Helpdesk/Service Desk Recommendations

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  1. PaulW

    Helpdesk/Service Desk Recommendations


    Just ramping up to look for a new Helpdesk/Service desk with the current employer. They have and homegrown Access based application which... is difficult to use at the best of times. Normally I would go to Jira and build something but quite frankly I need something quicker.

    Thoughts on what works best for a company of 100-200 users, of which ~50% are remote. My list of features is nothing a-typical:

    * Email integration for submissions / updating users

    * Web interface for Helldesk workers and/or submitting updating tickets by users

    * Ideally fully customizable on queues (one for desktop, network, biz-apps, etc.)

    * Supports subtasks if possible (but not a deal breaker)

    * Good Management Reports (aka pretty graphs)

    * Could usefully have KB type functionality too

    * Needs to be self hosted due to some of our special contracts.

    I throw this to the wide audience. I was looking at something like Zendesk but... suggestions would be appreciated.


    -- Paul

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Helpdesk/Service Desk Recommendations

      Try OP Smartdesk.

    2. nutsontheroad

      Re: Helpdesk/Service Desk Recommendations

      The upcoming service desk show at Earls Court might be worth a look []. Assuming you are in the UK.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Helpdesk/Service Desk Recommendations

      Try System Centre Service Manager - probably the most powerful solution on the market at the moment - especially around process automation. Pretty easy to setup and run too.

    4. yitzfink

      Re: Helpdesk/Service Desk Recommendations

      Hi Paul,

      SysAid is your answer.

      Granted I work for SysAid and I am probably biased, but let me give you a call or shoot you an email, and we can show you what our software can do.

      Everything you mentioned that you need in a helpdesk solution is out of the box with SysAid.

      If you are interested, than please contact me privately at and I will be happy to assist.

      Good Luck!


    5. m155698

      Re: Helpdesk/Service Desk Recommendations

      OTRS, last time I looked was very good. And cheap too. With good free support and so I suspect first class paid for support.

    6. Captain Scarlet

      Re: Helpdesk/Service Desk Recommendations

      Always found Manage Engine's Service Desk application to be exactly whats needed. Support for the application is very helpful, it looks pretty for users and is good at email updates.

      KB is there but I never found anyone actually used them.

      Can be hosted on a variety of OS's and the patching process is easy enough.

      Backend DB can be one it installs or your own SQL server.

  2. PaulW

    I didn't mean Zendesk above - I meant Sysaid

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      "I didn't mean Zendesk above - I meant Sysaid"

      We looked at Sysaid, but ultimately went with Zendesk, and while there have been some idiosyncracies and quirky issues it's been very useable, and we make heavy use of the API to integrate it with our Nagios setup, our provisioning system and a rather funky dashboard SaaS app called Geckoboard. We also use the Gooddata option to get some detailed performance reporting out of it, which revealed amusing stats about common issues, and well... certain individuals who monopolise IT's time more than they should, and the reasons they do the monopolising.

      It's not perfect (nothing is), and not necessarily the cheapest option but we're into our second year with it now and the difference between it and our previous solution is night and day.

      1. Fatman

        Re: Zendesk

        Allow me to fill in a couple of blanks.

        We also use the Gooddata option to get some detailed performance reporting out of it, which revealed amusing stats about common issues, and well... certain individuals (IDIOT manglers) who monopolise IT's time more than they should, and the reasons they do the monopolising (sheer stupidity and gross incompetence).


  3. Steen

    a little late but ...

    we use spiceworks, its worth a look and it seems to suit our > 200 org.

  4. Bassey


    Yeah, same here. I think Spiceworks is virtually the default for SMEs looking for a cheap, no-hassle ticketing system. It isn't great and I'm not sure the reports can do graphs (I've never looked. Management only want to know how many tickets are outstanding and how many we closed this week) but, once set up, it runs with very little admin.

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: spiceworks

      Spiceworks can be extended by add-ons to be actually a lot more useful than the OOBE.

  5. Steven Raith


    Used it before in a school with 400PCs/1000 users, I'll be honest, I can't remember if it does all that stuff, but it certainly worked well enough, and had integrated remote desktop tools etc.

