David Szpunar: Lead Engineer, PC Help Services

David's Church Information Technology

May 25th, 2007 at 11:55 pm Print This Post Print This Post

HelpSpot helpdesk initial impressions

In reading some of Jason Powell’s old posts about helpdesk software, I discovered a comment by the author of a system called Userscape HelpSpot. The system has obviously gone through some changes since the original post. I haven’t seen the original, but the changes appear to be good because I really like the system! The interface is simple and uses enough AJAX (Asynchronous Javascript And XML) (think Web 2.0) to be responsive and intuitive. This is my impression from using the hosted trial for the last few hours anyway.

There’s a 15% non-profit discount, and the licensing cost is not prohibitive. It also does threaded email tracking very well, and includes a knowledge base and forum that are simple and make sense from the user and administration experiences. And it includes RSS feeds of several useful areas, along with very good reporting that has flexible filtering and drill-down features.

My main problem is…no asset tracking or inventory management are included. I agree that Ian Landsman, the HelpSpot creator, has some good points when I asked about this on his forums. And the response time (to my question along with the others listed, as well as to my trial setup request) shows me that support is excellent, which makes high quality, fast support a two-for-two find recently if you include MozyPro.

I will try Ian’s suggestion of using an asset tag with a custom field to at least track which systems are being referred to in a ticket, which could work. This could work well in conjunction with Spiceworks (also see posts here and here), which has a good (not perfect) inventory interface but a newly created helpdesk that’s not as poweful as HelpSpot.

I haven’t tried all the helpdesk options out by far. ManageEngine ServiceDesk is the one Jason and team is using at Granger Community Church now. I’ve installed the free version, and I’m impressed with the very large number of features. However, it’s a bit more complex than I’d like, especially given that I may have some non-IT department help with entering tickets soon. Like Ian said, in fact, it tries to do everything. And it’s more expensive than HelpSpot for the configuration we need (initially and recurring). Does anyone want to write (or find) an inventory/asset application that has an interface that’s simple like HelpSpot and integrates with the same? I can’t put my finger on what is keeping me from liking Spiceworks as much as I want to. The speed, perhaps? The unresolved errors in some cases? Probably a combination, plus there are some interface items that just feel “clunky” to me, as nice as it is.

So I’m narrowing down the helpdesk search, and still on the lookout for the inventory side. I’m not convinced in any particular direction yet, but I’m finding more and more acceptable choices. At least it’s progress.

Well, it’s probably a good time to get to bed. And get around to enjoying the start of a long weekend. And conclude what has now turned into a rant, or a ramble. Thanks for your indulgence. Comments welcome.