JIRA Service Desk : the pros and cons

Posted by
Julie d'ANTIN

November 14, 2013

Service Desk is a key driver for end-users satisfaction. A good experience and your IT team will be praised, a bad one will slow your business down and create frustration. In the end, a Service Desk is all about providing efficiency to your internal or external customers with solutions to their requests.

Among the crowd of solutions out there, JIRA Service Desk stands out for several aspects. Whether you’re currently facing challenges with your existing Service Desk or getting prepared to create one, this article will help you figure out if JIRA Service Desk is the right solution for you.

What is JIRA Service Desk ?

JIRA Service Desk is an add-on built on top of Atlassian JIRA that turns it into an intuitive Service Desk tool. If you already use JIRA to manage issues for your software development processes you know how flexible and powerful it is. If you don’t, this video will give you a good overview of it.

JIRA Service Desk brings all the best of JIRA together with an intuitive user interface, powerful SLA support, customisable queues, automated request management, and real-time reporting.

The pros of JIRA Service Desk

At Valiantys, we are very enthusiastic about JIRA Service Desk. Here is what our clients and ourselves find the most exciting :

New Users Management

Users, since JIRA Service Desk V2.0, are managed into 3 different roles : agents, customers and collaborators.

Customers are licence free but have restricted actions. An end-user can access to the Customer Portal to create new tickets or view existing ones. At anytime, he can add a new comment and/or attachment to issues. Customers can also add participants to his request by going through the directory of users or by typing the email address of the user.

Collaborators are very important. They can view, comment and add attachments from JIRA, and are not taken into account in Service Desk licence. However, they cannot communicate with end-users or transition a customer issue. Most of the time, collaborators are managers who don’t have to work against issues but need to keep an eye on agents work.

Agents have most of permissions in Service Desk, they can create new requests on behalf of  a customer, they can work against tickets (i.e. change the status of tickets) and send comments to end-users. Only agents are taken into account in the JIRA Service Desk licence.

A clear and intuitive customer portal

JSD Home page

JIRA Service Desk allows you to keep things simple and easy for end-users : you can set up your customised customer portal so that they only see one screen with a selection of requests expressed in their own terms.  Your users can thus select the request that’s right for them, fill in a few blank fields and click to submit it. A request is then created for your Service Desk team, to be managed until resolution.

Customisable live queues

JSD queues

In JIRA Service Desk, managers can define new queues for agents depending on custom fields or SLAs. In the example above, we decided to list issues depending on support Level (Level 1 Vs Level 2) and drill-down per priority and business impact. Like filters, columns can be defined to display relevant information. We recommend to use SLAs as column or order for queue so agents can select tickets in specific order.

Powerful SLAs


JIRA Service Desk integrates our VertygoSLA technology for Service Level Agreements. JIRA Service Desk’s powerful rules engine automatically applies SLA targets as requests enter the queue. Your team will service its customers with confidence knowing that SLA priorities are clearly visible for everyone working on requests, both in queues and in issue details. Calendars are also available in metrics (SLAs) to define when goals are applied (specific time zone, defined bank holidays, working hours …)

Real-Time Reporting


JIRA Service Desk reporting feature allows you to take a snapshot to see how your Service Desk is running. Enabling you to provide key metrics to the business, this can also help you assess progress and performance of your teams in real time as well as identify bottlenecks and trends of the past.

Knowledge Base

JIRA Service Desk does not embed a Knowledge Base by default. However it can easily be linked to a Confluence space that would be set as a Knowledge Base to enable users to take good care of their requests by themselves.

Automations for repetitive tasks

JSD Automation

Automations can be used since JIRA Service Desk 2.4.3 automations are available by default : “Transition on Comment”, “Re-Open on customer comment”, “Be aware of urgent issues”, “Keep on Top of SLAs” and “Set customer expectations”. Then if need, custom rules can be created using triggers, conditions and actions.

JIRA Workflow Engine

JIRA does offer a great workflow engine where you can easily dictate how you want JIRA Service Desk to behave to make your service desk efficient and smooth. It even allows you to have more than one workflow set for Incidents/Requests/Problems. If you want to get started quickly with Service Desk workflows, we have built a bundle of workflows based on ITIL best practices.

The current limitations of JIRA Service Desk

Now that we have covered what is great about JIRA Service Desk, let’s have a look at its drawbacks:

Transitions available from the Customer Portal

Transitions are only available from JIRA and for agents. However, it would be great to have this availability from the customer portal (for agents or for customers). This illustrates for example when customers would need to close tickets by themselves instead of creating a comment to ask an agent to close it. Automation in JIRA Service Desk half addresses this request but it’s not visible for customers. Until new versions of Service Desk and Automation are released, JIRA Service Pack add-on can be used to add transitions on the customer portal.


Email templates are still hard to customise with enterprise logo or specific text.


Managing Configuration Items (CIs) is very important for any IT Service Desk environment.  Although this add-on provides no way of managing these, you can fill this gap using our nFeed add-on to connect your Service Desk to an existing CMDB.

Knowledge Base

As mentioned before, JIRA Service Desk has no integrated knowledge base. However you can create an application link to Confluence if you have Confluence of course. If you don’t, then you will miss out on this feature.

So, why choose JIRA Service Desk?

JIRA Service Desk add-on compliments JIRA fairly well, albeit it’s only v2.5 it does show massive potential. Once a calendar is implemented, the JIRA + JIRA Service Desk + Confluence combo will make a great alternative to the solutions like Service Now, CA and BMC Remedy. More affordable, lighter to deploy and based on JIRA, a popular tool amongst users, it can definitely suit the needs of many organisations.

Now we hand it to you : what do you think of JIRA Service Desk? Give us your feedback in the comment section below !

  • Great article! This does a great job at explaining the benefits of Jira Service Desk for your company’s ITIL implementation. This will be very helpful for people working in the field of IT Service Management.

  • How to link Jira Service Desk tickets with Jira project? We want to see our team member’s workload and manage the progress

  • Does JIRA Service Desk offer calendar appointments for the IT Tech to schedule time slots with the users ?

    Thanks- Chuck

  • Julie d’ANTIN

    Thanks for the review Christophe!
    We are really excited about the new release and its promising features which make JIRA Service Desk a truly great solution.

  • Nice write-up.

    JIRA Service Desk 1.1 is now here and includes SLA calendars, internationalization and request groups.

    You can find out more about the release 1.1 on http://blogs.atlassian.com/2013/11/introducing-jira-service-desk-1-1/

    Something to add in your section on the power of the customer portal is that when customers make requests, they’re actually filing JIRA issues – and the details are up to you.

    Keep the good work,