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. Im 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
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,