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HelpMaster Documentation

This is the new home for HelpMaster documentation, where you’ll find everything from tech specs to setup information to best-practice guides. We’ve completely re-written the old HTML helpfile to use this new website format.

Our goal is to continually improve the documentation and provide practical guidance and information for all aspects of using HelpMaster. Documentation changes frequently, so check back regularly for the latest information.

If you don’t find what you’re looking for, or see something is isn’t quite right (broken links, out of date information), please use the feedback buttons and let us know. Contributions to documentation are welcome via GitHub.

1 - What's new?

Learn what’s changed in the latest version of HelpMaster

Each new version of HelpMaster includes new features, improvements on existing functionality, behind the scenes tech upgrades and more. Listed below are the release notes from each major version.

For a demonstration of the latest version of HelpMaster or information on how we can help you upgrade, please contact us.

1.1 - HelpMaster v21 release

Latest version - May 2021

2021 Release

This is an exciting release! A new web portal for HelpMaster, plus many more features! We have also fixed a lot of reported issues, and improved the database structure and performance.

We’ve also migrated the entire help file to this new format (you’re reading it now!)

Here’s some highlights of the v21 release:

Web Portal

The new web portal has been totally re-developed from an ASP.Net MVC model to the the latest Microsoft Blazor technology for fast, cross-platform web functionality. It is written in .NET Core for the best performance, stability and future development compatibility.

  • More options when logging a job for staff. Job templates can now be configured to provide more options for staff logging via the web portal. This includes the ability to set basic job options like priority, job type, issue, assignment, to be completed by dates etc. More options will continue to be added in future updates.

  • Workflow for web portal. Staff members can now use workflow in the web portal. Note! The administration of workflow is limited to the desktop edition.

  • Job Template Action Configuration. Job Templates can now be configured to display (or hide) the default actions that can be applied against a job.

  • New status labels for job state. New visual indicators on the web give a quick-glance indication of the job state - who logged it, who last actioned it, and who it’s currently assigned to.

  • Client screen for web portal The web portal now allows client administration and use. This includes searching and viewing clients, creation of new clients, and the ability to log a new job from the client screen. Includes client control sets. This feature will continue to improve in future releases.

  • Site screen for web portal. The web portal now allows site administration and use. This feature will continue to improve in future releases.

  • Explorer screen improvements. The explorer screen for staff has been improved to include a better grid, filtering, searching, attachment indication and more.

  • Better support for custom CSS Create unique a unique style for your portal. Custom CSS and corporate branding/colours can now be stored in a user-only CSS file. This CSS file is never over-written during upgrades, so all of your custom work can remain.

  • New Public Job Templates. Public job templates allow jobs to be logged by anyone, without requiring them to log in to the web portal.

  • New Logged Job Message. Job Templates can now include a customized message that will be displayed to the user after the job is successfully logged. This is useful for confirmation, as well as providing other information that may be relevant to the type of job that was just logged. It also works well with the new “Public Job Template” feature.

  • Custom HTML and/or scripts can now be injected into the Head section of the HTML page. This configuration is useful for integration with 3rd party platforms and solutions.

  • “Audit history” Tab now appears on the web portal for staff members to display any changes that have occured since the job was logged. This is similar to the desktop functionality.

  • Dynamic display of knowledge base articles based on job classification when logging a new job. When using the web portal to log a job, the list of suggested knowledge base articles will change depending on how the job is being classified via the classification drop-down boxes.

  • File attachment extension and size administration options System administrators can control the type and size of files that can be uploaded as attachments.

  • Improved attachment carousel for the web portal. Makes working with attachments easier and more intuitive.

  • Improved web deployment utility for installing and updating the web portal. Includes better error checking, ease of use and improved SSL certificate support.

Web API

A new web API is now available that allows developers and system integrators to interface with HelpMaster. The API ships with a Swagger interface for documentation and testing. The API is a work-in-progress and future releases will continue to provide more functionality.

Microsoft 365 and Google Integration for email

Integration with Microsoft 365 and Google are now available for email integration. In addition to the regular account types, system administrators can now configure global HelpMaster email accounts to use Microsoft 365 and Google/Gmail accounts. Accounts can be configured as “global” accounts, or “personal” accounts.

Desktop Edition

  • Restyled System Administration screen. The administration screen in the desktop has been restyled to have a cleaner and more intuitive user interface. Vertical tabs are now used instead of horizontal. Some of the admin settings have been re-arranged, or re-grouped for a better user experience. All changes in configuration are now logged to the new System Event Logs.

  • System-wide defaults for Action Templates. A HelpMaster administrator can now set default action templates for the different action types (Add action, Reassign, Close job etc). This is similar to the way individual staff members can set default templates - the difference being that a global default can now be set. This is useful for web-based workflows.

  • Ability to lock the ClientID field on a new client, and use auto-generation only. When creating a new client, the client ID field can now be set to read-only mode, which will prevent users from specifying a client ID. When this setting is used, HelpMaster will automatically generate a client ID based on the algorithm you choose. This setting is useful if you always want a procedurally generated client ID.

  • Client vs Staff style job logging templates. It is now possible to configure job templates to display different information on the web portal, depending on whether a client or a staff member is using the template. A common configuration is to display simplified information when clients/customers log jobs/tickets, but display full job logging information/fields (Priority, Contact Type, Job type etc.) when a staff member logs a job/ticket.

  • Alerts now have a “Type” category. All alerts for entities (Clients, Sites, Assets, Jobs) now have a new “Alert Type” drop-down field that can be selected. This field is useful for grouping/classifying alerts into discrete categories that can then be targeted by reports, triggered events, and other automation. This field can be administered via the “System Codes” administration screen.

  • New Entity Items. A new feature called “Entity Items” provides the ability to update entities (Clients, Sites, Assets, etc) with an “Entity Item”. An Entity Item is similar to a Control Set, however these can be added multiple times to an entity, similar to the way you can update a job many times with an action. Entity items are a great way to record repeating information, with all the form-building benefits of a Control Set. Very useful!

  • Workflow designer improvements. The workflow designer has received many improvements. There are new and updated Workflow Common Features and Decision, better line/connector management, the ability to merge connecting lines into a single connector, the ability to set all user-interactive dialogs as a cancellable item (this allows workflow items to have a Passed/Failed output option).

  • Update Action Text on a closed job. A new option exists that allows staff members with sufficient privilege to be able to edit the action text of a closed job. This is similar to the “quick edit” feature a job already has. This is useful to update text (spelling mistakes, minor issues, or more) without having to re-open the whole job, edit, then re-close it. All original date/time information is preserved.

Client Administration

  • Client Gender is now a drop-down box. Options can be configured via system codes.

  • General client fields can now be made mandatory via the system administration options.

  • Address clients fields can now be made mandatory via the system administration options.

  • Better support for client password complexity System administrators can now set more options for client password complexity requirements.

  • Improved Address data entry. The address screen now includes country, state and other information pre-filled. This allows for better accuracy of addresses rather than relying on free-text. Google address resolution is also available.

Control Sets

Control sets have had a major overhaul for both the desktop and web portal. Versioning of control sets has been removed and replaced. All changes and updates to the definition of a Control Set is now applied immediately to all entities linked to it.

  • Control Set ordering for entities. Controls Sets can now be ordered so that they appear in a particular position on an entity.

  • Automatically add Control Sets to new entities. When new entities (Clients, Sites, Assets etc) are created, they will automatically include any Controls Sets that have been configured to be added to that entity type.

  • New password fields for control sets. Control Sets now have a new “Password” field type. Options include full encryption, or just masking. This field type is a text box that masks-out the text in it like a password field does. This is useful for storing secure text. Staff can view the password field by clicking the “View” button. Each click of the view button writes to an event log that can be used for security audit purposes.

  • Control Set field archiving. When Control Set fields are removed, or changed, the system administrator performing the change has the option to delete the data from all entities using that field, or archiving the data. Archived data will be displayed underneath the control set for each entity.

  • Control Set label visibility options. Control Set labels can now be configured to display at certain times only. For example, you could have a label display when logging a new job only which is great for instructions/guidance, but then not display from then on.

HelpMaster Licensing

HelpMaster licensing has been updated to include the new subscription model.

  • New licensing system for staff for the web portal. Staff need to be explicitly allocated a web license for interacting with the web portal as a staff member (queue holder). This is performed via the new web licensing section in the System Administration screen.

  • New “Development” license. A new development license is availabe to all registered users of HelpMaster. This allows a company to perform testing, development and staging without having to worry about license expiry, environmental changes and other issues. Contact PRD Software to obtain a development license.

Security Features

This is the most secure version of HelpMaster ever. The development team, in conjuction with cyber-security and Australian government personnel, have worked on virtually every aspect of the product to improve security, harden code, update security algorithms and more.

  • Updated encryption and password hashing. All encryption and hashing algorithms have been updated to use stronger algorithms and achieve FIPS compliance. All legacy hashing (MD5) and other non-FIPS compliant algorithms have been replaced with the latest algorithms and security approaches.

  • Encrypted Active Directory traffic. All communication between HelpMaster and Active Directory is now encrypted.

  • Updated file protection. All HelpMaster binaries use improved obfuscation, anti-tampering, digital signing and strong-name keying.

  • Better granularity for “delete” permissions. There are new “delete” permissions now configurable via the Application Role settings. Previously, delete permission was rolled into the read/write permissions. Now these are separate options within the Application Roles. This gives system administrators finer control over who can delete entities, jobs and actions.

  • Full system logging. Many operations and configuration changes are now logged (see below)

System logging

A major new feature is full system event logging. HelpMaster will now track and log almost all system configuration changes, viewing logs, access logs (logon/logoff/failed logons), and more. This information can give system and security administrators information about general system use, as well as security and diagnostic information. System logging is turned on by default.

Database

  • Updated database queries for better performance (much better in some cases!)

  • Updated database column types

Components and technology

  • Updated 3rd party controls

  • Updated Crystal Reports Runtime Engine

  • Updated .NET core technology

Fixes, bugs and tweaks

  • Many fixes, tweaks, wording updates and general improvements.

Documentation

The entire HelpMaster helpfile (you’re reading it now) has been updated and converted into a more modern format. New tutorials, guides and other documentation will be added, so check back regularly and please send through any requests for documentation that you feel would be useful for your use case.

1.2 - HelpMaster v20 release

May 2020 Release

The May release addresses several issues with searching for control-set data, as well as other reported issues. This release also includes a range of enhancements and improvements for workflow - particularly with Control Sets.

The new “Show Control Set” workflow object can be used to display a control set for the user to fill-in at a certain point in a process workflow. This is a great way to capture data at different stages of a process. The control set validation can also be set so that required fields are correctly filled in.

workflow show control set

All control set workflow objects now display in a drop-down box that groups the available control sets into 3 grouping:

On Job: Controls that are already part of the job
In Workflow: Control sets that appear, or are referenced in the workflow, but are not currently linked to the job
Others: All other control sets that are not part of the job, or workflow

This simple grouping makes it easier to understand the context of how Control Sets are being using within your jobs and workflow.

workflow control set grouping

In addition to the fixes and enhancements, the HelpMaster development team have been developing the next-gen web portal that will appear in a future release.

April 2020 Release

The April release is primarily a maintenance release. It address several issues that have been reported, and includes updates to core libraries that are used to support the product. This is the most stable version of HelpMaster to date. Please refer to the specific version history for a list of the fixes and enhancements.

February 2020 Release

A new year, a new decade, and another new release of HelpMaster. The new year sees a relatively minor release with a number of fixes, tweaks and a few new features. A major new version of HelpMaster is on the way with some great new features!

HelpMaster login 2020

Action Template and Priority Manager support for the Manager field

The manager of a client can now be explicitely targetted by Action Templates, as well as Priority Manager options. This allows a more flexible configuration for alerting managers of people - whether they are staff, or clients. In order to use this features, ensure that the manager field for each client is filled in.

Action Template send email to manager with dynamic email addressing

The Priority Manager also supports this with dedicated check-box options.

Priority Manager email

Web Portal

Minor CSS tweaks and fixes

General

Miscellaneous fixes, upgraded email components, improved stability, upgraded Crystal Reports components

See Also

Workflow Approvals

Workflow

Web Portal

1.3 - HelpMaster v19 release

October 2019 Release

The October release has concentrated on fixes, performance, stability and further refinements of the workflow engine and user interface.

Workflow

Improved variable quick-pick/intellisense display.  Variables are now display according to type.   System variables are grouped together as well as user-defined variables.  This makes is easier to undertand the scope of the variable.  The variable/tag intellisense for Email Templates has also been improved.

workflow variables  

Approvals can now target the primary client.

workflow approvals  

User preferences now include defaults for approval email templates.   

user preferences template subscription

Field Chooser

New field chooser fields are available for clients and sites for “Date created”, “Date last modified”.  This may be useful for CRM and other reporting.

Installation

The HelpMaster installer has been improved to check for, and install required components.

General Improvements

Lots of bug fixes, performance improvements, and refinements.  See the detailled version history for specific details.

 

August 2019 Release

Web Portal

Each Job Template assocated with a web request catalog can now display an image.  This makes it easy to identify requests and makes for a better user experience.

web request catalog images  

Improved attachment viewer.  When viewing graphical attachments to job via the web portal, these will now display in a new carosel object that allows modern viewing without the need to download the attachment.  Right-click to select options for save/download.

web self-service portal image preview

Clients

Clients now have a new dedicated “Manager” picker.  This allows a tight integration within HelpMatser to only select an existing manager if they exist as a client within HelpMaster.  This tight coupling allows much better workflow design, as well as improved integration for approvals.

This new manager field can be synchronized with Active Directory.  

client manager approvals  

Includes new email tags for customizing email templates

client manager email tag  

Approvals

This release has lots of exciting approval improvements.  More to come in future releases also.  

New simple approval can be initiated directly from the job toolbar. 

ad-hoc approval  

Workflow Approvals can now be configured to stop the workflow, or to continue and check later.

workflow approval  

The new Approval Result object allows you to check approvals at a later stage.  This is great for multi-stage/multi-person approvals.

Approval process workflow

The approval web page has been restyled for a better look and user interaction.  

workflow approval web vote

 

Workflow 

The connecting lines of a workflow can now support different styles.  Furthermore, individual connecting lines between objects can have a custom line style.

workflow line style  

Improvements to the workflow Common Tasks object.  There are now many new common tasks/decisions that are pre-loaded into HelpMaster for you to use in designing your process workflow.  Lots more to come also!

Use common tasks/decisions to links things, update things, set alerts, set dates, retrieve data and much more.  This workflow object is designed to be a flexible, customizable workflow object.

common process scripts itsm

New Common Decisions workflow object.  Similar conceptually to the common tasks, but with branching.

New editor screen to edit and create common workflow tasks and decisions.  Scripting on the next level!  If there is not a common task for the thing you want to do, now you can simply build it yourself, or ask PRD Software to built is and we'll send you the update script that instantly creates the object for you.  

New Multiple-choice workflow object

The new Multiple-choice workflow object allows you to create branching with many outputs. This is fantastic for building flows that offer many options.  Loop the workflow back to create a service-loop.  

workflow multiple choice

The multiple choice presents as radio-buttons on the workflow panel within the job.

process multiple choice  

Email Manager

New cleaner styling for email manager filter components that match the styling with the workflow objects.  Improved layout and design similar to the workflow system.

email-to-ticket conversion

Control Sets

A new “Client selection” field is now available to be used in control sets.  This powerful feature allows you to build web forms where the user can select an existing client from the pick-list.  The field can be customized by the administrator to select from different sets of clients.  This feature is very handly for approvals, and other workflow where a specific person(s) is required as part of the process.  

control set client selector  

Database

The blank and sample databases have been improved for better content and workflow/template examples.  

Installation

The HelpMaster installer has been improved for better dependency checking, and other refinements.  

June 2019 Release

The June release continues to build on stability, new workflow objects, overall workflow improvements and tweaks and improvements to change management.

Workflow

New “Common Tasks” workflow object

This new workflow object contains “Common tasks” that you may wish to build into your workflow.  They are pre-build tasks that can accept input and output variables and cover a range of different tasks.  This object is also available as “Common task decisions” that allow branching to occur.

The common tasks object is designed to be extendable.  Future releases will include an editor screen, as well as the ability to download common tasks from the HelpMaster website.  

Send email object now supports email account

The workflow email object now allows you to configure which email account will be used to send the email.  Previously Email templates did already support this, but now the simple-text email can utilitze this information.  See http://www.helpmasterpro.com/Support/Community/Discussion-Board/aft/606

email workflow  

Variable Improvements and new date variable type

Variables now support the date data type.  This is very useful for scripting, common tasks and other date-related processes.

workflow date variables

Variables logic has also been improved to check for duplicates.

Internal Variable code has been improved for fixes, better UI and overall useability

Change Management

Improved styling on the voting page to colour each vote type.  This makes it easier to view who has voted what.

Allowed a change to be modified at any stage of its life-cycle.  Previously, changes were locked once they reached the “Implementation” phase.  This restriction has now been lifted.  Changes can be amended at any stage, with the option of re-starting the approval process.

Included a new “Manually Approved” label when a change is manually approved by the change owner.  

Included a “Has denied votes” label if there are any negative votes.  This gives a visual indication to check the “Feedback” tab for comments about such votes.

change management manually approved by change owner

Email Manager

The Email Manager service has been hardened to try to recover from network errors, Exchange latency, or other issues that would cause the Email Manager service to stop responding.  

April 2019 Release

The April release continues to build on stability, workflow improvements and lots of updates and fixes for Change Management.

Change Management

Fixed many issues with creating, updating and working with Change Management

A new voting option now allows voters in a request for change to be able to see other voters, as well as their comments.

change management cab voting visibility  

Web Portal

It is now possible to re-order Request Catalogs, Job Templates and Knowledge Base articles so that they appear in the order that you specify.   This gives you greater control on building the request catalog and web portal just the way you like it.

web portal catalog ordering  

Workflow

The workflow panel and workflow object explorer continues to improve with better styling, formatting fixes and additional information about the workflow.

workflow process designer tools panel

Several workflow issues have been corrected for the checklists, change management, approvals and more

Workflow approvals have been improved to support re-starting.  This is useful if you need to change the approving person from the original approver.

workflow approval restart

 

New workflow object “Create Client".  Create new HelpMaster clients directly from workflow.  Can be set from variables, or user input.  This is a good workflow object for HR / New employee processes.

workflow create new client

February 2019 Release

Workflow

Workflow has been a huge success in recent versions of HelpMaster, and this part of the product continues to evolve and improve. 

For this release, we've added a new Checklist object (see below), fixed some issues, re-styled the HTML presentation for the workflow panel, improved the approvals, and introduced a new column called “Workflow State”

Workflow State

The “Workflow State” column is now available via the Field Chooser for Jobs.  This field indicates the state of the workflow.  This is very useful if you’re using workflow approvals, or are using workflow in general.  

workflow state indicator

States include:

  • Workflow Ready
  • Workflow Complete
  • Awaiting Approval
  • Approval (Denied)
  • Approval (Approved)

Checklist Workflow Objects

Checklists come to workflow!  A new workflow object is now available that allows you to configure a series of checkboxes as part of a workflow step.  Individual check-boxes can be marked as mandatory, meaning they have to be checked before the workflow can advance.  Check-boxes can also be marked as “N/A”.

workflow checklist for process management  

workflow checklist

Improved validation, control set and general fixes

Control Set validation, and general control set workflow interaction has been improved with several fixes.

Approvals

Approvals are fast becoming one of the most popular workflow objects, and will continue to evolve over time.  The approval object can now be configured to send an email back to the person who initiated the approval workflow step when an approval result is determined.

Workflow approval process 

Workflow approvals have been improved to display better Action Log information and visualisation

workflow approval action log history

Web Portal

The web portal continues to grow in strength and functionality.  Every release of HelpMaster from now on will feature new and improved web functionality.

Job viewing security has been improved, to bring it more in-line with the Desktop security model.

The “Explorer” page for staff now supports more functions, similar to the desktop edition.   The grid-layout also includes "Asssigned To" as part of the “Last updated by”, and “Logged By” column.

Unassigned Job queue for Skillgroups via Web Portal

Staff can now view “Unassigned” jobs in other skillgroups.

workgroup unassigned job queue  

Selecting clients when logging a new job

When staff are logged into the web portal, they are able to select the primary client of the job by a text search.  A new quick-pick button also allow quick selection of themselves as the primary client.

web portal select client for new job

Private Actions

Actions that are marked as "Private" by a staff/technician now display on the web portal to the primary client, however the details are not displayed.  Previous, private actions were not displayed at all, giving the primary client the impression that nothing is happening with the job.  This improvement provides a better indication of activity, whilst at the same time keeping the action private.  

helpdesk private action web portal

Furthermore, actions in this state can present an alternate “Job Status” to the primary client.  Each Job Status can now have a corresponding “Client Caption” option that will be used when an action is in the “private” mode.

web portal job status client caption

Job Finder

The Job Finder now supports better searching for the Job “Work Commencement Date” field.  This is advantageous if you schedule work in advance of the current date.  This is great for MSP businesses (Managed Service Providers). The Job Finder also supports the new “Workflow State” field for searching.  This can be combined with Saved Searches to create very handy searches, or Priority Manager automation profiles.

Work commencement date MSP  

Billing

The job billing tab has been improved to allow better editing/updating of billing information against actions.  A new "Totals" grid also displays aggregate billing information.

ITSM billing

Miscellaneous

Many general fixes, improvements, and under-lying components of HelpMaster have been upgraded to use the latest components, tool and technology.

See Also

Workflow Approvals

Workflow

Web Portal

1.4 - HelpMaster v17 release

v17 is another major new release of HelpMaster, and our most ambitious to date.

It features vastly improved functionality in key areas, as well as a completely re-written web portal that delivers a new request catalog system.

December 2018 Release

What a year of releases! We’ve really hit the code hard this year and delivered some fantastic features, and 2019 will be no different as HelpMaster continues to evolve and improve.  This will be the last planned release of 2018, and in the December release we’ve concentrated on performance, refinements and the Explorer for the web portal.

Web Portal Staff Explorer

The web portal now features the Explorer screen for staff logins.  The Explorer is similar to the Desktop version, including job queues for personal jobs, unassigned, other staff members and saved searches!  It's a version 1 version of the Explorer, so watch this feature continue to evolve in 2019.

helpdesk explorer for queue management

Faster performance for the web portal

The web portal is now even faster due to some optimizations in caching and other performance tweaks.

Control Sets

Lables within Control Sets now have additional formatting options such as backcolour, forecolour and size.  This allows you to do things like this.…

RTF lables for web

Improved Billing Tab for jobs

The billing tab for jobs has been improved to allow “Billing Managers” to quickly and easily adjust billing information for each job.  The billing tab will now display a side dock-panel that will allow instant adjustment to individual actions, whether they were marked as billable or not.

managed services billing

Miscellaneous Fixes

Various miscellaneous fixes and updates were also included in this release.

 

November 2018 Release

The November 2018 release includes some re-working of the workflow objects, including a new "Workflow Break" object.  Web-enabled job templates that rely exclusively on control sets for user data capture also have a great new feature.  We've also fixed some bugs, added some change management options and updated some third-party components that HelpMaster uses to increase performance and reliability.  

Workflow

A new workflow object - called the "Workflow Break" is now available to be used in workflow to stop the next workflow object from automatically running.  This is very useful when designing workflow that transfers from one team to another, or when you need to prevent the next workflow object from executing automatically.

workflow break

More email tags for the simple email object.  The email workflow object now contain several built-in email tags that can be used to compose email.  These include the job number, as well as details about the primary client.

Workflow styling and visual presentation continues to be refined\

Change Management

The “Emails” tab of the change management screen now include a new email template type for “Approval Result”.  This email template will be sent to all persons that were involved in the approval process upon determination of a vote result.

request for change email notification

When creating a new change record, you can now “Save, and start the approval process” via a single button/action.

Several fixes have been made to the change management process

Jobs and Job Templates

Improved the summary text box to automatically expand based on its content, relative to the screen size.

Job templates can now be configured as “Web Forms”.  This setting enables the summary and the details of a job to be updated with values from control-set data that is entered by the user when logging jobs via the web portal.

New Quick re-assign jobs from an unassigned job queue.

quick reassign job from unassigned job queue

Fixes

Email Template usage count was not always incrementing.

Control set email tag replacement.

Correct sorting for Triggered Events “Next Run” column.

Plug-in for Google Maps updated.

Update Telerik controls to latest version.

Improved the sample database for better consistency and example workflow.

 

October 2018 Release

The October 2018 release of HelpMaster concentrates on workflow and the web portal. 

Here’s a summary of some of the highlights.  For a specific list of issues addressed, see the detailed version history change log.

Workflow

All workflow objects have been re-styled for better colour matching, less colour blends and a cleaner look and feel.  Much better!

workflow improvements

All workflow objects now have new icons that are more consistent with other icons within HelpMaster.  Below is a sample of some of the workflow objects.

workflow icon redesign

A new workflow panel is now used to control workflow.  The workflow panel replaces the "Workflow" menu that appeared on the job screen.  This changes the whole look and feel of the workflow feature in HelpMaster and is the best thing to happen to workflow since it was introduced.

workflow execution panel

New workflow object - “Simple Approval” is now available.  One or more approval objects can now be configured within a workflow and these can be used to branch the workflow depending on the result of the nominated approving person.  Each approval object is configured with an Approver, and a short message stating the nature of the approval request.  The approver is emailed the approval request which contains a link to the web portal where they can approve, or reject the request.

workflow approval

Approvers can be selected by name, or derived from a workflow variable.  This allows for dynamic values to be entered according to the workflow process.

workflow approval process status  panel

The new workflow display panel will show the status of the approval for the job.

workflow approval process web request

Approvers click on the link emailed to them to approve or reject.

Change Management

“System Affected” is a new set of fields that can be addedd to change management templates, and used within the change management process. This is a drop-down box / text box pair that can be used to store information about what system is affected in a change.  The values of the drop-down box are configured via the System Administration > System Codes screen.

Web Portal

The web portal continues to develop with more functionality with each release. 

Staff logons to the web portal now show an “Explorer” menu that displays all active jobs assigned to them.

Staff logons to the web portal can now update jobs via a web “Action” screen.  This is similar to the desktop functionality.

web portal staff update job via action

  Attachments linked to jobs, action and knowledge base articles are now displayed as thumbnails, and can be downloaded/viewed.

web portal attachments

The new approval request screen is now available for nominated "Approvers" to use.

A new “Go to Job#” box appears on the home screen for logged in users.  This gives a quick and easy way to look up existing job numbers.  Similar to the desktop function.

Fixed several formatting issues

Fixed the error logging and viewing screen (System administrators only)

Sample and Blank databases

The sample and blank databases that are created via the Database and Reports Wizard have been improved for better default content.  The sample database include a new “HR Employee Onboarding” workflow that highlights some of the new capabilities of the workflow engine.  

August 2018 Release

The August 2018 release of HelpMaster continues to build on product stability, performance and features.

Here are some of the highlights.  For a specific list of issues addressed, see the detailed version history change log.

Workflow

Improved email objects.  Email workflow objects can now be addressed via variables.  This is handy if you extract, or create an email address as part of the workflow leading up to the email object.

Improved scaling and performance with large workflows.

New grouping object.  The ability to group workflow objects into named groups.  This feature will continue to improve in subsequent releases and be used in an enhanced new workflow display.

Change Management

Change Management continues to evolve quickly.

Change Finder.  Similar to the Job Finder, but for changes.  Search for changes using criteria and view the list of matching changes

Improved History tab.  The history tab now displays more information about updates and amendments to changes.  History columns now include “When”, “Change Status”, “Who”, “Assigned To”, “Implementer” and “Reviewer”

Updated UI.  Additional tabs now have similar styling to jobs and other entities.  Click on the “+” link to add the corresponding tab.  This UI element makes it easier to determine if a change has this information or not.

New Email tab.  This tab displays and controls all of the email notifications that can be sent for each stage of the change process.  Email can be automatically sent at the following stages:

  • Approval Process - starting
  • Reassignment of change
  • Implementation stage - starting
  • Review state - starting
  • Change closure

change management rfc email notification

New options for re-assigning, changing the implementer, and reviewer.  Easier and fully tracked.

Web Portal

Upgraded Masony Javascript plugin.

Fixed issues with web-enabled Control Sets.  Styling, fonts, visibility etc.

New “Mandatory” checkbox for control sets.  Ideal for use in “Do you agree?” style forms.

Miscellaneous CSS and HTML tweaks for better performance, appears and browser compatibility.

Ability to hide the job summary and details for a cleaner job-logging experience for the user.

Desktop

Search screens for clients, sites, assets etc.  All search screens should now open and perform much faster.  We've optimized the code and user interface for a much faster experience.

Lots of minor tweaks to the Control sets properties and designer.

Ability to open the control-set designer directly from an entity.

Fixed high-resolution issues with DPI settings set to higher than 100%.

Many of the drop-down lists are grouped according to their system type for better identification and ease of use.

drop-down list grouping according to type

 

New right-click feature to automatically set the size of all columns within a listview.

listview columns size to fit

 

Active Directory

LDAP Query filters

Users within Active Directory profiles can now be filtered using LDAP query expressions.  This makes it easy to target just a group of users within an OU.  eg.  Only retrieve people called “John”, or who have an email that has a particular domain etc..  This allows for much finer filtering and granularity when synchronizing users.

LDAP query synchronize users  

Post-processing SQL

Each profile now has has the ability to run SQL scripts after user objects are created or updated.  This allows for custom post-processing on these newly updated clients.

Active Directory Synchronization post processing SQL  

Email Manager

Re-factored code to improve stability, better error logging and checking.

Fixed potential memory leaks for Email Manager which was causing the service to hang.

Triggered Events

Triggered Events now include the ability to search and filter via Control Sets for that entity type.   

triggered event control set query

 

For a full list of fixes, refer to the version history change log.

 

April 2018 Release

The April 2018 release of HelpMaster is a significant release with many fixes and improvements in it that have been reported since the initial release.  Below are some of the fixes and improvements that have been added since the initial release.

Workflow

Workflow has recieved significant development attention for this release.  Workflow is fast becoming a popular feature of HelpMaster, and ties in very well with the new web request portal and control sets.  Updates include:

  • Workflow drawing/painting speed has improved.  Very large workflows caused a slow paint/refresh.
  • Improved scrolling and moving around large workflows - click and hold the mouse wheel to move around the workflow.
  • Any workflow objects that use variables have been improved.  Variables can be created and modified directly from within the workflow object
  • Variables can be set, updated and have default values attributed to them
  • Improved linking and unlinking of workflow objects.  When a new workflow object is added to the designer, you can now move the object over an existing connector line to link it in-line.  This makes it much easier and quicker to build workflow.

Send Email

Email can now be sent via an existing Email Template, or via a simple email composed right from within the workflow object.  Email can include any workflow variables as tags.  Additionally, if using an Email Template, these can use the new control set email tags for great email customization.  See Email - Send Email via Workflow

email workflow

Control Set Branching

Control Sets have fast become the new standard for capturing information via the web or desktop.  This new workflow object allows you to branch the workflow based on the evaluation of a field within a control set.  Combine this feature with the new web request portal that uses control sets, and you have a very powerful and flexible business process solution.

workflow branch

Improved Action Template workflow object

Action Templates workflow object can now over-write existing Action Template data.  This means you can create several generic Action Templates, and then adjust them via workflow depending on the application.  This cuts-down the need for creating many Action Templates.  This include the Action Summary, Job Status, Assignment as well as the Action Details.  Furthermore, the action details can include workflow variables.

workflow action template override

Improved Job Logging

Logging a new job from workflow has been improved so that the parent job (the originating job running the workflow) can pass its control sets through to the child job (the newly created job).  This is very handy if you have a web-request job that captures end-user data via means of a control set, and then that information needs to be passed to other team members via a new job.

workflow log child job control set  

Change Management

Change Management was new for the inital version 17 release, and it has recieved a lot of improvements and refinements based on client feedback.

  • The “Feedback” tab has an improved layout and better explanation of the voting processes that was used.
  • Change Requests can now have one or more Control Sets linked to it, similar to jobs and other entities.  This really gives you the power and flexibility to capture and store whatever data you need for a change request. 
  • Change Requests can now be assigned to skillgroups - similar to how a job can be assigned to a skillgroup.  Changes will appear in the Explorer
  • Lots of fixes, refinements and overall refinement of the Change Management feature

Change Management Assignment and Ownership

 

Web Portal

The re-designed web portal was also new for the inital v17 release.  It has also received a lot of fixes, performance tweaks and styling updates.

  • Fixed several styling issues with lables (fonts, bold/regular, resizing)
  • Update styling of checkboxes, tri-choices and other controls for better contrast and consistent theming
  • Improved layout of several options

Control Sets

Control Sets were another new feature for the initial release of version 17, and this feature has also received a lot of fixes, tweaks and improvements based on user feedback.

  • Improved layout of control set administration form. 
  • The properties panel is now re-sizeable with a vertical splitter bar
  • Inserting new controls will now insert at the current cursor location
  • Deleting parent control set objects will now delete the entire hierarchy of controls, rather than having to do it one-by-one
  • Checkboxes now have a mandatory property.  This makes it possible to implement a web "Have you read the terms and conditions?" style question
  • Tool tips for the web were not working - these are now fixed (and improved)
  • Labels in the Desktop + Web have been improved for formatting and sizing
  • All controls in the Desktop now re-size better and display in the users' selected font

System Administration

Several system administration tweaks were made to improve the overall configuration.

Bug Fixes

Many fixes have been made to issues that have been found and reported since the initial v17 release.  Thank you to everyone that reported an issue and worked with the development team to correct them.

Performance Improvements

There have been many performance improvements since the initial v17 release that cover many aspects of the application.

  • Improved database performance for many of the common queries, joins and searches
  • Improved workflow drawing speed
  • Improved error trapping for common functions

Reporting

Improved PowerBI HelpMaster dashboard.  Contains new visualizations, better database optimization and refined schema.

helpdesk ITSM PowerBI dashboard

November 2017 Release

New menus

The toolbar menu layout has changed to offer a better distribution of functionality grouping.  On the left is also the “HM” menu that replaces the “User” menu and also includes additional screen.  There is now a dedicated menu for Knowledge, Change, and Web functionality.

Toolbar menu for ITSM

Client linking improvements

Clients can now be linked to more than one site!  This is great if you have clients that move around between offices, or sites and you need to track that.  This makes the configuration of HelpMaster and the logging of jobs much more intuitive and natural.  We have improved the job-logging process to make this even simpler - see below for further details.

Client Site Linking

New visual indicators and “quick pick” boxes are now used to view and select clients, sites and assets throughout HelpMaster.  

Auto-initials for entities without images

Whenever a client, site or asset does not have an image, HelpMaster will display a 2-character summary of their unique ID, similar to the way a mobile phone app does.  This will assist in quickly identifying entities that do not have an associated image.

entity auto initials for image  

Workflow improvements and new capabilities

The workflow functionality has received a major upgrade to facilitate more complex business processes.

New workflow items include:

  • Script-based direction flow.  Used for programmatic control over which way a workflow should progress
  • Variables and Variable modifiers.  Used to store values and then re-use/modify/evaluate as part of the workflow
  • Control Set Validation.  Used to check that data is present, or correct
  • Milestones.  Used to measure progress within a workflow.  Great for reporting and automation
  • Log a new job.  Jobs can be logged silently, or interactively, and options for automatic linking allows for some inventive workflow configurations
  • Improved script control  Now supports Powershell scripting!  Lots of power and options here.  Great for system administrators and network administrators 

business processes and workflow designer

  Workflow auditing, history and documentation has been improved.  Each workflow, item, template and flow is now fully logged so that you can see what has happened. 

Control Sets

Controls sets are similar to custom data fields, but with special powers.  Create as many “control sets” as you like - name them, and use them to capture information.  Think of them as mini-forms that are used to capture data.  Control sets can be added to all of the main HelpMaster entities (clients, sites, assets, jobs) and will appear on the “Control Sets” tab.  You can also add multiple control sets to each entity.

Controls sets will open up a whole new level of data capture and use within HelpMaster.  Link them to the new workflow objects, and use them on the new web portal to capture all of the information that you require for each job type.

Controls sets will change the way you configure and use HelpMaster.  Not to be overlooked!

Read more about controls sets  

control set custom form  

Re-designed job screen

The job screen has been re-arranged in order to display new information and optimize the layout.  Included on the front tab is now Client, Site and Asset information.  This makes it much easier to see the context of a job and what's linked to it.  The process of linking an entity to a job is improved via new quick-pick selectors (see below).

Entity quick pick  

New quick-pick selectors for clients, sites and assets

In addition to a new layout, the job screen (and all other "Links" tabs) now features a "quick pick" selection for Clients, Sites and Assets.  This allows you to quickly link an entity without having to open the full search screen - now you simply start typing and selecting from the list.  Much better!

Entity Linking Quickpick  

Completely re-designed and re-built from scratch Web Portal

The web portal has been totally re-built from the ground up using the latest in web development tools and technologies.  We re-architechted the code, the infrastructure and everything else to deliver a new visual interface with some powerful new features.  Your team and customers are going to love the new web portal.  It’s fast, looks great and delivers some exciting new features.

The new web portal utilizes the new template catalogs (see below) to deliver a new-look request system that makes logging a new job/request so much easier and intuitive.  The new web portal is built on HTML 5, CSS 3, Bootstrap and features many new web tools and technologies that will allow the product to develop and improve greatly in subsequent releases.

 

web portal request fulfillment

 

Request Catalogs

Request catalogs are groupings of Job Templates and Knowledge Base articles which can then be used to display options via the new Web Portal to your clients.   Template catalogs make it easy to group business request types into similar groups and then make it available for staff and clients to access. 

web request catalog for user self-service

Read about Request Catalogs  

New grouping category

A new drop-down box now appears on all entities, and profiles.  This feature is used to group things together which makes administration and future feature improvements possible.  

New “Client Action required” state

In the desktop edition of HelpMaster, staff now have the ability to mark an action as “Requires client response”.  If the client logs into the web portal, they will see their job with a clear marker informing them of the update.  This feature works with the new Job State (see below)  

Update job requires client response  

Job State (for Desktop + Web Portal)

A new job state indicator feature is now available.  Job State will help both staff and clients to quickly identify the state a job is in.  This is very helpful to visualize which job require attention, which jobs have been updated, and which jobs are new.  For clients using the new web portal this will give a clear indication that their job has been updated by service desk agent, and requires their response.  Conversely, when the client does response, the agent (staff member the job is assigned to) will also be notified by changed state indicator.  

The Desktop Explorer screen for staff

helpdesk job state indicator  

The web portal for clients

client web portal self-service action required  

More flag types, and flag integration

There are now more flag types to use for marking jobs.  In addition to the regular coloured flags, there are now new icons that can be used to “flag” a job.  These are searchable via the Job Finder, and the Email Manager can also flag them as part of the post-processing action.  Very handy as another mechanism to classify/organize jobs visually. 

See Flagging jobs

flag job  

Change Management

Change management comes to HelpMaster! 

A new top-level “Change Management” feature allows you to define a request for change (RFC), define a change advisory board (CAB), and then define an implementation.  Each change can be “approved”, or “denied” based on the input from the CAB, and a new “Change Management” section now appears in the Explorer screen for each staff member.

Change requests can be built into a workflow process, and linked into other change requests to form more complex, or multi-stage request approvals.

request for change ITIL

 

Read about Change Management  

Miscellaneous fixes and improvements

As usual, the latest version of HelpMaster contains many “under the hood” improvements, fixes, and performance tweaks.  We have fixed a lot of bugs, improved the load time of many screens, improved the screen flickering and drawing issues, and tried to deliver an improved user interface.

1.5 - HelpMaster v16 release

v16.1.1

This major release of HelpMaster has some very good performance and stability enhancements, as well as some great new features.  It builds on the reliability of the previous v15 release and has a good focus on working more efficiently and intuitively, particularly in larger organizations.  Many of the improvements and enhancements have come from live-feedback of HelpMaster.  Working with v16 is quicker, more efficient (check out the new history menus), and more visual.

Improved toolbar options for logging jobs

The toolbar options for logging a new job have been refined.  It is now easier to select the template you want, or to choose a blank job, or re-use the last template.  Every option is now covered.  

log new job toolbar

Image for Sites

Each site can now have an image.  This image will also display in the new History menus.

site image

An improved image selector tool

When selecting images for clients, sites or assets, a new image selector screen will help you to browse to, or screen-snap an image.  Options include zoom, setting the backcolour and adjusting the aspect ratio.

image selector

Auto-asset ID generation

Asset IDs can now be automatically generated, similar to client IDs and Knowledge Base IDs.  A new tab now appears in the System Adminstration screen that can be used to configure all entity type IDs.

auto-asset ID generation

Pictures, Barcodes and QR codes for Assets

All assets now have the ability to store bar-codes and QR codes, as well as a picture.  Barcodes and QR code values are support during import.

barcodes qr code assets

Email Template subscriptions and display

Better options for displaying Email Template types for the Action Screen.  Reduce template clutter by using the new options for Email Template contexts, and population lists.

email template population options

Improved email notification setttings for skillgroup and staff members

The email notification settings for members within a skillgroup have been improved.  There is now a checkbox for each staff member within a skillgroup that will exclude them from receiving email notifications whenever an email is sent to all members of the skillgroup, such as in the case when a job is assigned to the “Unassigned” queue of the skillgroup.

skill group

Improved History menus

The history menus have been improved to display better information about the entity that you're reviewing.

The Job History menu contains pictures of the client, as well as other relevant job details.  This makes it much easier to see the context of the history.

Helpdesk History Menu

 

The Action History menu also displays the job number as a hyperlink.

Helpdesk History Menu

There is also a history menu for other entities, as well as the templates. 

Alerts can now be set to display only for specific skillgroups

Alerts can now be set for specific skillgroups.  Only staff members within those skillgroups will see these alerts.

Improved Queue Check screen

The Queue check screen has been improved to allow filtering for staff members that do not have view permission on jobs.  This is handy if you have staff members that belong to a skillgroup as “Watchers” only, and you do not want them to be displayed in the Queue Check screen.

New RSS Feed Add-in

A new Add-in now ships with HelpMaster.  Point it at any RSS source, and a new dock-able window will appear that contains the details of your RSS feed.  Great for keeping up to date with news and information from your favourite RSS source.  The Add-In feature and capabilities of HelpMaster can be used to create all sorts of custom plug-ins to extend HelpMaster.  Contact PRD Software to discuss your development / integration needs and we can show you how to build your own, or build it for you.

RSS Addin

Improved Email Manager Client Parsers and Scanning options

The Email Manager is one of the most popular parts of HelpMaster, and it continues to get more improvements and refinements as we receive requests and ideas for improvement.

The client email parsers have been improved for better handling when a client name/details cannot be extracted from the email source. 

Individual profiles can now also scan and process “Read” email (see screen-shot below).  This may be helpful for drop-folder configurations where the process of moving an email causes it to be read, thus not being picked up by the Email Manager.  This new options will be useful for this.  Due to the fact that this feature could result in many jobs being logged inadvertantly (setting this on an inbox with many "read" email), the internal processing logic and “flood control” mechanism of the Email Manager has been improved also.  

email scanning options

Improved Notification Management

The notifications panel has been improved.  It is now possible to delete/remove all notifications that relate to the same event.  This is handy if you have multiple notifications for the same job, reminder or whatever.  If you want to remove them all, just right-click and select the “Delete all” option.

Delete event notification  

HelpMaster Latest News on the Welcome Screen

The Welcome Screen now displays an RSS feed of various on-line HelpMaster news resources such as blogs, discussion board posts and more.  Click the item to open with your default web-browser.

Welcome screen

Miscellaneous bug fixes and tweaks

Several issues have also been corrected, as well as improvements in overall system performance.  See the detailed version history for specific details.

 

1.6 - Earlier versions

HelpMaster v15 and earlier

v15.6.3 - June 2015

v15 is a major release of HelpMaster.  We have put in some big new features, extended the capabilities of the workflow, added some popular requests, and given HelpMaster a new look and feel.   Additionally, there are a lot of under-the-hood improvements and diagnostic information that will be useful for tracking performance, stability and custom development.

This is the best HelpMaster yet!

A new look and feel!

The first thing you will notice about version 15 is that HelpMaster has a new look!  All of the graphics have been updated to the modern “flat” look and feel.  A consistent style, colour palate, and imagery gives HelpMaster a refresh and slick look and feel.   We have also replaced some older controls to give a modern feel and improve performance.

logon screen

Updated toolbar layout, including new buttons and functionality

The main ribbon toolbar has been updated with a new layout and some additional functionality.  The menu structure and grouping of buttons and functionalty has been updated to make HelpMaster more intuitive, modern and fresh.

toolbar flaticons

When logging a new job, the toolbar now supports several new options for quickly selecting the right job template.  This includes drop-down lists for your subscribed templates, all templates and recently used templates.

Templategroupings

Action screen now include the time on the front tab as well as a quick reminder function

By popular demand.  The Action screen can now display the time details on the front tab of the screen, and each action template can be set to force the user to input the time.  This is very useful for those who require each action, or certain types of actions to have the time entered along with the details.  Additionally, there is now a quick-set reminder function built right into the action screen.  Great for when you are updating a job and also want to set a reminder.

Action ScreenImprovements

Improved alerts system

HelpMaster has a new alert system.

Now all entities (Jobs, Clients, Sites, Assets, Knowledge Base articles) can have an unlimited number of alerts associated with them.  This is very handy for drawing attention to the entity when required.

Alerts

Each alert can be configured to be displayed in a different way, and have a different set of properties depending on what it is.  Choose from popup - in your-face alerts, or more passive alerts.  Mix and match according to the entity and the nature of the alert.

  • Cascading alerts
  • Alert types
  • Triggers alerts
  • Multiple alerts
  • HTML alerts

stacked alerts

Read more about the new alert system.

Automation triggers for custom entity events

A new major feature!

triggered event knowledge base review date kcs

Have you ever wanted to be able to log a job when an asset has reached its Service-due date, or log a job when a custom date field on a client, or site matches a date?  Perhaps you have wanted to flag a Knowledge Base article when it has reached it review date?

Well now you can do that and much more.  The new entity triggers allow you to create profiles that will log jobs, create alerts and perform database operations when certain conditions in your HelpMaster configuration/data are matched.  Think of this feature like the Priority Manager, but for Clients, Sites, Assets, Knowledge Base, and Jobs.

This is perfect for creating workflow/jobs for client support, asset management and facilities management.  This new feature utilizes the new alerts feature, to really give your automated triggers some power and impact.

Read more about the new Triggered Events feature

Workflow Templates

Workflow diagrams have now been isolated into their own separate template type.  Previously, the workflow designer was only available via the Job Templates.  Now there is a new template type dedicated to just Workflow.  This makes the management of workflows much easier, and allows greater levels of control, isolation, security and better integration into other parts of HelpMaster. 

workflow templates

We have a lot of big features coming up for the workflow system of HelpMaster, so now is a great time to start utilizing this feature, check it out if you have not done so already.  Read more about Workflow templates.

Improved Job Finder

By popular demand!  The Job Finder can now search on Actions that have been performed against a job.  This allows a greater level of searching, filtering and reporting.  Also, due to the fact that the Job Finder is a key component of the powerful Priority Manager, the ability to search on actions opens up a whole new range of workflow automation possibilities.

job finder action search

Email Manager Log and Diagnostic information

The Email Manager continues to improve in both functionality and management.  We have added a lot of additional diagnostic information to the event logs which will really help with administration, and being able to see what the Email Manager is actually doing.

New information includes processing time, email count, email size and total timing.

Use this information to fine-tune your email processing and optimize your profiles.

email processing diagnostic information

Email Manager Performance

The performance of the Email Manager is now much faster.  The Email Manager now uses a caching mechanism to remember email and filters.  This results in much faster processing times.  This also assists in memory management and download limitations.

Create a new client from Email Manager Parsers

The Email Manager now contains new client-based parser destination fields.  This allows you to extract details from an email, and then use those values to create a new client, and then use that new client to log a new job based on the email.  This is a great new feature for those using HelpMaster for CRM style configurations.

New category fields for the Email Manager and Priority Manager

Do you have a lot of Email Manager, or Priority Manager profiles that you wish you could organize better? 

Now you can classify them with codes of your choice and filter them according to their type.  If you use this powerful part of HelpMaster, then you are going to love this simple enhancement.

Automation classification codes

New category fields for Job Templates and Action Templates

New category fields are now also available for Job and Action templates.  This will assist with searching, classifying and workflow.  Add the new “Category” fields to your Field Chooser to make searching easier.

More fields, including usage statistics for field chooser for Templates

The Field Chooser for Job Templates, Action Templates and Email Templates now include columns that help you see how often the template is being used, when it was last used and more.  This information can be used to optimize and re-configure HelpMaster.

Improved SQL options for the System Administrator

System administrators can now view the results of SQL from the Database tab of HelpMaster.  Additional security options are also available to prevent unauthorized use of direct SQL for any feature of HelpMaster that supports this.  All system codes now also display their unique database ID in the system codes screen.  This assists with custom reporting, database development and API integration.

Re-designed Staff management + Removal of “Staff Manager” screen.

The process of creating or updating a staff member is not much more intuitive and simplified.  The old “Staff Manager” screen has been removed, and the Client screen and a re-worked Skillgroup screen now control how staff and skillgroups are setup and configured.  This offers a much cleaner way of managing staff and their associated skillgroup assignments and permissions.

staff management

Action Summary and Job Status code context filtering

Action summary codes and Job Status codes can now be filtered / hidden according to their context and use.  This makes it easier when working with jobs, actions and workflow.

Automatic Assignment Algorithms

Action templates now support auto-assign algorithms! 

  Choose from the following auto-assignment types:

  • Round-robin (each staff member within a skillgroups is assigned a job on a rotating basis)
  • Lowest job count (the staff member with the lowest job count is assigned the job)
  • Closest geographically (the staff member that is physically closest to the job is assigned the job)
  • Custom stored procedure (make your own assignment algorithm using SQL)
  • Random! For fun!?

auto assign helpdesk jobs

More algorithms to come in future releases.

Auto-assignment can be used by all HelpMaster modules, including the web, Email Manager, Priority Manager and the desktop.

“Add me” button for quick job/client linking

A small, quick speed improvement. 

When logging a new job, or updating an existing job, there is now a new “Add me” button/menu.  Using this will add you (the person logged onto HelpMaster) to the list of linked clients.

add me

Email Template filtering and context

Do you have a lot of email templates?  You probably do, and the problem up until now was that all of them would appear in the Action screen email section, regardless of what type of recipient they were designed for.

That has now changed.

Now email templates can been classified and configured to only appear in the contextually correct part of the Action screen.

email template context

New Script object for job workflow

Workflow now supports scripting.  Currently the only script type is SQL, however further scripting types, including Powershell will be introduced in future releases of HelpMaster.

Asset cloning

By popular demand!  Right-click on any Asset from the search list, and select “Clone” from the pop-up menu.  A new asset screen will appear with all of the details populated/copied from the original.  Give it a new name and save.

asset cloning

Improved Theme builder

The Theme Builder utility has been improved to include more options for colours, styles and controls.  Additionally, there is now a button right next to the theme selector on the user preference screen that will open the Theme Builder.  If you've never tried the theme builder before, or if you are looking for a new style to suit your HelpMastering, check it out.

theme builder

Miscellaneous fixes, enhancements and updates.

Many minor issues have also been fixed.  We've also updated some of the third-party controls that HelpMaster uses.  These should deliver better stability and performance.

We have also improved the behaviour of splitter bars, form re-sizing, control layout and other minor UI issues.

What’s new for HelpMaster v14

v14.7.25 - Released July 2014

This latest release of HelpMaster offers some new features, many enhancements to existing features, as well as general bugfixes, performance improvements and upgrades components.  Below is a list of some of the highlights.

Virtual issues

Is your issue hierarchy out of control?  Need to bring some order back to the structure.  “Virtual issues” is an exciting new concept that allows system administrators to create groupings of issues, and then link the group to the end-point of an existing issue node. 

Template information dockable panel in job screen

A new dockable panel on the job screen displays informaiton about the template being used.  This is useful for training purposes, and general information about the template. 

Email Manager improvements and security update

The Email Manager continues to improves for additional functionality, stability and security. 

  • Updates to existing jobs now have a better text-extraction algorithm to automatically extract just the reply portion of an email.  Previous extraction methods still exist as options.
  • The Email Parsers have been updated for better client searching via email addresses
  • The "Update Existing Job" profiles have had a security re-work, with better options for controlled who can update a job.  By default, the Email Manager will only process email updates from clients that are linked to a job, or are a HelpMaster “staff” member.

Priority Manager action for Skillgroup Supervisor

The Priority Manager now has a new option for emailling the skillgroup supervisor

Skillgroups now have email configuration for unassisnged jobs

Skillgroups now have the option to specify how email is handled whenever a job is assigned to the unassigned queue of a skillgroup.  Skillgroups can now have an email address associated with them.

 

Attachment preview

Attachments can now be displayed and previewed directly from the Explorer screen, or action log.  Simply select a job, then hover over the attachment icon to display the attachments.

Multi-language version

HelpMaster now has the ability to dsiplay in other languages.  This is the initial phase of a larger language feature.  Currently, the only language pack available is English.  Future releases will offer additional languages. 

Improved Screen capture for images

The screen capture now has a dedicated button on the Attachments tab of entities, and the process of capturing a graphic has been significantly improved.

Performance improvements

The job and action screens should now appear up to 50% faster than before.  Attachment loading/preview is now performed “just in time”, to reduce the initial overhead of loading any screen with the Attachments tab.

Miscellaneous fixes, updated references and 3rd party components

Several fixes and improvements have made made.

v14.1.1 - Released January 2014

v14 is another major release of HelpMaster that has many new features, a lot of improvements to existing features, and a lot of bug-fixes and performance improvements.  In short, v14 is a terrific update, especially to those who make good use of the Email Manager, Active Directory, and email.  Here is a review of some of the major things to look out for.

CC and BCC other clients from the Action screen

Emailing from the Action screen now support CC and BCC for other clients that are linked to the job.  This makes it much easier to keep all linked personnel up to date with job updates.

Client picture/avatar can now sync with Active Directory

In addition to supporting www.gravatar.com, client pictures can now be synchronized with Active Directory and is available as a field mapping in the Active Directory module.  HelpMaster users with sufficient privileges can also upload a client picture into Active Directory. See Also client picture or gravatar

New email support for internet email / SMTP / IMAP etc

The entire email foundation of HelpMaster has been re-written to provide even greater levels of email control, security and flexibility.  HelpMaster administrators can now configure individual email accounts that can be used by staff members, and whenever an email is sent, you now have the option to specify which account to use.  These accounts can then be linked to email templates, automation profiles etc. IMAP/POP support has been greatly improved with complete log-in access properties.

Improved email preview and composition from the action screen

When emailing from the Action screen, the previews can now be cancelled and the original action modified before sending again.  When multiple emails are sent, the preview screen will display each job/email, and give more details about the recipients and the context of the email.

Improved and updated Quick Launch feature

One of the oldest features of HelpMaster gets an update.  The Quick Launch screen now has more options, better website/URL support, application parameters/arguments, as well as a dedicated button on the toolbar.

Updated text control and spell checker

The HTML/rich text control has been upgraded to provide better support for previewing for .pdf, HTML support (including better table support), Microsoft Word document import and preview.  The new text control also contains a completely new spell checking control.  This spell checking is very fast, support multiple dictionaries and languages, and underlines misspelt words.   The new dictionary does not have a dependency on Microsoft Word.

