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How Do I Choose the Best Open Source Help Desk Software?

By Alex Newth
Updated May 16, 2024
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Open source help desk software is made so company websites can allow users to enter tickets and ask questions on technical issues or just gain more information. Anyone implementing open source help desk software should be sure it includes a design interface, so the company can make the help desk program fit its company model and colors. It also should enable workers to track their hours, so they are paid based on how much work they do. The ability to run the help desk on any type of computer will help workers answer questions, regardless of their location. Effective help desks also will include stock answers, so unnecessary tickets are avoided.

Most open source help desk software starts with a bland design, and this design can be used during implementation. To make the help desk look professional, most website owners would prefer to design it to fit the website’s model by adding colors and the website’s logo. An easy-to-use design interface will allow administrators to do this, without having to add lots of coding for the new design.

When open source help desk software is being used, the most common users are workers who are being paid by the hour. To help ensure that each employee is paid fairly, the help desk program should come with a function that logs the amount of time each employee is working. This can be used for salaried and hourly employees, as well as freelance employees. While this function does not assist the help desk functionally, the company will have to perform less paperwork and it is easier for the workers.

Many help desk workers work at home, which means they might be using a different operating system (OS) and may even be using a mobile device. A versatile open source help desk software will be entirely web-based, meaning the worker will not need to install any software but will be able to do all the work online. Being web-based, the help desk can be accessed and used, regardless of the worker’s computer or device.

For many technical websites, especially those that cater to novice users, the help desk service may frequently encounter many of the same questions. The ability to display these common questions and their associated answers will save the company time and money. This way, workers will be answering fewer overall questions, which will result in the open source help desk software requiring fewer resources.

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Discussion Comments

By allenJo — On Aug 12, 2011

@everetra - I’ve never really liked using web based versions of systems that track our internal metrics, and web based help desk software is no exception.

While I understand the principle of making it easy on the end user, if you’re an established company that advantage doesn’t matter as much. I prefer having software locally installed because in my experience it runs a lot faster and doesn’t require that I learn things like HTML or JavaScript to expand the software’s functionality.

Like web based software, the desktop software can still access an external server so that it keeps the ticketing database in a central location and we all interface with the same back end. However, the interface itself will be much faster and easier to operate in my opinion.

By everetra — On Aug 12, 2011

@Mammmood - We use an open source help desk system too. We don’t use it just to track external help desk requests. We also use it to track internal requests, and the system is designed in such a way to allow us to distinguish between the two.

Internal requests are those coming from company employees; for example, maybe their computer is doing, or they have a virus or something like that.

These internal requests are kept separate from the statistical analysis we perform on our help desk resolution results. Once a week the system will tabulate these results for us and display a graph which shows management how well we’re doing.

What they’re interested in is not simply how many support issues we resolved, but did we do it on first resolution or second resolution – or did it take much longer than that? Obviously, the higher the percentage of first resolution completions, the better it is for all of us.

By Mammmood — On Aug 11, 2011

We are currently evaluating help desk IT software in our workplace, and we have tried a few open source solutions.

They are all quite good, but I agree with the article’s statement that the software is quite bland, at least out of the box. This is done on purpose, because each company is different.

One product that I am looking at has some wizards that will help you define what they call the basic “portal” of the ticketing system; this is the main interface that the end user sees.

After you're done with the wizard, you can then use JavaScript and HTML to customize the basic portal design as you see fit.

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