August 04, 2022

Help Desk Software
Buying Guide 2022

Learn how to choose the right help desk software for your organization to provide the best support and boost customer and employee experience.

Every passing year, organizations get more dependent on their IT infrastructure to keep their business going.

From physical devices used daily by employees to cloud-based software like email, wikis, and intranets, companies have a complex network of inter-connected services, and the disruption of the use of any of these can result in loss of time, money, and employee satisfaction.

IT departments are strategic units inside the companies that keep the business going. Once organizations are over a certain number of team members, keeping up with the demand for support is almost an impossible task to achieve by managing only with email.

Whether you need to improve the efficiency of your service desk department or provide customers with a streamlined system of support, this guide will help you navigate the different elements you need to consider when choosing a help desk system for your organization.

What is help desk software?

Help desk software is the interface between support agents and employees or customers.

Companies use it to centralize the requests for support - commonly called “tickets” - because it allows the Customer Support Department to route the request to the right agent, keep a history of the interactions between that employee and the support department, and provide self-service tools such as knowledge base and ticket status for faster resolution.

According to Transparency Market Research, the help desk software market share is expected to reach $11 billion by 2023.

Typically, help desk software connects to the customer contact points: email, text support, chatbots, and self-service portals, routing the queries uniformly to the service desk team. The software will also be connected to the customer database as well as to the knowledge base for providing clear replies to customer queries.

Modern help desk solutions also have analytics and deep learning capabilities to help you further optimize your help desk. These systems deliver actionable insights for better management of resources and resolve any bottlenecks in the ticket pipeline.

Some of the common features of help desk software are:

Why choose help desk software for IT support?

Your IT teams need a better way to handle support requests. As opposed to providing support to external customers (such as an e-commerce site or travel agency), you need a platform that has specific features like providing restricted access to employees and perhaps selected external users (such as partners).

Plus, you want on your side a knowledge base that could serve as an internal communications tool, and also Service Level Agreement compliance tools, so that you can define the level of urgency of a ticket according to the department, employee level, and type of incident.

Service portals are one of the main channels for IT incidents - and employees are losing less time per ticket when using them than email as a channel for IT support services.

The main goal of your IT teams will be to restore normal service operations as quickly as possible, minimizing the adverse effect on business operations.

When choosing an IT help desk software, you need to think about the needs of your organization.

  • Communication channels

    What channels does your organization use to interact with IT? Are they mostly using email, phone, or maybe Microsoft Teams?

  • Help desk goals

    What are your objectives in terms of communication efficiency? Do you want to decrease the number of emails?

  • Organization openness

    How open is your organization to adopting new processes? Most help desks struggle to achieve the adoption of the help desk system by the organization. Having a fast and intuitive employee-facing UX is paramount.

  • Support team structure

    Does your help desk have different agent levels? What are your different levels of IT support?

  • Prioritization

    Do you need to route different tickets according to priority, department, and seniority?

  • Collaboration

    Do you expect collaboration between agents? Or perhaps you’d like to assign to a ticket multiple agents with different roles?

Handling issues and requests with ticket management

With a ticket management system, users can submit a request, be it from email, through a communication platform, or directly from the help desk self-service platform.

The ticket is then automatically prioritized and assigned to a specific agent while letting the help desk manager keep track of the performance of its team, and re-assign tickets to agents with fewer incidents in the queue.

Also, Service Level Management helps create visibility on the expected resolution times for a ticket, letting the help desk software and the help desk manager escalate it or give it a higher priority.

Help desks with self-service capabilities

By providing a self-service portal, users can be empowered to find answers to their inquiries before contacting support, fix their incidents, raise their own support tickets, and even help their colleagues by promoting a culture of knowledge sharing and collaboration.

Also, a well-designed service catalog can give visibility to users of all the services that can be provided to them from the different departments.

Are you perhaps building a service desk?

While commonly called “help desk software,” what most enterprise operations buyers are looking for is service desk software.

The biggest difference between a help desk and a service desk is that while the first is designed to respond to unexpected issues within IT infrastructure using a linear and reactive approach, a service desk is a strategic single point of contact for all IT activities.

This is why service desk systems can also include other useful features like:

Knowledge base

A knowledge base allows your help desk to store all information relevant to your organization. This way, both agents and users can access articles to solve issues that were previously experienced by other users. Also, an integrated service desk knowledge base can provide solutions to users without needing to create a new ticket, helping to empower users to self-resolve their issues before contacting a support agent.

Self-service portal

A self-service portal can provide not only a single point of contact with the different support departments but also give visibility of the status of previously opened tickets, access to the knowledge base, and a catalog of the possible services users can access. Self-service portals can be customized to include the company logo and colors

Reporting and analytics

Analytics is a key element for any professional service desk project. Understanding how your department and individual contributors perform against defined KPIs can provide you with actionable insights to improve the performance of the organization.

Service Level Management and SLAs

SLAs define the level of service expected by users and the support team. A help desk ticketing system with service-level management capabilities can route a ticket to the right agent according to priority, urgency, and knowledge level. Also, it provides signals to the agents to help them prioritize tickets based on expected resolution times.

