Types of Help Desk Software
Web-based help desk software
Sometimes referred to as SaaS or Cloud-hosted software, web-based helpdesk solutions are hosted and operated by a service provider and the application is then rented out to companies for use. Subscribers access the help desk via the provider’s website or a locally installed desktop or mobile app and data such as tickets, user profiles, and transaction details for support analytics are saved on the vendor’s server.
Because web-based software is managed by the vendor, the companies that use it don’t really need to understand how it works or the mechanics of maintaining it. Web help desk solutions are popular among small and medium businesses that lack an in-house IT function and larger organizations seeking to avoid capital expenditures for internal systems.
Most web help desk features are built upon industry standards like ITIL and are suitable to support the company’s help desk specific needs. However, as companies evolve beyond operating simple help desk functions and adopt more sophisticated service management approaches, they find themselves moving beyond stand-alone help desk software to more integrated service management platforms. As more large companies move to SaaS software models, web-based helpdesk vendors are enhancing their services to include enterprise-level features including deep customization and integration capabilities.
On-premise help desk software
On-premise help desk solutions are licensed software packages that a company buys and installs/runs on its own infrastructure. The main benefit of an on-premise help desk is that the company owns and controls both the system and all data within it. While many companies claim that this is necessary to address data security and privacy concerns or to enable integration with other IT systems, modern cloud-based solutions now offer similar capabilities. An on-premise help desk is often customized to the needs of the company and integrated with other systems such as CRM, accounting, asset management, etc.
The biggest drawback is that on-premise software requires capital to acquire and setup and ongoing operating costs to maintain a technical team to run and maintain the system. System maintenance and data backup for on-premise helpdesk software are the responsibility of the company, as are performing upgrades, applying patches and resolving performance issues. On-premise help desk software, hosted on infrastructure with an architecture that is lacking may also put the company at increased risk of security breach as compared to software hosted on a server of a vendor with a consistent track record in data security and privacy protection. Because on-premise help desk solutions often require a large financial investment and may involve deep customization, most on-premise help desk services are targeted to large enterprises with the resources and staff to support this type of solution.
IT Service Management Platforms
ITSM platforms cover a much broader scope than a stand-alone help desk solution. They are typically built to support the end-to-end set of service management processes of the organization and often adhere to standards such as ITIL. The feature-set goes beyond the standard help desk features such as ticketing, time tracking, and knowledge base to include things like IT asset management, configuration management, account management, service request fulfillment, and survey management.
The enhanced feature-set of an ITSM platform is important for companies whose helpdesk functions have a lot of dependencies on other IT functions and/or help desk agents need direct access to ITSM resources like the CMDB, Change Records and Problem Management data. For large companies, a full-featured ITSM solution can provide the ability to scale, support distributed teams and global operations and manage a large network of suppliers and support providers. For smaller companies, ITSM platforms may not be entirely necessary but can provide some powerful capabilities to help the company manage their IT investments effectively as the company grows.