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How It Works

Issue Tracker for Outlook & SharePoint (Team Edition) is a groupware solution consisting of two portions Admin and Technician install.



The Admin install is for managers and administrators who would perform the global configuration of the helpdesk, choose and setup SharePoint lists, map fields between Outlook and SharePoint, configure ticket collection behaviors in Outlook etc.


The Technician install is for individual helpdesk staff who will be raising trouble tickets from emails in their Outlook to one or more of the Administrator chosen SharePoint lists. Note that, Technician install is a subset of Admin Install, and hence, if you have installed the admin tool, you need not install the Technician tool.


Step 1: Helpdesk Manager performs centralized configuration & administration

The first step is for the helpdesk manager to install the Issue Tracker Administrator add-in (IssueTrackerAdminSetup.exe). Because helpdesk staffs can be scattered in different geographical locations, the helpdesk configuration and settings data are stored in a special SharePoint list 'TeamIssueTrackerSettings' (we refer it as 'Helpdesk Settings data source') accessible to all helpdesk staffs.

This list is automatically created when the manager configures the admin tool the first time. Issue Tracker Technician add-in installed on the helpdesk staff's system would then connect to it and retrieve the helpdesk logic and settings data to the local system automatically.

During this configuration, the admin will be prompted to specify the SharePoint URL and then will need to choose an existing site where the special SharePoint list (TeamIssueTrackerSettings) will be created. The admin can choose to create a new sub-site directly from the dialog box too if required.

And once a site is chosen, click 'Save' to finish the settings configuration.

What does the Helpdesk Settings Data Source list store?

Administrator specified SharePoint ticket lists, fields mapping, drop down lists for problem categories and types, custom fields and email templates for notifications are some of settings that are stored in this 'Helpdesk Data Source' list.


Before you and other technicians can start raising trouble tickets from Outlook mail items, the helpdesk manager need to choose destination SharePoint lists where the trouble tickets raised from Outlook emails can be collected and shared.

Screenshot: Administrator chosen SharePoint lists for collecting trouble tickets raised by helpdesk staffs from their emails in Outlook.

It is followed by fields mapping between the Outlook mail and SharePoint list. A mapping is nothing but an association between an Outlook field (e.g., subject of the mail item) to a specific SharePoint list field (e.g., Title). You have complete control over which data goes to the SharePoint list from Outlook.

Screenshot: Fields mapping tool where the mail fields are mapped to SharePoint List Fields

Through the mapping tool, you can easily choose which fields from the Outlook items are to be published to the SharePoint list, and map fields between Outlook and the SharePoint list. This mapping feature also allows you to dynamically create new field of the relevant data type in the SharePoint list, so that you can associate it with an Outlook field.


To allow technicians to add extra meaningful information to trouble tickets, apart from the ones extracted from the email, helpdesk manager can compile and maintain a list of problem categories and types, statuses and any number of custom fields drop down values in the helpdesk settings data source list. So that these drop down lists are deployed to all the technicians and available in their Outlook, for tagging new trouble ticket when it is raised from an email.

  Screenshot: Helpdesk Manager can compile the problem categories and types to tag trouble tickets for better organization and management


With advanced team specific settings, helpdesk manager can also control and streamline the behavior on how trouble tickets are raised, escalated and tracked from Outlook to SharePoint. This streamlines the process of ticket collection procedure for all technicians.

Screenshot: Helpdesk Manager can control how tickets are collected, enable automation features, set attachment policy and set notifications



Step 2: Helpdesk Staffs install Technician User tool
To be able to raise trouble tickets from emails in their Outlook, every helpdesk staff must install the Issue Tracker Technician Tool (IssueTrackerTechnicianSetup.exe) in their system.

Once installed in Outlook, helpdesk staff will be prompted to specify the 'Helpdesk Settings Data Source' list. If it does not show up, you can manually invoke it by clicking the 'Set Helpdesk Settings Data Source...' under 'My Options' menu.
Screenshot:  Click 'Browse...' to specify the SharePoint site where the 'TeamIssueTrackerSettings' list is located


Enter the SharePoint URL site to show all available sub-sites and lists. If your helpdesk manager had already configured Issue Tracker System with the admin tool, there would be a list 'TeamIssueTrackerSettings' that stores helpdesk configurations including destination SharePoint lists and their corresponding mapping settings. Select that list to maintain a permanent link between the Technician add-in and the Helpdesk data source.

