5 min read

Build your own Slack ticketing system with workflows

TB
Thomas Boudier
22 September 2021 Slack
Build your own Slack ticketing system with workflows

What does a typical work week look like for you? While you might be getting stuck into new projects and tasks each Monday morning, there's an element of repetitiveness to everyone's job. At some point in your working week you’re going to deliver services to stakeholders, whether it’s internally to your teammates or externally to clients. 

It begins with the back and forth to ask for the important and necessary data, then the delegation of tasks, and prioritisation; throw into the mix a few Service Level Agreements and you have yourself a turbulent nightmare. From this chaos, ITSM (Information Technology Service Management) and ESM (Enterprise Service Management) were born.

The perfect storm of ticketing systems

First stemming from IT Service Management (common asks like we need to fix a bug, the wifi isn’t working, a password must be reset, to the very specific: we must provide our sales teams with the right cables and adapters for them to demo our product at the next event), ticketing systems expanded to many other business domains, ranging from Accounting and Finance to Human Resources and Marketing.

Tools such as Jira Service Management, ServiceNow, and Zendesk have been adopted widely to tackle this. But there’s still a first step that needs to be resolved: who to ask, where to open a ticket in the first place, and which ticket to choose from the breadth of available configured options? There’s a risk that users who need help will feel overwhelmed, and don’t know who or where or what to ask. 

But what if all this could be done directly within Slack, in an organised manner, where people already talk and work together? Well, it can. Thanks to this handy little feature called Workflow Builder, which allows you to automate routine processes via workflows. More than a messaging tool, Slack can work as a collaboration hub to integrate features from other software, such as Google Sheets, Jira or those cited above.

Let’s see how Slack can handle a ticket management system. First using only Slack’s Workflow Builder, then with a workflow step app for Jira action.

The main four types of ITSM tickets are incident management, problem management, change management and service request management. Below, we’ll have a look at how to set up a service request management workflow (such as requesting a new SaaS account set up).

Implement your own Slack ticketing systems

How to set up a Slack ticketing system using only Slack’s Workflow Builder

A standard way to implement a Service Request ticket workflow could be the following:

End users raise a Service Request ticket via a pre-made form from the shortcuts icon in a public Slack channel called #help. The ticket is sent to a private channel containing only support team members called #help-team. The support team work on the ticket from #help-team with details on the progress written down in the thread. Back-and-forth conversation with the end-user, if needed, happens privately in a direct message with them.

For visibility, the ticket workflow can be tracked with a set of emojis in the #help channel:

  • No emoji: the ticket has just been opened.
  • 👀 : An agent is working on the ticket.
  • ⏸️ : The agent is waiting for somebody else’s help (reaction can be removed once the wait is over).
  • 🙋: The agent is waiting for customer feedback (reaction can be removed once the wait is over).
  • ✅ : The customer has expressed satisfaction with the outcome and the ticket is closed (best practices suggest the customer should declare the ticket closed, and it shouldn’t be a support team member’s action).

Monitor and audit your Slack ticketing system

For compliance, reporting or to ensure tickets are handled promptly, the following search queries can and should be run regularly:

The following search query returns all the tickets nobody is currently working on:
in:#help-team -has:👀 -has:✅

These should be dispatched as soon as possible; the support team lead can @mention in the thread the respective agent who should be assigned to it.

The following search query returns all the tickets currently being worked on:
in:#help-team has:👀 -has ✅

The results should be sorted with the oldest message at the top since this is the one that should be worked on first.

The following search query returns all the tickets you are currently working on:
in:#help-team hasmy:👀 -has:✅

Implement your Slack ticketing system using Workflow Builder

The above can be implemented by creating a public channel called #help and a private channel called #help-team. To get you started as quickly as possible, just import the following file into Slack's Workflow Builder. Do this by opening your workspace menu, click Tools > Workflow Builder, and select Import (top right, next to Create).

NB: You will need to specify in which channels you want your workflow to work after importing it.

Import file
Implement your Slack ticketing system using Workflow Builder

To implement another type of ITSM ticket, Incident management, take a look at some guidance from Slack here. They’ve also described how to do conditional branching in workflows (currently a feature that’s unavailable in Workflow Builder, but there’s a workaround by creating multiple workflows triggered by different emojis).

Create a Jira ticket via your Slack ticketing system with Workflow Steps for Jira app in Workflow Builder.

Slack is a powerful collaboration tool. As it’s evolved over the years, with an increasing number of users and use cases, it’s grown to be more than just a replacement for emails. But it wasn't built to be a ticketing system. 

Running ticket search queries manually can be tedious, and not having a dashboard to visualise tickets ordered by priority, assignee or deadline can prove difficult after some time, especially if the number of tickets opened daily is high. Therefore it’s likely your company uses a workflow tool such as Jira. It’s also likely your end-users struggle with using Jira as they don’t know which is the correct ticket type to open, or they don’t enjoy switching between multiple tools and will just message you on Slack.

Whichever it is, you’re in luck. By combining the power of Workflow Builder with many other apps, such as Workflow Steps for Jira, you have the perfect pairing for a Slack ticketing system. Imagine having a similar workflow to what was described above, but rather than getting your tickets handled in a private channel called #help-team, it could all be logged in Jira.

Implement your Slack ticketing system with Workflow Steps for Jira

Create a public channel called #help, install the Slack app Workflow Steps for Jira, link it with your Jira instance, and import the following file into Slack’s Workflow Builder. Open your workspace menu, click Tools > Workflow Builder, and select Import (top right, next to Create).

NB: You will need to specify which channels you want your workflow to work in, as well as which Jira instance and the project you want to create Jira tickets.

Import file
Implement your Slack ticketing system with Workflow Steps for Jira

And there you have your Slack ticketing system that’s integrated with Jira. The best bit? Users can work within the tools they already use day-to-day and are most familiar with without context-switching. End users can open service tickets via Slack and the support team can work on the tickets within Jira, giving visibility to colleagues via simple emojis. There’s a clear log of work in both Slack and Jira and it empowers everyone to follow processes in a way that they’re most comfortable with.

If you’re curious about all the beautiful, creative things you can do with Slack and how much you can integrate it with Jira and other pieces of your tech stack, why don’t you reach out to us?

Implement your Slack ticketing system with Workflow Steps for Jira

Workflow Steps for Jira

Take your Slack ticketing system to the next level with this Slack app for seamless Slack and Jira integration.

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About the authors

Thomas Boudier

Thomas is the technical wizard for all things Slack and AutoBlocks, and he's a Technical Product Marketing Manager.