Workflows

With ticketing workflows, you can create a predefined sequence for any repeatable process, like onboarding an employee or the approval of a computer acquisition. This allows you to standardize these processes, and automate steps for more team efficiency.

ITIL alignment

ITIL is a set of practices that supports organizations and individuals to gain optimal value from IT and digital services, followed by most service desks around the world.

ITIL-aligned service desk solutions include built-in workflows that can help your organization define ITIL-defined procedures such as:

How to choose the right help desk software for your organization

You can find dozens of help desk software in the market, each with its powerful set of features and capabilities. So how can you choose the best service desk software for your organization?

Here are a few key factors you need to consider:

  • Type of organization
  • Number of agents
  • Cloud vs. on-premise
  • Need for asset management
  • Budget

Let’s take a closer look at each of them.

Types of organization

As you can imagine, the choice of help desk solutions largely depends on the type of organization. Help desk software for small businesses that sell direct to customers won’t work for large companies that offer services or products to other businesses.

Your service desk solution must align with your organization’s goals. Here’s how you can choose a help desk software based on the size of your organization:

  • Basic software: If you have a small or medium-scale business, you need an affordable but scalable solution. In this case, choose a basic SaaS-based help desk software. A SaaS solution is affordable, easy to get started with, and also easy to scale as you grow.
  • Enterprise: Enterprise help desk software is suitable for enterprises that require more features than basic software. These solutions pack a lot of features and are more suitable for businesses with an established customer base. They are more customizable and need a bit more experience to work with. They also take more time to implement compared to basic SaaS software.
  • Open-source help desk software: Open-source help desk solutions are great if you’re on a budget. But as with any free software, it has its drawbacks. Nonetheless, if you have the resources for a team of developers, you can tweak open-source software to your exact requirements. In such situations, this is a great option.

Number of agents

Most SaaS help desk solutions have limitations on the number of users based on the pricing plan. Either way, make sure your solution supports enough users to support all your service agents.

Cloud vs. on-premise

When choosing a help desk software, you can either go for an on-premise solution or a cloud solution, depending on the type of business. On-premise solutions are useful if you have a support team and the resources for maintaining your own servers and hardware.

On the other hand, there are many advantages of having a cloud-based help desk. For once, you don’t have to worry about server costs or maintenance personnel. And as your team and organization grow, it’s relatively easier and cheaper to scale up a cloud-based help desk solution.

Need for asset management

If your scope of services includes hardware support or device maintenance, or if your agents have to handle hardware in any way, it’s best to get a service desk that has asset management features, or that can easily integrate with an IT asset management tool.

Budget

Of course, your software solution must fit within the overall budget for the help desk. These days, most help desk software is subscription-based. This guarantees that you get continuous updates and security patches throughout the subscription period at no extra cost.

But if you’re planning to develop a solution by yourself - or if you’re going to get an open-source solution and customize it with a team - your budget can get a bit complicated. In this case, you’ll have to set aside resources for maintaining and updating the software and fixing the security issues, along with the cost of maintaining servers and a developer team.

Top 10 best help desk software

Help desk software comparison

Help Desk
Software
Deployment Free trial Pricing
InvGate Cloud & on-premise Yes (30 days) Request a quote
Freshdesk Cloud Yes (21 days) Free for 10 agents, $18/month for more features
Zoho Desk Cloud Yes (15 days) Free for 3 agents, $18/month for more features
ManagEngine Cloud & on-premise Yes Request a quote
SolarWinds On-premise Yes (30 days) Starting at $19/month
BMC Helix Cloud Yes Request a quote
Help Scout Cloud Yes (15 days) Starts at $20/month
ServiceNow Cloud No Request a quote
Jira Service Management Cloud Yes Free for up to 3 agents, then $20/month for more features
HappyFox Cloud No Starting at $39/month

1. InvGate Service Desk

InvGate Service Desk is a help desk solution for all types of companies. It is packed with useful features like intuitive ticketing, ITIL-certified functionalities and workflow automation.

Plus, its customizable dashboards give a clear overview of the current status of the help desk and allow managers to take quick action. The service desk software also has options for automation and route tickets to ensure efficient utilization of resources.

InvGate’s intelligent visual engine allows you to build highly automated workflows to help you manage tickets efficiently.

One of the best things about InvGate Service Desk is the add-on modules. For example, you can simply add a module for asset management, and another one to gamify your service desk. As the scope of your service desk grows - or as the organization does - you can add more modules to cope with this.

The solution also has state-of-the-art analytics and reporting that will help service desk managers improve their services and make them more efficient.

Here are some of the other features of InvGate Service Desk:

Get a quote from InvGate by choosing your preferred plan. You can also check how the tool works by signing up for a 30-day free trial.

2. Help Scout

Help Scout offers help desk software that is quick to learn and simple to configure. Its setup is more than enough for most small-to-medium-sized businesses - though it will miss out on more complex features.