    If anyone has used it recently, feel free to knock me down, but that's the first one that comes to mind as it wasn't too bad at all as I recall.

    Spiceworks isn't one I thought of, but looking through it, it's probably worth a look - would need to open up WMI on the network though as I recall.

    I'll be keeping tabs on this thread as it's always worth knowing what the current good support systems are, might want to update our own internal stuff at some point.

    Steven R

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Forget Spiceworks

    As Mrs Coat says: "Spiceworks is shit. Really shit."

    Mrs Coat now uses GLPI and lives happily ever after.

  7. Spindreams

    A few to recommend.

    We use WHMCS from at our site, it is a hosting eCommerce system but has integrated Support desk / knowledge base with some nice features but maybe not quite enough for you. The good thing though is the website interface for customers which is highly customisable to allow people to open support tickets and no limit on number of agents. (I should point out there is no need to use the eCommerce part of the software if you don't need it)

    The next two have agent limits so you pay for the more agents answering tickets. (another we have used) works well and probably has more of the features you are looking for.

    If you prefer something is .NET then try SmarterTrack (Nice pollished system and includes live chat if you want that.

  8. Ben 54


    This is too small for the paid ones. Open ITSM ( is probably the best in this case, since it's free, and you have the source to expand on. It does the job, and is very easy to configure. This is PHP based, and can be self hosted. Just see the current userbase portofolio for this free solution, measure up the out of the box features, and make judge it yourself.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Helpdesk?

      That looks very nice.

      And free?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Helpdesk?

        Yes, but if you aren't familiar with php, then you'll be stuck, like I was, googling for how to actual make it do things.

        On the whole it was easy to install, but doing the initial setup was painful.

        One of my biggest issues with zero-cost software is they usually have a zero-cost manuals. Some actually have docs that do LIST all of the commands, options and settings, but very few have well-written, IMNSHO, manuals and not just command lists. Hell, I can generate a list of commands just by using: strings <filename>

        1. H H

          Re: Helpdesk?

          OTRS seems to be written in perl, not php.

          1. Ben 54

            Re: Helpdesk?

            Oh yeah, correct! It is perl. It has been a long time since we installed it. It just keep on running, never broken down on us in any way.

    2. Steve @ Ex Cathedra Solutions

      Re: Helpdesk?

      Yep, completely agree. I rolled the OSS version of OTRS out to over 3000 users successfully and it worked beautifully from day 1. It became the go-to solution for IT, FM and most other internal service needs.

      Run it on LAMP, preferably on its native database. It's pretty good for most of the other ITIL stacks as well as incident too.

  9. CaptainRaymondo


    Hi. I've recently gone through the same process and found the majority of packages to be overcomplicated and expensive.

    Came across Citrus Help desk which is a UK company and its an excellent product which ticks all your boxes. We purchased it for a very reasonable cost and we are currently rolling it out to our company of 350 employees

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Citrus

      That looks nice as well.

  10. A Long Fellow

    Another vote for GLPI

    I've implemented GLPI and all were fairly happy with it. Also does a brilliant job of asset management and inventory tracking.

  11. theinsanebrain

    I second OTRS. I have used kace, altiris and desktop authority in the past. There are also mobile apps as well. All your requirements will be meet including a customer portal. I believe there is an appliance version as well.

  12. ewozza

    Live Project -

  13. Don Jefe

    Access Based Solution

    A homegrown Access based solution that's somewhat difficult? You sir, are a gentleman and a scholar. Your discretion is to be applauded.

    Your answer will be found in that Access solution. I promise this will make sense, stick with me. Access is a fantastic tool for people like me, for instance, who are only marginally competent at software development, but who know the intricacies of my company/division/role very well. Assuming there is someone similar in your clients organization who has worked on their internal solution, beginning your search in that internal solution is a good place to start.

    You want to look for features/functions that seem weird, superfluous or just stupid, then find out why those features/functions were put in place. Are they addressing actual business rules and needs and/or organizational politics (both are equally important in the minds of clients) or are those features/functions the result of someone's best effort at conquering a technical challenge where a more appropriate answer was simply beyond their abilities. (For some reason, cascading drop down menus and variables of any sort seem to attract special sort of Rube Goldberg personality to all Access solutions).

