Support Provision & the Changing Landscape of the Service Desk

Graph With Stacks Of CoinsService desk teams provide support and service to company employees, helping them to make the most of the IT assets that the company provides. At least, that was always the role that IT Service Management teams saw themselves providing. The overall goal may not have altered, but how this is fulfilled has been changing.

The traditional methods that service desk teams use to demonstrate their value don’t effectively capture all that the ITSM function can deliver. At the same time, new initiatives like Bring Your Own Device, cloud applications and self-service portals are entering business IT. This means that key performance indicators (KPIs) have to be changed. However, are we changing our approaches to keep up, or are we being forced into this? As the service desk landscape changes, how can we take back control and demonstrate more value?

 

Where are we today?

Many service desk teams will still use first-time fix as their number one demonstration of value. However, while this metric is still valid, it’s very quantitative, and only one step above looking at the overall volume of calls being handled. Service desks today have to deal with a larger number of channels than before, so how calls are categorised is a good place to start thinking differently.

The key questions to ask here are: “How do my customers want to interact with me? Are they happy with more traditional email and phone requests, or would they like more options such as chat?” For many teams, answering these questions can be difficult, as options are grafted on over time rather than being thought through strategically.

For a service desk manager looking at all the different traffic coming in, it can be difficult to assign weighting on the requests that come in. Should social media or chat interaction be counted in the same way as a phone request? A lot of this will depend on the process that customers go through as their incidents are handled. This will also affect how success is measured in the future as well.

 

Where do we go from here?

There are two avenues open to the service desk manager here – one is prescriptive, and one is to allow more freedom in how incidents are handled. The first approach would be based on mapping out all the most common problems that are encountered by users, and then looking at the workflow for those incidents across different communication methods.

This can work well when you have a large number of service desk operatives and need to get consistency on customer support experience. Putting this together would provide both guidance on how to handle requests that come through, and also ensure quality of service.

However, there is one issue with this approach, it takes away a lot of the flexibility that service desk professionals can have in solving problems and ensuring that the customer is happy at the end of the call or interaction. Now, for regulated industries where security and compliance are important, this is something that will just have to be accepted but for other businesses, allowing more leeway on how calls and requests are handled can be both better for the customer and for the service desk personnel. Allowing service desk staff to help customers in the way that best suits them – and the customers that make the request – can help to provide better service, both in terms of quality and service levels.

 

Looking at a bigger picture

Thinking about specific targets for the service desk team also involves looking at how ITSM is incorporated into the overall business or organisational goals. Is the service team delivery part of external-facing, “paying customer” work, or more around internal customer or employee satisfaction and keeping users productive? Building up metrics around customer retention and satisfaction leads to a very different set of KPIs compared to this internal service delivery, where efficiency is paramount.

Setting out new KPIs involves looking at what the customer expectations are around service, as well as what the company or organisation wants to deliver. This is a very different approach to the quantitative approach that many service desks are used to. Instead, it has to be more qualitative. Often, there will be larger company goals that will help frame KPIs in the right way.

As an example, your company may provide a product with premium branding. Service delivery around this should therefore match that perception. Creating a measurement KPI around delivering “five star service,” with personnel encouraged to go the extra mile, would be more effective than simply looking at how many calls or requests were handled. Conversely, companies that pride themselves in efficiency would want the same approach to be reflected in their service strategy.

For public sector organisations, efficiency and call handling will still be important metrics to track as well. However, the growth of online and digital service delivery means that requests that might previously have been calls can be answered either through information on websites or email/chat requests. This will leave more personal interaction time for staff, providing a better quality of care for those that really need it.

Alongside these changes in KPIs, the way that service desk teams manage themselves may have to change as well. For too long, the tiered service desk approach has been less about dealing with front line problems and more about managing how skilled professionals can provide support where it is needed. The change from solely supporting phone and email over to using multiple channels should be seen as an opportunity to increase skills for everyone.

 

Managing service interactions more efficiently

It’s also worth considering how sessions are handled. For requests that have a technical or specialist knowledge requirement, playing telephone tag and having the customer explain their issues multiple times can be a painful process. Instead, it should be possible to use those with specialist knowledge in a more efficient way through collaborative sessions.

This approach involves letting third parties join calls securely – particularly if there is a remote access session involved. Rather than depending on the third party and customer to get connected, the service desk can manage this themselves, cutting down on time taken and providing a better experience for the customer. Bringing together assets in this way does mean that the front-line staff have to be aware of what challenges they may face that are intricate or require outside help, but that does not mean that they have to hand a call straight over to someone else.

The growth of online support and services is only going to go up, as more people prefer to work directly through chat or social channels rather than more traditional phone systems. The make-up of the workforce is changing as well. In the higher education sector, research by the Service Desk Institute found that 76 per cent of students preferred using the web form for raising a request rather than picking up the phone or emailing directly, while 37 per cent were happy to use social media channels to contact the service desk.

As these students move from university and enter the workforce, their expectations of support will be very different to what has gone before. Maintaining a consistency of approach when trying to keep all these options open is a real challenge, but it can be delivered by thinking through the problems that are due to come up.

Rethinking your KPIs so they are more aligned with the needs of the business is a good first step. From this, you can then look at how to work more closely with line of business teams, too. Ultimately, the service desk can start to think about changing the perception it has within the organisation, from one of only being there when things go wrong to providing more guidance about how to make things go right in the first place.

There seem to be as many choices on how to manage interaction with customers as there are service desks, particularly as customers want to interact in new ways. However many channels you have to support, the important distinction is around customer service, not just IT support. ITSM teams have to look beyond their role as IT professionals and think about displaying their acumen around other areas, too.

Setting out KPIs is one way to achieve this aim. By linking the aim of the business to the quality of service that is delivered, ITSM teams can look to demonstrate more of the value that they create for the business every day.

 

Image Credit

Imprivata Case Study: Why Limit the Service Desk to IT?

Imprivata is a leading provider of authentication and access management solutions for the healthcare industry.

Recall the last time you visited a hospital or medical center, or perhaps watched your favorite medical drama. Health care professionals working in a busy medical environment don’t have time for usernames and passwords to access electronic medical records across multiple IT systems. The preferred security mechanism is a swipe of a badge or simply put your finger down on a biometric reader.

Imprivata provides this authentication and single sign on technology. The same badge tap or fingerprint recognition technology can also allow health care staff to access thousands of systems across the hospital. The bottom line benefit is health care staff spending more time helping patients and less time fiddling with technology.

Imprivata has experienced fast growth over the last year, and Alex Wong, CIO, recently discussed his experiences implementing a “corporate ticketing system” to support the rapidly increasing Imprivata employee count and his overall review of ManageEngine.

