What if I told you that there was a way to make sure that the technicians in your MSP were setup for success on every ticket they work? What if this led to higher client satisfaction AND tech satisfaction? 

The answer, of course is the triage and dispatch process. 

Triage and Dispatch are critical to setting tickets up for success in your service desk. When done well, your dispatch process can drive client satisfaction up and time per ticket down. Note that I said process not person. Every Managed Service Provider MUST have a solid Triage and Dispatch process.

Yes, eventually you will want a dispatch person, but even when your MSP is small performing the triage/dispatch process is the key. 

Defining Triage and Dispatch

Before we get too deep, let’s define Triage and Dispatch as they’re closely tied together.

  • Triage is the process of reviewing the ticket and cleaning it up so your techs can move the ticket forward.
  • Dispatch is the process of assigning the work out to your tech staff.

One key item is that when you have multiple tickets to process you MUST triage all tickets before you dispatch any. I was well into my career as a Service Manager at an MSP when I heard this for the first time. It blew my mind (even though it shouldn’t have)!

Think of this like a patient going to an ER. The triage nurse that does the patient intake asks several questions to understand how urgent the issue is. The triage nurse wouldn’t want to just put whatever the next patient in a room if there was a risk that all of the rooms would be full. Especially since there is a chance that the next patient might be critical.

The same thing happens in your MSP. You want to make sure that you triage ALL of the tickets first before you dispatch ANY.

Types of Triage/Dispatch


Most MSPs start out with a couple of technicians where the techs just take whatever the next issue is and works it. The ticket volume isn’t too heavy, and the techs can just sort of figure it out. This would be considered “self triage/dispatch.” This works for some time, but eventually, you will run into issues with scalability here. When you have many techs and you expect the tech to grab the next ticket off the top of the queue you will start to see cherry picking. A tech will decide that they simply don’t want to work that top ticket and start pulling from deeper in the queue.

Technician Triage/Dispatch

The next evolution is often to have one of your lower level techs perform the Triage/Dispatch work. This often works well, but not without issues.

  • Issue 1: Your techs don’t want to do triage/dispatch. Often your techs want to advance their career and they don’t feel like doing triaging tickets moves their career forward. Sure, they’ll do the work because they want to get paid, but you may find that your tech doing triage will revert to trying to do technical work which might leave the triage/dispatch process in a precarious spot.
  • Issue 2: Techs create a revolving door in the triage/dispatch seat. Because techs often want to move their career forward you may find that you rotate your techs through this seat frequently. This may lead to a poor client experience. This process is vital to your business and providing good client support. If you see a revolving door, it’s time to change things up.

Non-Technical Triage/Dispatch

This is where I think your MSP should end up. Eventually, you will want to really lock this process down, and I think your best bet is a non-technical triage/dispatch person. You are looking for someone who loves talking with people, is very organized, and has a mind for client service. These skills are far more important than doing any sort of technical work.

Where to find your Triage/Dispatch person

When your MSP is ready to hire a triage/dispatch person there are a few spots to look. Other than trying to hire someone from a different Managed Service Provider there are some other options.

  1. HVAC or other trades dispatchers (plumbers, electricians, lawn maintenance, etc.)
  2. Car services / transportation dispatchers
  3. Emergency Medical dispatchers
  4. Restaurant hosts

You’ll notice commonality in these areas: they already do dispatch or dispatch similar work. Many times, they find that even though MSP life can be hectic, it’s often less hectic than some of these other jobs.

One other area that I’ve heard works well is someone who works with little kids. Think Pre-K through about third grade teachers. They’re used to chaos, and they know how to handle temper tantrums ;-).

Career Path for Triage/Dispatchers

Building a solid career plan is important for your Triage/Dispatch person. When they’re knocking their role out of the park you don’t want them to get frustrated by lack of growth and leave your company.

  1. Pay them more. I suggest that you be willing to pay this role more than “market” if they’re truly doing their job well. Their ENTIRE job is to setup tickets for success. When done well your clients feel it, when not done well they REALLY feel it.
  2. Project Coordination/Management. They can level up their skillset by helping do some project coordination work. In the Project Management post I cover this a bit as well. The required skills overlap well, and transitioning into a Project Coordinator and/or Project Manager is quite the career upgrade.
  3. Service Team Lead / Manager. It’s not out of the question that your triage/dispatch person could work their way into becoming a team lead or manager in your Service Team. The skillset again is similar; especially if they show some natural leadership ability.

It’s clear by now that the Triage and Dispatch role and process is vital to your Managed Service Provider. Make sure you give this the attention it deserves.

By Adam

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