IT Change Management with SolarWinds Web Help Desk

Change Management [8:13]

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Video Transcript

One of the features in Web Help Desk is the ability to regulate change management requests using automated approval processes. In this video, we'll be looking at how to set up change requests using approval processes. To illustrate this feature, we'll use the server upgrade process as an example.

Let's say you want to upgrade your Windows® file server. After consulting with your team, you came up with the following steps:

  1. Set up a backup server that acts as a failover should things go bad.
  2. Test the method for mounting the Server SAN volume on the backup.
  3. Export the file share configuration from the primary server.
  4. Set the primary server DNS record time-to-live for 5 minutes, just in case I have to bring up the backup server.
  5. Document the entire failover procedure in detail for the rest of the team and schedule downtime in your monitoring system.

The IT Director needs to approve this, and you'll want this documented in a ticket for future reference.

You'd also like everyone to follow this process each time you embark on a similar IT project.

To begin, let's click 'Setup' in the toolbar, click 'Processes' in the left menu, and then click 'Approver Roles.'

You can set up approver roles and assign multiple people to a role based on department or location. That way, you're assigning a role and not a person. The assignment is based on who's assigned to that role listed in the Department Approvers or Location Approvers tabs who have authority to approve requests based on specific locations or departments, respectively.

Approvers will always be a client because they're chosen from a list of client accounts.

You don't need to create roles if the approver is a static person or client. In this case, you can specify that client in the Approver Type section of Approval Steps by selecting 'Client' in the Client Approver box. We'll talk about this option later.

Let's click the 'Department Approval Roles' tab, and then click 'New.'

We'll name this new role "Department Director" and click 'Save.' I'm sure there's other processes tied to departments that need director approval, so, adding one here is a good idea.

Next, we’ll need to identify the IT Department Director. So, in the left menu under Processes, we'll click 'Department Approvers' and then click 'IT Enterprise' from the list of departments.

Under Approver Role, we'll click 'Add Role', and then click the 'Approval Role' drop-down menu.

Here, we can select the Department Director role we created earlier and use Client Lookup to find our director's account.

After we search and click his name in the Name column, we'll click 'Save' to save our changes.

After we define an approver, the client will see an Approvals tab in the web client login where they can cast their vote, if they choose.

Our last step is to define the actual approval process. This includes defining the process, adding the necessary steps, and adding the supported request types for each approval process.

To begin, let's go back to the Processes menu and click 'Approval Process.'

Next, we'll click 'New' to create a new process.

In the Process Name field, let's name this process "Department Director Approval." We can add a short description here if the name seems vague, but I think the name is descriptive enough.

You can have Web Help Desk send the approver an email when a ticket hasn't been approved or denied. Just click the 'Email Reminder Interval' drop-down menus and select the appropriate time interval when you want the approver to receive the email.

The Email Client On options let you decide if the client receives an email when a ticket is approved, denied, or both. You can also select the same options for the tech in the Email Tech On row.

After you click 'Save', two additional tabs appear where you can add the approval steps and supported request types.

Let's click the 'Approval Steps' tab and then click 'New' to add the first approval step.

You can have more than one step in a ticket approval process. For example, if you have an approval process that requires approvals from your department manager, director, and the chief financial officer, you'll need to create separate steps for each approver. For this example, let's just require the director's approval. Each step in an approval requires a name. So, we'll enter "Director's Approval" as a description for this demonstration.

For the Approver type, you have four options. Remember earlier when we talked about having the same individual as an approver regardless of location or department? This is where you need to decide.

A client can be a tech who is involved in the approval process. Since all clients are available as approvers, using clients provides a high degree of flexibility when you configure your approval process.

A CAB or Customer Advisory Board, is a group of approvers that all review, and then together, vote on requests. It can require unanimous approval or a minimum number of approvers to vote "yes" before the request is approved. The minimum number of approvers can vary from one member to all members. If the minimum number is not met, the request is automatically denied.

A Location Approver acts as an approver for a specific location. A location can only have one approver. So, if this assigned approver leaves your organization for any reason and that person is involved in multiple approval processes, you can update the Location Approver once in your system, and that change propagates to all of your approval processes.

A Department Approver approves all requests for a specific department. Similar to a Location Approver, you can update the Department Approver once in your system if they leave your organization, and that change propagates throughout all approval processes as well.

For this demonstration, let's select 'Department Approver.' Now, we have the option to select the 'Department Approver' from the drop-down menu.

If you want to create your own greeting that appears at the top of the approval request, you can enter it here. Whatever you enter here will override the default greeting.

Let's leave this field blank so the approval request uses the default greeting, and click 'Save.'

Next, let's click the 'Request Types Supported' tab and click 'Edit.' Here, we can choose a request type that links to our approval process.

For this demonstration, let's select 'IT Request', 'IT Project.'  This means that when a ticket is created with this request type, an approval request is sent to your defined approver. Once you create an approval, you can't alter the status until the request is approved or denied. So, it might be a good idea to create status types specifically for the approval process.

This will be a good visual cue to help you identify ticket status if you're looking in the My Tickets and Group Tickets views. You can also search for tickets in a specific approval status.

To begin, we'll go to the left menu, click 'Tickets', and then click 'Status Types.'

We'll click 'New' to create a new status type.

Here, we'll create three new status types: "For Approval", "Request Approved" and "Request Denied."

Status types tied to an approval process waiting to be approved or denied will never appear as an available status type in a ticket. That's because Web Help Desk automatically hides them for you.

In the Name field, we'll enter "For Approval" for the status type, leave the remaining options set to default, then click 'Save.'

We'll repeat this process for the Request Approved and Request Denied status types.

When we're done, we'll click the 'Options' tab and tie them to the approval process.

In the tab window, we'll click the 'Needs Approval Status Type' drop-down menu and select 'For Approval.'

For the Approved Status Type, we'll select 'Request Approved.'

And for the Approval Denied Status Type, we'll select 'Request Denied.'

Next, we'll click 'Save' to save our changes.

So, to recap, when a ticket is opened with or changed to the IT Request IT Project request type, Web Help Desk sends an approval email request to the IT director and changes the ticket status to For Approval. The IT director has the option to vote using the links in the email or can log in to his or her client account and vote in the Approvals tab. After Web Help Desk receives the vote, the ticket status changes to either Request Approved or Request Denied, depending on the vote. When this occurs, the tech can change the Ticket Status to another status, such as Closed.

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