    Kooky technical workarounds can be safely ignored as long as you know what they are supposed to be doing. Just make sure any new solution handles that task in a 'proper' manner, and be certain to point it out to your client (just pointing out you felt their pain and solved it is worth 100 Client Bonus Points and if the opportunity to fluff the ego of whoever created the workarounds presents itself it's 1000 extra points. Especially if it's a middle manager person :).

    The rest of it is down to simply assessing their homegrown solution and finding a 'shrink wrapped' alternative that meets their needs with the least amount of process change possible. Technical superiority, cost and ease of deployment (for you) aren't nearly as valuable as a smooth transition and a solution that actually works as opposed to turning off the building HVAC every time a calculated field returns a prime number (or whatever).

    I'll close out with this; your job isn't to select their help desk solution. Your job is to figure out what their help desk solution actually needs to do. I guarantee they don't actually know. Selecting a product can be done by anyone who can read the features list. You've got to determine what they actually need, what they want and how they will determine if you were successful. Once you know those things it's a simple matter of you reading the features list and choosing the best fit and sending them a bill.

    You've got a big advantage with them having an internal solution. Ask around and find the biggest pinch points for all the different users,and try to make them disappear in the actual deployment. It sounds kind of crappy, but try to identify who the heavyweight influences are in the user group, and which members of management are pushing for the new helpdesk and make sure you address their issues too. I realize users are actually the most crucial element, but the people who sign the checks are important too, and you can usually satisfy them with 3 seconds of attention and a chart with lots of primary colors.

    But don't be shy about making a show out of listening to, and addressing what everybody wants from the end result. A solution is fit for purpose if it meets the clients ideas of the purpose, not its 'value added features' or technical superiority. The clients are telling you what they want, but they don't actually realize it, they never do. Listen to them and interpret it and if you do it well you can make lots of money. If you don't do it well you'll be another frustrated geek trying to get by in an illogical world, and nobody wants that :)

    Also, for your own sanity, as you narrow down your field of contenders to a small(ish) set, start really digging into the documentation, help and support each solution has (user/admin documentation, not code comments & such). If you're going to stay in this field as a professional just accept the fact you won't get to charge for every phone call or support email if you want clients to do your marketing for you: You own those clients for all eternity. Make sure you can get answers if you need them. Besides, RTFM only works if there's a FM to read :)

    I haven't done contract IT work in almost 14 years, and I still get occasional phone calls from old clients or their successors or recommendations from them to others. I would rather choke myself to death on slag from our blast furnace than do contract IT work again, but one day when you're old like me it'll be nice when you get those calls and can pass them off to some brave young person starting out and payback a favor to a former colleague or friend, and that's what makes the world go round.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We use Service Now

    And my advice to you is: don't.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hesk is free and does the job, except for subtasks, I believe. LAMP app.

  16. TonyJ


    I also second OTRS.

    It'll do everything you need and then some - including some great reporting.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: OTRS

      Can you point us to the document that allowed you to make it do everything?

  17. K

    Service Desk Plus

    Its a good bit of software and ManageEngine are giving the Standard edition away free.

    We use their IT360 NMS which includes Service Desk Plus, but we also their DesktopCentral for Patching and Desktop/MDM management which fully integrates with ServiceDesk Plus.. good tools and if you speak with them they give good discounts. I'd rate these over Solarwinds products.

    1. Matto in AUS

      Re: Service Desk Plus

      Another vote for Service Desk Plus. It's what we use here for a firm of ~650 staff, IT team of ~25, geographically dispersed across the country with a couple of international branches.

      It works well, it seems to be functional, and the Support team maintain it themselves. Upgrades are really easy, and it all Just Works.

      In fact, it's so good that a couple of the other internal depts (Corp Services, who take care of leases, desks, calling a guy to fix the dishwasher, etc, and both HR and Finance) want us to configure queues in the system for them, to handle their client care.

      We looked at Kayako, and while I still think it's a good system, SDP was cheaper and meets all our our requirements admirably.

      Good luck.


