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This article is part of our Buyer's Guide: Use IT help desk tools to track, resolve and prevent IT incidents

Buy the right help desk tools to track and resolve incidents

Help desk management tools help admins manage, track and resolve problems. Learn about the leading products and the reporting, communication and support features they offer.

Help desk tools may have several features in common, but they have critical differences in how they operate.

The right help desk tools must provide both services and data that meets the needs of organizations. Simply comparing product features will not ensure a successful implementation because different deployments require different capabilities. For instance, some products may be ITIL-certified and seem impressive on paper, but if the enterprise purchasing the tool is not ITIL-certified, there is no need for it.

Buyers must understand the data analytics necessary to improve processes, reduce downtime and identify cost reduction. For example, data that a repair technician collects at a site must include information such as his arrival time, parts availability and the elapsed time of the actual repair -- not just how long the ticket has been open. Some help desk tools don't provide the elapsed time, which is not helpful for repair analysis.

The product should also offer custom reports, as well as default templates to further assist management with process analysis.

Each of the vendors listed below offer some measure of product trial that prospective buyers should utilize to ensure that the vendor's help desk product collects enough sample data.

Each of the vendors listed below offer some measure of product trial that prospective buyers should utilize to ensure that the vendor's help desk product collects enough sample data. Admins can even provide test cases to give the software a good workout without having to log an actual incident.

Agiloft Inc.

Agiloft offers a complete customer relationship management (CRM) platform with ITIL certification that offers flexibility to obtain the help desk -- customer support -- component independently. Agiloft also provides multilingual support as part of its global support capabilities and can interface with all social media channels, as well as offering standard telephone service and phone service through the web interface.

The Agiloft platform can track important data categories such as agent management, custom reporting, custom service-level agreements (SLAs) and a knowledge base that both employees and IT can search.

Agiloft's unique platform enables admins to tailor the Agiloft Service Desk Suite to the company's exact needs without having to write custom code, so deployment times and costs are a fraction of those of other systems.

Buyers should note that Agiloft has no product support through social media -- they only offer email and phone support.

Pricing: Variable. All of the licensing groups contain a full set of features with a few exceptions.

  • $0 a month for up to five power users, five end users, minimal features and timer-based rules at 48-hour intervals.
  • $45 per license, per month, plus a minimum of five power users, timer-based rules at five-minute intervals, Support Portal and phone support.
  • $65 per license, per month, plus multilingual support, unlimited end users, and customer and employee portals.
  • $75 per license, per month, plus web service APIs, Python, Perl scripting and JavaScript Object Notation integration.

License: Annual with assigned licenses and concurrent licenses.

Market: Large enterprise, SMB.

Trial period available? Yes.

Atlassian Inc.

Atlassian offers a full service, ITIL-compliant CRM product. The Jira Service Desk is a component of Atlassian's suite and it is available for independent licensing, making the product attractive to large enterprise and SMB customers.

More than 30,000 organizations reportedly use Jira Service Desk and Atlassian touts its product as easy to use and simple to set up, with everything IT and service teams need on hand. The product includes automation and SLA rules and ITIL-certified processes, such as incident, problem and change management.

Atlassian provides the ability to develop an interface to a third party's support system. That way, if customers have a contract with Dell or Hewlett Packard Enterprise, for example, they can interface Jira with those systems for seamless service logging.

 Atlassian's Jira Service Desk offers three deployment options:

  • Cloud: Atlassian's servers host the help desk application and customers access it using a URL.
  • Server: The customer's servers host the help desk application.
  • Data Center: A cluster of servers in the customer's data center host the help desk application.

The Jira Service Desk includes custom SLA prioritization, call management tracking metrics, access to a convenient dashboard on a phone-accessible web interface, custom reporting and critical repair data.

One drawback of the Jira Service Desk is that it is unable to log support calls via their web interface.

Pricing:

In terms of pricing, Jira has several pricing options for cloud and self-hosted services:

  • Cloud
    • $10 monthly flat fee for up to three agents.
    • $20 per agent, per month for four to 15 agents.
  • Self-hosted
    • Server: $13,200 one-time payment for 50 agents. Variable pricing for three to 100 agents.
    • Data Center: $12,000 per year for 50 agents. Variable pricing for 50-14,000+ agents.