Imprivata

Imprivata

  • Founded 2002
  • Headquarters: Lexington, Massachusetts, USA
  • NYSE: IMPR
  • Annual Sales $82.2M USD
  • www.Imprivata.com

 

Alex Wong

Alex Wong

 


Note: ManageEngine commissioned this case study. Thank you to Alex from Imprivata for being so candid and sharing his opinions with the ITSM Review community. Kudos also to ManageEngine for the confidence to allow us to publish Alex’s opinions and review verbatim. The responses below, which I hope you will find to be balanced and honest, have not been edited by ManageEngine or exposed to the usual PR polish.


ITSM Review: Alex, can you explain your strategy for implementing a corporate ticketing system and how this differs from a traditional IT helpdesk?

Alex, Imprivata: We’re growing very fast. One year ago we were 260 staff, we’re now over 350.

When new employees join Imprivata and have issues, they want to know who to contact. We want to make that process easy for them. So we have developed a common platform so that they don’t need to know who to contact – they can just get their questions answered. The corporate ticketing system, built on ManageEngine, gives them the ability to do that.

We wanted to build a single ticketing system for all business departments, not just IT.

You’ve been CIO for just over a year. So things have happened pretty quickly. How long did it take to implement?

We invested in some training to implement ManageEngine. We used the training time to configure the system to our requirements. Within two to four weeks of the training, we had implemented ManageEngine for the IT department. Within another two months, HR and facilities came on board. Then our Business Desk team joined two weeks later.

Why ManageEngine? Could you not have done all of that with your previous technology platform?

We were previously using Zendesk. We also looked at Salesforce.com and JIRA. Ultimately, we felt that we’d be able to implement the quickest with ManageEngine.

We also like the categorization of data with ManageEngine. We can define tickets in terms of categories and sub-categories, which we couldn’t do easily in Zendesk.

Also, staff that have been with us for quite a while, or certain suppliers, are used to routing queries to dedicated email aliases such as facilities@imprivata.com. With ManageEngine we are able to route all tickets through the same system.

We’re pleased with the tool and how configurable it is.

 What impact has your corporate ticketing system had on business departments outside IT?

Teams have stated they have much better visibility into tickets. The old model was primarily email-driven, so a manager would be dependent on the team to gauge how things were going. Now, managers can see exactly what issues are arising and what issues remain outstanding to allow them to prepare for the next day. Having that visibility has been very helpful.

Visibility of issues has also been very useful for the responsiveness of departments. For example if an employee raises an issue with the heating in the UK and the office manager is out, a team in another country can address the issue and provide coverage. Previously, the issue would have been stuck in someone’s email inbox.

How are issues from all these different departments routed?

Our first line of defense is usually the service desk. A single tracking mechanism for all tickets across all departments on the same platform has been very helpful. We usually receive about 40-60 tickets a day.

Imprivata employees typically log issues via three main channels:

  1. More than half of all staff work in the corporate headquarters, so a good proportion of tickets are raised via walk-ups.
  2. Tickets can be logged via email through help@imprivata.com
  3. You can go into the system, http://help.imprivata.com, directly via a browser and log a ticket

Everything goes into this platform, from “it’s too cool in here” to “my machine is broken.” From here, our first priority is to understand what’s coming in and process it. We try to resolve the issue on the first line straight away or route the ticket to a department queue or specialist.

You’ve mentioned that categorisation of tickets was important in your tool selection process – why is this so important to Imprivata?

Classification is important to us because if we see common or repeated issues, we try to 1) group them into common problem sets, 2) solve them and understand the root cause, and 3) prevent it from happening again.

For example, our new hire process includes a list of things that need to be done to support a new hire. If I see a ticket from a new hire asking for help in printing something – that means we’ve failed in the new hire process. Printer drivers were not installed properly, or we don’t have the correct FAQs for them to turn to. This information lets us know how we’re doing from a process standpoint.

That seems quite advanced problem management compared to other organizations we speak to.

We try to be very, very, analytical about how we think about our support model.

We’re quite small, and we extensively use interns. So our support model and process has to be very well-defined for us to be successful.

How do you measure success?

We provide internal support, making sure folks on the frontline selling products to customers are getting the help they need. Our measure of success is happy customers and customer satisfaction.

We measure how long it takes to get back to people, how long does it take to close a ticket and resolve an issue. How often are we reopening a ticket because we didn’t get it right first time?

We also have a process for checking aged tickets out there. Our internal customers know that they can escalate tickets if they are not getting what they need. We’ve built some automation with ManageEngine to monitor and escalate against SLAs, but we’ve also built communication channels for customers to provide feedback.

Would you recommend ManageEngine?

I would.

It’s flexible enough to manage our tickets within a best practice framework. We’re a public company, and there are certain processes we need to follow to adhere to legislation. For example, anyone that requires access to the general ledger system needs pre-approval. We’re governed by regulations such as Sarbanes Oxley that we know we’re going to be audited on, so having a system that supports us with these elements while managing our business in an efficient manner was a key requirement. So far, ManageEngine has delivered on those requirements.

Is there anything you would change if you had the choice?

Certain things could be better from a reporting point of view. It is not always intuitive, so we are reliant on the support team to help us out quite a bit. There a few nit-pick items such as the ability to

classify tickets with more refinement than today. But overall, we are very satisfied with ManageEngine.

How has the ManageEngine team responded to these or issues suggestions?

It’s been a mixed bag. Sometimes they are very responsive; sometimes it takes a couple of days. Given how important the system is to us, we’d pay for a faster response time if it were available.

We’d also like to invest in consulting services to address our reporting needs but have been pointed back to the support team. These are nit-picks, not showstoppers; but if these areas were improved, we’d be extremely happy.

What version are you running? Are you on the free version?

We started with the free version but quickly transitioned to the paid model.


Overall Review of ManageEngine by Imprivata

servicedeskplus-ondemand-logo-img

 

 

 

“The investment in ManageEngine is very easy to justify. The cost of running ManageEngine is not very expensive. And the fact that we can automate ticketing for other business departments within the same budget as our previous IT helpdesk is a real bonus”

Strengths

  1.  General flexibility
  2. Ability to adapt to business requirements

Weaknesses

  1. More granularity in classifications
  2. Reporting requires more depth, it is not intuitive as it could be

Ratings

  • Product 8/10
  • Ease of use and intuitiveness 8/10
  • Reporting 8/10
  • Overall satisfaction with ManageEngine 9.5/10

Technology Review: Solarwinds Web Help Desk (WHD) V 12.1

solarwinds-inc-logoThis is an independent review of Solarwinds Web Help Desk, reviewed in March 2014.

AT A GLANCE

A global leader in the market of service automation software and remote management
SolarWinds mission is to provide purpose-built products designed to make IT professional’s jobs easier.

