Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Using tickets to maintain a station operation

I have posted before about using ticket creation software to track repairs, changes and other tasks done by engineering. A couple of months ago an engineer on Pubtech posted a link to the RequestTracker homepage in reference to how his shop keeps records and organizes these support tasks using a ticket based process. Once I got a chance to install and configure this package I was amazed at how useful it was just to improve my own record keeping and organization. It was not too hard to install, was free, and is fairly simple to use. Rich, you deserve a great big thank you for pointing this software out.

The most exciting possibility I have envisioned for us is the possibility of handling some problems in a more automated way. For instance, RT can be set up with an email gateway so that you can send an email and it will automatically record it and then act upon it however you choose. So I was thinking, wouldn't it be cool if I could have my equipment send an email to the RT software to report a problem and then the server would in turn open a ticket and forward the problem on to me by the most logical method. If it was a severe problem, it could be programmed to forward to my cell phone by text message. If it was less severe, it could just forward to my normal email inbox or possibly wait in the queue on the server for someone to act on it. This handles the problem of how do you process and forward all the alarm information from all the new devices that are capable of sending electronic alerts (remote controls, Content Depot, automation systems, etc.) in an intelligent fashion while preserving and documenting the history of these problems. I need to learn more about the scripting features in order to accomplish this, though, and try to find time between satellite equipment upgrades, HD Radio upgrades and everything else to try it out. I think it would be really cool.