Updated Sep 30 2019 :: by Alex Yumashev

Your employees are your business's most valuable ingredient. And dealing with internal employee-facing issues is just as important as solving the customer-facing ones.

In fact our recent survey has shown that more than 45% of companies that use help desk software - are using it for internal IT problem solving exclusively, without connecting customers to it.

And even though the requirements can overlap, an internal support system still needs a slightly different feature set.

Here are the 5 "must have" components to look for in a service desk tool for internal support:

1. Single sign on (via SAML, AD, oAuth, Windows domain, etc)

Look for "SSO" which stands for "single sign on" and is an absolute requirement for an internal service desk system. You don't want your users to register additional accounts in another tool - let them use the logins they already have.

Possible options are:

  • SAML - which is a common protocol for sharing authentication between multiple apps, that became a de-facto standard for enterprise software. Look for this magic 4-letter abbreviation when going through an app's feature list.
  • Windows-integrated authentication - lets employees simply use their "DOMAIN\Username" accounts to access the help desk app without lifting a finger. Just open the app in a web browser and you're already signed in. Windows-integrated auth is supported by all browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, Edge and even IE. Shameless plug: usually this feature is supported by "on-premise" help desk software only, while Jitbit Helpdesk supports this in both "on-premise" and the cloud-hosted SaaS option. learn more here.
  • Azure Active Directory or ADFS (also via SAML) - this is really a subset of the first SAML-based option - since both local hosted and Azure-hosted AD support the above mentioned SAML protocol, you can use it to sign you users in automatically.
  • Google login - if your enterprise relies on "G-Suite".
  • oAuth protocol - another "single sign on" standard that is more common in B2C than B2B - where apps let you authenticate via Twitter, Facebook, GitHub etc.

2. Business Automation

A recent report by Reuters' expects the help desk automation market to grow to 11 billion USD by 2023.

But what is "help desk automation" exactly? Two things actually.

1. Automation engine which is a "trigger - action" module included with some help desk software suites. Think of it as a "scripting" engine, that works on an "if this - do that" basis.

For example:

  • "When a new ticket arrives from department X - assign it to agent Y"
  • "When a ticket's due date is passed - send a reminder to the manager"
  • "When a ticket hasn't been answered within X hours - trigger an SLA alert and change priority to High"

You can use this to create auto-responders or even automated chatbots!

Here at Jitbit for example, we realised that when a customer sends a question, the first thing we ask is "it is the hosted/SaaS version, or the on-premise?" and if the answer is "on-premise" we ask "ok, then what's the version number? you can find it at XXX". This conversation is a perfect candidate for automation. And allows you to slap a fancy "powered by machine learning" label in your marketing materials as a bonus ;-)

2. Scheduling - every IT department or MSP has a bunch of maintenance tasks that happen on a schedule: system patching, file archiving, hardware checks, backups (and restores), security scans, software and hardware upgrades... Let the help desk system take care of scheduling these tasks, assigning them to members of your team. Or may be even automate things a little using an outbound API (more on that later).

3. Integration

We bet your company's IT infrastructure already has tons of software. For email, project management, messaging, CRM, HR, accounting, budgeting, software source control, bug tracking etc. A help desk system needs to talk to them all, becoming part of your organization's bloodstream.

For example, a ticketing system should be able to import tickets from emails (by using IMAP/POP protocols or via MS Outlook/MS Exchange integration), pull ticket creator's data from an external source (like an HR database or a CRM system), export time sheets into a time-tracking app, convert support tickets into project-management "tasks" in Basecamp or into bug-tracking "issues" in JIRA for example.

So look for built-in integrations of the help desk app you're considering.

An easy to use API is also a "must have", in case the company needs to integrate IT ticketing into a custom in-house built system or a legacy app.

4. Internal Knowledge base

Just like a customer facing solution, an employee facing help desk needs a "Knowledge Base" with a self-service portal where users track their tickets progress. The Knowledge Base is then used by the IT department to publish common "how to's" and public FAQs for employees, or even private articles for internal IT staff. Let employees help themselves!

It is worth mentioning though, that a Knowledge Base will have little to no impact on your processes unless you make it part of your company culture to use and, more importantly, to publish up to date information from the IT team.

5. Logging tickets "on behalf"

As you can see, when it comes to internal service center - people have slightly different preferences:

Almost no one wants to use live chat or social media when it comes to internal support. "Phone" and "face-to-face" being the top two preferred options.

But even if a request comes in through an "offline" support channel like phone or walk-ups, it is still best practice to log it in some database.

  • For metrics - there's no other way to analyse the IT team's efficiency if you don't measure its KPI's, which is impossible without logging.
  • For knowledge - we've been helping setting up support processes in several big organizations and it always boils down to "how can we eliminate this question in the future" not just "let's deal with the issue now".

And here's the thing - only a handful of issues can be resolved on the spot, during a call or a meeting. The majority requires research, discussion, and a bunch of back and forth iterations anyway. So - yes, have a "point of contact" where people can simply phone in, but still log the call to follow up later.

Another reason for logging is - believe it or not - resolving and preventing conflicts and misunderstandings. "I never asked for this" - yeah you did, and it's been logged right here.

This brings us to our 5th must have feature - logging tickets on-behalf of users.

6. Bonus feature - self-hosted option

Many CIO's and CTO's still want an option to host all the software "on premises". Sometimes it's the laws and regulations, other times it's paranoia company policy. So make sure the helpdesk vendor offers this option (we do!).

Can we use one tool for both external and internal ticketing?

Sure thing. Many help desk apps (including ours) can talk to both customers and internal employees at the same time.

Just make sure the app allows granular permission control and smart routing/visibility for tickets.

Images courtesy of Freepik


'5 Must Have Components of an Internal Help Desk system' was written by Alex Yumashev
Alex Yumashev
Alex has founded Jitbit in 2005 and is a software engineer passionate about customer support. Alex holds a degree in computer science is a Microsoft Certified Solution Developer


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