  • Hardware Malfunctions

Software

  • Application Bugs

  • Database Corruption

  • Performance Degradation

  • Integration Issues

  • Security Vulnerabilities

Service

  • SLA Breaches

  • Availability Issues

  • Capacity and Scalability

  • Backup and Recovery Failures

  • Service Configuration

Security

  • Unauthorised Access

  • Data Breach/Leakage

  • Malware Infection

  • Phishing Attacks

  • Denial of Service (DoS)

User Experience

  • Usability Issues

  • Accessibility Problems

  • Interface Design Flaws

  • Feedback and Complaints

  • Training and Documentation

Process/Procedure

  • Inefficient Workflows

  • Policy Gaps

  • Communication Breakdowns

  • Compliance Issues

  • Change Management Failures


What Data Should I Record in my Problem Tickets?


Here's my suggestion as an essential minimum for the problem management process tickets.

Section Title

Data Points

Problem Identification Details

  • Ticket Number

  • Title/Summary

  • Date and Time Identified

  • Identified By

Problem Description

  • Detailed Description

  • Category

  • Sub-category

Prioritisation

  • Impact

  • Urgency

  • Priority

Related Incidents

  • Incident Ticket Links

  • Incident Impact

Investigation and Diagnosis

  • Root Cause Analysis

  • Diagnostic Information

Workaround and Resolution

  • Workaround

  • Resolution Plan

  • Resolution Date

Change Requests

  • Related RFCs (Request for Change)

  • Change Impact

Status and Tracking

  • Current Status 

  • Update History

Review and Closure

  • Review Summary

  • Closure Category

  • Closure Date

Preventive Measures

  • Recommendations

  • Implemented Changes



a person working on their computer

Change request tickets

The Change Management process starts with logging a Change Ticket or a Request for Change (RFC). It’s used to track a change from the request through to it’s implementation and may be linked to Incident and Problem tickets.


The Change Request Process


The Change Management Process
Change Management Process

What Categories of Change Request Tickets Should I Have?


Here are some that I would expect to see;

Category

Sub-Category

Standard Changes

  • Software updates and patches

  • Password policy updates

  • Minor network configuration adjustments

  • Pre-approved hardware replacements

Emergency Changes

  • Critical security patches

  • Urgent bug fixes

  • Immediate network modifications to restore connectivity

Major Changes

  • New system implementations

  • Major software upgrades

  • Data center migrations

  • Significant network overhauls

Minor Changes

  • Small application enhancements

  • Minor database modifications

  • Small-scale hardware upgrades

Service Request Changes

  • Access level modifications

  • Service configuration changes

  • Installation of additional features or services

Regulatory and Compliance Changes

  • Updates to comply with new laws or regulations

  • Changes to ensure compliance with industry standards

Infrastructure Changes

  • Cloud infrastructure adjustments

  • Virtualisation platform updates

  • Storage capacity expansions

Application Changes

  • Implementation of new functionalities

  • User interface redesign

  • Integration with other systems

Security Changes

  • Implementation of enhanced encryption

  • Addition of new security tools or services

  • Updates to firewall configurations

 

What Information Should Be Recorded in My Change Management Ticket?


An RFC should collect the following;

Section

  • Data

Change Identification

  • RFC Number

  • Title/Summary

  • Date and Time Raised

  • Raised By

Change Description

  • Detailed Description

  • Category 

  • Change Type

Prioritisation

  • Impact 

  • Urgency

  • Priority

Risk Assessment

  • Risk Analysis

  • Mitigation Strategies

Resources and Responsibilities

  • Resource Requirements

  • Change Owner

  • Implementation Team

Planning and Approval

  • Implementation Plan

  • Test Plan

  • Approval Status

  • Approvals

Implementation Details

  • Implementation Date and Time

  • Backout Plan

Review and Closure

  • Implementation Review

  • Post-Implementation Review (PIR) 

  • Date

  • Change Status


a photo of someone typing

How to Calculate Ticket Priority


A widely accepted method for calculating this priority is the Impact * Urgency = Priority formula. 


  • The impact is the scale at which the ticket disrupts business services.

  • The urgency is how quickly it needs to be resolved.

Both will typically be on a scale of 1(low) to 3(high), with specific criteria defining each level.

Impact/Urgency

Low (1)

Medium (2)

High (3)

Low (1)

1

2

3

Medium (2)

2

4

6

High (3)

3

6

9


Prioritisation Example


An incident causes a service critical to business operations to be completely unavailable.


  • Impact: High (3) because the service is critical to business operations and multiple users.

  • Urgency: High (3) as the service needs to be restored immediately to avoid significant business loss.

Using the formula:

Priority=Impact×Urgency=3×3=9


Any ITSM solution will likely use this method, which applies equally well to service request, problem, and change tickets. However, you might adjust the definitions of your high/medium/low criteria for each.


a photo of a meeting

20 Best Practices for IT Ticket Management


  1. Keep it simple.

  2. Automate Ticket Creation: Empower users with a self-service knowledge base for common issues to reduce unnecessary ticket volume. Get your support staff fixing rather than logging issues because that's where the value is.

