There’s a long-running debate whether to help desk software and issue tracking tools are the same things. You will find a lot of material on the web about which tools users should prefer, most of these blogs are written from within a technical bias.
For me, there is enough difference between help desk support and bug tracking to buy two tools rather than one. As companies grow, differences in requirements start to grow from minor to serious, and the cost of changing the solution downstream will be greater than the cost of doing it right from the onset.
Help desk software targets a different set of audience that consists of customers and agents rather than developers. In many situations, people will use it without user logins but the requests can still be raised. Most of the time, issue tracking tools will be installed inside the firewall of development servers whereas help desk software could be part of a self-service web portal. It will handle a wider range of types including feature requests, suggestions, lost or forgotten credentials, queries about accounts, and requests for information. Some of these may take the shape of bug reports. Differences also lie in monitoring as a bug database may be fine as a list of things to do but a customer request can’t be afforded to linger unattended.
Most Important Features
Sometimes, it’s a matter of degree of importance. For example, managers usually check open tickets on their phones more than they check bugs in the issue tracker developer account. The importance of other features is more or less equal. Both help desk and issue tracking tools benefit from good integration with an email to avoid having one conversation thread in the tracking system in another email. Both can be used for metrics: critical open customer issues on one hand or release-gating bugs on the other. It’s always better to have someone capable who can intervene and help, instead of sending a request to one specific person via email.
License cost isn’t a big issue for small companies. Most of the tools are open-source and even proprietary ones have a low-cost entry such as Jira.
Yes, some features have an undeniable significance, but when you grow into a bigger company you need to take care of few important aspects such as ticket routing, workflow customization, web-portal branding, service-level agreements, computer-telephony integration, call monitoring, and integration with a knowledge base.
The transition from issue tracking tools to help desk software is hard. Having two solutions run side-by-side from the beginning can help you decide to scale up your investment in the issue tracking system whenever you need it.
Both help desk and issue tracking tools have their significance and while acquiring both may cost you some resources, it will significantly ease your processes and enhance the quality of your products to ensure customer satisfaction.