IT Policies

Helpdesk solutions

There comes a time within a growing company where the IT

support operation goes from a few 'Tech' guys keeping users happy, to a

reasonably sized department having ever more demanding requests piled on by

users. Efficiency can be increased by having certain support staff cover key

areas of the companies needs (Network/Server support, Desktop support, Software

support, etc), but without the proper underlying structure in place, making

this work can seem like fighting a losing battle. 

An essential tool in creating a basis for this structure is

of course a helpdesk/call logging system. I’m sure everyone who has worked in a

medium to large corporation has used at least one helpdesk solution, and while

that means staff need to log how/where their time is used (which may be

unpopular with less productive members of a team), the statistics provide a way

to justify budgetary requirements and departmental expansion.

Our company is currently looking at some of the helpdesk

solutions on the market; I thought I would comment on our findings so far. We

are, of course, challenged in the fact that we run a Linux/Unix-based network, and

most of the systems out there are geared towards Windows Domains and require a

Windows Server to operate on.


Three popular systems that we have considered implementing

are Touchpaper,

SupportWorks and Topdesk Enterprise. In this

installment, I'll tell you about the first one, Touchpaper.


One of our team members has previously used Touchpaper,

hence our investigation into what it would do for our organisation. The

Helpdesk system has many optional plug-in applications (most of which can also

be used without the helpdesk suite), the most interesting of these being NMS

(network monitoring) and AUtoserve (service/process monitoring). These modules

are well thought out and, when used with Helpdesk, they will automatically log

a call and assign it to the correct operator (if a router or particular service

were to go down).

This all looked good, and according to their sales staff and

technical advisor, this would all run on a Linux base. Unfortunately, this has proven

not to be the case. It's a shame because the power of Touchpaper seemed to be

its compatibility and integration of other modules. LANDesk integration, fully-automated

asset discovery, and the modules previously mentioned would have been a great

help. We also felt they were trying to take us for a ride with their quote. The

software cost was a tad under five figures, but the consultancy and setup

charges took the total price to five times the software cost! (All in £GBP too,

not $USD.)