Ticket Mail Isn't Spam

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Automated ticket emails aren’t annoying spam. They can be very handy if you manage your inbox and issue tracker the right way.

Back in my consulting days, we used a different issue tracker for every project. Sometimes it was dictated by what the client already had installed, sometimes the project picked one. Sometimes bought, sometimes homegrown.

Regardless of the specific tool, people always complained about “ticket spam”. After the initial notification scheme was set up, there was an endless cycle of tweaking to exclude people from the CC list in certain cases, include them in others, or remove them completely. Configuring the ticketing system became it’s own separate project. Ultimately many people started ignoring the mail entirely, relying on logging in to the tool to see what was happening.

Looking back, I think the problem wasn’t the notification scheme, but how people were managing their inboxes.

Ticket mail is useful. It’s a way for an issue to broadcast it’s life to the world of interested parties. It eliminates the need to send someone a separate email to ask how things are going or to get a status.

The problem is that you don’t care about most ticket mail. Most ticket mail you could ignore forever, some you’d like to see at least the subject line, and some you need to know about immediately. The trick is to manage your inbox to accomplish this.

Set up a rule to send messages that probably don’t need your direct attention (like tickets that aren’t assigned directly to you) to their own folder. Check in on them from time to time to get a bird’s eye view of what’s going on.

Tickets that are assigned directly to you should go to your inbox, just as if a person had sent you an email about the problem.

If the issue has a high priority, configure an alert so that it really grabs your attention. You want to be notified immediately of tickets that require your attention while less important ones go on the back burner.

In the end, you want people to pay attention to ticket mail. This actually reduces the load on your inbox. You won’t have any more messages titled “What’s the status of that login issue”, or “RE: Progress on ticket 2992399”.

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