A long time ago, all it took to run an IT service desk was a couple of spare desktops, a phone line, and a bad sense of humor. Now, information technology is the backbone of the enterprise and the job has grown with the responsibilities. Many companies would take a significant hit if a sustained outage shut down just a small corner of their operations. When computers handle every step of every workflow, no computers mean no work gets done. That makes the IT service desk one of the most important functions for keeping a company running and its revenue flowing.
Of course, the complexity of servicing the enterprise has grown considerably since the help-desk days of yore. The marketplace has responded with a burgeoning collection of products to manage the chaos. These IT service management (ITSM) platforms range from standalone products to full suites of tools that handle other chores, such as asset tracking, architectural planning, and performance measurement.
Ticketing portals are the core of ITSM, there to track requests and ensure no one forgets them. At the end of the month or quarter, ITSM platforms generate reports to help companies flag poor service and fix it before it endangers the bottom line.
Many of these packages highlight “self-service” features that save IT time and help the able user diagnose and even fix some problems without IT’s involvement. At the very least, they enable users to fill out trouble tickets and track their progress. Many also have a knowledge base where IT staff can fill out FAQs and how-to pieces for self-starters.
Some ITSM tools can also route tickets to the right person, saving managers from having to funnel decisions. These usually work based on keywords, monitoring ticket queues to send the job to the least busy person who has some of the skills that best fit the description. Some platforms employ artificial intelligence to make the call.
Backend reporting dashboards enable managers to make sense of the overall performance of the team. Are there slow spots? Are tickets waiting too long in some areas? Will hiring someone make a difference? The answers to these questions will be presented in charts and graphs.
An important consideration is whether a particular package is integrated with the software systems that power your business. Some offer marketplaces with hundreds or even thousands of modules that grab information from other packages. When these run smoothly, they can simplify the workload and even enable self-starting users to start fixing their issues.
Here, in alphabetical order, are 12 of the top ITSM tools available today. At the end of the day when many of the tickets are cleared, a good ITSM tool will make the difference between order and chaos. If they can’t help an end user fix the problem themselves, they can at least provide a stable, predictable path to getting things working again.
Atlassian Jira Service Management
Developers created Jira to track software creation but then the management at Atlassian noticed that some teams were adapting Jira to handle service desk requests. Since then, they’ve created a separate product line called Jira Service Management with a basic architecture that’s been expanded to be more accessible to average users while focusing the workflows and adding more hand-holding automation for self-service. There are several levels of service that range from a free introductory version up to a premium or enterprise level tool with more advanced options for integration and extra features like an Incident Command Center for managing big problems.
Cherwell’s ITSM tool is just one of a big collection of workflow management systems that is now merging with Ivanti. The ITSM solution offers omnichannel engagement for managing configurations and shepherding changes into practice. At the core is a low-code configuration model that can model workflows that range from simple to complex without requiring scripting or general programming skills. The core focuses on the 11 standard ITIL management processes but it can expand to handle greater challenges. The goal is one-step resolutions and self-service for users.
The goal for Freshservice is to help each team “deliver delight” to their users, according to vendor Freshworks. The ticket-based system is part of a larger group of tools for managing the service desk and automating the most common tasks. Freshservice is integrated with various discussion boards (Slack, Teams, etc.) so the problem can be discussed, assigned, or maybe even deflected to a standard set of documentation. After triage, any resolution can be tracked with the Change Management Database. Sometimes, the tool’s AI-engine known as “Freddy” can help automate the workflow and speed resolution.
InvGate Service Desk
The Service Desk tool from InvGate is designed to offer extensible automation, a flexible knowledge base, and change tracking in a form that can appeal to end users. Users file tickets and, sometimes, find enough information for self-service. Tracking assets and ensuring they’re serving everyone helps organize all the hardware and software under the service desk’s purview. Repetitive tasks can be automated with a low-code, visual programming IDE designed to speed up the workflow.
ManageEngine ServiceDesk Plus
ManageEngine offers a collection of tools for juggling all the problems a user-facing IT desk might encounter, and they’re all under the name ServiceDesk Plus. The Standard version tackles ITSM issues such as incident management or self-service through a knowledge base. The Professional edition tracks assets, and the Enterprise version includes all of the tools for organizing change through project management. Now, ManageEngine wants to push out some of these features to other divisions such as HR or Travel with its Enterprise Service Desk.
ProProfs Help Desk
The email-centered help desk from ProProfs enables the service team to watch incoming requests, assign them to individual agents, and track team performance through a dashboard-like collection of reports. Some important jobs such as assigning incoming requests can be automated to ensure work is spread out as evenly as possible. The tool can also integrate with live chat sessions to expand the options for users.
The collection of applications from ServiceNow handle all the workflow chores of the modern office but they’re especially focused on IT desk chores such as asset management, access governance, and service desk operations. ServiceNow’s ITSM product is designed to be a single place of engagement for everyone to file tickets and track their progress. Its combination of mobile and web-based portals relies on predictive intelligence to route tickets and push for quick resolutions. The product has three basic tiers that begin with a solid foundation incorporating all the standard features in the lowest tier and add better tracking and smarter routing to the higher tiers built for larger operations. A wide range of integration options enables automated connections to other tracking systems such as Jira.
ITSM workloads are just one corner of the Spiceworks ecosystem, which also includes tools for contract management and inventory management. The main cloud-based help desk is a purpose-built ticketing system that tracks requests. The interface is browser-based, but it also responds well to either email or the custom smartphone app making it simpler for IT staff to move tickets along the workflow. There are some useful integrations with the other packages in the ecosystem so, for example, a help desk event can also trigger changes in inventory management.
Automation is a big feature for SysAid. At its core, it’s a ticketing tool for tracking workflow, but it has been designed to automate repetitive chores such as assigning tasks or closing out finished tickets. After a bit of customization, the system will learn to anticipate the clicks needed to smooth the workflow. The product is split into various levels with the basic user-facing work bundled into Help Desk. More capabilities such as asset management or complex reports are found in the ITSM or ITSM+ levels. There are also a wide variety of integration modules and plugins for adding extra functionality.
The ticketing products from TOPDesk are built to manage a wide range of domains such as building maintenance or generic enterprise workflow. The tool for the IT service desk is optimized for tracking incident and change requests for tech support. The knowledge base and self-service front-end can help users create, track, and maybe even close tickets on their own. A Kanban board and other planning dashboards helps the team react with agility. A good mobile, barcode and email interface is part of what they call “omnichannel support.”
Some teams enjoy customizing general project management software for managing IT desks. Wrike is a general tool for organizing and tracking team progress with full reporting tools filled with Gantt charts and Kanban boards. Its customized template for ITSM focuses on help requests and change tracking with flexible workflows.
The Sunshine platform for Zendesk is filled with opportunities for customizing the workflow with low-code and no-code options. The system wants to make it possible to produce various presentations for everyone. IT staff can get full access to track and curate tickets while the user gets a simplified UI built to gather information and allow some self-care. The goal is to create omnichannel conversations that gather all relevant information and guide both team members and customers until resolution. If the features aren’t enough on their own, Zendesk marketplace has more than 1,200 plugins and modules to extend and integrate the tool with other workflows.