Autotask Intros Enhanced Service Ticket, Help Desk Features

The services are free upgrades to users of Autotask's professional services automation platform and are among the company's biggest upgrades to date, according to CEO Bob Godgart.

Autotask introduced the features at its first customer conference this week in Nashville, Tenn.

"This is about transforming services relationships. When the first vintage PSA application came out of Autotask, it was designed to help businesses transform their operations. The managed services applications, the RMM tools, they help people transform the business side, how they can deliver managed services instead of time and materials.

"This new version has over 55 years of [employee] time put into it," Godgart said. "We built it to transform the services relationships that make up the IT services ecosystem for the service provider."

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Autotask's new features include three "game changers," Godgart said, including a client access portal that allows users to enter and manage service tickets in an e-mail-like interface.

"It's completely integrated and we have a patent pending on the user interface. You have a list of tickets on the left that looks like e-mail. You can click to pop up one to work on it," he said.

The new portal also asks the person entering the services ticket more advanced questions about the problem so that when a service provider gets the ticket, he has a more detailed look at the problem and what has been done so far, Godgart said.

"Any question can be asked. And what's cool is we're using our community to build a library [of questions and answers] that SPs can customize for their end users. The real benefit is it helps eliminate a phone call," he said.

Travis Austin, CEO of Rezitech, a La Habra, Calif.-based Autotask user, likes that he can create his own questions based on his company's experience.

"Say it's a printer issue. I can ask extra questions such as what printer, how many people is it affecting, whatever I want to ask," Austin said. "The triage is a lot quicker and I know what's an important issue a lot quicker."

Autotask service providers can save as much as 15 minutes per service call using the new portal, Godgart said. "It's not for every call, but you can save as much as an hour a day," he said.

The second "game-changer," according to Godgart, is the co-managed services desk that allows solution providers to deliver an internal IT system to a customer that is tethered to the VAR's system.

"Companies that have internal IT departments had no foot in the door before," he said. "Inside an IT organization, someone may not have the expertise to handle things. They may need some different help. The SP can handle what the internal IT guy can't do. If you have a phone problem but the internal IT guy doesn't do VoIP, you can set up a workflow rule that fires off a ticket to the SP's system. The IT guy knows it happens, but he also knows that the service provider is on it."

Austin said that feature allows Rezitech to go after opportunities he couldn't before because he can target just a piece of an end user's IT infrastructure.

"Since I'm such a small shop, taking over the full IT of a larger company wouldn't make sense. But if I want a small portion, say VoIP or servers, I can give them a full-blown service desk application and create rules that anything VoIP-related escalates to me. If not, they do all the work," he said.

The third addition is a module that lets service providers put all their subcontractors into Autotask and manage them like an internal resource, Godgart said. For example, if service providers bring in a third party from OnForce or the Ingram Micro Service Network to help in the opportunity, that resource is tracked internally.

"Included in that is the negotiation around the rate and whether the subcontractor accepted it or not," he said. The service providers are charged a $7 transaction fee, which shows up in the reporting of the opportunity to help determine the cost and profit of the project, Godgart added.

"We believe service providers are going to adopt all three features. In order to survive in the economy right now, you have to have built out an IT services ecosystem. This is transforming the services relationships. It enables solution providers to build out new service models and target new prospects," he said.

This feature allows Rezitech to respond to more service calls now, even if his company can't directly do the work, Austin said.

"We still take a lot of residential calls and now I can outsource it to a number of providers that I have. They work the ticket, I see their updates live, right into Autotask, and it brings their work together with mine. It's like bringing them on staff, so to speak," Austin said.