I’m often seriously impressed by cheap (or possibly even free/open-source) alternatives to enterprise software- so decided to look into purchasing some form of support ticket / helpdesk / issue tracking system to help me get on top of things.
I had a fairly small list of requirements:
- Cheap (I will be the sole user so cannot justify much expense)
- E-mail Integration (Clients must be able to e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and a ticket is automatically created. Updates must then be sent from email@example.com to the clients)
- Web based (I need to be able to access from anywhere, any o/s etc)
- Time tracking (I want to be able to log “time spent” against each update to help with billing)
- Hosted (It would be nice not to have to host myself and have some form of uptime guarantee and limited level of suppport)
I did a lot of googling and spent quite a bit of time on wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_issue-tracking_systems) and looking at each individual solution. I found a few offerings that I liked:
Help Scout ()
- Free for up to 3 users, 150 tickets/month
- Brilliant simple, neat effective hosted web front end (and novel concept)
- Unfortunately it is a little too “simple” and doesn’t offer many features- it really is just notes (no time logging etc)
- Price looked reasonable at first ($9/month/agent for the starter package) but e-mail integration (domain mapping) is only available in the regular and plus+ flavours ($29/month/agents and $59/month/agent respectively)
- Nice hosted neat interface
- Good e-mail integration (really like the rules/actions/macros you can setup to streamline/automate workflows)
- No time tracking (they offer the ability to add custom fields to the ticket but not to individual updates- a bit limiting)
I was still unconvinced and realised I was going to have to compromise on some aspect of the chosen solution. I started looking at products which don’t offer hosted packages or where their host-it-yourself package is considerably cheaper. Nothing excited me until I stumbled across:
Web Help Desk (http://www.webhelpdesk.com)
- Quite pricey for a hosted solution but if hosting yourself free for a single user license- perfect!
- Excellent e-mail integration
- Clean modern web interface
- Ability to track time against individual updates
- Tons of other features (runs on all platforms, supports multiple database server technologies, reporting etc)
I am now using Web Help Desk! I will treat it like a trial for the first month (I think I will have definitely decided by that time whether it has any serious flaws). After a month I will treat it as a production system!