Auto save for all major textboxes

Have you ever typed a lot of text, only to have an application or computer crash, and you lose your work! It’s frustrating!!  Never again.  HelpMaster will now automatically save text content on a regular basis and recover this text in the event of a application hang, or crash.  This applies to jobs, actions, templates and knowledge base articles.

Job feedback improvements for usability, searching and reporting

The job feedback system has been improved.  Enhancements include better searching, reporting and administration.  Also, you can now configure HelpMaster to send a feedback survey link at any stage within the job lifecycle.  This means that you can survey your clients for every action you take - each update.  This will help your team to better understand your clients.

Quick-pick for email tags

Email template tags are now easier to insert into email templates.  Simply start typing the start of the tag with the characters “«”, and HelpMaster will display a quick-pick list of available email tags for you to use.

Email Manager updates

The Email Manager has had extensive updates and improvements.  The Email Manager is now more powerful and flexible than ever before.  If you make good use of the Email Manager, you're going to love these updates.  We have improved the functionality, added a lot of power to the parsers, and greatly improved the stability and performance of the service.

New Mailbox Flow visualizer

A new feature is the Mailbox Flow visualizer for the Email Manager.  If you have a lot of Email Manager profiles, you're going to love this.  It displays the email acocunt/folder, and then the profiles that are operating on those scan folders.  It is a great way to “see” what is going on.  Furthermore, the Mailbox Flow will indicate which profiles have issues, and give suggestions on how to improve them for better processing logic.

Better filter control and order preference

It is now possible to order individual filters per branch within the filter processing logic.  This is good news if you have complex filtering, or have very specific requirements for your filtering logic.  Simply right-click on a filter and select “Prioritize filter in current branch level”

Move email

If the email manager profile moves an email, you now have the option to send an email to selected recipients as part of the move.  This can assist with workflow and notification in these scenarios.

New Email parsers

The email parsers have been extended to support SQL scripting, string building, attachment parsing, and can now update more fields within the job, as well as action details such as Assignment, Status, Priority etc.  Email Manager parsers can now scan text-based attachments.  This is great if you need to scan and parse information from log files, network monitoring tools, or other email attachment-based information.

A new “String builder” section of the parsers allow you to build up text block that can be used in job and action information.

A new “Script” section allows you to execute custom SQL against your HelpMaster database.  Use this to look up values based on parser variable that can then be used to update details about the job/action.

New processing options

A new “Post script” action allows you to execute custom SQL against your HelpMaster database after an email has been sucessully processed and the job and/or action has completed.

New closed job options

The email manager now has additional global options to handle what happens when an email is processed for a closed job.  Administrators can choose how HelpMaster handles this common scenario.

The helpfile has also been updated to include more detailed information about designing Email Manager profiles.  Check out the new section on the Email Manager patterns.…more to come.

Professional Title tag

A new checkbox against the Title for client names allows you to specify whether the title is a professional title or not.  This is used in conjunction with 2 new email template tags:

<<Client_ProfessionalTitle_or_Firstname>>

<<Client_ProfessionalTitle_or_FirstnameLastName>>

When used in an email, these tags will be replaced with the Title of the client followed by their surname (if “Is professional title” is checked), or just their Firstname/Lastname as appropriate if they do not have a professional title.  

Multiple coloured flags for jobs

Jobs can now be flagged with 6 different coloured flags.  Previously only one flag was available.  Additionally, the Job Finder now supports flag searching, and each Email Manager profile can flag a job whenever an update occurs.

flag job

Help file

The helpfile has been updated for more content, screen shots, more information, much better hyperlinking and “See Also” links as well as better “why” content, rather than just “how”.  The index and searching has also been improved.  It is a work in progress - tell us what you would like to see in the helpfile.  We have also updated the HelpMaster configuration guide, the evaluation guide and other training courseware and materials.

Check out the new section on the Email Manager paterns.…more to come.

Miscellaneous fixes, enhancements and updates.

Many minor issues have also been fixed.  We've also updated some of the third-party controls that HelpMaster uses.  These should deliver better stability and performance.

What’s new for HelpMaster v13?

v13 - Released March 2013

Another major release packed full of new and exciting features and options to give you more control and insight into your business operations.  Many of these new features and improvements have been a direct result of feedback and user support.

New graphic for logon screen

A new year, a new version, a new look.  Tell us what you think!

HelpMaster logon

Improved performance and speed

The overall performance of HelpMaster has been improved to provide a quicker interface and faster response times.  Both the HelpMaster code and the database structure has been improved to facilitate this.  Future versions of HelpMaster will continue to optimize and improve performance.

More automatic Client ID Generation options

New “Prefix” and “Suffix” fields allow even more flexibility to the automatic client ID generation options.  For the ultimate in flexibility, use the database stored procedure option and create your own.

automatic client id generation

Dockable tool windows

A brand-new concept and visual architecture for HelpMaster.  Certain screens (like the new Notification (see below) screen can be docked to the side of the main HelpMaster window.  Multiple dockable screen can be layered on each other to create a “tabbed” interface.  Very cool.   The HelpMaster Add-In architecture can now take advantage of the new dockable tool window layout.  Create your own HelpMaster Add-Ins and host them within the dockable regions of HelpMaster Desktop.  Multiple add-ins can be added to the same dockable region to give a tiling effect.

Notification side - menu

A new Notification screen gives you easy access to system events and messages that have been posted to the new message board (see below).  This new notification screen makes it easy to keep track on what's going on and enhances team collaboration within your business.  Watch this feature - it is going to grow!

 

Context Panel

A new context panel is now available as a dockable window.  This panel will populate with details about the main entity that you are looking at.  For example, if you are looking at a job, the context panel will populate with details about the primary client, their site, their contact details etc.

If you are adding an action to a job (updating a job), the context panel will display details about the job details, the last action etc.

This context panel can be docked, floated, pinned, or tabbed to other dockable panels.

Message Board overhaul

The Message Board has received a long overdue overhaul.  Messages are now available in HTML (hyperlinks, images, markup etc) and feature comments, administrative access controls, categories and notification.  This is just phase 1 of the new messaging and collaboration tools that we have planned for future releases of HelpMaster.

Image recognition system for Email Manager

Does your attachments folder contain a lot of image duplicates - perhaps added by the Email Manager or similar?  All images added to the Attachments tab of any entity are now scanned and indexed for greater processing control.  The Email Manager can now use this information to automically exclude images of a certain type (email footers, signature images etc).

Template statistics

HelpMaster now keeps better track of how templates are used within your business.  Each time a template is used, the Job, Action, or Email that was created displays information about how it was created.  Furthermore, each template types now displays more statistics and meta-data about usage patterns, updates and history.  This information will help HelpMaster administrators to keep your HelpMaster configuration clean and neat, and give powerful insight into what is working, and what is not.

Template Dependencies

Understanding the linking and dependencies of templates was always a bit of a challenge.  No more!  Each template type now contains a new “Dependencies” tab that will clearly show they are linked and being used by other template and features within HelpMaster.

 

Job statistics + new notes field

Individual jobs now have new statistics and meta-data that will reveal how the job was logged (what product, what template etc), as well as a new “Notes” field.  This new field is simply a text box that you can store any plain text into.  Use it to store notes, replies, progess notes, or half-finished action updates.

Workflow

Another major new feature that will continue to develop with future releases of HelpMaster.  Workflow allows the business to create a dedicated workflow for each job type / template type.  Workflow is simply a series of Action Templates that are linked together and may branch into new streams via a “Decision” point.  A great improvement/compliment to the “Actions to Do” feature.  

 

Job Survey feedback

Jobs now display the individual feedback and ratings that have been recorded by the end-user.  Similar to the knowledge base feedback system, the job survey allows you to survey and capture user feedback about the job.

Updated and new reports

Several new reports exist that will give greater insight into Knowledge Base ranking and utilization.  Knowledge Base and KCS (www.knowledge-centered-support.com) will be an on-going feature of all future HelpMaster development.

Administrator SQL option

The Administration database tab now contains a field for executing SQL directly against the HelpMaster database.  This is a very handy option for tech support, or for Administrators that need to execute SQL without having to use SQL Server Mangaement studio, or who do not have the HelpMaster Database and Reports Wizard Installed.  Use with caution!

Email Manager CC clients exclusions

A subtle, but important enhancement.  If an Email Manager profile is configured to add people in a CC list to the job, it will first check the new exclusion list.  If that email address matches, they will not be added to the job.  This is useful when clients CC the helpdesk, the support account, or another other email account/inbox that the Email Manager is scanning and processing, potentially stopping cyclical loops. 

An improved web configuration manager

We have re-written the web configuration manager to be more useable, friendly and easier to use.  The new wizard-style approach allows easy installation, editing and upgrading of the HelpMaster Web Portal.

General improvements to the Web Portal

Continuing improvements to the Web Portal have been made.   Updating a job via the client web now appears in a pop-up window.

TeamViewer quick support options

PRD Software now use TeamViewer for all remote support and presentation needs.  From this release onwards, HelpMaster will ship with our custom HelpMaster TeamViewer support and presentations modules.  Find them in the Windows start menu, or from the HelpMaster Help > Support Functions menu.

Miscellaneous improvements, bugfixes and enhancements

As usual, we have also identified and fixed many minor issues and bugs (see full version history for details), as well as improved the stability and error-reporting capabilities of the entire HelpMaster suite.  Other minor improvements/touches like CTRL+A for lists to select all, export to CSV from the Explorer, smoother list scrolling etc

  

#What’s new for HelpMaster v12?

v12.8.23  - Released 23rd August 2012

Custom Job queues

Custom job queues appear in the Explorer screen.  Create as many queues as you want, and then simply drag/copy as many jobs into the queue as you want.  It will stay there until you remove it.  This is a great feature if you have a busy job queue and you want to priorize, re-order or filter.

       

Desktop                                                                            Web

Email processing improvements

The Email Manager and all email related processing such as drag ‘n drop have been improved and extended.  Previously some email could not be processed, or when they were, the text in HelpMaster was double-spaced.  This has now been fixed and improved.  Furthermore, you can now also drag individual email attachments into HelpMaster as attachments.

Web log job, client searching and selecting

The job logging process for the Web Portal has been improved.  Searching for clients is now similar to the way the Desktop edition works, with a filtered list being displayed as the user types the client ID.

Web navigation, charts and other minor improvements

The Web Portal now supports a collapsable navigate bar on the left-hand side.  The charts on the home page have been improved, and a lot of small formatting and “ajaxification” of the Web Portal have been developed.

Miscellaneous small fixes, enhancements and improvements

As always, we improved the stability of the product by addressing reported issues, as well as made minor improvements to overall functionality and ease of use.  The “Filter” tab is now replaced with a “Filter” text box.  Much easier.

 

...and you can now log a new job directly from a Client, Site or Asset.

v12.6.22 - Released 22nd June 2012

Recurring Jobs

The recurring events feature is a service-based automation (similar to Priority Manager, Email Manager etc), that will log a new job based on a schedule.  This is perfect if you have regular jobs that you always do.  Great for facilities maintenance, regulatory compliance, system checks and anything else that just needs to be done on a recurring schedule.  Create a new Recurring Profile, give it a name, set the frequency and then pick a job template - done!

v12.4.24 - Released 24th April 2012

HelpMaster v12 is another major release that features new functionality, improved functionality and overal stabilization.  For this release we have concentrated on providing multi-timezone capabilities as well as improvements in the knowledge base feedback system, and re-writing the internal Active Directory code.  As always, there are a lot of other minor improvements and fixes. 

Here are some of the highlights.

Multi-timezone aware

HelpMaster now supports multiple timezones.  This is great if you have a distributed team working across different timezones, countries or daylight-savings regions.  HelpMaster will now display all date information in the local timezone (your timezone), but also allow you to see the original timezone that was used.  

Site and client timezones and business operating hours is more accessible and visible.

business operating hours for helpdesk

 

Please note!

This feature changes the way date data is stored in the HelpMaster database.  If you currently use customized reports, or have implemented custom integrations via the HelpMaster API, AddIn manager or other custom development work, please read this important information.

Knowledge base

The knowledge base now has a feedback and rating system.  This is our first phase in the on-going development to align HelpMaster with the principles and concepts of Knowledge Centered Support.  

System administrators can now create a custom knowledge base feedback form/survey  that can be used by people viewing knowledge base content.  The results from this feedback can be used to improve, update and deliver superior knowledge content to your customers, staff and users.  Using a world-first weighted feedback and ranking system, HelpMaster will allow knowledge authors, curators and administrators the ability to pinpoint exactly what and how corporate knowledge is being received by the end-user.   

 

Each article now contains a lot of information about it’s content and user feedback.

knowledge base feedback and survey  

Each Knowledge Base article can now be ranked according to user feedback, using the unique feedback weighting score that system administrators can assign to each feedback option.  This is in addition to the charts and visual histograms can be viewed for each article.

Search relevancy is also captured, stored and utilized so that knowledge authors can improve and create knowledge content.  

This information is collected and stored to allow knowledge base authors and system administrators the ability to see what people are searching for, and whether they are getting the right results.

kcs knowledge base searchability

 

We have also improved the statistics for a range of knowledge base metrics.

Active Directory

The Active Directory module has also been totally re-written to provide better performance, less administration and more flexibility.  HelpMaster now accesses the Active Direcory directly via native Microsoft .Net code rather than via the OLE SQL Server method that was previously used.  This means less configuration, better flexibility and makes it a lot easier to update in the future - We have got some great plans for this module - stay tuned..

In the meantime, here is what’s new with the Active Directory module

  • Totally re-written Active Directory access functionality
  • Flexible field mappings.  Map site, location, department to the HelpMaster site field.
  • Better event logging an diagnostic capabilities

active directory mappings

Priority Manager

The Priority Manager now has a decicated “Action” screen that allows you to set the “To be completed by” date for any job within the system.  This new feature is great if you need to automatically set the completion date for a job based on pre-defined triggers, people, companies or other factors.

Once a job has a “To be completed by” date, you can easily build other workflow automations for escalation, SLA and reporting.  Use this date field as the basis for reporting, KPIs, escalaitons, automations and updates.

Searching improvements

Following on the back of the v11 release, HelpMaster continues to make searching for the different entites easier.  Custom data is now searchable in the quick-search textboxes.  The full-text searching capabilities of SQL Server have been improved and the rating and ranking system of the new knowledge base improvements make it even easier to find what you are looking for.

Spell check for knowledge base searches that return no results

Performance

After upgrading to this version of HelpMaster, everything should run faster.  The Explorer screen, viewing jobs, running reports - everything!  The database upgrade will improve the indexing and overall performance of the Microsoft SQL Server database that stores all of the HelpMaster data.

In addition to these database improvements, the Web Portal has also been improved to use better controls, better HTML design and optimized code.  The web should now render better on a wider range of browsers, and give better response time.

New reports

Several new reports are available in this release of HelpMaster.  The Timeline reports have been improved to include markers to indicate trends in helpdesk statistics and data.  Reports should also run faster due to improvements in the database architecture (see below)

Web Portal

The Web Portal continues to evolve and become more useable, more stable and more functional.  There have been many minor changes to improve compatibility between browsers, as well as small touches like context-sensitive right-click popup menus, persistent list and grid settings for columns, improved styling, social connectors for Knowledge Base.  

social itsm  

Stability

As always, every release of HelpMaster includes a number of minor improvements, bug-fixes and overall changes to improve the overall performance, stability and look and feel of the application.  For full details about the fixes in this version, please refer to the detailed version history.  Thank you to everyone who has reported an issue, or who has suggested an improvement.  We log them all, and we do get around to them.

Installation and compatibility

The HelpMaster installation process has also been refined for better installation for IIS and the web module.  We have improved the behaviour and compatibility of HelpMaster with Microsoft Terminal Services and other terminal/remote emulations.

We have made adjustments to the theming engine so that the gradients displayed in HelpMaster can be controled via different themes.  This allows for a better remote/terminal session experience.

Better sample applications / example code for the API and plug-in manager

For developers and system integrators who use the HelpMaster API to integrate and/or create HelpMaster plug-ins, we updated the sample code project to give greater insight into what is possible with the API and Plug-in architecture. 

What’s new for HelpMaster v11?

HelpMaster v11 is a major feature release that incorporates many new features.  Read below for a list of the major changes.  In addition to these, you will find many small improvements, enhancements and refinements across the entire HelpMaster suite.  As usual, we have also invested significant time and energy into re-engineering the underlying code and technology to make it easier to pave the way forward for greater software advancement.

New Ribbon control

In addition to the existing toolbar control, users now have the option to use a new “Ribbon” bar to navigate around HelpMaster.  The ribbon controls offers a new look and feel to HelpMaster, along with a more streamlined way of getting things done.  We have updated a few of the icons, and tried to organize similar features and options together.  Let us know what you think.

Logging a job - better support for finding clients and sites

Ever wish you could just log a job for a site instead of a client?  Well, now you can.…almost.

The search functionality when logging a job has been greatly improved.  Now you can type the name of a client, a site, or details about the client or site (email, phone, etc) and HelpMaster will display a list that matches your criteria.  If a site is selected, a list of clients that are linked to that site are displayed, with the primary client appearing at the top of the list.  HelpMaster will always log a job with a client, but this new way of searching for and selecting clients will make it much easier to those focus on sites rather than clients.

It is now possible to search for clients / site using different search fields, including custom text fields.  Individual users of HelpMaster can configure which fields in the client or site should be searched.  This is achieved via the user preferences screen.

 

Billing and Invoicing

By popular request, billing and invoicing is a new major feature for v11.   The action screen has had a major upgrade and now each action can be marked as “Is billable”.  HelpMaster always supported the concept of time and cost for an action, but now you can go a step further.  With the new “Billing Templates”, you can create any number of billing templates that can be used when adding an action to a job.    See this discussion post to see the evolution of this new feature.

“Stop the clock” functionality for job status

Also by popular request.  Each job status now has the ability to “stop the clock” for a job.  This is perfect for service level agreements and determining the age of job in business time.  Stopping the clock refers to the business hours (operational hours) that a job is active for.   With this new feature, now you can nominate any number of job status codes that will “stop the clock”.

Whenever the job is set to one of these job statuses, the time calculation for the age of the job takes into consideration the time the job is open for each of the job status durations.  This makes it great to determine how service level agreements are going.  See the “Working hours time line vizualizer” below.

Working hours time line visualizer

A new time-line visualizer allows you to see how a job has progressed.  The visualizer displays the job assignments, the times when the clock was stopped or running, as well as the status of the job.

Job screen status bar

Simple, but effective.  The job screen now contains a status bar at the bottom of the screen to display important information about that job.  Job status, assignment and age of job are just some of the fields easily viewable on the new status bar.

Have you ever been working on a job and wanted to do a quick helpdesk history search for the client, site, or asset that is linked to the job you are working on?  Well now you can.  The job screen now has a new quick search feature for displaying helpdesk history.

New Email Manager filtering mechanism

The Email Manager filter mechanism has been re-written with a new visual user interface.  This new interface allows complex filtering rules to be applied to each Email Manager profile.  Filters can now be applied to the “From” address, and instead of just “does include” and “does not include” filtering, advanced users can also use regular expressions to build filtering logic.  Filters can be copied and pasted into other profiles.

A new “test” mode can also be used to test the filtering of each profile.  This will really help you design the best possible filtering for this powerful module of HelpMaster.

New reports

Every report has been updated.  New reports have been added.  The database reporting views have all been updated for easier custom reporting.  Reports are quicker, more informative, more flexible and many offer a new parameter-based approach to deliver dynamic and flexible reporting.  

Many reports now have additional, dynamic filtering options built in to them.  This allows for even more helpdesk data analysis.

Updated Web Portal controls

The entire Web Portal has been updated.  We have ditched some of the older controls we were using and replaced them with industry-leading Telerik web controls.  The result is a faster, slicker, better looking web portal that allows you to use HelpMaster via the web more easily.  Upgrading to these new controls is just phase 1 of our web improvement strategy.  There is alot more to come.

web helpdesk

Updated desktop / Windows controls

Many of the controls and coding libraries we are using for the desktop edition of HelpMaster have also been replaced and improved.   This means a better user interface, a more consistent way of dealing with data and better performance all around.  HelpMaster v11 now uses the Microsoft .net 3.5 framework.

New “plug-in” architechture

Another one for the developers and system integrators.…and it’s a beauty!  In addition to the already powerful API, HelpMaster now has the ability to load and execute code that you write and have the user interface integrated right inside any of the entity screens within HelpMaster.

This is great news for system integrators and for the flexibility and interoperability of HelpMaster.  The add-in interface gives a very tight integration between other software systems that you may be using in your environment.

Example custom integrations available.

A new logo for PRD Software

...because the old one was getting a bit old.  

What’s new for HelpMaster v10?

HelpMaster v10 is a major feature release that incorporates many new features.  Read below for a list of the major changes.  In addition to these, you'll find many small improvements, enhancements and refinements across the entire HelpMaster suite.

Windows 7 compatible

HelpMaster 10 is Microsoft Windows 7 compatible.  This means HelpMaster installs and uninstalls according to best-practice.  It also means that it will respond to various Windows 7 system messages in a correct and timely manner.  To achieve this certification, HelpMaster had to be developed and tested against a set of Microsoft standards.

For further information about the Microsoft Windows 7 logo certification process, please refer to http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/dd203105.aspx

Installer

The HelpMaster installer now contains better support for installing SQL Server Express 2008 R2 for the evaluation edition.  It has also been updated to use the latest components and core system files.

Database and Reports Wizard

New blank and sample databases are available. 

The sample database contain better evaluation data, and a wider range of examples for specific HelpMaster features.

The blank database isn’t so blank anymore.  It contains a basic set of templates to cover Email Response Management, Web Portal configuration, Priority Manager profiles, Active Directory profiles and a basic configuration to get you started and configured quickly and easily.

Desktop Edition

The job screen now contains a new 1-line text box for a job summary, as well as a re-arranged layout, new tabs and more

The job finder screen has been updated to include the new summary field, as well as integrating the full text search on the main tab

The job screen has been re-arranged to provide better visual layout for the action log

The attachments handling has been re-written and improved.  Now each entity will have a separate “Attachments” tab where file attachments can be viewed.  Includes full 2-way drag ‘n drop capabilities as well as a preview screen for graphic files.

The client screen for both desktop and web now displays a graphic for visual client identification.  This is the “photograph” image as per the previous “attachments” menu.  The client graphic / avatar can be displayed in the new-look action log

These settings can be updated via a new set of personal settings

Template drop-down boxes auto-refresh when a new template is made, or updated.

Updated themes for more colour flexibility

Many small updates and user interface tweaks

Outlook integration for tasks

HelpMaster reminders can now by synchronized with Microsoft Outlook.  

 

Email Manager

A new email parsing engine is now included as one of the actions that an Email Manager profile can do.  Using this new action, you can scan the contents of an email for specific words or patterns and then extract specific text that can be stored in a variable and later used to update a job.  Very powerful email management.

Better log management.  Specify limits to how large the log will grow.  Includes auto truncate.

A new Email Manager application that will run the Email Manager service if connecting to POP/IMAP or other email sources.

Priority Manager

Better log management.  Specify limits to how large the log will grow.  Includes auto truncate.

A new Priority Manager application that will run the Priority Manager service if connecting to POP/IMAP or other email sources.

Web Portal

The staff Web Portal design has been improved for greater readability

Better charts for the staff welcome screen

The knowledge base detail screen has been improved for client feedback

Knowledge base articles that are linked to web-enabled job templates will be presented to the user when they select the job template

A simplified and improved configuration screen

New email tags to support hyperlinked job numbers.   Clicking will take you to the HelpMaster Web Portal and open the job.

Job Action buttons on job details page and Job action context menu from the home page

Added facility to remove attachments from the attachments list (previously this was not possible from the Web Portal)

Interactive charts with hotspots linked to explorer or job finder pages

Improved job preview from the explorer and job finder pages with expand/collapse action log and splitter panes and job summary

Redesigned the login page and the home page with cleaner look

Added a timer control on the log job page and improved the time calculation for actioning jobs

Miscellaneous minor improvements and bugs fixed

A new custom email-log job screen has been included.  This is a very powerful feature that allows you to create your own web-based job logging screen

More themes + theme maker

There are more colour themes to choose from, as well as a theme maker so you can make your own 

Documentation, training, evaluation guides

Almost all of the HelpMaster documentation has been updated to include more relevant information.  Our new training courses include more in-depth, practical exercises and insights into getting the most out of your HelpMaster investment.

2 - Installation and Upgrades

HelpMaster installation and configuration across the desktop, web, database and services

HelpMaster is relatively simple to install and configure, but like any software, it works best when backed up by good planning and an up-to-date system.  Most installation tasks have been simplified with installation and configuration wizards.

Before starting an install, please read through this information and perform any installation or configuration tasks outlined.

HelpMaster is backed by a range of professional services to assist you throughout every stage of installation, configuration, evaluation and use.

2.1 - Overview for New HelpMaster Installations

Installing a new HelpMaster instance

This section of the helpfile has been designed for installing a new HelpMaster installation.  If you are are upgrading from an existing version of HelpMaster, please refer to Upgrading from an existing version of HelpMaster.

Simplified overview of installation tasks

As a general guide, the installation of HelpMaster can be broken up into the following categories :

Pre-requisite steps

  1. Check that you have the latest versions of HelpMaster to install
  2. Check that your system meets the Technical Specifications
  3. You have already installed a compatible version of Microsoft SQL Server
  4. You have already installed Microsoft IIS and the Microsoft .NET Framework if you plan using the HelpMaster Web Portal

Pre-installation configuration steps

  1. Create the HelpMaster “Working Folders
  2. Create appropriate Windows network accounts and grant access privileges

HelpMaster contains modules that should be installed on both client and server style machines.  As a general guide the information below explains where each product should be installed.

Modules to install on a client machine

The HelpMaster desktop application should be installed on every workstation where staff will be required to use HelpMaster.  HelpMaster is licensed concurrently which means that you can install it on any number of computers, however the number of active logins is restricted by the number of licences you purchase.

  • Install the Desktop Edition of HelpMaster onto each client workstation
  • (Optional) Install the Crystal Reports runtime engine (Note! This is only available if you use the .exe installer)

Modules to install on a server machine

The following HelpMaster modules only need to be installed once on a server. They should not be installed on each client machine.

  • Install the HelpMaster Database and Reports Wizard

  • Install the HelpMaster Priority Manager (optional)

  • Install the HelpMaster Email Manager (optional)

  • Install the HelpMaster Active Directory Manager (optional)

  • Install the HelpMaster Automation Service (optional)

Modules to install on a web-server machine

The HelpMaster Web Portal should be installed on a computer that has been configured to be a web server.  This machine requires Microsoft IIS 10.x or greater to be installed, configured and correctly secured for internet / intranet access.  The web Portal only needs to be installed on one machine for access throughout the enterprise.

Post-installation configuration steps

It is recommended that the person or persons installing HelpMaster follow the steps outlined in this helpfile in the order they are listed.  This will ensure a smooth and successful installation.

See also

Consultancy Services

PRD Software

2.2 - SQL Server Installation

HelpMaster uses a Microsoft SQL Server database for data storage.

HelpMaster requires a Microsoft SQL Server instance in order to operate.

Due to the nature of SQL Server, detailed installation instructions for this product are beyond the scope of this documentation.  For complete installation information, please refer to the Microsoft SQL Server documentation at:

www.microsoft.com/sql

For production deployments please ensure that you have an installed instance of SQL Server before attempting to install or configure any components of the HelpMaster product suite.

For evaluation of HelpMaster the SQL Express edition is made available within our installer.

See Also

SQL Server technical specifications

SQL Server security permissions

The HelpMaster database

The Microsoft SQL Server homepage

2.3 - Upgrade HelpMaster

Upgrade HelpMaster

HelpMaster is constantly being improved and updated. Plan to upgrade your instance regularly.

2.3.1 - Upgrade to v21 notes

HelpMaster v21 introduces several new component dependencies and licensing changes

Before upgrading to HelpMaster v21

Please note the following important changes before upgrading to version 21.

System Requirements

Microsoft WebView2 Control (HelpMaster Desktop)

v21 uses the Microsoft WebView2 control to display HTML content in the desktop product. This Microsoft component needs to be installed or HelpMaster will not work. The HelpMaster .exe installer will install the WebView2 component if it is not on the system. The .msi version of the HelpMaster installer does not do this.

For futher information about this component, please refer to the Microsoft WebView2 documentation

ASP.NET Core 5.0 Hosting bundle (HelpMaster Web Portal)

The v21 HelpMaster Web Portal has been completely re-written from scratch using the latest Microsoft ASP.Net Core Blazor technology. It’s fast, modern and paves the way forward for future development.

In order to host ASP.Net core products, you will need to install the ASP.Net 5.0 Core runtime bundle from Microsoft on your webserver/IIS machine.

For futher information about this component, please refer to the Microsoft ASP.NET Core documentation

HelpMaster Web Portal

Web Portal functionality

The v21 web portal has many improved and new features over the previous version. New features allow staff to have more control over the job logging experience, as well as working with and updating jobs. Improved functionality include the ability to assign jobs, set priority, job type, hide/view various job field, use control sets, attachments support and more. Once a job is logged, workflow is also available via the web portal. The Explorer screen is also available, as is client and site searching, viewing and editing.

Note however that the web portal at this stage does not cover 100% of the functionality that is available in the desktop edition of HelpMaster. Features like linking additional clients, sites, assets and other entitiies are not currently available. These features will be available in future releases. For advanced job management and other features, staff may need to continue to use the Desktop edition of HelpMaster.

Automatic upgrade is not possible from previous versions

Due to the architectural differences in the new web portal from previous versions, it is not possible to upgrade previous versions as usual using the Web Setup Wizard. Previous web portals should be manually uninstalled/removed from IIS. This includes all files, application pools and IIS sites. See Uninstalling the Web Portal

A new v21 web portal can be installed and configured using the HelpMaster web setup wizard.

Web Portal Licensing

The v21 Web portal licensing has changed from previous versions for staff members. See below

Client Licensing

Licensing for clients remains the same. Clients will require a web license in order to log on and start logging/viewing jobs. This can be allocated from the client details screen. Unlimited Client licenses are built into the license cost of HelpMaster.

Staff Licensing

Unlike the Desktop licenses which are concurrent, Staff licensing is for the web portal is named. This means that each staff member specifcally requires a web license in order to use the web portal as a staff member. See Staff Web Licensing

Database Upgrade

The v21 database upgrade does a lot of migration work to upgrade databases to the new v21 format. This means that it may take a little longer than previous database upgrades. Depending on the size of your database, and the specifications of your SQL Server instance, the time will vary. Expect a database upgrade to take at least 20 minutes.

HelpMaster file names

All compiled HelpMaster assemblies and executable files have been renamed to conform to a new naming convention. The main HelpMaster files will now start with “HelpMaster.«filename».(dll or exe)”. This makes it easier to identify, build and deploy. This change will only affect those that specifically referencing an executable file, or assembly (.dll) by name (eg. in a powershell script, or some other process). If you are explicily referencing HelpMaster binaries, plan to update your process/code/scripts as part of your upgrade to v21.

Help file / documentation

HelpMaster no longer ships with a local helpfile. All help and documentation has been moved to this new on-line format. The F1 key will still open the relevant help topic, however it will be online, rather than local. For organizations that limit internet access, you may consider an exception for https://docs.helpmasterpro.com

After upgrading

The following is a list of things to do after upgrading to version 21.

Read the new documentation

You’re currently reading the new HelpMaster documentation. We’ve updated a lot of content, and will continue to improve this on-line help. Read the release history for version 21 to get an idea of what’s new and improved. There are lots of new things to configure, test and implement. Use the powerful new search box in the top-right corner to search for words, concepts and topics.

Please use the feedback buttons at the bottom of the page to let us know how we can continue to improve these docs.

If you need assistance with anything, please contact PRD Software

Remove old versions

If you have not done so already, remove any old, test, or dev instances of previous web portal. See Manually uninstalling the web portal

Configuration

Web Portal

  • Allocate a staff web licenses to staff members so that they can use the new staff features of the web portal.

  • Create “Staff only” Job Templates. Job Templates have a lot of new features (see below), and there are now more configuration options available for staff.

  • Consider building a public job template(s) for your web portal. This is a new feature for v21. Public job templates allow jobs to be logged via the web, but don’t require any authentication at all - that is, the end-user does not need to register, or sign up, or be licensed - they just fill in a form to log a job. Public Job Templates are ideal for public “Feedback forms”, “Contact Us”, or other similar forms. Embed a public Job Template into a corporate website via an iFrame or similar.

  • Create and link knowlege base articles to job templates and request catalogs. The updated web portal can now display the issue hierarchy for clients and staff to choose from. As issues are selected, HelpMaster will display any knowledge base articles that are linked to that issue. This makes the web portal more dynamic in its ability to display relevant content to the type of job/issue that is being logged.

  • New configuration options exist for web control sets in the Web Settings (Desktop edition) screen. System administrators can choose whether Control Sets are collapsed, expanded, or expanded only if they contain data.

  • Private web actions can now be made completed invisible to end-users (rather than just redacted)

Job Templates

Job Templates have received a lot of updates and improvements. There are many more options and configuration settings that allow greater control of what the end-user sees, and the experience staff will have when logging jobs.

There are new configuration options to display staff assignment, upload attachments, display job priority and more. Review each job template to ensure that the correct setting has been applied for your operations. Log onto the web as both a client and a staff member to see how a template will present with different types of logon.

Available Actions is a new feature in v21. This allows greater control over workflow and the life-cycle of a job.

Configure email for Microsoft 365 / GMail

New options exist for sending email via Microsoft 365 or Gmail. Use the System Integration options to configure your email environment. If using legacy SMTP for sending email, consider converting over to the this newer format (if using M365/Gmail)

Check all system adminstration settings

The System Administration screen in the desktop has been re-styled for better management. There are a lot of new settings for client fields, system logs and more.

Default Templates is a new feature that allows system administrators to set the default templates that will be applied if an individual staff member has not set theirs. This may be useful for setting up new staff members.

The new System Event logs will now track and log almost all operations that are performed within HelpMaster. This is useful for system administrators, security, and general use.

Security

Version 21 has many security improvements. Here’s some things to note.

Configure the new System Event Log settings to record all system events, log-ins, failed log-ins etc.

Configure the web attachment upload settings

Configure new client creation options.

Configure password complexity, lock-out times, failed password attempts etc

Take the opportunity to review all skillgroups, security groups, application groups and job security groups

Develop and Integrate with other systems

HelpMaster has a brand-new WebAPI that can be used to integrate with other systems. The HelpMaster WebAPI will continue to develop with future releases. Let us know what functionality you require.

Build workflow

Now is a great time to get into workflow, or update existing workflow. The web portal now supports the running/execution of workflow (not designing/creating), so staff members can use any workflow that is now part of the job and/or job template that was used to create the job.

If you already have been using workflow, check out the new “Cancel path” on the Action object.

Build Entity Items (like control sets)

Entity Items are a new features that are similar to Control Sets, but can be linked to an entity multiple times. These are great for storing recurring information against an entity.

See also

HelpMaster v21 release notes

2.3.2 - Upgrade Overview

New versions of HelpMaster are releases on a regular basis

Regularly updating your HelpMaster instance is the best way to utilise new features, performance improvement and security updates. Upgrading is relatively quick and simple, and when done right will cause minimal disruption.

Upgrade eligibility

Please note that you may not be entitled to upgrade to the latest version of HelpMaster.  Depending on the level of support subscription you currently have, you may need to purchase a new registration code from PRD Software.

What about my existing data?

Your existing HelpMaster data will be converted to the new format when you run the Database and Reports Wizard.  No data is lost and the conversion process is automatic. You need to do nothing more than run the wizard.  Moreover, your existing database will be fully backed up before any conversion takes place.

Can I run a newer version of HelpMaster concurrently with older versions?

This scenario makes sense if you have 2 separate instances of HelpMaster with each using a separate database. In this case, yes, it is possible to use 2 different versions of HelpMaster, but only if each version is still pointing to its original database, and the new version is pointing to its database. 

  • Existing/Previous/Older Version HelpMaster »» Existing/Previous/Older Version Version HelpMaster Database
  • New Version HelpMaster »» New Version of HelpMaster Database

It is not possible to use an older version of HelpMaster with the new version of the database.

Simplified overview of the installation tasks

The installation of HelpMaster has been designed to be a relatively simple task, and all components are installed via a single installation package/file. Wizards for upgrading the Database, as well as the Web Portal make these tasks quick and simple.

It is recommended that the person or persons installing HelpMaster follow the steps outlined in this helpfile in the order they are listed.  This will ensure a smooth and successful installation.

As a general guide, the installation of HelpMaster can be broken up into the following categories :

Pre-requisites

The following should already be in-place and OK if you are upgrading an existing HelpMaster installation.

  1. Check that your system meets the Technical Specifications of the new version.
  2. Your instance of Microsoft SQL Server is supported by the new version.
  3. If using the web portal Microsoft IIS and the Microsoft .NET Framework are installed and configured.
  4. Check that you have the latest HelpMaster installation file

Pre-installation configuration steps

  1. Schedule downtime for your existing HelpMaster users and database

Basic installation Steps

  1. Log all users out of HelpMaster
  2. Manually uninstall and cleanup any old versions of HelpMaster 
  3. Install all relevant HelpMaster components onto the HelpMaster server
  4. Install the Desktop version of HelpMaster onto each client workstation that will require access

Post-installation configuration/update steps

It is recommended that the person or persons installing HelpMaster follow the steps outlined in this helpfile in the order they are listed.  This will ensure a smooth and successful installation.

Estimated Timeframe for upgrade

Installing and upgrading to the latest version of HelpMaster is a relatively simple task, that should take no longer than an hour or so to complete the upgrade. Most of this time is taken in preparing and working through a checklist. The actual physical upgrade takes just moments to complete.

It is recommended that the upgrade to HelpMaster occurs at a time that will least affect your business practices.  Please note that when the HelpMaster database is upgraded, users will not be able to use HelpMaster until their individual machines have been upgraded.

See also

Logging all users out of HelpMaster (prior to an upgrade)

2.4 - HelpMaster Service Account

The HelpMaster Service Account is a network account that is used for accessing network resources and securing HelpMaster

Overview

HelpMaster uses, and relies upon a variety of network resources in order to operate. 

These include:

  • SQL Server database (connection / reading / writing).  See Security Settings for the HelpMaster database

  • Files and directories on both local and networked drives (report files, attachments etc)  See Working folders file paths

  • Email (requiring access to the local email client as well as the server email system eg. Microsoft 365, Exchange, SMTP, IMAP etc)

  • Windows User directories - C:\ProgramData\ (this is a hidden folder)

  • The HelpMaster installation directory (as chosen at the time of installation)

Create a Windows group that users and services can use

It is necessary that the user (or service) running HelpMaster has sufficient network permissions with their Windows logon account to read and write to these resources.

  1. Create a Windows Active Directory group called “HelpMaster Users”, or similar. This group will be used to allow HelpMaster users to access the various network resources listed above.
  2. Add all of the staff members that will require HelpMaster access to this group.
  3. Grant Read/Write permissions to this group for ALL of the HelpMaster Working folders.
  4. If you wish for all HelpMaster users to connect to SQL Server via Windows Authentication, you can add this group to the “Logon” section of SQL Server and grant this group logon rights to the HelpMaster database.  When connecting to SQL Server, you have the choice to connect via Windows Authentication or via SQL Server logon.   For further details about this, please see Connecting to SQL Server.  

Create a Windows account “svc_HelpMaster”

HelpMaster installs and uses a number of Windows services that perform work.  These services need to be run under the Windows context of a domain/network user in order to access the resources that HelpMaster requires. 

helpmaster service account

In order to start and run the HelpMaster services, it is highly recommended that you create a new, dedicated Windows account and name it svc_HelpMasterServiceAccount or something similar according to your organizations naming convention for service accounts.

HelpMaster Service Account

The following gives an overview of the required permission for this account.

SQL Server Database

Requires read/write access to the HelpMaster Microsoft SQL Server Database. See Appendix B for the specific SQL Server permissions

Network “working folders”

Requires read/write or modify access to network shares. These “working folders” are used to store attachments, reports, themes, email and other HelpMaster resources.

Email Accounts

Requires email access to all email accounts that will be scanned and processed for email-to-ticket conversion. Requires FULL AND Send As (or Send on Behalf of) permissions to all email accounts specified in any of the outgoing email templates.

Web Portal

The HelpMaster service account must be a member of the IIS_IUSRS group when used as the IIS Application Pool Identity account that runs the HelpMaster web portal.

Active Directory user import / synchronization and Single-Sign-on

The HelpMaster service account requires access to connect to, and enumerate your Active Directory OU structure in order to import and synchronize users.

HelpMaster Services

HelpMaster installs 4 Windows Services that are used to deliver functionality. These are:

General Windows Permissions

The HelpMaster service account requires the following: • Be a local administrator on the machine running the HelpMaster Services. (Email Manager, Priority Manager, Automation etc.) • The ability to create, read and write Windows Event logs

See Also

Security Settings for the HelpMaster database

2.5 - Using the Installer

The HelpMaster installer is an all-in-one installer for all HelpMaster components

The HelpMaster installer is packaged as either an executable file (.exe), or as a Microsoft Installer (.msi) file. Both options are available in 32bit, or 64 bit variants. Each installer can install all of the HelpMaster modules, which include:

  • HelpMaster core files and .exe application
  • HelpMaster Services
  • HelpMaster Web Portal
  • HelpMaster Database and Reports Wizard
  • HelpMaster Job Monitor
  • 3rd party dependencies

.msi or .exe?

The .exe file contains HelpMaster, Crystal Reports runtime engine, SQL Server 2016 Express, SQL Server SMO, SQL Server Native Client, SQL Server CLR Types, Microsoft WebView2, and other installation dependencies.

The .msi files only contain the HelpMaster executables. It does not contain SQL Server, the Crystal Reports runtime engine, or any other product dependencies. The .msi is only included here for those who only need to install the HelpMaster Desktop on client machines and wish to do so via a .msi rollout. Such installations will not be able to run reports unless the Crystal Reports runtime is installed as a separate installation.

It is recommended that you use the .exe version for all HelpMaster installations, and only choose the components that you wish to install.

32 bit or 64 bit?

If using Microsoft Outlook with HelpMaster, you need to use the same bitness version that Outlook is using on that machine. ie. If you use the 32 bit version of Outlook, you’ll need the 32 bit version of HelpMaster.

You can use a mixture of 32 and 64 installs throughout your business as per individual machine configuration. Both 32 and 64 bit HelpMaster modules can connect to a 32 or 64 bit SQL Server.

Bear in mind that HelpMaster can send email using SMTP connections to on-line email sources - you do not need to have Outlook, or use it to send email if you have other options.

64 bit version can only be installed on 64 bit operating systems and requires a 64 bit version of Microsoft Outlook.

Run the HelpMaster installation .exe and follow the on-screen prompts. Accept the license terms and click through to Choose Setup Type.

Choose Setup Type

Select the setup type required and continue until installation begins.

MSI Switches

The HelpMaster installation package uses Microsoft Windows Installer echnology.  This means that it can be also installed via a command line interface by using the Microsoft MSIEXEC tool.

The following values can be used for the INSTALLLEVEL property.

Install Level / HelpMaster component

1 Core Components

10 Desktop

20 Database Wizard

30 Email Manager

35 Email Manager Service

40 Priority Manager

45 Priority Manager Service

50 Active Directory

55 Active Directory Service

60 Automation (Triggered Events)

65 Automation Service

70 Web Portal

MSI documentation and switches can be found at the Microsoft MSDN website here, http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa367988(VS.85).aspx.

.MSI switch examples

Silently install just the Desktop components

msiexec /i c:\hmpsuitsetup.msi INSTALLLEVEL=10 /q  

Silently install everything

msiexec /i c:\hmpsuitsetup.msi INSTALLLEVEL=70 /q

2.6 - Database Reports Wizard

Database and Reports Wizard

Use the Database Reports Wizard to create, update and configure HelpMaster databases and report files. It also contain other utilities to assist with your HelpMaster instance.

2.6.1 - Database and Report tools Overview

Database and Report tools Overview

The Database and Reports Wizard is a useful tool to administer and maintain your HelpMaster database.  It contains some basic tools for database operations.

For full control of you SQL Server Database and more features, it is recommended to use Microsoft SQL Server Enterprise Manager (SSMS) to administer your database.

The database and report tools allow you to perform the following tasks :

  • Backup and restore a SQL Server database
  • Attach and detach a SQL Server database
  • Update the database connection string for HelpMaster Crystal Report files
  • Deploy the HelpMaster report files
  • Update the internal database connection string for each of the HelpMaster report files
  • Register a HelpMaster database

Use

  1. To use the database tools, run the HelpMaster Database and Reports Wizard by clicking on Start Menu > All Programs> HelpMaster xx.xx > Database and Reports Wizard.  The following screen will appear.

    Click Next > to proceed  

  2. This is the main menu.

    Select Database tools and click Next > to proceed  

  3. Select or enter the instance of SQL Server where your HelpMaster database is located and choose a logon method.  Click the (local) button if using the local default instance. Click Next > to proceed.

    Select SQL Server instance

     

  4. This is the tools menu.

    Select which operation you wish to perform.  You can choose Database Tools, Reports Tools or License Registration.

2.6.2 - Creating a new HelpMaster database

Creating a new HelpMaster database

Creating a new HelpMaster database is easy.  Two types of databases can be created with the wizard.  These are :

  1. A blank database
  2. A sample database

The blank database

The blank database should be created when you wish to create a new database that you will configure for live use.  The blank database is completely blank, except for a minimum amount of required system data.  The blank database contains the “Admin” staff member.  The password for this account is password.  It can be re-set once successfully logged in.

The Sample database

The sample database is ideal when you wish to create a training or test database to use with HelpMaster.  The sample database contains data from a fictitious company called “WizBang Widgets”.  It contains a full client registry, staff, skillgroups, and a range of sample jobs, templates, workflow and other configuration data. 

The sample database contains the following administrator staff logons (all passwords are password)

  • admin
  • evansm
  • ashworthm
  • kingd
  • whitel
  • blackh
  • carbonej

Use

  1. Ensure that you log onto a computer using a Windows network account that has sufficient network security access to browse to and copy files to the machine where your SQL Server is installed.
  2. To create blank or sample databases, run the HelpMaster Database and Reports Wizard by clicking on Start Menu > All Programs > HelpMaster xx.xx > HelpMaster Database and Reports Wizard.  Where xx.xx is the version number of HelpMaster that is installed. The following screen will appear. Click Next > to proceed to the main menu.

  1. Select Create a new HelpMaster database and click Next >

Database menu

  1. Select or enter the instance of SQL Server where your HelpMaster database is located and choose a logon method. Click Next > to proceed.

SQL Server Instance

  1. On this screen choose which type of database you wish to create, with or without sample data.  Choose the appropriate option and a name.  A default name is provided, however you may instead type a name of your own choice.

Create SQL Server database

In Step 2 the default data file location for your SQL Server is displayed in the text boxes.  You can leave this, or browse to your own location. Note that the location you choose must be a location that your SQL Server can “see” and has access to. Click Next > to proceed

  1. The Working Folder location is a network folder used to store all of the files that HelpMaster will need to operate.  This includes the report files, attachments, emails and other files that are created, or used by HelpMaster.  Select a network folder that all HelpMaster users will have access to. Click Next > to proceed

HelpMaster working folders

  1. This next screen presents a summary of the choices you have made throughout the wizard.  You may go < Back to amend any options or click Finished to create the new database.

Review database configuration

  1. Upon successful completion of the wizard, you will see the following screen. If any errors occur during database creation, you will be notified about the nature of the error and an error report will be saved.

Installation Complete

  1. You should now have a HelpMaster database and folder structures ready to use.  Click Close to exit the wizard. 

2.6.3 - Upgrading an existing HelpMaster database

Upgrading an existing HelpMaster database

When new versions of HelpMaster are released, or as maintenance patches for the database are released, it may be necessary to update your HelpMaster database.  The HelpMaster Database and Reports Wizard makes this an easy task. Database updates are often required to correct bugs, implement new features, or update existing data structures for better maintenance and performance.  The HelpMaster version history and/or release notes will indicate which version of the HelpMaster database is required, and whether an upgrade is required from previous versions.  Please ensure that you consult this document as part of your upgrade process.

Database permissions

In order to upgrade your HelpMaster database, you will need to log into SQL Server (step 4 below) with an account that has dbo (Database owner) permissions and either sysadmin or serveradmin roles.  Before the database upgrade is started, a permissions check will be performed.

The database upgrade process will attempt to run a “reconfigure” statement.  See http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms176069.aspx for further details. 

File system permissions

The upgrade process will also deploy the latest Crystal Reports report files to your nominated Reports folder.  Please ensure that the account you are using (Windows login) has the appropriate NTFS permissions to create folders (for backup) and copy files to your working folder locations.

What about my existing data?

All existing data is maintained - nothing is lost.  Furthermore, a complete database backup is performed before any conversion / upgrade takes place

Do I need to do a database backup before I run the wizard?

Database backups are always a good idea, and creating a full database backup before any conversion or upgrade is highly recommended.  The HelpMaster Database and Reports Wizard will create a backup before it attempts to upgrade your database.  

What if the database conversion is unsuccessful?

If for any reason the database conversion / upgrade encounters errors or any other problem, all changes will be “rolled back” and your HelpMaster database will be restored to its original state. A log file will also be created at C:\ProgramData\PRD Software\HelpMaster\HelpMaster Database Patch.log whether the patch is successful or not.

Use

  1. Ensure that you log onto a computer using a Windows network account that has sufficient network security access to browse to and copy files to the machine where your SQL Server is installed.

  2. To upgrade your existing database, run the HelpMaster Database and Reports Wizard by clicking on Start Menu > All Programs > HelpMaster xx.xx > HelpMaster Database and Reports Wizard.  The following screen will appear. Click Next > to proceed to the main menu.

  3. Select Upgrade an existing HelpMaster database and click Next > to proceed.

    Upgrade database  

  4. Select or enter the instance of SQL Server where your HelpMaster database is located and choose a logon method. Click Next > to proceed.

    Select SQL Server instance

  5. Select which database you want to upgrade.  Note that as soon as you select a database, the reports location path will be displayed. This is where the new reports will be deployed.  You can change this location if you wish.

    By default, a backup of your database will be created in the default SQL Server “backup” folder that was created when you installed SQL Server. Click Next > to proceed.

  6. This screen presents a list of tasks the database wizard will perform. Click Run Upgrade to perform the upgrade.  Please note that this step may take some time.  When completed, the screen at step 7 below will be displayed.

  7. Upon successful completion of the wizard, you will see the following screen.

    Database upgrade complete

    Click Close to exit the Database and Reports Wizard

2.6.4 - Registering a HelpMaster Database

Registering a HelpMaster Database

The Database and Reports Wizard can also be used to register HelpMaster.  This can also be done from within the HelpMaster Desktop from Help > Registration.

Register HelpMaster

See Also

Registering HelpMaster via the Desktop Edition

2.6.5 - Database operations

Database operations

The Database Wizard allows you to also perform several common database operations. These can also be done via SQL Server Management Studio.

Rename Database

To rename your database, you can do one of the following:

  1. Use Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio.  Right-click on the database and rename it from there or,
  2. Use the HelpMaster Database and Reports Wizard to back it up and then restore it with a new name.

Backup Database

Restore Database

Attach / Detach Database

Execute SQL

To execute SQL directly against your HelpMaster database, you can use this screen.

2.6.6 - Report files

Deploy the Crystal Reports .rpt files to a networked location

When you first create, or upgrade your HelpMaster database via the Database and Reports Wizard, the Crystal Reports report files (.rpt) are automatically deployed into your specified “Reports folder” (See Working folders).  Sometimes it may be necessary to re-deploy the report files that HelpMaster uses (new server, folder restructure, upgrades, testing etc).

To do this, run the Database and Reports Wizard and then navigate through the following menu structure to arrive at the screen below, Start > Database and Reports Tools > Connect to SQL Server > Reports Tools

 

Select your database and the location of your reports folder, then click Install.

Updating the report files

HelpMaster uses Crystal Reports to provide reporting capabilities which means that each report is stored in the reports folder as an .rpt file.  Each one of these files has an internal database connection path that it will try to connect to when the report is run, or loaded for modification within Crystal Reports.  When you initially install HelpMaster, the internal database connection path of each report is automatically updated to point to your live HelpMaster database.

However, if you have created your own custom Crystal Report files that you use with HelpMaster, there may be the possibility that these reports were created against a copy of your live database, as is often the case when developing reports.  When HelpMaster runs these reports, it temporarily adjusts the database connection path to the live database in order to display the report.  If you wish to permanently update the database connection path for your HelpMaster reports, then you can use the Database and Reports Wizard to do so.

Use

To update your Crystal Report files, run the Database and Reports Wizard and then navigate through the following menu structure to arrive at the screen below, Start > Database and Reports Tools > Connect to SQL Server > Reports Tools

Select the Update internal database connection tab, then choose the database where all of your Crystal Report files will to refer to.  Browse to the location where your HelpMaster report files are located. Click Update to make the changes.

Now when you open your reports in Crystal Reports, you will notice that the database connection has been set to the database that was selected above.

See also

Reports

2.6.7 - Full text configuration

Full text configuration

Prerequisites

In order to be able to setup full text searching the following criteria must be met:

  1. SQL Server must have full text searching components installed and configured for use.  These components are optional during the installation of SQL Server.
  2. The SQL Express edition that ships with HelpMaster does not have full text searching components included due to size limitations. You can however, download the necessary components from Microsoft.

How do you set up full text searching with HelpMaster?

Once you have installed and configured the SQL Server full text searching engine for SQL Server (see links above), you will need to use the HelpMaster Database and Reports Wizard to configure the full text catalogs.

Run the Database and Reports Wizard and then navigate through the following menu structure to arrive at the screen below, Start > Database and Reports Tools > Connect to SQL Server > Database Tools and click on the Fulltext searching tab. Select your database and click the Setup\rebuild full text searching button.

See Also

Using Full Text Searching

Full Text Searching examples

2.6.8 - HelpMaster Database Dictionary

HelpMaster Database Dictionary

A database dictionary for the HelpMaster database is available from PRD Software.  A database dictionary gives a detailed overview of the schema of the database, as well as the interaction between the tables, views and stored procedures.  This information is very useful if you wish to create your own custom reports, or wish to perform some type of database maintenance.

For further information about obtaining a database dictionary for the HelpMaster database, please contact PRD Software

2.7 - Connecting to a HelpMaster database

Connecting to a HelpMaster database

HelpMaster uses a Microsoft SQL Server database.  Before HelpMaster can be used, you will need to create a HelpMaster database, then connect to this database.  Once you have created a HelpMaster database you can connect to it by performing the steps listed below.

