Before I start with review I have to disclose that I really like Manageengine as a company and it’s portfolio of product. We use many of their products in our company and I have to say that I am satisfied with the quality. Now, let’s start.
Manage and Report Active Directory, Exchange and Microsoft 365 with ManageEngine ADManager Plus. Download Free Trial!
It all started several years ago when current helpdesk solution has over grown IT needs. Yes it was free and it was time for us to invest some money in solution that would make us more productive. We (IT Team) have looked on the internet for right solution, during evaluation we faced the same problems with most of the companies during evaluation. Either Screenshots were not available, pricing was not available or there were no description at all, only summary that product by name X exist and has function Y. Then we stumbled on ManageEngine, we were surprised that they provided all information, pricing, demo, screenshots… all. By looking at screenshot I fell in love in ServiceDesk Plus. Best of all, it’s so easy to customise, you don’t need expensive consultants, you can be up and running in 15 minutes, fully operational with your requirements in 1 day. What about competition? There are really good Service Desk solutions on the market today. Samanage innovating with AI, Freshservice with gamification and there are even Open Source solutions if price is in the question.
ManageEngine ServiceDesk Plus Editions
ServiceDesk Plus is available in 3 editions: Standard, Professional, Enterprise
Standard is free for 5 technicians, has help desk module and you are able to buy add ons.
Professional edition has standard functionality plus Asset scanning, Purchase and Contracts management
Enterprise edition has all the Professional edition has, is ITIL compliant (Problem Management, Service Catalog, Change Management, CMDB) and has Asset management and Project management modules included.
They also have a free version, which got really free, for unlimited technicians – but only with the helpdesk module. Still great for some cases.
If you have ManageEngine Desktop Central installed, you can integrate it with ServiceDesk Plus, that means that you can deploy software, patches, chat… from within ServiceDesk Plus and that is a great plus. I have only noticed that feature when configuring ServiceDesk Plus and I got really excited as this saved a lot of our work.
We have started with Professional edition. There are “packages” you can choose from, it starts with 2 Technicians (250 nodes) – $395 per year, We went with 5 Technicians (500 nodes) – $995. Choosing Professional edition was a no brainer, mainly because of Purchase and Contract management. It’s really convenient to do purchases from within the ServiceDesk Plus, you have all documentation centralised and Contract Management is also a great benefit, all contracts in one place. Agent based asset scanning is included. We got 500 nodes with 5 technicians.
Here we stumbled on first issue. We are using Desktop Central as well. With DesktopCentral you deploy agents on computers that you manage. By having agents installed you get all information there is about computers. So you get all information in Desktop Central and you get the same information in ServiceDesk Plus. Even though there is product that has database with information’s about your computers you have to re license the same amount of computers if you want them included in ServiceDesk Plus. I consider this a big minus. If there is integration with products from the same vendor there should be integration of database as well, or at least an option. Why should I pay for the same information twice?
After a while we have upgraded to Enterprise edition. Mainly because of CMDB, Problem Management and Change Management.
ManageEngine ServiceDesk Plus Features
Dashboard My view and Scheduler
Helpdesk module has a nice Dashboard where all the relevant information is presented in graphical view, there is dashboard for help desk, dashboard for problems, changes and assets. Benefit of dashboard is that you get the most important information’s in one view.
My view is basically personal view where you get info on your tickets, how many were resolved, how many are open over due….
Scheduler is a calendar where you are able to see technicians availability. Is there a public holiday? You are able to see technicians that will be available, want to see which of technicians in online? Great asset for companies that have a lot of technicians and have a need for managing them.
Helpdesk in use
I love Helpdesk module. It’s easy to understand, everything is well organised and most importantly, you can customise it to your needs. One of the goodies is that you can easily do customised view of ticket list (showing you only tickets that are from department X and have status on hold), you can create multiple private views or you can choose to make them public for other to use. Do you require additional fields in incident view? No problem. Do you require survey for every ticket closed? No problem. You can create templates for resolution so that once you fix the problem, instead of manually changing all the required fields, just select a template and all fields will auto complete. Helpdesk Module is really the strongest asset of ServiceDesk Plus. But, it does show it’s age. What I don’t like is that you are not able to assign a ticket to technician from the all tickets list. Example, you run a team of 5, there are tickets that were not yet assigned to technicians. You go through ticket list twice per day and if you would like to assign a ticket to a technician you have to open ticket first then assign ticket to technician, then go back to all ticket view. What else, If you reply to a ticket, you will know that you replied as status will turn green, if ticket receives reply, status will turn red. How cool is that. You really can’t miss ticket that requires your attention. But what is not cool is that if you forward ticket, status won’t change. And if your work flow requires forwarding incidents, you are out of luck as you will not know if ticket was all ready forwarded and you will have to review tickets with blank status all the time, there is a trick you can use though, you can add a comment to a ticket and new yellow status will appear. Third and last gripe I have is that when you are in the ticket view, once you close the ticket you are not transferred to all tickets view. I would say that this are 3 biggest gripes I have with ServiceDesk plus help desk module. The rest is perfection.
