Overview of Spiceworks
Spiceworks is a US-based IT social network platform that brings IT professionals and tech brands together. It can also be described as an online community where users can collaborate and seek advice from one another. Spiceworks provides free IT management tools which it monetized by connecting IT professionals to tech brands through advertising. It uses AI technology to connect users seeking advice with the right experts, tools, and information.
The company generates revenue through the sale of ads displayed on its network, and through purchases of IT products and services made via the platform. The network is estimated to be used by more than six million IT professionals and 3,000 technology vendors. In 2019, an Internet company called Ziff Davis acquired Spiceworks. This unification brings together new insights, intelligence, and experience for both the technology professionals and the technology brands. Some of the free IT management tools provided by Spiceworks include a cloud helpdesk platform and an integrated knowledge base, a user portal, an asset management tool that provides network inventory, mobile apps, a dashboard, and reporting tool, among others.
Help Desk Platform
The Spiceworks IT help desk platform is a basic-level help desk tool designed to help IT support teams track and manage IT help desk requests. It is ideal for internal IT teams of small organizations who may not afford premium help desk solutions—larger organizations will be better off with more advanced premium tools. Spiceworks IT help desk is also a good starting point for organizations looking to begin the journey of automating help desk processes. Because of its freemium business model, Spiceworks IT help desk does not adhere to the ITIL standard for IT processes and procedures.
The Spiceworks IT help desk platform used to be offered as a self-hosted desktop application that only runs on Microsoft Windows. However, the company set the end of life for this product on December 31, 2021. This means that the desktop version is no longer available for download and the already installed versions will no longer be maintained, and any security vulnerabilities will no longer be patched.
Spiceworks Cloud’s key features and capabilities include:
- Get up and running in minutes by signing up for the cloud service.
- Integrated secure remote support tool enables support teams to help remote employees directly from your help desk tickets.
- A customizable web-based self-service portal enables end-users to submit and track the progress of support tickets from anywhere.
- Ticket auto-assign feature, team role settings, and team performance dashboard enhance help desk team management and speed up customer issue resolution.
- Ticket Collaboration feature enables support agents to share issues and work on them together.
- Multi-site support allows you to set up multiple user portals and individual sites to help clients from different locations.
Admins manage tickets via the main ticket table at the backend. This is simply a listing of tickets in a tabular form showing primary fields such as Summary, Assignee, Creator, Priority, Due Date, and Last Updated Date.
The two main components of the Spiceworks IT help desk platform is the user portal and help desk dashboard:
User portal The user portal is a customizable easy-to-use self-service portal that can be set up in a matter of minutes. It enables end-users to submit help desk tickets. The portal provides a simple web form that allows users to input their email address, a quick summary of their issue, and any additional details and attachments as needed. The completed ticket form is then submitted to the support team for action. Requests submitted via email are added to the list of unassigned tickets. Any support agent can click the accept link on the ticket summary page to take responsibility for resolving that ticket.
Help desk dashboard The help desk dashboard displays a statistical overview of the status of tickets. This enables admins to visualize activities in the Spiceworks ticketing system over a given period including the total number of newly created tickets, the number of open tickets, your tickets, and unassigned tickets. It also displays basic performance metrics such as average first response time, the average time to resolve tickets, and ticket churn can also be displayed in graphs, bar charts, and pie charts. This allows help desk admins to assess the performance of the help desk team over a given period.
Spiceworks Asset Management
Spiceworks also offers asset management in the form of software inventory, device inventory, network status visualizer, and contract management. The inventory tool works in conjunction with an IP Scanner to discover devices on your network. But this requires the installation of an agent application on the target devices to enable the collection of hardware and software information.
The asset management tool allows network admins to discover and track network devices and document actions and activities on them. It also allows admins to access the network device’s purchasing records, send it out for a fix, and assign a new device to the user. These are all separate tools, but they’re also free and integrated with the Spiceworks help desk.
The Spiceworks asset management tool also comes with an integrated secure remote support tool that enables support teams to connect to remote devices and resolve issues directly from the help desk platform. Other networking and security features include an internet protocol (IP) lookup, a subnet calculator, and a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate checker.
Spiceworks provides additional mobile software tools and third-party mobile apps to help you customize it to meet your specific needs. The app center offers thousands of apps and plug-ins that can increase your help desk’s capabilities. These apps are grouped into four categories:
- Help desk Customize your help desk and support portal, delete open tickets, and remove or edit ticket comments.
- Inventory Track service contracts and inventory your devices, software, and servers.
- Reports Identify the last user login on each networked device, list all network users, and track change requests.
These apps give you easy access to the Cloud Help Desk on your phone, as well as installed Spiceworks tools, and the knowledge base, allowing you to take Spiceworks on the go. The Help Desk mobile apps support modern versions of Android and iOS. To set up the mobile app, you’ll need to install the app from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. Once completed you can log in from there directly If you already have a Spiceworks Cloud Help Desk account. Otherwise, you’ll need to register as a user of Cloud Help Desk. When prompted, enable notifications if you want to receive notifications directly to your mobile device for things like new tickets, ticket comments, or ticket assignment/reopens.
All apps are free and require just a single click to install. The Spiceworks community is responsible for quality control. That means you need to check the ratings and documentation for each app before downloading and installation.