Connecting to a HelpMaster database

  1. From the HelpMaster logon screen, click the Database button.  The logon screen will display the list of available database connections
  2. Click the New button
  3. Type or select the name of the SQL Server instance that is hosting the HelpMaster database you wish to connect to, click the (local) button to select your local default instance of SQL Server. Enter the name in the format [ServerName]\[SQLInstanceName]
  4. Check the appropriate logon method for your workplace and select the correct method - Enter user name and password if required
  5. Select your HelpMaster database from the list
  6. Enter any additional connection parameters e.g. “Connection Timeout=30” for VPN or slow networks
  7. Test the connection by clicking Test Connection (optional)
  8. Click OK to save the new database connection

  1. You will be prompted to give the database connection a common name.  This is the text that will appear in the list of available databases

  1. Entering a valid HelpMaster User name and password and clicking on OK will log you into the selected database.

The Application Settings XML file

HelpMaster stores the Desktop logon information in an encrypted XML file located by default at one of the locations below:

Standard local machine login

  • C:\ProgramData\PRD Software\HelpMaster\HelpMaster Application Settings.xml

Citrix/Terminal Server/Remote desktop

  • C:\Users[UserProfile]\AppData\Roaming\PRD Software\HelpMaster\HelpMaster Application Settings.xml

If you need to run 2 different versions of HelpMaster on the same machine, you can rename the “Application Settings.xml” file to include the major version number. This will allow the corresponding version of HelpMaster to look at this file to extract the database connection.

eg.
Standard filename: Application Settings.xml

Version 20 filename: Application Settings_v20.xml

Version 21 filename: Application Settings_v21.xml

See Also

Creating a HelpMaster database

Database security settings

Database and Reports Wizard

2.8 - Web Portal Installation

Web Portal Installation and Upgrade

The HelpMaster Web Portal and WebAPI installation requires Microsoft IIS, ASP.NET Core Hosting package and a dedicated “HelpMaster Service” account to operate.

2.8.1 - Web Portal Installation Overview

The Web Portal is hosted via IIS on a web server machine

HelpMaster has 2 web products - The Web Portal and the Web API. Both are installed via the Web Install Wizard.

Web Portal

The Web Portal is the web-based version of HelpMaster that is designed for staff and clients to use.

Web API

The Web API is a web-based API that developers and system integrators can use to programmatically access HelpMaster functionality.

IIS Overview

Microsoft IIS (Internet Information Server) is the software that hosts the HelpMaster Web Portal and WebAPI and allows remote clients to use these applications via a web browser. IIS is a built-in component of Microsoft Windows, however it is not installed by default and you will need to turn on some features in order to host the web portal.

Below is a list of steps that will guide you through the installation process. 

Please follow these steps sequentially and completely It may be helpful to print this page out and check off each step as it is completed.

Reboot notice

Please note that some of these installation steps may require a full system reboot.   Please be aware of this so that you can schedule your installation at a time when it will cause minimal inconvenience to your network users.

Installation steps

Step 1 : Install IIS and other web components on your Web Server

Step 2 : Install and then Deploy the HelpMaster Web Portal to IIS

Step 3 : Configure the HelpMaster Web Portal for business use

2.8.2 - Creating a new instance of the HelpMaster Web Portal

Creating a new instance of the HelpMaster Web Portal and Web API

Before this step, please ensure that you have done the following:

  1. Installed HelpMaster
  2. Created your HelpMaster database with the Database and Reports Wizard
  3. Created your working folders
  4. Created the HelpMaster Service Account
  5. Have installed and configured an instance of IIS that will host the web portal
  6. Have installed the Microsoft .NET Core Hosting Bundle on the IIS machine

Creating a new instance of the HelpMaster Web Portal is made simple via the Web Portal Configuration Manager. 

Start the HelpMaster Web Setup wizard by clicking the Windows Start menu and then All Programs > HelpMaster > HelpMaster Web Setup

  Select Create a new instance of the HelpMaster web portal and click Next >

helpdesk web portal configuration

Domain name

This setting is automatically determined and used for Active Directory single sign-in.  Check that it is correct and adjust if necessary.  This setting can be adjusted later via the Desktop edition if required.

Select the folder where you want to create the HelpMaster web application files

From the Web Site root path select or create a folder where the HelpMaster web portal files will be deployed.  This location is known as the IIS physical path.  All of the necessary HelpMaster web files will be copied to this location.  The default location for IIS web sites is C:\inetpub\, although for security reasons, many organization choose to use a different drive to host websites from. Create a folder here called “HelpMaster”, or “Helpdesk”, or whatever you like.  The folder name doesn’t matter it’s just where the HelpMaster files will be stored.

Database connection string

Click the button to browse to your HelpMaster database.  If you have not already created your HelpMaster database, use the Database and Reports Wizard to create your database

The HelpMaster Service Account

In order for the HelpMaster web portal to work and access all necessary network resources, you will need to provide a valid domain user account credential that has sufficient network security permissions.  The HelpMaster Web Portal will use this Windows account whenever it requires access to resources such as the database, the file system, the Windows registry and other network resources.

  1. Click on the Change / Test button to enter the name and password of a network account that you use as the HelpMaster Service Account.  Ensure that the user name is fully qualified by the domain name.  e.g. DomainName\UserName and the password is not blank. 

It is highly recommended to use a very strong password for this account.

  1. Press the Test button to verify that this user has sufficient privilege to run the web portal Account permission test

If the test fails on any of the items listed, the HelpMaster web portal will not work.  Resolve each failed item and then try the test again.  Refer to the following help file pages for assistance.

     Test failed for database access

     Test failed for working folder access

Set the configuration options for the HelpMaster Web Portal

Select the web site configuration options to be set up in IIS. This includes the following options for both the primary Web site and the API Web site.

  • Site name: Keeping the defaults is easiest but these can be any name as long as the Web and API are unique. These names are not visible to users.
  • Type: Select http or https if hosting publicly on the Internet.
  • Port Number: Select either a unique port number for each or the same shared port number if specifying unique host names.
  • Host Name: Specify the site names you wish to appear in the URL if sharing port numbers e.g. http://ITHelpdesk

Deploy the site/application

Click the “Next” button to show a final summary and progress bar to create your HelpMaster web portal

Click the “Create” button to create your HelpMaster web portal.

Browse to the web portal for the first time

On successful completion of the above steps, you will be provided with two URLs at the bottom of the screen.  You should now be able to access the application by clicking the HelpMaster Web Portal URL hyperlink or by clicking the Copy button and pasting it into the address bar of your web browser.

The first time you access the Web Portal, expect a short delay while IIS and .NET compiles the application - subsequent visits should be quicker.

HelpMaster Web Portal URL

The HelpMaster Web Portal URL which should take you to the logon page of the application.  The HelpMaster Web Portal URL format may look like the following depending on your hosting configuration:       http://[HostName]:[Port]/

HelpMaster Web API URL

The HelpMaster Web API URL provides advanced users with the ability to create custom applications that portal with HelpMaster and its database.  Please contact PRD Software for further information on this functionality.

See Also

Upgrading from a previous version of the web portal

Web Portal Login Settings

Logging onto the web portal

2.8.3 - Upgrading from a previous version of the HelpMaster Web Portal

Upgrading from a previous version of the HelpMaster Web Portal

Upgrading the HelpMaster Web Portal is a relatively easy task. 

Start the HelpMaster Web Setup utility by clicking the Windows Start menu and then All Programs > HelpMaster > HelpMaster Web Setup

Select “Upgrade an existing instance of the HelpMaster Web Portal” and click Next >

Select both the HelpMaster Web Site and HelpMaster Web API then click Next >

This will display the upgrade summary screen. Click Next > to display the confirmation screen

Click Upgrade to complete the upgrade process and wait for it to complete.

See Also

Creating a new HelpMaster Web Portal

2.9 - Register HelpMaster

Register HelpMaster

To register HelpMaster, use the Database and Reports Wizard, or browse to your registration file from the Logon screen when the prompt appears.

If you do not have a registration code, please contact PRD Software.

Updating a license

You can also use the Desktop version of HelpMaster to register a new license file. Use the Help ribbon > Register toolbar button.  

See Also

Registering HelpMaster for use

Contact PRD Software

2.10 - Working Folders

Working Folders

The HelpMaster working folders are a set of network folders that are used to store files and other resources that HelpMaster requires during operation.  The folders that HelpMaster requires are as follows:

 Folder name  Purpose
Reports Used to store the Crystal Report .rpt files that are used for reporting.
Custom Reports Used to store any custom Crystal Report .rpt files that you create
Attachments Used to store file-based attachments that can be attached to HelpMaster entities
HTML Images Used to store graphics and other objects that are embedded within HTML style Knowledge Base articles or Email templates.
Themes Used to store theme files for use with HelpMaster.  Theme files allow users to change the colour and visual display of the HelpMaster desktop edition.
Email Used to store copies of the original emails processed by the HelpMaster Email Manager.

Default Installation

After you have installed HelpMaster, when you create a database these folders are automatically deployed to C:\ProgramData\PRD Software\HelpMaster\Working folders.  It is recommended that these folders be moved to, or are re-created on a network share for multi-user access. Each Windows user will require Modify ACL permissions to each of these folders.

Re-locating the Working Folders

If ever the working folders are re-located, it is necessary to update the paths in HelpMaster from the System Administration screen. This will trigger an update of all file links stored in the HelpMaster database, which may take some time.

Installation Task

Create the folders outlined above in the table.  Ensure that these folders are accessible to all users of HelpMaster, as well as all accounts that are used for HelpMaster services such as Priority Manager and Email Manager.

 

See Also

System Administration - File Paths

2.11 - Uninstalling HelpMaster

Uninstalling HelpMaster

Uninstallation Process

  1. Use the Apps and Features or Control Panel > Programs and Features options to uninstall all versions of HelpMaster that appear in the list of installed programs.
  2. Now use Windows Explorer to navigate to the location where HelpMaster was installed.  By default this is under C:\Program Files\HelpMaster. Delete the entire HelpMaster folder and all of it’s contents.
  3. Repeat this process for all instances of HelpMaster and all products within the HelpMaster suite.  This may involve working on each desktop machine that has the Desktop edition installed, as well as any server-style machines that may have the Email Manager, Priority Manager, Automation, Active Directory (services), and/or Web Portal installed.

Clean up any personal files

HelpMaster stores some non-critical files under C:\ProgramData\PRD Software\ and the logged in user’s profile C:\Users\%UserProfile%\AppData\Roaming\PRD Software. Delete the PRD Software folders and their entire contents in both locations.

Uninstalling the Web Portal

Manually removing/uninstalling the HelpMaster Web Portal from IIS is achieved in 2 stages. First, remove the IIS configuration for the sites and app pools, and then second remove the physical files on disk.

  1. Open Internet Information Services Manager (IIS) from Administrative Tools
  2. Expand the Sites node
  3. Expand the HelpMasterWeb site, select the Winlogin virtual directory, then right-click and select Remove from the context menu
    IIS Uninstall HelpMaster web portal
  4. Repeat this process for the Images or HTML_Images virtual directories if they exist
  5. Now also delete the parent sites HelpMasterWeb and HelpMasterWebAPI
  6. Click on the Application Pools node
  7. Right-click on each HelpMaster App Pool and Select Remove from the context menu

Physically delete the HelpMaster files

Open Windows Explorer to the location where the HelpMaster Web Portal was deployed. By default this will be a sub-folder of C:\inetpub\ but may be located elsewhere depending on your IIS configuration. Delete this HelpMaster sub-folder and all of its contents.

See Also

Creating a new HelpMaster Web Portal

3 - Getting Started

New to HelpMaster? Start here

How get started with HelpMaster

3.1 - HelpMaster Concepts

Learn about the core concepts behind HelpMaster

HelpMaster Concepts

3.1.1 - HelpMaster Overview

Log, track, manage and build processes for business workflow

HelpMaster has been designed to be used within service desk, helpdesk and other business environments where there is a need to log, track, manage and schedule workflow practices and business rules. HelpMaster provides benefits to the following business areas :

  • ITSM including incident, problem, change, task, event and knowledge management
  • Helpdesk ticketing
  • Business Process Management and Workflow
  • Facilities Management
  • Client contact management and CRM
  • Marketing and sales campaigns
  • Knowledge management for both in-house and web-based target groups
  • Implement service level agreements with your clients and other business associates
  • Automated email response management and processing

HelpMaster provides a single, shared database that can assist your business to provide top-level support to your clients. In addition, your staff will benefit from having clearly defined lists of tasks, work orders and procedures to follow that will boost both productivity and business goals. With both desktop and Internet/intranet user interfaces, your staff and clients are able to interact and communicate better than ever to achieve a total business solution to your client contact and support requirements.

HelpMaster Products

HelpMaster is a mature, enterprise enabled suite of business applications that will help your business to become more efficient, streamlined and technologically capable to meet the requirements of today’s business world. Whether your business is a start-up, SME, or an enterprise company, HelpMaster has the power and features to compliment your business workflow practices.

HelpMaster Modules and Features

HelpMaster is a suite of software applications all designed to work together to improve your helpdesk efficiency. Below is a quick overview of each feature and/or module.

HelpMaster Desktop

The Desktop is the core product of the entire HelpMaster suite. It is the application that has been designed to run on the Microsoft Windows platform and offers full administrative, workflow, and database functionality.

Web Portal

The Web Portal allows staff and clients to use HelpMaster via a web browser, from anywhere. It allows technicians to log, view, and update jobs on any platform via a web-browser. Moreover, they can administer clients, staff, assets, knowledge base articles, and system codes from an easy to use Web Portal.

The Web Portal is also a great tool to reduce incoming phone calls to your helpdesk, as well as providing a valuable self-help service to your clients. The web portal also allows your clients to log, view, and update helpdesk jobs using a web browser over the Internet or your corporate intranet. When clients wish to report a helpdesk incident, browse their history or just find a knowledge base article, they simply open their web-browser on their computer, browse to the “Helpdesk” web page, login and start using.

The HelpMaster Web Portal allows clients to perform the following actions:

  • Log a job
  • Add actions to a job
  • View their history
  • View knowledge base articles

Any jobs that the client logs will appear in the job queue of your helpdesk technicians to action.

Read more about the Web Portal

Web API

The Web API allows developers and system integrators programmatic access to HelpMaster features and functions. The Web API is installed with the web portal and offers a Swagger interface for quick and easy testing and documentation.

Read more about the Web API

Priority Manager

The Priority Manager is a powerful escalation and service level agreement management tool. It can be used to automatically modify existing helpdesk jobs, send email to both staff and clients, and perform other actions relevant to your helpdesk environment. By using the Priority Manager, the helpdesk can build up a rich set of escalation and service level agreement profiles that will help your helpdesk achieve goals and provide useful managerial reporting.

It can be used as a sales management tool, a contact marketing campaign manager, an ITIL compliancy utility, a simple messaging system, or a complex, SQL driven workplace business rules enforcer.

At a basic level, it can:

  • Escalate job priority based upon the time a job has been opened for
  • Re-assign jobs
  • Automatically close jobs
  • Send email to clients, staff and others
  • …and much more

More advanced features include:

  • Completing template actions against a helpdesk job
  • Adding Actions to do, or tasks to an existing action
  • Fully SQL scriptable actions

Read more about the Priority Manager

Email Manager

 

Convert email into helpdesk tickets, quickly, easily and automatically.  The Email Manager is a great tool to reduce the time and effort required to manually log jobs from incoming email.  The Email Manager is a utility that can automatically log a HelpMaster job from an email.  The Email Manager will monitor an email inbox of your choice and look for any email that “fits” a profile that has been created by you.  When a match is found, a new job is logged from a pre-defined job template.  The Email Manager can also update jobs, add actions to existing jobs, and create new clients.

Read more about the Email Manager

Active Directory

The Active Directory Module allows system administrators to keep the HelpMaster client database synchronized with your Active Directory.  When a new contact in Active Directory is created, it will also be created in HelpMaster.  The synchronization occurs at regular intervals that can be configured by the administrator.

Read more about the Active Directory help topic

Job Monitor

The HelpMaster Job Monitor is a useful application that continually monitors the job count within a staff members job queue.  When it is activated, the Job Monitor will provide a visual and audible alert if there is any change in the number of jobs that are assigned to a given staff member.  This makes the Job Monitor a useful application to keep a watch on your job count in HelpMaster, even when you are not currently logged into HelpMaster.

Read more about the Job Monitor

3.1.2 - Benefits of helpdesk software

Helpdesk software benefits the entire business and its customers

Helpdesk software is a broad term for business software that can add value and productivity to a number of key areas within the enterprise. From a broad perspective, properly configured and utilised helpdesk software has a positive influence on the end-user clients (employees, contacts etc) of an enterprise, the helpdesk staff, helpdesk management and the enterprise as a whole.

The HelpMaster suite of helpdesk software from PRD Software has been specifically designed for the modern helpdesk environment. Below are just some of benefits for the key players within the enterprise.

Benefits for clients - the end users

Helpdesk software has many advantages for the end-client.

When a client has an issue that needs to be addressed they have a common point-of-call that they can contact - the helpdesk. They know that their issue is being correctly logged, assigned and actioned by specialised software, instead of being lost in paper work, or verbally being “handed” around the office. Additionally, the client gets the benefit of staying in the communication loop via the power and ease of automated email correspondence that a helpdesk system can provide. Their personal history is recorded for future reference so that trends and trouble areas can be quickly identified and addressed.

With the use of the HelpMaster Internet Web Portal, clients are also able to log-on to an Internet site and then log their own issues, check on their progress and resolve them if they are no longer a problem. Clients can do this from any location where they have access to an Internet browser. This means supporting clients in remote locations just got a whole lot easier.

Summary of benefits

  • Standard way of reporting helpdesk issues
  • Helpdesk history to establish and identify problem areas with equipment, training etc
  • Confidence that each issue has been logged and is being dealt with
  • Better and more timely service
  • Access to knowledge base
  • Internet access to log their own jobs, or check on progress
  • Automatic notification about status of helpdesk job

The bottom line for the client is that they get better and timely service. Recurring issues can be prevented and they have confidence that nothing will “fall through the cracks”.

Benefits for helpdesk staff - the day-to-day users of helpdesk software

A modern helpdesk requires modern helpdesk software. A helpdesk that uses paper, email, or some “home-grown” helpdesk system will at some point reach it’s limits in terms of functionality and performance. Helpdesk staff are computer literate people who should be able to utilise the latest advancements in helpdesk software. This is where HelpMaster can greatly assist.

HelpMaster allows helpdesk staff to have all the necessary tools to log, analyze and assist in the resolution of helpdesk issues. The central database allows all staff to monitor other “job queues” as well as being able to report on client helpdesk history. With the use of add-on tools such as the Priority Manager, jobs can be pro-actively managed for timeliness, accuracy and structured workflow.

Summary of benefits

  • Central database of client details, helpdesk history and resolution tools
  • Action log to record every event in a helpdesk job history
  • Structured workflow for all helpdesk activity
  • Automated escalation tools to assist in timely support

Benefits for management

Helpdesk managers benefit from helpdesk software because they know that a large part of the daily running of a helpdesk is automated by the effective use of helpdesk software. They know that their staff are being assigned jobs, are using a structured workflow and are required by the system to provide accurate and timely service. Managers can quickly generate meaningful reports that can highlight performance bottlenecks, recurring client issues, and outstanding service. They are able to quickly configure complex escalation and service level agreement rules so that their helpdesk support is effective and provides the level of service that clients demand.

Summary of benefits

  • A way of enforcing staff to use a specific workflow
  • An automated way to apply service level agreements
  • An automated way to perform helpdesk escalations
  • Statistical and trend reports to identify problem areas and increase helpdesk efficiency
  • Provide better service to clients

Benefits for the enterprise

Overall, the entire enterprise benefits from effective helpdesk software.

Clients that stop work due to technology problems are non-productive. Helpdesk staff that don’t have the tools and information to resolve problems are ineffective. Managers that can’t provide or work from meaningful reports are not managing. All of these things affect the bottom line of the enterprise. In a recent Gartner Group survey, the vast majority of those surveyed deemed the helpdesk to be a “strategic asset” within the enterprise.

  • Increased “up-time” for productive employees.
  • Technology problems are minimised and addressed in a timely manner
  • Clients, staff and management have modern tools to work effectively
  • Leverage use of the Internet to provide support to remote clients

For further information on this topic, please refer to the PRD Software website, or contact PRD Software directly.

3.1.3 - Entity overview

Learn about Clients, Sites, Assets, Knowledge Base articles, Jobs and templates

HelpMaster has several main entities that are used to store data, and can be configured to interact with each other throughout the product. Think of entities as the building blocks of your configuration. Each entity can link to another entity to form relationships, and they overall contribute to the corporate knowledge that you will create.

Entities include:

  • Clients
  • Sites
  • Assets
  • Jobs
  • Knowledge Base Articles
  • Change Requests
  • Templates

Clients

Clients are people. They are the people that use your business' products, services, or otherwise require support from you. Clients can either be external to your company, but may also be the people within your company. HelpMaster has been designed with the definition that a Client represents a physical person - not a company, or a Site. Each Job that is logged by HelpMaster is associated with at least one Client. Multiple Clients can be linked to each Job. Clients may be linked to one or more Sites.

Staff members / Skillgroups

A Client can also be designated as a Staff member.  This means that they become a queue holder within HelpMaster and can log in as a Staff member.  Think of a Staff member as a person that works in your organization to provide support to your other Clients.  Staff can log in to HelpMaster and log Jobs, edit and use the full power of HelpMaster (subject to security permissions).

A Skillgroup is a group of Staff members.  Staff members may belong to one or more Skillgroups. Skillgroups are used for Job assignment and queue management.

Sites

A Site can be either the physical or logical description of either an office, building, organizational structure, or other place where your Clients or Staff reside or work.  Once Sites have been created, you can link Clients to the Site.  Linking Clients to Sites is a powerful way to produce meaningful helpdesk statistics and workflow.  Think of Sites as collections of Clients.

Sites can be created into a hierarchical list that can be multiple levels deep.  This can be used to map organizational structures, associated companies, or other structured company information.

Jobs

A Job is one of the main entities within HelpMaster.

It is the top-level container object that defines and stores all the information about the incident, problem, request or issue that a Client may have. A Job is always associated with at least one Client and can be linked to the other HelpMaster entities such as Sites, Assets, Knowledge Base articles, changes - even other Jobs. Once a Job has been “logged”, it can be updated via “Actions” (see below). A Job has a natural life cycle that includes creation, modification, resolution and closure.

A Job is always “Assigned” to either a technician, or to a skillgroup to be worked upon.

Common Job types can be implemented as a Job Template. This allows for common and frequent Jobs to be implemented quickly, consistently and in a standard and common way.

  • Jobs can be viewed via the desktop, or the web portal
  • Jobs can be automatically created or updated via the Email Manager when the originating source is email
  • Jobs can be escalated and changed via the Priority Manager

Jobs can be linked together in a parent / child relationship to support complex workflows, project management, or implementing an Incident/Problem relationship.

Jobs can be linked together in a simple relationship. This is good for cross-referencing similar Jobs.

Request for Change

A Change Request is another of the main entities within HelpMaster.

A Change Request is the entity that defines the structure for a formal change within your organization. Each Change Request is always associated with a person (the requester), and contains details about the change - the definition, including when the change is proposed, the implementation process, the review process, and the final results. A change may also have a voting panel associated with it. Each voter in the change process can then vote on whether the change should proceed.

Unlike Jobs, a request for change has a very defined life-cycle that must progress through each stage (voting is optional).

Changes appear in the Explorer screen for Staff member to view, edit and action.

Actions

An Action is an update to a Job. An Action contains details such as what occurred, who did it, how much it cost, how long it took, when it was done and other details. Common Actions that are performed on a Job include reassignment, changing the Job status, closing a Job, or acknowledging a Job.

Common Actions (or updates) are usually implemented as an Action Template. This allows for common and frequent actions to be implemented quickly, consistently and in a standard and common way.

Assets

An Asset is a piece of equipment that may be used by a Client, or belongs to a Site. An Asset may represent the item that is the cause of a helpdesk call. An Asset may be linked to a helpdesk Job, a Client, a Site or a Knowledge Base article. An Asset is sometimes also referred to as a configuration item, or CI.

Knowledge Base articles

A Knowledge Base article is a document that contains valuable information about problems, issues or other relevant information to your organization.  Knowledge Base articles can be linked to other entities and are an important entity in the resolution and pro-active support that you can provide your Clients.

Templates

Job Template.  Used to log Jobs.  Defines the structure of a new Job, the workflow, the classification codes, the assignment etc.

Action Template.  Used to update Jobs.  Defines the Job Status, Assignment, Time, Cost and Progress notes.

Email Template.  Pre-made email content.  HTML, can include attachments, email tags and links to survey, web and more.

Billing Templates allow you to define different billing profiles that can be used whenever a chargeable (billable) action is performed on a Job

The Template Manager - An administration screen to assist in building and linking your templates together  

See Also

Linking entities

Skillgroup Overview

3.1.4 - Linking entities

Linking entities to form relationships and meaningful data

One of the core strengths of HelpMaster as a product is its ability to link each of the entities to each other.  Linking entities to each other has the following benefits:

  1. Entity relationships are established
  2. Searching becomes more meaningful, richer and more powerful
  3. Reporting and statistics become more meaningful and powerful
  4. Staff and helpdesk agents have more complete information at their disposal

All links and entity relationships are displayed in the “Links” tab of each entity.  Whenever an entity has something linking to it, an asterisk (*) will appear next to the Links tab caption.

Linking limits

In most circumstances, an unlimited number of entities can be linked to other entities.  This means that you can have unlimited clients linked to one helpdesk job, or unlimited assets linked to a client, etc.

Sometimes when one entity type links to another, one of the linked entities can be nominated as the "Primary entity".  Primary clients have a special meaning with helpdesk jobs.  Although many clients many be linked to a single helpdesk job, only one of the clients is the primary client.  This primary client can be sent unique email via the action screen.   Primary clients are also used in reporting, searching and many of the options for the Email Manager, the Priority Manager and Triggered Events

Natural linking relationships

In general, most of the entities are able to link to every other entity.  The list below describes the possible relationships.

Jobs

Jobs are one of the main entities within HelpMaster.  As such, they can link to the most other entity types.  The diagram below graphically represents some of these possible links.

job linking

Clients

  • Clients can be linked to Jobs, with one client being nominated as the “Primary client”
  • Clients can be linked to Sites, with one client being nominated as the “Primary client”

Sites

  • Sites can link to other sites to form a site hierarchy
  • Sites can link to jobs

Assets

  • Assets can be linked to Jobs, with one asset being nominated as the “Primary asset”
  • Assets can be linked to Sites, with one asset being nominated as the “Primary asset”
  • Assets can be linked to Clients, with one asset being nominated as the “Primary asset”
  • Assets can be linked to other Assets, with one asset being nominated as the “Primary asset”

Knowledge base articles

  • Knowledge base articles can link to Jobs, sites, clients and other knowledge base articles.

Derived or inferred linkages

Sometimes a link can be derived, or inferred.  This means that an entity is related to another one, however not by a direct link.  It is linked to another entity that is linked to the main entity.  This relationship is similar to the way a grandparent is linked to their grandchildren, via the parents of the child.

For example:

When a client is linked to a site, and that client is then linked to a job, by association the site that the client is linked to can also be said to be “linked” to the job by derivation.

See Also

Entity Overview

3.1.5 - Job Ownership - Assigning and re-assigning Jobs

Job Ownership - Assigning and re-assigning Jobs

Overview

Every Job within HelpMaster must be assigned to either a person (a staff member), or a Skillgroup.  Initially, this assignment is performed as part of the Job creation process.  Following this, a Job may change ownership, or be re-assigned throughout the rest of its lifecycle.  Assigning, or re-assigning a Job is the process of allocating that Job to a certain staff member, or Skillgroup for further action.

When manually performed, all Job re-assignment is performed via the Action screen.  Automated reassignments may be performed by Workflow, Priority Manager, Email Manager, or Triggered Events.

Assignment concepts

Assigning to a Staff member

Assigning a Job to a specific staff member is the most direct way to allocate a Job.  If a Job is assigned to a specific staff member, the Job will appear in their Job queue and can be further actioned from there.  When a Job is assigned to a specific staff member, by default it is also assigned to one of the Skillgroups to which that staff member belongs.  If a Skillgroup is not selected during the assignment process, the default Skillgroup for that staff member will be used.

Note that it is only possible to assign a Job to a staff member if their Availability Status is set to Available.

A Job can be assigned by selecting a staff member first, and then one of the Skillgroups to which they belong

or, by selecting a Skillgroup first and then one of the staff members belonging to that Skillgroup

Assigning to a Skillgroup

Assigning a Job directly to a Skillgroup is a way of pooling Jobs in a common Job queue.  These Jobs can then be reassigned to the appropriate staff member within that Skillgroup.

If a Job is assigned to a Skillgroup, it will appear in 2 different places within the Explorer.  Firstly, it will appear in the Unassigned Jobs queue for the Skillgroup that is it assigned to within the Skillgroups panel of the Explorer.  It will also appear within the Unassigned - Skillgroup queue for each staff member that is associated with that Skillgroup.

If a Job is assigned to a Skillgroup, the only action that can be performed on it is another re-assign action.  This reassignment may be to another Skillgroup, or to a staff member.  Only once a Job is actually assigned to a person and not a Skillgroup, can it have the full range of actions performed on it.

Auto Assignment Algorithms

In addition to manually assigning Jobs directly to either a specific staff member, or to a Skillgroup, HelpMaster also features Auto Assign feature that is used whenever a Skillgroup is selected as the assignee.

Pre-configure assignment via templates

A common way to pre-configure Job assignment is to set it in Action Templates, and Job Templates. In many business scenarios, certain types of Jobs, or actions will always be assigned to a specific person, or team. In these cases, it makes sense to create a template for this and set the assignment there.

See Also

Reassigning a Job

Skillgroups

Action Templates

Job Templates

Auto-assign algorithms 

For automatic Job re-assignments, see the following:

The Priority Manager

The Email Manager

Triggered Events

3.1.6 - Billing and Invoicing

Billing and Invoicing

Billing refers to the ability of HelpMaster to track time and money as it relates to actions, jobs, clients and sites.  If you charge your clients for the services you provide, the HelpMaster billing features will allow you to configure a flexible way to automatically calculate time, costs, and invoicing.

Icons used throughout HelpMaster

The Billing Manager is used to display and manage all of the billing and invoicing throughout HelpMaster.  The Billing Manager allows to you quickly view Job, Client and Site billing and invoice information.

Billing Templates allow you to define different billing profiles that can be used whenever a chargeable (billable) action is performed on a job

An invoice is a collection of billable items.  HelpMaster will help you track which invoices have been paid.

Jobs are logged for clients / sites.  When “Billiable” actions are added to a job, the “Billing” tab on the job screen will display all of the details and totals for that job/client/site.

Actions are performed on jobs and can be marked as “Is blliable”.  When an action is billable, the time, cost, billing type, code code and additional items can be entered to create the financial details of the action.

Billing and Invoicing lifecycle

The following diagram describes the billing lifecycle within HelpMaster.

Actions are added to jobs.  Actions can be marked as “Is Billable”

Billing templates are used to calculate cost based on the action time.

One or more billable actions can be grouped together into an Invoice.  A Job can have more than one invoice.

3.1.7 - Grouping, Classifying and Controlling Access

Grouping, Classifying and Controlling Access

Grouping and classifying entities (Clients, Sites, Assets etc) can help you control and manage things like filtering, sorting, reporting and granting access to various parts of HelpMaster such as web Request Catalogs.

Linking to Sites

A very strong and common way of grouping clients is by linking them to Sites.  HelpMaster allows you to link a single client to multiple sites.

General Grouping

Each entity screen has a “Group” drop-down box.  The values in this field is administered in the System Codes screen.  Create values for this field to represent any type of grouping that you like.  Each entity can be associated with a single group/value in this field.

Feature Groups

Feature groups are similar in nature to the general group (above), and administered via the System Codes screen, however the design and intent of this field to use it to control visibility and access to other HelpMaster features, such as the web Request Catalogs.

Feature groups for web portal access to request catalogs

Other ideas for grouping

Use the Links tab, and create “Keywords” to assiciate via a “tag”

Create custom data controls (Checkboxes, drop-down boxes etc) and use these values to groups and associate

Create control set controls.  Similar the custom fields.  Build forms and controls to store grouping information

Use

Updating individual clients and sites

Individual clients and sites can be associated to a group, or feature group by opening their record and using the Group drop-down boxes on the front tab.

Bulk-updating of clients and sites

Multiple clients and sites can be updated at the same time via the Client or Site search screen. 

  1. Use the search filtering options to display a list. 
  2. Right-click the list and select “Change  Group”
  3. Select either the Group, or Feature group option, and then select the appropriate group.

See Also

Web Request Catalogs

Granting and revoking web licenses for clients

Keywords

System Codes Administration

3.1.8 - Dates, time and multiple timezones

Dates, time and multiple timezones

When it comes to time, dates and calendars, HelpMaster tracks everything, and makes it easy to understand what’s happened.  

Each job that is logged is tracked via the following date-based milestones

The basics

  • The date the ticket was logged
  • The date the ticket was closed
  • The date the ticket was last updated

Service based dates

  • The date the job was acknowledged
  • “To be completed by” date
  • “Work commencement” date
  • “Estimated completion” date

Work-in-progress dates

  • The date of every update to the ticket made by a staff member (also includes who updated it, why, how etc)
  • The date of every update to the ticket made by the client, or customer
  • The date of the last escalation
  • The date of the last modification
  • The dates when anything was linked to it (clients, sites, other tickets, assets, knowledge base articles etc)

 significant helpdesk date metrics

Age-based calculations

The age of a job is a key performance metric for any business. HelpMaster calculates the age of every job using the following calculation methods.

Absolute time

“Absolute time” is simply a 24x7x365 time calculation.  It’s the amount of time between 2 dates in absolute terms.

Office time

“Office time” is calculated on the business hours that you define for your working hours.  This is ideal for service level agreements and for getting the "business age" of a job, that is, how old the job is based on your time.

service desk business working days age calculation

For example:

Many businesses operate Monday - Friday 9am - 5pm.

The age of a jobis calculated based on these office times.  A job that is logged at 4pm on a Friday is only 2 hours old at 10am the following Monday.  The weekends and non-work times are ignored.

Unlike many systems on the market, each day of the week can be individually adjusted to reflect your business time.  Furthermore, holidays and other non-work days can be entered.

service desk age of ticket follow the sun

Multiple-timezones, daylight savings

HelpMaster supports time and age of tickets in multple-timezones.  Even daylight savings adjustments are catered for.  Here's an example of what’s possible.

  • Staff logs a new helpdesk job in Manila  (UTC +8)
  • Technical staff update it in Sydney (UTC +10)
  • Client add further information from Kathmandu (UTC + 5:45)
  • Technical staff resolves and closes the ticket in London (UTC +0)

All of these different time-zone dates and offsets are stored, displayed, and calculated as part of the job SLA, escalation and reporting process and metrics.

multiple timezone date selector

As your helpdesk job travels the world and “follows the sun”, HelpMaster will keep track of the age of the ticket in your time.  Each person using HelpMaster (staff or customer) will be able to view the time and dates in their local setting, as well as being able to see the original time/timezone that each update was made.

This feature makes HelpMaster ideal for any business that has offices, customers and partners spread across multiple timezones.

Stop the clock job status

Not only does HelpMaster calculate the age of a job in both absolute and business time, it also keeps track of how long a helpdesk ticket spends time in each job status.  System adminstrators can configure each job status to have a “Stop the clock” indicator.  The timeline tab on each helpdesk job clearly indicates the time that a ticket has spent in a “Clock running” vs “Clock stopped” status.  This information is very useful for service level agreements and for performance measurement.

When combined with the powerful business age calculation, and the built-in reports that expose this information, HelpMaster becomes a powerful project and helpdesk management tool.

 stop the clock helpdesk status

Visual Timeline

The timeline display on each helpdesk ticket allows operators to quickly and visually see the life-cycle of a job.  Each status change, re-assignment and update is clearly indicated on an easy-to-read visual display.

visual timeline for helpdesk tickets

Time is money - billable time

If you charge for your services, HelpMasters comprehensive time and billing features will give you what you need.

Whenever a helpdesk ticket/job is updated by a staff member, they have the option to record the amount of time and the corresponding charge rate for their services.  By using “Billing Templates”, staff can easily select what type of charge/cost should be associated with the service.

Use different billing rates for different types of clients.  Use the flexible Action templates to automatically set time, cost, billing and other information for a particular udpate.

See Also

Entering dates

Job Timeline

Defining Office Working Hours

Site Office hours

Action template

3.1.9 - Deleting entities - what happens?

What happens to data if things are deleted?

All of the data that HelpMaster collects is stored in a Microsoft SQL Server database.  HelpMaster allows the deletion of system codes, entities and other information via the interface.  The following delete behaviour may apply

Deleting system codes, issue codes and other “drop-down” box codes

Whenever a job, client, asset, site or anything else in HelpMaster links to a system code, and that system code is then deleted, the entity that was linking to it will still point to that system code.  Behind the scenes, the system code is only marked as deleted - it isn’t actually completely deleted from the database.  This means that the system code will not appear in any of the drop-down boxes, or other pick-lists, so it cannot be used again for new entities.

However, any existing entities that are linked to it will display the code when they are viewed.

There is an exception to this rule.  If the system code has never been linked to anything, then it will be permanently deleted from the database.

Deleting clients, assets, sites, knowledge base articles

The same principle applies also to other entities like clients, assets, site etc.

If these things are linked to other entities, or to jobs, they won’t actually be deleted outright from the database if you try to delete them - they will only marked as deleted. This means that if you open a job that was logged by or for a deleted client, you’ll still the client as part of the job as normal.

Deleted clients, assets, sites etc will not be displayed in any of the search screens.

Un-deleting

If a system code, or entity has been deleted and they were participating in a database relationship, they are only “soft” deleted - that is, the actual record still exists in the database - it is just marked as being deleted.  This delete mark is implemented as a boolean “bit” field in the database for each entity type.  “Deleted” system codes, and other entities (clients, sites, assets etc) can be re-activated by changing the database field “IsDeleted” from a 1 to a 0. System codes are located in a table called “tblSystemCodes”. Issues are located in “tblIssues”, and other entities such as client, assets and sites can be found in “tblClient”, “tblAssets” and “tblSite” respectively.

Please note that direct manipulation of the HelpMaster database should only be performed by an experience database administrator. Please make a backup of your database before performing any work of this type.

See Also

Deleting Assets

Deleting Sites

Deleting Clients

Deleting Knowledge Base Articles

Deleting an Action

Deleting a job (single job)

Deleting / Purging jobs (multiple jobs)

3.2 - Quick Start Guide

Quick start configuration guides for Administrators, and non-administrators of HelpMaster

Quick start configuration guides for Administrators, and non-administrators of HelpMaster

3.2.1 - Quick start guide - overview

Configuration quick start overview

Quick Start Guide - Overview

Welcome to the HelpMaster Quick Start Guide. This series of articles will guide you through some of the basic configuration steps that will get your helpdesk up and running in a short period of time.

This Quick Start Series has been divided into 2 parts and intended for the following roles :

HelpMaster administrators

The first part is intended for the person responsible for initially setting up HelpMaster - herein referred to as the HelpMaster administrator. Read this first quick start section if you are the person who has just installed HelpMaster for the first time and want to configure some of the system settings, enter some basic data and environment settings and provide a framework for the rest of the HelpMaster users. If this is you, please click here.

Non-administrators - general staff/agents

The second part is intended for individual staff members who are new to HelpMaster, but who do not have an administrative role.  In other words, you are using HelpMaster but are not responsible for the initial installation and configuration.  You have basically just been given this software to use, and you want to know how to get started.  If this is you, please click click here

3.2.2 - Quick start guide - Administrator basic

Quick start guide - Administrator basic

Before you begin

It is intended that this Quick Start guide should be followed only after HelpMaster has been installed, and you have been able to logon to the Desktop Edition.

If you are looking for instructions on how to install HelpMaster, or how to configure the database, please refer to the Installation Overview

Quick start for HelpMaster administrators

The following steps are recommended in order to set up your helpdesk with a workable minimum of functionality in the shortest possible time.

It is highly recommended that before any configuration settings or system codes are defined, that the entire helpdesk staff team and other users of HelpMaster get together to discuss the business practices and rules of the company.  This discussion will greatly assist the administrator when configuring HelpMaster.  It will be highly beneficial if you can discuss with first level support, second level support, managers and even key clients within your enterprise some of the issues outlined below.  The more input you can gather from your users, the better you will be able to “tune” HelpMaster to serve your helpdesk needs efficiently.  It may be helpful to discuss different “helpdesk scenarios”, with different “client profiles” and business requirements. 

We suggest that you work through the examples and scenarios on a whiteboard, or another form of general display and discuss the various system codes, issues and workflow processes before starting on the actual software configuration.

How to use this page

Follow the steps below by clicking on the link to move to the relevant section in this help file.  When you have finished, use the “Back” button at the top of the window to return here so you can move on to the next step.

Step 1 - Define the system codes

This step involves defining some of the common system codes that are used throughout HelpMaster. System codes are the codes that HelpMaster uses throughout the entire program and are usually the options that appear in various drop-down boxes on many of the screens. The system codes define the context of your helpdesk system because they give the different entities meaning when they are associated with them. By default, when you install HelpMaster, a minimum number of system codes for each mandatory category will already exist. Use this first step of the quick start guide to review and change as necessary the default settings. You may find it useful to spend some time with the helpdesk staff and users of HelpMaster to define what codes your helpdesk will use. Talk about different scenarios regarding your helpdesk and the different service level agreements that you have with your clients.

For example:

How many Job Priority codes do you think you will need? 3? 5? 10? What will they be? “Urgent”, “Critical”, “Important”. Which has the higher priority?

What types of Job Status will you use - what is your helpdesk job lifecycle like? You might define codes such as “Open”, “In Progress”, “On-hold”, “Resolved” and “Closed”. Depending on which stage of the job life-cycle, you could associate one of these codes with a job.

This first step is really about going through this system codes screen and adding, updating or deleting any system codes so that HelpMaster is speaking your language.

Step 2 - Define the classification hierarchy

Each helpdesk job needs to be classified. Create a hierarchy of issues/classification codes in this step that will be meaningful to the different “Issues” that arise within your helpdesk environment.

For starters, it may be best to define a few broad, top-level categories. Remember to keep them fairly generic as detailed “children” can always be added.

Example of top level classifications for an IT-related helpdesk may include : Hardware, Software, Training

Examples of secondary classifications may include : Printer, Monitor, Mouse (children of Hardware), Word, Excel, PowerPoint (children of Software) etc.

Remember that the Classification hierarchy can be up to 5 levels deep and each node of the hierarchy can be “dragged” and “dropped” onto another node for easy administration and placement.

Step 3 - Define the skill groups

Skillgroups are a logical grouping of staff. These must be created before any staff can be created because every “client” that is marked to be a “staff” (i.e. a user of HelpMaster and queue-holder) is required to belong to at least 1 skillgroup.

Examples of skillgroups for an IT related helpdesk may be :

  • Hardware specialists
  • Software specialist
  • Network administration
  • Management
  • 1st line support
  • 2nd line support
  • …etc

Step 4 - Create security groups

Security groups define the different roles and actions that staff can perform within HelpMaster. The “Administrator” group is created by default and provides full control of HelpMaster, however you may like to define other groups with more restrictions. HelpMaster staff are assigned to a security group.

Examples of security groups may include :

  • Administrators - a built in security group. Allows unrestricted access to all areas of HelpMaster
  • Power users - granted access to most features and screens within HelpMaster
  • General users - limited in their access to logging, viewing and working with helpdesk jobs
  • Restricted users - very limited to viewing only helpdesk jobs assigned to them - nothing else

Step 5 - Create staff members and assign to a Skillgroup and Security Role

Helpdesk staff are the people that use HelpMaster to log, view and action helpdesk jobs. A HelpMaster “staff” is really a HelpMaster “client” that has their “Is staff” checkbox checked. Each staff member must belong to both a skillgroup and a security group. Once a staff member has been created, they will able to log into HelpMaster and will appear in the Helpdesk Explorer as a “queue-holder”.

Step 6 - Create templates

Templates for helpdesk jobs, actions and outgoing email form the basis for consistent, quick and managed helpdesk workflow. Although not essential, templates are a great time-saver and can help your helpdesk staff work better and more consistently. Think of them as blueprints on which your helpdesk environment operates.

Use this step to define the common jobs that your helpdesk encounters on a daily basis.

Step 7 - Entering site information

Sites are the companies that the business deals with. A site may represent a company, a building, a location or any other structure that clients, or people can be linked to.

Sites can be organized in a hierarchical manner and can either be entered manually, or imported from a text file. Once a site has been entered, any clients that are linked to it may “inherit” the sites address and contact details.

Step 8 - Entering clients

Clients are the people that use the helpdesk. They can be manually created, or imported from a text file. Each client is given a unique “Client ID” that can be manually specified, or automatically generated by the system.

Step 9 - General administration settings

HelpMaster has a number of system-wide configuration settings that should be set before it is used. Some of these settings include the file paths to a common attachments folder, the reports location, and how automatically generated client ID’s should be formed.

Advanced Configuration Administration

For more advanced administration topics, click here

3.2.3 - Quick start guide - Administrator Advanced

Quick start guide - Administrator Advanced

Before you begin

It is intended that this Quick Start guide should be followed only after HelpMaster has been installed, and you have been able to logon to the Desktop Edition.

If you are looking for instructions on how to install HelpMaster, or how to configure the database, please refer to the Installation Overview

Additionally, these steps should only be performed after all of the basic administration steps have been completed.

Quick start for HelpMaster administrators

The following steps are recommended so that your helpdesk is set up with a workable minimum of functionality in the shortest possible time.

It is highly recommended that before any configuration settings or system codes are defined, that the entire helpdesk staff team and other users of HelpMaster get together to discuss the business practices and rules of the company.  This discussion will greatly assist the administrator when configuring HelpMaster.  It will be highly beneficial if you can discuss with first level support, second level support, managers and even key clients within your enterprise some of the issues outlined below.  The more input you can gather from your users, the better you will be able to “tune” HelpMaster to serve your helpdesk needs efficiently.  It may be helpful to discuss different “helpdesk scenarios”, with different “client profiles” and business requirements. 

We suggest that you work through the examples and scenarios on a whiteboard, or another form of general display and discuss the various system codes, issues and workflow processes before starting on the actual software configuration.

How to use this page

Follow the steps below by clicking on the link to move to the relevant section in this help file. 

Create knowledge base articles

Knowledge base articles are a series of documents that contain valuable information about particular issues. These can be referred to by helpdesk jobs and are useful in diagnosing and providing assistance in resolving helpdesk jobs and other business tasks.

Enter asset information

Assets are items of equipment. If you helpdesk requires an “asset register”, use this step to enter information about them. Once you have a list of assets within your helpdesk, they can be linked to clients, helpdesk jobs and other entities.

Define custom user-defined fields / Control Sets / Entity Items

Configure the Priority Manager

Configure the Email Manager for email-to-ticket conversion

Configure Triggered Events to automatically do things….

Configure Active Directory Synchronization

3.2.4 - Quick start guide - Staff Basic

Quick start guide for staff/agents

Before you begin

It is intended that this Quick Start guide should be followed only once both the HelpMaster application and it's database has been correctly installed and the staff member (user) is able to logon successfully.

It is assumed that the HelpMaster Administrator has already set up the initial configuration of system codes, templates and general application settings.

Quick start for HelpMaster

Staff members

The following 11 steps are recommended in order to configure HelpMaster for day-to-day use.

How to use this page

Follow the steps below by clicking on the link to move to the relevant section in this help file.  When you have finished, use the "Back" button at the top of the window to return here so you can move on to the next step.

Step 1 - Check your personal details

If you are new to HelpMaster and you have just logged in with a Login ID and password that has been given to you, the first thing you should do is check that your personal details have been entered correctly. Use this step to update phone, fax, email and web site details plus other information about you as a person.

Step 2 - Customize your Welcome screen

The Welcome screen is a useful tool to display quick helpdesk information. It can also automatically start a screen for you.

Step 3 - Customize your field settings

The Field Chooser allows you to specify which columns appear in list controls for each of the major entities in HelpMaster.

Step 4 - Customize your helpdesk explorer

The Explorer is your central screen in HelpMaster. It has special properties that can be customized to better suit your preferences.

Step 5 - Set your general preferences

The General settings screen allows you to set some of the basic properties that will affect the way HelpMaster behaves.

Step 6 - Manage your template subscriptions

Once templates have been created, either by the system administrator, or by yourself, you will need to “subscribe” to the ones that you use most frequently. This step will help you to become more efficient at using HelpMaster by working off a “short list” of available templates.

Step 7 - Set your default templates

When working with helpdesk jobs, you may nominate a default action template for each of the system action types.

For example, if you always wanted to send an email to a client after logging a job, setting a template as the default action for this action type will do this for you.

Step 8 - Manage your Quick Launch

The Quick Launch utility provides a shortcut way of opening applications and other documents that you specify.

Step 9 - Set miscellaneous settings

HelpMaster is highly configurable for the staff who are using the system. Other areas that you might wish to configure are listed below :

  • The auto text feature assists in quick typing - great for logging helpdesk jobs fast
  • Resizing screens and columns widths
  • Status bar configuration

3.3 - Evaluation Guide

Evaluation Guide

Evaluation Guide

3.3.1 - Evaluation Guide Overview

Evaluation Guide Overview

If you have just downloaded HelpMaster, and are wondering how it can benefit you and your company, these pages will help you to evaluate HelpMaster and understand how it works.

Getting Started

The section "Getting To Know HelpMaster - Basic Concepts" will show you how the core elements of HelpMaster, such as Templates, Clients and Sites, and the process of logging Jobs, relate to each other and how they can be used to increase your workflow. It clearly explains all the aspects of HelpMaster and how they can be used most efficiently.

Getting Further Help

Decided that HelpMaster is the right product for you, but still need some help? This section shows how to get a helping hand on-site, over the Internet or over the phone.

What is the best way to evaluate HelpMaster?

Below are some general guidelines to help you evaluate HelpMaster.  If you would like any assistance during your evaluation period, please contact PRD Software and we’ll be happy to help.  Remember that during your evaluation period you are entitled to unlimited free technical support, so if you have any installation, configuration or usage issues, please let us so that we can help you.

1. Get the team involved

Helpdesk software is team software - it’s been designed to be used by workgroups of people, all sharing information, jobs, notes and other data.  One of the best ways to evaluate HelpMaster is to get the entire helpdesk team involved.  Hold a meeting to discuss what you’re looking for in Helpdesk Software.  Talk about your current situation - what works, what doesn’t work.  Discuss where you’d like to be and the kind of service you would like to provide to your clients.  Write down some of your service and support goals.  Have a team understanding of what you would like your helpdesk software to accomplish.  Treat the whole evaluation as a team exercise, after all, everyone will be expected to use the software if it is chosen.

2. Import any existing / legacy helpdesk / client data you may have

One of the best ways to evaluate HelpMaster is to use it with your own familiar data.  Use the powerful import wizard to import your client lists, helpdesk jobs, knowledge base articles, sites, contact details etc.  Once you have your own familiar data to use, HelpMaster will make a lot more sense to you and your staff members.  If you need help with importing data, please refer to the helpfile, or contact PRD Software or a local distributor for help.

3. Get people using HelpMaster

The best way to evaluate HelpMaster is to get people using it!  Install HelpMaster Desktop on each workstation within your support environment and encourage staff to give it a go.  Use it in a “live” environment.  Log calls, update data and really get to know how the software performs in a real setting.  Get people using it and regularly seek feedback.  The evaluation version of HelpMaster is able to be used by all of your team members in a distributed environment for as long as you reasonably need.

4. Provide basic training for your staff

The HelpMaster helpfile contains much information and screen-shots of how to use HelpMaster.  Moreover, it contains a useful “Quick Start Guide” that will be useful to both users and system administrators of the software.  This helpfile is a good place to start to learn how to use HelpMaster.  Use the Index and search features to find what you’re looking for.

5. Get your clients involved

Once you start using HelpMaster, ask your clients what they think of the new level of service they are getting.  Do they like it?  Are they getting better information and response times?  Get a feel for how your evaluation is affecting the rest of your organization.

6. Get feedback from your team

Stay in touch with your team.  Meet regularly to discuss how the evaluation is going.  Seek to understand where HelpMaster fits, where it doesn’t fit and how your staff are coping with the change to automation and helpdesk best-practices.

7. Run some reports

Once you have entered some data during your evaluation period, try running some reports.  HelpMaster ships with over 140 different reports that provide summary, detail and statistical reports.  Running and viewing reports will give you an insight into your support operations and how your team is affected.  Find out where your support bottle-necks are, who is a team player, who is taking too long to respond to calls.  The reports will help you to determine if HelpMaster is going to provide the data you need to run an efficient support desk.

8. Get help from your local HelpMaster re-sellers or PRD Software, or go on-line

Need help during your evaluation?  Talk to your local HelpMaster re-seller, or PRD Software and we’ll be happy to assist you.  Additional help resources are available through the PRD Software website, including a world-wide on-line discussion board for HelpMaster.  Talk to other HelpMaster users.  Discuss installation, configuration, or share ideas about helpdesk best practice.

3.3.2 - Knowledge base overview

Knowledge base overview

Every helpdesk needs a library of knowledge base articles, whether for use by staff or your clients. With HelpMaster, you can create your own knowledge base articles so that your staff can reference them to get solutions for common problems and help clients. Also, your knowledge base articles can be accessed by your clients through the Client Access Web Module, allowing them to find the answers to their problems directly. They also have an inbuilt rating system so that everyone using that article can rate how helpful it was in solving the problem.

The articles contained in the knowledge base are created, updated and deleted by the users of HelpMaster. The Knowledge Base stores information about the helpdesk environment and the different issues that may arise and their solutions. It can offer valuable assistance in the resolution of a job by storing information that relates to a particular problem or other helpdesk issue. 

Each Knowledge Base article has the following information recorded about it:

  1. An article ID for easy reference
  2. A title for the article
  3. Keywords to make searching fast and easy
  4. The issue it applies to using the same issues as helpdesk jobs for cross-referencing
  5. Linked Knowledge Base articles
  6. A general category
  7. The details of the article
  8. A rating system to monitor the article's performance

Also included are:

  1. The dates the article was created and last modified
  2. A short summary of the article

Knowledge base articles can be linked to one another to give the reader a greater base to work with.  See Creating a new Knowledge Base Article.

The Knowledge Base screens can be accessed with the Knowledge Base button on the Master toolbar, the Knowledge Base option in the Go menu located on the Standard toolbar, or by holding down Ctrl while entering K.

See Also

Web-enabled Entities Overview

Web-enabled Knowledge Base Articles

Viewing a knowledge base article

Creating a knowledge base article

Deleting a Knowledge Base Article

Viewing a Knowledge Base Article

Previous Issues and Resolutions

3.3.3 - Templates

Templates

HelpMaster relies heavily on the underlying template system and features. Having a good understanding how these templates work and are used is vital to realise the power and flexibility that HelpMaster offers. There are three different types of templates; Action, Email and Job templates. As the diagram below shows, a Job template can link to an Action template, which then in turn can link to Email templates. When used in conjunction with each other, they streamline the lifecycle of your incidents to form a complete workflow solution.

Job Templates

Job templates are used to speed up the process of logging a job.  They also provide a way ensuring that each job logged with the template adheres to common business practices and workflow.   A Job Template determines the basic structure for a job, containing settings such as the Call Type, Priority, Job Description etc.  A job template allows the quick and easy logging of common job types without having to enter common information over and over again. Linking templates together means that you can log a job, assign the job, and also send out email to all the relevant parties to the helpdesk job through one base Job template.