Purchase and Contract management
A fact is that IT does a lot of purchases, clients need new monitors, computers, computer accessories, software…. Why not integrate it in Service Desk? Do you need to send computer to repair? Is it still in warranty? You need proof of purchase? It’s all there just waiting to be printed or sent via email.
With purchases there is one caveat, by default fields in PO are ordered as following: S. No., Items, Part No., Price, Tax rate, Quantity, amount. There is no way to swap items. Example if you want to add Part No. before items field you can not.
Managing contracts in general in is now much easier thanks to ServiceDesk plus. You can have sub contracts and the system can notify you if contract is about to expire.
CMDB is one of the projects that every IT would like to implement, but CMDB can fail, and most often it does. Search for CMDB fail in google and you will find huge amount of failed CMDB projects. But why is that? CMDB, if executed right, requires insane amount of resources and not only that, people doing CMDB really have to be there with their heart, if they forget to document a change in CMDB all is for nothing. What software can do is to automate what can be automated. ServiceDesk Plus has CMDB module but this module does not have maturity of Helpdesk module. It does enable you to document everything but that is it. Let’s take a look at couple of examples. Switch ports enables you to document (connect) ports of network devices, that feature is available but you are supposed to link every port manually. Imagine technicians changing ports of computers and imagine they forget to notify person in charge of CMDB. Imagine doing that for every object that is on the network. Ideally, since there is network scanning present, all of the objects that are scanned should be classified and shown in CMDB, what’s more, switch ports should automatically recognise relations between devices. ME has technology to do that and from what I heard automation is on to do list. When it will be integrated I don’t know. Another quirk is Location view which is missing. Example: You have 20 locations, every location has at least 30 of items per CI. You need info about a switch that is located in location 3. Location 3 has Several buildings, several server rooms. When you go to find one switch, you are presented with a mess of 600+ devices, now, find the one that you require information of. Ideally there should be an option to either sort items per CI or per Location. By having sort/location, you could go in to Boston, building 3, server room 3, cabinet 3, viola there is the switch.
Project module is the youngest module that was introduced in SDP. It does work, and it does so without any problems. It has Milestones, Tasks, Timesheet, Gant View. There are comments and History view. It’s a good addition to IT needs. Especially if IT team is bigger.
Problem and Change Mangement
I am really grateful for this two modules in enterprise edition. Let’s say you apply a patch for Microsoft Exchange, you receive a first call, Merry reports she has a problem with Outlook not connecting to exchange server, you receive another call from John, his Outlook has red cross just above the clock in Windows task bar, he didn’t receive his emails for an hour, then Melissa calls in, again problem with Outlook, cant receive email, then you hear this voice Huston we have a problem, you assign a problem to an incident, once problem is picked up by the right person who troubleshoots the problem he assigns a change – we have to revert the patch for MS Exchange. You are able to configure CAB members who assist change manager. This is ITIL, and the way it’s presented in SDP is great. What I really love with SDP is that It’s simple to use and it’s great to see ITIL work to your advantage with a tool that is so simple yet so effective.
You can’t run IT efficiently without a knowledge base. You know, you receive thousands of requests that start the same, how do I? Here comes the knowledge base to the rescue, when ever you receive a request that was answered millions of times you just reply with a link pointing to the KB with resolution. What’s even better, you can educate you clients to report a problem via web interface. There they are able to browse KB’s, open a new ticket, or order new equipment from Service catalogue (or any other service). What could be improved is that when client opens a new ticket via Web UI, SDP should automatically present possible solutions as client would type their problem.
I think that ME could improve solutions module (solutions is a module where you publish you KB articles). Why would someone want to bold Topic instead of name of the post is beyond me, imagine you have 30+ KB articles and you want to review them from time to time, instead of finding them by the topic easily you are presented with bold view of topic. Now, if they do bold topic, why is there not an option to click on a topic (for example Troubleshooting) and see only articles with topic troubleshooting?
