Where to turn for low-cost help desk management

* ManageEngine provides Cetero Research full functionality at a fraction of the cost of high-end products

When the big guns of service management software are too pricey for your budget and demanding of your staffing resources, where do you turn?

ManageEngine has been a good choice for Alex Walker, IT director at Cetero Research, a leading clinical research organization based in Cary, N.C.

When Walker arrived at Cetero's San Antonio campus three years ago, he found a small company evolving into a midsized organization but without associated best IT practices in place. Service and support was a particular pain point, with a limited number of technicians scrambling to get jobs done around the four-building campus and users often having to chase them down as new problems cropped up, he says.

"People would literally stop us in the hall, leave us notes on our chairs, send us screenshots, leave us voicemails or e-mails --  however they could get in touch to let us know about their pain," Walker says, noting that at the time PCs were aging rapidly and required lots of attention.

Rather than being able to focus on foundational infrastructure, Walker says, "I even found myself sucked into replacing power supplies."

Something had to be done, and quickly. Knowing service management tools from larger companies like BMC, IBM and HP weren't within his budget, Walker says he selected ManageEngine's ServiceDesk Plus, Web-based help desk software, from among four or so tools he evaluated.

"I downloaded the evaluation copy, experimented with it and at that point decided it was good enough for us to use. We could implement it quickly using a Wizard and solve some of our short-term issues right away," Walker says. "When we starting really using it, we found that it has virtually the same capabilities of the higher-end tools and so we've expanded its use."

The ManageEngine help desk software includes asset, contract, purchase-order and request management, as well as a self-service portal and a knowledge base. Walker estimates he spent about 10% of the price he would have paid for a comparable Remedy package, from BMC.

The self-service portal has proved quite welcome to Cetero's users, he adds. They can users input trouble tickets and receive automated status updates via e-mail. "My two support technicians are handling between 100 and 150 trouble tickets a month. They're comfortably busy, and can easily prioritize work now," Walker says.

ServiceDesk has proven such a good tool at the San Antonio site, which now also uses it to handle facilities requests, that Cetero is rolling out the tool across the organization, Walker adds. "Technicians at each site will use the tool but with the central application we'll be able to roll up reporting and transfer tickets to staff at different sites when appropriate," he says.

Cetero has grown its use of ServiceDesk Plus as well as other ManageEngine applications in part because of the great support the company provides, Walker adds. "We've always gotten quick response and never have had an issue take longer than a couple hours to address. I can't speak highly enough about that."

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