"Only a couple of companies—ourselves and a small one-man company—offer Help desk applications built on Outlook," says Darrell Trimble of Crow Canyon Software about the company's recent release of CCS HelpDesk 4.0. "To us it is insane to create a completely separate application with redundant function to what most organizations already have—Microsoft Office."

With CCS HelpDesk, formerly named Outlook HelpDesk, request tickets are entered in one of three possible ways: through Microsoft Outlook, by using a Web interface, or via email. They are then assigned and tracked, and users are kept informed about ticket status through automatic notifications. Managers keep on top of Help desk efficiency via reporting capabilities in CCS HelpDesk, and a knowledge base assists with quick response to frequently occurring problems.

"If you look at a Help desk application it is mainly communication and notifications (email), task tracking (Outlook tasks), scheduling (Outlook Calendar) and interaction with address lists (Active Directory).  Most Help desk application companies reinvent all these functions and then have to sync up with Outlook to keep everything consistent. Additionally they require end-users to sign-on to a completely separate application to submit tickets," Trimble says. "Because we run on Outlook, there is no extra hardware and software required. Our end-user acceptance rate is very high because \[users\] access forms from within something they are already in most of the day—Outlook."

By leveraging Microsoft's use of Web services in Microsoft Exchange 2007 and Exchange 2003, Crow Canyon is able to offer a full Web interface in CCS HelpDesk 4.0 that lets users and IT staff use the Web to request, submit, assign, and address tickets. To do so, Trimble adds, "You really have to have a deep understanding of how Exchange and Outlook work internally. We have that expertise."

CCS HelpDesk 4.0 comes in three editions: Lite, Standard, and Pro, and starts at $295.  For more information, see www.crowcanyon.com.