Recently I showed you how to get the open source osTicket up and running (see my article "Install osTicket for a free - open source - help desk tool"). That article only got the tool installed. But now what? How do you make that tool come to life and serve as your one and only help desk solution?
In this article we will take a look at the necessary configurations to get osTicket up to speed for your help desk needs. You should find, upon completion of these configurations, osTicket is quite the useful help desk tool.
This article will assume your support staff is not terribly large and that you already have the necessary tools setup to take advantage of osTicket's features. Such tools include an SMTP server for the outgoing alerts responses and a POP or IMAP server for incoming mail. And, of course, this will assume you have osTicket up and running. Finally, I will assume you took care of the initial configurations upon installation. These configurations are handled in the Settings tab and should be completed when you bring the site online after installation. NOTE: If, after you fill out the web-based installer, you get a blank screen - most likely you do not have php5-mysql installed. Install that and re-run the web install and you should be fine.
First things first
The first thing you will want to do is set up your departments. By default osTicket has two departments: Billing and Support. You may find this plenty. But for some consulting firms there may be more necessary. For example, you might need Residential Support and Commercial Support. Or you might want Remote and On Site. To set these up click on the Departments tab and then click the Add New Dept link.
If this department wants to have its very own email address, you will need to first create an email address for it. That includes both on your email server and in the Emails tab in osTicket (this is why it's important to understand the flow of configuration for osTicket). If the department just needs to use the same email addy as another, umbrella, department you can select it here. This is, after all, just the outgoing email address (which will probably want to be something like [email protected].)
Once you have finished creating all the necessary departments you will want to the Staff tab and create the necessary elements here. In the Staff tab (see Figure 2) you can set up both groups and staff members. Again, this will depend upon your needs. You might, for example, have certain staff that only do one particular type of work (say Residential vs. Commercial). Before you create those staff members, make sure you create any (if needed) groups they would belong to.
You will also notice there are groups. By default there are three groups: Admins, Managers, and Staff. These groups determine the permissions a staff member has. Use caution when you give a staff member Admin rights. You can, of course, add a new group and give that group specific permissions. Take a look at each group to see what their permissions are before you do this.
Finally you will want to take a look at the Help Topics tab. This is a very nice feature added to osTicket. What you can do with Help Topics is create a particular topic that has a specific Priority. Say you have a few clients that always get top priority. You can create a VIP (or such) category that has Emergency priority. This will always bump them to the top of the list. Is it fair? Not really. But when you have VIP-type clients, they expect VIP-type treatment.
I hope that, upon setting up osTicket, you come to the same conclusion that I have drawn - this tool is the equal to some Help Desk tools costing quite a bit of your IT dollars. If you find a tip or trick that takes osTicket to the next level, share it with your fellow Ghacks readers.
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