      Matto :)

  18. Lee D Silver badge


    Fabulously customisable, runs on Windows or Linux, ties into AD, does full inventory and really powerful scripting/rules to promote / hand-off tickets.

  19. Spiny_Norman

    SharePoint 2010/2013 with custom lists & workflows will do all you need quite easily - I have built an online crime recording system using it for a FT100 company & it works like gangbusters & has been for last 3 years. Sometimes simple just works.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Are you kidding?


  20. Zacherynuk

    We Use

    It is very good for a small MSP / inter departmental stuff.

    I doubt it doesn't do something you need it to, if it doesn't they are pretty good on the requests!

    Been using them for many years and they are pretty much the cornerstone of our tracking and invoicing. They do asset engagement and diagrams n stuff too... but don't touch that.

    Talk to them. Let me know.

  21. Ambivalous Crowboard

    Nobody's recommended HelpSpot! - rolled this in for a 40-staffer 4000-customer service desk solution three years ago, it's still happily ticking along. Vendor support is ace and features aplenty. Self-hosted is fine.

  22. PaulW

    Thanks to all!

    Lots of input here so thanks - need to review and think as it were.

    On spiceworks - one of the few I did get into looking at - its easy to setup, but for our user base a little confusing would be the best way to put it (think C-Level staff, manufacturing people and sales).

    Access really isn't in our cards. Yes it could be done but our two Access people (myself included here) are busy supporting access on our shop floor system (works great - beyond great - but its a resource drain) hence the need to go with something a bit more out-of-the box.

    PHP would be fine (I've done enough LAMP type systems to write a book) but again see previous paragraph.

    Will investigate some of the rest above and report back once we have a solution.

  23. jake Silver badge

    Only 200 people?

    Use the fucking telephone!

    Unless your network and employee training are both fundamentally completely fucked up ... in which case, all I can say is that I feel sorry for you & suggest you move on. Life is too short.

    1. Phil W

      Re: Only 200 people?

      You either lack experience of working in a real front line support environment or are just stupid. The practicality of having technical staff who can actually fix whatever somone calls up about constantly available to answer the phone, and have time to get all their work done, is basically non-existant in most real world environments.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Only 200 people?

        > You either lack experience of working in a real front line support environment or are just stupid.


        1. jake Silver badge

          @AC (was: Re: Only 200 people?)

          A. Coward: care to expound on "Either?"? And prove you are that particular Coward?

          With examples? Maybe even a paragraph?

          Thought not. Kids these days.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Only 200 people? @Phil W, Andrew Fernie, AC

        I would say "Go easy on him, he's just turned 14," but - naahhh!

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. jake Silver badge

          @A. Coward (was: Re: Only 200 people? @Phil W, Andrew Fernie, AC)

          I'm not 14. I wish ... but only if I could be 14 again with the 4 decades(ish) worth of life experience since I was actually that age.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @A. Coward (was: Only 200 people? @Phil W, Andrew Fernie, AC)

            Well, that's about three decades less than I'd place you considering the amount of miserable neo-luddite bullshit you keep posting.

      3. jake Silver badge

        @ Phil W (was: Re: Only 200 people?)

        Front-line tech support is just that. They should have no other "work".

        I agree that it's basically non-existent in the real-wold, alas.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Only 200 people?

      "Use the fucking telephone!

      Unless your network and employee training are both fundamentally completely fucked up ... in which case, all I can say is that I feel sorry for you & suggest you move on. Life is too short."

      Here in the real world, people who work actually work in IT support (which you so manifestly do not) are expected to provide metrics as an indication of performance. In additional to the simple expedient of proving they're not spending their day on Facebook or watching cat videos, said metrics often contribute to their objectives, and hence any bonuses they might earn. You might just about manage to manage this with Excel, assuming you possess an inclination towards masochism. What do you hand your imaginary bosses at imaginary review time jake? A phone bill?

      Paris, because she'd make a better IT Professional than you ever would.

      1. jake Silver badge

        @ Andrew Fernie (was: Re: Only 200 people?)

        Ah, yes. Metrics. So beloved by manglement. And so fucking useless.

        Why would the corporate network be allowed to connect to Facebook or anything providing Cat Videos?

