Help desk Solutions – A Review of Desk.com

desk-com-logo-white-thumbAre you shopping for a new help desk solution?  We’ve recently made a switch and wanted to write a quick review of the Salesforce desk.com product.  A little bit of history.  We have been a faithful (if not patient) user of the Spiceworks helpdesk platform for the past 4+ years.  If anything, we are a little picky about our tools especially when it comes to cost and features.  Before Spiceworks, we used Kaseya which was a good tool, but difficult to work with and costly for our organization (which at the time was a single site).

As our organization has grown, we needed a tool that would best allow us to handle multiple sites, multiple departments, etc.  After doing quite a bit of “asking around” and research, we found ourselves looking at the new desk.com product that is part of the Salesforce umbrella.  For those of you who who work in the non-profit space and don’t know about the Salesforce Foundation, you really should.  The Salesforce Foundation provides deep, deep discounts on their flagship products for 501c3 organizations.  For example, we are using the Enterprise Edition of Salesforce for one of our ministries at no cost to us.  We actually get up to 10 licenses for free, and additional licenses are deeply discounted.

Ok, enough about that.  Let’s talk about the Desk.com help desk product.  First, the cost.  Today, Salesforce provides an 80% discount for non-profits.  That’s right, 80% off.  Licensing is done by “agents”, not users… meaning you have have as many people as you want creating tickets as help desk users and you are only paying for your help desk workers, or agents.  For us, we started out with 9 agent licenses, which was enough to cover our IT and Facility Operations teams. To give you a scale of the discounting we received… the regular price for these 9 agents would be $4212 annually.  By doing a one year prepay, you save 25% on top of the 80% that you save as a non-profit.  That means that we got a $4212 solution for $626 annually.

Now $626 is not free, which means it is more expensive than Spiceworks.  True statement.  But when you start to compare feature sets, I think it’s easy to see how we made the switch.  Let talk about features for a bit.

  • Cloud based – Desk is cloud based, meaning never having to deal with putting it on one of your servers.
  • Multiple Departments – Desk works well for multiple departments in a single install.  This was difficult to do with Spiceworks, as you almost had to do a separate install for each department who wanted to use it. We now can do that with ease on a single install.
  • Integration – Desk has a ton of built in integrations with other tools.  You would expect this from a Salesforce product, and you won’t be disappointed.  For example, we easily integrated with HipChat (which we use for team communication) so that every time a new ticket is created, we get a message to our team in HipChat.
  • Mobile apps –  Desk just released a new version of their iPhone/iPad app which is really great.  But even without it, their solution is responsive and beautiful using the web version on a tablet or phone.
  • Customizable knowledge base – While users can still submit tickets by emailing the help desk, they can also use the portal and take advantage of the customizable knowledge base.  It’s pretty amazing and really does help prevent tickets from being created for common issues.
  • Email Workflow – Updating tickets generates and manages the communications back to the user, but even better it allows you to change who the email notifications are sent to, meaning you can add other people into the ticket at any time if you need to widen the scope of the conversation.
  • Tagging – You can create custom tagging for tickets, which can be driven by customizable rules.  For example we have tags for tickets that are “waiting on equipment return”, “waiting on equipment order”, “waiting on user”, or specific to a campus “Fort Worth” or “Dallas”  This allows us to filter based on tags.  The tags for location are automatically generated because the user creating the ticket has a campus associated with them.  Ticket tagging in this case is automatic.
  • Search – It’s search.  I don’t need to explain it.  But it’s awesome.
  • API – As you would imagine from Salesforce, it has a solid API which makes integration possible.  For example, we are using our existing login system for our staff users to authenticate them via our portal.  They login and then are automatically connected to the desk.com product using those credentials.
  • Usability – I’ve saved the best for last.  This is simply the easiest product I have used for help desk.  From a UI/UX perspective, they’ve done it well.  Need to see the details of a ticket?  Just mouse-over the subject line.  Need to send a response, update, and resolve a ticket.  One button.  Want to create a macro that will do a canned response to a certain type of problem, send it, note the ticket, and resolve it?  Easy.

Bottom line, we have been very happy with the transition to the new tool.  If you are looking for a flexible, easy to use, help desk product, you should take a look at desk.com.

Should I? What God has to say about the decision making process – Part II

disciplineAs a follow up to last weeks’ post on decision making, here are notes from Blake Holmes’ second message from the “Should I” series.  You can see points one through five in last week’s post here.  I’ve made many mistakes, and without good counsel, I’m prone to making many more.  God wants far better for us.

6) What is the collective counsel of my community? – “Where there is no guidance the people fall, but in an abundance of counselors there is victory.  Proverbs 11:14″  (see also Proverbs 12:15, Proverbs 13:20, Proverbs 15:22, Proverbs 18:1-2)
a) Understand that looking for counsel is different than looking for confirmation.
b) It takes everyone getting in the room. Avoid having many separate conversations.
c) Recognize the difference between sharing you idea and selling your idea.
d) Know when to open the circle.

7) Have I honestly considered the warning signs? – “He is on the path of life who heeds instruction, but he who forsakes reproof goes astray.  Proverbs 10:17″ (see also Proverbs 16:25, Proverbs 27:6)
a) Be mindful of the signs through His Word, the counsel of others, and the Holy Spirit
B) Don’t think you are the exception to the rule.
c) God’s way is always the best way.

8) Have I considered the possible outcomes for my course of action? – “The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish tears it down with her own hands. Proverbs 14:1″ (see also Proverbs 14:15, Proverbs 27:12)
a) Do the “long math”
b) Assess the potential risks
c) Have a contingency plan

9) Could this decision jeopardize my integrity or hinder my witness for the Lord? – “Like a trampled spring and a polluted well is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked. Proverbs 25:26″ (see also Proverbs 10:9, Proverbs 20:7, Proverbs 22:1)
a) Work towards the center rather than flirt with the edge.
b) Would this pass the “newspaper” test? What if this decision was on the front page of the newspaper?  How would you feel about it?
c) Keep short accounts. When you blow it, it is okay to say you blew it.

10) Is there a better option that would allow me to make a better impact for God’s kingdom? – “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who is wise wins souls Proverbs 11:30″
a) Don’t always take the easier option.
b) Ask “What story could God be writing?”
c) Don’t assume that because it is hard it is not God’s will.
d) Understand how God has uniquely gifted you.

First in action, and supported by speech

Every week at Watermark, visitors have a section of our bulletin that they can tear off and let us know how we can serve them.  I love getting to hear what people think, and really love what one visitor shared this week.  I pray that we are always a church that is a church of action supported by our words.

“Speechless. I don’t really know where to start.  My first impression was “whoa, this place is big. The people all look nice and I don’t think I’ll fit in b/c I feel so dirty.” I was intimidated by its size and the appearance.  But when I heard the message, those insecurities dwindled.  The teaching is insightful, biblically sound and wise.  I am grateful that the Lord led me to Watermark.  This church is following the example set forth by Jesus Christ – First in action and supported by speech”

Thankful to be part of what God is doing through this little community of Christ followers.