This review takes a look at the core capabilities, the route to market, competitive strengths and weaknesses, product development roadmap and market reach of SolarWinds Web Help Desk (WHD) V 12.1, which was released in January 2014.

Available as both self-hosted and SaaS (through their partner Loop1) SolarWinds WHD has an intuitive browser-based user interface with customizable forms, easy to create rule-based workflow and integration with many network and application management tools.

SUMMARY OF KEY FINDINGS

Strengths

Weaknesses

Easy installation and deployment  Separate Change Management area needed
Consistent look and feel with other SolarWinds products   No Release Management
Easy scalability   No graphical representation of asset relationships
125,000 strong user community   No Service Catalog

PRIMARY MARKET FOCUS

Although encompassing a broad range of industries and sizes of organization, SolarWinds WHD is popular in the Education sector and with SMB’s.

70% of SolarWinds customers are currently based in North America but purchase is being made in both EMEA & APAC.

With several products that fit into the ITSM space, namely Dameware Remote Support, Patch Manager and Mobile Admin, SolarWinds are now actively promoting these together and plan to offer bundled sales packages.

ANALYSIS

Named as Forbes Best Small Company in America in 2012, SolarWinds provides a wealth of network and system management tools including over 30 free offerings.

In 2012 SolarWinds made the logical move to add a ticketing tool to their product portfolio by procuring Web Help Desk, at the time their seventh acquisition since 2011.

Products are grouped into the following categories:

  • Application and Server Management
  • Log and Security Information Management
  • IT Alert and On Call Management
  • Network Management
  • IT Help Desk
  • Virtualization Management
  • Storage Management
  • Database Management
  • File Transfer

The company has headquarters in Austin, Texas and operates out of a growing number of worldwide regional offices (eight at the time of writing).

SolarWinds community, Thwack, has over 125,000 users worldwide who collaborate and share.  As a result with a little searching you can find a Knowledge Base article or forum post with the answer to almost any question you may have.

With advanced and well integrated suites within almost every aspect of IT Management this competitive differentiator means that they are a good fit for network support heavy IT Departments wanting to track tickets and assets with the minimum of fuss.

Fully customizable forms make fitting the tool around your processes much easier than with some others.  It’s surprisingly easy to define complex rule-based workflow meaning that no matter how obscure some of your processes are, with careful consideration and time spent on Thwack you’re sure to find a way.

Native asset discovery and integration with 3rd party software platforms for asset discover and asset management.  This together with the Parts area of the tool which helps to catalogue spares such as keyboards, mice, etc. should help to ensure that even the most controlling of Asset Managers are happy.

Most current competitors offer some kind of integration to third party discovery/event management tools but not to the extent or with the ease of SolarWinds WHD and are often accompanied by extended consulting engagements. With the right marketing SolarWinds with their cost effective tool and highly integratable portfolio should climb the ITSM tool vendor ladder swiftly.

The Self Service portal along with the Tech area contains a reservation desk to check in or out assets and warranty and lease alerts are configurable to ensure vendor maintenance contracts are maintained.

SolarWinds WHD has the ability to easily scale to the largest of organisations whilst still maintaining the ease-of-deployment and use that has made SolarWinds among the most popular vendors for the mid-market.

SolarWinds WHD is an excellent entry nearing mid-range Service Desk tool.  However with the development of Change Management/Release Management this would raise the profile of the tool considerably.

Like Asset Management, Change Management is not an area usually dealt with by the Service Desk Analysts and as such I believe it warrants it’s own area separate from tickets.  A dedicated Change calendar would also be useful with the ability to set blackout schedules.  This combined with some degree of Release Management, even if basic, would open SolarWinds to a much larger audience.

SolarWinds face the challenge of educating the market of their new capabilities in ITSM in a market crowded with competitors. However, they face these challenges with an already huge existing user base and from a position of proven track record in the IT Management sector.

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KEY CAPABILITIES

The table below shows the key capabilities of SolarWinds WHD

Tickets
  • Eases migration by importing tickets from legacy ticket systems
  • Enables configuration of multiple tiers and groups of IT staff and assignment of triage and escalation tasks to tiers and groups
  • Includes easily-customizable and dynamic ticket forms with unlimited custom fields
  • Simplifies ticket organization by allowing linking of unlimited incident tickets to a single problem
  • Dynamically routes and assigns help desk tickets to a specific technician or group of technicians
  • Each ticket’s processing sequence is time stamped and user tagged, including system updates and automation decisions
  • Automates load balancing of ticket assignment

 

Asset Management
  • Easy to build parent/child relationships between assets
  • Shows software licensing distributions across network, including how many license keys of a particular software are in the field versus ready for assignment
  • Calculates warranty and lease end dates based on purchase order information
  • Tracks by asset type, status, location, manufacturer and model
  • Enables you to manage who uses what by associating an end user with a specific asset or group of assets
  • Associates end-users to service requests or incident tickets with a specific asset or group of assets
  • Provides a running history of all service requests for a given asset
  • Allows end users to select their current location and then provides a list of all assets in that specific location for easy asset identification
  • Asset discovery data from any source can be scheduled to import regularly or on-demand
  • Includes a Reservation Center that allows end users to request a designated check-out time and date range for a specific asset
  • An overdue alert system easily identifies lost or stolen inventory

 

Change Management
  • Enables association of service request types with approval and change processes
  • Approvers can approve or deny directly from email or via the web interface
  • Supports individual voting and voting by panel
  • Approval processes can be simple or complex as needed, from a one step sign-off to multiple levels of succession
  • Approvers can be configured based on roles, ensuring the request is addressed by the appropriate individual based on location, department and position

 

Knowledge Base
  • Enables you to query a knowledge base article that resolves a request and inject a hot link to a FAQ or tool tip into the trouble ticket note
  • Offers related FAQs and tool tips to end users as they submit a service ticket
  • Supports embedded videos and file attachments
  • When technical knowledge base articles are intended primarily for internal use or reference, SolarWinds Web Help Desk can organize your knowledge base articles and flag visibility to the departments of your choice
  • Enables you to grow your knowledge base organically by letting your IT staff easily submit common ticket resolutions as potential knowledge base articles for internal or external public consumption
  • Automatically flags each newly submitted article as “unapproved” requiring final approval from your knowledge base manager before becoming visible

 

GO-TO-MARKET STRATEGY

Founded in 1999 SolarWinds have grown year on year and provide over 50 IT management tools in their portfolio.

SolarWinds sells it’s products through an inside sales model and through channel partners all over the world.  Rather than involve consultants, potential SolarWinds customers are encouraged to self evaluate for a period of 30 days and visit the user community, Thwack, to witness the sharing and support that take place.