Relevant features:

  • Simplified, straightforward ticket management
  • Intuitive, easy-to-use interface
  • Hassle-free knowledge article creation
  • Single-dashboard analytics view
  • Manual task automation

3. BMC Helix

BMC Helix is an award-winning help desk management software. This solution uses smart automation to employ the best practices of ITSM principles.

It is suitable for modern businesses that work with CIOs, change managers, service desk managers, and IT operations managers that can utilize it for their teams.

Features:

  • BMC Helix Multi-Cloud Broker offers a seamless and secure service experience in different cloud environments
  • Persona-based user experience across devices
  • Powerful reports and visualization tools to gain insights
  • Proactive incident and problem management
  • BMC Helic iPaaS provides top-class iPaaS to help increase scalability, usability, and adaptability

4. ManageEngine

ManageEngine is a popular service desk solution delivering consistent results for the last 10 years.

One of the key features of the ManageEngine service desk solution is that it offers a variety of flexible plans to suit businesses of all types and sizes. This solution is highly power-packed and can help you run your service desk optimally.

Distinctive features:

  • Incident management to reduce outages, meet SLAs, improve productivity, and manage IT ticket lifecycle
  • Problem management to classify and analyze issues
  • Change management to streamline changes and roll out updates seamlessly
  • Integrated asset management to manage, discover, and track IT software and hardware
  • Service catalog functionality to create and publish service catalog
  • CMDB to manage and track configuration items
  • IT project management to manage projects and resources
  • Powerful reporting and insights

5. SolarWinds Service Desk

SolarWinds is a popular service desk for modern IT teams used by MNCs all over the world. It helps establish better control over IT processes and improve customer service. It combines useful features and quality services to offer the best customer support to your audience.

The SolarWinds service desk specializes in industries with strict regulations and frequent audits. This software is useful for organizing your license and contract documents, staying compliant, and managing inventory. It is suitable for businesses of all sizes and is deployed as a SaaS solution.

Some of its features are:

  • Integrated IT asset management with automated asset detections
  • Integrated incident management
  • User-friendly employee service portal
  • Integrated knowledge base
  • Problem management
  • Change management
  • Service catalog workflow engine
  • Ticketing, SLA management, reporting, and more

6. HappyFox

HappyFox is a help desk solution that prides itself in being easy to use, having a quick and painless setup, and a robust support system.

Features:

  • User-friendly design
  • Easy issue management
  • Self-service portal creation
  • Easy reporting and analytics
  • Ticket auto-assign
  • Custom email request templates
  • Social media integration

7. ServiceNow

ServiceNow is a cloud-based ITSM tool aimed at automating IT support operations. This help desk solution is designed based on ITIL guidelines and aims to help businesses improve service orientation for tasks, activities, and processes.

Relevant features:

  • Powerful ticketing system with incident management capabilities
  • AI-powered chatbot
  • Flexible and easy-to-navigate knowledge base articles
  • AI and machine learning-powered automation
  • Large user community

8. Jira Service Management

Formerly known as Jira Service Desk, Jira Service Management is an IT service management solution built on the popular Jira platform designed for high-velocity teams. Its tools empower teams to deliver great, coordinated service experiences without the complexity of traditional ITSM.

Distinctive features:

  • Free for up to 3 agents
  • Easy-to-customize self-service portal
  • Simple, intuitive implementation
  • Flexible, easy-to-edit workflows
  • Modern UI and practices

9. Zoho Desk

Zoho Desk is a popular service desk solution that helps deliver high levels of customer satisfaction.

Zoho Desk also supports omnichannel services, including support through the website, email, phone, and social media. It can help you build a state-of-the-art workflow to provide quick responses and follow-ups to customers

Some of its other features are:

  • Self-service capabilities and an integrated knowledge base
  • AI and automation that help quickly resolve customers’ queries through your site, mobile app, or SaaS product
  • Seamless integration with different tools like Salesforce, Teams, Slack, Twilio, Jira, etc. using REST APIs

10. Freshdesk

Freshdesk comes with intuitive solutions and helps you eliminate repetitive tasks using automation and AI. It helps you remove data silos and reduce costs. Freshdesk also comes with customizable dashboards and 24/7 customer support

Features:

  • Integrations with communication channels like Slack, Freshservice chatbot, or MS Teams
  • Integrated knowledge base and self-service capabilities
  • Streamlined operations across IT, facilities, legal, and HR, with Enterprise service management
  • Expert onboarding and migration services

The bottom line

Choosing the right help desk software for your organization is essential to streamline your IT support and provide the best possible customer satisfaction and employee experience. To do so, you need to take into account:

  • The company’s goals
  • Its openness to adapt to changes
  • The support team’s structure
  • Expert onboarding and migration services

Based on the assessment of your company’s current state, you’ll be able to determine which features are more relevant to you - and whether you need help desk software or maybe it’s time for you to adopt an ITSM approach and opt for a service desk.

  • Ticket automation
  • SLAs management
  • Problem management
  • Product, inventory, and asset management
  • Customizable dashboards to visualize data
  • Automation and integrations
  • Analytics and reporting

These are the basic features to start the path of streamlining your IT services and properly accompany the growth of your teams and organization.

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