        Bonuses? You're not salaried? Again, move on. Life is too short.

        Excel isn't an option here. I run Slackware on the desktops & BSD on the servers and Internet facing gear. (Rumor has it that Microsoft is thinking about making the Apple version of Excel run on proper BSD).

        My bosses aren't imaginary. That's the wife & I. I don't have "reviews". I land contracts.

        Yes, my clients pay my phone bill on a fairly regular basis. Think about it.

        Paris is a useless bint who was disinherited by her Grandfather. But at least the teenagers of the world know what her shaved twat looks like. Something to be proud of, no doubt.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          Re: @ Andrew Fernie (was: Only 200 people?)

          "Ah, yes. Metrics. So beloved by manglement. And so fucking useless."

          I'm not management and I find metrics very useful, for determining:

          • which staff members are using the Helpdesk most and why
          • which systems generate the most issues for users, pinpointing specific areas for investigation and improvement
          • whether the requests they make are a symptom of a wider issue and whether the symptom rather than the root cause is being resolved
          • if is there a problem with training (because we try to fix training problems instead of 'moving on' as you so eloquently put it)
          • if the Helpdesk team is meeting the SLAs. This matters to us because it counts towards our objectives, and hence our earnings.
          • what time of day the Helpdesk is busiest, so I can determine whether they'll need a hand and prioritise my project work accordingly
          Being the crack Systems Admin you so clearly are, what's the first step when you troubleshoot any production system for performance issues? Personally I generate performance data and compare it against a baseline. The manner in which you quantity the result is call a performance metric. See? You can find metrics useful! And fun!

          "Why would the corporate network be allowed to connect to Facebook or anything providing Cat Videos?"

          Since you're evidently not big on jokes, perhaps we can settle for saying they're using their smartphone.

          "Bonuses? You're not salaried? Again, move on. Life is too short."

          I never knew salaries and bonuses were mutually exclusive. I've been duped all this time.

          "Excel isn't an option here."

          I was pointing out the folly of using Excel for an exercise like this, not advertising it as a solution.

          "My bosses aren't imaginary. That's the wife & I. I don't have "reviews". I land contracts."

          So, you don't think that come the end (or even the middle) of your contract, your client might want to see some discernable evidence of the value of your services before deciding to renew? Very laid back of them, verging on the horizontal.

          "Yes, my clients pay my phone bill on a fairly regular basis. Think about it."

          I'm not really equipped to think about things the way you appear to Jake. I'm not sure many people are.

          "Paris is a useless bint who was disinherited by her Grandfather. But at least the teenagers of the world know what her shaved twat looks like. Something to be proud of, no doubt."

          Classy. Anyway the tldnr upshot is that all the technical knowledge on earth will not save your job if you don't fix your employers problems. Maybe you should give us an overview of how you handle issues during large scale projects, jake? I'm sure it would be educational.

    3. Smig

      Re: Only 200 people?

      Fuck off troll.

      1. jake Silver badge

        @Smig (was: Re: Only 200 people?)

        Uh ... no.

        How about actually responding intelligently to my post.

  24. baz rowlingson


    Does nobody use RT any more?

    1. localzuk Silver badge

      Re: RT?

      For this sort of requirements list, RT would be my suggestion too. Massively customisable to do exactly what you want it to.

      I currently use Spiceworks at my place of work, but it is incredibly inflexible and I'm starting to get annoyed with it.

    2. Vic

      Re: RT?

      > Does nobody use RT any more?

      If you're going to set up RT, you need to be the only developer setting it up.

      It's so configurable, it's nigh-on impossible to get a concensus IME.

      We had a guy insisting it be set up with more queues than we had employees. As he was a Director (and I wasn't), he got his way...

      Bloody good tracker, though.


      1. Goat Jam


        Yeah, I set up RT here too, not perfect but it's pretty good. We have ~1K employees

    3. Alex Walsh

      Re: RT?

      Wait, that name sounds familiar. Baz... Mr Bluesky on Lubbs??!

  25. bigfoot780

    Kayako seems quite good.

  26. Robert Brandon

    My school district uses Web Help Desk (

    It's paid, but has quite a few of the features you mentioned plus some. It's web based where clients can enter tickets on the website or via e-mail. It does have a tasks feature, but we never used it so I don't know about subtasks.