Action Templates

Action templates are used with every piece of work performed on a job. Templates can be created and customized that automatically have information completed; such as who the job will be assigned to, what the job status is, who logged the job, how much it cost, plus any email options that need filled in. This is where Email templates come in.

Email templates

Email templates are custom emails that can be prepared and linked to specific Action templates. By creating templates that will be frequently used, you can save time and money by reducing the time spent on processing your jobs.

So by utilizing these three types of templates, your company’s work flow can be greatly improved. Enforcing business best-practices, maintaining job procedures and maximizing productivity, Templates can help you maintain your Service Level Agreements, utilize ITIL based practices and keep your helpdesk on track.

See Also

Job Templates

Action Templates

Email templates

3.3.4 - Evaluation Guide - Basic concepts

Evaluation Guide - Basic concepts

The following articles will each handle an aspect of HelpMaster and show you how they can be used effectively to benefit your business. They are designed to be a quick highlight of the main areas, so for a more in depth discussion of any one of the mentioned topics, please follow the links to the appropriate help page.

Contents

Job Logging  -  How to log a job, plus ways to improve job processing times.

Job, Action & Email templates  -  Using templates to streamline your incident lifecycles and improve procedures.

Clients & Sites  -  Explains what Clients and Sites are, plus how they can be linked to other entities.

The Job Monitor  -  What is the Job Monitor, and how it can be used by your staff to keep track of their workload.

The Priority Manager  -  What is the Priority Manager, and how it can be used to maintain business rules and SLA’s

The Email Manager  - What is the Email Manager, and how it can be used to automate email responses.

Service Level Agreements (SLA's) -  How HelpMaster can help you maintain and enforce SLA’s.

Knowledge Management  -  How HelpMaster stores Knowledge Base Articles for use by you staff and clients.

Printing & Reporting  -  Shows how to use the built in reports shipped with HelpMaster, plus how to utilize custom reports.

Advanced Workflow  - Discusses ways to optimize and improve workflow using ITIL based best-practices.

Asset Management  -  How HelpMaster can manage your assets, from tracking to servicing abilities.

3.3.5 - Clients and Sites

Clients and Sites

HelpMaster is a powerful workflow and call logging system that can automate and streamline client support, software bug tracking, IT helpdesk, sales automation and general office management.  Before any call can be logged however, you will need to first have a list of clients.

What is a client?

  1. A client is a person - a human being that you provide a service to
  2. Every client has a unique “Client ID”.  This is usually a combination of their first and last names, however it can be anything you want, including numbers
  3. A client may belong to a site.  See below for a definition of Site
  4. A client can have multiple contact phone numbers, web sites, email addresses and physical addresses
  5. A client can inherit the physical address details of the site that they belong to
  6. A client may have one or more Assets associated with them
  7. A client is the primary contact for a job that is logged
  8. A client is able to log their own job via the HelpMaster Web Portal
  9. A client can have an “alert” associated with them.  Whenever a job is logged for this client, this alert will be displayed

What is a site?

  1. A site is a building, a company, a workgroup or similar collection of clients, either physical or logical
  2. A site may contain other sites.  For example, Site A may contain Site B, C and D.  Site D may contain Site E etc
  3. A site can have multiple contact phone numbers, web sites, email addresses and physical addresses

Evaluation tasks

  1. Create a new site
  2. Create a new client
  3. Link the new client to the new site
  4. Inherit the site address details for the client
  5. Add an “alert” to a client

3.3.6 - Logging Jobs / Tickets

Logging Jobs / Tickets

A job is the main entity within the HelpMaster suite.  It is work order, or trouble ticket  that defines and stores all the information about  the problem or issue that a client may have.  A Helpdesk job is always associated with at least one client and can be linked to a site, assets, knowledge base articles, and even other helpdesk jobs.  Once a helpdesk job has been “logged” for a client, any number of “Actions” (see below) can be added to the job.  A helpdesk job has a natural life cycle that includes creation, modification, resolution and closure.  A helpdesk job is always “Assigned” to a either a helpdesk technician, or to a helpdesk Skill Group to be worked upon.

The way that your jobs are handled and processed can be adapted to suitbusiness best-practices and procedures by using  Helpdesk Job templates.

What is the work-flow of a job?

A job has a lifecycle that includes the following

a. The job is logged b. The job is assigned to a staff member (helpdesk technician) for action c. The job is “Actioned”, that is, work is done for the job.  The following actions may be performed to an active helpdesk job - Acknowledge job - Timestamps the helpdesk with a date when the job was acknowledged - Re-assign this job to someone else.  Can be either another helpdesk technician, or another skillgroup - Change the status of this job - Add progress notes - Add general notes to the job - Resolve and close - Re-open job - Re-opens a closed job d. The job is closed.

How Jobs are Monitored

A Job is always assigned to a staff member or to a skillgroup, meaning that jobs can be tracked by who it is being worked on. By using the Explorer, you can see which staff member a job is assigned to, plus being able to view their workload and productivity. Reports can be run that can accurately display job lifecycles and procedures, showing how well your helpdesk team is going!

3.3.7 - Job Monitor Overview

Job Monitor Overview

The HelpMaster Job Monitor is a small application that monitors the job count within a staff members job queue.  When it is activated, the Job Monitor will provide a visual and audible alert if there is any change in the number of jobs that are assigned to a given staff member.  This makes the Job Monitor a useful application to keep a watch on your job count in HelpMaster, even when you are not currently logged into HelpMaster.

The Job Monitor will provide an alert if there is an increase or a decrease in any of the following :

  1. The number of jobs assigned to your person job queue within HelpMaster Pro
  2. The number of jobs assigned to the skill group that you belong to
  3. The number of reminders that are associated with you

When any of these events occur, the Job Monitor will play a sound and also display a small popup window in the lower left of your computer screen.

The HelpMaster Job Monitor is automatically installed whenever you install the Desktop version of HelpMaster.

Tip

You may wish to place the Shortcut icon for the HelpMaster Job Monitor into your Windows Startup folder so that the Job Monitor will always activate when you log onto your computer.

See Also

Configuration

3.3.8 - Reporting

Reporting

 Statistical and managerial reporting

3.3.9 - Service Level Agreements

Service Level Agreements

Every IT business needs to have realistic but high standards, and Service Level Agreements (SLA's) are the first assurance your customers have that your services will be up to scratch. But how can HelpMaster help you company maintain its SLAs?

HelpMaster and SLAs

By using the entire HelpMaster suite, including the Email and Priority manager, you can easily keep track of how your helpdesk team are going, while enforcing business best-practices and maintaining your SLA’s. Here are a few ways to make sure that your company goals are met:

  • By using Templates to keep your workflow streamlined and conforming to procedures, you can minimize waste time and maximize efficiency.

  • The Priority Manager is a powerful escalation and SLA management tool, and when used effectively will ensure that your jobs are dealt with promptly. It can be configured to escalate overdue jobs

  • Using the Email Manager can greatly improve response times. By creating profiles to recognize common emails and log them into your database, and by automating responses, your customers will be happy, your staff will have improved turnover rates and your helpdesk will have greater efficiency.

  • The Client Access Web Module allows your clients to log, update, and close their own jobs. Doing this speeds up the job lifecycle, and your clients have the added benefit of being able to directly see how their problems are being handled.

  • HelpMaster contains a powerful reporting feature, allowing you to analyze your helpdesk in every detail so you can see what needs improving or changed.

See Also

Templates - Action, Correspondence and Job

The Priority Manager

The Email Manager

The Web Portal

Reports

3.3.10 - Demo database

Demo database

Using the Demonstration Database

If you are evaluating HelpMaster with the demonstration database, use one of the following logons :

HelpMaster Desktop logins

Only “staff” accounts can log onto the desktop edition of HelpMaster

Staff accounts

Logon: ADMIN

Logon: CLARKEG

Logon: EVANSM

All dummy staff users have "password" (without quotation marks) as the password. 

HelpMaster Web Portal logins

Staff and clients can both log onto the web portal.

Staff accounts

Logon: ADMIN

Logon: CLARKEG

Logon: EVANSM

Client accounts

Logon: kingd

Logon: smitha

Logon: accortiaa

All dummy staff and client users have "password" (without quotation marks) as the password. 

4 - Using HelpMaster

Learn about the features and modules in HelpMaster

4.1 - Desktop User Interface

Navigating your way around the HelpMaster Desktop

4.1.1 - Logon

The logon screen

The first screen you see when HelpMaster is started. 

You need to enter your user name and password to gain access to the software.

Use

  1. Logon ID is the staff user’s Client ID, assigned to them in HelpMaster.
  2. Enter password, noting they are case sensitive. For example “PassWord” won’t work if “password” was originally typed in.
  3. Click OK.

Active Directory single-sign in

HelpMaster also supports an Active Directory based single-sign in authentication process.  This is only available once you have configured and synchronized the HelpMaster Active Directory module.

If using Active Directory single-sign in, users will not see the logon screen, but will be logged straight in to HelpMaster.  If the Active Directory sign-on fails, the logon screen will display, with the label “Active Directory Login has failed”.  If this happens, the user will need to log in manually with their Logon ID and password. 

Bypassing Active Directory single-sign in. 

Holding down the right “Shift” key on the keyboard while opening HelpMaster will bypass the Active Directory login and display the logon screen. 

Connect to a different database

HelpMaster can store up to 5 database connections. Click the Database label to the right of the OK button to display a list of all configured database connections. Whatever database is highlighted will be logged onto. From here you can also configure a new database connection.

HelpMaster stores the Desktop logon information in an encrypted XML file located by default at ‘[C:\ProgramData\PRD Software\HelpMaster\HelpMaster Application Settings.xml]’ for a standard local machine login.  If accessing HelpMaster via Citrix or Terminal Server as a remote hosted application or when using a Remote Desktop connection the logon information will be located at ‘C:\Users[UserProfile]\AppData\Roaming\PRD Software\HelpMaster\HelpMaster Application Settings.xml’.

See Also

Creating a HelpMaster database

Connecting to a HelpMaster Database

Registering HelpMaster

Active Directory Overview

System Event Log (for tracking logins/logoff/failed logins etc)

4.1.2 - The welcome screen

The welcome screen

The Welcome screen displays information about the staff member logged on.  Details displayed include, the current date and time, the number of jobs within the staff member’s job queue, as well as their personal support status indicators such as Availability status, Assign Job status and the new Where am I status

The Welcome Screen is a great place to start when you first log on to HelpMaster and can be configured to appear automatically when you first logon. Likewise, it can also be displayed when logging off.

Welcome Screen

Use

The Welcome Screen allows the logged-on staff member to alter their Availability Status and other details. Use the Welcome Screen whenever these details need to be changed. It may be useful to change these details when leaving the office to attend a job. 

Availability

Availability Status

A description of your current ability to action helpdesk requests. Choose from the user-defined pick-list, or type your own.

Note:  The Availability Status on its own does not determine whether any jobs may queue holders current availability.  It is descriptive only.

Time In

The date that the staff member is in and available for work

Time Out

The date that the staff member has left

Where am I?

A brief description of where the staff member currently is. Very useful in busy helpdesk environments.

Where do you want to start today

You can open one screen automatically when the HelpMaster Desktop is launched.  The screens you can choose from are Helpdesk Explorer, Knowledge Base search, Message Board, or Queue Check.

  • Queue Check - Who’s logged on, what skillgroup(s) they belong to, and are they busy.
  • Knowledge Base Articles- Access articles that may assist you with your job.
  • Message Board - View all of the latest messages on one screen.
  • Job Explorer - The Explorer screen displays job queues and skillgroups.  A great place to start in HelpMaster.

Current location

Use this section to update your geographical details.  Use the options in this section.

Geographical details are used in the Auto-Assignment algorithm “Geographical - closest”

HelpMaster Latest News

An RSS feed from the HelpMaster website (www.helpmasterpro.com) that displays news, blogs, discussion board posts and more.  Read here, and then go on-line to contribute.  Click an item to open it in your default web-browser.

The details of each staff member’s Welcome Screen details are summarized on the Queue Check screen.

See Also

The Queue Check screen

Auto Assignment - Action Templates

4.1.3 - The tool bars

The tool bars

In order to navigate around the screens and functionality of HelpMaster a “Ribbon” style toolbar is provided.

The Ribbon toolbar interface

The ribbon interface provides an intuitive, visual interface to navigate around HelpMaster.  HelpMaster features and screens are arranged in a logical grouping throughout the ribbon.

Use the HM menu for basic user operations.

The Jobs ribbon contains all of the common features used for creating, updating, finding and working with Jobs. 

The Entities ribbon provides access to the main entity types of HelpMaster.

The Knowledge ribbon gives access to all Knowledge Base features of HelpMaster.

The Change ribbon shows all Change Request functionality.

 

The Templates ribbon provides access to the Job Templates

Action templates,

Email Templates,

Billing templates,

Workflow Templates

Template Manager

 

The Reports ribbon provides access to the HelpMaster

reports.

The Automation ribbon gives access to the server-based automation modules such as the Email Manager, Priority Manager, Active Directory and Triggered Events

The Web ribbon allows configuration of the Web Portal.

The Administration ribbon gives access to administrative based features and screens.  Access to this ribbon is subject to the logged on users' security permissions and application security role.

The Help ribbon provides access to the help documentation, support functions, registration and other information about HelpMaster.

4.1.4 - Entering dates

Entering dates

Date and Time Formats

The format for all the dates and times that are displayed in HelpMaster is obtained from the control panel settings of the computer that is currently running the HelpMaster application.

Entering Dates

Whenever there is a need to enter a date into HelpMaster, a small calendar button is displayed next to the text box.

  1. Click on the calendar button.
  2. Select the date required, and adjust for the desired time
  3. Click OK

Entering dates in/for another timezone

Entering dates in, or for another timezone is easy.  Once the calendar control is display, click the Select time zone link to expand the screen.

Select the appropriate time zone from the drop-down box.

Click OK

See Also

Setting the global Business Office hours

Site Office hours

Concepts - Time, dates, timezones and age of jobs

4.1.5 - Themes

Choose a colour theme to suit you

One of the user settings within HelpMaster is the ability to “theme” the look and feel of the application.  A theme defines the colours, the shading and the fonts that are used throughout the product.  Themes are chosen in the “User Preference” screen and apply only to the person currently logged on.

HelpMaster ships with a number of default themes, however the underlying architecture of this feature allows for more themes to be added at any time.

A theme file is simply an XML file that defines the colours and other settings for each of the major components of the product (screens, toolbars, tabs etc).  New theme files can be created, or existing ones simply edited using any text editor (eg. Notepad).  When the user preference screen of HelpMaster starts up, it will check both the common, network “Themes folder”, as well as a local “themes” folder for all valid theme files and list them in the themes drop-down box.  Once you select one, the screen will be instantly converted to the new look and feel.

See Also

Theme Builder

User Preferences - Select a new theme

Network themes folder - See Working Folders

4.1.6 - Full Screen

Go big!

HelpMaster makes working with large amounts of text easy.  Whenever you see an upward arrow button next to a text box, it means that you can view and edit the contents of the text box in “full screen” mode.  This makes it easy to view the text. 

To make a text box display in full screen click on the full screen button located to the left of the display area.

 

The full text screen may be maximized to improve readability.  Additional text functionality such as Find and replace, insert date / time, as well as copy, cut and paste are all available from the Full Text screen. 

Read only vs Read/Write

The full text screen will mimic the read/write behaviour of the text box that invokes it.  This means that if the original text box allows editing, then the full screen text box will allow editing also.  Any changes made whilst in full screen will be transferred back to the original text box when the full screen is closed.

Conversely, if the original text box is read only, then the full-screen text will also be read-only.

See also

Auto text

4.1.7 - Resizing forms

Resizing forms

Most forms/screens in HelpMaster can be resized both vertically and horizontally, and maximised, or restored.

HelpMaster will remember both the size and position of any screen when it is closed, and will restore the screen to the same settings the next time it is open, even if you exit from HelpMaster. 

Application Display Modes

All-in-one mode

By default, the HelpMaster desktop application displays as a MDI (multiple document interface) style Windows application.  This means that there is a main screen, and all other screens that are opened, will open inside of that main screen and will only move around inside the boundaries of that main screen.  This is good if you want to keep all of your HelpMaster activity in one place.  In the Windows task-bar, only 1 icon will be displayed.  This will be the main HelpMaster icon.

In this mode, further display options are available by using the Pinned / Unpinned toggle options - see below for details.

Individual screens

In this mode, all screens of HelpMaster will display independantly of each other - that is, their is no main window that becomes a container for other screen.  By default, each screen can be positioned anywhere on any monitor, and each screen will display within the Windows task bar.

Set your preference for the application display mode in the User Preferences screen.  User menu > User Preferences toolbar button > General tab.

Application display mode

Pinning / Unpinning screens

If using HelpMaster in the “All-in-one” display mode, you will notice that most screens will display a small “pin” icon in the screen title-bar.  This pin icon is used to pin/unpin the screen from the main HelpMaster window.  If you have multiple monitors, or want additional control of screen positions, you can “unpin” screens from the main HelpMaster application and allow them to be moved and positioned to anywhere on any monitor. 

Click the small pin icon in the screen title bar to toggle this behaviour.

pinned screens

See Also

User Preferences - HelpMaster Application Display Mode setting

Full Screen (for text boxes)

4.1.8 - Field chooser

Field chooser

The Field Chooser allows you to determine which details you want displayed in the lists displayed for each entity type.

Fields may be added or removed and arranged as you prefer.

Use

  1. Open the Field Chooser by selecting HM menu > Field chooser option
  2. Select the Entity type from the dropdown list
  3. Select available fields that you would like to display from the left hand side
  4. Click on AddThis moves your choice into the Show fields section
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 for each field required
  6. Use the Move Up and Move Down buttons to arrange the order of the fields
  7. Click on OK or Apply

The list views on your HelpMaster screens will now display all the fields you have chosen in the order you have arranged them.

See Also

User Preferences

Reset Field Chooser settings

4.1.9 - Tip of the day

Short, snappy tips to help you get the most out of HelpMaster

The Tip of the Day feature is a short and helpful message that appears when you first logon to HelpMaster.  It can also be accessed via the Help menu.

The Tip of the Day can be turned off by simply unselecting the check box on the “Tip of the Day” screen itself.  If in the future you wish to turn the tip of the day feature back on, use the User Preferences screen and check the “Show Tip of the day” upon startup checkbox"

Editing Tips

Edit the tipofday.txt file(s) that resides in the “ProgramData/PRDSoftware/HelpMaster/Tip of the day/” folder with Windows Notepad or a similar text editor. The accepted format is for each tip to be written on a single line with a carriage return at the end.

See Also

User Preferences screen

HelpMaster discussion board

HelpMaster blog

4.1.10 - Exiting from HelpMaster

Exiting from HelpMaster

The user has three methods of exiting HelpMaster.

  1. Via the Exit button on the top right hand corner of the HelpMaster screen
  2. Through the Exit option under File on the Standard toolbar
  3. Alt F, Alt X keyboard shortcuts

Note.  If you have set your Welcome screen settings to make the Welcome Screen appear when logging off, this screen will now appear.

Note.  HelpMaster has a user setting to confirm whether the program should exit.  You can find this setting on the User Preferences page

Click on Close to exit HelpMaster

See Also

Customizing The Welcome Screen

User Preferences

4.1.11 - Notification

Notification

The Notification panel is a dockable window that displays HelpMaster events as they occur.  The Notification panel can be displayed by Selecting the "Dock Windows" > "Notifications" menu.

 

This will display the Notification panel. 

The Notification panel can be docked at any of the 4 sides of the HelpMaster main window.  It can also float freely on any monitor and auto-hide.  Use the icons in the top-right of the Notifications panel to adjust to your liking.

The Notification panel can display various messages and notification from the Message Board, Jobs, Knowledge Base and Reminders.  Use the toggle buttons at the top of the Notifications panel to turn these types of notifications on or off to suit your preference.

Clicking on a notification will take you to the relevant screen.

Right-clicking will give you options that will allow you to mark as read, or delete the notification.

delete eventnotification

 

See Also

Job Monitor

Message Board

 

4.1.12 - Status bar setup

Status bar setup

Status Bar Setup

The Status Bar

The Status bar at the bottom of the screen can be set to display the following

  • The User ID of the user currently logged on.
  • The Availability status of the user logged on.
  • The number of open jobs allocated to the user.
  • An icon indicating if the user has a reminder.
  • The current date and time.

To customize the Status Bar

To access the Status bar setup screen, right click on the Status bar or select Status Bar Settings from the User option on the Standard toolbar.

  1. Select the details you want displayed on the toolbar.
  2. Put the details in the desired order.
  3. Click on Apply.

4.1.13 - Information grids

Information grids

The information grids in HelpMaster can be resized, sorted, re-ordered and filtered according to your preferences.  Once you have set the forms to display as you prefer they will remember their new positions until you reset them.

Re-sizing

Every column within a display grid can be re-sized to suit personal preference.  Simply position the mouse pointer over the column line in the header row of the grid.  The mouse pointer will change, hold down the right-mouse button and drag to column width to the required size.  These settings are remembered for the next time the screen is opened.

Sorting

In most screens in HelpMaster, the title bar across the top of a list box may be clicked on to sort the information in the list box. When a field name is clicked on, it will flash a different color to indicate that it has been clicked on, and the list will be re-sorted by that field in ascending order. Clicking on the same field again will toggle the re-sort between ascending and descending order.

Re-ordering

By selecting the title-bar of the field and dragging it you can arrange the order of fields to display as you prefer.

Filtering

This will filter the browse results so that only the records you are wanting will be displayed.

  1. Enter the search words in the textbox above the list of information
  2. Click on the icon of the magnifying glass to perform the search
  3. Click on the red cross to clear the search

See Also

Resizing Forms

Splitter Bars

Reset Column Widths

Field Chooser

4.1.14 - History quick-pick

Quickly open recently viewed items

The History quick-pick menu allows opening of recently viewed entities by simply selecting them from a history list rather than browsing for them from scratch.

History quick-pick menus are located on the main toolbar and appear for all of the main entities under their respective menus. The displayed history items are a rolling history of the last 20 items viewed throughout the desktop product.

Use

  1. Click the appropriate drop-down history menu from the main toolbar
  2. A list of recent item will be displayed
  3. Click on the item you want open

4.1.15 - The status bar

The status bar

The Status bar at the bottom of the screen can be set to display the following items:

  • The logged in user’s name,
  • The name of the Database currently logged into,
  • The Availability status of the user logged on,
  • The number of open jobs allocated combined with a job count icon,
  • The current date, and
  • The current time,

To customize the Status Bar

To access the Status bar settings right-click on it and select what you would like displayed. The Show Captions option will display a label for each item selected.

The Job Count icon

The Job Count option also displays a “traffic light” style indicator that will alert you if a change in the job count has taken place.  The following icons are used to display this difference.

Your job count (jobs assigned to you) has increased since the last polling time

Your job count (jobs assigned to you) has decreased since the last polling time

Clicking on the icon will clear either colour.

See Also

Fonts and Sounds - playing a sound when a new job is assigned to you

Queue Check

Assigning jobs

Closing jobs

4.1.16 - The Window menu

The Window menu

The Windows menu gives you a list of all the windows that are currently opened in the HelpMaster environment. 

You can activate any of these windows by choosing it from the Window menu.  You also have the option to open windows in a cascade, tile them horizontally or vertically, or close all open windows.

4.1.17 - Context information dock window

Context information dock window

The Context Information panel is a dockable windows that displays contextual information about the entity (screen) that currently has the focus.  The Notification panel can be displayed by Selecting the "Dock Windows" > "Context Info" menu.

 

 

The Context Information panel can be docked at any of the 4 sides of the HelpMaster main window. It can also float freely on any monitor and auto-hide. Use the icons in the top-right of the Context Information panel to adjust to your liking.

 

The Context Information panel will display context-sensitive information for Clients, Sites, Jobs and Actions.

4.1.18 - Context menus

Context menus

When you right-click on certain screens or objects within HelpMaster, a Context Menu may be displayed which will list the most commonly used commands for that particular object or screen. Use these context menus as a short-cut to the main menu and toolbar systems.

4.1.19 - Docking windows

Docking windows

Dockable windows can be accessed via the “Dock Windows” menu located in the top menu bar.

Once a dockable window is on screen, it may be docked with other dockable windows in the following configurations:

Free-floating

 

Side-by-side

Stacked

Tabbed

4.1.20 - Splitter bars

Splitter bars

A Splitter bar is a thin dark line which divides a window into separate, resizable sections.  When you hover the mouse over a splitter bar, the cursor will change into either a horizontal or vertical arrow.  Click, hold and drag the mouse to resize the section of a screen.  HelpMaster will save any splitter bar settings once the screen has been closed.

 

4.1.21 - Reset options

Reset various system settings back to default values

Reset column widths

Information grids, splitter bars, screen sizes and positions etc… can be set according to your preferences in HelpMaster.  Once you have set any of these display options they will remember their positions and sizes until you reset them. Reset options can be accessed from HM menu > Reset Options.

  1. Close down all the screens that you wish to reset,
  2. Click the HM menu toolbar followed by Reset Options,
  3. From the Reset field chooser columns section click the Reset button.

All entity fields and column widths have now been reset to their default selections and sizes.

Keep any screens you don’t want  reset to default settings open while resetting other forms to their defaults.

Reset form position

HelpMaster screens will always retain their last size and position information. This includes the positions of any splitter bars set by the user.  The user can therefore reset the screen to its original arrangement. The resetting of a screen involves the resetting of all screen and takes place upon the re-opening of HelpMaster.

To Reset Screens

  1. Ensure that all screens you wish to be reset are closed
  2. Click HM on the ribbon toolbar and select Reset Options
  3. From the Reset screen positions section click the Reset button.

All closed screens will be returned to their default state, size, and positions.

Keep open any screens that you don’t want reset to their default settings. Only closed screens will be reset to their defaults.

Reset DSMA screens

Throughout HelpMaster, a number of DSMA (Don’t show me again) screens are used to provide informative feedback about a particular feature, or event.  They are used to help users become familiar with HelpMaster. By definition, these screens can be “turned off”, so that they will not be shown again. These can be reset so that they all re-apear.

To Reset DSMA (Don’t show me again) Screens

  1. Click HM on the ribbon toolbar and select Reset Options
  2. From the Reset all (Don’t show me again) Screens section click the Reset button.

This may be helpful in a training situation for a new user, or when a user would like a quick refresher on some of the workings of HelpMaster.

See Also

Resizing information grids

Field Chooser

4.2 - Services

Services

4.2.1 - Services Overview

Services Overview

Services Overview

4.3 - Attachments

File based attachements can be stored against any entity

4.3.1 - Overview

File-based attachments can be linked to all entities

Each HelpMaster entity supports an unlimited number of file attachments to be linked.  These attachments can be documents, spreadsheets, graphic files, text files, or any other file that exists on disk.

Attachment linking

Any attachments linked to an entity will be displayed on the “Attachments” tab.

Use

Linking existing attachments / files

Once linked to an entity, an attachment can be saved, copied, renamed, updated, previewed and deleted.

All attachments support drag and drop copying and linking between the computer operating system, as well as other HelpMaster entities.

Alternately, you can use the “Add” button and then browse for an attachment.  

Linking existing email

If using Microsoft Outlook, you can drag and drop email items into the attachments list.

A copy is made of the email and all its contents, stored as an email attachment in the file system of HelpMaster.

Creating new attachments

New attachments can be created directly from within the Attachment tab. 

  1. Click on the Create New attachments button
  2. Select the type of attachment you wish to create
  3. A new blank document type will be created
  4. You can then open/view the attachment to edit it and create content

Adding a screen capture

  1. Right-click anywhere on the attachments list and select Capture screen shot

  2. Select whether to hide HelpMaster

  3. Draw a rectangle around the part of the screen you wish to capute

  4. At the top-left of the screen, select Crop, then Add Image

  5. The screen capture is added as a graphical attachment

An alternative is to press Alt+Print Screen to capture the active window via the regular Windows method, and then right-click anywhere in the attachment list and select Paste Image.

Previewing Attachments from the Explorer screen

Attachments can also be viewed from the Explorer screen.  In order for this method to work you need to have selected the “Attachments” field in the Field Chooser for the “Jobs” entity type.

  1. Click on a job in the Explorer
  2. Hover over the attachment icon.  A list of linked attachments will be displayed.
  3. Hover over an attachment to display a preview.  Only graphic/images will be previewed.

Sending email that includes attachments. 

HelpMaster makes this easy and offers several ways to do this.

Manually add the attachment(s)

Attachments can be added manually to an email in the following ways.

  1. Manually add attachments when composing a new email.  Click the Compose button to display a blank email screen.  Use the Attachments tab to add the required files
  2. If you have email previewing enabled, you can add attachments at this stage also

Use Email Tags in the out-going email

Email tags can be used in Email Templates as place-holders for contextual data.  They can also be used in ad-hoc email.

Attachments can also be represented by tags.  This means that if there are attachments already linked to a job, or the current action AND the out-going email contains the appropriate attachment tags, then the attachments will be sent along with the email.

See Email Tags for further use of the Attachments email tags.

send email with attachments

Job and Action attachments

When either a job, or an action has attachments, these attachments may be used in any out-going email via the use of Email Tags.

Where are file attachments stored?

In order for the file attachments to be viewed by each member of the helpdesk, HelpMaster stores them in a common, networked location.  This location is specified by the HelpMaster administrator.  If you are attaching a file to a HelpMaster that is not currently located in the common directory, HelpMaster will remind you that it will make a copy of the original file, relocating it to the “Attachments” directory and then link to it.

See Also

Email template tags

Email Manager - Attachment processing

Email Manager - Successful processing actions

Quick Launch

Field Chooser

Setting the common Attachments path

Keywords

Keyword search

Globally Excluding Images

Sending email from an action

Email Templates

4.3.2 - Administration

Global settings and administration

All attachments that are linked to any HelpMaster entity (Client, site,asset etc) are stored in a central location as per the Attachments Working Folder Location.  A reference (link) to the attachment is stored in the HelpMaster database.  The Attachments Administration screen can be used to check the consistency between the physical attachment on disk, and the database link.  Sometimes these may get out of sync.  This can happen when a physical attachment on the file system is renamed, deleted, or otherwise unaccessible.

Desktop Navigation

Click the Administration menu > Attachment Administration toolbar button from the main ribbon toolbar.

Use the radio buttons along the side to display the attachments.

Right-click on any attachment for options. 

Excluded Attachments

All image attachments that are linked to a HelpMaster entities are scanned and indexed as part of the linking process.  As such, HelpMaster can uniquely identify each image.  Sometimes it is desireable to exclude a certain type of image from being attached.  This is particularly relevant when using the Email Manager to automatically convert email into jobs.  Often when this happens, the Email Manager will include all image attachments found in the email - even signature graphics and other non-essential images.

Storing email signature images can bloat your file system and HelpMaster database unnecessarily.  

Use the “Add Exclusion” button to browse to an image file and add it as a global exclusion.

Alternatively, you can globally exclude an image from any Attachments tab on any of the entities.  Right-click the attachment and select “Globally exclude this image”.

 

See Also

Attachments Working folder

Email Manager - Attachment processing

4.4 - Email and Messaging

Send email, or broadcast a message to staff and clients

4.4.1 - Email overview

Email overview

HelpMaster is capable of sending email via most email systems.  These include Microsoft Exchange/Outlook, Microsoft 365, Google API (G Suite), as well as SMTP/IMAP Internet based email systems such as Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail etc.

HelpMaster can be configured to use email in the following circumstances:

  • Confirmation to a client when a job has been logged for them
  • Notification to a staff member when a job has been logged to them
  • Notification to a staff member when a job has been re-assigned to them
  • Notification to a client when their job has been resolved and closed
  • General e-mail to any valid address
  • Automated emails via HelpMaster Email Manager, Priority Manager, and the Automation service
  • Web portal updates via Email Templates

Email accounts

HelpMaster sends email via the use of email accounts.  These are configured as either Personal Accounts, or Global Accounts.  Each staff member who sends email can choose which email account is used to send the email.  This is great if you need to send email from different “From” addresses, or if you use HelpMaster to cover different business areas such as sales, support, billing, info etc.

Email accounts are configured as per the diagram below

HelpMaster users can configure multiple accounts so that different email can be sent from the appropriate account/address.

select email account

Before sending any email, you can always select which email account to use.

See Also

Email Configuration

Sending an Email

Personal Email Accounts

Global Email Accounts

The Email Manager - Automatically converting email into jobs

4.4.2 - Email Account Configuration

Email Account Configuration

Before any email can be sent via HelpMaster, a HelpMaster email account needs to be configured first.

Note that this is not referring to an actual email account (Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft 365, Google Mail, Outlook etc), this is referring to a HelpMaster “account” that points to your email source.  These HelpMaster email accounts act as an abstraction layer between HelpMaster and your actual email system.  HelpMaster uses these “HelpMaster email account” “wrappers” to, govern security, email template “from addresses”, and automate use from within HelpMaster.  

HelpMaster Email Accounts

By creating different HelpMaster email accounts that point to real email accounts, you can configure the workflow, templates and email use within HelpMaster, and control its use and access within HelpMaster according to HelpMaster security, skillgroups, template subscriptions etc.  Remember that any security, workflow, or other setting that you configure against these HelpMaster email accounts only exist within the HelpMaster application itself - it does not affect the underlying email system (Microsoft Exchange, GMail, etc) that is being used - the security settings for these will always trump any HelpMaster settings.

New email accounts can be created via the Email Account setup screen. 

Note, system administrators can prevent users creating their own personal email accounts via the Global Email Accounts screen.   

Creating a new email account

Personal Email Accounts can be created via HM > My Preferences > Email

Global Email Accounts can be created via the Administration > System Administration > Global email accounts

Select the type of email account you wish to create.

When a Microsoft Exchange or Outlook email account is selected for dedicated email use (e.g. Email Manager only), choose which Outlook profile to use.  For a default account (that everyone can use) leave it blank to use the default Outlook profile that is found on each client machine being used.  You can also specify a From address to use if you wish to over-ride the default From email address of the profile to another email address.  If using this option ensure that the logged in user or service account has Microsoft Exchange/365 Send on behalf of or Send AS email permissions for the default account specified in the Outlook profile.

For Microsoft 365 accounts ensure that you have first configured access as outlined at Microsoft 365 Integration, then enter the email address of the account you wish to use and click Search. Select it from the list.

For Google (global accounts) ensure that you have first configured access as outlined at Google G Suite Integration, then just enter the email address and proceed to Testing an email account below.

If creating an Internet style email account you will see the following screen. Use the Default Settings menu to select settings for popular cloud email providers like Gmail and Yahoo!

For internet-based SMTP/IMAP email accounts, refer to your email provider or network administrator for the correct settings.  

Note:  The Read settings are required only for Email Manager account configuration as only it requires read access to email.

Specify a Friendly name for the email account and a Description.  The friendly name is the text that will be displayed in drop-down boxes and grids when displaying email accounts.

Select where Security access will be granted for the email account.

Everyone: This allows the email account to be used by everyone and everything in HelpMaster.  All Staff members, Email Manager, Priority Manager, Email Template over-ride.

System: Used exclusively for HelpMaster modules only e.g. Email Manager, Priority Manager, Automation Service, or for Email Templates.   When an email account is marked as a system account, it will not show up in the list of available email accounts in a staff members' personal email settings screen.  This is to prevent staff members using email accounts that have been created for other purposes.

All staff members:  Similar to the Everyone account, but limited to staff members only.  The HelpMaster modules (Priority Manager, Email Manager, etc) cannot use this email account.

Staff members via permissions:  Same as for All Staff members but limited by the selection of Skillgroups, Application Security Roles, and individual Staff members.

Testing an email account

Once you have created and configured an email account it can be tested using the Test Email Account button. Enter the test email destination address and click OK.

 

See Also

Personal Email Accounts

Global Email Accounts

Sending an Email

Email Templates

Convert Email into jobs via the Email Manager

Using Email in workflow

4.4.3 - Default Email Preferences

Default Email Preferences

Each staff member that uses the desktop edition of HelpMaster to send email can configure their own email settings via their User > Email Preferences screen.  If these settings are not provided, this screen gives the HelpMaster administrator the ability to configure a default set of email options.

Explaination of settings

Email system

Default Email System Settings

Use this option if you are using a MAPI based email system such as Microsoft Outlook.

Enter your global “From” email address:  This email address will be used as the “From” address in the absence of staff setting their own “From” address.

Don’t Auto Resolve Email “From” addresses:  Check this box to disable “From” address resolution.  HelpMaster will not try to resolve a common email address format into friendly name alias.

Don’t Auto Resolve Email “Recipient” addresses: Check this box to disable “Recipient” address resolution.  HelpMaster will not try to resolve a common email address format into friendly name alias.

Enter your global “From” email address:  This email address will be used as the global “From” email address.

Enter you mail servers' name: This should be the name of a server that has been configured as an SMTP server.

 

4.4.4 - Sending an email

Sending an email

To send an email from within the HelpMaster you will need to open the Mail Editor.

Use

  1. Open the Mail Editor, using the Jobs menu > Send Email button
  2. Select an email account to use from the drop-down box
  3. Enter the recipient's address into the To: box.
  4. Enter the Subject.
  5. Enter the Message.
  6. Include any attachments or signature as desired.
  7. Click on Send.
  8. Click on OK in the confirmation box that will appear

You can also select an Email Template from the Template drop-down box also.

See Also

Email Overview

Email Templates

Email from within a Job (using the Action screen)

Sending email from an action - Email template tip

4.4.5 - Sending email from the Action screen

Sending email from the Action screen

One of the most common things to do when working with a HelpMaster job is to send an email as part of an update to the job.  This email may be addressed to the primary client of the job (or others), another staff member, or other email addresses.

Use

  1. Open the job
  2. Open the Add new Action screen by clicking on the Add new action button
  3. Fill in the new Action details
  4. Click on the Email this action to… checkbox of the Action screen.
  5. Click on the drop down box and select an email template OR, click on Compose.  This will open the Mail Editor where you can Compose your email
  6. Click on OK.

Use Email Templates for speed and consistency

HelpMaster makes this very easy by the use of Email Templates.

The basic process for sending an email to a client is:

  1. Add a new Action to the job
  2. Type the contents of your email into the Action details section of the Action screen
  3. Choose to “Email the action” to the Primary Client, using a specially created Email Template

By doing this, not only will the email be sent, but HelpMaster will record it as an Action Log entry.

Use

  1. Start by creating a new Email Template called “Client : Email Action details” or similar as shown below.  For detailed information about creating Email Templates, see Creating Email Templates

This email template contains a number of Email Tags that will be replaced with data from the Action and Job when the email is sent.

  • Use the <<Job_JobNumber>> tag in the Subject line of the email.  When the email is sent, this tag will be replaced with the job number.  This will be a useful reference for all concerned when the email is send, received and replied to.
  • The <<Action_Detail>> tag will be replaced with whatever was typed in the details section of the Action screen.
  • The <<Action_ActionedBy>> tag will be replaced with the staff member who is logged on to HelpMaster and creating the action
  1. When you add an Action to a job, you can type the details of the email into the Action details section.  Write it like you would compose an email.

  2. Check the “Primary client” checkbox in the “Email this action to…” section of the Action screen and select the Email Template that you created in step 1 above.

 

When the Action is applied, an email will be sent to the Primary Client and an Action log entry will be created.

See Also

Sending email with attachments

Adding actions to a job

Job Feedback Survey

Email Templates

Email accounts

Email Manager - Automatically update a job from an in-coming client email

4.4.6 - Messaging overview

Messaging overview

HelpMaster has an internal message system for the delivery and composure of internal messages.   All messages will appear on the Message Board where recipients can respond to the message.

Receiving messages

All messages will be displayed automatically to the intended recipient.  Once the message has been received and the OK button on the message has been clicked on, the message will be removed from the system.  The exception to this is if the message has also been posted to the message board where it will reside until it is either deleted or has reached it’s display till date.  To view messages on the Message board see Browsing Messages.  Details on how to send a message are covered in Broadcasting a Message.

See Also

Browsing Messages

Broadcasting a Message

4.4.7 - Broadcasting a message

Broadcasting a message

Users of HelpMaster are able to send internal messages to other users of HelpMaster via the Broadcast Message function. This messaging service does not use email - it is a simple message that is transported via the HelpMaster database and is presented on the Message Board, and Notification panel.

Broadcast Messages can be addressed to specific individuals, Skillgroups.

Use

  1. Click the “Broadcast Message” from the main Ribbon bar to display the Broadcast Message screen.
  2. Use the address book to browse/search, or start typing the name of the person/skillgroup in the address textbox.
  3. Type a Title
  4. Select a Cateogory
  5. Type your Message
  6. Click on Send

The message will now display on the Notification Panel, as well as the Message Board.

See Also

Messaging Overview

Browsing Messages

4.4.8 - Browsing messages

Browsing messages

Whenever a message is composed sent, it will be displayed on the HelpMaster message board.  Only recipients to whom the message was address will be able to view the message.

Use

  1. Open the Message Board by selecting “Message Board” from the main Ribbon bar.
  2. Select the message you wish to view. 
  3. Click on Close when finished.

Recipients can respond to the message by using either the “Quick Submit” button, or the “Reply…” button.

Use the Date Range and Category filters on the left-side to adjust visibility of messages.

See Also

Messaging overview

Broadcasting a Message

4.5 - Jobs and Actions

Jobs and actions are the core business objects in HelpMaster

4.5.1 - Job overview

A job is the main entity of HelpMaster

A job is the main business object within the HelpMaster that is used for ticketing, tracking and working with. 

Depending on the configuration, a job can become an Incident, a Problem, a Task, or anything else that you need to log, track and manage. 

Each job has the ability to link to different entities such as clients, assets, knowledge base articles and even other jobs.

  linked entities

Think of a job as the thing that you create/log when you take a new service/helpdesk call.  The way that is is classified, logged and assigned will determine how it is processed and eventually resolved.  Common jobs are logged via Job Templates.  Once a job is logged, Workflow can be utilized to ensure that a well-defined process is used to see the job through to completion.

Use the Classification viewer to classify jobs.  This gives the job a specific classification which is useful to identify its nature.  This code is also used heavily in searching, reporting and automation.

Prioritizing jobs is achieved by selected the appropriate priority code in the priority drop-down box.  Priority codes are administered via the System Codes Administration screen.  Priority codes can also be automatically set via automation via the Priority Manager, or built-in to job templates.

Assigning Jobs once a job is logged, or at anytime during its lifecyle is an important part of managing work. Jobs always have to be assigned to either a skillgroup, or an individual within a skillgroup.  When a job is assigned to a group, it is referred to as being “Unassigned” to the skillgroup.

A job defines and stores all the information about the problem or issue that a client may have.  A job is always associated with at least one client and can be linked to a site, assets, knowledge base articles, and even other jobs.  Once a job has been “logged” for a client, all future updates (Actions) are recorded against the job.

A job has a natural life cycle that includes creation, modification, resolution and closure.  A job is always “Assigned” to a either a technician (Staff member), or to a Skill Group to be worked upon.

What is the life-cycle of a job?

The job has a lifecycle that includes the following.  Remember that you can create/configure the workflow of a job and its lifecycle to anything that your business operations require.  The following is just a simple example.  Use Workflow for process management.

  • The job is logged
  • The job is assigned to a staff member (helpdesk technician) for action
  • The job is “Actioned”, that is, work is done for the job.  The
  • following actions may be performed to an active job
    • Acknowledge job - Timestamps the job with a date when the job was acknowledged
    • Re-assign this job to someone else.  Can be either another staff member/agent, or another skillgroup
    • Change the status of this job
    • Add progress notes - Add general notes to the job
    • Resolve and close
    • Re-open job - Re-opens a closed job
  • The job is closed.

Icons used throughout HelpMaster

Icon  Object 
Job
 Job Template 
 Linked jobs - simple linking 
 Linked jobs - parent/child linking 

The Job screen

  1. The job toolbar.  Use these buttons to invoke the action screen, or perform other job-related tasks
  2. Alerts, + Copy Job + Drag 'n drop support.  Click the left icon to copy the job to the HelpMaster clipboard.  Drag the right icon and drop it onto another entity to link this job to that entity.
  3. Clients, Sites and Asset links.  This section displays the primary links for the job.  Each job can have multiple people, places and things linked to it.  The “Links” tab displays all of the links, whereas this section displays only the “Primary entity” for the job.
  4. Basic classification for the job.  Contains :
    • Job Type - A broad category to define what type of job this is.  A mandatory field.
    • Contact Type - How the job was originated.  A mandatory field.
    • Priority - An indicator of the urgency or non urgency of the matter.  A mandatory field.
  5. Issue - The issue code is a mandatory classification of what type of job this is. 
  6. Job Details.  Contains the following:
    • Summary field - A one line summary of the job
    • The details of the job.  Can contain unlimited plain text.
  7. The Action log.  Contains information about each Action that is performed on this job.  Actions can be sorted and grouped.

  1. The Links tab (see Linking entities).  Use this panel to view the different types of entities linked to the job. 
  2. The Entity list display information about the entity type you are currently browsing.

Workflow tab

The workflow tab is used to create, use, or work-through any workflow/process that has been associated with the job. Workflow can be inherited from the Job Template that was used to create the job, or manually imported from a Workflow Template at any stage.

See Working with Workflow for further details about how this feature works with jobs.

Attachments tab

The attachments tab displays any file-based attachment that have been linked to the job. See Attachments for further details.

Timeline tab

The timeline tab displays date and time information about the job since it was logged. See the Job Timeline for further details.

Properties tab

The properties tab displays meta-data about the job, as well as some configuration options.

Don’t purge: This checkbox is used to flag a job that should not be deleted/purged. By default, the Purge Wizard will not delete these jobs unless explicitly instructed to do so.

Private (Staff viewing only) When checked, the job will not be visible via the web portal to clients.

Hide Job Standard Actions When checked, the standard actions for the job will be hidden. This may be useful when using a custom set of “Available Actions” as defined in the Job Template.

Delete Job Requires permission. Click this button will permanently delete this job from the database. Check the “Delete child jobs also” to include any child jobs. Use with care!

Control Sets tab

Displays any Control Sets that are linked to the job. See Control Sets

Custom tab

Displays any custom data that has been defined for the job entity type. See Custom data

Billing tab

Displays billing information for this job. See Billing

Audit History tab

Display any audit logs for this job. See Audit History

See Also

Job Explorer

The Action log

Logging a job

Re-assigning a job

Closing a job

Concepts

Job ownership and assignment

Linking entities to jobs

Creating workflow and processes for business operations

Workflow

4.5.2 - The action log

The action log

The Action Log displays a summary of all the actions that have been added to a job throughout its life.  The action log is useful for determining the current status of a job, who it is assigned to, how it got there, any changes that have been made along the way.

The Action Log starts recording when a job is first created, and finishes when a job is resolved and closed. It also records the following events when:

  • Job details are changed
  • The job is re-assigned
  • The job status is changed
  • Progress Notes are added to the job
  • The job is escalated

The Action log appears on the job screen after the job has been logged.

 

  1. Click on a heading to sort.  Use the Field Chooser to select which columns are displayed here

  2. Red action log entries indicate something has been changed since this action was originally performed.  Open it and view the “Audit details” tab for details - see Action audit history

  3. A picture of the person who performed this action.  Double-click it to view their details

  4. Some basic information about the action.  Double-click to view the action

  5. The detail text of the action.  Double-click to copy

  6. Right-click anywhere on the action log to display the popup menu

Once an action has been performed on a job, it is automatically added to the action log and cannot be removed, thereby providing a complete history for the life of the job.

Changing the style of the Action Log

The visual style of the action log can be changed according to personal preference.  Use the HM > My Preferences menu to display a list of display options.

The action log field chooser

Use the Field chooser to select which columns appear in the action log.

 

 

See Also

Logging a job

Adding actions to a job (manually)

Adding actions to a job via workflow (via workflow)

Action Audit History

Field chooser

4.5.3 - Linking entities to a job

Linking entities to a job

Each job has the ability to link to different entities such as clients, assets, knowledge base articles and even other jobs.   linked entities

There is no limit to the number of individual entities that can be linked to a job.  For example, a job can link to 1 client, or 20 clients.  It can at the same time link to 2 assets, and 5 other jobs.

By default, each job must link to at least 1 client.

When an entity links to a job, it give greater meaning and context to that job.  For example.  If a particular asset, say a printer was linked to a job, then the staff member viewing that job would be able to easily see the relationship and conclude that the printer is a main issue in the job.

Linking Clients to a Job

Every Job must have at least one client linked to it before it can be saved. This client becomes the “primary” client for that job.

To do this:

  1. Type the client ID into the Primary Client ID textbox in its entirety, or enter as much as you know of the client ID, and click the tick, and the field will either be auto filled, or you will be given a list to choose from. 

  2. Click the Clients button to open the clients screen where you can perform a search for the desired client. When the job is actioned, the client ID that you have entered will be validated.  If no such client exists, you will be prompted to re-enter the client ID. A client ID entered in this way will automatically be flagged as the “Primary Client”. 

  3. Link a client to a job from the Links tab instead of the Job Details tab.

    The steps are as follows:  

    1. Open the Job Details screen
    2. Click the Links tab
    3. Right-Click Clients
    4. Click Add
    5. Use the Search functions of the Clients screen to find the client you require
    6. Click Select

Primary Clients

Further to each job requiring at least one client to be linked to it, each job also requires that one of these clients is marked as a “primary client”.  If a job only has one client linked to it, that client automatically becomes the primary client.

When multiple clients are linked to a job, to specify who is the primary client, click the Links tab, click the Clients option, select a client and then select Primary entity.   The Primary Client designation is simply a “tag” given to one of the linked clients to identify them as the main contact for the job.  It is also used when sending email via the Action screen.  The primary client has it’s own email checkbox so that email can be deliberately targeted to the primary client.  

See Also

Linking other jobs to jobs

Linking actions to jobs

Workflow

4.5.4 - Linking jobs to other jobs

Linking jobs to other jobs

HelpMaster allows the linking of one job to another in two similar, yet different ways.

Icons used throughout HelpMaster

Icon  Object 
Job
Linked jobs - simple linking
Linked jobs - parent / child relationship

Simple linking

The first (and simplest) of these links is a common link between two or more jobs.  The link is simply a reference to another job, nothing more.  The referenced job is just a job that will appear as a linked job, which can then be viewed or actioned like any other job.  Both jobs can be actioned independently of each other without any effects on the other.  An example of this may be when several similar jobs are related to a pre-existing job such as the case when a major network disaster occurs on a computer network.  One job may be logged to record the incident, and related or similar jobs that are also logged, can be linked to the first one.  They all exist independently of each other, yet a visual link is available to alert to related incidents.

Linking 2 or more jobs together is done by performing the following steps.

  1. Open the job that you wish to link from
  2. Click on the Links tab
  3. Click on the Linked Job item in the tree view
  4. Click on the Add button in the toolbar at the top of the job screen (you can also right-click to display a popup menu).  The Job Finder will be displayed
  5. Use the Job Finder to select the jobs that you wish to link
  6. Once the Job Finder has displayed all of the jobs that match your search criteria, select the jobs that you wish to link and click on the Select button
  7. Click on Apply or OK on the original job screen to save the new linked jobs.

Unlinking jobs is done by performing the following steps.

  1. Open the job that contains the linked jobs
  2. Click on the Links tab
  3. Click on the Linked Job item in the tree view
  4. Select the job(s) that you wish to unlink
  5. Click on the Remove button in the toolbar at the top of the job screen. 
  6. Click on Apply or OK on the job screen to save the changes

Parent / Child linking

The second and more complex of the linking methods is where one or more jobs are linked to an existing job in a parent / child arrangement.  The linked job(s) become the children, and the job that initiated the link becomes the parent.  This type of link relationship allows a defined workflow to exist between the parent and child jobs.  The parent job can then only be closed once all of the children have been completed (closed), or otherwise removed from the relationship.  Furthermore, each of the child jobs can be ordered so that they must be completed in a pre-defined sequence.

Linking 2 or more jobs together is done by performing the following steps.

  1. Open the job that you wish to link from.  This job will become the parent job that contains all of the child jobs.
  2. Click on the Links tab
  3. Click on the Child Jobs item in the tree view
  4. At this point, you can either add an existing job, or log a new job

To add an existing job (jobs that have already been logged)

  1. Click on the Add button in the toolbar at the top of the job screen (you can also right-click to display a popup menu).  The Job Finder will be displayed 
  2. Use the Job Finder to select the jobs that you wish to link
  3. Once the Job Finder has displayed all of the jobs that match your search criteria, select the jobs that you wish to link and click on the Select button
  4. Click on Apply or OK on the original job screen to save the new linked jobs.
  1. Click on the Log New button in the toolbar at the top of the job screen (you can also right-click to display a popup menu). 
  2. This will display a new, blank job screen.  Log the job as you normally would for any other job.  When the job has been actioned (assigned) it will be linked to the parent job and will appear in the list of child jobs in the links section.

Unlinking jobs is done by performing the following steps.

  1. Open the job that contains the child jobs
  2. Click on the Links tab
  3. Click on the Child Jobs item in the tree view
  4. Select the job(s) that you wish to unlink
  5. Click on the Promote button in the toolbar at the top of the job screen.
  6. Click on Apply or OK on the job screen to save the changes
  7. The link between the parent and child job will be removed and the child job will simply become like any other, non-child job.

Ordering child jobs in a particular order

When multiple jobs are linked to a parent job, the order of these child jobs may adjusted, and then locked by clicking on the “Lock order of jobs” button.  When this occurs, it means that each of the child jobs must be completed in the order that they appear within the parent job.

HelpMaster will enforce this set order by “locking” all but the first job on this list from any updates or modification.  Each child job will still appear in the job queue of the staff member that is assigned the job, however it will appear “greyed out”, indicating that it is a locked job.  The staff member may still view the job, but they will not be able to modify it in any way.  Furthermore, a bold label at the bottom of the job screen will clearly identify any job that is marked as a “Locked Child Job”.

Once the first job in the list of locked child jobs has been completed (ie. closed), the next job in the sequence will become available for work.

Use

  1. Open the parent job that contains the linked child jobs
  2. Click on the Links tab
  3. Click on the Child Jobs item in the tree view to display the list of child jobs.
  4. Click on a child job and then use the 2 arrows on the toolbar to adjust the order.
  5. Once the order for all jobs has been set, click on the “Lock order of all jobs” button.

See Also

Linking entities to jobs

Workflow - Logging a new job

4.5.5 - Modifying a job

Modifying a job

The details of a job may change over the course of its natural life-cycle.   This may include updating the priority, adjusting the summary, re-classifying it, or changing some other detail or field.

All fields of a job may be modified by any staff member that has sufficient permission to do so. 

Whenever a job or action is modified, the audit log tab will enable and will keep a permanent record of the change.

To update the details of a job, open the job, and change the required fields.

To update the details of an action, open the action and change the required fields.

Modifying a closed job

Sometimes it is necesary to adjust the details of a closed job, however you don’t want to re-open the job via another action to do so.   Modifying a closed job can be performed by staff members that have sufficient permission to do so.  This access is granted via the Application Security roleto which the staff member belongs.  See Application Security Role > Feature Usage tab > Jobs and Actions section.

modifying a closed ticket

To modify a closed job, click on the Edit icon in the job toolbar.  This will allow editing/adjusting of certain fields.  Note - only some fields within the job can be modified in this manner.  Things like adjusting clients, sites, assets, attachments etc are not possible via this method.  To do these things, you will need to re-open the job via an action.

