This article is part of an ongoing series where I discuss how a particular customer in a specific industry uses OneDesk.
For many companies, it can be tough building tools that are tailored to meet their specific needs. Without an in-house development team, these companies turn to external teams and companies for solutions. Filling this need in the market are software service companies. These companies are contracted by other companies, groups, and organizations to develop tools and software to help them. Due to the nature of their contractual work, software service companies tend to take on multiple contracts and support several customers at once. This can be a nightmare to wrangle, and as one of our clients found, it can be difficult balancing projects to build new tools as well as any supporting work for existing tools. What OneDesk offered our client was an all-in-one solution to handle everything.
Our client provides software solutions to businesses that might not have the know-how or resources to do so themselves. Such solutions might include building a new website, setting up an e-commerce site, or even developing a CRM (customer relationship management) tool. Often, these software solutions are tackled as a project, which is comprised of tasks. Upon project completion, our client notes that many of their customers end up transitioning from requiring project-based work to more support-focused work to maintain whatever systems have come out of projects. Our client sees a decent amount of overlap and crossover between the project-based and support-based paradigms they support, and so they need software that will be able to keep track of both kinds of workflows.
Most notably, as a software services company taking on contracts from different customers, it makes sense for our client to treat their work as projects. These projects begin with a phase for requirements gathering and breaking down work into tasks. Any dependencies between tasks are worked out, and from there a high-level estimate for project completion can be set for customers’ expectations. Our client then organizes these tasks into milestones to mark progress. As tasks are being worked on, our client records the successes along the way and disseminates this information to colleagues and across the company. When projects are completed, customers usually continue to contract our client to support the system or tool created as issues and bugs arise. Although progress is important at the project level, being able to see across all projects is key for our client to see how the business as a whole is affected.
Out of the box, OneDesk has a fully-featured helpdesk system as well as project management software. With this fleet of tools, all support and project work can easily be captured in tickets and tasks, which serve as the building blocks for our client’s workflows. With our customer portal, it’s simple for our client to setup an easy way for their customers to log support issues and communicate with the team. Automation can be introduced into any workflow, whether for support or project work, so tasks and tickets get acted-on as soon as certain criteria is met. One case that happens frequently with our client, is that their customers want some combination of project and support work done, and so both need to be captured in systems flexible enough to capture when support issues become projects and vice-versa. The OneDesk solution to this is that we allow our clients to easily change the type of items while maintaining its data and details. For our client in particular, OneDesk is flexible enough to allow for project setup after the creation of tasks. This enables our client to get their work items together before organizing them, which works perfectly with their workflow.
Another aspect that our client’s current workflow captures is the idea of task dependencies. It’s important that within the grand scope of a project that task dependencies are identified and captured early in the process. This dictates what the schedule and timeline of the project will be, which lends itself to setting expectations with stakeholders and customers. Our client was pleased to see that OneDesk captures this key part of project planning already. With OneDesk’s Gantt view for project tasks, items can be setup with dependencies in mind, whether they are finish-to-start, start-to-start, or finish-to-finish. OneDesk also offers auto-scheduling of these, which is handy for more simple projects where work is sequential. These dependencies can be set by dragging and dropping.
One part of our client’s workflow that they wanted to maintain with OneDesk was the creation of milestones. Our client uses milestones to group a set of tasks in a project. When all of these tasks are complete, then the milestone is marked as complete, and the team can move on to the next set of work. In OneDesk, our project tasks can be grouped into folders, which are the sum of all of their children. So when all of a folder’s child tasks are completed, the folder is marked as completed as well, acting as a milestone. For teams that are focused on a more temporal concept of milestones, OneDesk offers markers which can be placed on project timelines. This can help teams set deadlines and release dates once important milestones are complete.
Beyond everything available through the OneDesk web application and the more feature-light mobile app, our flexibility extends beyond. With integrations and a fully-documented API, tech-savvy teams such as our client are able to build their own integrations. OneDesk also offers Zapier integrations for a large number of third-party applications including Github, Visual Studio Team Services, and Slack.
For software service companies, OneDesk covers all the bases. As our client found, OneDesk’s seamlessly integrates helpdesk and project management software and gives service teams full freedom on both sides. With the ability to customize projects down to the task level, OneDesk can be molded to fit any team’s workflow. By tracking their support tickets in OneDesk as well, our client can keep all their work in the same place so no context is lost. OneDesk gives them the best of both worlds, all in one.