The ideal incident management tool needs to be more comprehensive than a straightforward Help Desk event tracking system. It also needs to support the evolution of the IT system to prevent the reoccurrence of an unexpected hazard. This means that the ideal incident management should include extensive reporting and analytical features. The integration of ITIL processes is also very useful as it aids the guidance of system adaptation once you identify the cause of the incident and plan to correct system faults.
In this guide, you will learn about five software packages which in our opinion represent the best incident management tools in the business. Here is our list of the five best incident management software:
- SolarWinds Web Help Desk (FREE TRIAL) On-premises software to manage infrastructure and process Help Desk calls.
- ManageEngine Service Desk Plus An extended service support system that installs on Windows and Linux.
- SolarWinds Service Desk (FREE TRIAL) Cloud-based Service Desk and IT Asset Management platform. Includes ticket management, knowledge base, and self-service platforms.
- Spiceworks Help Desk Comprehensive user support system that has incident tracking capabilities.
- Zendesk Suite Extended Service Desk tool that includes failure monitoring and change management features.
You can read more about these tools in the following sections.
The name of the SolarWinds Web Help Desk would make you think that this service is run from the cloud. However, it is on-premises software that you install on your own servers, but you can access it through a browser, meaning that you create your own in-house Cloud.
This package is more than just a Help Desk system. It has asset management and version control features that will assist you in keeping track of your software and hardware inventory. Luck favors the prepared and this tool’s automated device discovery routines create and maintain a database of IT assets. This service gives you rapid access to checks on the availability and utilization of your IT equipment giving you a constant view on the performance of your equipment.
The software was designed with ITIL processes in mind and that eases the task of planning, implementing and tweaking any changes you need to make in order to prevent an arising hazard from reoccurring.
Along with these great change management features, the SolarWinds system has standard Help Desk functions. These are enhanced by excellent task tracking features and team management utilities.
The reporting and analytical tools built into the Web Help Desk will assist management in SLA monitoring – that also makes this a great option for managed service providers. You can set parameters in the Dashboard that will trip alerts if performance targets are being failed. This warning system is also useful for tracking incidents and ensuring that response times for resolution are kept tight.
The Web Help Desk software runs on Windows, Windows Server, Linux, and Mac OS. You can test the system on a 14-day free trial. After the trial period, you can stop using it, buy a license, or switch to the Web Help Desk Free Edition, which doesn’t have the full capabilities of the paid software.
Service Desk Plus is available as on-premises software or as a software service delivered over the web. ManageEngine offers three service levels for Service Desk Plus and the incident management features are only available in the higher plans. The full package includes IT asset management utilities that will provide you with an inventory database of all hardware and software operating on your network. You also get ITIL-based project management procedures with the top plan.
The incident management features of Service Desk Plus encompasses the system’s Help Desk functions. The module also includes performance monitoring and SLA tracking. Other ITIL features of the tool include a service catalog that covers both business and technical services. It guides information gathering when a hazard arises and feeds through to scripts and workflows to transition investigation through to solution.
The services that prevent the detected hazard from reoccurring center around updating the knowledge base that contains guidance for users and adjustments to service procedures and scripts to account for the newly identified potential error.
Fundamental system shortfalls that lead to incidents occurring trigger change management procedures in the Service Desk Plus system. Once an incident has been resolved, the next task is to make sure it never happens again and if the cause was infrastructure related, you’re going to have to improve the system. Workflows in the change management module guide your team through the process of evolving and repairing your inventory to prevent errors recurring.
Service Desk Plus is available in three packages. The Standard package gives you the fundamental Help Desk functions, which includes a number of requirements for incident management. IT asset management is only available if you go up to the Professional plan. The highest plan, called the Enterprise Edition, includes all of the service desk and asset management modules of the lower plans and also has extensive ITIL change management functions.
The Enterprise plan includes change management, service catalog, problem management, and configuration management. The reporting and analysis features of Service Desk Plus provide excellent support to management during problem-solving and system evolution tasks.
The on-premises version of this software installs on Windows and Linux. You can get a 30-day free trial of either the cloud-hosted version or the on-premises system.
SolarWinds Service Desk is delivered as a service over the web. However, the company will give the software for the systems for customers to install on premises on request. This online service was built according to the processes of the ITIL standards, so it ensures that its asset management and customer support systems are fully able to tackle incident management. Service Desk won an award and topped a list in a recent comparison report that you can download here.
The SolarWinds Service Desk system is at the heart of its incident management solution. This includes three main elements: ticketing, a self-help portal, and a knowledge base. The service is available in three package levels. The company presents the Standard package as fulfilling incident management requirements. However, this just refers to the Help Desk management system. To get all of the functions needed for the full ITIL-defined incident management lifecycle you need to go for the highest plan.
The Business plan gives you Help Desk functions and also change management, service catalogs, and SLA performance tracking. The top plan, called Professional, gives you license and contract management and advanced automation. The inclusion of workflows and investigation scripts in Service Desk helps guide your team of agents when they investigate the source of a user-reported problem. The ITIL processes built into the software extend that investigation phase through to solution proposals and project management tasks.
SolarWinds Service Desk is charged for on a per agent/per device basis. This makes the service accessible to any size of organization. You can get a 30-day free trial which is a full version of the Professional package to test the system for yourself.
The remarkable attribute of Spiceworks Help Desk is that it is free to use. This is an amazing deal considering the sophistication of the software. On the downside, the system is ad-supported with publicity appearing permanently in a side panel of the dashboard. There isn’t a paid version of Spiceworks Help Desk.
This is a software package installs on Windows and Mac OS. You can opt to use the system online instead and avoid having to maintain the software on your own servers. The functionality of the online version, which is called Spiceworks Cloud Help Desk isn’t as comprehensive as the on-premises software. However, Cloud Help Desk can be accessed from any device anywhere, so you don’t have to worry about software and operating system compatibility and you can access your Help Desk dashboard form mobile devices running Android or iOS.
Spiceworks has a very active user community and there are thousands of plugins available on the community forum. These enable you to adapt the system in order to integrate with other applications that you might use – many of the extensions are written by the providers of those apps.
The agent dashboard includes a note-taking and messaging feature, which is a great conduit for collaborative solutions to incidents.
Zendesk is predominantly a Help Desk system. However, its excellent reporting and analysis module make it a worthy entry in this guide to incident management tools.
Zendesk is a very widely used system. It links together a number of avenues that enable users to solve problems before resorting to the IT staff for assistance. These features revolve around a knowledgebase with a searchable advice database. The next line of assistance lies with contact channels. Zendesk includes a chat window, which speeds up responses and problem resolution through interactive inquiries.
The ticket management system in Zendesk enables agents to be assigned as the next available assistant. Tickets can be raised through a phone call or an email as well as via chat. They can be tracked, forwarded, split, and merged.
Zendesk Suite is accessed in the cloud so you don’t need to maintain software on site. Monitoring and reporting functions enable you to assess agent performance and benchmark expected turnover. The reporting function also supports SLA goal compliance.
Zendesk is charged for per agent per month. The system is available in two levels, which are Professional and Enterprise. Both levels are suitable for incident management support. You can get a free trial of Zendesk to put it through its paces.
Planning for incident management
Getting comprehensive tools in place and getting a full inventory of all of your equipment prepares you for when problems with your system will arise. There will be incidents arising from both your hardware and software. Some level of disruption is unavoidable. However, with the right tools and trained staff, you can minimize the damage that system errors cause and keep your business running.