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ManageEngine Adds Project Management Functions to Service Desk App

A company that sells multiple products for managing the IT infrastructure has announced the addition of a project management component to its main service desk offering. The enterprise edition of ServiceDesk Plus from ManageEngine, a division of Zoho, allows the members of an IT staff to manage and track tasks. The new project management capability is currently available in beta form; it's expected to be released later this year.

ServiceDesk Plus provides functions for tracking help desk requests, asset management, and other IT service operations. The software, available on demand, installed on site, or made available through service providers, comes in three flavors. At the low end, a three-technician team using the most basic version for help desk operations can use it for free. A professional edition adds asset management. The enterprise edition is intended for an IT organization with more sophisticated operations, including problem management, change management, and incident response.

A beta version of the ServiceDesk Plus project management module is currently available for free to customers of Service Desk Plus Enterprise Edition.

According to the company, a challenge with service desk operations is that individual projects can become "silos of activity" that inadvertently change configuration items and adversely impact related applications or services. The project management module serves as the implementation tool to carry out IT changes identified in the application's Change Management module, which itself was introduced in April 2012. The newest module can perform feasibility checks by cost estimation and resource management. In addition, the module tracks all the changes made and tasks completed through the help of a Gantt chart and Calendar View, and it documents the projects implemented in IT.

"The service desk is the hub of the IT organization," said Raj Sabhlok, president of Zoho. "The inflow and outflow of activities goes through the service desk. In many cases these activities are project related. It's critical that the projects can be tracked and acted upon through the service desk."

For example, he noted, when a user calls the help desk with a problem and the incident is logged within the service desk program, the technician assigned to that incident may discover that a specific operating system requires a patch or service pack. "Depending on how many desktops you have to update, that could turn into a project that needs to be scheduled and completed and ultimately closed out within the service desk."

On top of that, Sabhlok added, as an IT organization matures in its service delivery capabilities, project management becomes an IT responsibility. "IT managers are now expected to have project management skills. A server upgrade becomes a server project, from the acquisition of the hardware to the deployment to the testing. All those things need to be scheduled and managed. In many cases there are many contributors to the project. There could be business units that need to be part of this project as well."

In the past, that project management work may have been done with Excel or more haphazardly. "It's a productivity boost to integrate it in with the ServiceDesk Plus. It's a logical extension," Sabhlok said.

The beta version of the ServiceDesk Plus project management module is available immediately free for customers of ServiceDesk Plus Enterprise Edition.

ManageEngine's applications have been used at University of Southern California, Oregon State University, and Purdue U, among others.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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