License: Self-hosted and cloud-hosted.

Market: Large enterprise, SMBs.

Trial period available? Yes.

Editor's note

Using extensive research into help desk management software, TechTarget editors focused on vendors with internal-facing products as opposed to customer-facing products. Our research included Gartner and TechTarget surveys.

Cayzu Inc.

The Cayzu Help Desk Ticketing System focuses on SMBs. The company claims it is the most cost-effective help desk for teams of between 10 to 70 people.

Cayzu markets its help desk product as simple yet powerful and available with features that enable customers to integrate new agents into the help desk. This is important for customers who experience high turnover with customer service employees. In addition, the product's free trials include setup and implementation help, training and support with no obligation to buy.

Cayzu offers capabilities for reporting, data collection, and support ticket logging and management, and it is a full CRM product.

Some of Cayzu's limitations include:

  • There is no community forum. This is important to consider because these forums offer free support -- other users answer questions, reducing help desk calls.
  • It is not ITIL-compliant, although this is only important if ITIL is one of your requirements.

Pricing:

Cayzu has a flexible pricing structure that should appeal to a wide variety of organizations. The Cayzu website has a convenient pricing tool that enables buyers to enter the number of agents on the team to produce the best pricing option for their help desk deployment.

Cayzu offers five pricing categories: Basic, Team, Pro, Enterprise and Enterprise Plus. Each category includes a defined set of features, in addition to the ability to pay monthly or annually. The Freedom Plan is a fixed price of $369 for up to 70 agents, and it includes all the features that the Enterprise Plus license offers.

License: Commercial.

Market: Large enterprise, SMBs.

Trial period available? Yes.

Freshdesk

Freshdesk claims big clients such as Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Capgemini, DHL and American Express. It touts itself as an enterprise-level product even though it appears to be missing several common capabilities, such as granular data collection at the repair site for data analysis.

Pricing

The pricing shown is annual. Monthly pricing is also available.

  • Sprout: Free for unlimited agents with a few basic features, including Freshdesk Knowledge Base.
  • Blossom: $19 per agent, per month billed annually. This license includes Sprout features plus time tracking and advanced social channel and satisfaction surveys.
  • Garden: $35 per agent, per month billed annually. This license includes the Blossom features plus multilingual help desk, ticket templates and community forums.
  • Estate: $49 per agent, per month billed annually. The license includes the Garden features plus enterprise reports, multiple projects and shared ownership.
  • Forest -- for large enterprises: $89 per agent, per month billed annually. The license includes the Estate features plus IP whitelisting, custom email servers and skills-based ticket assignment.

All the pricing structures offer free trials and include 24/7 email support and 24/5 phone support.

License: Commercial.

Market: Large enterprise, SMBs.

Trial period available? Yes.

InvGate

The InvGate Service Desk combines an ITIL-based structure with a friendly user interface to provide enterprise-level service management for the midmarket.

While InvGate offers all the recommended data features for help desk tools, it only offers phone call support via manual ticket logging. Automatic call routing can be based on agent, work group, service catalog, help desk, business rules, urgency and request type.

InvGate's user and partner community comprises a forum within its internal help desk for suggestions, product requests and knowledge base article queries. InvGate Service Desk has a fully exposed API that admins can integrate with any other tool or service.

While InvGate is focused on SMBs, it has many enterprise-level features, including an IT asset management platform that integrates with the service desk.

InvGate's limitations include not providing online chat for support and users being unable to make phone calls through the web interface. Also, InvGate does not have a full suite of CRM products.

Pricing: InvGate's website offers a form to fill out to get a quote, as it doesn't offer a pricing table.

License: Based on the number of technicians, InvGate offers named licensing, concurrent licensing and a hybrid of the two.

Market: SMBs.

Trial period available? Yes.

Spiceworks Inc.

The Spiceworks Help Desk is part of the Spiceworks ecosystem, which includes asset management tools, an IP scanner and inventory management. Spiceworks also has a very active user community.

The company offers an on-premises and cloud help desk. Spiceworks has a convenient link on its website where potential buyers can download the help desk, making it easy to evaluate the product.