With a good solid grounding in the network, systems and application management arena the move into the Service Desk area completes a very comprehensive set of IT tools.

With the consistent look and feel of the SolarWinds products WHD will

It is estimated that the average user now deploys 2.5 of the main product groupings.

SolarWinds WHD is licensed per user/technician in a perpetual licensing mode which is scaled down as users are added.

Prices start at $695 per user and scales down as users are added.

Business Partner Summary

Key Business Partners
  • Loop1 (Loop One)

Market Penetration

Number of customers on maintenance 4,000+
Typical Customer
  • Small-medium business
  • Based in North America
  • Late adopters

ss3

IMPLEMENTATION

Typical Installation

Installation of SolarWinds WHD is fast and straightforward taking anything from 10 minutes to a few hours to set up depending on the complexity of importing/migrating configuration data such as tickets, locations, request types, FAQ’s etc.

SolarWinds WHD can be implemented/deployed using only internal staff and typically can be dealt with by one technician/engineer.

Full installation requirements (please note this is not the case for evaluation installations):

Software Requirements
Operating System
  • Windows Server 2003 32/64-bit, Windows Server 2008 32/64-bit, Windows Server 2008 R2 64-bit, Windows Server 2012 32/64-bit, Windows Server 2012 R2 32/64-bit
  • Recommended for installations with more than 20 technicians, Windows Server 2003, 2008 or 2008 R2, and 2012 64-bit OS .

 

Web Console Browser
  • Chrome 30, 31, and 32
  • Firefox 24, 25, and 26
  • Internet Explorer (IE) 8, 9, and 10
  • Safari 5 and 6

Note: Chrome v32 and Mozilla v26 are the latest versions of those browsers tested with WHD 12.1.0. Because Google and Mozilla release new versions of their browsers so often, testing WHD on the very latest browser is not always possible. It is likely, however, that WHDv12.1.0 will work with Chrome and Firefox releases newer than those it has been tested on.

Hardware
  • CPU Speed – Dual Core 2.0 GHz or faster
  • Hard Drive Speed – 20 GB
  • Mac Architecture – 64-bit Intel
  • Memory – 3 GB (add 1 GB for every 10 additional technicians/engineers)
  • Application Ports – 8081 (or alternate browser port), 1433 (SQL)

The installer configures the application and the optional embedded PostgreSQL database automatically.  A setup wizard walks the administrator through initial configuration steps.  It is suggested that you run the SolarWinds WHD application and external database on separate servers for optimal performance.

As an alternative to Windows, Mac, and Linux installer applications, a Linux-based virtual appliance is also available.

To fully benefit from all features, WHD requires configuration (e.g. email, Active Directory/LDAP connection, Asset synchronization etc.) however it is possible to use it almost instantly by using web UI to raise tickets, auto-creation of users and the Free version requires very little configuration and is basically a straight-out-of-the-box solution for very simple use.

Time to Value

The short time required to install SolarWinds WHD together with the ease of use, scalability and minimal manpower costs for deployment suggests a rapid ROI.

Resources Required

As with all ticketing systems the tool is only as good as the information inputted.  Ongoing maintenance and data verification will be required especially with regard to Knowledge Management and Asset Management.

Scalability

The application is implemented as a J2EE servlet running under Tomcat, with JDBC connections to a relational database that can run on a separate server or cluster. (Comes bundled with an optional embedded PostgreSQL database. MySQL and SQL Server are also supported.) Additional servlet containers, running on the same or separate nodes, can be configured as needed. For most SMB customers, the application’s caching mechanisms facilitate scaling to increased performance requirements by simply allocating additional memory, without requiring additional hardware nodes. For larger customers, a common configuration separates background daemon processes such as asset discovery and e-mail processing onto a second server, which can be set up using the standard application installer

PRODUCT ROADMAP

SolarWinds have several directions in which they plan to further grow Web Help Desk

  • Provide tighter integration with other SolarWinds products, particularly Orion based, to provide streamlined problem resolution and the remote support product, Dameware
  • Enhance the reporting capabilities to provide data that will help customers understand and foresee issues for greater IT control.
  • Further develop configurability and ability of Web Help Desk to adapt to the customers processes
  • Enhanced project management capabilities

The next product release is tentatively scheduled for September 2014.  There are usually 1 major and 1-2 minor releases per year.

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PRODUCT PORTFOLIO

  • Server and Application Monitor
  • Virtualization Manager
  • Storage Manager, Powered by Profiler
  • Patch Manager
  • Log and Event Manager – Affordable SIEM
  • Web Performance Manager
  • Web Help Desk
  • Dameware Remote Support
  • Dameware Mini Remote Control
  • Serv-U Managed File Transfer Server
  • Mobile Admin
  • System Center Extension Pack
  • Virtualized Application Performance Pack
  • Web App Monitoring App
  • Log and Security Information Management
  • Log and Event Manager – Affordable SIEM
  • Firewall Security Manager
  • Alert Central
  • Network Performance Monitor
  • Netflow Traffic Analyzer
  • Network Configuration Manager
  • IP Address Manager
  • User Device Tracker
  • VoIP and Network Quality Manager
  • Engineer’s Toolset
  • Network Topology Mapper
  • Database Performance Analyzer
  • Database Performance Analyzer – VM Option

COVERAGE

Head Office Austin, Texas
Regional Offices Utah, Colorado, Canada, Czech Republic, India, Singapore, Australia, Ireland

FURTHER RESOURCES

Website – http://www.webhelpdesk.com

Demo – http://www.webhelpdesk.com/download-demo/

VENDOR PROFILE

In their own words:

“Named by Forbes as one of the top 10 fastest growing technology companies, SolarWinds is improving the way IT management software is developed, priced, purchased, delivered, and used. At SolarWinds, we are fanatical about putting our users first in everything we do. We strive every day to deliver powerful functionality that is easy to use with one of the fastest and longest lasting ROIs in the market.

Our IT monitoring and management software is built for SysAdmins and network engineers who need powerful, affordable, and easy-to-use network and server monitoring software that saves time and simply gets the job done. Evaluating, buying, deploying, and using enterprise software shouldn’t be complex. IT management and monitoring software from SolarWinds is easy to try, buy, deploy and use. That’s unexpected simplicity.”

