Tutorial: Open Source Tech Support Ticket System for Schools

With every school’s need to submit, respond, and close various requests from teachers at a school, I’ve seen many ways of handling those requests through a ticketing system. I recently deployed a solution that bundled the requests for technology support, maintenance, and security into a single, open-source (free) platform that any school could roll-out in a few hours using the steps below.

Requirements

  1. A single location to submit a ticket for any kind of support request
    1. Technology
    2. Maintenance
    3. Security
    4. Event Setup
  2. Ability to assign a ticket to an individual.
  3. Email alerts that a ticket has been assigned to an individual.
  4. Ability to reply within the system to gather details or arrange logistics that are tied to the thread of that ticket.
  5. Analytics to show what tickets have existed and what tickets are open. Filterable by:
    1. Department
    2. Individual
    3. Window of Time

Installing Support Pro

After testing a variety of options (OS Tickets, JitBit, etc.), I found that there was nothing these services provided that I couldn’t replicate with an Open Source solution. A bonus if I could directly integrate with our internal WordPress communications hub.

The best plugin I found that does all I need is WP Support Plus. You can download this from their WP Plugin Page, or even easier, from your WordPress Dashboard:

  • Plugins
  • Add New
  • Search for “WP Support Plus Responsive Ticket System”
  • Install Now
  • Enable Plugin

That’s it! You now have “Support Plus” in your sidebar to configure.

Configuring Support Pro

Before creating Support Supervisors and Agents, I recommend you poke through the general settings of Support Pro and get a feel for what is possible and establish the defaults as you see fit. These areas are well explained and straightforward.

User Creation and Roles

Your next step is the creation of new users who of those will be answering tickets.

By navigating to Users/Add User, you’ll find there are now 2 new roles to assign to users, 2. Support Supervisor and 2. Support Agent. The main difference is a Support Supervisor can view all open tickets and assign tickets to others. Agents receive tickets assigned to them and reply (they can also close tickets depending on how you configure your settings).

Once your users are created, we can build categories and assign users to them.

Categories

Navigate to Support Pro > Settings and the Category tab. Create the top-level categories and assign default Support Supervisors or Agents to them as you go.

Sub Categories

Optionally, I’ve added subcategories. This feels complicated, but after you do one you’ll find it is quite simple. Basically, you are creating a field on your form that appears only if another field is selected.

In this case, I created a “Specific Category – Technology” Custom Field. I assigned it’s type to Drop Down, chose the category I want to trigger this field and then set “Field Options” to show up when a specific option is selected.

Now, a teacher chooses “Technology” or “Facilities”, a new drop-down appears with only the specific options belonging to either “Technology” or “Facilities”. This allows the Support Supervisor to quickly assign tickets to individuals and provides better analytics to quickly see what areas of the school are needing the most support.

Email Templates

I love the Support Pro Email Templates! There is a tab for each type of email sent through the system and you can configure this however you like. By using the template “tokens” you can automate these emails to reply with the Teacher’s name, timestamp, details of the ticket, and more.

This provides instant feedback that the ticket has been received.

Analytics

While Statistics gives quick info as to how many tickets each individual has open or closed, the real power of the analytics is in the Support Pro main dashboard filters.

Using this data, we can plan for iPad Professional Development based on the numbers of tickets being placed for iPad Technical support. Awesome!

And Beyond!

Support Plus has many features that we don’t use (at least right now) such as allowing teachers to send an email that goes directly into the system.

Support Plus also provides an FAQ section – for storing frequently asked questions. We prefer to blog about these questions, but perhaps there is room for both.

If you need help, please reach out. I’m happy to help or can be hired quickly and cheaply to implement for you on your site. Good luck!

2 Replies to “Tutorial: Open Source Tech Support Ticket System for Schools”

  1. Clint Post author

    Thanks Kshitij! I’m not planning on integrating at the moment as requesting the email from our staff has been fine. As my.IICS grows, there might be a bigger case for GAFE authentication which would then cover this project as well.

    Reply

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