Recently, John, an​ IT help desk manager, has been noticing a steep increase in IT expenses and, needless to say, is under tremendous pressure to bring them down. All that his team does all day is solve tickets, so he thinks reducing the “cost per ticket” could be a good starting point. To help John in his mission, we decided to tell him a little about this metric and what he could do to achieve a leaner IT help desk.

Why cost per ticket?

IT support is considered a cost center in most organizations and usually the first to get​ a budget cut during​ a financial downturn. ​Therefore,  IT support must remain efficient even when IT spending is reduced. Cost per ticket is one key metric that helps the IT support analyze their efficiency in handling tickets within a given budget.

What is cost per ticket?

MetricNet ( defines cost per ticket as “the total monthly operating expense of IT support divided by the monthly ticket volume.” S​​imple, right? But, the insight provided by the cost per ticket metric can be profound and prolific.

So, here are seven ways in which John and other IT help desk managers can keep their cost per ticket at an optimum level.

1. Maintain a Knowledge Base

According to a research study by MetricNet, the average cost of service by a Level 1 technician is about $22 per ticket, and this cost triples each time the ticket is escalated. On the other hand, a repository of best practices, workarounds, and solutions can help end users solve minor incidents without raising a ticket for each issue, allowing technicians to channel their time and effort towards other, high-priority tickets.​ Moreover, maintaining a knowledge base helps technicians become more productive because they need not reinvent the wheel every time a ticket is raised.

2. Automate Repetitive Tasks

Automating repetitive tasks such as ticket dispatch and password reset can help increase your technician’s productivity. Automating ticket dispatch can reduce bottlenecks in the resolution process and eliminate time loss due to routing issues. Automating password reset will reduce the number of calls to the IT help desk, enabling technicians to work on higher-priority tickets.

3. Prioritize and Categorize

When you categorize and prioritize tickets by using tools such as a priority matrix, you can reduce resolution time significantly. This will help your IT technicians plan their schedules and work efficiently, making your users happy. Proper categorization and prioritization also means that each ticket is assigned to the right person or group, reducing unnecessary escalations and delayed resolutions.

4. Define SLAs and Stick to Them

Well-defined SLAs can help IT help desk technicians work under predefined time frames depending on the severity level of the tickets, ensuring timely service to end users. Besides defining realistic SLAs, it is important that you track ​SLAs and escalate tickets appropriately so that necessary action can be taken.

5. Analyze Incident–to-Service Request Ratio

Cost per ticket can be broken down into two components – cost per incident and cost per service request. In general, cost of service requests are higher due to the longer time taken to resolve them. So, having regular reports on incident-to-service request ratios and working on ways to prevent higher levels of service requests will help bring down the cost per ticket.

6. Utilize Technician Skill Set Effectively

According to a research study by MetricNet, 56.2 percent of the total cost per ticket is spent on technician salaries and benefits. Therefore, you can reduce cost per ticket when the existing workforce handles a higher number of tickets or if a reduced workforce handles the same number of tickets.

7. Identify and Resolve Problems

A single problem could result in a deluge of tickets to the service desk from every corner of the organization. That is, a single problem could elevate the cost per ticket due to repeat solutions and redundant effort. An important role of any service desk is to investigate, analyze, and eliminate any problem and thereby fix it for good. Eliminating a single problem reduces ticket traffic, leading to a lower cost per ticket.

These seven steps can help John and other IT help desk managers bring down their cost per ticket and make effective use of their IT budgets. And with the standard edition of ServiceDesk Plus available for free, cutting down your IT expense can’t get any easier. So, go ahead and get started on your mission towards a leaner IT with ServiceDesk Plus.