Re-opening a closed job

Re-opening a job is different from modifying a closed job.  When a job is re-opened, it must be done via an action.  See Re-opening a job for further details.

See Also

Audit history for jobs

Audit history for actions

Job Workflow Roles

Re-assigning a Job

Changing the Status of a Job

Closing a Job

Workflow for jobs

4.5.6 - Create new job

Create a new job via the Desktop version

Logging a job can be performed in a number of ways, however there are some common principles that apply to a job, no matter how it is logged.  These are :

  1. All mandatory fields must be filled in (For job summary and details mandatory field settings, see General System Settings)
  2. It must be “Assigned” to an active staff member, or closed

Log a new job using the toolbar buttons

The log new job functionality is found on the "Jobs" menu, and the toolbars on the left.   The diagram below explains what each button does.

log new job toolbar

Hover over each button to display a tooltip that will indicate which job template (if any) will be applied when the new job screen is initially loaded. 

log new incident toolbar tip

Once the new job icon has been clicked, the Job Details screen will be displayed, complete with template details filled in.  This template can be over-ridden once the job screen is displayed by selecting a template from the drop-down box at the top of the screen.

Logging a job is a 2-stage process

Logging a new job involves 2 stages.

  1. Recording and classifying the details of the job
  2. Assigning it to the relevant staff/skillgroup

The first stage is performed on the actual job screen.  The second stage is performed via the Action screen.

Logging a job walk-through

The screen shot below displays some of the fields and options that are available when logging a new job.

Once all of the mandatory fields have been filled in, click on the Action job button to display the Action screen

log new helpdesk job  

The Job Screen

  1. The Job template drop-down box.  Select a pre-made job, or simply fill in the blank job screen, or both
  2. Primary client.  Each job must have at least 1 client associated with it.  Start typing either a client name, or site name, or any of their details (phone, email etc) and make a selection.  You can also click the green client button to link yourself to the job.  See Also Linking a site to a job as an alternative.
  3. Classify the job via the classification viewer.  Start typing, or select from the Classification viewer screen.
  4. Classify the job with values for Job Type, Contact Type, Priority
  5. Job summary.  A brief summary of the job.  Use Auto text ) to speed data entry.
  6. Job Details.  The full details of the job.  Use Auto text ) to speed data entry.

log new job assignment

The Action Screen

  1. The Action template drop-down box.  Select a pre-made Action, or simply fill in the blank action screen
  2. Every action must have an “Action summary code”.  This identifies what type of action this is
  3. Select a job status
  4. Assign the job to either a person, or a skillgroup.  When assigning to a skillgroup, you can also use an assignment algorithm.  See Assigning jobs for further information about this
  5. Time taken.  This timer may automatically start.  Use the controls to set the amount of time you spent on this action.
  6. Quick Reminder.  Set a reminder for this job/action.  This will appear as a regular reminder that is linked to the job.
  7. Specify who should get email, and what type of email content they receive.  Use Email Templates, or compose your own
  8. Privacy option.  Check this to ensure that this action is not published to the Web Portal, or to reports.

Clicking Apply will send create the job, and send 2 emails. 

The Action Log

The Action screen will now close and the Action Log of the job screen will be updated

new job action log 

Once a job has been logged, it will appear in the staff / skillgroup queue of the Explorer screen

See Also

Logging a job via drag ‘n drop email from Outlook

Action log

Updating jobs with an action

General System Settings

Classification viewer

Use Auto text to speed data entry.

System Codes (For administration of Job Type, Contact Type, Priority etc)

4.5.7 - Create new job - drag 'n drop email

Create and update jobs via email drag and drop

Microsoft Outlook users have a quick and convenient way to log a new job from an existing Outlook email, or to update an existing job from an email.

Simply drag an email from anywhere in Outlook onto the job drop-zone in the top-right corner of the job screen to import the email into HelpMaster for processing. The original email is not moved or affected in any way - you will need to decide what to do with it once it has been imported into HelpMaster.

Logging a new job

If you drag and email onto a new job (you’ve already initiated logging a new job), then the email will be imported into the new job screen.

Updating an exisitng job

If you drag and drop an email onto an existing job, HelpMaster will assume that you want to update the job with the details of this email, and new Action screen will appear.  The details of the email will appear in the Action screen. 

All of the contents of the email will be recorded in the new Action.  Any attachments (including embedded screen-shots) will also be imported and appear in the “Attachments” tab of the action.  If the “From” address of the email matches an existing client within HelpMaster, they will be selected in the “Actioned by” drop-down box on the Action Properties tab.

Attachments and graphics

Any graphics and attachments are automatically added to the Attachments tab.

Why isn’t the whole contents of the email being added?

By default, HelpMaster will truncate the email when it finds the first signature block, or personal sign-off text.  HelpMaster uses a text-parsing algorithm to scan the email, and when it finds what it believes to be a signature block, it truncates the rest of the email.  This feature is intended to reduce the amount of text you add to a job, by only referring to the most relevant and recent email reply.

See also

Automatically convert email into jobs using the Email Manager

4.5.8 - Actioning a job

Update a job via an Action

An action is simply an update to a job.

Throughout the “life” of a job, certain events may be performed by staff in order to resolve and close the job. These events, or actions should be recorded against the job so that an action log is generated and available for review.  HelpMaster provides this functionality via the “Action” screen.  The action screen allows the staff member to record a wide range of details about the action that they have just performed whilst working on a job.  After an action has been entered, a summary of the action is added to the Action Log.

It is generally considered to be best practice to add an action to a job for everything you do in connection with that job.  When everything is captured and documented, report statistics become more meaningful, staff and clients are better informed, and the true workload of your staff and organization are recorded.

Icons used throughout HelpMaster

Action

Action

Action template

Action template

Different types of actions

HelpMaster provides specific support for the following types of actions:

  • Acknowledge job (date stamps a job with a specific action summary type that identifies when a staff member has “seen” a job)
  • Re-assign (assigns the job to another staff member)
  • Change status (changes the job status of the job)
  • Close (closes the job i.e.  changes the job status code to “Closed”)
  • Add progress (add general notes to a job)
  • Re-open (re-opens a job if it has already been closed)

The action screen is used for each of the functions outlined above.  Furthermore, it is possible to combine several of these actions during the “action”.  For example, it is possible to change the status of the job, reassign it, as well as providing progress notes for that job.

The Action screen is displayed below.

The General tab

  1. The Action template drop-down box.  Select a pre-made Action, or simply fill in the blank action screen
  2. Every action must have an “Action summary code”.  This identifies what type of action this is.  When a new job is logged, this code is automatically set to “Create and assign job”
  3. Select a job status
  4. Assign the job to either a person, or a skillgroup.  See Assigning Jobs for further information about this.  Use the Queue Check button to display the Queue Check screen.
  5. Type any additional “Action” notes for this action
  6. Specify the time taken to perform this action.  This information is duplicated on the Billing tab.
  7. Create a reminder for this action/job.
  8. Specify who should get email, and what type of email content they receive.  Use Email Templates, or compose your own
  9. Check this box to prevent clients viewing the action via the Web Portal.  This also affects some email tags.
  10. Check this box to trigger the “Action Required” tag that is displayed to clients via the web portal.  See Job State

When initially logging a job, a checkbox in the top-right corner of the screen will appear.  Check this checkbox to add a reference to this job to your saved searches

The Billing tab  

  1. The time it took to perform the action.  This can be manually set, automatically counted via the timer, or pre-set by using an Action Template

  2. Check this box to mark it as a billable event.  Billable actions can later be used in an invoice.  Once this checkbox is checked, the rest of the billing and financial details become enabled.

  3. Select which billing template to use.  The billing template will update the cost of the job based on the action time (1) and the values set in the Billing Template.

  4. Select which cost code to associate the cost with.  This field is used as an extra level of classification to your billing.

  5. Check the “Manually enter time & cost” to manually adjust the time.  This is useful if you wish to preserve the real time the action took (1), but need to adjust the time that the cost and billing will be based on.

    Click the “Calculate cost” to update the cost based on the new time that you’ve entered.

  6. Add additional costs and items to the billing information.  The value for these will be added to the total Action cost.

  7. Billing notes : Enter any additional information about the billing.

Attachments tab

All of the attachments tabs throughout HelpMaster look and work in the same way.

  1. The attachments toolbar. 
  2. The list of attachments
  3. A preview of the attachment

Properties tab

  1. Who performed the action.  This defaults to the logged-in HelpMaster user
  2. When the action was performed
  3. Information about how this action was made.  This will be populated after the action is saved.  This information is useful to determine template usage.
  4. The job complete status.  This will update the job % complete reference on the actual job also

Audit History tab

All of the audit tabs throughout HelpMaster look and work in the same way.

  1. The summary of the change
  2. The specifics of the change

Action Security

Adding an action to a job is subject to the HelpMaster security model.  This means that some staff members may be granted permission to perform some actions, but restricted to perform others.

Email Integration

An advanced feature of HelpMaster is the ability to send email based on the context and content of each action.  The “Email this action to…” section of the action screen displays a number of checkboxes and drop-down boxes that allow the user to select a number of pre-made Email Templates that can be emailed out to the relevant parties to the action.  The user can use one of the templates, or compose an email that can be sent.  

Previous assignee : Refers to the person who has just lost this job.  Only applies when the action is a re-assign action.

New assignee : Refers to the person that the job has been assigned to.  When the job is being assigned directly to a skillgroup and not to a specific person within a skillgroup, the email will be sent to the Skillgroup supervisor.

Primary client : The primary clients linked to the job

All clients : All clients linked to a job.  See the Job > Links tab for a list of all clients linked to a job

Use the CC and BCC options to send the email to other clients that are linked to the job.

Other… Type any valid email address here. Supports multiple email addresses separated by a semi-colon.  Also supports email group names.  Use the address book to pick addresses, or groups.

The following dynamic tags are also available. Start typing “«” to display a quick-pick list.

  • «AssignedToManager»: The manager of the person that the job is currently assigned to
  • «PrimaryClientsManager»: The manager of the primary client of the job
  • «SkillgroupSupervisor»: The Skillgroup supervisor of the skillgroup the job is currently assigned to

How Email Templates are populated and displayed in the Action screen

When you design Email Templates, they are generally targetted to a particular recipient type (client, staff, new assignee etc).  Each Email Template has a configuration setting that determines which of the drop-down boxes they will appear in.  See the Email Setting tab on the Email Template screen for details about this.  By default, HelpMaster will populate each of the drop-down boxes for each recipient type with the email templates that are marked for this type AND only those that have been subscribed to by the logged-on user.

At the bottom of each email template list are further options to re-load the list of available templates.

email template population options

 

Private Actions

By default, all updates to a job will be displayed in the Action Log, and will include details about who, what, when and other action details. This will be visible to both clients and staff.

Sometimes though, these actions may contain sensitive information that the staff member, or the company as a whole may not wish clients using the HelpMaster Web Portal to view. In such occasions, the staff member should mark the action that they have just performed as private. This means that when the client using the HelpMaster Web Portal views their job, this particular action will not be listed with the other actions in the action log, or have certain details in it obfuscated from view.

Prevent clients using the HelpMaster Web Portal viewing this action, by clicking the check-box under the Privacy section.

Configure the visibility settings in the Action Log Visibility Web Settings screen.

Action Templates

To make the use of actions even easier, HelpMaster supports the use of Action templates.  Each helpdesk staff member can create and then subscribe to a number of action templates that can be used and re-used for frequent helpdesk tasks.

See Also

The Action Log

Job State

Quick Reminder

Skillgroups

Adding an action to multiple jobs

Billing

Billing templates

Invoices

Administration

Action templates

Email Templates

Defining system codes

Security and Permissions

Automation

Converting email into an action

4.5.9 - Actioning multiple jobs

Actioning multiple jobs at the same time

HelpMaster allows applying a single action to multiple jobs at the same time.  This is a great time-saver when a common action applies to more than one job.  Whenever HelpMaster displays a list of jobs, the user can select which jobs should have the action added, and upon the completion of the Action screen, the action will be applied to all of the jobs that were selected.

Some common bulk-action scenarios may include :

  • Re-assigning all of the jobs from one staff member to another.  This is useful when a staff member goes on leave.
  • Closing multiple jobs.  Good for when a common fix applies to many jobs
  • Adding a progress note to each job.  Useful when a common note should be applied across jobs.

The Actions available are:

Use

  1. Select the jobs. Hold down the Ctrl key and click on each job required.
  2. Right click on one of the selected jobs.  A pop up list of actions will appear.
  3. Select the action required
  4. Complete the action requirements. See the links above.

4.5.10 - Reassigning a job

Jobs can be assigned to an individual person, or to a group of people - a skillgroup

Reassigning a job refers to the process of transferring ownership of a job from one staff member to another.  All jobs that are assigned to a staff member will appear in their job queue, which can be viewed via the Explorer screen.  For a conceptual overview of assignment and job ownership, see Job ownership and assignment

Reassign from the Explorer screen

  1. Right-click on the job(s) that you wish to re-assign to display the job popup menu
  2. Select Reassign job to display the action screen in Reassign mode
  3. See section below about the Action screen.

Reassign from the job screen

  1. Click on the Reassign button from the job toolbar at the top of the job screen to display the Action screen in Reassign mode.

Once the action screen is displayed….

  1. Select the staff member or skillgroup you wish to assign the job to from the Assign to drop down list box.
  2. Click on OK.

Assigning to an Unnassigned skillgroup queue

When a job is assigned to the “Unassigned” queue for a skillgroup, staff members that belongs to that skillgroup and have the appropriate permissions are able to see the job and re-assigned it, either to themselves, or to another staff member for action.

Quick Assignment from an Unassigned Job Queue

If a job is assigned to an unassigned skillgroup queue, it can be quickly re-assigned to the current active user by right-clicking the job and selecting the “Quick Reassign” option.  This will re-assign the job without any user interface and will add the newly reassigned job to the job history menu.

quick reassign job from unassigned job queue

This operation can be performed on one or more jobs at the same time.

Handy Tip! If you are unsure about who the best person to assign a job to is, clicking on the “Queue Check” button will display the staff members and their availability status.  

See Also

Concepts : Job ownership and assignment

Skillgroups

The action screen

Applying actions to multiple jobs

Queue Check

The Explorer screen

Assign Job status

Re-assign via workflow

Notifying staff and clients about the new assignment

Sending email from the action screen

Email Templates (Use to send an email to the new assignee)

Queue Management and Auto-assign

Auto Assignment

System Administration - Auto Assign Precedence settings

For automatic job re-assignments, see the following:

The Priority Manager

The Email Manager

Triggered Events

4.5.11 - Acknowledging A Job

Acknowledging a job

Acknowledging a job is a special action that a staff member can perform on a job to show that they have received a job, are aware of it and are intending to work on it.  Acknowledging a job is the same as adding an action to a job, however this special action code will also insert a time and date stamp on that job when this event occurred.  This date stamp may then be used to define Priority Manager profile, manage Service Level Agreements, or simply to provide other staff members within the team an indication that the job has been acknowledged by the person its assigned to.

Use

From the Job Explorer or the Job Finder,

  1. Open the job.
  2. Click on the Acknowledge job button. This will open the Action:Acknowledge job screen.
  3. Enter any details into the Details area.
  4. Click OK.

The Acknowledge date stamp appears as a searchable field in the Job Finder

See Also

Priority Manger

Job Finder

Action Templates

4.5.12 - Changing the status of a job

Changing the status of a job

Each job has a job status.  When a job is initially logged, it is set to Open by default.  While the job is not closed the status can be changed by any staff member with the appropriate Job Security Role.  The status of a job should be changed to reflect what is actually happening to the job in real life.  In this way other staff members can quickly and easily see what is happening and why.

The “Change Job Status” screen also provides a text box for entering any relevant Progress Notes that may be associated with the change.

Use

From the Job Explorer or the Job Finder,

  1. Open the job.
  2. Click on the Change Job Status button.
  3. Select the job status required from the drop down box.
  4. Enter any details into the Details section.
  5. Click on Apply.

The fastest and easiest way to perform any actions on a job is to do it from the Explorer or make use of the Job Finder

Note:  Whenever the status of a job is changed, an action log entry is automatically generated.

See Also

Job Status Codes

Action templates

Changing the read status of a job

Job Finder

4.5.13 - Closing a job

Closing a job

When a job has been resolved and is no longer an issue to the client, it is necessary to remove the job from the job queue that it is on and set it’s status to “Closed”.  A job may be closed from the Job details screen by clicking on the red button from the action toolbar.

Once a job is closed, it can no longer be updated.  If you need to update details about the job, you will need to re-open the job.  If this is the case, be mindful that re-opening a job will change date and time information, thus affecting reports and SLAs, as well as potentially triggering automations and other workflow that you may have configured via the Priority Manager.

The “Closed” job status

In order to close a job, you must use the specific job status of “Closed”.  Although this may be renamed, HelpMaster only recognized this one job status as the status that will actually close the job.

Where do jobs go once they have been closed?

Closed jobs will appear in the “Closed” section of the Explorer, for the staff member that was assigned the job when it was closed.

Closing “Unassigned Jobs”

In the event that a job is closed while it is still assigned to the “unassigned” queue of a skillgroup, the following behaviour will occur.

  1. If the staff member closing the job does belong to the skillgroup that the job is assigned to, then the job will appear in the “Closed Jobs” section of that skillgroup
  2. If the staff member clsoing the job does not belong to the skillgroup that the job is assigned to, then the job will appear in the “Closed Jobs” section of the staff members default skillgroup

Use

  1. Open the job. Double click on the job in the Job Explorer or use the Job Finder
  2. Click on the Close Job button.  This will open the action screen and automatically select the “Closed” job status in the status drop-down box
  3. Select the Closed from the job status drop down list box
  4. Click on OK

The job is closed and the job screen will now display a closed message.

See Also

Reopening a Job

Action templates

4.5.14 - Reopening a job

Reopening a job

Once a job has been closed, it can be re-opened provided that the user has sufficient security privileges.

To re-open a job

  1. Select the job required.  Do this via the Job Explorer or the Job Finder.
  2. Click on the Re-Open Job button
  3. Select the job status required from the drop down box
  4. Check the Assign to box
  5. Select the staff member the job is to be assigned to
  6. Enter any details into the Details section
  7. Click on OK.

The Job Closed Notification will now be removed and the job re-opened and allocated to the selected staff member.  When a job is re-opened, a corresponding Action Log entry is automatically generated.

See Also

Modifying a closed job

Application Security Roles

4.5.15 - Changing the read status of a job

Changing the read status of a job

Every job has the ability to be marked as either Read, or Unread.  This ability helps the queue holder to determine if there are new jobs in their job queue, or simply to help them manage their job queue.

The read/unread feature works in a similar way that many email programs work.  When jobs are listed in the Explorer, they are displayed in either bold, or normal font.  A bold font indicates that the jobs has not been opened, and a normal font indicates that the job has been viewed.

Use

The read status of a job can only be changed from the Explorer screen.

  1. To open the Explorer press F4, or select Explorer from the toolbar.
  2. Right-click the job that you wish to change.  The job popup menu will appear.
  3. Select the appropriate status change from the menu

Notes

The read status of a job can only be changed by the person that the job is currently assigned to.

See Also

Flagging a job

Changing the Status of a Job

User preferences

Email Manager successful post-processing options

4.5.16 - Adding Actions-to-do

Adding Actions-to-do

Each job has the ability to store a list of “Actions to do”.  Think of “Actions to do” as tasks that are added to a job that should be completed before the job is closed.  This is an important part of achieving a consistent workflow, or simply a reminder of what needs to be done.  Each “Action to do” is simply an Action template.

An example

Consider the case when a new employee starts with a company from an IT helpdesk perspective.  They need a computer set up for them, a logon password, and perhaps some training.  Rather than log each one of these things as a separate job, the helpdesk may log just a single job and then add each of these actions as an “Action to do”.  Using the order buttons (up and down), the person logging the job can specify the order in which these actions should be performed.

Once an action has been completed, it is removed from the “Actions to do” list and become an entry in the Action Log.

Use

From the Job Explorer or the Job Finder,

  1. Open the job
  2. Click on the Links tab. This will populate the screen with the details of any links attached to the job.
  3. Select the Actions to do option
  4. Click on the Add button.   This will open the Actions template screen
  5. Use the Action templates search facility to find the action you wish to apply
  6. Select the action
  7. Click on Select
  8. Click on OK

The action to do is now applied to the job and can be removed, viewed or marked as completed from the same screen.

Note: An action to do may be removed.  When an Action to do is completed it may be marked as completed in the Actions to do area of the Job Details screen.

See Also

Job Templates

Action templates

Subscribing to templates

Workflow

4.5.17 - Job Feedback

Survey your customers and clients about their service experience

Like the knowledge base feedback system, Jobs also include a flexible and powerful feedback system. This feedback system allows you to survey your clients and customers to see how your service delivery is going.  Job feedback can be solicited at any stage of the job lifecycle, and there is no limit to the number of times that a user can submit feedback for an individual job.  If desired, you can ask for feedback upon every update to a job.

Job feedback is attained by sending an email with a link to the job feedback form to the client.  Use the special email tag <<Job_Satisfaction_Survey>>.  This tag may be used in all out-going email for both clients and staff. 

Configuring the Web Portal to be used with job feedback

In order to use the job feedback system, the HelpMaster Web Portal needs to be fully installed, configured and accessible to your clients and end-users who will be providing feedback.

  1. Install and configure the HelpMaster web portal for use
  2. Configure the web address
  3. Configure the feedback forms
  4. Configure the email templates

Configure the web address

In order for the feedback links in the email templates to work, you will need to specify the web address (URL) where your HelpMaster web portal is accessible from.  This is configured in the Web Settings screen

Ensure that the URL you specify here is the root location for your HelpMaster Web Portal.  This address/location will be determined by the bindings settings within IIS.

Configure the email templates

The <<Job_Satisfaction_Survey>> tag can be found under the “Job” menu in “Insert system tags” button.   web feedback survey satisfaction form

Use the job finder to search for jobs that have feedback. 

Utilize the feedback / survey feature at any stage of a job - not just at the end.  Send a feedback email link for every update if appropriate.

See Also

Feedback Overview

Feedback architecture

HelpMaster Web Portal

4.5.18 - Approvals - simple

Approvals - simple

workflow process approval

A simple approval is an approval that can be initiated at anytime while a job is still active.  It does not require workflow to exist within the job.  A simple approval is functionally identical to a workflow approval - the differences being:

  1. A simple approval can be initated at any time while a job is open
  2. Multiple simple approvals (with different approvers) can be running concurrently
  3. Simple approvals do not halt the workflow of a job (if there is workflow), and can be run alongside existing workflow

Use

Open a job, and click on the “Simple approval” toolbar button to initate a simple approval. 

simple approval

Settings

Approver

All approvers must be existing clients within HelpMaster and have a valid email address.  They can be either a client, or a staff member.

Specific Person:  Type the name of an existing HelpMaster client.

My Manager:  Will use the Manager value as specified on on the “Employment” tab for the currently logged-in user.  If no manager is linked, the approval will not continue.

Manager of the Primary Client:  Will use the Manager value as specified on on the “Employment” tab for the primary client of the job that is being used.  If no manager is linked, the approval will not continue.

Email to send the approver:  Select an Email Template that will be used to send the email to the approver.   It is vital that this email contains the special hyperlink text tag «Job_Approval_Hyperlink».  This tag will be replaced with a unique web link that the approver can use to cast their vote.  Note, the HelpMaster web portal is required for this step.

Email to send the requester upon result:  Select an Email Template that will be used to send an email to the person who initiated the workflow approval step upon a result.   This is an optional step.   Approval Details:  A text box where you can enter specific details about the approval.  This will be embedded within the email template that is selected

For specific details about the approval screen, see the information in Workflow approvals

See Also

Workflow approvals

Workflow overview

Cient Overview

Client Manager

Email Templates

Email template subscriptions

4.5.19 - Job State

The state of a job indicates the current state of the job

Job state is a feature that allows better management of a job queue for both staff and clients, by quickly identifying the current state of the job.  Each job state is a brief summary that describes who (or what) performed the last action/update to a job.

helpdesk job state indicator

A job can be in one of the following states:

  • New Job (New)
  • Last updated by me (Me)
  • Last updated by another staff member (Other)
  • Last updated by Automation (Automation)
  • Awaiting client response (Awaiting)
  • Client has responded (Client)

New Job (New)

Represents a newly logged job. 

Last updated by me (Me)

Represents a job that was last updated by the currently logged in person 

Last updated by another staff member (Other)

Represents a job that was last updated by a person other than the currently logged in person 

Last updated by Automation (Automation)

A job that was last updated by one of the HelpMaster automation processes (Priority Manager, Triggered Events, Email Manager, API etc) 

Awaiting client response (Awaiting)

A job that is awaiting client response.  This is deliberately set by a staff member by checking the “Set as awaiting client response” checkbox on the Action screen.  When this is set, this job will be highlighted in the web portal for this client to respond to. 

Update job requires client response

Checking this box will change the job state to “Action Required” for the client to see and respond to.

client web portal self-service action required

Client has responded (Client)

A job that has last been updated by the client of the job.  If the client of a job is a staff member, this will still be set to this status.  See Client Overview for details about Clients vs Staff

Use

Use the **Field Chooser ** > Jobs to select the Job State column to display in all job lists.  Once this column is visible, it can be clicked to sort by the different states.

Use the Action Screen to mark a job as Awaiting client responses

See Also

Field Chooser

Workflow State Field

Job Finder

Flagging a job

Web Portal

4.5.20 - Flagging a job

Every job can be “flagged” to assist in the management of a job queue.  Flagging a job is simply a way of marking it with a “flag” icon that will appear in the both the Explorer and in the job screen.  The flag is simply an indication that it is flagged and serves as a useful visual reminder for a particular job.

flag job

Use

To flag a job from the Explorer screen

  1. Right-click on the job you wish to flag to display the job popup menu
  2. Select “Flag Job” from the menu

To flag a job from the Job screen

  1. Open a job
  2. Click on the icon of the flag in the toolbar at the top of the screen.
  3. Click again to remove the flag.

Consider flagging a job when it is automatically updated via the Email Manager.  This will help provide a visual difference to detect when a client has responded to an email.

Notes

The flag status of a job can only be changed by the person that the job is currently assigned to, or that appears in an Unassigned queue of a skillgroup that the staff member belongs to.

See Also

Changing the read status of a job

Job Finder

Skillgroups and Unassigned queues

Flagging a job when it is automatically updated via the Email Manager

 

4.5.21 - Job Timeline

The Job Timeline provide a quick visual indicator of elapsed time since the job was logged

The Timeline tab on the job screen provide useful time-based information.

Visual Timeline

The timeline display on each job allows operators to quickly and visually see the life-cycle of a job.  Each status change, re-assignment and update is clearly indicated on an easy-to-read visual display. The small black triangles below the timeline indicate when an action/update occured, and the number below indicate the number of the action that can be found on the Action Log.

See Also

Updating jobs - Actions overview

Job Status codes and “Stop the clock”

Business Hours

Priority Manager

Priority Manager - Setting the “To be completed by” date automatically

Reports

Concepts - Time, dates, timezones and age of jobs

4.5.22 - Audit history

Audit history. A change log for job updates.

The Audit history tab on the job screen displays a list of all the changes that have been made to that job over the course of its life.  Every time some information has been modified, added or removed, the audit tab will display the details regarding that change.  This builds an accurate history of the job.

The audit history includes the following information :

  1. When the change occurred
  2. Who performed the change
  3. What was changed
  4. Split screen comparison of before and after changes

The list of changes are grouped into alternating colour codes according to the time when the changes occurred.  For example, if the Priority code and Job Type code of a job where changed in the same “Apply”, or “OK” button click, these two changes in the audit history would be colored the same (black).  If on another occasion the Contact Type code and the Job Description were changed under another “Apply” or “OK” button click, then these two changes would be colored in Blue to denote the time difference between other audit items. Simple system code  changes will appear as a list while text and Job Workflow will will show before and after split screen differences.

The Action Log Audit History

The Audit history tab on the action screen displays a list of all the changes that have been made to that action over the course of its life.  Every time some information has been modified, added or removed, the audit tab will display the details regarding that change.  This builds an accurate history of the action.

 The audit history includes the following information:

  1. When the change occurred
  2. Who performed the change
  3. What was changed
  4. Split screen showing before and after text

The list of changes are grouped into alternating colour codes according to the time when the changes occurred.  For example, if the Action Summary code and Assigned to code of an action where changed in the same “Apply”, or “OK” button click, these two changes in the audit history would be colored the same (black).  If on another occasion the Action Time and the Action Description were changed under another “Apply” or “OK” button click, then these two changes would be colored in Blue to denote the time difference between other audit items. Simple system code  changes will appear as a list while text and Job Workflow will will show before and after split screen differences.

See Also

The Action Log

System Event Log

4.5.23 - Previous issues and their resolutions

Previous issues and their resolutions

HelpMaster provides you with ready access to jobs and Knowledge base articles which may be relevant to the current job and its issues.  This is provided to assist with achieving a quick resolution to the current job through previous tried and proven means.

This assistance is obtained via the Find similar jobs and Find knowledge base articles with the same issue buttons of the Action menu on the job screen. 

Use

Finding similar jobs or knowledge base articles with the same issue can be performed at anytime in the life of the job, when it is first logged, or whenever any action or query is being performed on the job.  Therefore the job screen can be accessed from any of the job screen access points, the Job Explorer, the Logging a job screen or via the Job Finder.

Find similar jobs

  1. Open the job screen.
  2. Click on the Find similar jobs button. This will open the Job finder with a set of predetermined search criteria based on the job you are working from.
  3. Click on Find Now.
  4. Double click on the job you feel meets your requirements.  This will open the job and all it's relevant details for you to study.

Find knowledge base articles with the same issue

  1. Open the job screen.
  2. Click on the Find knowledge base articles with the same issue button. This will open the Knowledge base articles results screen with a list of articles which have the same issue as the job you are working from.
  3. Double click on the article you feel meets your requirements.  This will open the article and all it’s relevant details for you to study.

See Also

Job Finder

4.5.24 - Jobs and billing

Jobs and billing

The “Billing” tab on the job screen will display all of the actions that have been marked as “Is billable”.  The list of actions will be grouped into “Invoiced” and “Not invoiced”.

When a job has billable actions, then next stage of the financial process is to bundle billable actions into an invoice.  This can be done as follows.

Invoicing actions

Once an action has been marked as “Is billable”, it can then be invoiced.

Use

  1. Open the job that contains the actions that are billable

  2. Click on the “Billing” tab

  3. Select all of the actions that you wish to combine together into one invoice

  4. Click the “Invoice” button.  The invoice screen will appear

  5. Complete the details on the invoice screen.  Click OK.

4.5.25 - Deleting a Job

Deleting a Job

Occassionaly it may be necessary to permanently delete a job if it was logged in error or if a duplicate was created. Deleting jobs from HelpMaster will permanently and completely remove the Job and all links to the job. This can only be performed by HelpMaster Staff users that have been granted access to Purge jobs in the Application Securtiy Role that they belong to.

Use

  1. Open the Job screen and go to the Properties tab,

  1. Check the “Delete child jobs also” checkbox if you also want to remove and delete any child jobs that are linked to this job.

  2. Click the Delete button which will present the confirmation box

  3. Click OK to permanently delete this job.

See Also

Purging multiple jobs

Audit history for jobs

Audit history for actions

Job Workflow Roles

Re-assigning A Job

Changing the Status of a Job

Closing a Job

Workflow for jobs

System Event Log

4.5.26 - Deleting an Action

Deleting an Action

Occassionaly it may be necessary to permanently delete an Action if it was added to a job by mistake or if a duplicate was created. Deleting Actions from jobs will permanently and completely remove the Action and all links to the Action. This can only be performed by HelpMaster Staff users that have been granted access to Purge/Delete Jobs and Actions in the Application Securtiy Role that they belong to.  

Use

  1. Open the Action screen and go to the Properties tab
  2. Click the Delete button which will present the confirmation box
  3. Click OK to permanently delete this Action from the job.

See Also

Purging jobs

Audit history for jobs

Audit history for actions

Job Workflow Roles

Re-assigning A Job

Changing The Status Of A Job

Closing a Job

Workflow for jobs

System Event Log

4.5.27 - Job Monitor Overview

Job Monitor Overview

Keep you finger on your helpdesk pulse at all times with the HelpMaster Job Monitor.

The HelpMaster Job Monitor is a small application that continually monitors the job count within a staff members job queue.  When it is activated, the Job Monitor will provide a visual and audible alert if there is any change in the number of jobs that are assigned to a given staff member.  This makes the Job Monitor a useful application to keep a watch on your job count in HelpMaster, even when you are not currently logged into HelpMaster.

The Job Monitor will provide an alert if there is an increase or a decrease in any of the following :

  1. The number of jobs assigned to your person job queue within HelpMaster
  2. The number of jobs assigned to the skill group that you belong to
  3. The number of reminders that are associated with you

When any of these events occur, the Job Monitor will play a sound and also display a small popup window in the lower left of your computer screen.

The HelpMaster Job Monitor is automatically installed whenever you install the Desktop version of HelpMaster.

You may wish to place the Shortcut icon for the HelpMaster Job Monitor into your Windows “Startup” folder so that the Job Monitor will always activate when you log onto your computer.

Licensing

The HelpMaster Job Monitor does not consume a HelpMaster concurrent licence when it runs, as does the HelpMaster Desktop edition.

Configuring the Job Monitor

In order to use the HelpMaster Job Monitor, you first need to have successfully logged into the Desktop Edition of HelpMaster in order to set the database and staff logon details.  Once these have been set for your computer, the Job Monitor will use these details to locate the HelpMaster database and to monitor the job queue of the staff member that was last logged onto the HelpMaster Desktop edition.

In order to run and configure the Job Monitor do the following steps :

  1. Click the Windows Start button, then select All Programs > HelpMaster > Job Monitor

  2. Click on the Options tab. Ensure that the value in the textbox entitled “HelpMaster filename” is where your HelpMaster Desktop executable file is located.  By default, the HelpMaster executable file is called “HMP.Desktop.exe”.  This setting is used when you wish to open HelpMaster Desktop edition directly from the Job Monitor. Set the frequency that the Job Monitor will scan your HelpMaster job queue.

  3. Click on the Sounds tab. Now set a sound for each of the types of alerts that are available, and check each checkbox according to the type(s) of alerts you want to receive.

You can click the Test buttons to preview the alert screen for each alert type.

  1. You will also notice that an icon appear in the task bar of your computer  

Right-clicking on the Job Monitor displays the options menu.

See Also

The Status bar - Visual display when you are assigned a new job

Fonts and Sounds - playing a sound when a new job is assigned to you

Queue Check

Assigning jobs

Notification dockable panel

4.6 - The Explorer Screen

Managing job queues

4.6.1 - Explorer overview

Explorer overview

The Explorer is the heart of HelpMaster.  It is the main screen in where you are able to browse all of the jobs that are assigned to you, your skillgroup, or the other people within your environment.  From this screen you can view a job, action a job, run queries, or view any reminders that you man have.

The Explorer screen can be opened with the Explorer icon on the Jobs toolbar. A shortcut key of F4 can also be used.

The Explorer Screen

The Explorer screen is divided into several key areas.

helpdesk explorer

Section 1 - My View - the default view of the Explorer

At the left of the Explorer are 4 “panels”.  Clicking on each panel reveals a different view.

Section 2 - The Display list

The display list is a list of all of the jobs / reminders / actions that correspond to the panel you are currently viewing.  The columns for this list are determined by the settings you choose using the Field Chooser .

Section 3 - The display text

  • The Preview Panel - Select a job or reminder in the display panel and to have the details displayed in the Preview panel.  This panel can be toggled on and off by clicking the Preview button in the toolbar.

Section 4 - Other panels

  • Other People - Choose to display a list of other people's open jobs, closed jobs, reminders, saved searches or welcome screen details.
  • Skill Groups - Display a list of people belonging to a particular skill group.
  • Options - Set the explorer search conditions, refresh setting, and allocate symbols to your priority codes.

The Explorer toolbar

  • Preview - Opens and closes the Preview panel.  The default is open.
  • Refresh - Refreshes the list currently displayed in the Display panel.
  • Print - Send the displayed details to the printer.  Choose from Full details, line details with or without job description or overview.
  • Acknowledge - Opens the Action: Acknowledge job screen.
  • Add Action - Opens the Action: Add new action screen.
  • Re-assign - Opens the Action: Re-assign job screen.
  • Job Status - Opens the Action: Change job status screen.
  • Add Progress Notes - Opens the Action: Add progress notes screen.
  • Add Action and Close Job - Opens the Action: Change job status screen ready for you to close the job.
  • Re-open Job - Opens the Action: Change job status screen ready for you to re-open the job.
  • Reminder - Opens the Set reminder screen.

Other buttons

  • Full Screen - Opens the Preview panel to full screen size.
  • Expand All - Completely opens the hierarchy tree of the object displayed in the Explorer panel.
  • Close All - Closes the hierarchy tree of the object displayed in the Explorer panel.
  • View  - Display the details of the item selected in the Display panel.
  • Close - Close the Explorer screen. 

Use the customize option on the Welcome Screen to set the Explorer to be your HelpMaster opening screen.

See Also

The field chooser

Saved searches

Skill Groups

Security

Performing actions on a job

Applying actions to multiple jobs

Setting a job reminder

4.6.2 - Queue check

Queue check

The Queue Check screen displays a summary of all staff, their workload and their current availability status.  It can be viewed on its own, or used in conjunction with the Action screen when re-assigning jobs.  Use the Skillgroup drop-down box, or the checkboxes to filter the results.

The Queue Check screen automatically refreshes periodically.  Any changes since the update are highlighted.

The Queue Check screen will display a list of the following:

  • All the registered staff members.
  • What skill group they belong to.
  • How many jobs are currently assigned to them.
  • Whether their Job Security Role allows jobs assignment
  • Their availability status.
  • Whether they are currently logged in.
  • Where they are.
  • Date out.
  • Date in.

When a list of names has been displayed, you can sort the list by any of the above categories by clicking on the header row, once for ascending, again for descending.

Note: When a name has been selected from the Q-Check screen, it is passed back to the previous screen where you started from and is automatically selected in the “Assign To” drop down box.

See Also

Re-assigning jobs

Job Security Role

The Welcome screen

4.6.3 - Viewing another persons job queue

Viewing another persons job queue

The Explorer screen allows you to view the job queues of other staff members, provided that you have sufficient security privilege to do so.**
**

Use

  1. Open the Explorer screen
  2. Select Other People from the slider control on the left
  3. Select the Staff member whose Job Queue you wish to view.
  4. Open their Explorer tree by clicking on the little + beside their name.
  5. Select Open Jobs in the tree. This will display all the open jobs for that staff member in the Display panel.

Filtering the number of staff that appear in the "Other People" tab

It is possible to filter the number of staff members that appear in the "Other People" tab.  This may be particularly helpful if there are a lot of staff, or you are only interested in viewing a certain group of staff job queues.  For further information about this, refer to the Customizing Explorer section

 

See Also

Queue Check

Security

Customizing Explorer

4.6.4 - Viewing your job queue

Viewing your job queue

The Job Queue is displayed in the Display panel of the Explorer Screen.  The Explorer screen can also be opened quickly by pressing F4 at any time.

By default, whenever the Explorer is opened, it will automatically display all of the open jobs that are assigned to the person who is currently logged on to HelpMaster.

Viewing other items in the Explorer

 

In addition to displaying open jobs, the Explorer can also display closed jobs, as well as reminders, jobs assigned to the Skill Group that you belong to, and any Saved Searches that you have defined.

Simply click on the appropriate search type within your Explorer panel and the jobs will be displayed.

 

Advanced Searching

For even more advanced searching, use the Job Finder, or the Advanced Search

Different colored job icons

 

The different colored job icons simply refers to the priority of the job and serves as a quick visual indication.  These colors and icons can be set in the Options section of the Helpdesk Explorer

Greyed-Out jobs

 

If a job is "greyed out" in the listing in the Explorer, it means that this is a locked child job that is just one of a set of child jobs that have been linked to a another (parent) job.  Each of these child jobs has been ordered and locked into a certain order.  The greyed out display indicates that the job is not yet available for action.  In other words, there are other child jobs that must be actioned and closed first before this job can be actioned.  In order to determine which other jobs are also linked to the same parent jobs, you will need to open the greyed-out job and examine the "Links" tab. 

For further information about Child jobs and locked ordering, refer to the ### See Also section at the bottom of this page.

 

See Also

Jobs Overview

Performing actions on a job

Linked Jobs, Child Jobs, Locked Order of jobs, Greyed-out Jobs

Job Finder

Advanced Search

Saved Searches

User preferences - Fonts and Sounds

 

 

 

 

4.6.5 - Saved searches

Saved searches

Saved searches provide a flexible way of extending the browsing capabilities of the Explorer screen by allowing you to create “virtual” job queues.  By default, the Explorer provides built-in “searches” for both open and Closed jobs that are assigned to you, or have been closed by you.  A saved search allows you to choose what type of jobs you are interested in and then provide a virtual queue to view them.  There is no limit to the number of saved searches that you can create.

Saved searches are a great way to organize your job queue into separate “virtual” queues that you can work from.  They can also be used as the filter for job reporting.

  1. Open the Explorer
  2. Right-click on the “Saved Searches” item in the “My Jobs” Explorer Panel and select “Create Saved Search” 
  3. The job finder screen will be displayed.
  4. Type the name of your saved search
  5. Now use the rest of the tabs on the job finder to select the search criteria for the jobs that you want to create a saved search for.
  6. Click “Find Now” to display a list of all the jobs in the system that match your criteria.  You will also be presented with a dialog box to name the search.
  7. The newly created saved search will now appear in your Explorer

Example Saved Searches

Popular saved searches include the following:

Date-based

  • Jobs logged Today
  • Jobs logged Yesterday
  • Jobs logged this week
  • Jobs closed (Today…yesterday….this week/year etc)
  • Jobs that have not been actioned for a period of time

Personnel based

  • Jobs logged for Clients XYZ
  • Jobs logged for Sites XYZ

Job based

  • Jobs with a certain priority
  • Jobs with a certain job type

See Also

Job Finder

Job Explorer

Custom Queues

Report filters (use Saved Searches to do this)

4.6.6 - Flagging a job

Flagging a job

Every job can be “flagged” to assist in the management of a job queue.  Flagging a job is simply a way of marking it with a “flag” icon that will appear in the both the Explorer and in the job screen.  The flag is simply an indication that it is flagged and serves as a useful visual reminder for a particular job.

flag job

Use

To flag a job from the Explorer screen

  1. Right-click on the job you wish to flag to display the job popup menu
  2. Select “Flag Job” from the menu

To flag a job from the Job screen

  1. Open a job
  2. Click on the icon of the flag in the toolbar at the top of the screen.
  3. Click again to remove the flag.

Consider flagging a job when it is automatically updated via the Email Manager.  This will help provide a visual difference to detect when a client has responded to an email.

Notes

The flag status of a job can only be changed by the person that the job is currently assigned to, or that appears in an Unassigned queue of a skillgroup that the staff member belongs to.

See Also

Changing the read status of a job

Changing the Status of a Job

Job Finder

Skillgroups and Unassigned queues

Flagging a job when it is automatically updated via the Email Manager

 

4.6.7 - Customizing a job queue

Customizing a job queue

The Job Queue can be customized to display a wide variety of priority icons, determine the closed job settings, and apply your preferred refresh schedule.

Change colour and icon based on priority

  1. Open the Explorer.
  2. Click on the Options tab. This will open the options in the Display panel.
  3. Select the Priority Code or object you wish to customize.
  4. Select the customization you desire from the appropriate drop down list.
  5. Repeat as required.

The customizations have been applied and will show until they have been reset.

 

Priority Code symbols can be returned to their defaults by selecting None.

See Also

Job State

Field Chooser

4.6.8 - Custom Job Queues

Custom Job Queues

Custom queues can be created by all staff members and provide another option for sorting, classifying and grouping jobs together.  A custom job queue is a similar concept to a folder that you would create in the Windows file system.  Any number of custom queues can be created, and any job that you have access to can be kept in this queue.  Once a job has been placed into a custom queue, it will remain there until it is removed.

Use a custom queue to group jobs that...

  • Belong to a particular project
  • Have a certain importance or priority
  • Require certain actions/update
  • You're currently working on

etc.  Create a custom queue for any reason that helps you organize your workload easier.

 

Custom jobs queues are a personal implementation only.  The custom queues that a staff member makes does not display in anothers staff members' Explorer screen.  Custom job queues cannot be shared.

Custom job queues appear in both the desktop and web versions of HelpMaster.

How is a custom job queue different from other job queues?

 

A custom job queue will only display jobs that you specifically and deliberately move there.  They will remain in the queue until you remove them from the queue

A saved search is based on filter.  Jobs that appear in a saved search will automatically come and go, based on whether they meet the criteria of the search

"Open Jobs" are all of the active jobs that have been assigned to you.

"Closed Jobs" are all of the closed jobs that you have closed.

"Unassigned Jobs" are all of the active jobs that have been assigned to a skillgroup, but not to anyone specifically in that skillgroup.

 

Use

Create a custom job queue by performing the following:

  1. Right-click on custom job queue and **Select Create new Custom Queue


    **
  2. Give the Custom Queue a name

    \
  3. The Custom Queue will now display in the Explorer

Working with Custom Queues

By default, HelpMaster will always display a queue called "Unallocated".  This queue refers to all jobs that are assigned to you that do not appear in any of your custom job queues.

 

Adding jobs to a custom queue

Simply drag 'n drop jobs from anywhere in the Explorer screen (or elsewhere in HelpMaster) onto a custom queue.  The job will appear in this queue until it is removed.

Alternatively, you can multiple-select jobs, right-click and select "Copy x Jobs as Links".  Then right-click on the Custom Queue and select "Paste x Jobs"

Removing jobs from a custom queue

To remove a job from a custom queue, right-click on it and select "Remove from custom queue".  Select multiple jobs at once to perform a bulk remove operation.

4.6.9 - Quick Re-assign

Quick Re-assign

A Quick Reassign is a one-click job re-assignment from an unassigned job queue, to the corresponding skillgroup job-queue of the user.  This re-assignment takes place with no user interface.  The “Quick Reassign” option becomes available when a job is assigned to the “unassigned” job queue of a skillgroup.

Use

The quick re-assign is only available when a job is currently assigned to the unassigned job queue of a skillgroup. 

Quick Assignment from an Unassigned Job Queue

If a job is assigned to an unassigned skillgroup queue, it can be quickly re-assigned to the current active user by right-clicking the job and selecting the “Quick Reassign” option.  This will re-assign the job without any user interface and will add the newly reassigned job to the job history menu.

quick reassign job from unassigned job queue

This operation can be performed on one or more jobs at the same time.

quick reassign incident from unassigned job queue

Notes

  • When a job is re-assigned in this manner, there is no email, job status or other options that are normally available via the regular re-assign method
  • An Action Log entry will still be added to to the action log as usual

quick reassign action log

See Also

Re-assigning a job (Using the Action screen - the regular way)

Explorer screen

Queue Check

Concepts

Concepts : Job ownership and assignment

4.7 - User Preferences

Customise your user experience in HelpMaster

4.7.1 - General preferences

Customise personal settings just how you like them

HelpMaster is a highly configurable system.  There are many user preferences that can be set to suit the individual needs and tastes of unique users.  The user settings screen allows the currently logged in user to customize the look, feel and behaviour of HelpMaster to their liking.  Settings are saved in the database, so they will “follow” a user if they log onto a different computer and user HelpMaster. 

The User Preferences screen is accessed via the HM menu > My preferences option.

Use

  1. Open the User preferences screen by using the HM menu > My preferences option,
  2. Configure the settings as required
  3. Click on OK or Apply.

Explanation of settings

Jobs and Actions

  • Don’t mark jobs as read when the job is viewed : When unchecked, every time you view, or preview a job in the explorer, its read status will be set to read.  This setting is similar to the way many email programs work.

  • Show job counts in explorer window : When checked, the count of jobs in each job queue and saved search will be displayed in brackets (34) after each queue.  Checking this option incurs a performance penalty, as well as network traffic and database hits as the application needs to perform a the database calculation for each job queue.  Turn this off if you are experiencing lag, or network congestion.

  • Show my skillgroups unassigned helpdesk jobs in my staff section of the explorer : When checked, the “Unassigned” section under “My jobs” will appear in Explorer.

  • Show Custom Job Queues in Explorer : When checked Custom JobQueues will appear in Explorer.

  • Do not show Job notifications for unassigned skillgroups that I am the supervisor for : When check this option will prevent job notifications from appearing for the skillgroup supervisor whenever a job in the unassigned skillgroup (that they are the supervisor) of is actioned.

  • Entity search type for “Search as you type” : Select from the drop-down box which fields the quick-search text box will use when searching any entity including Clients, Sites, Assets and Knowledge Base articles.

  • Entity Name : Searches the Name field only of any entity including Client ID, First Name and Last name for Clients, Site name for Sites, Asset ID for Assets, Article ID, Title, and Keywords for Knowledge base articles.

  • Entity Name, Dynamic Fields : Searches Entity name fields above and additionally searches all entity dynamic fields (those of the four entities that can be defined under System Codes). This includes the “Contact details” frame of both the Client and Site Details screen > Contact tab, the drop-down selectable fields of the Asset Details screen > General tab. No additional Knowledge Base article fields are searched.

  • Entity Name, Dynamic Fields, Custom Fields : As above and additionally searches text only information contained on any entities “Custom Fields” tab.

  • Custom user defined search : Use this option to search on fields that are returned by the database stored procedure called “stpJobClientSearch_UserDefined”.  This option allows a database administrator to create a custom search query using SQL.  Note that the format of the SQL should follow the design pattern of the original version of the stored procedure.  The names of the fields that are returned by the SQL must remain the same, however the way their values are retrieved can vary to suit your requirements.  Please contact PRD Software for further information about this.

Job / Action preview

  • Sort actions in preview windows by the newest action first : When checked, will sort the text and action log by a descending date order.  Good if you like to read what happened last, first.

  • Show the Explorer preview in plain text only (Classic mode) : When checked, the Preview panel of the Explorer screen will show the job and action log details in plain text.  This is similar to the way previous versions of HelpMaster worked.

  • Show Job details / Actions in preview window : Use the options here to to adjust how action log entries are displayed

  • Action log display style : Choose from 3 different stylings of the action log. 

General

  • Show “Tip of the day” on startup : When checked, will display the tip of the day screen every time you start HelpMaster for the first time.  This setting can also be set via the Tip of the Day screen.

  • Categorize “Quick Launch” items : Changes the way the Quick Launch items are displayed in the menu.  They can be grouped either by their category    eg.  All general applications, or Graphic files or, alphabetically regardless of what category the item belongs to

  • Use “Auto text” when editing text : When checked, the AutoText ) feature will be active when typing into any multi-line text box throughout HelpMaster.  This is especially helpful when entering job details when logging a job, or performing an action.

  • Sort order for user-defined custom fields on “Custom” tab : Sets the default sort/display settings for custom fields on the custom tabs.  When actuallyviewing custom details, this setting can be manually over-ridden

  • Automatically list all entities when search screens are displayed: Usually when the user clicks on an entity button (client, site, asset, knowledge base) from the toolbar, the filter/selector screen is displayed.  From here the user can enter some search criteria and press the “Search” button to perform the search.  If this user preference checkbox is checked, these screens will automatically perform the search, using no search criteria, in effect displaying all of the available entities.  This is similar to the way HelpMaster v5 performed and may be useful if you have a small number of entities.  If you have many entities, you may wish to leave this option unchecked so that you have the chance to provide some filter criteria before manually clicking the “Search” button.

  • Show main keyboard shortcuts in status bar : Checking this will display a status bar along the bottom of the screen that displays some of the common shortcut keys for HelpMaster.  Use this setting if you are new to HelpMaster, or just need a reminder about some of the function keys.

  • User-defined boolean displayed as : One of the custom data datatypes is the Boolean datatype.  Select from the drop-down box your personal display choice.

  • Prompt user to confirm when exiting HelpMaster : When checked, a confirmation message will appear whenever HelpMaster is shut down.  This is a useful setting for times when you accidently click the X in the top-right corner of the window, thinking that it is another window, only to find that you have closed the main HelpMaster application.  Also good for terminal sessions such as Citrix when shutting down and re-starting HelpMaster takes some time.

  • Disable grouping in listview when sorting : When unchecked, all list displays will not be grouped by the column that is being sorted.

  • Show the standard toolbar on the main window (rather than the ribbon control): Use to set your preference for navigation control.  Traditional menus, or Ribbon

  • Disable email auto extraction: When dragging and dropping an email from Outlook onto a job, HelpMaster can automatically attempt to extract only the reply portion of the email, and discard the signature block and everything below that.  Use this setting to change this behaviour.  If auto-extract is turned on, holding down the CTRL key when dragging and dropping an email will provide an over-ride and the entire email will added.

Advanced

  • Skip Crystal Reports installation check.  When HelpMaster first starts, it will pre-load the Crystal Reports runtime libraries in the background.  This is done to save time when running reports later.  Check this box to disable this operation.

  • Export separator.  Enter a custom field delimeter when exporting fields via any of the list entity screens

  • Form resize painting.  Adjust the slider to configure how HelpMaster re-sizes screens.  This may help reduce screen flicker, and lag.

HelpMaster Application Display Mode

Choose your screen preference for HelpMaster

All-in-one:  The default setting displays all screens of HelpMaster within a parent window.  Individual windows can still be “undocked” from the parent by clicking the small “pin” icon in the form title bar.

Individual Screens: This mode allows you to have HelpMaster screens completely separate and floating.  Good for multiple monitors.

Log File

  • Log application errors to : Should an unexpected error occur when using HelpMaster, an error log will be created and written to the location that you specify in this setting.  This log can then be sent to PRD Software, or your HelpMaster administrator for analysis.

Spell checking options

HelpMaster features spelling checker for all text controls within the application.  Major text controls such as the job and action details screen will highlight misspelt words by underlining them with red sqiggly lines.  Other text controls can be spell-checked by right-clicking within the control and selecting “Check spelling”.

  • Spell check screens when saved : When checked, HelpMaster will use the Microsoft Word (if installed) dictionary to spell-check all text boxes whenever a screen is saved.

  • Dictionary:  Select a dictionary to use for spell checking

  • Custom dictionary: Save custom dictionary files either in alocal, or networked location

Themes

  • Select a visual theme to use with HelpMaster : Select a theme from the drop-down box. 

Language

Select the language to use HelpMaster in : Currently HelpMaster only supports English.  Future versions may provide additional language support.

See Also

Tip of the day

Field Chooser

Custom Fields

System administration

Auto Text

Quick Launch

4.7.2 - Personal Email Accounts

Personal Email Accounts

Personal email accounts are setup and configured by individual staff members who use HelpMaster.  Unlike a global account that can be shared and used by many people using HelpMaster, a personal email account is only available for the individual staff member that created it.

Use

Personal Email Accounts are accessed via the HM menu > My Preferences > Email tab.

This screen displays both personal and global accounts.   Staff members are able to use any email account listed here to send email with.

personal email account

Each user can have several email accounts which they can use to send out-going email.

Settings

Click Add Email Account to create a new email account.   Use the Edit and Delete buttons to administer accordingly.

