Using the Backlog Dataset in Insights (Professional and Enterprise) Follow

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This document shows how to use the Ticket Backlog History dataset specifically within Insights.

For information on what a backlog is, why it's useful, or how to set it up in Zendesk's native reporting, please see our Understanding Backlog Evolution document.

First, a little background...

The Ticket Backlog History dataset functions a little differently than most other datasets in Insights. For example, the Tickets dataset will show you the current state of the tickets in your Zendesk, and the Ticket Updates dataset can show past events that are viewable within a ticket's event log.

The Ticket Backlog History dataset will show you a snapshot of unsolved tickets at the end of any given date. Unlike the other datasets, this information cannot be found anywhere else in Zendesk.

Many mysteries of Insights can be revealed by studying the data model. The data model shows the relationship between each dataset and its attributes and facts in Insights. You can find your project's data model by going into Insights and going to Manage -> Model.

If you're not familiar with it, it can look complicated and daunting - there are so many facts and attributes that can be reported on! Fortunately, there is a GoodData Labs app that can make it easier to visualize. After authenticating into your Insights project, follow this link: Data Model Visualizer. You'll see a much simpler graph of all of the datasets in Insights:

http://content.screencast.com/users/zendesk.bclark/folders/Jing/media/dac1d6ff-306a-41c8-bc5c-1276e0290565/00001078.png

You can see that the Ticket Backlog History dataset is isolated from the rest of the datasets - it doesn't have any arrows connected to it. What this means to an Insights report-maker is that you cannot slice or filter backlog metrics by anything other than the backlog attributes (click on the Ticket Backlog History dataset on the data model to view those):

As you can see, it's fairly limited due to the sheer amount of data that needs to be contained in the Backlog dataset. The silver lining is that creating a Backlog report is pretty straightforward!

Cut to the chase, how do I make a Backlog report?

  1.  Select your metric in the "What" section.
    Currently, the only Backlog metric in a brand new Insights project is "# Backlog Tickets". Of course, you can make your own metrics with the two Backlog facts available - "Backlog Ticket Age" and "Backlog Ticket Count". The Backlog assignee ID fact is used for advanced dashboard filters - most reports won't use this.
  2. Select your attributes that you'd like to break your metric down by in the "How" section.
    Remember that you can use only the attributes contained within the Backlog dataset! This includes: Backlog Assignee, Backlog Brand, Backlog Group, Backlog Priority, Backlog Status, Backlog Ticket Age, Backlog Ticket Type, Backlog Via, and Date (Event). No more, no less!
  3. (Optional) Select a filter.
    Just like the "How" section, you can only choose attributes that are part of the Backlog dataset.

An example of a typical report can be found in the "Overview" tab of the default Insights dashboards. This report show the # Backlog Tickets metric broken down by Date (Event) and Backlog Status.

An important note about slicing by Date (Event)

If you are slicing the # Backlog Tickets metric by a Date (Event) attribute that is longer than a single day (such as a week, month, quarter, or year), the numbers that are returned will be the sum of the number of backlog tickets for each date in that time period:

This number is not very useful, and most report-makers are looking to find the number of tickets in their backlog at the end of each week, month, quarter, or year. To accomplish this, a special filter needs to be added to the report.

For the sake of brevity, a numeric range filter will need to be added that looks like this:

For those who need more specific instruction on creating the numeric range filter, a short video can be found here.

As you can see, the _spFilter Backlog (Last Day of Month) metric is selecting the last date in each month to use for the month's backlog number. At this time there is not a prebuilt _spFilter metric for week, quarter, or year but it can be easily made by changing the _spFilter Backlog (Last Day of Month) metric to use a different period.

When are the Backlog numbers calculated?

It depends on which Zendesk plan you are on!

  • A Zendesk account on the Professional plan will sync its data once per day at the time specified on the Insights dashboard. You can specify which hour this sync happens (in your Zendesk's timezone). The Backlog facts and metrics will reflect the state of the tickets in Zendesk at the time of the daily sync.
  • A Zendesk account on the Enterprise plan will sync its data approximately hourly. Backlog facts and metrics will reflect the state of the tickets in Zendesk at the last sync of the day. The exact time of the last sync cannot be predicted and is not necessarily exactly the same each day. Chances are it will be between 23:00 and 23:59 each day depending on available server resources at that time.
Fine Tuning: Learn how to analyze and manage your ticket backlog in Roshni Sondhi's Fine Tuning: Analyzing the metrics that matter.

 

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Comments

  • 0

    For anyone else trying to access the mentioned Data Model Visualizer, I didn't have any luck opening it in Chrome (get some 400 Bad Request response). However, opening it after accessing Insights through Firefox worked.