Is hidden in Admin section. You are able to customise view, create workflows and select the approver. All in all process is straight forward, all works like it should and it’s a nice solution. It would be good if look and feel of end user side was customisable. But in general, it’s there, it works and it’s solid.
Multilingual is a payed add on. If you have a multi language environment your users can really benefit from Multi language add on. If end user opens SDP, GUI is presented in their language. Translations are good from my experiences. Where it lacks though, is the multi currency and presentation of it on other modules for example Purchase module. One example is the difference in . and , in numbering. In USA value is presented in: 1000.00 but in Europe the same value is: 1000,00 – Euro type is not working in SDP and it’s been on the bug list for more than a year. Without this quirk, Multi language module is working well.
SDP comes with loads of predefined reports. There you will find most of general reports like SLA, software by workstation, Purchased vs Installed, Prohibited software installations, Request status by category, Request status by priority, Completed requests by due date….. Think of a report and you will most likely find it. But if you have special requirements you can build your own report. Report builder is easy to understand and I have yet to find a report I can not build. What’s more, you can set schedule for automatic mail out of reports. Just select recipients and mail with report will get delivered on a set day.
AD, SSO and customizing look and feel of portal
SDP can be configured to integrate to AD and use Single sign on. Once configured SSO works without problems. Look and feel of the portal is another matter. You are able to modify look and feel, you can add logo, change colours and remove ME footnotes portal may look great, but only until next update. What you can change from the Admin sections of look and feel (your company logo) will remain, but what you will change in html you will have to take care with every update to SDP. Unfortunately there is no functionality that would preserve your customisation to theme settings (think wordpress).
Support is a hit and miss with SDP. What I learned so far with ManageEngine is that support varies from product to product. With SDP support is great and responsive for issues you have with configuring SDP. You don’t know how to set feature X? Support will respond soon. You would like to add another field in custom ticket view? Max 2 day response time with a solution. Where support could be improved is little improvements that could make your day better. I had several cases where I reported a feature request and it was not added, even after a year. Response is usually thank you for reporting feature request, it’s already on our to do list or has been added to our modifications list, you are given the link to features request website and there it ends. My take on this situation is that they should do more to include little improvements, faster. Colour for Forward status is inline with theme of SDP would not require big change and it could be implemented quickly, whats more, nature of this fix would not break other things. Values , and . is another feature that should be implement ASAP, if there is add on module that you have to pay additional money, that money should take care of support of that module as well.
Future is bright with SDP, proposal with new GUI is already out and it looks nice.
When it will get implemented I don’t know. I know that if they will wait with fixing small issues until they implement new GUI, they will make a lot of people nervous. From time to time I get this urge to test another Service Desk product. The thing is I can’t find one that would compare in Price, Features and Usability to SDP.
If I had to rate SDP it would receive 8.5/10. Why rating is not higher is because they are slow to implement small fixes, lack of CMDB automation and location view, Numbering issue in purchase module and computer licensing if you already own Desktop Central. You can download Service Desk Plus on ManageEngine prodcut page
Thanks for this thorough review. I am currently looking into ManageEngine as we want to replace our current tool.
It seems to do everything we want, but it looks expensive (I need 35 tech licences plus over 1000 assets).
Costs aside, are you still happy with it?
Erik Blum says
Well, I learned that you are able to get 20% discount from a reseller if you find a good one. If you are good with negotiation, you are able to get 23%-25% discount compared to cca. 9%-10% directly from Manageengine.
Maybe ME would give you better discount based on your situation, it’s worth checking out.
I don’t know which version you are looking for and I don’t know what is your work flow.
You may get frustrated assigning incidents to technicians and you may get frustrated if you have to forward a lot of incidents. If you plan to use CMDB I suggest you better test it first. Also If you are part of a Country which is not USA and plan to use purchasing module be prepared for , and . problem. On the other hand If your needs are basic and you don’t require full blown service desk, they offer FREE edition which you can use as extensive trial for Help desk functionality.
And if price is the issue, you can achieve great results with SDP free + Spiceworks + free Idoit.
Having said that, I think that ME is still very good, for the price. It’s hard to find a comparable Servicedesk product for the same price with the same feature set. I am still searching for the perfect product. In the next month or so, I will do a review of 2 comparable products. Stay tuned.