CONTACT DETAILS

SolarWinds Contact Details

Head Office 3711 South MoPac Expressway, Building Two, Austin, Texas 78746 P: 866.530.8100 F: 512.682.9301
Other Locations EMEA Headquarters Unit 1101, Building 1000, City Gate, Mahon, Cork, Ireland P: +353 21 5002900 F: +353 212 380 232APAC Headquarters Intec House, Level 22 – SolarWinds, 215 Adelaide Street, Brisbane, QLD, 4000 P: 1 800 090 386 F: +61 (07) 3319 6401Tulsa, OK 4111 S. Darlington Ave. Suite 500, Tulsa, OK 74135New Zealand Duckworths Building, 20-22 Munroe Street, Napier, New Zealand

Singapore 6 Temasek Boulevard #39-01/02, Suntec Tower Four, Singapore 038986 Tel : +65 6593 7600 Fax : +65 (0)6 491 5123

Dallas, TX 4040 McEwen Road, Suite 240, Dallas TX 75244

India Module 4, 6th Floor, Block A, SP Infocity, #40

MGR Salai, Perungudi
Chennai – 600 096, Tamil Nadu

Brno, Czech Republic Holandská 6/873, 639 00 Brno, Czech Republic

Post Falls, ID 510 S Clearwater Loop # 100, Post Falls, ID 83854

Lehi, Utah 2500 West Executive Parkway, Suite 300 Lehi, UT 84043 385-374-7000

SUMMARY

SolarWinds WHD is a good fit for SMBs and organizations in the Education sector with IT Departments heavily dependent on network monitoring and event management.

Strengths

Weaknesses

Easy installation and deployment   Separate Change Management area needed
Consistent look and feel with other SolarWinds products   No Release Management
 Easy scalability   No graphical representation of asset relationships
125,000 strong user community  No Service Catalog

Disclaimer, Scope and Limitations

The information contained in this review is based on sources and information believed to be accurate as of the time it was created.  Therefore, the completeness and current accuracy of the information provided cannot be guaranteed.  Readers should therefore use the contents of this review as a general guideline, and not as the ultimate source of truth.

Similarly, this review is not based on rigorous and exhaustive technical study.  The ITSM Review recommends that readers complete a thorough live evaluation before investing in technology.

This is a paid review, that is, the vendors included in this review paid to participate in exchange for all results and analysis being published free of charge, without registration.

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Free, the new normal

Arvind Parthiban Sr.Marketing Manager - ITSM, ManageEngine "Why pay for helpdesk?"
Arvind Parthiban
Sr.Marketing Manager – ITSM, ManageEngine “Why pay for helpdesk?”

A new inflection point was reached in the service desk technology market space this week.

A free service desk.

Whilst free and open source ITSM technology has been available for quite a while – this is the first supplier I’ve seen to offer a free service desk without limitation on number of analysts (please let me know if otherwise).

What is perhaps most significant is that the vendor, ManageEngine, already has a huge number of customers, is recognized on the Gartner ITSSM quadrant and has the resources to make a dent.

Techcrunch report today that Zoho/ManageEngine revenue is ‘9 figures USD’, growing at 30% per annum.

The entry level Service Desk offering from ManageEngine is now free. The previous ‘standard’ edition offered a Service Desk for up to five analysts for free – now it’s completely free for any size organization. Customers just pay for premium optional upgrades.

The new normal?

This sort of ‘Freemium’ business model is becoming increasingly popular in a world of very low cost or free apps and cloud-based delivery. Freemium is whereby the vast majority of users of a service can take advantage for free and the business can turn a profit from a small proportion that adopt premium upgrades.

For example Spotify the music streaming service has 6 million paying customers versus 20 million active monthly users and it is estimated that only around 10% of LinkedIn’s 200M users pay to use the service.

Will this kill the market?

No, I don’t think so.

Whilst it is disruptive and gutsy move at market share I don’t think it is necessarily going to kill the market. It will certainly mean existing competitors will have to seriously re-evaluate their value-add but it’s not the end of the world. Spiceworks (ad supported) is free and versions of OTRS (Open source) are free. Vendors have been competing against these for years and should know how to articulate their value. Great software supported by, rather aptly, great support.


However I would say that more fragile competitors should be worried. We’re yet to dig into the finer details of the detailed differences between the free standard edition and professional but at first glance there seems to be a lot under the hood considering the price.

Barclay Rae, commenting on the news said:

“It is certainly a brave and audacious move. I think there is no doubt that some core aspects of ITSM tool functionality is pretty much a commodity, so I guess ME are using this as a level to expand their client base and brand awareness, particularly into new markets and market areas.

ITSM still requires some levels of implementation and integration intelligence, along with organisational change etc., so there will need to be some recognition of the need to develop support mechanisms around the free product that safeguard the brand via successful implementation.

I’d expect ME will need to look at developing their support and professional service capability to support this, particularly for the enterprise market.

However this is still a brave and market shifting move – I wouldn’t be surprised to see more of this in due course.”

ManageEngine can presumably offer this for free because:

  • a) The marginal costs of additional customers on a cloud based infrastructure is negligible – assuming the product works ok without hitch
  • b) ManageEngine are betting that a sufficient number of free customers explore paid upgrades and other products in the ManageEngine range.
  • c) The cost of acquiring new customers into the marketing pipeline just got a lot cheaper – albeit at the cost of forgone revenue. Customers can now be convinced with delivery, rather than a short trial or promises, before parting with their cash. Theoretically they might be free customers for years before parting with any paid upgrades. Meanwhile ManageEngine has the all-important resource in the Internet economy – the customer’s attention.

As ManageEngine state in their press release – if it wasn’t already, the basic service desk has just become commoditized.

More info here:

http://www.manageengine.com/products/service-desk/free-it-help-desk-software.html?banner

The service desk shuffle: Collaboration trumps hot potatoes

Stuart Facey, VP of international at Bomgar Corporation
Stuart Facey, VP of international at Bomgar Corporation

When things go wrong with technology, organisations rely on their IT support teams to fix problems and help out. The traditional method for dealing with problems sees calls (or email requests) coming in and tickets going into the queue to be dealt with.

If a first level support rep doesn’t have the skills to handle an issue, then it gets passed up the chain, essentially being put on hold for response and evaluation. The current ‘hot potato’ approach leads to responsibility being constantly shifted between teams or individuals, dragging out resolution times.

This method of problem solving is extremely inefficient from the end-user’s perspective.

Users get very little visibility over how long it will take to fix their problem, and they can’t find out who is ultimately responsible for resolving their issue. User frustration is high when they can’t get clarity on support requests or have to repeat the details of their problem to multiple technicians.  This process becomes even more complex as businesses outsource parts of their IT services to third parties, who often provide even less visibility to end-users.

Swarming issues towards resolution 

It is time for support organisations to break down the walls between tiers and embrace a more collaborative approach to support, pulling in the right people with the right skills when issues occur. This requires disparate teams to share responsibility for resolving issues and work together to swarm around issues in real time.

This is a significant challenge for IT service desks to consider. Alongside looking at new ways in which to give customers information and new tools to make support easier, there is a potential shift in IT support culture that will also have to take place.

NOTE: This will involve changing from traditional service desk management and becoming more collaborative in problem solving.

