Can you recommend good help desk, CMS, and performance tracking software?

Davey J June 26, 2014
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Can anyone recommend good IT help desk support software for intranet use?

I work for a medium-sized non-profit organization. In addition to handling web design/development, I’m also the on-site IT support staff. Big changes are on the horizon and my superiors have made it clear that they need a way to track the performance of all employees. For my role in IT, I know having a ticket system would be ideal for obvious reasons.

Additionally, our employees have stated that they would prefer accessing the information they need (e.g. company forms, reports, etc.) through their web browser instead of (me) having to map their workstation to our shared network drive.

I’ve searched like crazy for the last couple of weeks trying to find an intranet solution that would fit our company’s needs–keeping costs as low as can be. We also use Google Apps to power our email and collaborate as needed. Does anyone know of a good intranet-based solution that will not only allow us to connect to our Google Apps but is also flexible enough to handle IT help desk ticket requests while providing analytical data on employee performance?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Thanks, everyone!

  1. Bruce E
    July 1, 2014 at 1:04 am

    As there are multiple, diverse problems to be solved here, you will not find a single package as a solution. SpiceWorks would handle the help desk/IT ticketing (and many other IT-related) issues. SharePoint could be used as your CMS. You can already set up IIS (if it isn't already) on your Win 2k8R2 server for an intranet web server. Provided that the load is not too great on your existing server, you could install another CMS package there (in lieu of SharePoint) to handle your forms and documents and some sort of HR package for the employee performance monitoring. Both common require a full-fledged database for your data store, so if you don't already have MSSQL as part of your licensing, you will need to look at it or its alternatives (MySQL, PostgreSQL, etc.) to handle the task.

    Just remember to take into account backup and disaster recovery for the new systems while you are doing this. It won't be much good if it all resides on one server and that server happens to go down due to hardware failure.

  2. Davey J
    June 30, 2014 at 10:32 pm

    Thank you all so much for the great responses!

    Our office network is mixed, running both Windows 7 computers and Apple MacBook Pros with Mavericks.

    Our office server is running Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise.

    My workstation is a MacBook Pro (10.9) from which I connect to the server using RDC.

    I'm not sure if SharePoint is included in our VLA with Microsoft but I can find out.

    Based on the network specs I've just provided, is SpiceWorks still the preferred favorite or should we hold-out for SharePoint?

    Again, thank you all so much for the input! I really do appreciate it!

  3. Bruce E
    June 28, 2014 at 9:17 am

    It is difficult to find solutions for this type of question without knowing what the current infrastructure is like. Are you a Windows shop? Linux? Mixed? What is your experience level with different operating systems? Do you already have IIS, Apache, SharePoint, SQL servers in your network or the appropriate licenses to implement them?

    As far as easing the IT burden, you can't miss with SpiceWorks.

    As far as data on employee performance, it depends on what and how you want to track this. Is it all based on what they are doing on their computers all day or is it supposed to take other activities into account? If the latter, there is no automated system for it and most HR packages involve manually keyed data based on performance reviews by their managers. If the former, you need to be looking for what amounts to "spyware for businesses."

    Again, all of this also depends on your experience level with or willingness to learn various operating systems, what hardware and server resources are currently available as well as their current loads, what functions are handled in-house and what is done elsewhere (besides Google Apps), etc.

  4. Guy M
    June 27, 2014 at 9:21 pm

    Check your server's license. If you're using a Microsoft server, some versions have SharePoint already included in the licensing fees. That would be excellent for creating a library of information.

    If not, you could set up an Apache/PHP/MySQL server for an intranet web site. Then you could install any number of open source solutions for your needs. WordPress for a blog, osTicket for a ticketing system, MediWiki for an information store...there's many to choose from. Many of these packages may already be available with whomever you host your organization's website.

    Setting up a Windows/Apache/MySQL/PHP or WAMP server is easy too. There are self-installing packages you can download and use for free such as easyPHP Server,AMPP, or Bitnami.

  5. Oron J
    June 27, 2014 at 8:43 am

    I agree with Jan regarding Spiceworks, should address your IT needs perfectly. As for the "intranet" side of things, seeing as you're already using Google Apps, use that! Set up a web site (or web sites for different sections) with pages for different subjects and appoint editors for the site. You can set it up so that users (within the organisation only) can "add files" to the pages, which will be good for forms etc. As for read-only documents, users can created them in Google Docs and share them within the organisation as they wish. If they really want to, they can ask the editor to put a link to the document on the page, or even embed "publish" the document as a static page.

    Finally, you can create simple forms in Google Docs very easily. The results go straight into a spreadsheet, and if you're into scripting you can automate things further. If not, well, the spreadsheet's right there and it's very easy to read the data off it. Not suitable for everything, but so easy to use that it's well worth using if only for some forms.

    Zoho is also excellent, but as I say above, you already use Google Apps...

  6. Jan F
    June 26, 2014 at 8:58 am

    Did you happen to stumble across Spiceworks? It does pretty much everything you might need in the IT, is free and has a huge community in the background that can help you solve IT problems.

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