    It has reports (with pretty graphs!) and a FAQ section you can add to.

    Features it has that you didn't mention, but might find useful:

    -LDAP / Active Directory integration for user accounts, or just add accounts specific for the help desk

    -Inventory & Parts tracking; good to use to know if a device has consistently had the same problem and know when to order more parts

    -Surveys fro clients

    -Billing support

  27. Chris F Carroll

    YouTrack ticks every one of your requirements, I think

    I was in a similar sized company using it last year, everyone seemed happy with it. Extra kudos for having a command line interface in the web app.

  28. dcolpitts

    We use ManageEngine's Support Center Plus - it does pretty much everything you are asking for. It is licensed by the number of help desk accounts you create.

    1. Sven Coenye

      Same here. And the Helpdesk Plus core is now free with unlimited technicians.

  29. -v(o.o)v-

    RT or OTRS

  30. kartstar

    We use Kayako Fusion for our 25 person IT department and 400+ user deployment. Works pretty well. We were lucky and got in while it was cheap, so it doesn't cost us much. Self-hosted, and it's open source (PHP) so really easy to customise if theres any things you want to tailor to your environment.

  31. TomInAK


    We use it for ~1000 users (and 12 support) and it's pretty good. One download, uses SQL, SQL Express, etc. as it's database, web login or e-mail, etc. Reasonably priced, too. Not 100% customizable (I came from Remedy) but doesn't take a full-time administrator just to keep it going. Support even answers the phone and calls back when they say they will.

    Oh, and their web site and support runs on their own product - always a nice touch.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You should definitely check out Redmine It is an open source project management suite, but it is highly customizable and it has issue tracking built in. This could allow you to use the same tool to manage any in house projects and applications and track known bugs and defects along with normal user requests. It has a lot of features like ldap authentication, Git plugins, etc, etc.

    Jamie Ian Fargen

  33. jemmyww

    Is there no way you can work around the self-hosted criteria? You will cut out a lot of good products. Personally I'd recommend GotoAssist ServiceDesk by Citrix, but I work for them so pinch of salt.

  34. cmorrall

    We use Efecte in my current gig. I'm just a (technical savvy) user of it, but I think it checks all your boxes. Albeit, the org is larger than yours.

  35. Peter Brooks 1

    Mediawiki - Semantic Mediawiki (SMW)

    Have you thought of using mediawiki - the engine that runs wikipaedia? It's free, of course, but very flexible. You'd need to develop some modules yourself, but if you've got some PHP or python expertise ,it's not difficult.

    Knowledge management, is obviously standard, so you can build on that. You've also got the power of the semantic web - you're not just stuck with categories, you've got semantic properties and the power of semantic queries. ( )

    You'd need to look carefully at all your requirements and decide what you needed in the short term and what you could develop in the medium term. ITIL service management advice could help you with the requirements for incident, event and problem management - it's only a tiny part of ITIL, but the book is:

    If you need event management, consider the flexibility of

    If you're working on getting your requirements right:

    1. Trixr

      Re: Mediawiki - Semantic Mediawiki (SMW)

      Oh no no no no no. A classic example of "if you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail".

      And delving into ITIL marlarkey when you want to get a simple incident management system up is really overkill. Sure, very useful in a larger environment, but then again, a decent incident management tool will slot in if you decide to go the ITIL route. ITIL didn't invent the concept of incident reporting - it just rebadged it and integrated into the other functions.

      As for me, I vote for the Manage Engine or GPLI offerings.

  36. Mtech25


    Personally i would recommend it as it has everything you are looking for and can produce very nice and flashy reports from it.

  37. nsld

    We use zendesk

    But I know from speaking to other zendesk users that Freshdesk is a serious competitor and much cheaper alternative.

    I haven't used Freshdesk but it may be worth a look if you want something like Zendesk.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: We use zendesk

      "But I know from speaking to other zendesk users that Freshdesk is a serious competitor and much cheaper alternative."