Obviously, collaboration is not a new concept. However, applying it in the IT service space does mean thinking things through, as there will be changes in both how problems and tickets will be managed when collaboration is implemented, as well as how metrics on performance are generated.

 The support concierge service

One approach to improving service through collaboration is to position frontline tech staff as support “concierges” who guide the end-user through the entire issue resolution process, versus handing users off to higher tier contacts. Higher level experts should be accessible and be pulled into support issues as needed, helping to resolve problems as soon as they occur and providing on-the-job training to lower level reps. Finally, support reps should be able to securely bring in external vendors and experts as needed to assist with end-user issues in real time as well.

Getting an expert to immediately jump in on an issue has two benefits: firstly, it can improve first contact resolution rates as more difficult challenges can be solved at the first interaction with the end-user. Secondly, it helps improve the knowledge and skills for first line support, as they can watch how the experts solve those more difficult issues first-hand. This makes it easier to improve service levels overall on both a qualitative and quantitative basis.

The third way

From a logistics point of view, bringing in a third contact with experience on the same issue can help fix a problem sooner than shifting a ticket to a “new” queue. However, it does mean re-organising workflows, which can be a big challenge, particularly for situations where support resources will be required from a different location or from outside the organisation. Instead of being points along a line between the user and problem resolution, the first line “concierge” remains responsible for a problem until it is resolved.

Under the traditional service desk approach, there are often no chances for first line staff to expand knowledge of wider problems except for specific training – something that is becoming harder to justify for investment under current economic conditions.

For them, collaboration becomes an opportunity to up their skills and increase their satisfaction levels too. This can also help with morale on the service desk as staff feel better educated and more valued.

Same-screen collaboration

This collaborative approach is obviously difficult to implement if your support organisation relies solely on the phone to handle issues. From a technology perspective, it requires you to look at remote support tools and how they’re enabled, as well as other methods for providing support like chat sessions. To support collaboration, everyone has to view the same screen, pass controls back and forth and invite additional techs (internal or external) to join the session. Bringing in third parties has to be done in a secure and controlled way, so that they can have access to resources that they require in order to provide support.

The main aim for collaboration around IT support is that it can deliver a significant increase in customer service levels. Users have a higher chance of their problem being solved first time, while satisfaction levels should also increase as they feel that every issue is graded as important, whether it is a minor problem or a major one that requires multiple support staff to deal with.

This change in approach has to be supported by similar evolutions in culture and technology on the service desk. Collaboration does involve some standardisation in approach and tools so that teams work in the same way and know what is expected of them.

Similarly, support and service desk management will have to think about capturing and measuring their performance in different ways. For example, metrics like time to resolution will become less important as initial support sessions may take longer, but that should be counteracted with an increase in first contact resolution. More importantly, user satisfaction should go up as people with problems feel their issues get solved in a more efficient way.

By modernising their technology and processes to resolve more issues upon first contact, support and service desks can prove that they are focused on users first and foremost, which will help them improve their reputation and justify the budgets spent on them. At a time when IT strategies in general are continuing to change, the service desk can use these opportunities to deliver more high-value services back to the organisation that they support.

Review: Nexthink

This independent review is part of our 2013 Incident and Problem Review. See all participants and terms of the review here.

Executive Summary

Elevator Pitch If systems management monitoring takes care of servers, Nexthink presents you all you need to know about the end-user side of the coin.

Nexthink sits apart from the nuts and bolts of Service Management tooling, but offer guidance to analysts to help expedite resolution with real-time End-user IT Analytics, integrated into major ITSM tools to significantly reduce problem diagnosis times.

Strengths
  • Lightweight, non-invasive kernel-driven footprint on end-user targets helps define trouble spots in real time
  • Complements and integrates with existing IT Service Management deployments
Weaknesses
  • With so much technical capability, it needs a very strong balancing hand of strategy to get the best of a combination of this product, a service management suite, and server monitoring collaboration.
Primary Market Focus Based on the information provided, Nexthink’s customer base ranges from Small (100 end users) to Very Large (250,000+)They are classified for this review as:Specialised tooling, requiring integration to ITSM.

Commercial Summary

Vendor Nexthink
Product Nexthink V4
Version reviewed V4.3
Date of version release February 19 2013
Year founded Founded in 2004.Turnover is not disclosed but 100% yearly growth. Today 2 million users’ licenses sold
Customers 400
Pricing Structure # IT users with perpetual or subscription license. On premise Enterprise product and Cloud/SaaS offering (Q2 2013)
Competitive Differentiators Nexthink provides unique real-time end-user IT analytics across the complete infrastructure.This perfectly complements existing performance monitoring systems to drive better ITSM initiatives; end-user IT analytics are used to:

  • 1) Diagnose and isolate problems in real-time for service desk to become more effective and responsive for higher customer satisfaction
  • 2) Continuously compute metrics and KPIs for proactive actions so IT operations can improve service quality for higher business agility and productivity
  • 3) Configuration and change management is fully under compliance control.
Additional Features Nexthink’s product does real-time discovery, dependency and relationship mapping, real-time activity monitoring, alerting and reporting on all object and data analytics available.

It doesn’t rely on any external product or data to function. However integration methods exist to enrich Nexthink data with external data sources (E.g. Active Directory, Event database, CMDB), to export Nexthink data/analytics to other tools to create end-to-end correlated views/results (CMDB, ITSM, Security Events Management).See an example here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rSstzl_KMdc

Independent Review

Credit should be given to Nexthink for putting themselves up against “traditional” ITSM Vendors, as their product does not do traditional Incident Management and Problem Management.

What it can do, however, is significantly shorten the amount of time it takes to resolve an incident and/or problem, by showing end user data in real time.

Nexthink have established major partners and product integrators with companies like BMC, HP and ServiceNow and provide a button on their ITSM consoles to allow analysts to view the data when required.

It almost presents itself as the super-hero of incident and problem diagnosis.

But following that super-hero position for just a moment, it is easy to get carried away with the technical potential of a shiny mapping, real-time toy.

It is much more than that, and it needs a sharp strategic mind to position it – remembering the key drivers of any ITSM related deployment.

The potential to drive down incident resolution time, and more importantly problem root cause analysis time makes it a compelling accompanying tool alongside an ITSM tool, to achieve tangible business efficiency benefits.

Widening the scope to look at the effects of IT Transition projects, and again the potential business benefits of understanding what specifications end user machines need to be to ensure speedier access to services, for example, could reap significant rewards.

Systems Monitoring vs. Real Time End User Monitoring

Nexthink acknowledge that infrastructure monitoring is an established discipline.

There are all manner of event and systems management tools that can also integrate into service management tools to present an organisation with enterprise level management.

What Nexthink do is focus on the end user perspective.

