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Using Bugzilla for the Helpdesk

I introduced Bugzilla into my workplace, where we didn't have any bug tracking system at all, and consequently bugs and problems were falling through the cracks.  The help desk immediately fell in love with it, and its use has spread rapidly.

Now we have a dilema though.  The helpdesk is using an outdated internal app to track their calls.  We've only been running with the help desk for a couple of days and already we can see that it would be nice to ditch the old nasty system and work just in Bugzilla.

The situation that I'm up against is that I'm not sure if bugzilla is an ideal tool to use for a helpdesk. The problem isn't that I have doubts or see deficiencies, it's that I really don't know about its suitability.

Has anybody here used bugzilla effectively as a help desk tool, and replaced their helpdesk app with it?  Or did you have to find some kind of compromise?  Or did you just run two separate applications?

Clay Dowling
Thursday, August 26, 2004

"Help Desk Tool" is to generic.  What does your help desk use the tool for?  What functions does it have and why is it unsuitable? 

Getting you from NY to LA has a lot of options, and just in good taste have you looked at:
http://www.fogcreek.com/FogBUGZ/index.html ?

Anonanonanon
Thursday, August 26, 2004

Try RT for help desk use: http://www.bestpractical.com/rt/


Thursday, August 26, 2004


Are you wanting to use it as a true "Help Desk" where you have clients and such or just for issue tracking?



I tried using Bugzilla, but Mantis was much simpler to deploy and didn't require me to convince my boss (asp guy) to deploy perl.  He seems to have a fundamental fear of it.

KC
Thursday, August 26, 2004

Is the helpdesk set up as a call centre?  It it is then you do have to give a lot of thought to keeping the flow smooth.

I'm not familiar enough with bugzilla, but I have plenty of experience in call centre environments.

In my experience, the most important features needed are:

1) The ability to keep multiple issues open in separate windows.  You can't guarantee that you'll finish before the next call comes in.

2) Fine grained locking.  Issues may remain open on a users screen for some time.  Other users may need to update them at the same time.

I remember one particular bad system where we ended up capturing everything in notepad then copying into them over during the quiet times.

Ged Byrne
Thursday, August 26, 2004

Depending on the size of your organisation and the scope of the help desk you might like to take a look at the ITIL Service Management framework and see if there are other things you should be doing too.

gwyn
Thursday, August 26, 2004

I worked on help desks for a total of three years, and would have never thought of Bugzilla as a good fit for help desk software, not because it's necessarily unsuitable; it's just that Bugzilla doesn't come to mind when I think of help desk software.  Like the other posters have indicated, there is such a wide variance in what organizations even define as help desk, let alone all their different approaches and ideas about what makes a help desk "good."

Having said that, I would add that, in addition to Ged's list, a big factor in the success of a help desk package is simply whether or not they like it, as in like using it.  In fact, I would assert that how much they like using it is the biggest factor.  If no one uses the help desk system, it will suck no matter how good it is.  Conversely, if everyone uses it religiously, and the same way, it will get the job done, no matter how lousy a product it is.

One thing I remember that made me like or dislike using a help desk system was how closely its flow matched call flow.  For example, if the first thing I needed to enter was the caller's phone number, does a new case open with the cursor focused on that field and does the tab order match each successive item?

Let us know how it works out.

OffMyMeds
Friday, August 27, 2004

We used separate applications. Tech support ran CRM software (it was GoldMine), and entered issues into a bug-tracking database. Developers saw the bug-tracking database, but not the GoldMine data.

Christopher Wells
Saturday, August 28, 2004

Right now we're using the last proposed solution, an in house CRM application, and bugzilla for reporting problems that it will take a programmer to fix. Management is pushing for a single solution to both.

The help desk people have all decided that they like it a lot.  They like the accountability and instant feedback when we've finished something.  They also like the ability to see which build a fix is scheduled for. The biggest challenge by far will be getting the programmers to use it.  The other person on my project handles mostly new development, so bugzilla is only really relevant to him as a way to see what I'm doing.

Clay Dowling
Sunday, August 29, 2004

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