Note!  The HelpMaster system administrator may prevent staff from creating personal email accounts.  In this case, staff are limited to using one of the global accounts.

Set as Default

Select an email account and click “Set as Default” to set that email account as a default.  A default email account is the account that will be used by a staff member if they do have a personal email account created for them.

Preview all emails in the HelpMaster mail editor before sending

Check this to display a preview of all out-going email in the HelpMaster mail editor before sending.

Preview all emails in your default email application before sending (Outlook compatible accounts only)

Check this to display a preview of all out-going email in your default mail editor before sending. 

See Also

Email Configuration

Global Email Accounts

4.7.3 - Change password

Change password

There are 2 ways to change your logon password in HelpMaster.

  1. Change it via the Permissions tab on your Client Details screen, or…

  2. Click on the HM menu in the top-left of the HelpMaster main screen and select Change Password.

change password  

Enter your existing password and new password and click OK.

See Also

Password requirement settings (for system administrators)

Resetting a Client’s Windows Password

Active Directory single-sign in

Issuing client licences for web login

4.7.4 - Auto text

Become a power-typist!

Auto text is a quick way to type common text.  If you use certain words or phrases frequently, you may find it useful to add them to AutoText so you can easily enter them automatically as you type.  Once you have added a word or phrase to AutoText, when you type the complete “auto text” letters/word, they will be replaced with the word or phrase that was specified.

Auto text is controlled in the User preferences area which can be accessed via the HM menu > Auto Text option.

Use

Whenever any of your Auto Text words are typed in any text box within HelpMaster, the corresponding replacement text is displayed.  The replacement will occur whenever you type a space, hit return, or use other punctuation.

Adding a word to Auto Text

  1. Open the Auto Text screen
  2. Click on the New button.  This will open the New Auto Text Entry screen.
  3. Enter the Shortcut word and the Word or words to replace the shortcut with.
  4. Click on OK.

Editing a Word in Auto Text

  1. Open the Auto Text screen. Steps 1 and 2 from above.
  2. Select the auto words you wish to change.
  3. Click on the Update button.
  4. Alter the Shortcut word and the Word or words to replace the shortcut with.
  5. Click on OK.

Deleting a Word from Auto Text

  1. Open the Auto Text screen. Steps 1 and 2 from above.
  2. Select the auto words you wish to delete.
  3. Click on OK in the confirm delete message box which will appear. 

See Also

Spell checking (User Preferences screen)

Email Templates

Email Template tags

4.7.5 - Quick launch

Open common files and links quickly

The Quick Launch function of HelpMaster is a quick access point to all your regularly used favorite files, folder locations, documents and web sites.  Think of the Quick Launch menu as a short-cut system to access your files, website and applications, similar to a browser bookmark, or Windows shortcuts.

The Quick Launch screen is accessed via the HM menu, or via the small QuickLaunch button located in the top-right corner of HelpMaster.

The Quick Launch screen is similar in look and feel to the Attachments screen that is displayed on Jobs and Actions.

Use

Once you have added files to the Quick Launch screen, they can be accessed via the smail button located in the top-right of the HelpMaster application title bar.  Click on this button to display a drop-down list of all your Quick Launch items.  Items may appear as a simple list, or grouped into folders according to their file type.  Change this setting via the “Categorize “Quick Launch” items checkbox found in the User Preference screen.

Administration

Adding a file or document to Quick Launch

  1. Open the Quick Launch screen by using the User menu Quick Launch button

  2. Click on the Add File button, and browse to where your file is located (You can also drag a file onto the Quick Launch screen to add it)

  3. If adding an executable file to the Quick Launch, you can right-click it to select File Command Line Arguments…  Use this to open the application, passing in the parameters/arguments that you specify.

Removing a file or document from Quick Launch menu.

  1. Open the Quick Launch screen by using the User menu Quick Launch button
  2. Select the file or document you wish to remove.
  3. Click Remove
  4. Click on Yes in the Confirmation box which will appear.

Updating a file or document in Quick Launch menu.

  1. Open the Quick Launch screen by using the User menu Quick Launch button
  2. Select the file or document link you wish to update, and right-click on the file to display the edit options
  3. Make the necessary changes
  4. Click Apply

See Also

User preferences

Attachments

4.7.6 - Fonts and sounds

Fonts and sounds

You can customize HelpMaster so that it uses the font you choose. The selected font and font size will be used in all grids and displays.  HelpMaster’s default font is MS Sans Serif. Users of HelpMaster can also nominate a sound file (file extension *.wav) to play under certain circumstances.

To open the Fonts and Sounds screen select the Fonts and Sounds tab once the HM menu > My preferences screen is displayed.

Setting a Font

  1. Open the Fonts and Sound tab in the User Preferences screen
  2. Select the style of font from the drop down list box
  3. Select the size
  4. Click on Apply.  This will set the fonts on the screen to your new fonts so that you may preview the effect
  5. Click on OK

Setting Sounds

  1. Open the Fonts and Sound tab in the User Preferences screen
  2. Tick the checkbox of the event you want sound applied to
  3. Click on the corresponding selector button
  4. Browse to you desired sound
  5. Select the sound you want to use
  6. Click on OK

See Also

The Status bar - Visual display when you are assigned a new job

The Job Monitor

4.7.7 - Concurrency Conflict Resolution

Concurrency Conflict Resolution

The Concurrency Conflict Resolution screen appears whenever a users attempts to save a record, and another user has already edited and saved the same information since it was originally opened by the first user.

When this happens, HelpMaster will present the Concurrency Resolution screen.

This screen will present 3 columns that will display the values for each user, with the 3rd column displaying what will be written to the record. The red colouring indicates field values that are in conflict. Each of these must be resolved before the record can be saved.

In order to resolve the red differences, the user should double-click the value from either column 1 or 2 to indicate which value they wish to save. When there are no red cells left, click OK to save changes.

4.7.8 - User settings

User settings

The user settings tab is a text display of the individual user settings that have been configured for the currently logged in-user.  This information is provided here as a reference for comparing configuration options, and can also used by the HelpMaster technical support eam.

4.7.9 - Subscriptions overview

Subscriptions allow users to manage large number of templates

HelpMaster has the ability to support large numbers of templates for jobs, actions and emails, however in many instances each user of HelpMaster does not regularly use all of the available templates.  This is where “subscribing” to certain templates can be of great value. This helps the staff member to work quickly and efficiently by working off a short-list of available templates.  Each staff member using HelpMaster can have their own subscription list, thereby personalising HelpMaster to the way that they work.

Use

  1. Open the template subscriptions screen from the HM menu > My preferences > Subscriptions tab
  2. Select from the drop-down list which type of template you wish to subscribe to
  3. The list on the left displays all of the available template for that template type
  4. Double-click, or select and click the Add -> button to subscribe to the template
  5. Click Apply to save

Personal subscriptions vs Skillgroup “pushed” subscriptions

The HelpMaster system administrator can “push” subscriptions to individual staff members, or to entire skillgroups.  When templates have been “pushed” to a skillgroup they will appear in the list of personal template subscriptions under the heading “Skillgroup pushed subscriptions” (see image below).  The staff member will not be able to remove this type of subscription - only the system administrator (or someone with security access to the Template Manager) will be able to do this.

Default templates

To provide further assistance when working with templates, HelpMaster allows the user to nominate one specific template within their subscription list to to be the “default” template for that template type.  When the user performs an action within HelpMaster that can make use of templates (such as logging a helpdesk job, or performing an action on a helpdesk job), if they have set a default template, it will be automatically applied when the action is initiated. Furthermore, for action templates only, the user can nominate multiple “defaults” for each action type.

The ability to nominate a default template is only available for template Helpdesk job and action subscriptions.  Once a template has been applied, the user can over-ride the settings by manually adjusting them.

Setting the default template is done from HM menu > My preferences > Default templates tab.

Use

  1. Open the default template screen by using the HM menu > My preferences > Default Templates tab
  2. Select from the drop-down list a template that you wish to be the default template for that type
  3. Click OK or Apply to save

A subscription and default setting example

As an examine, consider a HelpMaster configuration that includes 50 job templates and 20 action templates.

A user may subscribe to only 5 of these job templates because these are the ones that they commonly use.  This becomes their job template subscription list.   If they wish to, they can nominate 1 of these 5 as their “default” job template.  This means that when they initiate logging a new job, this default template will be applied as soon as the new job screen appears.

The same user may also subscribe to 10 action templates.  This becomes their action template subscription list.  For each HelpMaster action type (Adding action, Reassigning, Changing status, Adding progress notes, closing job etc), they can nominate 1 subscribed-to action template as the default for the action type.  When they wish to reassign a job, if they have nominated a default template for the Reassign action, then this template will be applied to the action screen as soon as it appears on screen.

Remember that once a template has been applied, the user can manually over-write any information, or select another template to change the information.

Once you have successfully subscribed to a number of templates, you will be able to use them to speed up your use of common tasks within HelpMaster.  Any screen that allows the use of templates contain a drop-down box that will be populated with your subscription list.

The screen shot above shows the job screen that has populated the templates list with the users subscribed to templates.  If the user then wishes to use a template that they have not subscribed to, the last entry in the drop-down box will always be “All Job Templates".  Selecting this will re-populate the drop-down box with a complete template listing.

See Also

Templates Overview

Template Manager

Template Manager subscriptions

Subscribing to templates

Setting default template subscriptions

General user preferences  

Approvals

Simple Approvals

Workflow Approvals

4.7.10 - Subscription defaults

Subscription defaults

Once you have subscribed to Job and Action Templates, you may nominate these to be applied for different events.  This is done by setting defaults.

To access the default subscriptions screen, from the HM menu open the User Preferences screen and then click on the Default Templates tab.

Please note that before this screen can be used, it is necessary for the user to have already subscribed to some templates.  This is done on the Subscriptions tab.

Setting the default subscriptions is simply a matter of choosing from the drop-down boxes the template that you wish to be your default for the corresponding action.  If you wish to remove a default setting, choose the first option in the drop-down list - this will be the blank entry.

default templates

After clicking on Apply or OK, these settings will be active and the default templates will start working.

Remember that once a template has been applied, you can manually over-write any information, or select another template to change the information.

Default Templates - Job Template

The Job toolbar also contains a drop-down box labeled My Templates that is populated with your job template subscriptions.  If you have nominated one of your subscribed job templates to be the “default”, this will always be used when you click the large Log Job button. You also have the smaller Log new blank job and Last job template used buttons. All Templates and Recent Templates lists are also provided for convenience.

Note: If a “default” job template is set in your user preferences, this template will also be applied by default to any new job logged from any other entity. In the screen shot above, the “Software Bug” job template i[s selected as the default.

Default Templates - Action Template

Similarly, whenever the action screen is displayed for adding a new action, the Template drop-down box is populated with your action template subscriptions. Selected default action templates will also be selected whenever any of the “add action” template icons are clicked from the Explorer screen.

See Also

Templates Overview

Subscribing to templates

General user preferences

4.8 - Surveys and Feedback

Build surveys and gather feedback from staff, clients and partners

4.8.1 - Feedback overview

Feedback overview

Deliver great customer service by using feedback from your clients and customers to improve.

The feedback system within HelpMaster allows clients and staff to provide feedback about knowledge base articles, as well as jobs and actions.  Gathering feedback is achieved by emailing the client, or staff member a link to a short, simple survey.  When the person clicks on the link they are taken to the HelpMaster Web Portal which displays the feedback form in the clients' web browser.  After filling in the feedback form, they can click submit and the details of the feedback are recorded against the relevant HelpMaster entity (either a knowledge base article, or job/action).  

web feedback survey satisfaction form

Please note.  In order for the feedback system to function, the HelpMaster web portal needs to be installed, configured and running.

This survey, or feedback form can be customized to capture different fields and content that may be relevant to your service delivery.  Remember that the both the knowledge base system, and the job system of HelpMaster use the same basic feedback system.

See Also

Feedback architecture

HelpMaster Web Portal

Knowledge Base

4.8.2 - Feedback design

Feedback design

The feedback system of HelpMaster has been designed to be flexible and offer system administrators the ability to customize the feedback survey form.  The feeback system can be used to create a feedback form for knowledge base articles, as well as job feedback.

Feeback options

The feedback system can be customized so that you can build mini survey forms that both staff and clients can utilize.  A feedback form can be built from the following elements:

Star ratings

Star ratings can be used to give a quick 1-10 rating for a given attribute that you define.  By default, each knowledge base article has an “Overall” star rating.  This rating is built-in and cannot be removed.  Additional star-ratings can be created. 

Feedback checkboxes

Feedback checkboxes address specific feedback categories and allow the person rating the article to quickly “check” all of the applicable checkboxes.  The idea behind this is to provide and prompt users to give feedback about topics and categories that they otherwise may not have thought about.  By providing them with the option to “check” different checkboxes, the quality of the feedback can be improved.

Furthermore, each checkbox has a “weighting” that is determined by the system adminstrator.  This weighting is a number that can either be negative, or positive - ranging from -10 to +10.  The person rating the article does not see the value of the checkbox, and they do not even know about the underlying “weight” of the specific feedback item.  When a knowledge base article is rated, the sum of all of the individual checkboxes checked is totalled to give a “Feedback score” 

Feedback text

Feedback text is simply a text box that the user can type freely into.  

Creating a feedback survey

 

  1. Open the feedback screen by using the Administration > Feedback Administration button on the ribbon
  2. Select which type of feedback form you wish to create.  Select from either a knowledge base, or job from the drop-down box at the top of the screen
  3. Create, edit or delete survey fields in the left-hand side box that are relevant to your feedback requirements
  4. Add, remove and re-order the individual survey fields by using the button in the middle of the screen. 
  5. The fields that appear in the right-side column are the survey fields that will be presented to the person using the feedback form

Use the Field chooser to include the feedback columns to jobs.  This makes it easy to see feedback when viewing lists of jobs

See Also

Feedback Overview

4.9 - Searching

Different options for finding the information you need

4.9.1 - Entity Search

Searching for clients, sites, assets, knowledge base articles and other entities

Each major entity within HelpMaster has its own search/browse screen that share a similar interface.

Entity search

Use the text boxes to provide partial search detail and click Search to return results.

Click the Advanced Search button to display more options.

Click on a letter to perform a quick search based on the value selected in the drop-down box.

Filtering results

Once results have been displayed, these can be filtered further via the filter box on the right. Type any text to filter across all visible columns. Use the drop-down box to select from the following options.

  • Text search: Performs basic filtering based on the entered text.

  • Pattern search: Performs a pattern based search. Use wildcards, placeholders and special characters. Search patterns and text can use the syntax outlined in this Microsoft article

4.9.2 - Finding a job

There are many ways to search for, and find a job

HelpMaster allows searching for jobs in a number of different ways - each one having advantages depending on the context.

Searching for existing helpdesk tickets

Goto Job#

The quickest way of displaying a particular job is by using the “Goto job#” textbox. Press CTRL+F3 on the keyboard to put the keyboard focus to the “Find job” textbox on the ribbon bar.

Type the number of the job you are looking for here and press Enter.  If such a job exists, it will be displayed.

The Search toolbar

For quick and easy searching, the main toolbar contain a Search toolbar as shown below.  Simply type in your search criteria and press Enter 

This toolbar allows you to search for helpdesk jobs using

The Job Finder

The Job Finder offers the most comprehensive and powerful searching functionality.  Using the Job Finder, you can search via many of the fields that are included in the job.

See Job Finder for complete details

The Keyword Search screen

The keyword search screen is another way to locate job.  Use this screen to search specifically on any keywords that have been added to a job.  This screen also offer full text searching.

See Keyword Searching for complete details

Saved Searches

Once you have performed a job search using the job finder, you have the option to save the search so that it appears on your Explorer screen.  This function offers extremely quick and easy searching for regular search criteria.

See Job Finder for complete details

TIP!  The F3 key on the keyboard can be used to search jobs, client and site helpdesk history.

F3 = Search client job history

CTRL+F3  = Find job

ALT + F3 = Search site job history

The Explorer Screen

The Explorer screen displays jobs that are assigned to staff, skillgroups, and custom queues.

See Also

Keyboard shortcuts

4.9.3 - Advanced search screen

The Advanced search screen gives additional options for finding information

In addition to the Job Finder, and the entity search screens, HelpMaster also provides an Advanced Search screen which can simultaneously perform a powerful search across the different HelpMaster entities.  This means that you can search across the Clients, Sites, Helpdesk Jobs, Actions that are linked to helpdesk jobs and Knowledge base articles.

The Advanced search screen provides 2 ways of searching for information.

  1. A keyword search
  2. A Full text search (only available when the Full Text Searching engine is installed with SQL Server.)

Note : It is possible to perform a simultaneous search on both keywords AND full text.  If both types of search criteria are specified, the results will contain only those entities that satisfy both types of searches.

Keyword Searching

A keyword search is only useful when a keyword has been “attached” to an entity.  This is done via the “Attachments” button that appears at the bottom of all entity detail screens.  Once a keyword has been attached, the Keyword search will list all entities that contain this keyword.

Full Text Searching

Full text searching provides a much more comprehensive style of search.  A full text search allows you to search for individual words that are stored within different entities.  The words must be contained in any of the long text (memo) fields within the entity.  The table below indicates which fields may be included in the search

 Entity type  Field that is searched on
Client Notes
Site Notes
Job Job description
Job Action Action details
Knowledge article Article details

When performing a full text search, you can use a number of different styles of search by typing your search criteria into the text box.  Click for some Full Text Searching examples.

If a match is found, the results will be displayed in a list in the appropriate tab.  Double-click on the item to display the entity.

Full text searching only available when your HelpMaster database has been configured for full text searching.  For further information about this, please refer to Full Text Configuration

See Also

Keyword Search

Full Text Searching examples

4.9.4 - Keyword search

Use Keywords to tag objects so that they can be searched later

You may wish to use keyword searching as an alternative to a detailed search.

Keyword queries in HelpMaster are limited to predetermined keywords which are allocated in the System Codes area.  The keyword search box will retrieve only those entries which contain the selected keyword.

Note: Keywords are located under General in the System Codes tree.

Keyword searching is performed on the Advanced search screen, which is accessed via the Search Keywords button on the Find toolbar or by selecting Search keywords in the Go menu located on the Master toolbar.

Use

  1. Open the Advanced search screen.
  2. Select the keyword or keywords you wish to search for from the drop down list.
  3. Select any other search criteria you wish to apply.
  4. Click on Find.

The results of the search will be displayed in the Entity Found area of the Advanced search screen.

Full Text Searching

HelpMaster has the ability to search for individual words that are stored within different entities.  This includes job descriptions, actions, knowledge base articles, client details and more.  Please note that this feature is only available if your HelpMaster SQL Server database has been configured for full text searching.  Please consult your database administrator for details about this.

See Also

Keyword Attachments

Advanced Search Screen

Full Text searching configuration

4.9.5 - Job finder

Use the Job Finder to build powerful searches for jobs, reports and saved searches

The Job Finder is a powerful search feature of HelpMaster that allows jobs that have been already logged to be located quickly and easily.  By specifying information about the job(s) that you wish to locate, HelpMaster will compile a list of jobs that match the criteria that has been entered.

The results from the Job Finder are displayed in a common list format and can be actioned as per usual.

The Job finder can be accessed via the Jobs ribbon bar.

 

Use with the Priority Manager

The Job Finder is also used by the HelpMaster Priority Manager to search for jobs that are involved in Priority Manager Profiles

Use with running reports

The Job Finder is also used when running reports.  Before a report is run, it is likely that you would like to filter it to a certain range of jobs.  By clicking on the “Filter” button on the Reports selection screen the Job Finder will be displayed which will allow you to specify the report filter. 

General Use for finding jobs

Access the Job Finder by clicking on the Job Finder icon in the Jobs ribbon bar.

Basic Searching

  1. Open the Job finder
  2. Enter your search criteria by selecting it/them from the appropriate drop down lists.
  3. Check the Save search on find box if the search is likely to be required often.
  4. Click on Find Now.

If you checked the Save search on find box the screen below will have the screen below appear when you click on Find Now.

  1. Enter a name for the saved search.
  2. Check the Add to Explorer screen box if desired.  If this is checked, this search will appear under the “Saved Searches” section within the Explorer for the staff member who created this search.
  3. Click on OK.

See Also

Job Explorer

Job State

Saved Searches

Full Text Searching

Use the job finder to filter reports

Report Filtering

Use the job finder in automation

Priority Manager Overview

4.9.6 - Control Set Search

Control Set Search

Searching for control sets or control set data is done from each of the entity (Entity Types) search screens.

A simple search to find if the desired entity contains a particular control set or not can be done by just selecting the Control Set name alone. In this example we are searching only to see if any Clients contain the “Workstation Operating Environment” control set. The same principle applies to all other entities that can contain control sets. This includes Clients, Sites, Assets, Job Templates, and Jobs via Job Finder.

control set client search

Searching for control sets containing specific values can also be performed by selecting the Control Set, Control, Operator, and the Value you are searching for.

In the following example we are using the Job Finder to search for all Jobs with the “Workstation Operating Environment” control set values of “Is Training Required” set to “YesANDTraining type” set to “Advanced”. This kind of detailed search can also be performed with all of the following entities, Clients, Sites, Assets, Job Templates, and Jobs via Job Finder. With Job Finder any other search criteria can be combined with the control set search criteria to formulate very specific searches.

searching jobs via control set data

See Also

Control Set - Creating a new control set

Custom Fields

Workflow Designer

Control Set workflow object

Control Set validation workflow object

4.9.7 - Keywords

Keywords

Keywords are a simply “tag words” that can be linked to any HelpMaster entity.  They are useful for classifying, grouping, or organizing entities.  Once an entity has been associated with a keyword (linked to a keyword), this entity can then be found via the Advanced Search screen.  Keywords may also be useful for reporting purposes.

Linking a new HelpMaster keyword to an entity

  1.  Open the entity, then click on the Links tab
  2. Click on the Keywords option 
  3. Click on Add.
  4. Select the desired keywords from the list.
  5. Click on the Select button. The keywords will be populated into the Keywords list.

Removing a HelpMaster keyword

  1. Open the entity, then click on the Links tab
  2. Click on the Keywords option.
  3. Select the keywords you wish to remove.
  4. Click on the Remove button.  The keyword will be removed from the list.

See Also

Keyword search

System codes

4.9.8 - Full-text searching

Perform powerful text searching

Full text searching is a very powerful and fast way to find information that has been entered into HelpMaster.  A full text search is like an internet search engine style search, where you are able to enter in any words, or combination of words.  HelpMaster will then search through all of the text throughout the 6 main HelpMaster entities and return the results.  Full text searching allows you to use Boolean search conditions such as ‘AND’, ‘OR’, ‘NOT’ in order to refine your search scope.  Advanced searching features like proximity searching and paragraph searching are also allowed.

Full text searching is available from Job Finder, or the Advanced Search screen.  When full text searching is used via the standard Job Finder, only Jobs will be searched.  To search on Jobs, Actions, Clients, Assets, Knowledge Base articles, and/or Change Requests use the Advanced Search screen.

How it works

Full Text searching is a feature of Microsoft SQL Server and it must be installed, enabled and configured on your SQL Server instance before it can be used.  For full installation and configuration details,refer to Setting up full text searching.  Full text searching works by indexing every word in your HelpMaster database.  This is done on a regular basis as per the population schedule your configure on SQL Server.  This means that when you use the full text searching feature of HelpMaster, it can retrieve results very quickly and accurately.

Using Full text searching

With the HelpMaster full-text search interface you have the ability to search for six primary entities: Clients, Sites, Jobs, Actions, Knowledge Base articles, and Change Requests. For a quick full text search enter your search text directly into the Search box in the Quick Find section of the Jobs toolbar.  This will search on Jobs, Actions, and Knowledge Base articles by default. For more targeted searching click the Advanced Search option in the Find section, then tick the box(es) for the entity(s) that you wish to search on and press Find. Any successful matches will be returned on the Results tab.  Search results are highlighted to show your search terms.

Examples of full text searching

Example 1 - Simple

This example will find all entities containing the word “printer”

printer

Type printer and click on Find

Example 2 - OR

This example will find all entities containing the word “printer” OR “photocopier”

printer OR photocopier

Type printer OR photocopier and click on Find.

Example 3 - AND

This example will find all entities containing the word “printer” AND “photocopier”

printer AND photocopier

Type “printer AND photocopier” and click on Find.

Example 4 - Wildcard

This example will find all entities containing words that start with “data”.  Notice the use of the "*" character.

data*

Type “data*” and click on Find.  Variations on this style of search may be prefixing the criteria with the “*” character, such as “*data".  This may return results such as “big data”, “small data” etc.

Example 5 - Proximity

Try a proximity search.  This will look for words that are close to each other.

printer NEAR photocopier

Type “printer NEAR photocopier” and click on Find.

Example 6 - Exclusions

Exclude words from your search.

printer NOT photocopier

Type “printer NOT photocopier” and click on Find.

Experiment with combinations

Try combinations of the above examples.  String different types of searches together to form a more complex search.  For complete syntax details about what is possible, consult the Microsoft SQL Server on-line help under the Full Text Search heading.  

See Also

Setting up full text searching

4.9.9 - Feedback search and reporting

Feedback search and reporting

When Feedback is given by a client/staff/person, it is linked to the job/action that the feedback prompt was sent from. There are various ways to view and search for this feedback.

The individual jobs

Open individual jobs and click on the Feedback tab to view feedback ratings and comments.  Remember that jobs may receive multiple feedback items depending on how HelpMaster has been configured.

The Action Log

The action log will display a small blue star icon if a feedback link was sent to the client as part of that action.  Click on the Feedback tab of the job to view it.  The small sequential number next to the action log entry will correspond with the number against the feedback on the feedback tab.

The Field Chooser

Use the Field chooser to include feedback columns to all job-related grids.  This will give a quick visual indication of jobs that contain any type of feedback.

The Job Finder

Use the Job Finder > Feedback tab to search for jobs that have feedback.

The Reports

Use the Feedback report to run more detailed reports for feedback.  See the “Job closure” category of reports for feedback reports

Job Finder

See Also

The Action Log

The Job Finder 

Reporting

4.10 - Reminders

Setting reminders on a personal or job level

4.10.1 - Reminders

Reminders

A reminder is a short message that is configured to display at a pre-defined, or recurring time interval.

The Set Reminder option is a great way to ensure that you or your workplace never overlooks even the smallest of jobs.  You can control the regularity and intensity of a reminder, and apply it to be displayed to any staff member including yourself.  You can display any message you wish and alert the recipient to the reminder with any combination of actions available in the Set Reminder Properties screen.

Each reminder can be set to go-off at a particular date and time, or at regular intervals as specified by the user.

Once the reminder notice is displayed, you can :

  • View the job by clicking on the View Job button.
  • Cancel the reminder by clicking on the Cancel Reminder button.
  • Dismiss the reminder until another convenient time.

Viewing Reminders

You can view the reminder details via the Job Explorer.  By clicking on the Reminder option under your name or the staff member whose reminders you wish to view.

See Also

Reminder List

Setting a job reminder

Job Explorer

Alerts

Setting a reminder from the Action Screen

4.10.2 - Setting a job reminder

Setting a job reminder

The Set Reminder Screen can be accessed from the Reminder button option on the Standard Toolbar, with the Set Reminder button on the Jobs Toolbar and ,  on the Helpdesk Explorer toolbar or by Holding down the Ctrl button while pressing the R button.

A reminder can be set to play a sound, beep, flash the title bar of the current window, display a message box, place a reminder icon on the task bar and be added to the unviewed Reminder list.  A reminder’s details can  be displayed at a specific time or to be recurring. 

Reminder details tab

Title - Title for the message.

Specific Date/Time - Set a specified date and time for the reminder to activate.

Recurring - Set the recurrence factors by clicking on the  select button .

Details - For the body of the reminder message.

  The links tab of the reminder screen allows you to link other entities to the reminder.  This may help to give the reminder context, and it also provides an easy way to quickly view any entity that is linked, by double-clicking on it.  By default, when you create a reminder, your name is automatically entered into the Clients list, indicating that the reminder will “go off” for you.  If other staff members are added to this list, they will also receive the specified reminder notice when it is due.

 

Properties tab

Add - Select the Clients, Jobs, Assets or Sites you want linked with the reminder.

Remove - Remove the Clients, Jobs, Assets or Sites you don't want linked with the reminder.

View - View the details of the Clients, Jobs, Assets or Sites in the pick box.

Action to perform when timer goes off

  • Add to the unviewed Reminder List
  • Display a standard Windows message box containing reminder message
  • Display a reminder icon in the task bar
  • Flash the title bar of the current window
  • Beep
  • Play a sound

Use

The Set Reminder screen can be accessed via the Set Reminder icon on the Jobs toolbar, by clicking on the Set Reminder option in the Jobs menu located on the Standardtoolbar, or by holding down Ctrl while entering R.

  1. Open the Set reminder screen.
  2. Enter a title for the reminder.
  3. Select the Date/time and method you wish to apply. 
  4. Click on the Properties tab of the Set Reminder screen.  This will open the reminder's properties screen.
  5. Select the clients, workmates, sites, jobs or assets you wish this reminder to be applied to. 
  6. Click on OK.

Integration with Microsoft Outlook

See Also

Reminder List

Reminders

Creating a Quick Reminder from the Action screen

4.10.3 - Reminder list

Reminder list

All active reminders can be viewed from the explorer screen, under the Reminders section. 

The reminder list is a collection of all your reminders still active. The reminder list will pop up on your screen whenever a reminder is activated.  You can close the reminder list off though only for about a minute. 

Dismiss

To dismiss a reminder is to close it.  Once a reminder is dismissed it will not return unless it is a re-occurring reminder, and then only on the next event of the re-occurrence parameter.

Dismiss All

Dismissing all reminders works the same as dismissing a reminder though to all reminders on the list at the time.

Snooze

You can set the reminder or all reminders on the list to Snooze, remind you again in x minutes or hours.  Each reminder in the list needs to be set to snooze individually.

View Reminder Details

Click on the reminder to view the reminder in detail.

See Also

Reminders Overview

Setting a reminder

Setting a reminder from the Action Screen (Quick reminder)

Job Explorer

Alerts

Automated ways to set reminders, alerts and notification

Triggered Events

Priority Manager

4.11 - Billing

Track items or time you need to bill clients for

4.11.1 - Billing Overview

General concepts and use

Billing refers to the ability of HelpMaster to track time and money as it relates to actions, jobs, clients and sites.  If you charge your clients for the services you provide, the HelpMaster billing features will allow you to configure a flexible way to automatically calculate time, costs, and invoicing.

Icons used throughout HelpMaster

The Billing Manager is used to display and manage all of the billing and invoicing throughout HelpMaster.  It allows to you quickly view Job, Client and Site billing and invoice information.

Billing Templates allow you to define different billing profiles that can be used whenever a chargeable (billable) action is performed on a job.

An invoice is a collection of billable items.  HelpMaster will help you track which invoices have been paid.

Jobs are logged for clients / sites.  When “Billable” actions are added to a job, the “Billing” tab on the job screen will display all of the details and totals for that job/client/site.

Actions are performed on jobs and can be marked as “Is billable”.  When an action is billable, the time, cost, billing type, code code and additional items can be entered to create the financial details of the action.

General concepts

Billing templates are used to quickly calculate expense based on time, or a set service rate.

All financial data is recorded against actions that are linked to jobs. 

  • When an Action has billing information the checkbox “Is billable” should be checked - The actual time an action takes, may be different from the billing time.

The job screen has a “Billing” tab that displays all of the actions

  • This billing tab can be used to group together “Is billable” actions and create an Invoice
  • A job can be associated with multiple invoices

The “Billing Manager” screen is used by financial personnel to quickly view any jobs, actions, client and sites that are associated with billing information.

The Client screen > Billing tab displays all of the jobs for that client that contain “Is billable” actions.

The Site screen > Billing tab displays all of the jobs for that Site that contain “Is billable” actions.

Billing and invoicing lifecycle

The following diagram describes the billing lifecycle within HelpMaster.

Actions are added to jobs.  Actions can be marked as “Is Billable”

Billing templates are used to calculate cost based on the action time.

One or more billable actions can be grouped together into an Invoice.  A Job can have more than one invoice.

4.11.2 - Billing Templates

Billing templates allow you to pre-define billing time and expense rates.  Billing templates are used whenever an action is marked as “Is billable?”

Icons used throughout HelpMaster

Billing Templates allow you to define different billing profiles that can be used whenever a chargeable (billable) action is performed on a job

There are 2 types of billing templates - fixed price, and cost per time.  Use the Billing template detail screen to configure as many templates as your billing and financial needs require.

When a billing template is configured as a cost per time, or interval based, you need to specify how to round the interval.

For example:

The billing template shown above is configured to be time interval based where every hour = $100

The following chart displays how each rounding option affects the calculated price for this billing template.  In this example, the time taken for an action is 45 minutes.

Round up $100 45 minutes rounded up to 1 hour

Round down $0 45 minutes rounded down to 0 hours

Nearest $100 45 minutes is closer to 1 hour than 0 hours, so 1 hour is chosen -effectively rounding up in this example. 

Exact $75 45 minutes is 3/4 of 1 hour, therefore 3/4 of $100 is $75

See also

Billing Manager

4.11.3 - Billing Manager

Manage billing operations from a central screen

The Billing Manager is used to quickly view jobs, clients and sites that have billing information associated with them.  The Billing Manager can be accessed via the Administration menu on the Ribbon bar.

Right-click on a job to display a pop-up menu to open either the job, the primary client of the job, or the site that the primary client is linked to.  

The following 3 views are available from the Billing Manager.

Not invoiced

This will display all of the jobs that have actions that have been marked as “Is Billable”, but have not been invoiced.  These jobs / actions should be invoiced.

Invoiced, but not paid

This will display all of the jobs that have actions that have been marked as “Is Billable”, AND have been invoiced, but not yet paid for.  

Show all

This will display all of the jobs that have actions that have been marked as “Is Billable”, regardless of their invoice, or payment status.

4.12 - Clients

Setting up and administering Clients, the people you provide service to

4.12.1 - Overview

Client overview

A client represents a person - not a company, or a site.  For companies, buildings and organizational structures, see Sites

In the HelpMaster environment, clients are the people that use your helpdesk/service desk/business as a service.  They are the people that require or supply the support. 

Icons used throughout HelpMaster

Client / Staff member

Relationship with other HelpMaster entities

  • Clients can be linked one or more Sites

  • Assets can be linked to clients

  • Clients can be linked to jobs, either as a primary client, or a regular client

  • When viewing any entity, click on the Links tab to view the relationships and linkages between each entity.

About clients

Each client has a Client ID.  This ID is basically a short identification for that client that is used in the logging, retrieving, reporting and actioning of helpdesk jobs.  Every client ID in HelpMaster must be unique, that is, clients cannot share client IDs.  Client IDs may be manually entered, or automatically generated by HelpMaster.  As one of the major HelpMaster entities, clients can be linked to a single site, multiple assets or multiple jobs.

HelpMaster has been designed to store a lot of detailed information about clients.  Some of the information that can be recorded include :

  • Contact - Business details. Name, company, addresses, phone numbers etc.
  • Personal - Birthday, spouse, hobbies etc.
  • Employment - Workplace details, job title, supervisor, contract details etc.
  • Links - The site, assets and jobs attached to this person.
  • Permissions - For clients who are Staff.
  • Notes - Any extra details which are required.
  • Custom - Include any of your user defined fields

 

Many of the fields that contain information about clients can be extended, added or modified via the System Codes administration screen.

Clients who are Staff

Each HelpMaster client has the ability to be marked as a HelpMaster staff member.  This is acheived through the “Permissions” tab on the client details screen.  A staff member is someone who works at the helpdesk and requires access to HelpMaster. 

Further, a staff member …

  • is associated with a particular Skill Group and has a Logon and Password so that they can use HelpMaster.
  • is able to log, view, update and action HelpMaster jobs
  • has a “Job Queue”.  This is a display of all the current jobs that have been assigned to them for action

Once a client has been marked as a staff member, they need to be linked to at least one skillgroup, and be linked to job and application roles.  This is done via the Staff Manager screen. 

See Also

Client Admin

Linking other entities to a Client  

Client/Staff Management

Automatically generating Client IDs

Active Directory Synchronization  

Service Desk

Viewing job history for a Client

Field Chooser

Sites

Site overview  

Staff members

Skillgroups

Application Security Roles

Email Manager

Creating clients via the Email Manager (Converting email to jobs)

4.12.2 - Client Administration

Create, modify, merge or delete a Client

Creating orupdating clients is simply a matter of filling out the necessary information on the Client Details screen and then clicking on the Apply button. Access the Client Details screen via the Entities menu on the Ribbon.

  1. Open the Clients screen.
  2. Click on New.  This will open the Client Details screen
  3. Enter the client’s name, or click on Full name to open the name details box. This feature will not create a Client ID.
  4. Hit the tab key.  This will enter the ClientID for you unless you entered the name via the name details box.
  5. Enter the company name or use the selector button to select the name from the sites screen.
  6. Enter all other details. Personal, Employment etc.
  7. Apply any Links, Permissions or Custom requirements.
  8. Click Apply.

Creating a new staff member

See the section Creating a new staff member for details about this.

Modify a Client

Modifying a client is to change their relevant details.  A client may change their name, receive a change in their job title or change their phone numbers. 

  1. Open the Clients screen.
  2. Use the Search functions of the Clients screen to find the client you require.
  3. Select the client required. 
  4. Click on the Update button. This will open the client details screen.
  5. Enter the altered details.
  6. Click on Apply.
  7. Click on Close.

Your changes have been entered and saved.

Merge a Client

Duplicates happen!

Sometimes you may inadvertently create multiple versions of the same client, other times they may be automatically created by the Email Manager, the Active Directory synchronization, or via the API etc.  When this occurs, you may wish to merge the clients together into just one.  This is achieved via the client merge tool.

What happens to merged data?

When you merge 2 or more clients together into just one “master” client, all of the historical data is transferred from the duplicates into the master.  This includes job history, any links (assets, sites etc) as well as any personal information and contact details.  Quite often, the duplicate clients will have different data for each of the different data fields that HelpMaster supports (phone, email, web, etc).  Where there is a conflict between the master client and the duplicates, the client merge tool will appear to assist you to resolve these differences and make your selection.

Once a client has been merged into the “master”, the duplicate client is completely and irrecoverably purged from the database.

To merge:

  1. From the client search screen, perform a search that will display the duplicate client names.

  2. Select each of the clients

  3. Right click the “master” client (ie. the client that you want all the others to be merged into), and select “Merge selected clients” from the pop-up menu

  4. The Merge Client screen will appear

  5. The client merge screen will display all of the differences between each of the clients. 

  6. Double-click on the column / row of information that is the correct version

Delete a Client

For single Client deletion this can be easily accomplished from the client’s Properties tab by just clicking the Delete button.

  For multiple client deletion proceed as follows. 

  1. Open the Clients screen.
  2. Use the Search functions of the Clients screen to find the client you require.
  3. Select the client required. 
  4. Click Delete.
  5. Click Yes in the confirmation box.

For information about what happens when you delete a client, see Deleting entities - what happens?

Determining the unique PKID of a client

Each client has a unique “PKID” number. This is a unique number that is used to identify this client in the database. This number may be used in SQL scripts for workflow, reporting, as well as the WebAPI for authentication purposes.

The PKID is displayed on the Properties tab of the client, similar to most other entities.

Get Client PKID

See Also

Overview

Grouping, Classifying and Controlling Access

Linking other entities to a Client

Viewing job history for a Client

Automatically generating the Client ID

System Event Log

4.12.3 - Change passwords

Change passwords

Updating client passwords

HelpMaster allows you to reset the HelpMaster password for a client (note this is different from their Windows password - to reset a Windows password, refer to Resetting a Client's Windows Password).  This password refers to the password that a client will need to log into the HelpMaster Web Portal manually.  HelpMaster also supports the ability to bulk-update client passwords. 

Remember also that clients can log-on to the HelpMaster Web Portal via Active Directory single-sign on, if configured.

When you reset a client password, HelpMaster gives you the option to email them with the details of the change.  The content of the email can be customized to suit preference.

To set or reset client passwords, perform the steps below:

  1. Log into the Desktop edition of HelpMaster,
  2. Open the client search screen by using the Entities > Clients menu,
  3. On the Client search screen perform a search to locate the client(s) that require a password reset,
  4. Select the clients requiring a password reset and then click the right mouse button to invoke the context menu,
  5. Select the Reset Passwords... from the context menu.  This invokes the Update/Reset Client Passwords screen
  6. Choose the required options on the Update/Reset Client Passwords screen and press the Update selected client passwords button.

If a random password is selected, HelpMaster will generate a random password (either numeric or string based), unique to each client.  These randomly generated passwords will be created according to the length requirement as specified in the Web Portal settings page.  See Web Portal password length requirements for details about this setting.

See Also

Resetting a Client’s Windows Password

Active Directory single-sign in

Issuing client licences for web login

Password length and complexity requirements

4.12.4 - Client Picture / Gravatar

Client Picture / Gravatar

Each client can have their picture stored against their record.  This makes it easy to visualize who you are dealing with.  This picture also displays in the Action Log, as well as other areas within HelpMaster. If no image is selected then a two letter initial will be displayed instead as shown below.

Use

Right-click the client image, then select your preference for choosing an image.

Once an image has been selected, use the cursor arrow keys to adjust its position.

 

Gravatar support

HelpMaster can also use www.gravatar.com for a client image.  In order for the Gravatar image to work, the client needs to have a valid email address stored in HelpMaster (in any of the email fields), AND, this email address needs to be registered with www.gravatar.com.

 

Active Directory synchronization

The client image can also be obtained from Active Directory if it exists.  This is implemented in Active Directory as the "thumbnailphoto" property.  For further information about this AD property, see this Microsoft article. 

The client picture is the only Active Directory field that may be read from, and written to Active Directory.  All other HelpMaster fields are purely read-only from Active Directory.  If a staff member belongs to an Application Security Role that has the permission to update the client picutre update into Active Directory, they will see relevant menus when right-clicking on the client picture.

Note.  Clearing a client's picture directly from Active Directory (or using a third-party tool), will not clear the picture in HelpMaster.  When a HelpMaster Active Directory synchronization profile runs, it will only update the client picture if there is a picture in Active Directory.

 

Action Log

The image that has been selected for either a client or a staff member will display in the Action Log in both the Desktop and Web versions of HelpMaster.

See Also

General user preferences

Action Log

www.gravatar.com

Active Directory synchronization

4.12.5 - Viewing helpdesk history for a client

Viewing helpdesk history for a client

Each time a job is logged, HelpMaster records both the job details and the client. Through this, HelpMaster builds up a ‘Job History’.  Viewing the job history for a client is an important part of providing good customer service.  This feature is especially useful to determine whether a client has any outstanding, or recent, helpdesk, or other issues before logging a new job for them.

HelpMaster makes this powerful task simple.

  1. To view the job history for a client, press F3 to set focus to the Client Search text box on the main toolbar, or simply click in the text box next to the client drop-down box.
  2. Type the details of either the Client ID, the Last Name, or the First name (depending on what is selected from the drop-down box to the left of the text box) and press Enter
  3. The Client list screen will display any clients that match your search criteria. Select the client you wish to query, and click Job History.

From this screen, you can:

  • View the selected job by selecting it and pressing Enter, or by double-clicking it
  • Add an action to the selected helpdesk job by right-clicking a selected helpdesk job
  • Log a new job by clicking Log New Job

The “Links” tab of a client also contains both the present and past job history for a client. 

See Also

Viewing job history for a site

Job Finder

Viewing a particular job

Clients Overview

4.12.6 - Client Active Directory Synchronization

Client Active Directory Synchronization

Once a client has been synchronized with Active Directory, the “Permissions” tab on the client screen will display details about their synchronization.

Furthermore, for HelpMaster staff members with appropriate Windows domain permisssions, they will be able to click “Change Windows password” and reset their Windows password.

Explanation of settings

Is Active Directory Enabled: When checked, this client will be synchronized with the information in Active Directory.

Un-associate from Active Directory: When a HelpMaster client is synchronized with an Active Directory user, HelpMaster stores their Windows SID (Security Identifier) in order to link and associate each record together.  When this button is clicked, HelpMaster will remove all Active Directory information stored about the HelpMaster client, including the Windows SID.  It will be as if the client was never synchronized at all.  This will stop single-sign on for both the Desktop and Web versions of HelpMaster.

The next time the Active Directory service runs, this HelpMaster client may be matched up and re-synchronized with its corresponding Active Directory user account if the following conditions are met:

  1. The “Is Active Directory Enabled” checkbox is checked (see above)
  2. The Active Directory client matching pattern in the Active Directory Profile is satisfied

Last Active Directory Synchronize: The date when the client was synchronized with Active Directory

Windows user principal name (UPN):  The UPN of the corresponding Active Directory user account

Original LDAP path: The Active Directory path where the user was found and created from.  See Active Directory LDAP path

Resetting a Windows Password

Resetting a users Windows password is only possible if the following conditions are met:

  1. The client has already been synchronized with Active Directory
  2. The corresponding Active Directory user account is not disabled
  3. The person performing the reset action (HelpMaster staff member) has the necessary Windows permissions to reset a Windows password.

Viewing Active Directory field settings 

Use the Field Chooser to add Active Directory synchronization information to the information lists throughout HelpMaster.

See Also

Resetting a client's HelpMaster password

Client Manager (import this from Active Directory)

4.12.7 - Client Manager

Link clients to their manager for workflow and process control

Each client can be linked to another existing HelpMaster client as their manager.  This is found on the “Employment” tab of the client screen.

client manager

Use

Manually type a client to be the manager, or use the quick-select, or client selection button.

Once a manager has been selected for a client, they can be used for workflow approvals simple approvals, within Email templates, and the Field Chooser .

When designing email templates, use the dedicated Client Manager tags to customize the outgoing email.

client manager email tag

Update the manager field in Active Directory, and then use Active Directory synchronization to import the manager for each client.

See Also

Active Directory

Active Directory Synchronization for clients (populate the manager field from Active Directory data)

Workflow and Approvals

Workflow Approvals using the manager

General

Email templates - embed the “manager” tags within out-going email Field Chooser

Priority Manager

Send email to a client's manager via an automation profile

4.13 - Alerts

Use

An alert is a short message, or notice that can be associated with any of the main entities of HelpMaster - Clients, Sites, Assets, Knowledge Base Articles and Jobs.  They will automatically display whenever that entity is viewed, or referenced. The type of display can be configured when the alert is created.

Alerts can be manually set, or automatically created by a Triggered Event. They may be used to indicate the following:

  • When a client has a special status
  • When an Asset’s warranty period has expired
  • When a Knowledge Base article “Review date” has expired
  • When a client’s support agreement has lapsed
  • Whenever a job contains a certain link to another entity
  • …. anything you like

Multiple Alerts

Each entity type that support alerts can have multiple alerts created for them. The following is an example of a job that has 2 alerts associated with the entities that are linked to it.

Note: A linked job may also contain an alert.

stacked alerts

Display options

Alerts can be manually viewed, by clicking on the alert indicator, as pictured below.

alert toolbar

They can also be set to automatically display whenever the entity is used, linked, or viewed.  

Logging new jobs

When logging a new job, if a client is linked to the job that has alerts associated with them, these alerts will be displayed in the job, depending on their notification type.

logging a new job alert

Manually Setting Alerts

On any entities that support Alerts, click the Alerts button on the right of the toolbar to view, create, delete or edit alerts.

alert toolbar

 

The following properties can be set when creating an alert.

alert

Title. A short description of the alert.

Message. A longer description and or instructions for others.

Priority. Choose from the set list of priorities - “High”, “Medium” and “Low”.  This is intended as an indicator only, it does not affect the alert or other aspects of HelpMaster in any way.

Alert Type. This field is useful for grouping/classifying alerts into discrete categories that can then be targeted by reports, triggered events, and other automation. Options can be administered via the System Codes administration screen.

Notification Type. Choose from the following:

  • Display Count.  Displays the number of alerts for an entity in the title bar.  Click this to open the alerts list.
  • Show Alerts. Automatically displays the alerts list whenever an entity is viewed.
  • Popup Window. Automatically displays a pop-up window with the alert whenever an entity is viewed.  The alert windows must be closed to progress.

Visibility.  Choose from the following:

  • All Staff. All staff users of HelpMaster will see the alert.
  • Just me. Only the person who creates the alert will see the alert.
  • Skillgroups. All members of the selected skillgroups will see the alert.

Skillgroups. Select the skillgroups that will be able to see the new alert. All staff users belonging to the skillgroups selected will be able to see the alert.

Created by.  Read-only record of who created the alert.  This field is automatically set to the person logged onto HelpMaster when the alert is created.

Date Created.  Read-only record of the date the alert was created.

Expiry Date.  Set to a date when the alert will be automatically removed.

Automatically Setting Alerts

Use the Triggered Events Automation to automatically set and remove alerts.

See Also

Setting an alert automatically via a Triggered Event

4.14 - Sites

Sites are collections of Clients, that share either a physical or logical workplace

4.14.1 - Site Overview

Site Overview

Definition

A Site is the physical location, an office or building where clients are located. Sites can be created into a hierarchical list that can be multiple levels deep. Once sites have been created, they can be linked to clients and staff.

Icons used throughout HelpMaster


    ![](/images/common/site_48x48.png)       Site

Site Hierarchy


Relationship with other HelpMaster entities

  • Clients can be linked to sites

  • Assets can be linked to sites

  • Sites can be linked to other sites to form a hierarchy of sites

  • Sites are not directly linked to jobs. Their association with a job is via a client

## About Sites

The Sites screens are accessed via the Sites icon on the Master toolbar, the Sites option in the Go menu located on the Standard toolbar or by holding down the Ctrl key while entering S. Details recorded about a site include:

  • Contact - Name, business and postal address, phone numbers, fax, email and web addresses.
  • General  - Business hours, time difference, holidays and multiple contact details.
  • Notes - Any extra details required.
  • Links - Clients, helpdesk jobs and assets attached to the site.
  • Custom - Include any of your user defined fields. 

See Also

Creating a new Site

Modifying a Site

Deleting a Site

Linking other entities to a Site

Field Chooser

 

Clients

Clients Overview

4.14.2 - Site Administration

Site Administration

Creating or updating sites is simply a matter of filling out the necessary information on the Sites screen and then clicking on the Apply button. Access the Sites screen via the Go option on the Standard toolbar, by pressing Ctrl-S, or by the sites button on the Master toolbar.

Creating a new Site

  1. Open the Sites screen.
  2. Click on NewThis will open the Site Details screen.
  3. Enter the Site’s name.
  4. Select the Type from the drop down box.
  5. Select the Core Business from the drop down box.
  6. Enter the contact and address details together with any other details, links etc.
  7. Click OK/Apply

The new site has been created.

Updating a Site

  1. Open the Sites screen.
  2. Use the Search functions of the Sites screen to find the site you require.
  3. Select the site required.
  4. Click on the Update button. This will open the Site Details screen.
  5. Enter the altered details.
  6. Click on OK.

Your changes have been entered and saved.

Deleting a Site

For single Site deletion this can be easily accomplished from the site’s Properties tab by just clicking the Delete button.

For multiple site deletion proceed as follows.

  1. Open the Sites screen.
  2. Use the Search functions of the Sites screen to find the site you require.
  3. Select the site required. 
  4. Click on the Delete button.  This will open up a confirm delete message box.
  5. Click on Yes in the confirmation box.

For information about what happens when you delete a site, see Deleting entities - what happens?

See Also

Sites Overview

Modifying a Site

Deleting a Site

Deleting / Purging jobs

System Event Log

4.14.3 - Site Hierarchy

Site Hierarchy

Sites can be grouped together to form a hierarchy of sites.  This is achieved via the Site Hierarchy screen which is accessed via the main toolbar.  By creating a hierarchy of your sites, you can group sites together which may share a logical, physical, or organizational relationship.

Use

To view the Sites Hierarchy screen, click the Site Hierarchy button in the Toolbar

By default, all the sites created in your HelpMaster database will appear in this screen.  To create your hierarchy, simply use the drag and drop interface to move sites around.  To enable drag and drop, check the checkbox at the top of the screen.

Why create a site hierarchy?

Organizing your sites into a hierarchy benefits you when it comes time to find jobs, or do reporting.  The Job Finder screen allows you to search on any site, but also has the ability to search on the children of a particular site, that is, sites that appear under the parent site in the Site Hierarchy screen. 

Limiting job visibility based on site association for web clients

Site Hierarchy is also used for clients accessing the client Web Portal.  When you associate clients with a site, system administrators can control the level of job visibility the client has when they login to the Web Portal.  See Client Web Settings.

See Also

Sites Overview

Creating a new Site

Modifying a Site

Deleting a Site

Linking other entities to a Site

4.14.4 - Site office working hours

Site office working hours

Each site can be configured to store the working hours that that site operates under.   This is achieved by checking the days in which the site operates, as well as the start and end hours of the business day.

When clients are linked to sites

When clients are linked to sites that have Business Hours configured, the client detail screen will display some additional timezone information about that client.

See Also

Setting the global Business Office hours

Entering dates

4.14.5 - Site job history

Site job history

Viewing the job history for a site is very similar in concept to the way you view job history for a client.

See Also

Viewing history for a client

Job Finder

Viewing a particular job

4.15 - Assets

Assets are tangible things you need to track and manage - hardware, equipment, vehicles etc

4.15.1 - Overview

An asset in HelpMaster is a piece of equipment such as a computer, a printer, a car, a piece of furniture etc.  In ITIL terminology, an asset is also called a configuration item, or CI.

Icons used throughout HelpMaster

Asset

Asset service request

Relationship with other HelpMaster entities

Assets can be linked to:

  • a Job when it is logged
  • an individual Client
  • a Site

Information recorded

An asset can have the following data recorded against it:

  • General - ID, serial number, service tag, manufacturer, product key, status etc.
  • Purchase and warranty details.
  • Links - What other entities are associated to the asset, eg. it’s site (location).
  • Service history details.
  • Properties - Notes section for any extra information wanted.
  • Custom - Include any of your user defined fields.

See Also

Creating a new Asset

Modifying an Asset

Deleting an Asset

Assets Service Requests

Setting Alerts for assets

4.15.2 - Administration

Create, modify, clone, link or delete an asset

Creating an asset

  • Open the Assets screen either by selecting Assets from the Entities menu, or by pressing Ctrl-T.
  • Click New.
  • Enter the Asset details you would like to track. Note - Custom Fields and Control Sets can be configured under the main ‘Administration’ menu.
  • Check the workstation box if the asset is a workstation and not a single asset.
  • Enter the computer name if applicable.
  • Click Apply.

Modifying an Asset

  • Open the Assets screen either by selecting Assets from the Entities menu, or by pressing Ctrl-T.
  • Use the Search function of the Assets screen to find the asset you require.
  • Select the asset. 
  • Click the Update button, which will open the asset details screen.
  • Make the required changes.
  • Click OK to save the changes and close the window.

Cloning an Asset

Existing assets can be cloned, or copied.

  • Open the Assets screen either by selecting Assets from the Entities menu, or by pressing Ctrl-T.
  • Use the Search function of the Assets screen to find the asset you require.
  • Right click on the asset, and select “Clone Asset” from the pop-up menu.  

cloning an asset

  • A new asset screen will appear, populated with most of the details from the previously selected asset.  Historical details like job history will not be transferred.
  • The Asset ID will be duplicated with “Copy” added to the end.  Update the Asset ID as required.
  • Click OK to save and close the window.

