ServiceDesk Plus

Last Updated : Apr 26, 2018


The beginner's guide to IT help desk software is a comprehensive, one-stop resource for answers to some of the most common questions related to IT help desks. This IT service management (ITSM) evaluation guide attempts to build a complete understanding of IT help desks and their implementation, best practices, metrics, and other key aspects. It can help IT teams establish, maintain, and optimize a best practice IT help desk.

What you'll learn

  • The basics of ITSM

    What is an IT help desk?

    IT help desks vs. IT service desks

  • Introduction to IT help desk software

    Benefits and features of IT help desk software

    Choosing the best IT help desk software for your organization

  • Advanced IT help desk software features

    Automation and customization of workflows and processes

    Integration with other IT management applications

  • Measuring and improving the performance of your IT help desk

    Metrics and key performance indicators

    IT help desk best practices

  • Future trends in IT help desks

Chapter 1

Help desk types, help desk vs service desk,
service desk workflows for all industries

what is help desk

What is Help Desk

An IT help desk is a single point of contact (SPOC) for users or customers to receive quick resolutions to any technical issues or service needs. It is considered to be a component of a bigger entity called an IT service desk, which acts as a central control point for all IT operations. 

what is help desk software

What is Help Desk Software

Help desk software is a computer program that is used to facilitate efficient management of a help desk or service desk. This is usually accomplished through automation and optimization of processes and workflows.  

Some of the key features of IT help desk software include:

Some IT help desk ticketing software may also include other modules for project management, contract and purchase management, etc.

Types of IT help desk software

Help desks can be classified into different types based on deployment method, size of target audience, and source code availability, as listed below:

Cloud help desk software
help desk software
On-premise help desk software
help desk software
On-premise help desk software
help desk software
Enterprise helpdesk ticketing system
help desk software
Open source help desk ticketing system
help desk software
Open source help desk ticketing system
help desk software

Differences between an IT help desk and an IT service desk

Up until the introduction of Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) version 3 in 2007, the two terms—help desk and service desk—were mostly used interchangeably. Since then, this practice has changed within the ITSM industry, but to the average end user the difference still remains blurry. Based on the ITIL v3 description of the two terms, there are a few key differences between help desks and service desks:

Help Desk software Service Desk software
Help desks are user-centric Service desks are business-centric
Help desks are point solutions Service desks are integrated
Help desks are reactive in nature Service desks are more proactive
Help desks are for end users Service desks are for both technicians and end users
Help desks are a subset of service desks
IT help desk vs IT service desk

Help desks are user-centric, while service desks are business-centric

The core function of a help desk is to handle incidents and service requests. Help desks aim to provide a quick fix to any issues users face by handling a request through its life cycle and returning the service to its normal state as soon as possible. So the focus of a help desk is largely limited to end users.

On the other hand, a service desk is more comprehensive in nature. Service desks align with organizations' business goals and manage information delivery by using processes that follow ITIL best practices. In short, service desks are built to focus on best practice processes and business goals.

Help desk vs service desk difference

Help desks are point solutions, while service desks are integrated

An IT help desk is a stand-alone solution that performs tasks related to resolving help desk tickets. Help desks most often offer basic incident and problem management capabilities with SLAs and self-service portals.

An IT service desk, however, is a more elaborate system with complete IT management capabilities. Service desks integrate with other IT and non-IT management applications and are therefore capable of providing advanced services like change management, asset management, network monitoring, CMDBs, etc.

Help desk vs service desk difference
Help desk software vs service desk software

Help desks are reactive in nature, while service desks are more proactive

An IT help desk is usually engaged in providing support to end users. This firefighting setup of help desks makes them predominantly reactive to the issues that come up in day-to-day IT operations.

An IT service desk is more proactive since it ensures that IT operations are running as expected and will continue to run in the future. Although service desks can be reactive, their major function still remains ensuring that IT services are always up and supporting the business as needed.

Service desk vs help desk 

Help desks are for end users, while service desks are for both technicians and end users

An IT help desk is usually used by end users to raise tickets and receive support. Help desks also usually offer services like knowledge bases and self-service portals which are oriented towards end users.

A service desk, however, offers capabilities like change and asset management which are complex, technician-facing services. 

Service desk vs help desk 
Help desk and service desk difference

Help desks are a subset of service desks

A help desk can exist as a stand-alone service that provides support to end users. However, a service desk always incorporates a help desk as a part of its wider capabilities. Service desks offer more complex services in addition to basic incident and problem management, which effectively makes help desks a part, or subset, of service desks.

As a direct consequence of this, many organizations today use a help desk without a service desk, but not the other way around.

Application of IT help desk software in different industries

Small businesses 

Help desk software for small business

Small businesses usually operate with small IT shops and only a handful of technicians. The small staff size makes it a challenge to handle all the incoming requests on time. Carrying out changes or maintaining assets are also difficult to do manually. Therefore, small businesses stand to gain many benefits from implementing IT ticketing system software, such as:

Healthcare organizations 

Help desk software for healthcare

In the healthcare industry, time is critical. A hospital's IT help desk must be able to offer quick service when needed. Hospitals usually use a lot of equipment that is critical to patient's lives. This makes it important for help desks to manage equipment efficiently and without any errors. Therefore, IT service desk tools can help healthcare organizations in the following ways:

IT support 

Help desk software for IT support

IT support professionals are naturally the best fit for IT service desk solutions. In the absence of a solution, IT teams usually work with spreadsheets and email, which is a slow, inefficient, and error-prone approach. Out of the numerous benefits that an IT help desk solution offers IT support teams, a few key benefits are listed below:

Educational institutions 

Help desk software for education

Educational institutions usually deploy workstations for teaching staff, administrative staff, and students, making their user base fairly large. In many cases, schools rely on IT for computers, projectors, and software applications. So, to provide reliable IT service to a large user base, educational institutes can use an IT help desk solution to:

IT help desk software evaluation kit

An exclusive package of a feature checklist and a request for proposal (RFP) template

Feature checklist

Comprehensive list of must-have features that you can use as a benchmark

RFP template

A guide to a great RFP that helps you get all the information you need about a vendor

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About ServiceDesk Plus

ManageEngine's flagship product, ServiceDesk Plus, is ITIL-ready help desk software used by ITSM professionals worldwide. With industry-certified best practice ITSM functionality, easy-to-use capability, and native mobile apps, ServiceDesk Plus helps IT support teams deliver world-class service to end users on the go with reduced costs and complexity. Leveraging the latest technology and available in both cloud and on-premises versions, it comes in three editions and is available in 29 different languages. Over 100,000 organizations across 185 countries trust ServiceDesk Plus to optimize IT service desk performance and be future-ready with their IT service management operation. For more information about ServiceDesk Plus, please visit