  3. Ticket Acknowledgment: Implement automated acknowledgements for ticket submissions, offering ticket numbers, expected response times, and status tracking links to enhance the user experience and reduce duplicate submissions. When logging a fault, nobody likes to be left open-ended, so set expectations.

  4. Customised Dashboards & Reporting for Agents and Requestors: Provide tailored views of ticket data to ensure sensitive information is shielded from requestors while maintaining clarity and reducing confusion.

  5. Address Single-Points-of-Failure: Establish backup roles for critical positions like the Assigned Change Manager to maintain workflow continuity during absences. You don't want the whole process grinding to a halt when they are on leave.

  6. Spam management: Utilise automated tools to filter out junk mail, streamline ticket processing, and focus on genuine issues. It'll just create endless tickets that'll skew your stats.

  7. Structured Ticket Type Templates: Design tickets with organised templates to facilitate problem-solving and improve data collection and analysis. Use out-of-the-box templates and processes where possible.

  8. Implement a Self-Service Portal: Leverage ticket data to enhance self-service portals of common fixes, allowing users to resolve their issues independently.

  9. Automate Service Request Validation: Streamline and automate the validation process for service requests to expedite resolution times. 

  10. Set up Robust SLA Monitoring: Establish and monitor SLAs for response and resolution times to optimise performance.

  11. Comprehensive Ticket Metrics Reporting: Beyond response times, monitor re-open rates, backlog counts, effort levels, handoff numbers, and customer satisfaction to gauge support quality and efficiency. Examine the trends.

  12. Minimise Lengthy Email Threads: Use ticket templates with additional note fields to reduce back-and-forth communications.

  13. Effective Queue Management: Prioritise tickets based on multiple criteria such as age, system priority, and required skills to manage workloads efficiently. Daily reports for team leaders can help them know where to focus their attention.

  14. Strategic Ticket Escalation: Recognise when to escalate tickets based on agent capability, SLA compliance, and user requests to ensure timely resolutions. Automate escalation where possible.

  15. Positive Perception of Escalations: Treat ticket escalations as constructive steps when identified early, optimising resolution efforts. They aren’t a failure, there are a variety of reasons for escalation.

  16. Tier Support Structures: Implement a tiered support system to align ticket assignments with agent skills, improving resolution efficiency and satisfaction. If you can, split Incident and Request handling ownership - task switching kills. 

  17. Comprehensive Ticket Management Workflows: Develop and enforce a clear ticket management workflow to streamline operations and set clear expectations for users.

  18. Empowerment of Service Desk Staff: Provide staff with the necessary tools, knowledge, and training to efficiently resolve tickets and contribute to a comprehensive knowledge base. Service Desk should own the tickets during their life, and chase other teams on behalf of the customer.

  19. Integration of Tickets with Other Data: Link tickets to relevant ITSM and partner data for a more informed resolution process, enhancing efficiency and effectiveness. You can get some great reports with helpful insights.

  20. Avoidance of Ticket Misrouting: Educate agents on proper ticket routing to internal and external support teams and utilise automation to ensure tickets promptly reach the right hands. I've seen many systems where tickets can fall between stalls and not get picked up by someone because of faulty workflows.

Conclusion

Mastering ITIL ticket types and implementing best practices is crucial for efficient IT support. 


Effective categorisation, avoiding common mistakes, and focusing on resolution metrics can significantly improve team performance and customer satisfaction.


Streamlined processes, from ticket creation to comprehensive management workflows, enhance support efficiency, cut costs, and boost customer experiences. 


As technology and business needs evolve, these practices will remain vital to maintaining service excellence and addressing the dynamic challenges of IT service management.


Further Reading for Service Management Ticket Handling



FAQs

What should be included in an IT ticket?An IT ticket should include the issue's description, impact level, urgency, user contact information, and any error messages or relevant screenshots.


  • What are the steps in a ticketing system? The steps typically include ticket creation, classification, prioritisation, assignment, resolution, and closure.


  • What is an IT support ticketing system? An IT support ticketing system is a software tool that helps manage and track the resolution of IT service requests and issues reported by users.

  • What is ticket management in IT? Ticket management in IT involves the processes and tools used to track, prioritise, and resolve support requests and incidents.

  • What are the four ITIL aligned ticket types? The four ITIL-aligned ticket types are incident, problem, change, and service request.

  • What is ticket categorisation? Ticket categorisation involves classifying tickets based on their type, urgency, and impact to streamline their management and resolution.



 

About the author

A photo of Alan Parker

Hello, my name is Alan, and I bring over three decades of experience in the IT industry. My expertise spans IT Governance, Information Security, Project Management, and IT Service Management across diverse organisational styles and market sectors.


I am academically grounded with a degree in Information Systems. I have furthered my professional qualifications with an ITIL Expert certificate, PRINCE2 Practitioner qualification, and CISMP Certification in Information Security Management.


Throughout my career, I've led multi-million-pound change programmes, managed significant government contracts, and accumulated a wealth of practical knowledge and insights, often learned through overcoming challenges in the field.


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