How Managed Service Providers Prioritize Service Requests

When a part of your IT environment goes down, it can have a huge impact on your business depending on what’s not working. prioritize IT support

This is typically what you’re thinking in the back of your mind when you ask your MSP how long it’ll take to resolve the service request you’ve just submitted.

And it explains why you might be confused initially when they tell you, “It depends.”

Behind the scenes, there are several factors that contribute to how long it takes for your MSP to start working on your problems, including the volume of requests they’re receiving.

Additionally, your MSP uses a triage process to determine the priority of all the service requests they receive.

So, when you submit a service request to your managed IT services provider (MSP), such as The KR Group, we understand you expect a quick turnaround.

And while we try to answer every request as quickly as possible, we can’t always get to all of them right away.

To determine if a ticket is assigned given a high-, medium-, or low-priority status, all MSPs consider these four questions:

  1. What is the importance of the affected system(s)?
  2. How many users are impacted by this problem?
  3. Are there possible workarounds for this issue?
  4. Does this problem pose a security risk?

The purpose of these questions is to help your MSP evaluate the urgency and impact of the problem you’re reporting.

By explaining what goes into determining the priority and triaging service requests, we hope you’ll better understand what is happening on your MSP’s end while it works to get to your request.


What Is the Importance of the Affected System(s)?

The first thing an MSP engineer considers when triaging a service request is what is affected and how important it is.

Within your IT environment, an MSP is responsible for most, if not all, of your hardware and software, and some of those solutions are more mission-critical than others.

When prioritizing service requests, your MSP will look for the requests with the biggest implications and give them the highest priority.

The goal is to keep your business running. If there is a hardware or software issue that prevents you from operating, that will receive the highest priority.

Problems that impede business operations but don’t completely halt them receive medium priority, while low priority is for issues that don’t affect operations.


How Many Users Are Impacted?

Not only is an MSP looking for the depth of the issue (how urgent the problem is), but they are also looking at the width or impact. When your MSP engineer receives a service request, they consider how many users are affected.

By assessing the magnitude of an issue, an MSP can make sure they prioritize their time to situations where the problem is having the most considerable negative impact.

It’s fairly straightforward how an MSP triages based on these criteria. The more users affected, the higher priority a service request receives.


Are There Workarounds for the Issue?

An MSP also considers if any workarounds are available for an issue and what redundancy you have in place. The ultimate goal is to find an alternate option that still delivers the same or a similar outcome.

If the issue affects most of the users, but they all have a way to temporarily workaround, an MSP will give this issue a lower priority and consider what other factors play a role in this request.

Likewise, suppose a critical component in your IT stack goes down. If you’ve planned for redundancy and have a back-up device, you can take the situation in stride and continue business operations while waiting for your MSP to fix the issue.


Does the Problem Pose a Security Risk?

When triaging service requests, your MSP will also consider the security risk the problem poses.

All MSP customers must adhere to their provider’s hardware standards and are strongly encouraged to use all elements in the software profile. By doing so, you’re better protected from bugs, viruses, ransomware, and other types of malware.

No system is perfect, though, and if a problem includes a security risk, an MSP will consider that when triaging service requests.

When determining the level of the security risk, an MSP will consider what protection you have in place and what systems are vulnerable.


Examples of Triaging IT Requests

Each of these four standards is fairly straightforward on its own.

However, when an MSP engineer receives a ticket for IT support, they have to consider the different measures together and weigh them in the specific circumstance.

To better understand how service requests are triaged, we’ll give some examples where our MSP engineers have had to weigh multiple factors.


Google Chrome Issue

A website all of your employees use won’t open on Google Chrome. However, one of your employees was able to open the website on Mozilla Firefox, and the workaround seems to work for all employees.

How does an MSP prioritize this request?

While having to use Mozilla Firefox instead of Chrome might be annoying for some of your users, in the grand scheme of things, the workaround means your employees are still able to access the website and continue doing their jobs.

Even though it affects everyone and is important to business functions, since there is a workaround everyone can use, your MSP will place this request as a lower priority. Rest assured, they’ll still work as quickly as possible to resolve the issue.


Down Server with Redundancy

Your physical server goes down which hosts your phone system and operating system. Thankfully, you have a back-up server to provide redundancy, so your business operations aren’t affected.

How does an MSP prioritize this request?

Having a server go down is a big deal. However, you have a bit of a cushion when you have redundancy.

Since you’re still functioning, your MSP likely won’t drop everything to assist you. It’s unlikely you have another back-up server, though, so it’s still vitally important your MSP gets your primary server back up and running, so you have redundancy again.

When triaging this request, your MSP will likely give it a medium priority. (However, if you didn’t have redundancy and found yourself in this situation, you would receive high priority.)

It’s a significant issue, but emergency service requests (such as scenarios without a back-up server) would still take precedence.


Non-functioning Desktop

Today, virtually all office workers require a desktop or laptop to perform their job, so if it goes down, it can render them ineffective until it is back up and running.

How does an MSP prioritize this request?

An MSP engineer has to consider many different aspects of this request, such as if you have a back-up desktop or laptop for the affected user to temporarily use and how the down desktop affects business operations, which often translates into “what position does the affected user hold?”

There’s no doubt that all types of positions keep an organization running. However, some positions require more urgent attention than others. For example, if your human resources director’s computer goes down the day before payroll is due, it’ll receive a higher priority than if your marketing representative’s desktop stopped working.


System Updates

Every so often, you’ll need to update your software, operation systems, etc. to fix bugs, enhance security, and sometimes add or improve features.

However, updates can also be issued on an emergency basis to solve critical vulnerabilities. These updates are more important and will receive higher priority.

How does an MSP prioritize this request?

Your MSP will incorporate regularly scheduled updates into existing service types or be able to schedule them in advance.

However, updates to address critical vulnerabilities are generally given a high priority. Although, an MSP will consider what type of malware detection and prevention you have when triaging critical update requests from multiple companies.


Understanding How MSPs Prioritize IT Requests

If you only take away one thing from this article, we hope that it’s that the time for an MSP to resolve an IT service request has many, many variables.

Managed services engineers handle many requests. By triaging them, they can prioritize critical requests.

To do this, MSPs evaluate the urgency and impact of every service request they receive to evaluate where it should go in the queue.

Some requests will take longer to get to, but your MSP will keep your request on its radar and work toward getting the problem resolved as soon as possible.

For more information on what to expect with a managed IT services contract, check out our other articles:

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