Note - Cloning only works on single assets.

Linking an Asset

Linking an asset to a job has two main benefits.  Firstly, it adds meaning to the job by identifying a piece of equipment that is relevant to that job.  Secondly, it builds up a job history for that piece of equipment, which can then be queried at a later date.

You can link an unlimited number of assets to a job.

  • Open the Job screen.
  • Click the Links tab. This will populate the screen with the details of any links attached to the job.
  • Select the Assets option.
  • Click the Add button. If a primary client for the job has already been entered, a popup-menu will appear under the Add button.  This will give you the option of searching the assets that are currently linked to that client.
  • Use the Assets screen Search facilities to find the asset you wish to add.
  • Click  Select
  • Click Apply or OK in the Job screen. 

Deleting an Asset

When an asset is no longer in use or has been disposed of, you may wish to remove it from the HelpMaster database.

For single asset deletion, open the asset, select the Properties tab and click Delete.

Deleting an asset

For multiple asset deletion:

  • Open the Assets screen either by selecting Assets from the Entities menu, or by pressing Ctrl-T.
  • Use the Search function of the Assets screen to find the assets you require.
  • Select the assets that require deletion.
  • Click the Delete button.  This will open up a confirm delete message box.
  • Click Yes to confirm.

For information about what happens when you delete a asset, see Deleting entities - what happens?

See Also

Overview of linking entities to a job

Linking clients to jobs

Linking sites to a job

System Event Log

4.15.3 - Service Requests

Service and Maintenance scheduling for Assets

In HelpMaster, an asset can be a piece of equipment, inventory or other tangible item.  Sooner or later all equipment, or assets, require maintenance. This is where the HelpMaster Service Request is useful. Each ‘Asset Details’ screen contains a ‘Service/Helpdesk History’ tab where details about the service and helpdesk history are recorded for that asset.

A service request is the process of booking an asset in for needed maintenance.  This is different to the process of logging a helpdesk request for a client.

The lifecycle of an asset service request is represented by the following diagram 

 

A service request requires the following information:

  • When the asset is scheduled for service
  • When the asset is due back from service
  • What type of service is to be performed
  • Who performed the service
  • How much it cost
  • Other service-related details you may wish to track

The Service Details screen is accessed via the “Service/helpdesk history” tab on the main Asset Detail screen.

Use

On the Asset Details screen, select the  “Service History” tab.

This will display a list of the service history for the asset.  Double-clicking a service request will display the service detail screen.

Enter a date for the next requested service in Next service due, using either the date text box or the calendar control.  This provides a visual cue only.

Checking out an asset for service 

Click the Check out for service button to display the service detail screen.

Fill in the appropriate details and click OK.  Note that the caption for the Check in for service button changes to read Check back from service / View current service details.  A red label also appears above this button to provide a visual cue that the asset is currently checked out for a service.

Checking an asset back in from service

Once the service has been completed, it needs to be checked back in from service.  Do this by clicking Check back from service / View current service details.  This will display the service details screen.

Fill in the appropriate service details and click Check back in from service.  The service job will now appear in the maintenance details list, and the service option will read Check out for service ready for the next service request.

See Also

Assets Overview

Automation

Scheduling Assets for regular Maintenance - See Triggered Events

5 - Knowledge Base

Building and using your own Knowledge Base

5.1 - Knowledge Management Overview

Knowledge Management Overview

Knowledge Management plays an important role in any organization.

The goal of Knowledge Management is to capture, curate and share knowledge, and make it available to the right person at the right time.  This knowledge can be accessed via the web, via the Dekstop edtion, or by being attached to an outgoing email.  

Knowledge Base Web Home

A knowledge base article is basically a document that you create (or import from external sources) that captures corporate information that is useful in resolving problems, incidents, or just as a reference about any topic.  A knowledge base article in HelpMaster contains a text field that stores this information as either plain text, or HTML, and is then classified by various codes and meta data such as:

  1. An article ID for easy reference
  2. A title for the article
  3. A short summary of the article
  4. The details of the article
  5. Keywords to make searching fast and easy
  6. The issue it applies to using the same issues as jobs for cross-referencing
  7. Other similar, or linked Knowledge Base articles
  8. A general classification category to help define context
  9. A rating system to monitor the article’s performance
  10. The dates the article was created and last modified

Icons used throughout HelpMaster

Knowledge base

Knowledge base articles can be linked to one another to give the reader a greater base to work with.  See Creating a new Knowledge Base Article.

How the knowledge base is used by HelpMaster

Once a knowledge base article is created, it can be used throughout HelpMaster in the following ways:

See Also

Viewing a knowledge base article

Knowledge base article administration

Previous Issues and Resolutions

The Web Portal (Publish knowledge articles for self-service)

5.2 - Knowledge base article administration

Knowledge base article administration

Creating a new Knowledge Base article

Each Knowledge Base article has the following required fields:

  • Article ID
  • A title for the article.
  • Category.
  • The author, who wrote the article.  Is automatically filled.
  • The dates the article was created and last modified. Automatically filled.

The Knowledge Base screens can be accessed with the Knowledge Base button via the Entities menu.

Use

  1. Open the Knowledge base articles screen
  2. Click on the New button.  This will open the Knowledge base article screen.
  3. Enter an Article ID
  4. Enter the Title
  5. Select a Category for the article
  6. Enter keywords for the article, select an issue the article applies to. (Optional)
  7. Enter the details of the article
  8. Click on OK

Linking an Existing Article to an Article

An existing Knowledge base article can be linked to another article.  This allows the user ready access to further information through the See Also option on the Knowledge base article screen.

Use

  1. Open the Knowledge base articles screen
  2. Use the search facilities to locate the article you wish to link from
  3. Double click on the desired article
  4. Click on the Add button. This will open the Knowledge base articles search screen
  5. Use the search facilities to locate the required article
  6. Click on Select

The linked article now appears in the “See Also” drop down list.

Updating a knowledge base articles

Knowledge base articles can change because of an improved method of acquiring a solution, extra details pertaining to the subject matter having been discovered, or a reference being added.  

Use

  1. Open the Knowledge base articles screen.
  2. Use the search facilities to locate the article
  3. Select the article.
  4. Click on Update.*  This will open the Knowledge base article screen.
  5. Modify the article as required.
  6. Ensure that all required fields are valid.
  7. Click on OK.

The article has been successfully modified.

Deleting a knowledge base article

A Knowledge Base article which is no longer of use can be deleted from the HelpMaster environment.  This is accomplished from the Knowledge Base Article screen.

For single Knowledge Base article deletion this can be easily accomplished from the article’s Properties tab by just clicking the Delete button.

For multiple Knowledge Base article deletion proceed as follows.

  1. Open the Knowledge base articles screen
  2. Use the search facilities to locate the article for deletion
  3. Select the article
  4. Click on Delete
  5. Click on Yes in the Message box which will appear

See Also

Knowledge Base Overview

Viewing a Knowledge Base Article

Web Portal Knowledge Base Articles

5.3 - Viewing an article

Viewing an article
  1. Open the Knowledge base articles screen.
  2. Use the search facilities to find the article you want.
  3. Double click on the desired article.  This will open the article for you to view.
  4. Click on Close when you have finished with the article.  You may wish to rate the article prior to closing.

See Also

Knowledge Base Overview

Creating a new Knowledge Base Article

Rating a Knowledge Base Article

Web Portal Knowledge Base Articles

5.4 - Knowledge Base article ID auto generation

Knowledge Base article ID auto generation

Each knowledge base article that is created needs to have a unique “Knowledge base article ID”.  This field serves to uniquely identify an article so that it can be referenced.

A knowledge base article ID can be manually specified, or automatically generated. 

Manually specifying an article ID

Manually specifying a knowledge base article ID is easy - simply type whatever you want in the “Article ID” text box - that’s it.  If the text you have entered is not unique, HelpMaster will let you know.

Automatically generating an article ID

Use the Administration > KB Administration menu > Article ID tab to configure the options for the Knowledge base article ID auto generation.  Choose from the following 3 options.

Category + Number

This style of auto ID is based around the category classification that is given to the knowledge base article.  The ID is generated from a combination of the article category + a unique, sequential number.  The knowledge base artilce ID is generated only after a knowledge base category is selected from the drop-down box.

Prefixed number

The style of auto ID is based around a common word and then a unique, sequential number

None

Use this option to disable auto ID generation.  The user creating the new knowledge base article will have to specify their own, unique ID.

5.5 - Knowledge base searching

Knowledge base searching

Searching for knowledge base articles is one of the fundamental things that makes knowledge management work.  Users want to find relevant information fast.

HelpMaster provides a number of searching tools to make this process easy, efficient and powerful.  In addition, HelpMaster provides several tools and information that knowledge base authors and administrators will find useful to assist with better understanding the search behaviour of clients.  By using these tools and analyzing search data, the quality of knowledge base articles can be improved over time. 

Full Text searching

HelpMaster uses the power of Microsoft SQL Server Full Text Searching (FTS) engine to perform knowledge base article searching.  This needs to be installed and configured correctly before this feature can be utilized.  For information about this, see Full Text Searching congifuration.

Search terms and results

Whenever any search is performed against the HelpMaster knowledge base, either via the web, or via the Desktop edition, the exact search phrase is stored for a period of time.  By storing the search phrase used, HelpMaster will display the following via the Knowledge Base administration screen.

  1. The search word/phrase used to search the knowledge base
  2. The date of the search
  3. The number of results the search term resulted in

Sometimes, knowledge base searches will yield no results.  This may be due to a lack of appropriate articles, spelling mistakes in the search terms, different inflections in search terms (synonyms, plurals, accent characters etc), knowledge base articles that have been poorly written, or articles that just do not contain these words.  Whatever the reason, HelpMaster allows the knowledge base administrator the ability to examine search phrases that did not return any results, and then link appropriate articles to those search terms.  If no such article exists, it may also be appropriate to create a knowledge base article that people have been searching for.

Improving searchability

By examine the search logs for search terms and phrases that did not return any results, you may wish to associate these terms with relevant knowledge base articles.  Do this withing the “Additional search terms” section of each Knowledge base article.

Whenever a knowledge base article is viewed following a search, HelpMaster will prompt the viewer to rate whether the article was relevant to the search or not.

By cross-referencing search terms with relevancy, HelpMaster can provide further statistical insight into the searchability and relevancy of your knowledge articles.  Using this information, knowledge administrators can fine-tune knowledge articles for additional search words, and gain a better understanding of article useability.

Filtering search terms by date

Use the date filter drop-down box to limit the number of results returned by the search terms query.

5.6 - Knowledge base search administration

Knowledge base search administration

5.7 - Knowledge Base Feedback

Knowledge Base Feedback

The knowledge base system within HelpMaster includes a flexible and powerful feedback system.  This feedback system is designed to allow knowledge administrators, authors and users to gain valuable feedback about each knowledge base articles, as well as the overall value and health of the knowledge base system. 

Feedback overview

Knowledge base articles can be individually rated, and each rating is tallied to produce an overall score.  This is displayed on the front tab of each knowledge base article.  This information is also available as fields within the Knowledge Base section of the Field Chooser.

knowledge base rating

Each article allows staff members to drill-down into the individual ratings.

knowledge base feedback

…as well as the statistics of the article

knowledge base statistics

Feedback design

In order to allow your customers to rate and give feedback on your knowledge base content, you will first need to design a knowledge base feedback form.  For details on how to do this, see Feedback Design and Architecture.

Once you have created your knowledge base feedback form, your web users will be able to rate knowledge base articles by clicking on the “Add rating” button on the HelpMaster Web Portal. This will display the following screen.

After the article is rated, the score is updated immediately.  System administrators can view specific feedback for an acticle.

See Also

Feedback overview

Feedback Design and Architecture

6 - Web Portal

The web-based version of HelpMaster

The HelpMaster Web Portal allows staff to log, track and manage jobs via the web, and gives clients (and staff) of the business a flexible request catalog that can be used to log new jobs / tickets.

6.1 - Web Portal Overview

Web Portal Overview

In addition to the standard Desktop edition which runs as a Windows application, HelpMaster also has a web portal that offers similar functionality via a Web Portal.  The HelpMaster web portal is accessible to both staff and clients of your business.  Although the web portal is a single web application, the layout and functionality changes depending on who logs onto it. When clients log on, they get a simplified, cut-down version, whereas staff/agent/queue holders get a richer, more complete experience.

The web portal provides the core functionality of working with jobs, knowledgebase and messaging, however certain administrative functions will still need to be performed via the HelpMaster desktop edition.

When clients (non staff members) logon to the web portal, they get a view of their data that allows them to interact with your company in a way that will benefit the entire organization.  When you implement the HelpMaster web portal for clients, you can dramatically reduce the number of calls to your service desk (or other business units) by empowering your clients to achieve a measure of self-service for their support and request needs. 

The HelpMaster web portal for clients allows your clients to log, view and update jobs in HelpMaster using a web-browser viewing pages over the internet, or your corporate intranet. 

client web request fulfillment

When clients wish to report a helpdesk incident, or request a business service or product, browse their history or just find a knowledge base article, they simply open their web-browser on their computer, browse to the HelpMaster web portal home page and start using.

The HelpMaster web portal for clients allows your clients to perform the following actions:

  • Log a job
  • Update existing jobs with new information
  • View their history
  • View knowledge base articles and rate their satisfaction
  • Read news articles posted to the message board

Benefits of a web portal for your service desk

One of the great advantages of using the HelpMaster web self-service portal is that your helpdesk staff are not tied down logging jobs.  The client web self-service portal empowers your clients to help themselves, either by finding the information they are after, or by logging their own helpdesk job / request.  Your clients can check the progress on their job whenever they want, as well as provide feedback on knowledge base articles, helpdesk job progress and their own personal details.

The HelpMaster self-service web portal results in a smarter, better helpdesk, with a great result for clients, staff and management.

Other uses for the Web Portal

The web portal is also used for workflow approvals and change management voting,and public-facing request forms.

See Also

Installing the Web Portal

Developer Access via the WebAPI

Request Catalogs

Knowledge Base Overview

6.2 - Licencing Overview

In order to logon to the web portal, both staff and clients will require a Web Portal licence

In order for each client or staff member +to be able to access the HelpMaster Web Portal, they need to be allocated a Web Licence.

Client Licensing

A “Licensed” client is a client that has been granted a licence to login and use the HelpMaster Web Portal. Granting a web license is done via the Desktop version of HelpMaster. Licenses can be granted individually, or in bulk. Licenses can also be automatically assigned when new clients are created.

Client self-registration

Note: It is possible for a new client to register themselves via the HelpMaster Web Portal and then be able to access the application. This is only possible if the “Allow self-registration” option in the “Web Settings” on the “General” tab is checked, and there are sufficient Client licences available for use. The system will automatically assign them a Client licence when they register.

Staff Web Portal Licensing

Staff web licensing is also performed via the Desktop edition of HelpMaster. Unlike licenses for the Desktop edition that are concurrent, Staff web licenses are named, and explicitly granted and revoked for each staff member. See Staff Web Licensing

Granting / revoking a license for individual clients/staff

To grant client licenses, perform the steps below:

  1. Log into the HelpMaster Desktop edition,
  2. Open the Client screen of the client/staff you wish to grant a web license.

Grant web portal license

  1. Check the appropriate checkbox to grant a license and click apply.

Bulk grant/revoke web licenses (clients only)

This method is for clients only. For staff, see Staff Web Licensing

  1. On the Client search screen perform a search to locate the clients you wish to grant web licenses to
  2. Select the clients you wish to grant/revoke web licenses to and right-click the right mouse button to invoke the context menu

  1. Select either Grant license or Revoke License from the context menu

The top right corner above the client search result should display the available web licenses as they are granted or revoked.

See Also

Web Licensing for staff via the Administration screen

Restricting Request Catalog visibility for clients and sites

6.3 - Request Catalog Overview

Request Catalog Overview

Request Catalogs make it easy for people to log new requests to your service desk.

Request Catalogs

A Request Catalog is a grouping of Job Templates, Knowledge Base articles and text information that is presented to users via the HelpMaster web portal.  Request Catalogs are presented as the first thing a user will see when they want to log a new job via the web portal. 

Users can drill-into a request catalog to view the job templates and knowledge base articles within.

Request Catalogs are often named and themed to represent a particular business function, or operational area. Examples include:

  • IT requests
  • HR requests
  • Legal and Policy
  • Facilitied Maintenance

Requests catalogs are the top-level grouping of the types of requests that can be logged. Typically these are grouped into business units, or other similar structures that will make it easy for clients to recognize and access.  A request catalog is the first thing a client will see and select in the process of logging a new requst. The business can create as many request catalogs as required. Each catalog tile can have it’s own image, title and description.

client web request fulfillment

The Request Catalog system is the entry point to logging a job. Request Catalogs integrate with the template system of the Desktop Edition in order to operate.  It is important for the HelpMaster system administrator to understand how each template type works, and to understand the interaction between a job template, an Action Template and an Email Template.  

Once the Request Catalog system is defined and configured correctly, the HelpMaster Web Portal provides a powerful self-service interface for your clients.

web request portal configuration overview

Job templates

Once a suitable Request Catalog has been selected, all of the Job Templates that are linked to that request catalog will be displayed for the client to select.  When the appropriate job template has been selected, the client fills in this screen and “submits” their job. The job that is logged will be based on the Job Template that was used, and all of the template logic, workflow and configuration be “stamped” into that job.

client web self-service helpdesk

Action templates

Updating existing jobs

The web portal allows clients to update their existing jobs, which appear in the Desktop edition as an new action in the action log.  The HelpMaster administrator can specify and configure an action template that will be used to apply any web updates.  If no such Action Template is used, the job will simply be updated with a new action that will contain the text the client entered.

Logging new jobs

Action templates are used during the job logging process because they are linked to the job template that is selected.  

Email templates

Email Templates are used to standardize the email response a client receives after they have logged, or updated their job.  If a web-enabled Action Template contains one or more Email Templates, that is, the action has been configured to send email when it is applied, those email templates will be converted into email and sent to the relevant people.  This means that clients logging a job over the web can receive a confirmation email along with notification emails to staff members.

Knowledge base articles

Clients are able to browse a list of web-enabled knowledge base articles that have been created by the HelpMaster Desktop edition.  These articles will be read-only, however each client may choose to rate the article via a quick and simple voting system that is presented in each Knowledge Base article.

Clients

Each client stored in the HelpMaster database that is visible from the Desktop version of HelpMaster is a potential client that can use the Web Portal.  In order to be able to use the Web Portal, they need to be correctly registered and licenced to do so.

See Also

Request Catalogs

Templates Overview

Knowledge Base Articles

6.4 - Web Portal

The Web Portal provide web-based access to HelpMaster

6.4.1 - Home page

Home page

Once you have logged into the web portal, the default landing page is the “Home page”

Depending on the visibility settings, the left-side menu will present the following options:

Home:  Navigates to the home page

Log new request: Initates logging a new request by navigating to the Request Catalogs screen

View my jobs: Displays a list of jobs that has been logged by this user

Knowledge Base: Navigates to the Knowledge Base screen

Latest News: Navigates to the latest news page

Links:  Display a list of custom links that have been configured by the adminstrator

About: Navigates to the About us page 

See Also

Web Settings

6.4.2 - Logging a job

New jobs are created via the Request Catalog

Logging a job

  1. Click the Log new request link from the left-side menu to display the Request Catalog screen

    client web request fulfillment

  2. Click the appropriate category for the request type.  This will display the contents of the request catalog and the available Job Templates

    client web self-service helpdesk

  3. Select the appropriate Job type to display the job logging details screen

    Each request type may require different fields to be filled in depending on how it was configured and if any control sets were used.

See Also

Viewing an existing job

Request Catalogs

6.4.3 - Updating personal details - Clients

Updating personal details - Clients

Updating personal details - Clients

The HelpMaster Web Portal allows clients to update their own details.  This assists administrators in keeping client details up to date in the HelpMaster database.

Note: The details (if any) that are available for update will depend on the options set by the administrator in the web application settings as some or all of the details may be read only

To navigate to the client details page, simply follow the ‘personal details’ link on the side menu of the page, or click ‘view personal details’ on the home page to take you to the personal details screen.

Changing Client Details

The client details screen is divided up into multiple pages (or tabs) to make viewing and editing the client details easier.  The below illustration shows these tabs accross the top (ie, Client Details, Contact Details, Addresses, Personal Details, Workplace Details and Employment).

Changing most individual details is self explanatory.  Most of the fields are either text fields, date fields (which will display a date selector box), drop down boxes or radio buttons.

The details that require special consideration are mentioned below.

The ‘Addresses’ tab

The addresses tab contains entries for a business address, a home address and a third alternative address (other).  In addition, these can be adjusted by an administrator so that more address spaces can be added.  In turn, each of these addresses can be marked as the shipping address, the postal address and the billing address.  Each address type can only be used once (for instance, you can only have one billing address, one shipping address and one postal address).

The above illustration shows the business address set to both the shipping and the billing address.  This also means that either the home address or the other address could be set as the postal address. In HelpMaster there is an option to specify that a client will inherit their address details from a site.  If this option has been selected (this is something that staff will do, rather than clients), then all the information in the address fields will be read only.

Date ranges

Some entries require a range of dates entered.  In this case, it is important to set the start date to a date that is earlier than the end date otherwise the information will not save but generate an error.  These fields include leave details, and contract details start and end dates (shown below). 

Saving the changes

Once you have made the relevant changes to your personal details, click the ‘Update details’ button.  This will commit the changes you have made to the database (note, any changes made before this button has been clicked will be lost if the window is closed).

You should then recieve a success message like the one shown below

You may now return to your personal details, or use the side menu for navigation to the desired page of the Web Module.

6.4.4 - Logon to the web portal

Logon / Logoff to the web portal

Logging onto the web portal can be done via one of the following methods:

  • A username/password combination
  • Active Directory / Single sign-on / Windows Authentication
  • Third-party login provider via oAuth

Username / Password logon

Access the Web Portal by the following

  1. Open a web browser (e.g. Edge, Chrome, Firefox etc.)
  2. In the address text box, enter the URL as per the IIS bindings for your portal.
  3. You should see the logon page.  Enter your login credentials to log in and start using the Web Portal

Forgotten Password

  1. Click the Forgot password link
  2. Enter your email address and click Email Link button
  3. An email will be sent to your address with a link to reset your password

Active Directory / Single sign-on / Windows Authentication

If you have configured the Web Portal to use Windows authentication (see here), you can bypass the default login page by doing the following.

  1. Log onto to Windows using your usual Windows network logon. (Important! This Windows account should already be associated with your corresponding HelpMaster user.  See Active Directory Module Overview)
  2. Open a web browser (e.g. Internet Explorer, Firefox etc.)
  3. In the address text box, enter any URL that is not the base URL of the web portal. eg. The URL must include a page that is “behind” the logon screen for your web portal and browse to it. If Active Directory / Windows Authentication has been configured correctly, you should be taken to that page and automatically logged on with the user that is currently logged onto Windows.

eg.

If your web main/logon URL is https://servicedesk.wizbangwidgets.com, then browsing to that page will always present the logon page, however browse to any other page “behind” the logon screen will attempt a Windows logon and take you to that page if successful.

URL Function Auto login?
https://servicedesk.wizbangwidgets.com Main Login page No
https://servicedesk.wizbangwidgets.com/Home Home page Yes
https://servicedesk.wizbangwidgets.com/Explorer Job Explorer page Yes
https://servicedesk.wizbangwidgets.com/Catalogs Request catalog page Yes

Log off

To log off, simply locate the log off button located at the top-right of the browser window.

Closing the window should also terminate the user session, but it is strongly recommended to end the session properly by using the ‘Log Off’ button on the toolbar.

6.4.5 - Working with attachments

Working with attachments

Similar to the desktop edition, file-based attachments may be added/attached to various entities (clients, sites, jobs, knowledge base articles etc). Once uplaoded, all attachments are stored in the Attachments folder.

Adding an attachment

Attachments can be viewed and uploaded via the “Attachments” tab. To upload an attachment, the job must first be put into “edit” mode by clicking the pencil icon in the top-right of the attachment tab. Use the “Select file…” button to browse to file to attach.

Web attachments

Viewing attachments

By default, attachments are represented by a small image of the attachment type. Image-based attachments can be previewed, or downloaded by right-clicking on the attachment and selecting “Download”

Viewing attachments

See also

Attachments Overview

Configuring the attachments folder

6.4.6 - Viewing an existing job - Clients

Viewing an existing job - Clients

Viewing existing job(s) - Clients

Once logged on, clients are able to click on the View my jobs menu to view a list of all current jobs they have logged

The following job states are highlighted in the coloured tag:

Job States

  • New Job (New)
  • Last updated by me (Me)
  • Last updated by another staff member (Other)
  • Last updated by Automation (Automation)
  • Awaiting client response (Awaiting)
  • Client has responded (Client)

To view an individual job, click on the job number.

6.4.7 - Registering a new login

Registering a new login

Registering a new login is only possible if this option is turned on in the web settings by the system administrator.

Registering a New Client ID

  1. Browse to the location of the HelpMaster Web Portal. 
  2. In the top-right of the browser window, click Register to display the login screen
  3. Fill in the registration form, including the CAPTCHA security text
  4. Click the Register button
  5. An email with registration/login details will be sent to the email address you specified
  6. Follow the instructions in the email to confirm your registration and login

6.4.8 - Viewing Knowledge Base Articles on the Web Portal

Viewing Knowledge Base Articles on the Web Portal

Searching for knowledge base articles

To search the knowledge base, follow either the link on the side navigation tree or on the home page.  This will display the knowledge base article search page (shown below).

knowledge base home 

Enter in any relevant criteria for the search (for instance, here the word mouse has been entered in as a keyword).  Alternatively, the fields can be left blank to return a list of all knowledge base articles.  Once this has been done, click search.  This will then display a list of results in a grid (for more information on how to use the results grid, see working with results grids). Select view from the left hand hyperlink column.

Viewing knowledge base articles

The page for viewing knowledge base articles is divided up into several sections.  The first section (shown below) has information on 3 tabs (general, properties and attachments) which deal with general information relating to the knowledge base article (such as name, keywords, author, creation and modification dates, and the like.  It also contains any relevant attachments that are added to the knowledge base article available for download (for more information, see working with attachments).

knowledge base article 

The second section of the knowledge base page contains the details of the article, along with any related links to other knowledge base articles.  Again, this information is read only for clients.  There is also a button to the right of the text box with an arrow pointing upwards.  The is to aid visibility and clicking this arrow will open a full screen window for the details box.

Rating knowledge base articles

Knowledge Base articles can be rated and commented on by anyone viewing the article.  Click the “Feedback” button to display the feedback screen.

knowledge base feedback and rating

See Also

Knowledge Base Overview

Knowledge Base Feedback

6.4.9 - Adding an action to a job - Clients

Adding an action to a job - Clients

Before you can add an action to a job, you will need to open the details of the job.  For more on how to do that, see viewing an existing job.

Once the job is open, click the ‘Update job’ link shown at the top-right of the screen.  This will display the update screen.  Enter the appropriate details and click Update

See Also

Logging a job

Viewing an existing job

Re-Opening a Job

6.4.10 - Viewing an action - Clients

Viewing an action - Clients

Viewing an action

To view an action, first of all open the job screen.  All of the updates, or actions that have been added to the job will be displayed at the bottom of the job screen.

This screen is completely readonly and will not allow for any of the action details to be changed, but simply viewed.  However, it will allow for both the viewing and the addition of attachments specific to that action.  To view attachments, click on the ‘Action Attachments’ tab.  To add a new attachment, click the link to ‘Add Attachment’.  For more information, see working with attachments.

To change any job details such as status or assignment, you will need to add another action.

6.5 - Configuration

Configuration

Web Portal Configuration

6.5.1 - Web Portal settings

Configuration Settings for the web portal

Once the HelpMaster Web Portal has been installed and is accessible via a browser, a number of additional settings need be set prior to use. Each of the settings outlined below are stored in the HelpMaster database.

Use

Access the Web Portal settings as follows.

  1. Login to the HelpMaster Desktop edition
  2. From the Web menu, select the Web Settings toolbar button
  3. Click on each of the tab pages on the Web Portal Settings screen and configure the settings as desired
  4. Click the OK or Apply to save your changes

Explanation of settings

General tab

Company Name: This text will appear on the title bar of every browser window that is displayed throughout the application.

Home page URL: Set this to the URL that resolves to the logon page of your HelpMaster Web Portal.  This settings is used by some Email Template tags that point to your HelpMaster Web Portal, including the job feedback survey.

Navigation Visibility Checkboxes that will control the visibility of some of the menus that will appear on the left-hand-side main menu of the Web Portal.

Allow Self Registration: Allow clients to self-register. When this option is on, clients will be able to click the “Register” link on the web portal, and provide basic details (name, email, password) and then be able to logon and start using the Web Portal. As part of the registration process, HelpMaster will send a confirmation email to the supplied address with an embedded link. This is required in order to complete the registration process.

Custom Web Links: Create custom links to your web site or other resources. This will be displayed under Custom Links in the navigation bar.

Settings tab

Web Email Account: Select an email account which will be used for all emailing via the web portal. This email account cannot be a Microsoft Outlook account. The drop-down box will only populate with Internet style accounts, or Microsoft 365/Gmail accounts. See Email Accounts for further details. 

Default Action Template: Optional. A default Action Template can be selected for Clients to update their job. Job status and notification emails to staff can be configured in this Action Template if desired. If not selected then a blank template will be used that only inserts the updated details without any other changes to the job.

Job Settings Control Sets on the web are displayed in an “accordian” control that can either be collapsed, or expanded. Select the display option default for Control Sets.

Client Web Private Actions Setting. When staff member mark an action (an update to a job) as “Private”, checking this option will remove the Action Log entry completely from view. If this option is not set, the Action will be displayed, however details will be replaced with a privacy placeholder.

Web Logins tab

Allow automatic login using Active Directory: When checked, any Active Directory synchronized clients or staff will automatically be logged onto the Web Portal if they browse to a web page other than the home URL. See Active Directory

Allow loggin in with Windows user name and password When checked and the correct network credentials are entered, any Active Directory synchronized clients or staff will be able to use their Windows password to logon to HelpMaster with (instead of their HelpMaster username/password). See Active Directory

External Authentication Providers Configure external authentication providers

Web Display Messages tab

Logon Screen: This text will appear beside the Username / Password on the logon screen.

Home Page: This text will apear on the home page after logging in.

About Us: This pages text and images will appear when the About Us link in the navigation bar is clicked.

Contact Details: These contact details will also apear on the About Us page as above.

Email Responses tab

Reset Password: This is the email response that will be sent to the client if they initiate a password reset.

Account Confirmation: This email response will be sent to a new client after registering for a logon account.

Logo Images tab

Select logos to apear on the Web Portal. The small logo will apear in the navigation bar while the large logo will show on the logon screen.

Advanced tab

HTML header tags Copy any valid HTML script tags, or other HTML that you want to be injected into the HEAD area of each page within the Web Portal.

See Also

Licensing clients for web use

Bulk-resetting client passwords for web use

Control Sets

Private Actions

Email Configuration

Email Overview

6.5.2 - Request Catalog Administration

Self-service made easy

Before any jobs can be logged via the web portal (by either clients or staff), the Request Catalog system needs to be configured via the Desktop edition of HelpMaster.

Administration of Request Catalogs

Request Catalogs are administered via the Desktop edition of HelpMaster via the “Web” menu > “Request Catalogs” toolbar button. Click “New', or “Update”, or “Delete” to administer.

web request catalog

Details Tab

Name:  Give the Request Catalog a descriptive name.  This will be presented to the users via the web portal, so keep it short and meaningful

Summary:  A brief summary of the why the user should browse/use this catalog.  This will be presented to the users via the web portal and appear along with the Name.

Picture: Select a picture from file to be displayed for this request catalog

Details: A detailed description of the request catalog.  This text can be used to describe the catalog, as well as present any additional information to the user once they select the catalog.  The text here will be presented at HTML, so you can include hyperlinks, graphics and other web mark-up styles.

The links tab is used to link Job Templates and Knowledge Base articles to the Request Catalog. Use the “Quick Add” text box, or the Add, Remove buttons to adjust the links.

Use the order Up / Down buttons to order the items in the appropriate order.

web request catalog links

Options Tab

Use the options tab to control the visibility of a request catalog.  By default, a new request catalog can be seen by everyone who can logon to the web portal. 

Feature groups for web portal access to request catalogs 

Visibility can be restricted by selecting which client and site “Feature Groups” can see the Request Catalog.  See Grouping, Classifying and Controlling Access

Properties Tab

The properties tab displays miscellaneous information about the Request Catalog and provides a text box for configuration notes.

Use

Create a new Request Catalog by the following:

  1. Open the Request Catalogs screen by “Web” menu > “Request Catalogs” toolbar button
  2. Click New on the Request Catalogs screen to display a new Request Catalog
  3. Fill in the Name, Summary and Details to give appropriate descriptive content
  4. On the Links tab, link appropriate Job Templates and Knowledge Base articles by using the toolbar “Add” button, or by dragging and dropping

Web Enabling a Request Catalog

Check the Is Active checkbox at the bottom of the screen to display the Request Catalog via the web portal.  Uncheck this box to take it off-line.

Best practice

Consider creating Request Catalogs for each distinct business unit, or business function as you need.  Think outside of just IT.  Consider Facilities Management, Human Resources, or Administration. 

Control visibility of the request catalogs via Feature Groups for clients or sites.

See Also

Grouping, Classifying and Controlling Access

Job Templates

Knowledge Base Overview

Web Portal Overview

6.5.3 - Setting and resetting client passwords

Setting and resetting client passwords

Setting and resetting client passwords

In order for a client to log onto the HelpMaster Web Portal, every licensed client may need to specify a logon password.  The desktop edition provides a quick and easy way to set and reset client passwords either individually, or in bulk.

Use

To set or reset client passwords, perform the steps below:

  1. Log into the HelpMaster Desktop edition.
  2. Open the Clients search screen from the Entities ribbon for bulk updates, or enter a single client's details into the ribbon Search field.
  3. On the Clients search screen perform a search to locate all of the clients that require a password reset, or go to the client’s Permissions tab and click Change HelpMaster password. (Skip steps 4 & 5 below for a single client password reset.)
  4. Select the clients requiring a password reset and then click the right mouse button to invoke the context menu.
  5. Select the Reset Passwords... from the context menu.  This invokes the Update/Reset Client Passwords screen.
  6. Choose the required options on the Update/Reset Client Passwords screen and press the Update selected client passwords button.

See Also

Issuing client licences

6.5.4 - Job templates

Job templates

All jobs logged via the Web Portal, are done so via the use of a job template that has been linked to a request catalog.  Job Templates and Request Catalogs are configured in the Desktop edition of HelpMaster. 

When a user logs onto the Web Portal to log a new job, they are presented with a catalog of request types.

client web request fulfillment

This is followed by a list of Job Templates that have been linked to the Request Catalog that was clicked on.

The client chooses the most appropriate template from the list and then fills in the fields that have been defined in the Job Template.

In the example above, the job template also contains a control set that has been built especially for capturing Training Course Details.

Linking an Action Template to the Job Template

When an Action Template is linked to a Job Template, it will specify the following additional details that will be applied to the newly created job.

  • Specific assignment or auto-assignment 
  • A specific Job Status code that can be used with SLA rules
  • Any assignment details for the assign-to staff member
  • Any emails that are associated with the action template will also be sent

web portal self service job template

The Job Template and the Action Template work closely together to provide a quick and powerful workflow for your web-based client self-service.

When a Job Template is linked to a Request Catalog, it can be ordered to appear higher, or lower in the list of jobs.  This is done via the Request Catalog screen.

See Also

Integration with HelpMaster Desktop - Overview

Action Templates

Job Templates

Web Portal

Request Catalogs

6.5.5 - Knowledge base articles

Web-enabled Knowledge base articles

Clients and staff using the HelpMaster Web Portal are able to browse a list of web-enabled knowledge base articles.  These articles will be read-only, however clients can provide feedback on each article.  This is done by clicking on the Rate this article link. 

In order to create a web-enabled Knowledge Base article, simply check the “Is Web Enabled” checkbox on the properties tab of the Knowledge Base article.

Auto-suggest knowledge base article to clients before they log a job

When job templates have knowledge base articles linked to them, these articles will be displayed in a box whenever a client uses the Web Portal to log a job using that template.

See Also

Knowledge Base articles

6.5.6 - Windows authenticated logon

Windows authenticated logon

Once you have installed the HelpMaster Web Portal, you may wish to configure the HelpMaster Web Portal to also allow Windows authenticated logins and provide a single-sign-in user experience. This is very convenient for corporate users on a network domain.

To allow Windows authenticated login via the web, do this:

  1. From the HelpMaster Desktop > Web menu > Web Settings toolbar button
  2. Click on the Web Logins tab
  3. Check the “Allow automatic login using Active Directory” checkbox

  1. Click the Apply button to save the changes.

See also

Active Directory User Synchronization 

Logging onto the web portal

6.5.7 - Securing a web application

Securing a web application

Security context

The HelpMaster Web Portal has a slightly more complicated security context than the the Desktop Edition.  Whereas in the Desktop staff can be assigned to security groups, all users are still staff and therefore have some degree of trust.  In the Web Module, users actually form two primary groups - those of clients and of staff.

The clients add a whole new level to the issue of security, and this itself will depend very much on the Web Module and HelpMaster implementation of the organisation.  For instance, if HelpMaster is used only to support clients who are staff members of the organisation (those classified as internal for instance), then while there is a security risk, they are all part of the organisation and therefore should all have at least some level of trust.  However, if you are supporting a large group of external clients, then this becomes a different story as the client base could be made up of just about anybody - meaning that no trust can be taken for granted.  Then, there is also the option to allow for client self registration.  If such is allowed, literally anybody can register themselves as a client (that is, anybody who can get to the registration page).  All of these factors need to be taken into careful consideration when deciding how tightly you need to secure your HelpMaster Web Portal installation.

The other primary security context is that of the staff members.  Basically, this is implemented in much the same way as the Desktop edition, with staff security groups and their restrictions coming into play (for more information, see staff security setup.  Many of the options that apply to clients (for instance, allowing attachment download / upload) don't apply to staff members as these exist in the system with a higher level of trust.

Client security

There are numerous ways to make the HelpMaster Web Portal more secure.  This article will consider some of these options.

  • Restricting use of attachments / securing attachments By default, attachments can be both uploaded and downloaded.  These options are both configurable through the global application settings for the Web Module.  If attachments have been allowed for upload, it should be ensured that sufficient disk space has been allocated to store all these attachments.  Also, it is extremely important that adequate virus scanning software has been installed on the server to ensure that if any malicious files are uploaded these will not do any damage.  If such protection is not available, it would be best to disallow client attachment upload.

  • Restrict use of client self registration Client self registration is a powerful feature of the application.  This way, the administrator or staff need not intervene when a new client wishes to log a support request but rather the client can enter their own details in the system, create a user id, and log the request themselves.  Unfortunately, there is also a down side to this in that anybody who has network access to the Web Module can create a client ID for themselves and log into the system.  The responsible party needs to decide how user names will be allocated to clients and whether their security framework allows clients to allocate their own IDs.  This will depend on factors such as the accessibility of the Web Module (if the Web Module can only be accessed over an intranet link, then technically only those who are internal should be able to gain access to the registration page; whereas if the Web Module is available over the internet, then anybody may sign up).

    Disabling client self registration is simple.  Again, this is done from the global application settings where the 'Allow Client Self-Registration' option needs to be set to false.  By default, clients are able to self register to use the Web Module.  As an alternative, to register all existing clients for use with the Web Module, simply use the Web Administration utility installed with the HelpMaster Web Portal.  Under the licencing screen, allocate the required licences to the users, and under the client passwords screen, send these passwords to the relevant clients through email.  This is the simple way to licence your existing clients in bulk.

Staff Security

Most of the settings that control staff access levels are configured through the HelpMaster Desktop application.  For more information on how to set up staff security groups and how to grant / deny access these security groups, see the page on staff security setup.

See Also

Configuring application settings

Configuring staff security groups and settings

Issuing client licences

Setting and resetting client passwords

Application identity security best practices

6.5.8 - Auto-generate Client ID

Auto-generate Client ID

The HelpMaster Web Portal has the ability to allow clients to register themselves if they have not previously logged on. This is only possible if the Allow Client Self-Registration settings on the Application Settings tab has been set to True in the Web Interface Settings. When a client registers with the HelpMaster Web Portal, they provide their first name, last name and other details, however they do not have the ability to choose their Client ID as this is automatically generated based on the settings configured by the system administrator. Once their unique Client ID has been generated for them, they can use this to login to the HelpMaster Web Portal.

In order to automatically create a valid client ID for your registering clients, you must set the Auto-Generate Client ID settings.

Note : The HelpMaster Desktop edition also has an Auto-Generate Client ID function, however the settings here will only work for the Desktop Edition.  The HelpMaster Web Module has it’s own settings for the client ID auto generation.

Use

Set the client ID auto-generation settings as follows:

  1. Select the menu item Options > Web Portal Settings from the main menu bar of the Web Administration.  This invokes the Web Portal Settings screen.
  2. Click on the Client ID tab and select the method of auto-generation required
  3. Click the Apply button to save the changes.

See Also

Licencing Overview

Step 4.5 : Customizing Web Portal settings

6.5.9 - Integration with HelpMaster - Viewing Privileges

Integration with HelpMaster - Viewing Privileges

By default, all jobs and their associated actions (ie. the action log for that job) are available for the client to view via the HelpMaster Web Portal.  However, it is possible to restrict the client from viewing either the entire job, or one or all of the action log entries.

A common function for staff working with the HelpMaster Desktop is to add an action to a job.  By default, these actions will always appear in the action log of a job, both in the desktop and the HelpMaster Web Portal

Sometimes though, these actions may contain sensitive information that the staff member, or the company as a whole may not wish clients using the HelpMaster Web Portal to view. In such occasions, the staff member should mark the action that they have just performed as private. This means that when the client using the HelpMaster Web Portal views their job, this particular action will not be listed with the other actions in the action log.

Restricting viewing of Actions within the Action Log

A common function for staff working with the HelpMaster Desktop edition is to add an action to a job. By default, these actions will always appear in the action log of a job, both in the Desktop and the Web Portal editions.

Sometimes though, these actions may contain sensitive information that the staff member, or the company as a whole may not wish clients using the Web Portal to view. In such occasions, the staff member should mark the action that they have just performed as private. This means that when the client using the Web Portal views the job containing the action, this particular action will not be listed with the other actions in the action log.

Restricting viewing for an entire Job

If you want to prevent a client from viewing an entire job and thus all of the associated actions within that job, ensure that the “No client access” checkbox is checked in the “Options” tab of the job.  This job will never be displayed in any part of the Web Portal as long as this checkbox is checked.

See Also

Action log

6.5.10 - Tips for setting up the Client Access Web Module

Tips for setting up the Client Access Web Module

Tips for setting up the Web Portal for client self-service

The following tips may prove useful in setting up your HelpMaster Web Portal for client use.

Action Templates

Allowing clients to close their own jobs

This is achieved by creating a web-enabled Action Template that has the Job Status set to Closed.  When the client uses this template, the job will be closed.  If your business rules determine that clients are not allowed to close their jobs personally, you may wish to set up an action template that allows them to just enter a “Close job notice” style action that does not change the status or reassign the job, but only add a progress note to the job that alerts the staff member that is assigned the job that the client wishes it to be closed. The closed job action is therefore still the responsibility of the staff member.

Allowing clients to re-assign their own jobs

This is achieved by creating a web-enabled Action Template that has the Assignment drop-down box set to the person who the job will be assigned to

Allowing clients to add notes to their own jobs

This is achieved by creating a web-enabled Action Template that simply has an appropriate Action Summary code, and perhaps some text in the details area to prompt the client to enter the correct details.

Jobs

How to open and close a job in the same action

When you link an Action Template to the web-based job template, ensure that the job status of the Action Template is set to closed.  When the client uses the Job Template, the job will be logged and closed in the same action.

Knowledge Base

Rating Knowledge Base articles

Encourage your clients to rate the knowledge base articles.  This will provide good feedback on the content and quality of the articles.  You can then run an efficiency report against the knowledge base articles to see which are the most popular, and which are the highest (and lowest) ranked.

General Configuration

Using URL buttons

It is possible to create up to 3 custom “Web Link” buttons that will appear along the top of every page within the HelpMaster Web Portal.  When the client clicks on one of these links, they will be taken to the location that has been specified.  Use these buttons to link to other web sites, intranet locations or other resources that will be useful to your clients.  Use the Web Administration Utility to define the text and links for these buttons.

Further Information

For further information about setting up your HelpMaster Web Portal, please contact PRD Software, or visit the on-line HelpMaster community discussion board.

7 - Workflow

Building workflow and process to support business practices and procedures

7.1 - Overview

Build workflow and process orchestration to support business practices

All businesses have a set of tasks that they perform in their day-to-day operations to achieve core business functions.  Naturally, different tasks require a different set of steps in order to achieve the task, and employees of the business are trained in the various ways to perform various duties. 

HelpMaster features a flexible and powerful workflow designer that allows you to map an existing business process as a series of workflow steps. This is achieved by an inutitive drag and drop interface where you simply drag the corresponding workflow object onto the workflow designer, set the relevant properties, and then connect it to the next step. No coding, no developer required - simply configuring objects.

workflow improvements

Once the workflow has been created it can be applied to new, or existing jobs, and saved as a Workflow Template for re-use.

Some examples of business workflow may be:

Information Technology Related

  • Incident Management
  • Software development bug tracking
  • Customer service and support
  • Change Management

Human Resources Related

  • New Employee onboarding / exit procedures
  • Asset provisioning
  • Security clearance and vetting
  • Accident and injury case management and investigation

Facilities Management Related

  • Schedule and service equipment
  • Safety checks
  • Accident reporting

General Business

  • Task management
  • Operational processes
  • …any day-to-day task that a business does that has a defined process

A workflow definition is a template that specifies the steps, markers, milestones, decisions, assignment and communication and other logic that is used to complete the business process.  Workflow processes are visually represented via a series of connected workflow objects and connectors.

This usually involves making decisions along the way, and taking a different course of events based on the answer to those decisions. HelpMaster allows a business to model these steps by means of a workflow designer. The workflow model in HelpMaster is simply a series of Action Templates that have been joined together to describe a business function.  At various points within the workflow, “Decision Points” can be inserted.  Depending on the outcome of the decision, the flow can be re-directed along different paths.  Moreover, the flow can be re-directed back to any previous step within the workflow to create a loop, or repetition of a step. 

Workflow is a key-feature of HelpMaster.  The concepts, objects, entities and principles of workflow touches virtually every other feature/component of HelpMaster.  Understanding workflow and building processes is the way to unlock the real power of HelpMaster. 

Example Workflow

The following workflow associated with a Job Template describes a simple process for starting a new employee at a company.  Once the job is logged, the workflow become available to use. 

 

Pre-made templates vs Ad-hoc Workflow

Workflow definitions can be built and stored as a Workflow Templates, imported into Job Templates, or built on-the-fly, or ad-hoc within an existing job.  Workflow can be build piece-by-piece, or you can copy some or all of an existing workflow diagram from an existing job or job template.

See Also

Why Workflow?

Planning for workflow

Workflow Templates

Creating workflow

Workflow Objects

Working with workflow

Actions to do

Use Application Security Roles to govern access and use of workflow

7.2 - Why Workflow

The benefits of Workflow

Define, document and optimize business processes

Cut down on bureaucracy that slows everyone down.  By creating an efficient workflow that accurately maps to real-world events, you can drastically cut-down the time it takes to get things done.  Decisions can be made faster, by the right people, and with the correct information they need to know.  Important changes can be correctly documented, approved and implemented (see Change Management), and decisions can be made either automatically based on data, or by staff that are presented with the relevant options. 

Automation

Workflow helps you to automate common and recurring tasks.  Build the workflow once, and then automate it.  Use for:

  • Interoperability of business units
  • Scripts (database, powershell, file transfers, server maintenance etc)
  • Escalations, Notifications
  • Alerts and Triggered events

Processs consistency

Workfow allows your business to perform the same things in the same way, time and time again.  This optimizes your processes, reduces the need for training, and speeds everything up.  Use for:

  • HR.  On-boarding new employees simply follow the steps. 
  • Software development.  Bug tracking, integration, deployment etc.
  • IT Service Management.  Incident, Problem and Change Management

Reduce training of new and existing staff 

When a process has been designed and implemented as a HelpMaster workflow, the execution of that process becomes a lot easier. 

Continuous Improvement.

Over time, workflows within HelpMaster will naturally change, be refined and updated as business process change and process maturity increases.  All of these things contribute significantly to continuous improvement.

Discover, document and diagnose business processes.  When you make a HelpMaster workflow, you're really discovering, documenting and diagnosing your existing business processes.  This is good for the business, for staff members and end-users.  By nature, workflow and processes are self-documenting to a certain extent.  As you build workflow, take the extra time to fill-in the meta-data, or properties of each step.  This will contribute to the documentation and ease of use of the process, as well as providing a good foundation for business documentation.

Satisfy audits.  Increasingly, regulatory and legislative compliance requires proof and demonstrable evidence of certain processes and tasks.  By working against well-defined, self-descripting workflows, you can increase your business operations collatoral to satisfy audits.

Integration with business systems and other business units.

Workflow allows you to integrate and share data and information with other business units and team members.

  • Active Directory
  • SQL Server
  • Sharepoint
  • Human Resources / Personnel
  • Facilities Management

Communication / Collaboration / Notification

  • Improve Team awareness by incorporating messaging into a workflow. This will keep people “in the loop” and help them to understand process/operations that are taking palce
  • Workflow assists in understanding business processes by visually displaying where you are up to in a process
  • Notify people only when they have something to do in the next step of the workflow

Data

Workflow assists in capturing, storing and reporting on data and information.  By building data-capture and validation into a business process, you ensure that all relevant details and data are captured at the right time.  Use this data later in reports to:

  • Aggregate, and Integrate into other processes
  • Report on captured data and information
  • Build KPIs / Statistics for business operations and tasks
  • Define and maintain business SLA / OLA
  • Build dashboards by using Business Intelligence BI tools such as PowerBI, Excel and others

Financial

Workflow assists with economic management by providing a structured, repeatable process for a given task.  This improves efficiency and can assist driving down costs:

  • Lower TCO
  • Efficiency in process execution = Improvments in the bottom line

Legislative Compliance

Workflow and strict business operational processes may be required from policy and legaslative bodies.  By building and working through a standard set of operational steps for a given task you can document and provide accurate audit logs for auditors, compliance checks, records management requirements and more.  Workflow gives you the ability to report on who did what, when and where.

See Also

Workflow Overview

7.3 - Planning for workflow

Prior preparation prevents poor process performance

The workflow feature within HelpMaster is a powerful tool to increase operational efficiency.  It is recommended that a methodical, structured and considered approach is taken to ensure that your business gets the most benefit from the workflow capabilities of HelpMaster.

Before creating workflow within HelpMaster, be sure to spend time creating and designing your workflow in the real world - that is, your business.   Building workflow is all about mapping real-world processes into a software model.  If it does not work in the real world, it is not going to work in HelpMaster.  For each workflow scenario, spend time with your team using a whiteboard or similar to map out the individual tasks, the people involved, the job status changes, the communication (email) required and the decision points. 

HelpMaster features a powerful workflow engine that can support many business models and processes.  As your business processes clarify and mature, look for ways to standarize a repeatable business process, and then map it into HelpMaster.   

The following is a guide only and may provide some useful ideas and concepts to designing your workflow.

Tools to assist with modeling workflow and processes

  • People - Get the team involved, especially those that play key roles in the process.  Identity the different roles each person plays
  • Whiteboard - Make it visual.  People respond much better to a process when they can see it take shape before their eyes. A whiteboard allows an interactive, iterative design approach.
  • Paper - Allow people to draw, sketch and document processes
  • Visio - Microsoft Visio and similar diagramming software can be very useful in describing processes and workflow
  • Mind-mapping software - Great for brainstorming and collecting ideas.  A unique visual paradigm allows you to quickly categorize thoughts and ideas
  • Time.  Although process design and workflow should be iterative and continually improving, try not to rush design phases.  Sometimes complex workflow takes time to discuss and nut out.
  • Good coffee

The human touch

Remember that people are the key ingredient in any business process.

  • Allow for human interaction and behaviour.  Expect (and welcome) robust discussion! 
  • Avoid micro-management / minutia - When modelling workflow and process, it can be an easy trap to fall into becoming bogged down with unecessary detail.  Keep it simple at first, then build complexity
  • Allow time!  Any new system takes time to bed-in.  Allow for, and expect this.  Anything new can cause a measure of disruption, especially if it affects the way people work and interact with software, people and processes
  • Trust the team to use the tools and workflow.  Let smart people do their job and get out of their way
  • Understand cultural change and the effects of how changing a process can affects the day-to-day work of the various people involved in the process
  • Identify champions, nay-sayers and others, and learn how each position can bring something to the process
  • Explain and Educate

Document everything

Document each step of your process and workflow creation - make it easy for people to use.  Provide a top-level overview summary of the workflow, as well as a detailed description of what it entails. Describe the following:

  • Why the workflow exists
  • Describe the business case for the workflow / process
  • An example use-case
  • Significant touch-points / hand-over points
  • Notifications, escalations

Cut and paste from other workflow if it makes sense.

Start with a simple, well-known process

Model a real business case that is currently in use - start with a well known, common and simple business practice.  Avoid edge cases, or uncommon scenarios.

Common, simple process may include:

  • Computer setup
  • Account setup
  • Equipment loans
  • Password reset

Work through the scenario with team members and staff from the business unit.  Describe the process in simple language and come to an agreement of what you are trying to model.  It is important that the terms and conditions of the process are clearly articulated and described - even the small details.  Remember that when you “computerize” a process that has been working in the human world, even small details and decision points can have a big impact on the outcome and efficiency of the process.

The basics

  • Write down the name of the process
  • Write down a basic summary of the process
  • Write down a more detailled description of it.

Draw a basic flow-chart of how the process operates. 

Identifying the following things will be helpful in creating workflow:

  • Identify the unique stages that the workflow will pass through. This might be status changes, team changes.
  • Identify status.  What does the status mean/how is it defined?  What causes this change?
  • Identify milestones.  Similar to status.  See the Milestones topic for how HelpMaster implements these workflow objects.
  • Identify ownership
  • Identify assignments
  • Identify roles

A well designed and thoughtfully constructed process in HelpMaster should have low friction and be a natural and intuitive thing to use. If it is not, this may be an indication that you have some refining to do.  Discuss and build a proof of concept and work through the process with the team.  

Principles

  • Create workflow only when necessary.  Do not create processes for the sake of process.  Only design something that actually exists in the real-world.
  • Evaluate commonality before differences - create templates for these and re-use them where appropriate
  • Start with the eagle view, that is, the big picture.
  • Draw the milestones / status for the general flow
  • Design for re-use
  • Design for flexibility
  • Design to satisfy audits if required

Workflow design

  • Open vs Restricted
  • Must workflow steps be performed in a linear fashion, or can any step, any time be invoked?
  • Subtasks / parallel taks
  • Workflow granularity

Decisions and workflow branching

A fundamental part of any process, or workflow is the point at which a decision is made.  Think of a decision as a fork in the road - which way do you go?

