Many of the companies we work with either don't have Help Desk software or have a homegrown application that is muttered about in dark corners. Most of the time the inhibiting factor is the cost of commercial packages. Recently though we've become aware of several free offerings in the PHP world that render that part of the equation moot.
So for those of you in the "we can't afford it" category, here's a couple for you take a look at.
First up is Mantis/400, which in its native IBM i version is distributed and supported by Curbstone, which, having used Mantis internally for some years, ported it to the IBM i and enabled it to directly use DB2 tables. In this regard it remains the only package we are aware of that can do this.
Next on our list is osTicket and we have to say that we really like the clean user interface this system provides. It gets good reviews and seems to have many happy users. However, getting new releases out on time does not seem to be a strong point. The developers seem to get tied up in real paying work--go figure! Apart from being prettier than Mantis, the major difference is one of focus. Mantis is developer centric whereas osTicket is end-user centric and can be used as a direct customer support site as well as for entry of issues by in-house staff.
The latest one to show up on our radar is HESK--thanks to Dan Devoe for pointing this one out to us. HESK is similar in look and feel to osTicket and also has a strong end-user orientation. Since it seems to be the free part of a commercial offering, we suspect that updates may be a little more timely--a thought that appears to be born out by the activity level on the support forum.
Both osTicket and HESK use MySQL and would therefore require IBM's DB2 storage engine in order to store some or all of their data in DB2 tables. Since they are free, it is hardly a barrier to implementation.
Both osTicket and HESK have such strong end-user orientation that they would be useful additions to any customer facing online systems your company may already have in place. Good self-help facilities can be a major selling point for any company and can also help identify product deficiencies and market opportunities that can otherwise be missed. This is just another of those opportunities to be a hero to your users by demonstrating that your IBM i system can be a vital part of the growth of your business.
A quick rant from Jon: Am I the only one who is constantly frustrated by the "automation" of some of life's basic requirements? For example, a couple of weeks ago I was soaked to the skin by a washroom tap whose sensor was so badly aligned that you had to have your hand almost touching the tap's opening before it would activate--and of course when it did. ... On a similar note, am I the only one who is unable to get a self-flushing toilet to flush when it should? I encountered one recently that flushed six times before I was ready for it! And don't get me started on those silly plastic seat wrap things. When we were at a conference at a Las Vegas hotel the auto-sensing paper towel dispenser was mounted in such a way that it was actually impossible to enter the bathroom without activating it. And on and on. Am I just becoming a crotchety old man, or are others as frustrated by these unwanted additions to our daily lives as I am?