What to Look for in a New Help Desk Tool
Does your help desk software address today's needs? When it comes to deciding on a new IT service management solution for your organization, there are many products to choose from. While certain considerations such as size, budget, and specific organizational needs will be different from one company to the next, there are some criteria that will be common among most during the ITSM tool selection process. Here, we examine eight key elements that should be considered during the decision-making process.
1. Out-of-the-Box Readiness
It’s obvious that choosing a tool that suits your needs straight out of the box will always be more convenient compared to a tool that requires lots of early-stage configuration. What is often less obvious during this stage of the selection process is checking to see if the product will require any additional software packages in order to operate as required and also deliver any specific requirements that the organization has. As well as this, considerations should be given and even tested as to the compatibility of specific platforms the new product will support such as Windows operating systems, browser editions, and mobile devices.
2. Customization and Flexibility
Many tools allow the flexibility to easily customize components of the product such as forms, fields, reports, workflows, and permissions. The ability to customize these items is often a very important factor when choosing a new IT service management product. Not having the ability to customize such areas of the product prevents you from being able to tailor the product to your organization’s needs now and in the future. Even if the product does allow for customization, consideration should be given as to how easily these changes can be made. Will it require a third-party consultant or can the customizations be carried out by internal IT resources? Similarly, it’s important to check if future software updates will have any effect on both the customizations that have been made and on any third-party integrations that work with the product such as remote desktop platforms.
3. On-premise or in the Cloud
For many organizations choosing a product that has a choice of being hosted on-premise or in the cloud makes sense. Typically a hosted product requires little or no maintenance, has no additional cost in terms of hardware, and can easily be accessed from anywhere using most web browsers. However, many organizations still prefer to keep such products hosted locally (on-prem) so that they can easily and securely access the information that’s contained in their databases. The other advantage of having the data readily available is in the scenario of having to migrate the information to a different product at a later stage. As the data is hosted in your environment, it’s often easier to extract and move to a new database than it would be if the data resides in the cloud.
4. Ongoing Technical Support and Maintenance
When choosing any new software product for your organization, you want to rest assured that the vendor you are purchasing from is going to be able to provide you with the ongoing support and product maintenance quickly and efficiently. With this in mind, ask the vendor how they provide support, how many years the company has been in business, and if they have been through any recent acquisitions. This will be a good indication of whether they will still be operating in 5 years. Likewise, how does the vendor provide support for the product? Is it in-house technicians or is it outsourced to a third party who might have less knowledge of the product?
5. API Integrations
Regardless of what tool is right for your environment, you will mostly likely have a need for third-party applications that work in conjunction with the chosen product. These might be applications for custom web forms, remote help desk software, or integrations to other databases. In order to make sure that the information is shared between these products, check if your newly chosen ITSM vendor provides access to the product's API for the purposes of integration.
6. Additional Costs
When reviewing a product’s functionality, it is important to examine which features will not be included in the cost of the standard product platform. Many products offer features such as mobile applications, remote helpdesk tools, and modules for incident and change management. However, quite often these items are not included in the standard product offering and are considered add-ons that are charged separately.
7. Interface and Mobile Platform Capabilities
When implementing new software tools, it can be difficult to get end users on board with using the new product. Choosing a tool with a user-friendly interface will assist in encouraging users to adopt the new product. Get a firm understanding during the evaluation stage of which browsers the product supports, if configurations and forms are easily customizable, and whether there is an easy-to-use self-service portal for users.
8. Total Cost of Ownership
Determining the total cost of ownership of your new IT service management software should be calculated based on a minimum of a 5-year period. Often, a cloud or SaaS product will appear to be the more cost-effective option when compared to an on-premise hosted solution. However, when compared over a 5-year period, the cost can often be similar or sometimes less. With that said, even with an on-premise solution, there are additional overheads that need to be taken into consideration such as the hardware and software costs to host the product and how frequently these items will need to be upgraded. Other areas of additional cost that should be examined are the ongoing costs associated with training additional licensing and upgrades.
BOSS Solutions is a U.S. company providing innovative software solutions for ticket management software. The company’s major product lines are BOSSDesk which provides IT service management both in the cloud and on-premise, and BOSS811, a One Call ticket management software for the damage prevention industry.
About the Author:
Kris Giroux is the Director of Product Support at BOSS Solutions. He is a product evangelist for BOSSDesk and has been helping customers implement best practices in IT service management for more than 15 years