Last time, I was talking about the various helpdesk

solutions that we are considering for our company, and I gave you an overview of

our findings on TouchPaper. Today, I’ll tell you about the other two. I have

used Hornbill Supportworks in a

previous company; the interface is nice and the process of logging and updating

calls is very intuitive. Asset discovery is not included in the helpdesk

package (it’s a separate, plug-in/product), however, manual input of asset data

is allowed. We ran a two-week trial of Supportworks, and I had problems in

getting the shared mailbox function to work with our mail server. Everything

worked with POP3, however IMAP did not. I’m sure this could have been resolved

with Hornbill over time; however, we only had a two-week evaluation so we stuck

with the POP3 config and got on with testing.

We were quite happy overall with Supportworks. The only

massive negative was that this system again needs a Windows Server base. It’s

quite disappointing that Hornbill don’t make this available for a Linux-base

system, considering that its major components include Apache and MySQL!


is a lesser known helpdesk environment, and none of our team had used this

before. We found it on a Google search! We had our sights on TOPdesk

Enterprise, which is completely platform-independent, the core services being

coded in Java and database options of MSSQL or Oracle. The user interface is completely

Web-based. At first this didn’t seem very attractive, because Web-based

interfaces are normally quite cumbersome, slow, and awkward to use (form

submissions, drop-down boxes, and text fields). I must now say that the

interface of TOPdesk was the most intuitive Web interface I have used. Cutting-edge

programming techniques and lateral thinking have clearly been put into action

with a pleasing result.

The pricing structure of TOPdesk is pretty fair; most of the

systems features are broken down into modules, meaning you only pay for what

you want. One suggestion from their sales rep was that we could purchase the

basic system and then take additional modules later on. This would mean

deployment and costs could be staggered over time. TOPdesk also did not base

their prices on the number of operators and the number of end users; the total number

of users–be they ‘end’ users or operators–was all that needed to be

considered. LANDesk integration is, of course, available; reporting is also

included and very simple to work with using the report generator. One gripe I

have about TOPdesk is that it requires Internet Explorer; Firefox compatibility

is apparently coming soon.

All things considered, helpdesk systems are much of a

muchness. The features offered are quite similar and there doesn’t seem to be

one package which shines forth above all others. Taking this into account, our

decision will probably be based on user interface, system compatibility, and of

course, price. TOPdesk looks to be doing well (seeing as it is the only

platform-independent option so far). Any comments from current TOPdesk users,

or do you have any suggestions on other systems, which we should be looking at?