A kernel driver that is deployed out to end user machines, and loads into memory on boot-up.

Real-time data is then loaded up to a central server which can then be interrogated as and when required.

Incident & Problems Scope

Forrester research has shown that 80% of the time during the lifecycle of an incident is spent trying to isolate the problem itself.

Source: Forrester (http://apmdigest.com/5-it-operations-challenges-%E2%80%93-and-1-main-cause)

Nexthink offer a way of shortening that timeframe, mapping out relationships between failing components to see where the problem has occurred.

For example, a user may ring with a general issue of a slow response time.

Ordinarily, a support analyst would then have to drill down through applications, servers, configuration mapping to see what may be affected and how.

Nexthink can demonstrate where the issue lies and could isolate the failing link in the chain a lot more rapidly.

Nexthink’s own interface can even be used to directly query the user’s asset to assist with the diagnosis.

The information gathered can also be used to supplement the CMDB in the ITSM tool.

All this could then be used to drive more accurate logging and categorisation, and linking to any subsequent processes to resolve the situation.

The knock-on benefit is improved resolution times, potential workarounds and knowledge-base material, not to mention improved reporting.

When Nexthink is integrated with an ITSM tool, the support analysts will work off the ITSM console, but they will have a Nexthink button to be able to access the real-time analytics data.

Looking in the context of incidents and problems, whether major or otherwise, the ability to have multiple teams looking at the related end user data in terms of applications and services is invaluable.

Conclusion

There is a lot to appeal to the technical heart, looking at the depth of analytical data possible.

Key points to remember though – it takes everything from the end user point of view, and is not geared to sit on servers themselves to do that level of monitoring.

Taking just Incident and Problem Management, it is easy to see how the investigation can be shortened as an incident call comes in.

But looking at Problem, it can take proactive root cause analysis to another level.

If that is then combined with ITSM tools and their own abilities to manage multiple records (in the case of Major Incidents or Problems) then it is a powerfully complementary part of a company’s overall ITSM strategy.

Nexthink Customers

Screenshots

Click on the thumbnails to enlarge.

In Their Own Words:

Nexthink provides unique real-time end-user IT analytics across the complete infrastructure. This perfectly complements existing application performance monitoring systems to drive better ITSM initiatives.

End-user IT analytics are the path to better IT quality, security and great efficiency and cost savings.

Nexthink provides IT organizations with a real-time view of the IT activity and interaction across the complete enterprise, from the end-user perspective. This unique visibility and analytics give IT the capability to truly evaluate and understand how organizations are performing and rapidly diagnose problems or identify security risks. Nexthink uniquely collects in real time millions of events and their respective dependencies and relationship to IT services from all users, all their applications, all their devices, all workloads, and all network connections patterns (server accessed, ports, response time, duration, failure, timeouts, etc.).

Nexthink helps IT connect, communicate and collaborate to achieve their major initiatives and improve their business end-user’s IT experience. Nexthink is complimentary hence integrates well with traditional application performance management (network and server), help desk, operations management, and security tools and eases ITIL change and release management processes.

Further Information

Group Test Index

This independent review is part of our 2013 Incident and Problem Review. See all participants and terms of the review here.

Majority Of Service Desks Not Supporting BYOD

Dell KACE claim the majority of service desks can't or don't want to support BYOD

Dell KACE has released a survey this month which claims that “a majority” of IT support team help service desks are unwilling to support employees who want to bring their own device (BYOD) to work.

This UK-based survey suggests that as many as 56 per cent of IT professionals believe their IT service desk is ill-equipped to deal with user-owned tablets entering the network.

Why the #FAIL here?

Dell KACE says that this is either because they:

  • can’t or
  • don’t want to support them

But is there much value in analysis of this kind with “loaded” questions to a mere 149 survey respondents?

Some 27  per cent of the survey respondents said that while their service desk can support traditional devices, they cannot support tablets. Furthermore, 18 per cent said their helpdesk can’t easily support any user-owned devices and 11 per cent said they don’t want to support any new devices.

“I find it worrying that organisations have a ‘can’t or won’t’ approach to BYOD, this growing trend across organisations places additional pressure on IT to provide support,” said Seann Gardiner, sales director, at EMEA Dell KACE.

“It is critical that IT is able to easily manage the practice of more devices coming inside the enterprise from outside the organisation. An effective BYOD strategy supports employees. It can increase individual employee’s productivity, which can have a positive effect on an organisation’s performance. Companies should be looking closely at how they manage employees’ BYOD attempts, in order to boost their organisation’s overall productivity.”

On the subject of whether their service desk is integrated with the rest of their systems management tools, 20 per cent of IT professionals said their companies have still not integrated their systems and a lot of other tasks are carried out manually. The research also reveals that more than a third (36 per cent) of IT professionals say IT problems are tracked using spreadsheets and emails, or a ‘home-grown’ system.

  • Some 52 per cent believe the service desk is seen as ‘the face of IT to the business – so our service levels matter’.
  • A further 20 per cent said it was not seen as a strategic part of IT and 17 per cent said ‘users only see us when they have an IT problem’.

Gardiner said, “Service desks need to be more integrated with other system management tools in order to have a strong overview of all their IT. Manual tracking of IT issues using spreadsheets and emails introduces a big cost overhead as well as taking a lot of time. If you can’t see all IT problems, you can’t fix them. To help organisations perform well, IT must automate systems management tasks which will save time and money. Integration is absolutely key in an environment where the application and device landscape is diversifying”.

Our survey said…

The firm confirms that participants here included front-line IT professionals, IT managers, IT executives and others – all taken from what is claimed to be a “wide range” of company sizes and industry verticals in the UK.

Does Dell KACE have an agenda to push here? Perhaps so, but not to the degree that the firm is trying to also plug a product as its system-management solutions and family of appliances are designed to work at a higher level in most senses. That being the case, we may well have more BYOD dangers on the road ahead than we even realise as of now.

SERVICE DESK 2.0 -The Service Desk is dead…long live the Service Desk!

Service Desk 2.0
Service Desk 2.0: More about services, products and capabilities, less about incidents and fixes.

We all know the world of IT is developing at a frightening pace.

Has Service Management been left in the dust?

I recently corresponded with Aale Roos,  ITSM Consultant and founder at Pohjoisviitta Oy, who argues that the old perception of the Service Desk has to be replaced with a new way of thinking.

Q. The ITSM Review: Aale, could you tell me a bit about yourself ?

In 1989 I left my job at a Computercenter to become an ITSM consultant (We called it Data Processing Management Consulting back then, the company was called DPMC Oy)

In 1992 I started Help Desk Institute in Finland. By 2002 I was completely bored with help desks but saw that ITIL was coming and went into ITIL training and consulting.