Spiceworks provides two reporting mechanisms: a built-in browser-based report tab in the navigation bar, and an advanced reporting integration allowing you to easily set up highly customizable reports using Microsoft Power BI. The built-in browser-based report provides users with three categories of options to define reports:
- Type of report Select either tickets or labor.
- Timeframe of the report Set reports to include information from today, yesterday, this week, last week, this month, last month, or all time.
There are also Spiceworks apps and plug-ins you can download and use to enhance and develop additional reporting capabilities. The Power BI Desktop Data Connector is a plugin for Power BI Desktop. Power BI already has hundreds of connectors provided by Microsoft and its partners, allowing you to grab your data from various sources. The Spiceworks Power BI connector allows you to grab data directly from your Cloud Help Desk account, and refresh that data into your Power BI report template, with one click (after the initial setup).
Both the connector plug-in and the report template are free for download from the Spiceworks app center. This plug-in makes Spiceworks’ reporting as capable as other advanced solutions, and the whole solution comes at no cost.
Pricing and Support
Spiceworks software is completely free. While the free price tag might be enticing, Be ready to put up with ads. The company generates revenue through ads. Spiceworks ads can be intrusive for a dashboard that’s already crowded with menu options and widgets. However, Spiceworks does offer an option to remove the ads and upload your logo to display in the ad space, but this comes at a monthly fee.
Spiceworks provides free support for the Spiceworks Cloud and the entire suite of IT tools. You can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for direct customer support. You can also ask a question in the support forum or check out the support center. Spiceworks knowledge base is also available within the dashboard. The knowledge base articles are broken out into three categories: all articles across the Spiceworks user base, your team’s articles, and your own. Lastly, Spiceworks University, which consists of free video tutorials and webinars, and Spiceworks’ community forums is the official Spiceworks training program where you can learn everything about Spiceworks. There are expert SpiceTrainers who use the product in their day jobs on the ground to help you get started.
The Best Spiceworks Alternatives
If you figured out that Spiceworks is not best suited for your business and environment, below are some possible Spiceworks alternatives for your consideration:
- SolarWinds Web Help Desk (FREE TRIAL) This is an affordable and easy-to-use lightweight IT service desk that provides automated ticketing management, incident tracking, SLA reporting, asset management, and remote support integration, among others. Web Help Desk automates IT help desk and asset management operations by automatically turning service requests and alerts into tickets. A free fully functional 14-day trial is available upon request.
- Vivantio Αn enterprise-focused IT service and asset management system designed for organizations looking to support internal customers to manage support issues and deliver the best possible service experience to customers. Key features include ITSM/ITIL support, Customer Relationship Management, Asset Management, Knowledge Management, Self Service, Automation Integration including FLEXBridge, and Business Intelligence. A free demo is available on request.
- HaloITSM is a cloud-based IT service management tool that helps businesses manage the entire incident lifecycle, from issue logging to issue resolution. The platform is aimed at enterprise customers looking to build an internal help desk using ITIL guidelines. The company also provides Halo Service Desk aimed at smaller companies with customer-facing needs. A free 30-day trial is available for both products.
- Freshdesk A powerful cloud-based customer service software that delivers a wide range of features such as ticketing, self-service, collaboration, analytics, and field service, among others. Freshdesk is designed to handle service tickets from external customers for small, customer-facing helpdesk teams, both in terms of pricing and feature set. A free version and a free 21-day trial of the premium version are available on request.
- Freshservice An enterprise-oriented ticket-management tool designed for organizations looking to support internal customers, especially those with ITIL practices such as incident, problem, change, and SLA management, among others. However, it comes at a higher cost than Freshdesk, but you are better with it if it fits your business requirements. A free trial is available on request.
- Zoho Desk An award-winning context-aware customer service software that helps organizations improve agent productivity, increase customer happiness, and build loyalty. Zoho Desk is loaded with a huge number of features and capabilities such as omnichannel, workflow automation, self-service, artificial intelligence, automatic localization, automated ticket routing, and a host of others. A free version and a free 15-day trial of the premium version are available on request.
- ManageEngine ServiceDesk Plus This is an on-premise and cloud-based ticket-management tool designed for organizations looking to support IT teams to manage internal customers—from incident and problem management to asset management and the development of new products. However, it comes at a premium, but you are better with it if it fits your business requirements. A free trial for both on-prem and cloud deployment is available on request.
- Jira Service Management An on-premise and cloud-based service management tool that empowers teams with everything they need to manage internal and external customers. It aligns with ITSM practices such as request, incident, problem, change, and configuration management. A free trial is available on request.
- SysAid An award-winning help desk and ITSM automation tool. SysAid is recognized in 2021 Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for IT Service Management Tools, as well as 2022 Gartner Peer Insights Customers’ Choice for IT Service Management Tools. Key features include asset management, ticket automation, self-Service ITIL tools, workflow automation, BI analytics, and more. A free fully customizable demo is available on request.
- HappyFox One of the most comprehensive and expensive help desk solutions out there, but in return, you are rewarded with a high-end super-functional solution. HappyFox is designed to handle service tickets from external customer-facing help desk teams. Note that HappyFox asset management is still somewhat manual—admins must create assets individually or import them from a CSV file. A free 30-minute demo is available on request.