Pricing:

Spiceworks provides its product -- the full-featured platform -- and support at no cost. The catch is that ads support the platform, although Spiceworks claims that no pop-up ads can hinder the functionality. The product is not limited by scale, time or feature set.

While other companies license and price products based on certain features or the number of agents or users, Spiceworks has no such limit. An unlimited number of users can download the tool with all the features available just by viewing the ads.

License: N/A.

Market: Large enterprise, SMB.

Trial period available? The product is free, so no trial period is necessary.

Vivantio

Vivantio provides the Vivantio Pro tool for SMBs and IT service management (ITSM) for large organizations, but it does not provide a full CRM product. The company offers some features, including the critical granular data points that support engineers must collect, as well as custom SLAs for ticket prioritization and escalation, custom reporting, and call agent management.

Some significant drawbacks of the product include:

  • no social media presence;
  • no ability for admins to manage phone calls; and
  • no phone calls through a web interface.

Vivantio does support a web interface, online chat and email support.

Vivantio serves the full spectrum of service teams from shops with one help desk and a small team of support staff to enterprise service management operations where IT can use Vivantio to operate, track and streamline processes across HR, IT, finance, facilities management and other departments. Vivantio enables organizations to build out and configure systems, processes and views without having to dive into code or spend time and money getting up to speed.

Pricing:

  • Pro, for SMBs -- $48 per user, per month billed annually.
  • ITSM, for a large enterprise -- requires quote.

Market: Large enterprise, SMB.

Trial period available? A trial and demo are available, but Vivantio requires prospective customers to submit a request form.

Zendesk Inc.

Zendesk is one of the more popular help desk tools that can scale from SMB to enterprise-level organizations. It offers many of the important features a help desk management suite should include, although it does not offer a full CRM suite of products and customers cannot track tickets.

Zendesk claims to put all customer information in one place so communication between agents and customers is both efficient and personal. The support software is user-friendly and setup typically takes a few days, resulting in less training and lower overall costs.

In addition, Zendesk offers a complex pricing schedule. Besides buying the whole suite at a discounted rate, customers can purchase individual modules, and each module has a low to high pricing structure.

Zendesk does not offer a full CRM suite of products, and it also doesn't offer status reports customers can review in real time.

Pricing: Zendesk Suite -- includes Support, Guide, Chat and Talk modules on annual plans:

  • Professional: $89 per seat, per month -- a subset of features.
  • Enterprise: $149 per seat, per month -- full feature set.

Zendesk module pricing -- annual plans:

  • Support -- track, prioritize and solve support tickets: $5-$199 per agent, per month.
  • Guide -- Knowledge Base: Free-$29 per agent, per month. Four levels of support, including Answer Bot.
  • Chat -- live chat and messaging: Free-$59 per agent, per month. Four levels of support.
  • Talk -- call software built into support: Free-$89 per agent, per month. Four levels of support.
  • Connect -- ability to contact customers at a given frequency per month:
    • 2,000 users -- $153 per month.
    • 50,000 users -- $918 per month.
    • 500,000 users -- $3,094 per month.

License: Variable.

Market: Large enterprise, SMB.

Trial period available? Yes, for the suite and for each individual module and module category.

Zoho Corp.

A CRM-level product, Zoho offers more than 40 integrated applications for an enterprise-level approach and is available in four bundles of applications. The application suites include:

  • Sales and Marketing
  • Finance
  • Email and Collaboration
  • IT and Help Desk
  • Human Resource
  • Custom Solutions

Pricing: Pricing is complex even within the IT and Help Desk suite. Each pricing level contains a subset of full enterprise-level features. Note that for a small company, there are free modules.

All pricing is per agent, per month and is on an annual billing cycle.

  • Desk: Context-aware help desk software:
    • Free -- up to three agents.
    • $12 -- Professional.
    • $25 -- Enterprise.
  • ServiceDesk Plus: Cloud-level service desk -- online SaaS -- must submit a form for a quote.
  • Assist -- remote support: Web-based, on-demand support sessions. Assist offers five pricing models, including free and unlimited access.

License: Varies based on the product and if it is for an SMB or a large enterprise, as well as for cloud and on-premises options.

Market: Large enterprise, SMB.

Trial period available? Yes, for each module and level.

This was last published in October 2018

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