Then in 2007 I thought that ITIL V3 was a big mistake and concentrated in ISO 20,000 instead.

Today I see a renewed interest in support but I think that ITIL is way behind. People don’t want to hear the same old stuff.

Q. What led to your Service Desk 2.0 Concept?

There are three major reasons why the good old Service Desk model is fast becoming obsolete:

1. Users Got IT Savvy

The concept of a Single Point Of Contact (SPOC) was a great innovation. Instead of having several numbers like PC support, operators, telecommunications etc. to call, the IT end users were given one single number and a promise that they would get help. The model was a great success; it was a major improvement to the previous situation, both for IT and the users of IT services.

There is nothing wrong with the SPOC model itself, it works fine if there is a fairly homogenous group of customers who have the same problems. This happens when people are confronting something complicated which is new to them and the 20/80 rule works; if you can solve 20% of issues, you can solve 80% of end user calls. That was the situation with IT before year 2000. It was new and complicated and people had repeating problems that were relatively easy to solve.

Today almost everyone is used to IT and can solve simple problems themselves. People are not afraid of computers like they were in the 1980’s when this model was invented.  There is no homogenous group of users with easy problems, users are different and their problems and needs are more specific.

2. Diversity vs. Standardization

The second major change is the technology. There have been two major waves of computing and a third is emerging: first the central computing with mainframes, then the personal computing with PC’s and now the consumer computing with iPads, Apps and Cloud. One of the key concepts in ITSM is standardization. Support and maintenance is much easier if users have standard equipment. BYOD is an anathema to this but is becoming reality. People use the tools they want to use and now consumer products are overtaking corporate IT. It is hard to support something you do not know.

3. Paradigm Shift in Support

The third change is the real game breaker. The whole Service Desk / incident/ problem -thinking is based on the assumption that technology malfunctions but is easy to fix. There must be one person per x hundreds of users. This model would not work with consumer services where one person can support a million users. FaceBook has 845.000.000 users and 3.000 staff. I would be surprised if more than 845 of them would be doing support, probably less. WordPress has 20 million customers and 10 happiness Engineers to support them.

The only way to support millions of users with one person is to make products and services robust, reliable and easy to use and that is exactly what has happened.

Aale Roos

Q. What does Service Desk 2.0 mean in practice?

Do we still need a service desk then? Yes we do but it has to change. The old ITIL Service Desk is like the old Service station including as garage. Handy if your car broke down. The new service station does not fix cars but sells food. Handy if you are hungry.

The new Service Desk 2.0 is like the Applestore. It is not about incidents and fixes, it is about services and products. Or maybe it is really about capabilities, Service desk 2.0 strives to give you better tools.

The new model plays down the SPOC model. Yes, there is a number but it is ok to contact the expert direct. They key is service, not incidents. Self service and peer support are important. SD2 is the place for new solutions. Feedback is also important, SD2 listens to the customers and drives service improvements.

Q. There seems to be increased interest in Service Catalogue – in this the answer to swapping the focus from call volumes to services and perceived value?

Yes, exactly.

Q. What key steps would you recommend for embracing the requirements of the modern day service desk?

  1. Learn to use new tools and keep up with you front runner customers.
  2. Be active in sharing new solutions.
  3. Be visible in social media
  4. Understand that peer to peer support happens

Aale Roos is an ITSM Consultant and founder at Pohjoisviitta Oy.

See also:

Introducing Aprill

Aprill Allen, 'Knowledgebird'

I am very pleased to announce that Aprill Allen is joining The ITSM Review.

Aprill is passionate about Knowledge Management: capturing corporate knowledge and sharing it effectively.

She has 13 years of helpdesk experience under her belt; working in tier 1, tier 2 and tier 2.5 roles for ISPs, Telco’s and financial institutions and has written an award winning eBook (A Simple Guide to Creating a Knowledge Base).

Social Media and Community Management

Our goal is to be the number one online destination for news, reviews and resources for worldwide ITSM professionals.

Aprill will be helping us with this goal by engaging with our readers, ensuring our content remains on-topic and encouraging conversations around key ITSM industry issues.

Aprill will also be helping with Twitter (@itsmreview) and the new ITSM Review LinkedIn Group. Things are a little bit quiet in the LinkedIn Group at the moment, but if discussions in the ITAM Review LinkedIn Group are anything to go by it will soon be filling up with good stuff (without the spam!).

Welcome Aprill!

Twelve IT Helpdesks For Under $1,000

Say What You See

ITSM folklore states that the helpdesk software market is heavily oversaturated. Companies don’t suddenly discover the need for an IT helpdesk – it is a replacement market.

That may be the case for large enterprises, but this overlooks the enormous market of small and growing businesses.

In the UK for example the Federation of Small Businesses claims that 99% of UK business activity stems from small and medium size companies.

The UK has 4.5 million SME companies that account for 58.8% of all private sector employment in the UK and 48.8% of private sector turnover (source).

I have used UK figures here but my bet is that the vast majority of countries have a similar balance – perhaps even more so in developing countries.

Similarly, teams or divisions within larger organizations are breaking free of the shackles of prehistoric software and taking IT support provision into their own hands.

With this is mind I have compiled a short list of companies offering IT helpdesk software offering an entry level for under a grand. All the offerings below are web-based (do start ups and small companies buy servers?).

Conditions of inclusion

  • Under US$1,000 per year per user
  • Pricing is readily available on their website
  • Delivered via the Web
  • The website is not scary

If I have missed any companies that meet the criteria above please leave a comment below. Thanks in advance for your help.

Company Marketing Blurb… Pricing (Named user / agent per month from…)
1 Beetil “Adopt best practices the easy way” $39
2 BMC RemedyForce “A simpler, more affordable IT helpdesk in the cloud” $79
3 Desk (Salesforce, formerly Assistly) “The simple, social, mobile, affordable Customer Support Help Desk” $49
4 Freshdesk “Deliver a refreshing customer support experience through email, your website, phone, your communities and even Facebook and Twitter. Take your support to where your customers are” $9
5 ITRP “Make IT service management work for you. Your customers will thank you.” $30
6 ITSmartDesk “Social IT Service Management” ~$80 (for whole company not per named user)
7 Kayako “Helpdesk Evolved. Never miss a beat. Manage your email, live chat, calls, remote support and self-service, all in one place.” $29
8 My Service Desk (Hornbill) “Best Practice ITSM that delivers in Days not Weeks” $59
9 SAManage “Thousands of people around the world use SAManage, the leading online IT Service Desk and IT Asset Management tool.” $800 per year
10 Web Help Desk “Powerful Software for Technical Support” $75
11 ZenDesk “The fastest way to great customer support” $24
12 Zoho “Great Customer Support Quick and Easy” $12