Help Desk Replacement Cuts Costs By $100,000

Customer service is a key watchword in business today. With a system upgrade looming on the horizon, Optimal Payments decided to look for a more efficient way to service its customers than its existing Remedy help-desk solution from BMC Software. After the payment software and service supplier went out to the marketplace in search of alternatives, it purchased a solution--Zoho’s ManageEngine ServiceDesk Plus--that reduced its operating costs by $100,000 annually.

April 18, 2012

4 Min Read
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Customer service is a key watchword in business today. With a system upgrade looming on the horizon, Optimal Payments decided to look for a more efficient way to service its customers than its existing Remedy help-desk solution from BMC Software. After the payment software and service supplier went out to the marketplace in search of alternatives, it purchased a solution--Zoho’s ManageEngine ServiceDesk Plus--that reduced its operating costs by $100,000 annually.

In business since 1996, Optimal, which has 300 employees, provides software and services to businesses and consumers in more than 180 countries. Merchants use the firm’s NetBanx processing service to process card, online and cash payments. Neteller is an online payment system that consumers, merchants and financial institutions rely on. Optimal receives about 100 to 130 calls per day from customers dealing with various problems. Since 2005, the company used Remedy to process those inquiries. Daily, a couple of full and part-time staff answer the calls, supported by a central data center in London.

The data center runs mainly HP Windows systems with a few Linux servers. To support its operation, Optimal also relies on Microsoft’s SQL Server and Oracle database management systems. It operates two EMC Storage Area Networks, one with 45 Tbytes of data and another with 30 Tbytes.

In the summer of 2010, the time had come for the company to renew its licensing agreement with BMC, but a few issues had emerged with the software. Given the nature of its business, Optimal needed to customize the product periodically.

"We had to hire specialists in order to alter the application," says Optimal's Mike Taylor, incident/problem management, production operations. A change as simple as modifying one field cost the company about $1,000. As a result, the company was paying out $75,000 to contract personnel.

Optimal also found BMC’s technical support to be lackluster. Sometimes, when Optimal requested help on an issue, response was a long time coming.

As a result, the company went looking for alternatives. Taylor started by contacting business associates for recommendations and did some searching on Google. The evaluation process led Optimal to two finalists: BMC's Remedy and Zoho’s ManageEngine ServiceDesk Plus.

In the fall of 2010, the payment company conducted pilot tests for both products, and ManageEngine was the clear winner. "We liked ServiceDesk Plus’ layout; it was easy to follow," says Taylor. Cost was another attraction. The ManageEngine solution was priced about 20% less than Remedy. "Because the ManageEngine system was easier to customize, we would not need any contract personnel," he says. In total, the product would reduce IT spending by about $100,000 annually.So in November 2010, the payment company decided to make the switch. One challenge was loading the firm’s historic trouble-ticket data into the new system. Vendors have proprietary methods of identifying help-desk information, so moving data from one system to another usually requires re-entering the data. To avoid that step, Optimal decided to start from scratch, enter new trouble tickets into the ManageEngine system, and have its agents work without the historical information stored in Remedy.

The rest of the installation was straightforward. The new user interface was similar to Remedy, so there was no need for additional training. ServiceDesk Plus was up and running in January 2011.

After working with the system, Optimal identified a couple of things that would improve the product. For example, better workflow would enable technicians to automate a few processes in the approval cycle, and Optimal would like to see tighter integration with Microsoft’s Active Directory.

Despite those issues, the payment software and services company is content with the new system--so much so that it is examining expanding its use to areas like asset management. Once this change is made, help-desk technicians could monitor and answer questions about employees’ desktop assets via ServiceDesk Plus.

As more IT departments reshape themselves into private-cloud purveyors with new levels of service and even service-level agreements (SLAs) that raise the expectations of the end business they support, the help desk is becoming a central focus because it can capture important SLA metrics for mean time to response and customer satisfaction on IT service requests. Companies can also analyze help-desk data to determine where future problems are most likely to occur. This will enable IT to make preemptive strikes on bugs before they become real issues.

As IT enters an SLA culture, it will also be important to use business analytics to predict problem-response and resolution trends before they become reality. New help-desk software solutions can facilitate this. "Help-desk software now has moved to a more holistic approach," says Raj Sabhlok, Zoho president. "It now includes metrics that answer trending questions like which applications are creating the most problem issues? And is the average time to respond and to resolve a request increasing or decreasing?"

Taylor says Optimal is satisfied with the solution and looking forward to using it in a variety of applications. "Switching to ServiceDesk Plus has been quite beneficial for us," he says. "We are now looking for new ways to leverage our use of the system."

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