  • 0

    How can I ascertain the metric around no. of users impacted by the backlog?

    For example, # of backlog tickets - 5 for January 2015.

    Does it mean 5 or 4 or 3 or 2 or 1 user(s) are impacted by the backlog? How do I get this metric from Zendesk?

  • 0

    I need more details on this:
    "As you can see, the _spFilter Backlog (Last Day of Month) metric is selecting the last date in each month to use for the month's backlog number. At this time there is not a prebuilt _spFilter metric for week, quarter, or year but it can be easily made by changing the _spFilter Backlog (Last Day of Month) metric to use a different period."

    I'd like to make one for weekly, but this is all new to me and I can't figure out how to do so. Step-by-step please?

  • 0

    Hi Nikki,

    I was wondering the exact same thing. I think I have figured it out, but confirmation would be nice ;-)
    You may have solved it yourself?

    Anyway, here is what I did (omitting every wrong direction I took):

    1. Found the _spFilter Backlog (Last Day of Month) metric in GD by going to the What tab and searching _spFilter Backlog (Last Day of Month), clicking it and going to View Detail.
      View Details

    2. From here I made a duplicate of the original metric
      Duplicate metric

    3. Renamed the duplicate "_spFilter Backlog (Last Day of Week)", saved and clicked the Edit button, Clicked the Month/Year (event) and selected the Date (Event) folder and Day of Week (Mon-Sun) (Event) attribute [NOTE: there's also an Sun-Sat variant if you want, but thats crazy], Add selected and Save.
      Change attribute

    4. Went back to the report (may need to refresh the page) Selected the Filter tab and set up the Numeric Range filter like so:
      Filter

    It seems to be working, but any comments would be appreciated.

    The result
    End result

    Edited by Jacob J Christensen
  • 0

    Hey Jacob! Thanks so much for sharing your solution!

  • 0

    I believe this is inaccurate: 

    When are the Backlog numbers calculated?
    A Zendesk account on the Enterprise plan will sync its
    data approximately hourly. 

    Looking at my history upload (I have an Enterprise account), I see it's synced daily, not hourly (unlike most other data sets). 

  • 0

    Hi Joel! For Enterprise accounts, most data does sync approximately hourly, as the article says. The backlog dataset is a bit different:

    • Backlog facts and metrics will reflect the state of the tickets in Zendesk at the last sync of the day. The exact time of the last sync cannot be predicted and is not necessarily exactly the same each day. Chances are it will be between 23:00 and 23:59 each day depending on available server resources at that time.

    We only expect the backlog dataset to sync once per day, due to the nature of what it captures. For Professional accounts, it syncs along with the rest of the data. For Enterprise, it syncs in the last round of the day.

    Happy reporting!

    Edited by Amy Dee
  • 0

    Hi Amy

    Thanks for the clarification. I think it's the way the article is currently worded that confused me. Maybe just a small tweak, like 'On Enterprise, data sets are synced hourly, with the exception of the Backlog...'. or just put in the clarification you just did into the documentation :)

     

  • 0

    ZD Team - Not having Organization as a filter for Backlog data is one of our very biggest paint points. Anyone using Zendesk at an Enterprise level, especially for B2B/E2E, we MUST know how we are doing for a given customer (Organization) over time. Create/Solve data is not enough. The Backlog is critical. 

    We would love to see this for custom fields, but I cannot fathom why it is not supported for the system field of Organization. We've been discussing and requesting this via our AE's for years, and we have yet to get confirmation on when and how this will happen. 

  • 0

    Hey Shannon, just wanted to let you know that I'm following up on this internally to see if I can find some info for you.

    I checked in our Product Feedback forum and didn't see anything about this over there...feel free to add a post with your detailed use case to make sure our Product Managers see it, if you want!

  • 0

    Hi Jessie,

    Here is the other location that I posted this comment: https://support.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/community/posts/202468053-How-can-I-create-a-Historical-Backlog-report-in-Insights-for-a-specific-customer-?page=1#community_comment_225207767 

    Happy to post elsewhere too. Just let me know the best avenue(s). This is a topic that I've brought up with Mo and Erin, as well as discussed with Jason and other product team folks when we've had our summits or meetings over the years. 

    Thanks!

  • 0

    Definitely Product Feedback! The Product Managers see everything that's posted there, and posting it there will give other users the opportunity to add their vote and use case as well.

  • 1

    I am wondering about the meaning of the backlog attribute "Backlog Via = Rule". I see that a lot of our tickets which originally where created "via webform" appear under "Backlog Via = Rule" instead of "Backlog Via = Webform". I am interested in the information what business rule action, or whatever "Rule" means in this context, causes a backlog ticket to appear in this backlog category.

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