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How to create Help Desk Solution in SharePoint out of the box

Though primarily SharePoint is famous for its document management capabilities, it also does an amazing job streamlining and automating various internal processes. One such process that is common to many organizations is the Help Desk. If you are currently not using a 3rd party tool to manage help desk requests – you can create a Help Desk solution in SharePoint in no time, using out of the box functionality.

Step 1: Determine which web part you will use to build the Help Desk

There are two web parts you can use to build the Help Desk solution with, each having its pros and cons

  • Custom List: Allows you to build all custom metadata from scratch and this particular web part allows to configure Item Level Permissions which will only give users access to just the  tickets they created (more on this down at the bottom of this post)
  • Issue Tracking: The web part comes pre-configured with some metadata columns that are going to be useful for our Help Desk. It also has built-in functionality to send an email to individuals who are assigned an issue (help desk ticket in our case). This will become handy. However, the web part does not allow for item level permissions, which means that all tickets submitted will be visible to everyone. By the way, to learn more about Issue Tracking web part, click here.

The option you choose depends on your unique requirement; you might need to experiment with both and see which one makes the most sense.

Step 2. Create/Add web part

To create a web part, you need to add a corresponding app.

  1. Click on Gear Icon > Add an App (or you can also do the same via Site Contents)helpdesk2
  2. Choose either the Custom List or Issue Trackinghelpdesk5

Step 3. Configure your web part with custom metadata

One you created your web part, you need to configure it with custom metadata. If you opted for the Issue Tracking web part, you would already have some valuable fields like Assigned To, Status, Priority. You can always customize both Custom List and Issue Tracking with your own metadata. I suggest you reference this post to learn more about custom metadata.

Step 4: Configure Comments Field with Append functionality

Another thing that will be cool for your Help Desk SharePoint list is the ability to track comments. For example, say, one of the fields in your Help Desk list is the Comments field. As the ticket is assigned and re-assigned, people need to update the comment section. However, you do not want to loose the previous users’ comment. In this case, you will need Append Changes to Existing Text feature. It’s real easy to set it up – to learn how to do this – click here.

Step 5. Create views

Once you created all the necessary columns, you might want to create custom views. Once again, Issue Tracking will already have some built-in views that filter by ticket status or the user who created a ticket. You can always create you own. For example, you might want to create a view that groups tickets by their status or priority or display only tickets that default to the user logged in (my tickets).

Step 6: Setup Security for the list

You will, of course, need to set proper security for you HelpDesk list. The best practice would be to set security at the site level and let the list inherit the security from the site. If you have other web parts on the site or require special unique security for the list, you will need to break that inheritance at the list level. To learn more about how to properly set security for the whole site, check out this post.

Step 7: Setup Item Level Permissions

As mentioned earlier, this option is only available on the Custom List web part (not on the Issue Tracking). I provide a detailed explanation on Item-Level Permissions here, but essentially, what this allows you to do is configure your list such that individual users can only see their own entries. In the case of Help Desk Solution in SharePoint, this can be really handy as I only need to see tickets I created, not someone else’s. To learn more about how to set this up, click here.

Step 8. Setup email notifications

Once the help desk ticket is created, you need to notify the appropriate staff (IT in most cases). There are two ways for you to achieve this:

  • Custom List web part: You can set up an alert on the list for any users who need to be notified of the new/modified tickets. To learn more on how to setup alerts, click here.
  • Issue Tracking web part: You have two options here. You can either use alerts as in option above, or you can use the Assigned To field that comes with the web part itself. To set an email notification for Assigned to field, click on List Settings > Advanced Settings and check off the proper radio button. Click OKhelpdesk1

Step 9. Spice up the page with promoted links

Since you are building the helpdesk to assist your users, make sure to spice it up with promoted links link. As a user visiting a Help Desk IT Site, all I care about is how to create a new ticket or how to see statuses of tickets I submitted. To achieve this, you can use promoted links you see in the screenshot below. To learn more about how to set it up, reference this post.

helpdesk6

Step 10: Test and Train your staff

Just creating a ticketing system does not mean you are done. Make sure to train your team/staff on the tool and most importantly – the business process around it. This is a necessary step in the successful User Adoption.

That should do it – if you followed all the steps above, you might and up with something like this below. Of course, this is just the beginning, and you can improve your help desk solution by incorporating a workflow of some sort, but that is probably a topic for another post.

helpdesk7

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