  Screenshot: The SharePoint list chooser dialog box, where it shows all the available sub-sites and their lists displayed in hierarchical order.

Now, click the Save button, to confirm the connection. Issue Tracker Technician add-in is now ready to raise trouble tickets from emails in Outlook to one or more of the administrator chosen SharePoint lists.



Step 3: Helpdesk staffs raise trouble tickets from emails to SharePoint

When you navigate to any Outlook mail folder, the Issue Tracker Technician toolbar and ribbon are available in the Outlook explorer and inspector window.

Screenshot: Issue Tracker specific ribbon available in the Home tab of the Outlook Explorer window.


Screenshot: Issue Tracker specific ribbon available in the Message tab of the Outlook mail inspector window


To raise a trouble ticket, simply select one or more mail items, and click the ' Raise Ticket in ' drop down menu to show all the available administrator specified SharePoint lists. Choose and click the particular SharePoint list under which the ticket item will be generated.

Screenshot: To raise a trouble ticket in SharePoint from an email, click a SharePoint list from the 'Raise Ticket in' drop down list.

When you do this, relevant metadata such as caller and problem details, attachments etc. will be extracted from the email to the ticket item. You can add further details to the ticket to be generated such as, the technician that will be responsible for solving the ticket, due date by which the issue should be resolved, and problem category, type and status and any number of custom metadata.

Screenshot: Manager can add more information on the problem, caller etc. to the generated ticket

Once a trouble ticket is generated successfully in the chosen SharePoint list, information regarding the ticket, such as the ticket ID, data/time and the URL to the SharePoint ticket are tagged and embedded into the email item in Outlook. This not only provides an easy way to go to the ticket item in the SharePoint site directly, but also prevents other technicians from generating a duplicate ticket, from the same email (a possible scenario on shared mailboxes and mail-enabled public folders).

Screenshot: After a ticket is created, the mail item is tagged with information on the trouble ticket such as Ticket ID and URL


In the SharePoint ticket item, most of the fields are populated with the metadata information extracted from the Outlook mail item. For example, the caller contacts detail, the problem description, subject, attachments, formatting and style, inline images and links are retained in the ticket. Also notice that, further information fed by the manager in Outlook, such as the responsible technician, due date, problem category, type and status and other custom fields data are also available in this ticket.

Screenshot: This is how the trouble ticket in the SharePoint list looks like


Step 4: Escalation and automatic update of the SharePoint ticket
In the email from which a ticket was raised, you will notice that, in the subject portion, there is an embedded phrase within brackets, enclosing the SharePoint list code and the ticket ID of the raised ticket item. For example: [CMA-4]
Screenshot: Tracking tag and code are automatically embedded into the original email

This phrase is embedded to the original email for tracking purpose on subsequent email conversations that might happen. As long as this phrase is intact when sending out response to caller, or when caller replies back to the helpdesk, Issue Tracker System will automatically track and associate it with the correct SharePoint list and ticket item.

Screenshot: The tracking code remains intact in the subject of the outgoing email, thus allowing for automatic tracking and update of ticket

This means, the ticket item and description field will be updated live automatically, as and when the email is sent out or received. This greatly enhances the productivity of the helpdesk because, no technicians are required anymore to monitor the mailbox for new replies from caller, nor there is need to add and update the new information to the relevant ticket manually. Issue Tracker system automatically does that for you.

Screenshot: The SharePoint ticket item is updated when any email response is sent out from the helpdesk, or received to the helpdesk.

Automated notification emails are sent out to the caller, confirming about the ticket allotment. A snippet entry is available in the description field, that informs helpdesk staffs what the type of notification was sent, when it was sent, and to whom it was sent. Notification about the ticket assignment is also sent out to the responsible staff.



When further email responses are sent out to the caller from the helpdesk, the description field of the SharePoint ticket is automatically updated, to show the response made to the caller, and by whom.



When the caller replies back to the helpdesk, the ticket information is automatically updated again.



Step 5: Automatic raising of trouble tickets

Issue Tracker technician add-in provides a way for automatic raising of trouble tickets on a particular SharePoint list from new incoming emails, without requiring your intervention. This is achieved by real-time monitoring of user chosen Outlook mail folders or mailboxes. Such automation comes very handy and productive, if you have dedicated mail folders or mailboxes that are solely for support purposes. This spares you from having to do that laborious work of selecting emails and clicking a SharePoint list from the drop down to raise tickets.

Screenshot: Automatic live publishing of trouble tickets from mailboxes and mail enabled public folders


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