      Like I did earlier in the thread you missed the bit where it says "Needs to be self hosted due to some of our special contracts"

      Unfortunately that rules Zendesk or Freshdesk out

  38. Don

    I like WebHelpDesk.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I'd recommend Redmine, you'll need to do a bit of setup, but it meets your self hosting requirement it, it's free and extensible, and also works with Android,iPhone, Windows Phone.


    For pre-build VM's to play with (and even deploy with some tinkering) see any of the following:

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    We use Servicenow, and it's horrible, this decision was forced on us by executives whom don't understand our core business nor have any knowledge in the computer science field.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    HOTH is where it's at

    House On The Hill has served us when scaling up from a small helpdesk solution to one that's working for us across three continents!

  42. Alan Brown Silver badge

    I have a smiilar requirement

    With the proviso that it must run on Linux Desktops as well as Macs.

    Windows here accounts for 5% of installations and 95% of helpcalls.

    With a recent security edict from on high that any remaining XP systems will be forcibly disconnected from the network on April 10 we're _still_ finding them in various areas where people claim "noone told us about that" - we've been issuing warnings that it goes EOL soon for over a year.

    It'd be good to see comparisons from people who've actually used multiple packages.

  43. Jim Birch


    Have you looked at Jira Service Desk? We use Jira here (for problems, projects, etc) but not the Service Desk (incident management) component. I wish we did.

  44. AOD


    A few years ago we brought in FogBugz to replace a freeware ASP "thing" that somebody thought was a good idea to install.

    Of the packages I've seen/used (Jira, Remedy, Service Centre), FogBugz is by far the slickest and you can genuinely use it in place of your Outlook for both logging and responding to mails/issues. So you're not jumping between Outlook (or whatever your mail client is) and your Helpdesk system.

    The folks who write it (Fog Creek Software) use it themselves and you have the option of both a hosted solution, or you can get it installed on your own server (Windows or Linux).

    There are plenty of keyboard shortcuts to help productivity and the ability to define your own snippets (key shortcuts that get expanded into boilerplate text) is inspired.

    There's a 45 day free trial,I'd suggest taking it for a spin and seeing what you think.

    1. pklausner
      Thumb Up

      Re: FogBugz

      I second FogBugz

      It has a perfect email integration. And clever full text analysis, e.g. the spam filter engine for incoming mails also automatically files non-spam to the proper work queues. It much favours full-text search and reporting over explicit fields to keep the number of dedicated fields as lean as possible. Most other trackers offer a byzantinian maze of fields and drop downs which are a pain to fill in and a complete waste of screen space. Ever received a trouble ticket email from a big ISP? Where you have to scroll endlessly to get beyond the form boilerplate and read about the real issue?

      This actually also is its biggest disadvantage: management loves to code its local idea of proper procedure into ever more custom fields. Which FogBugz wouldn't let you easily...

  45. evansm

    HelpMaster works great for us.

    Give HelpMaster a try. a try.

    It has one of the best email automation platforms available, with full text parsing, attachment scanning and multi-profile scanning.

    Windows + Web. Knowledge base that can be published to the web, then rated, ranked and filtered.

    Comprehensive workflow, Active Directory synchronization (including photos), asset management.

    ...and easy to install, configure and use.

    Highly recommended.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: HelpMaster works great for us.

      When you work for the company, just say so.

  46. dln


    Have just come across this myself, for application in an even smaller environment than the OP. Virtue is that it is FLOSS - PHP and browser-based. Handles email and phone initial enquiries. Manages agents by department. Allows assignment of a ticket to an individual, and subsequent re-assignments as work is managed. Offers space for internal comments, so can keep records as make progress. The usual lists of open tickets, those outstanding, and overviews for 'managers'. Has a KB feature. Supports SLAs and will automatically 'chase' slow work under such definition. Seems a bit basic but has performed my initial test ticket interactions happily-enough. Installed locally, and just as quickly as any other PHP/MySQL application on Apache. Have not looked at reports/stats, nor considered sub-tasking (but that says more about my progress than the package, necessarily). YMMV but worth a look.


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: OSticket

      We're using osTicket now and looking to move to something else. Not because it's a bad product, more about how long you have to wait for bug fixes and functionality improvements. It wasn't until this latest release they had support for HTML email, and there's a nasty UI bug that's been lingering in 1.8 since release a couple of months ago that's still not fixed.

