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HelpDesk for Jira Server: A lower-cost alternative to Jira Service Desk


Posted by
Phil McCormick

September 3, 2019

Jira Service Desk is one of Atlassian’s best-selling products. The tool allows you to set up a complete service center (ITSM—IT Service Management) and build an ITIL-certified solution. But the value created by Jira Service Desk has a certain cost—and it’s an investment that some companies can’t afford. The licensing model for Jira Service Desk allows you to have an unlimited number of customers (people who use the portal to make a request of the service center) and only pay for the agents who handle those requests. This business model based on the number of ITSM agents is very advantageous for many companies, but for those with a lot of agents, prices can quickly rise.

At Valiantys, we want to offer you the broadest possible sense of what you can do with Atlassian tools. In this article, we’ll introduce you to an alternative to Jira Service Desk for companies that have a tight ITSM budget. The Russian company Teamlead has an app (plugin) called HelpDesk for Jira Server, which includes the main features of Jira Service Desk and more, all within Jira.

Imagine, for example, a company that wants to use Jira Service Desk for thirty agents. At the time of writing, this would cost $16,500. With Jira + the HelpDesk for Jira Server app, for 30 users processing requests from a user portal, the bill would be $3,000 for Jira and $750 for Help Desk for Jira Server.

In this article, we will look at the strengths and weaknesses of the HelpDesk for Jira Server ITSM app.

What the HelpDesk for Jira Server app lets you do

As we just noted, this plugin aims to offer a maximum of features similar to those found natively in Jira Service Desk. Thus, you will get the following configurations:

  • for a customer portal
  • for associated service requests
  • for SLA and calendars
  • for a link to a knowledge base

Additionally, some pleasant surprises have been added to this list of ITSM features, such as the ability to detect similar tickets, a customer dashboard, and even comment templates. Now let’s see in detail what approach is recommended for key configurations.

Configuring permissions and user registration

The first configuration element provided for the administrator is access to the various features offered by the plugin. You should take the time to choose which groups of users will have permission to “Log in to the portal”, “View attachments”, and “Create related requests”. This approach is similar to the configurations commonly found in Jira but does not offer the flexibility of Atlassian’s permission schemes.

Once configured, the app also offers the ability to create “public accounts”. This is like the Jira Service Desk model, as users who have this type of account can create requests, but won’t require a Jira license to do so.

Service Request, SLA, Calendars, Knowledge Base and User Portal

Once the user area is well defined, we can perform a more advanced configuration of the portal. Once again, we can see here the desire to set up a full-service center. We can configure the “Service Queries”, “SLA”, and “Calendar”.

Still, it quickly becomes clear that the ergonomics of Jira Service Desk is lacking. Configuration of SLAs must be done via Workflow post functions, and configuration of forms via Jira Core complementary screens; and it isn’t possible to rename the fields. In short, we can get by, but the administration is laborious and the features are limited.

The first good surprise, on the other hand, appears during the configuration of the user portal. Here, you can configure the look and feel quite freely, and especially the “User Dashboard”, which allows for different views (via tabs) on the client-side, as well as the ability to filter requests and export them in an Excel file. These features would be a real plus in Jira Service Desk!

The pleasant surprises

In addition to the user dashboard just described, some other, additional features are offered natively by HelpDesk for Jira Server, whereas using them in Jira Service Desk would require the addition of a dedicated plugin.

Let’s look at a few:

  • Comments Template: In Jira Service Desk, this feature is very often requested by customers, and the excellent Canned Responses Pro for Jira allows access to it.
  • Copy field from the parent request. When creating a linked request, it is sometimes useful to copy fields from the initial request to the child request. With Jira Service Desk, you have to add the Elements Copy & Sync for Jira issues app to copy them. This app, however, goes further because it also allows you to synchronize these fields.
  • Look and Feel: The configuration of the portal (although not very ergonomic as knowledge of CSS and HTML necessary), is nonetheless possible. In Jira Service Desk, Refined—Structure and Theme JSD, a very advanced plugin, exists to fill this need.

Automation: The big missing feature of HelpDesk for Jira Server

As we’ve seen from the beginning of this article, this app is a real ITSM Swiss army knife. Indeed, it aims to provide as many functionalities already provided by Jira Service Desk as it can, plus other, very useful functions that are usually implemented by integrating the most famous Atlassian Marketplace apps. One of the most powerful features of Jira Service Desk, and which HelpDesk for Jira Server desperately lacks, is automation. The automation feature greatly eases implementation of automation rules, allowing you to transition requests onto user actions, and calculate a field in a request according to others defined during request creation.

Here, there is nothing that resembles that.

Nevertheless, it is possible to approximate the behavior of Jira Service Desk by adding another free app: Automation for Jira—Lite Server.

Conclusion

The range of features offered by the HelpDesk for Jira Server plugin is huge. Indeed, it includes almost all the features that are the strong points of Jira Service Desk, as well as a few others that have been well chosen from among the bestsellers of the Atlassian Marketplace. However, this wealth of ITSM features has been designed at the expense of the app’s ergonomics. Whether on the side of the administrator or that of the user, ergonomics is not integrated. And if you are familiar with the capabilities of Jira Service Desk and its ease of configuration, it is likely that you will be a little frustrated by HelpDesk for Jira Server.

If the advertised price of Jira Service Desk is currently a stumbling block for your project, then I suggest you have a look at this plugin, taking the time to understand its limits and issues. Otherwise, a quick comparative benchmark with Jira Service Desk will help you quickly decide in favor of the latter if your budget allows it!

Discuss your project with our consultants—we can most certainly provide valuable advice for your ITSM project.