by January 2, 2003 0 comments



In today’s trying times, it’s not only important for business
establishments to acquire new clients, but also retain existing ones.

This is possible only by providing customers good after sales support and
prompt service using a good helpdesk-management system. There’s a range of
helpdesk management software, both commercial and free. In this article, we’ll
look at a free solution called Liberum Helpdesk, which is also on this month’s
CD.

Liberum Helpdesk can do basic helpdesk management for any organization’s
internal as well as external customers. It’s totally web based, very easy to
set up, and uses either SQL Server or Access databases on the backend. The
system is also capable of generating various types of reports such as pending
client queries, etc.

To install it, you need Win NT 4/2000 Server with Internet Information
Server, and a mail server. Copy the file liberum-hd-0.97.3.zip from the CD to
the server you want to install it on. On extracting this zip file, you will get
two folders www and DB. Open the folder c:\Inetpub\wwwroot and create a folder
“helpdesk”, and copy all files and folders from www folder that you had
extracted from zip file. Next, you need to create another folder “database”
in location c:\Inetpub and copy the files from “DB” folder, which was
extracted above. With this,the installation part is over. Now you have to
configure the helpdesk management system.

Open your Web browser and type the URL http://webserver/helpdesk/ setup.asp,
where ‘webserver’ is the domain name or IP address of your Web server. This
will ask you to select the language, which will be incorporated in to the
helpdesk-management system. Next, you have to configure the helpdesk according
to your organization need. For that, open the URL http://webserver/ help
desk/admin. This will ask you the password. Fill the password “admin”, after
which a ‘configure’ Web page will appear. Here you can add users, create and
manage categories (query category), configure site, create and manage
departments, etc.

After this, you need to configure the mail server component on your Web
server, so that clients can post their problems in the form of mail as well. In
addition, the helpdesk staff can answer those mail. For this you can use any
mail server such as ASPmail, ASPemail, Jmail, or even Microsoft Exchange Server.
We used ASPmail, which was downloaded from www.serverobjects.com/products.htm#aspmail.
After downloading it, unzip aspmail4.zip and extract the files in any folder,
then move the following files, smtpsvg.dll and regsrv32.exe to c:\winnt\system32.
Now open a command console and issue this command.

Regsrv32.exe smtpsvg.dll
This will register the mail component to Windows registry. After this, open
the Web browser, and type http://webserver/helpdesk/ admin. Select “configure
site” from the Web page. Here, another Web page will come up, where you have
to fill all your organization details and helpdesk parameters like Web server
detail, priority level, etc.
Note: Change the “E-mail Type” with ASPMail and give the hostname of your
server in “SMTP Server” text box. You can even test your configuration, by
selecting “Test configuration”, from administration Web page. With this,
your helpdesk management is ready to use. The clients can access it by keying in
the URL http://webserver_ name /helpdesk.

Submitting your
problem to the helpdesk

Using Liberum
To use this helpdesk system, you have to first configure the software
according to your requirements. For that, open the Web browser and type in URL
http://webserver_name/ helpdesk/admin. From here, you can configure and
administer the entire helpdesk. To get started, you need to configure various
elements starting from giving your website a name, defining users and
departments who would be using this system. You need to break-up the helpdesk
into various classes depending upon the kind of support you’ll be providing,
and assigning each to a helpdesk expert (for example, a networking to networking
expert, hardware to hardware expert, etc). There’s also a “Manage
Priority” tab for setting user-priority levels. Finally, you can even define
the status levels for each query, such as case open, pending, in process and
case closed. This gives an idea of the status of each query. You can also
generate reports based on the departments, categories and replies.

Once the helpdesk has been configured, users can access it from the URL
http://webserver _name/ helpdesk. Each user can either be assigned a login name
and password or register directly on this website. After logging in, users can
submit their problems by filling in an online form. When helpdesk experts log
in, they can view the problems assigned to them and give their solutions. The
entire discussion is threaded to make it easy to track the case. Once the
problem has been resolved, the helpdesk expert can close the case and submit it
to the knowledge base. Users facing a similar problem can search through this
knowledge base from their login. If an expert hasn’t been able to resolve the
problem, then he/she can also assign it to another expert. If due to some reason
a helpdesk expert hasn’t logged into the system, the helpdesk management
system sends him an e-mail for every query that comes in. This way, a helpdesk
expert can answer queries even when on the move.

Sanjay Majumder

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