      Before someone comments, yes, full source is available and given time and talent you can add/modify/bugfix to your heart's content, but it sounds like you don't have the time for it (and neither do I), so I'd pass on osTicket for now.

  47. Alan Brown Silver badge

    Hmm, 3rd look at GLPI

    Almost all the systems pushed so far are ticketing _only_ ones.

    Some of therm are extremely good (RT, f'instance)

    But... Redmine and GLPI stick out as doing much much more than that.

    Right now we're using a 30-year old Datatrieve thing for tracking networking layout, as a f'instance (when you have upwards of 2000 connections, documenting 'em is a MUST). GLPI looks like it'd take care of that as well as ticketing and tracking configurations, etc.

    Redmine is project management software with a ticketing system. That's an extremely useful pairing if you're in rollout phase, as a f'instance.

    The point raised by looking at all this stuff is "Do you want 'just' a ticketing/issue tracking system, or do you want something which does more/integrates with other packages, etc?"

    There's enough material to spend weeks trying to decide which way to go and how much local coding you're willing to do.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have used GLPI in a school with 500 computers

    I think it will meet most if not all of your needs (you might need excel to make pretty graph reports from the GLPI reports)

    It is easy to host and free so it might be worth a look.

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    AutoTask is terrible, terrible bloatware. It tries to do everything and ends up doing nothing well. And the pricing is very high for just a service desk tool.

    It's massively complicated and still feels very like the IE6 app it was clearly designed as.

    The usability within AutoTask is the worst thing I've seen since....well... ever.

    20 clicks to do a simple task is not unusual. And the "help" section? It doesn't.

    We fought with it for 2 years and in the end ditched it for a combination ZenDesk & Harvest.

  50. ChristopheCapel

    Why don't you use JIRA Service Desk?

    Hello PaulW,

    Great thread with lots of ideas and thanks for highlighting your requirements. I work with Atlassian and manage the marketing of JIRA Service Desk.

    As you said "Normally I would go to JIRA and build something but quite frankly I need something quicker" so that's why we built JIRA Service Desk.

    Based on the requirements that you have highlighted, JIRA Service Desk might be what you need. It addresses all of them and being built on top of JIRA, it has all the power of JIRA that you are familiar with and integrate with Confluence for knowledge management. It is also provided on demand and behind the firewall like most of our products.

    As some people have mentioned there is an upcoming service desk show at Earls Court that might be worth a look [] (assuming you are in the UK). Atlassian will be exhibiting there and I will be more than happy to give you a demo there in person. BAE systems will present how it uses JIRA Service Desk to support a $2B navy program and Atlassian on how various business functions within Atlassian use JIRA Service Desk.

    You can find out more information on JIRA Service Desk at [] or check the JIRA Service Deep dive at [] to confirm whether this product would suit your needs.

    Please feel free to contact our sales team at and good luck with finding the best solution for your service desk.

    Christophe Capel

    JIRA Service Desk

  51. jcitron

    I used an Oracle CRM on Demand custom application called Own-IT. This had the tracking and metrics in it and the management had all their pretty pie charts they needed.

    Only 200 employees. I wish I had that at my last job, I supported over 550 people myself plus the field until I nearly had a stroke. It was then they brought in a contractor and the number of employees increased to nearly 700 in-house plus field. When there was an "org change", we also did phone support for worldwide apps until that proved it was too much and the tasks were split.

    Oh we were salaried and got bonuses...


  52. vitaliy50

    With a company of 100 you're going to have to find someone who will accept bulk import of your contacts.

  53. vitaliy50

    I use Helprace by Satisware. It doesn't tick all of your points since you have slightly different needs, such as an on-premise helpdesk.

    Of course, I don't have the need of an on-premise servicedesk, and user engagement through a knowledge base, community and a feedback portal is more important to me. I also don't see a point in comparing anything to Zendesk simply because Zendesk is out to lunch with their pricing structure..

  54. Volk

    I agree that it's basically non-existent in the real-wold)

    1. Anonymous C0ward

      Unlike necrophilia, it would seem.

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