HelpMaster workflow supports the following decision types:

  • User-based decisions:  The user is presented with a question/decision to make.  Their response will determine which workflow step will follow.
  • Script-based decsion:  The results of an automated script (SQL or Powershell) will determine which workflow step will follow.
  • Approvals:  Similar to a user-based decision conceptually, however an approval can be sent to someone outside of HelpMaster, and they vote using the HelpMaster web portal on the approval

Advanced processes

Once the basic workflow has taken shape and is working well, consider implementing the following:

  • Escalations (re-assignments, email alerts, re-prioritization etc.)
  • Notifications and alerts (email, desktop alerts, SMS etc.)
  • Security (restrictions on scripting, visibility into jobs/actions etc.)
  • Other automations that are based on fields, data, trigger points, milestones etc.

For Escalations, Notifications and Alerts, consider using the Priority Manager, or Triggered Events features within HelpMaster to implement these things.

Incorporate automation

  • Automate a process where appropriate.  Use scripts, variable-based decision points, and other tools like the Email Manager, Priority Manager, or Triggered Events
  • Enforce a process with stop-points, control-set validation, or other blocking/gating mechanisms

Understand how the Email Manager can affect automation.  (Re-assign, close, re-open, change status etc.)

Continuous improvement

Workflow should strike a balance between mapping a business process in a predicable way, while at the same time seeking to always improve the flow and efficiency of the processes.  Once a workflow is in place, look for opportunities to improve it, or at least measure it.

  • Invite feedback from the people using the workflow. Include clients, staff and all stake-holders.
  • Regularly review the workflows - run reports - get the statistics
  • Version workflow, and document along the way.
  • Start simple, remove complexity and waste, and then build refinements and further complexity.

Implementing the workflow

Implementing workflow should be a staged process.  Allow time for design, building, testing, refining and reviewing.

See Also

Workflow Overview

Workflow concepts

Workflow anti-patterns

Testing workflow

7.4 - Workflow Anti-patterns

Workflow Anti-patterns - what NOT to do

What is an anti-pattern?

An anti-pattern is a technique, process, or workflow that is intended to solve a problem, that often leads to other problems or introduces inefficiencies into the process.  Designing workflow for business operations, by its very nature is usually an iterative process, with the workflow evolving organically over time as new concepts, business rules and requirements are introduced.  Sometimes a workflow may start as a clean, efficient process - serving the needs of the business or task at hand, however, over time, it may lose its efficiency and start behaving as an anti-pattern.

A key principle to avoiding a bad design is to regularly review what you have built.  Get feedback from the team, run reports, and re-visit workflow when business needs change.

The following list is a general guide of some of the more common things that can affect workflow efficiency.

Too much granularity / complexity

Don’t overcomplicate a process.  As Albert Einstein once said, “Make things as simple as possible, but not simpler”.   Don’t add unnecessary workflow objects just because you can.

Too big too quick - don’t try to boil the ocean

Don’t take on too much at once.  Start small and grow in terms of process mapping, complexity and maturity.  Remember that people will take time get used to the new processes and workflows.  Going too big too fast can be overwhelming and get people off-side.  Start with a relatively simple process and get people using that with good success. 

The mother of all workflows

Don’t build a workflow that incorporates every conceivable option or process.  It will look intimidating, and be hard to use.  Consider splitting large, complex workflows into smaller parts, with discrete functionality and scope.  Remember that you can always swap-out a workflow at any stage, which means if the current workflow you’re using is no longer relevant, switch to another, more appropriate workflow.

Message box madness

Message box spam.  Don’t bombard people with too many message boxes or decision points.  Only display what you need, and minimize their use.  Consider using script-based decisions, or job-field based decision to progress a workflow rather than prompting the user to make a choice.  If it can be automated, just use that.

Give people time to adjust and figure it out

Even is a workflow within HelpMaster has been configured from existing business practices and process, it may take time for people to adjust to working with the workflow as it is presented in HelpMaster.  The user interface, the controls, the tooltips, history etc.  all take time to learn, understand and use.

Infinite loops and Circular processes

Circles within circles.  It is possible to build workflow that doubles-back on itself, potentially causing an infinite loop of process logic.  This is not necessarily a bad thing - in fact, some processes are circular by nature, and only exit the loop upon certain conditions.  Be mindful of potential closed loops that have no way out.

Over-notification

Notification fatigue can occur when too many emails, notifications, prompts or alerts are sent to people.  With workflow, it’s possible to configure all of these things.  Get the balance right to avoid people turning off altogether.

Too many jobs

Jobs for the sake of jobs.  Tickets for the sake of tickets.  Workflow objects can create other jobs, which can in-turn create jobs… It’s a powerful feature within HelpMaster to create jobs via workflow - just be careful that it doesn't take over!  Create just as many jobs/tickets as you need….and no more.

Automated chaos

Beware of the automated chaos.  Sometimes you can just be too tricky for your own good.  When automation kicks in, sometimes things will happen that you’re not expecting, or not even aware of.  Take time to audit and document.  Understand your processes and the trigger points for automation.  Communicate this to the team as well.

See Also

Workflow Overview

Workflow concepts

7.5 - Workflow concepts

Workflow and process concepts

Workflow and buisness processes is an expansive topic, and the information here should be read as a general guide only.

Concepts

Status Change

One of the most common workflow concepts is a status change.  A status change occurs when something significant happens in the life-cycle of a job, or the workflow, therefore, a status change is almost always pre-empted by some sort of transistion.

Changing the status of a job is done via the Action screen, and the Status drop-down box.  In workflow terms for HelpMaster, this is achieved by completing an Action Template that has been built into the workflow.

Common Status states

Think of job status codes as distinct markers within the lifecycle of a job that can quickly identify where the job is at.  Ideally the status of a job should be un-ambiguous and be readily understood by all staff members who use HelpMaster.

Some common status codes are:

  • Open
  • In progress
  • Resolved
  • Completed
  • Awaiting for… (usually suffixed with what you're waiting for)
  • On hold… (usually suffixed with the reason why the  job is on hold..eg.  Awaiting client, Awaiting Supplier, Awaiting Parts etc.)

Job Status codes play an important role in workflow, automation, reporting and queue management.  Try to define only as many Job Status codes as you need, and no more.  Having too many will erode meaning and make it difficult for staff and clients to understand the true state of the job.  Note that HelpMaster also has Job State, as well as Workflow Milestones to assist in these areas.

Validating data

A common part of any business process is validation - the act of checking that something is as it should be.  It could be a value, a condition, a date, or other artefact within a job.  Oftentimes, a workflow cannot, or should not progress until something has been checked and validated as being OK.  HelpMaster supports validation by having a control-set validation object that can be used at any time within a workflow.

Automated Events

Utilize the automation features of HelpMaster to work in harmony with your workflow.   Understand how the Email Manager, Priority Manager, or Triggered Events can affect your workflow.  Each one of these features can be triggered and/or update workflow based on details within the job.  There is a lot of power and flexibility here to create great workflow processes.

Approval Step

Consider adding an “Approval step” in workflow.  Oftentimes in workflow, the process will reach the point where an approval decision needs to be made by someone, or something (database value).  An approval step allows the workflow to branch into a different direction based on the input of the person using the workflow.  A simple Yes/No decision may be appropriate for many decision, however for more complex decisions, consider using the Change Management feature.  An entire Change Management process can be embedded as a step within a workflow.  Use multiple Change Management requests if need be.  Remember that Change Management Requests can also spawn new jobs for Implementation, Review and other stages.

Hand-over

Think of a hand-over as a job reassignment.  The difference is, the hand-over/assignment is usually to someone else in a completely different skillgroup, or functional area of the business.  A hand-over is a workflow concept that applies when part of a workflow that has been designed for one team completes those steps, and needs to "hand-over" the job to another team so that the next part of the workflow can be completed by them.

Hand-over example:

  • New Starter:  Human resources > Information Technology > Facilities Management
  • Software Development Bug:  Software developer > Testing team

Implementation ideas

A hand-over occurs when the job is passed to a different person/team for the next stage of work.  Usually this involves the following:

  • Re-assigning the job
  • Changing the job status
  • Sending notification emails

These things can all be achieved via the use of a single Action template.

Consider also using a Workflow Milestone to identify the change and provide a data-point for searching, reporting and filtering.

See Also

Workflow Overview

Planning for workflow

7.6 - Workflow Templates

Overview

A workflow template is a pre-made definition of a process that exists within your organization.  It is a blue-print of a structure, a process, or a workflow that happens within a business.  Once a workflow template has been created, it can be applied to new, or existing jobs to provide a structured, procedural workflow.  It can also be applied to job templates.

A workflow template may consist of all of the workflow elements as described in the Workflow Overview

Access Workflow Templates via the main toolbar.  Select Templates menu > Workflow templates

Workflow template

What is the difference between workflow that is displayed in..

  • a Job
  • a Job Template
  • a Workflow Template?

They are basically all the same thing - definitions of a workflow process.  The difference is that the definition in a job is currently active whereas the others are blue-prints, or templates.

Think of a Workflow template as the top-level definition of a workflow process - it is the master blue-print that can then be re-used in both jobs and job templates.

If you open a Job Template, you will see a “Workflow” tab, similar to a regular job.  This is where any workflow that has been created for the Job Template is displayed.  This workflow may have been designed and created right there in the Job Template, or it may have been imported from a Workflow Template.

When workflow is imported from a Workflow template into either a job, or a job template, that workflow definition is copied into the new object and ready for use.  In the case of a Job Template, a link is established between the Job Template and the Workflow template, so that if the Workflow Template changes, the Job Template is automatically updated. If however the definition in the Job Template is manually updated, this link is broken, and the workflow in the Job Template will then become a stand-alone verison of workflow. 

Use

Once a workflow templates has been created, it can be imported into either a job, or a job template.

Add workflow to existing ticket

See Also

Workflow Overview

Working with workflow

Action Templates

Job Templates

Email Templates

7.7 - Creating Workflow

Build business processes

Create the action templates you need

HelpMaster workflow relies heavily on the Action Template system.  For each step of your workflow that involves an action, or update to a job, you will be using an Action Template.  Remember that Action Templates can contain assignment, status and email information.  Combine these concepts into a single template, or use a series of simple templates to create your workflow.  Each time an Action Template is used, it will update the job and record a new entry in the Action Log.   Create / update the Action Templates you need to make your workflow happen.

Creating Workflow from within a Job Template

Workflow can be created and defined within a Job Template (see “Workflow” tab within a Job Template).  When that job template is used to log a job, the workflow defined in the template will be transferred into the new job and appear on the “Workflow” tab on the job screen, ready for use.

Creating Workflow from within a job

Any job can have workflow associated with it.   If the job already has workflow created for it, it will appear inside the “Workflow” tab.  If the job does not have any workflow, you can create, or import some by clicking on the “+ Workflow” link next to the tabs along the top.

Workflow can be created by adding individual components onto the workflow canvas, or workflow can be imported from a Job Template that already has a workflow process created for it.

Once you have created, or imported your workflow, click Apply to save your changes. Hovering your mouse over the “Workflow” menu on the job toolbar will start displaying the next workflow step.

Editing Workflow

Workflow can be edited, or updated at any stage of the job lifecycle.  Right-click on a Workflow item to select from the context pop-up menu.  Edit, delete or add new items to update your Workflow.  Multiple workflow items can be highlighted and selected for copy or delete.  This is handy if you wish to create multiple versions of a similar workflow.  Changes to workflow will be captured in the Audit History for the job.

Copy and Paste Workflow

Workflow is stored as an XML definition.  This XML can be copied and pasted from any HelpMaster screen that contains workflow.  Select some or all of the workflow, right-click an object and select “Copy”.  This can then be pasted into a new job or templates.  This may also be used for technical support to send/recieve workflow.

Duplicating workflow objects

Click on any workflow object, and then type CTRL+D to make a duplicate of that object.

 

See Also

Planning for workflow

Workflow Anti-patterns

 

7.8 - Testing Workflow

All workflow processes should be thoroughly tested before being used in a production environment

Once a workflow template / process has been designed and built in HelpMaster, it is good practice to test it.

There are several approaches to testing workflow that you can take.

  • Test all workflow against a copy of your live database
  •  Log test jobs and apply workflow against them.  Purge the jobs after you have completed your testing

Workflow ideas

Consider using a test database to create and test workflow.  This could be a backup/copy/clone of your live database.  Once workflow has been verified as working well, you can implement it into the live database.

See Also

Workflow Overview

Workflow concepts

 

 

7.9 - Working with workflow

Working with workflow

When a job has workflow defined for it, the "Workflow" tab will appear, and the side workflow panel will automatically be displayed.

workflow panel

 

The worfklow panel will always show the the current workflow step that will be completed next.  Depending on what type of workflow object is the current item, you will be presented with different options to execute the workflow step.

 

workflowinformation

 

Press and hold the mouse wheel-button to scroll the workflow within the designer.

Use the Zoom drop-down box to set a zoom factor.  This may be helpful when working with larger workflows.

Workflow execution

By default, each workflow object within HelpMaster will run automatically unless it is prevented via a workflow break, or an object that requires user-interaction. eg. A message box / input box.

Skipping workflow steps

At anytime in the workflow timeline, you can skip ahead, or back to any workflow item.  Simply right-click on the workflow item that you wish to execute next, and select "Set as current workflow item"

Changing the entire workflow process

At anytime within the lifecycle of a job, the workflow process can be deleted, edited, or replaced with a completely different workflow.

 

See Also

Workflow Objects

7.10 - Workflow Security

Workflow Security

Use the Administration > Skillgroups / Security options to configure security for running workflow.

Application Security Role

Screen Access

Screen Access

Job Security Role

Screen Access

See also

Security

Security Settings

Job Workflow Roles

7.11 - Workflow History

Workflow History

Overview

Every step that is performed by the workflow engine against a job is logged and recorded into the workflow history.  This is useful to keep track of what has happened, who did it, and when.  It is also useful to step-through the history to see the sequence of events that occured.

Use

The workflow history is located on the workflow tab, on the right-hand side

 

See Also

Workflow Overview

7.12 - Workflow State Indicator

Workflow State Indicator

The “Workflow State” column is now available via the Field Chooser for Jobs.  This field indicates the state of the workflow. 

workflow state indicator

States include:

  • Workflow Ready
  • Workflow Complete
  • Awaiting Approval
  • Approval (Denied)
  • Approval (Approved)

Note - this field is for informational purposes only. It has no intrinsic feature in itself - it is simply an indicator and a database data-point that you can then use for visual purposes, trigger further actions, or report on.

Use

Use the  Field Chooser to select this column from the Jobs section.

See Also

Field Chooser

Workflow Overview

7.13 - Workflow Objects

Workflow objects are the building blocks for a workflow/process. What can you build with them?

7.13.1 - Workflow Objects

Use combinations of the workflow objects to build business process and workflow

Workflow is designed and created using the various workflow objects.  Each workflow object has a specific use and capabilities.  All workflow obejcts can be joined together to form a process. Building a process is a relatively easy task to arrange

The Workflow objects

Workflow objects are grouped into different categories that each have a specific purpose and operation.

Working with jobs

Complete an Action template Update an existing job

Log new job via a job job Create a new job from a template

Branching and Decisions

workflow user decision Workflow branch based on user input

workflow variable branch Workflow branch based on variable evaluation

workflow control set branch Workflow branch based on a control set field value

workflow script branch Workflow branch based on SQL script evaluation

workflow job field decision Workflow branch based on a field within a job

workflow multiple choice Multiple-choice user decision

Approvals and Change Management

workflow process approval Approval

workflow change management request for change process Change Management

Common Functions

workflow common function Common Function

workflow common decisions Common Decision

Validation

workflow validate control set value Validate a control set

workflow add control set Control Set - Add to existing workflow

Scripting

workflow script Run a script (SQL or Powershell)

workflow set variable from script Set variable from database script (SQL)

workflow script branch Workflow branch based on SQL script evaluation

Communication

workflow send email Send email

workflow messagebox Message box

Entities

workflow create client Create new client

Miscellaneous

workflow checklist Checklist

Workflow Design

workflow connector line Workflow connector

workflow connector Line Connector

workflow group Workflow group

Workflow milestone Milestones

workflow break Workflow Break

 

Use

Each workflow object can be accessed via the “Workflow Items” panel on the “Workflow” tab.  This panel can be pinned so that it stays in place.

workflow process designer tools panel

Once the properties have been set for an object and applied, it will appear on the workflow designer.  Depending on the type of workflow object, it will have 2 or more connection points.  Use these connection points to connect the object to other workflow objects using the line connectors  

See Also

Workflow Overview

Planning for workflow

Field Chooser - Workflow State Column

7.13.2 - Message Box

Message Box

A workflow message box is simply a message that is displayed to the user.   Use a message box to present a simple message to the current user.  Message boxes can be used effectively in a workflow to provide on-going guidance and reminders abut the stages of the workflow.  Once they are displayed, clicking the OK button will close the message and progress the workflow onto the next workflow object.

workflow messagebox

message box for workflow

Use

Select the Message box workflow item from the workflow toolbox and add it to the workflow designer. 

workflow message box

Message Title:  This is the title that appears on the workflow canvas.  It is used to identify this workflow object.  This will also appear in the message box title bar

Image:  Choose an appropriate icon to display in the message box

Main Message:  This is the body of the message that will be presented to the user.  This text can contain workflow variables  

See Also

User Decision

Workflow variables

Workflow Objects

 

7.13.3 - Workflow Milestones

Workflow Milestones

Workflow milestone

Milestones are defined markers that identify a specific point within a workflow.  Milestones are used to track the progress of a workflow and allow you to identify key-points that have been reached within the workflow.  One or more milestones can be used within a workflow and these can be used to trigger further actions (workflow objects, notifications, alerts, email etc.), or simply be used for reporting and statistical feedback.

Silent workflow object

Silent workflow object are displayed with this icon. Running silently means it has no user interaction.   

When a milestone is reached in a workflow, it is logged in the workflow log with the date/time and the specific job/workflow that it was associated with.

  • Milestones can either be local to a specific workflow, or global.
  • Milestones can be manually set, or automatically set as part of a workflow.
  • Milestones can be used as an alternative to using job status codes to track the progress of a job.

Local Milestones

Local milestones are milestones that are defined within a specific workflow, and are only visible and used from that workflow.

Global Milestones

Global milestones can be used in any workflow, and can be shared across workflows.

Use

Milestones can be placed anywhere within the workflow.  They do not have any user interaction - they are simply marked as being set once the workflow passes them.  Simply connect a milestone in-line with other workflow objects.  When this stage of the workflow is reached, the milestone will be marked as being reached, and the time and date will be recorded against the milestone for that job.

Multiple milestones can be used in the same workflow, or the same milestone can be used in different parts of the same workflow.

Workflow process milestone

 

The workflow panel will display any milestones that have been reached along the bottom of the panel.

Completed workflow milestones

Workflow Ideas

Use Milestones to trigger escalation.  Use the Job Finder to search for a completed milestone, and then use this result as the basis for a Priority Manager profile.

Use Milestones to alert, or to trigger a Priority Manager profile

Use Milestones to define a hand-off point

 

See Also

Workflow - Complete an Action Template

Job Finder - Search jobs that have/have not reached a milestone

Create “Saved Searches” based on jobs that have reached a milestone

 

 

7.13.4 - Action Template

Apply an Action Template to a job to update, reassign, change status, close, or send email

Updating a job is one of the most common things to do once it has been logged.   This is achieved via the Action screen.  Pre-defined Actions, known as Action Templates can perform the following things when applied to an existing job:

  • Update the details of a job
  • Re-assign a job (to a staff member, or a skillgroup)
  • Change the status of the job
  • Update the time taken, billing, and costs
  • Send email to...
  • The staff member the job is assigned to
  • The staff member it was assigned to (reassign action)
  • The client the job is logged for
  • Other clients linked to the job

Silent workflow object This workflow object can be configured to run silently, meaning it has no user interaction.  Silent workflow object are displayed with this icon.

Use

Building workflow involves arranging Action Templates into a logical sequence that describes a business process.  Action Templates are joined together via connecting lines.  “Decision points” can be inserted into various positions within your workflow to branch into different lines of workflow.

As the workflow progresses, the user completes the Action Template, and moves onto the next Action Template (or decision point) in the workflow process.   When viewing workflow diagrams, you can minimize, or maximize the level of detail you see.  Use the “Mouse over” menu to specify your preference.

workflow action template

Select the Action Template to add to the workflow: Choose an appropriate Action Template from the drop-down list.

Description: Enter a short description for this workflow step. The text here will be displayed in the workflow panel when this is the current workflow step. An informative message about what and why this step is used will help staff members understand its context within the workflow process.

User Interaction section

Interactive: Will display the action screen to the staff member to fill-in and update details if need-be.

Add cancelled Action Path: Only available for an Interactive template. When checked, the Action Template workflow object will have a “cancelled” path added to the end of its workflow object. In the event that the user cancells the action, the workflow can route back to the calling, or different workflow object.

Action template cancelled workflow path

Silently: The Action Template will have no user interaction and will run silently and “behind the scenes”. Use this option for when there is no need for the user to change anything in the template. This option is useful for processes that are well known and “locked down”, or for simply when there is no need for the user to change anything.

Action Details: Optional. Left blank to use the details (if any) that are in the Action Template, or type text to replace the value in the Action Template. Use tags from the Workflow to customize the details.

Template Modifiers section

Use the options here to over-ride the values that are stored in the actual Action Template. Sometimes it is useful to have a default Action Template that can be re-used in various configurations within HelpMaster, but then allow specific configurations to over-ride some values. In a workflow context this is an especially useful feature.

Workflow Ideas

Action templates are one of the most common objects in HelpMaster.  Use them to re-assign, send email, change job status and more.  It is common to use Action Templates within workflow as they also add an entry in the Action log.

Consider looping certain action templates together to form a cyclic pattern.  The cycle can be broken via the use of a user decision, or a variable check, or the state of the job.  This may be useful when interacting with users, customers etc where the action template(s) are used for communication.  Once a certain point in the interaction has been reached, you can break out of the cycle and progress the workflow to another stage.  eg. Sales workflow / CRM

Workflow process loop

Create several common Action Templates that specify the email content, and then use the workflow object to over-write the summary, status, assignment and details as required.  This will help reduce the number of Action Templates that are required.

See Also

Workflow Overview

Workflow concepts

Workflow Milestones

Log a new job

Send Email via workflow (without the use of an Action Template)

Workflow Objects

7.13.5 - Workflow - Log a new job

Workflow - Log a new job

One of the most powerful and useful features of a workflow is the ability to log a new job.  This allows the workflow to break-out into a whole new job and is useful when multiple teams, or business processes are required for a given task.  For every new job that is logged, this new job can have its own workflow and business rules associated with it like any other job, so this allows for some very creative and complex job workflow to take place if required.

 Logging a new job is achieved in workflow via a Job Template.

workflow log new job

Silent workflow object This workflow object can be configured to run silently, meaning it has no user interaction.  Silent workflow object are displayed with this icon.

Use

In order to use this feature, you will need to create a job template that the workflow can use.

Interactive vs Silent

Interactive

The interactive setting is used to display the new job logging process.  When a "Log a new job" workflow step is marked as "Interactive", it means that the staff member that has invoked that step will need to manually log the job.

Silent

The silent setting is used to log the new job silently.  The staff member that has invoked this workflow step does not see any user interface, or have any input into the new job being logged.  HelpMaster simply logs this new job via the selected job template, and the workflow progresses to the next workflow step.

Linking jobs

When a new job is logged via a workflow step, the following linking options are available:

  1. Not linked - The new job is not linked to the original job in any way
  2. Simply link - The new job is linked via a simple link
  3. Parent / Child link : The new job is linked to the original job as a child.  The original job then becomes a parent.

Workflow Ideas

Human Resources - New employee onboarding.  An initial HR job can spawn new jobs for:

  • IT (computer, phone, account creation, email, access etc)
  • Facilities Management (furnature, desk, chair etc.)

Use the linking options to create linked workflow.

See Also

Job Templates

Completing an Action Template

Linking entities to jobs

Workflow Objects

7.13.6 - Send Email via Workflow

Send Email via Workflow

The Email workflow object allows you to send an email that is based off of an Email Template, or text entered directly into the workflow object.

workflow send email 

Silent workflow object This workflow object runs silently, meaning it has no user interaction.  Silent workflow object are displayed with this icon.

Use

Select the Email workflow item from the workflow toolbox and add it to the workflow designer. 

email workflow object

Display Title:  This is the title that appears on the workflow canvas.  It is used to identify this workflow object

Content Type:  Choose between an existing Email Template, or a in-line email

Email Template: Select a pre-made Email Template

**Email Account: ** This is an option step.  Select an email account that will be used to send the email.  If an email template is used, the value selected for the email account will over-ride the setting in the email template.  If nothing is selected and the email template does not already have an email account specified, or the "Simple Text" option is selected, the email will be sent using the account of the current user executing the workflow step.

Addressing options

Current Assignee:  The staff member that the job is assigned to at the time the email workflow objects is executed

Primary Client of the job:  The primary client of the job at the time the email workflow objects is executed

Other:  Specify any valid email address

See Also

Completing an Action Template (an alternate way of sending email)

Email Templates

Email Account configuraiton

Workflow Variables

Workflow Objects

7.13.7 - Common Functions

Common Functions

The Common Functions workflow object is used to perform common HelpMaster tasks. 

workflow common function

Silent workflow object This workflow object runs silently, meaning it has no user interaction.  Silent workflow object are displayed with this icon.

Use

Select the Common Task item from the workflow menu.  This will display the Common Task screen.  Select which common task you want to use.  Depending on which common task is used, you may need to provide input and/or output variables.

common process scripts itsm

In Variable:  A variable that is used as an input variable.  Select an existing variable as the input variable

Out Variable:  This may be an optional setting.  Depending on the type of decision, an output variable may be used to store a value that was returned from the decision process.  Populating a variable in this manner can then be used in other workflow objects in other parts of the workflow.

If you would like to see a new Common Task, or Common Descision, contact PRD Software.

See Also

Common Decisions

Script - SQL

Script - Powershell

Workflow Objects

7.13.8 - Common Decisions

Common Decisions

The Common Decisions workflow object is used to branch the workflow based on a common decision, or lookup that has been pre-configured.  It requires no user interaction, although it can be configured to accept variable input parameters in order to perform the lookup.  

workflow common decisions

Silent workflow object This workflow object runs silently, meaning it has no user interaction.  Silent workflow object are displayed with this icon.

Use

Select the Common Decision item from the workflow menu.  This will display the Common Decision screen.  Select which common decision you want to use.  Depending on which decision is used, you may need to provide input and/or output variables.

workflow decision ITSM process

  In Variable:  A variable that is used as an input variable.  Select an existing variable as the input variable

Out Variable:  This may be an optional setting.  Depending on the type of decision, an output variable may be used to store a value that was returned from the decision process.  Populating a variable in this manner can then be used in other workflow objects in other parts of the workflow.

If you would like to see a new Common Task, or Common Descision, contact PRD Software.

See Also

Common Functions

Script - SQL

Script - Powershell

Workflow Objects

7.13.9 - Common functions editing

Common functions editing

Use

‘Some Rows Updated’ option for common tasks (it is not used by common decisions), this will also now stop the out var from being used through validation. so updated any of your common tasks with this new value where needed. the idea is if the are just updating some thing but not returning any values this one should be used. if they return a value then use one of the other settings like ‘SomeRowsReturned’ or ‘ResultNotNull’

See Also

7.13.10 - Connectors and lines

Join workflow objects together to build processes

Workflow lines and workflow line connectors are used to join workflow elements together.  Once a workflow object has been placed on the workflow designer, they can be connected by drawing a line between them.  Each workflow object needs to be connected to at least one other workflow object via a line.

Workflow line connectors are optional to use - they don’t affect workflow in anyway.  Connections are just used to tidy the workflow canvas by providing a point in a line that can be re-positioned.

Use

Joining workflow objects together by drawing a connector line between them.

Each workflow object has 2 or more connection points where they can be connected to other workflow items.

In order to join 2 workflow objects together, hover the mouse over the connection point of the object, and click.  A workflow line will appear.  Drag this line onto the connection point of the other workflow object.

connecting workflow objects

Split line

Sometimes it makes sense to split a connection line into one or more lines in order to clean-up the visual layout of the workflow.  By default, each workflow line takes a direct path between 2 objects.  Sometimes this means that the line will go right through another object or line, making the flow cluttered, or unclear.  When you split a line, this is purely for cosmetic purposes only - it won’t affect the workflow at all.

Join line

Join line is the opposite of split.  If you have a line with a connector in it, you can remove this easily by right-clicking on the line-join dot, and select “Join Line”.  This will remove the connector dot, and join the lines in its place.  Like Split, this is purely cosmetic only - it won’t affect the workflow at all.

Line style

Each line can be set to a curved, straight or square style. This is purely cosmetic and does not affect the workflow at all.

workflow connector join lines

Individual lines can be set, or the entire workflow can be set using the “Line Style” menu from the toolbar.

workflow connector join lines

See Also

Workflow Objects

Workflow Groups

7.13.11 - Workflow Break

Workflow Break

A workflow break is used to break, or pause the workflow and prevent the next workflow object from automatically running.  By default, each workflow object within HelpMaster will run automatically unless it isprevented via a workflow break, or an object that requires user-interaction. eg. A message box / input box.

workflow break

Use

A workflow break can be inserted anywhere within the workflow (except the very first object, or adjoinging another workflow break), and multiple breaks can be used within a workflow. 

A workflow break can be configured to display a message to the current user, and also hide, or show the next workflow step. 

Hiding the next workflow step is recommended when the current user has completed their part of a workflow, and they do not need to know about subsequent workflow.  This is typical when a job is re-assigned to another team/person for the completion of a new part of the workflow. eg.  Software development > Software testing.

See Also

Workflow Objects

Planning for Workflow

Workflow Concepts

7.13.12 - Workflow Groups

Workflow Groups

Workflow groups are used to group multiple workflow objects into a common group.

workflow group

Workflow group

Use

Select the group item from the workflow menu and add it to the workflow designer.

Re-size the group to the appropriate size, by selecting the edges of the group and holding down the mouse button as you drag.

Drag and drop other workflow items into the group.  This will associate that workflow item with the group.  Multiple workflow items can be selected at once, and re-positioned within the group.

Double-click the group to edit its properties

Workflow grouping

Display Title:  This is the text that will be displayed on the Workflow Designer

Description:  Enter text that describes the group.  This text will be displayed on the front workflow panel whenever the current workflow item is part of the group.  This information can be used to guide users through the workflow process, or provide additional information about steps to take.

Fill Style:  Select a colour (or not), for the group

Workflow Idea

Use groups as containers for workflow objects that are logically similar, or part of the same phase of a workflow.  Use the “Description” text field to describe the stage of the workflow - this will be displayed in the workflow plan.

See Also

Working with workflow

7.13.13 - Decision - User based

Decision - User based

A user-based decision workflow object allows you to define a question, and then branch into a separate workflow streams depending on the answer that the user gives.   Any number of Workflow decisions can be inserted into your workflow process.

workflow user decision

Use

Each workflow decision point will have 2 outcomes.  Connect each outcome to a relevant workflow item.

Workflow decision points can be chained together to form nested, repeating questions to the user.  This might be helpful if your workflow requires several decision points. 

Workflow ideas

Daisy-chain multiple user-decision objects together if you need to present more than one question.

Look a decision back on itself using a workflow connector.  Sometimes this pattern is useful if you need to present a question to a user, but only advance the workflow for one of the options.

See Also

Decision - Script / Data based

Workflow Objects

7.13.14 - Multiple choice workflow object

Multiple choice workflow object

The multiple choice workflow object allows a workflow to be branched in many ways depending on how it is configured.  The user is given a choice of which option to use.

workflow multiple choice

multiple choice

Use

Select the Multiple choice item from the workflow menu.  This will display the configuration screen. 

multiple choice

Display Title: A short description that is displayed on the workflow designer

Question to ask the user:  A short message that is presented to the current user when the multiple-choice workflow object is the currentitem (see below)

Add Option:  Click this button to create user options.  Each of these will be a branch in the workflow that must be connected to another workflow object.  Use the properties panel on the right to configure the text and shortext.

When the Multiple choice workflow object is the current item, the workflow panel will display the options.  Select an option and click OK to continue.

multiple choice

Loop the workflow back into the entry point of the Multi-choice to create circular workflow that can be used as an alternative to the standard job action buttons.

See Also

Workflow Objects

7.13.15 - Decision - Script / Data based

Decision - Script / Data based

A script / data based decision is a way of automatically controlling the direction of the workflow based on the results of a script.  This workflow object runs silently and automatically moves to the next appropriate workflow step depending on the results of the script. 

workflow script decision

Silent workflow object This workflow object runs silently, meaning it has no user interaction.  Silent workflow object are displayed with this icon.

Use

The scripting language can either be SQL or Powershell. 

Use SQL to query a Microsoft SQL Server Database.  Use Powershell for other uses.

When SQL is selected as the script, the default connection will be for the HelpMaster database currently in use.  To access other Databases, use the SQL “Use” statement, or otherwise build the connection into your SQL script.

The direction flow will be determined via the results of the script.  Select the appropriate return result to set the direction flow.

Workflow Ideas

Use a script/data based decision to:

  • Look up a value in a database (HelpMaster or another) and progress one way or another
  • Use the power of the SQL Language to construct a Select Case statement for more complex descision branching and logic
  • Use Powershell to perform some task, and then branch based on the success of that task

See Also

User-based decisions - Showing a message box to the user

Execute SQL as part of workflow

Execute Powershell as part of workflow

Workflow Objects

7.13.16 - Decision - Variable based

Decision - Variable based

A variable-based decision is a way of branching the workflow based on the value of an existing variable within the workflow.  This workflow object runs silently and automatically moves to the next appropriate workflow step based on the evaluation of the variable.

workflow variable branch

Silent workflow object This workflow object runs silently, meaning it has no user interaction.  Silent workflow object are displayed with this icon.

Use

Select the Decision based on a variable option from the Variable menu

Configure the screen with appropriate values and click OK

The Variable-based decision will appear on the workflow designer with one input and 2 outputs.  Connect the input to the preceding workflow object.  The outputs are used in the following manner:

Green tick:  This is the positive result of the variable evaluation.  Connect this node to the workflow step that should be run when the variable evaluation is true

Red cross:  This is the negative result of the variable evaluation.  Connect this node to the workflow step that should be run when the variable evaluation is negative

See Also

User-based decisions - Showing a message box to the user

Decision - Script / Data based

Workflow Objects

7.13.17 - Decision - Job Field

Decision - Job Field

A job-field decision workflow object allows you to branch the workflow based on a field value of the job running the workflow.

workflow job field decision

workflow job field decision branch

Silent workflow object This workflow object runs silently, meaning it has no user interaction.  Silent workflow object are displayed with this icon.

Use

A job field decision has 2 outcomes based on the evaluation of the criteria specified.  Select which field to evaluate, and then select the value that will determine the outcome. 

workflow job field branch

See Also

Workflow Overview

Workflow Objects

7.13.18 - Decision - User based

Decision - User based

A control-set based decision workflow object allows you to branch into a separate workflow stream depending on the a value within a control set that is linked to the job.   Any number of Workflow decisions can be inserted into your workflow process.

workflow control set branch

control set decision workflow

Silent workflow object This workflow object runs silently, meaning it has no user interaction.  Silent workflow object are displayed with this icon.

Use

workflow branch based on control set

Each workflow decision point will have 2 outcomes.  Connect each outcome to a relevant workflow item.

Workflow decision points can be chained together to form nested, repeating questions to the user.  This might be helpful if your workflow requires several decision points. 

Workflow ideas

Daisy-chain multiple user-decision objects together if you need to present more than one question.

Look a decision back on itself using a workflow connector.  Sometimes this pattern is useful if you need to present a question to a user, but only advance the workflow for one of the options.

See Also

Decision - Script / Data based

Decision - User based

7.13.19 - Scripting - SQL

Scripting - SQL

The SQL Script workflow object is used to execute SQL against the HelpMaster (or another) database.

workflow script

Workflow script

Silent workflow object This workflow object runs silently, meaning it has no user interaction.  Silent workflow object are displayed with this icon.

Use

By default, any SQL script is executed against the HelpMaster database.  To reference other databases, use the "Use" statement in your SQL, or construct your own database connection string within your SQL.

SQL Syntax should be Microsoft SQL Server only.

Use the Tags button to insert tags into your SQL script.  These tags represent HelpMaster entity IDs that are within the context of the running workflow.  If you require other information that is not accessible via the tags, consider expanding your SQL to look up this information based on the tags that you do have.  Remember that you can also call stored procedures using this workflow object. 

The following tags can be used in a SQL, or PowerShell script

  • <<JobNumber>> :  The job number that the workflow is running in
  • <<ClientPKID>> : The primary client ID of the job that the workflow is running in
  • <<SitePKID>> : The Site ID of the job that the workflow is running in
  • <<AssetPKID>> : The primary asset ID of the job that the workflow is running in
  • <<LoggedOnUserPKID>> : The User ID of the staff member that is currently logged in

Variables can also be used in the script.  To insert a pre-defined variable, start typing double angular brackets "<<", and all of the available variables will be displayed in a pick-list.  Choose the variable you want to inert its place-holder.  It's value will be substituted for the place-holder when the script is run.

Ensure that all SQL is valid, and no malicious, or ruinous script is ever run against your HelpMaster database.  This feature should only be configured by appropriate personnel who understand SQL and the HelpMaster database schema.   An incorrectly generated SQL statement can do irrepairable damage to your HelpMaster database.

All SQL/Scripting features within HelpMaster are governed by a security setting.  Only staff members that belong to an Application Security Rolethat has this setting enabled will be able to use, modify and run scripts.

See Also

Decision - Script / Data based

Execute Powershell as part of workflow

Workflow Objects

Variables - Workflow

7.13.20 - Scripting - Powershell

Scripting - Powershell

The Powershell Script workflow object is used to execute a Powershell script. 

workflow script

Workflow powershell script

Silent workflow object This workflow object runs silently, meaning it has no user interaction.  Silent workflow object are displayed with this icon.

Use

Write a powershell script in the workflow object (or call another script from this PS script). 

Variables can also be used in the script.  To insert a pre-defined variable, start typing double angular brackets "<<", and all of the available variables will be displayed in a pick-list.  Choose the variable you want to inert its place-holder.  It's value will be substituted for the place-holder when the script is run.

Use the Add Tag button to insert placeholder tags/tokens for the client, site, asset or job.  These tags will be replaced with the unique database IDs of each entity type.  These tags/tokens allow you to be specific in updates, or other SQL/Scripting actions.

workflow script edit

Powershell scripting requires that the Windows Management Framework 4.0 is installed on the machine that is running the script Windows Management Framework 4.0.  See https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=40855

See Also

Execute SQL as part of workflow

Workflow Objects

Variables - Workflow

7.13.21 - Control Set Workflow Object

Control Set Workflow Object

Control Sets are like mini-forms that you can create and associate with jobs, clients, sites and assets, and are useful for capturing specific information.

As part of a workflow, control sets can also be added to a job.  This may be desirable if a job reaches a point in its lifecycle where you need to capture additional information, or verify information.

workflow add control set

Silent workflow object This workflow object runs silently, meaning it has no user interaction.  Silent workflow object are displayed with this icon.

Workflow control set

Use

Select the Control Set workflow item form the workflow toolbox and add it to the workflow designer.  Select the appropriate control from the drop-down box.  Once the workflow reaches this step, the control set will be added to the job.

See Also

Control Sets Overview

Custom Fields

Workflow

Adding a control set to workflow

Validating a control set value in workflow

Branching workflow based on a value in a control set

Workflow Overview

Workflow Objects

Web Portal

Build Web Request templates with Control Sets

7.13.22 - Validating a control set

Validating a control set

Sometimes as part of a workflow you may want to ensure that a particular field in a control set has been either filled in, or set to an appriate value.  To do this you can use a Control-set Validator workflow object.

workflow control set validation

Silent workflow object This workflow object runs silently, meaning it has no user interaction.  Silent workflow object are displayed with this icon.

Use

Add a Control-set Validator workflow object to the workflow designer.

Select the appropriate Control Set that is/will be linked to the job that contains the workflow.  Once selected, the “Control” drop-down will populate with all of the controls that are part of that control set.  Select the control that you wish to validate.  Next select the validation options from the “Validation” group.

Is Required:  If checked, this will prompt the user to provide a value for the given control if it has not already been set.

Regular Expression:  This option is only available for text-fields.  Choose an appripriate regular expression from the Regular Expression Library to validate the text against.

See Also

Control Sets Overview

Custom Fields

Regular Expression Library

Workflow

Adding a control set to workflow

Branching workflow based on a value in a control set

Workflow Objects

7.13.23 - Workflow Variables

Workflow Variables are used to store values within a workflow process

Variables are used to store data which can then be used within the workflow for decision-making, informational display, or use within a script.  Variables by nature are changeable. 

Throughout the lifecycle of a workflow, the values stored in the variable can be modified, queried, and used in scripts and other workflow objects.

Use

Types of variables

Workflow variables are currently limited to the following types:

  • Number.  A number variable is useful for counting.  Values can either be positive or negative whole numbers
  • String.  A string variable is used for storing text values.  String variables can up to 255 characters in length
  • Date.  A date variables is used for storing date values
  • Entity.  A dual-state variable that stores data about an entity eg.  a Client. 

Creating Variables

To create a variable, ensure that the Variables dockable panel is displayed.  This is located on the right of the workflow designer.  This panel can be “pinned” to stay open and visible.

  1. Click Add to create a new variable. 
  2. Select from either a number, or a string type variable. 
  3. Give the variable a meaningful name

Create a workflow variable

Renaming and Deleting Variables

Once a variable has been created, it can be renamed, or deleted.  Use the options on the dockable variables panel to perform these functions.

Assiging values to variables

Once a variable has been created, you can assign a value to it by a number of different ways, including:

  1. Explicitly setting the variable to a specific value
  2. Prompting the user to input a value
  3. Running a script (SQL or Powershell) to set the value

Working with Variables

When a variable is clicked on in the workflow panel, all workflow objects that use that variable will highlight in a different colour.  This makes it easy to see which objects are using that variable.  Conversely, clicking on a workflow object that contains a variable will highlight the variable in the workflow panel.

See Also

Set / Modify a variable

Set a variable based on user input

Database scripting with SQL that include variables

Branch workflow based on the value of a variable

Workflow Objects

7.13.24 - Variable - Set/Modify value

Variable - Set/Modify value

workflow variable modifier

The variable set/modifer allows you to set, or modify the value of a variable.  Variable are key workflow objects that can be used to store information and then be used later by other workflow objects.  Once a variable has been set, it can be updated via the use of a modifier.

Use

workflow variable set modify

Display title: This text will appear on the workflow canvas

Description:  Optional.  This is meta-data only.  Provide a description of the variable and its use

Variable to set:  Choose from the list of available variables, or click the + button to create a new variable

Operator:  Choose from Equals, Increment, Subtract, Multiplication

Value:  Works with the operator parameter

See Also

Set a variable based on user input

Set a variable based on a script

Database scripting with SQL that include variables  

Workflow Objects

7.13.25 - Variable - Set value from SQL Script

Variable - Set value from SQL Script

workflow set variable from sql script

Silent workflow object This workflow object runs silently, meaning it has no user interaction.  Silent workflow object are displayed with this icon.

Use

workflow set variable from database sql script

See Also

Workflow Overview

Workflow Objects

7.13.26 - Create Client with workflow

Create Client with workflow

The create client workflow object allows you to create a new HelpMaster client.  The details for the client can be set via calculated variables/scripts, or via user input.

workflow create new clientworkflow create user

Use

Select the Create Client workflow item from the workflow toolbox and add it to the workflow designer.

workflow create new client

Title:  This is the title that appears on the workflow canvas.  It is used to identify this workflow object.  This will also appear in the message box title bar

Description: A longer description of what this workflow step is about.  This description will appear to the user within the workflow panel when this workflow step is activated.

First name: The first name of the new client.  This can be left blank, prompting the user to fill it in, or can use a variable that resolves to this value.

Last name: The last name of the new client.  This can be left blank, prompting the user to fill it in, or can use a variable that resolves to this value.

Email address: The email address of the new client.  This can be left blank, prompting the user to fill it in, or can use a variable that resolves to this value.

Phone number: The phone number of the new client.  This can be left blank, prompting the user to fill it in, or can use a variable that resolves to this value.

Store the new Client PKID in this variable: When the new client is successfully created, their unique database ID, or their PKID (Primary Key ID) can be stored in a variable.  This is useful is you wish to do further database/SQL look-up, or updates for the newly created client.

Using Variables

When variables are used as place-holders for the client details, the value of these variables will be updated if they are changed by the user.

See Also

Workflow Overview

Workflow Objects

Use the Client PKID in a further script (SQL/Powershell) workflow operation

Email Manager - Create Client Options

7.13.27 - Change Management Template in Workflow

Change Management Template in Workflow

workflow change management request for change process

Change Management Templates can be incorporated into the workflow the workflow of a job.

When a Change management template is used within a workflow, the Change Management template will be applied and the current user will be prompted to complete the details of the template and apply it.

See Also

Approvals

Change Management Overview

Workflow Overview

Workflow Objects

7.13.28 - Approvals

Get approval for that thing…

The approval workflow object allows you to send a person (the approver) an approval request where they can either approve, or reject the request.  An approval workflow object can either pause the workflow until a decision is reached, and then will branch according to the outcome of the approval, or it can continue with the workflow and be checked at a later time.

When the approval is created, the approver will be sent an email with details of the approval, along with a hyperlink that will direct them to the HelpMaster web portal where they can cast their vote.

The approval workflow object requires that the HelpMaster web portal is configured and available for use - this is how the approval result is selected.

workflow process approval

workflow simple approval object

Use

Select the Simple Approval item from the workflow menu and add it to the workflow designer.

The approval object has one input, and 2 outputs.  The outputs correspond to whether the approval was approved, or denied.

Workflow approval process

Display Title: A short description that is displayed on the workflow designer

Approver: The approver must be a client within the HelpMaster database, and must have a valid email address.  The approved can be either a staff, or a client.  When the approval object is executed, the approver will be sent an email with details of the approval, along with a hyperlink that will direct them to the HelpMaster web portal where they can cast their vote.

  • Specific Person: Type the name of a client.  Ensure that this person has a valid email address
  • Manager of person running the workflow:   The Manager of the person running the workflow.
  • Person from variable: Use a workflow variable to select the approver.  This variable must resolve to one of the following:
    • The PKID of a client within the HelpMaster database
    • The email address of a client
    • The full name of a client, in the format of “First name Last name”
  • Manager of primary client:  The Manager of the primary client of the job

Approval Details:  A short message that will be displayed to the approver.  Use any relevant workflow tags to customize this message.

Email to send the approver:  Select an email template that will be used to send the email to the approver.   It is vital that this email contains the special hyperlink text tag «Job_Approval_Hyperlink».  This tag will be replaced with a unique web link that the approver can use to cast their vote.  Note, the HelpMaster web portal is required for this step.

Email to send the requester upon result:  Select an email template that will be used to send an email to the person who initiated the workflow approval step upon a result. This is an optional step.

Workflow approval email template

Approval Type

Wait for response:  This type of approval will stop the workflow once the approval has been generated.  Workflow will only continue once a vote has been cast and a decision has been made.  Workflow administrators can also manually advance the workflow.

Continue Workflow: This type of approval will NOT stop the workflow, and subsequent workflow objects can be run.  In order to check the approval decision, an Approval Results workflow object can be used at a later stage in the workflow.

Approval States

An approval has 3 states:

  • Awaiting Approval:  The approval has been initiated and is awaiting a decision
  • Approval Accepted:  The approval has been accepted
  • Approval Denied:  The approval has been denied

The current state of the approval will be displayed in the Wokflow panel

Workflow approval awaiting state

Once an approval has been created and sent, the Action Log will also display the initial approval request, as well as the response when it is determined.

workflow approval action log history

Voting on an approval

Only the person who is selected as the approver has the ability to vote on an approval.

If they are logged into the HelpMaster desktop edition, and view the job, they will be able to approve/deny the approval request from the workflow panel.  Alternately, they can click the hyperlink in the email that they were sent and cast their vote via the web portal.

workflow approval vote via web

 

Cancelling / skipping the approval

It is possible to cancel and/or skip the approval by selecting another workflow object in the workflow designer on the workflow tab of a job, and setting that object to the next workflow step.

See Also

Approval Results workflow object (for checking the results of an approval at a later stage in the workflow)

Simple approvals (ad-hoc approvals)

Client Manager field

Change Request (for approvals relating to a change request)

Email Templates

Web Portal (Required to be installed and configured in order to use Approvals)

7.13.29 - Approval Results

Approval Result check

The approval results workflow object is used after an approval workflow object and allows you to check the results of that approval. The workflow can then branch based on this result.

workflow process approval

workflow approval result

Use

Select the Approval Results item from the workflow menu and add it to the workflow designer.

The approval object has one input, and 2 outputs. The outputs correspond to whether the approval was approved, or denied.

workflow approval result

Display Title: A short description that is displayed on the workflow designer

Approval item to check: Select from the drop-down box an approval that has already been run.

See Also

Workflow Approvals

Simple approvals (ad-hoc approvals)

Change Request (for approvals relating to a change request)

Web Portal (Required to be installed and configured in order to use Approvals)

7.13.30 - Checklist workflow process object

Checklist workflow process object

The checklist workflow object allow you to present a series of checkboxes that the user can check (or not) as part of thta workflow step.  The checkboxes can be used to describe a task, a process or other event that makes sense at that part of the workflow.  Checkboxes can be grouped into sections with a label to describe each section.

workflow checkboxes

workflow checklist process

workflow checklist for process management

Configuring for use

Select the Checkbox workflow item from the workflow toolbox and add it to the workflow designer.  The workflow object allow you to configure 2 types of objects - Checkboxes, and Headings

workflow checklist

Display Title:  This is the title that appears on the workflow canvas.  It is used to identify this workflow object

Description:  A longer description of what this workflow step is about.  This description will appear to the user within the workflow panel when this workflow step is activated.

Checkboxes

Click “Add Checkbox” from the toolbar to add a checkbox.  Use the panel on the right to configure the properties of the checkbox.

Caption: The caption of the checkbox that will be presented to the user

ID:  The internal identifier of the checkbox.  This is automatically generated, and is read-only.

ShortCaption:  A short caption is used to messages to the user

AllowNA: When checked, this setting allows the checkbox to be set to “Not Applicable”.  See below

Required: When checked, this settings makes this checkbox mandatory to check in order to complete and progress to the next workflow step

Headings

Caption: The caption of the checkbox that will be presented to the user

ID:  The internal identifier of the checkbox.  This is automatically generated, and is read-only.

Use

When the checklist workflow object is the current item, it will display in the workflow panel on the right of the job screen.

  • Checkboxes that are coloured red, indicate that they are mandatory items.  These must be checked before the workflow can be progressed to the next item (see below)
  • If a checkbox has been marked as allowing “N/A”, right-click the checkbox to toggle the “Set as not applicable” setting.

Save:  This option will save the checkbox settings that you have made, and keep the checkbox workflow item as the current item.  This allows you to resume the checkbox list at a later time.

Save and Continue Workflow:  This option will save the checkbox settings, and progress the workflow to the next object in the process.

See Also

Workflow Objects

Checklist Alternatives

Create a series of user decision workflow objects

Control Sets Overview

Custom Fields

8 - Change Management

Managing business change processes effectively

The Change Management module allows you to plan for, and manage changes within the business.

8.1 - Change Management Overview

Change Management Overview

IT Systems and business processes are becoming more complex, and more inter-connected than ever before.  This is why it is important to manage the changes to such systems.  Maintain optimum up-time and service availability to your clients by ensuring that any changes to any systems, services or infrastructure is handled in a controlled and calculated fashion.

Change Management is the discipline that allows you to plan, track, approve, schedule, implement and review your changes in the best possible way in order to provide the best outcome for the business and all concerned.

Every organization implements change management differently in order to suit their particular needs, however, there are a few general concepts that are widespread.

Benefits of Change Management

Benefits of effective change management include:

  • Avoid system outages and down-time
  • Ensure the continuity and available of services and systems
  • Improve communication between stakeholders of systems
  • Document system changes
  • Get proper approval before any change is performed
  • A better understanding of the relationship between corporate assets, systems, people and services

Types of change

Standard change

A standard change is a well known, well defined change with known low-risk which is often pre-approved - that is, it doesn’t require a formal approval process in order to be implemented.

Normal change

A change that arises out of necessity - often from the detection of a problem, or point of failure in a system.  May require approval to implement.

Emergency change

A change that arises when an unexpected matter arises that requires urgent documentation, approval and implementation.  Examples include a sudden breakdown in vital infrastructure, a security threat, virus outbreak, or similar time-critical event that needs to be rectified quickly, or unexpectedly.

Security and Access to Change Management Features

The Change Management functionality within HelpMaster is governed via a security/access model, similar to other features.  This allows organizations to control who has access to the Change Management functionality.

Enable/Disable the entire feature

At a global level, the entire Change Management feature can be turned off withing HelpMaster.   Doing so will remove all references the Change Management, including menus, buttons, queues etc.

To enable/disable the entire Change Management feature, use the Administration menu > System Administration button > General tab, and check/uncheck the Change Management option in the Features group box.

Administer Change Management security

Use the Application Security Roles to adjust Change Management access.

See Also

Change Request Life-cycle

Change Management Models and Best Practice

Change Request Templates

Creating a new change request

Approval Process

Workflow Approvals (Different from Change Request Approval)

Security and Access

System Administration

Application Security Roles

8.2 - Life-cycle of a Change Request

Life-cycle of a Change Request

Depending on the type and scope of a change, it may have a different lifecycle, or phases that it will go through.  HelpMaster supports the following stages of change management:

change management stages  

Within each of the stages, HelpMaster allows a degree of flexibility in the way that you implement that stage.

Define the change

At the heart of change management is the request for change (RFC).  This is a formal statement of “something needs to change”. 

An RFC contains all of the details of the change.  Different types of changes may require different fields, or information to be recorded. These can be configured as Change Request Templates.

See Creating and Defining a Change Request

 Approve the change

One of the principles behind change management is recognizing the need to attain correct permission and authorization to effect a change.  This is where a formal approval system is used.  Some changes do not require a formal approval process and are simply “pre-approved”. 

See Approvals and Voting on a Change Request

Implement the change

Once a change has been approved (via a vote, or pre-approved), the actual implementation of the change can begin.  Depending on the type of change, this may involve logging new jobs to track and manage the implementation, or it may simply involve doing the work, and documenting it within the Change Request.

See Implementing a Change Request

Review the change

Once a change has been implemented, a review process can initiated to determine whether the implementation was successful.  A review can highlight areas of concern, improvements, or quality control, or other observations.   Similar to the implementation stage, this may involve logging new jobs to track and manage the review, or it may simply involve reviewing the implementation and documenting the results within the Change Request.

See Reviewing a Change Request

Close the change

When the change has been completed, the final step is to close it off.

See Closing a Change Request

 


See Also

Change Management Overview

8.3 - Change Management Models

Change Management Models

Every business addresses changes differently according to their needs and process maturity, and HelpMaster supports a flexible change-management system to accommodate many styles of managing change.

Icons used throughout HelpMaster

change management request for change Request for Change

Pre-approved change request

Approval Required.  Approval is determined via a voting system

Job Template

Job - Used for tracking and managing the implementation

workflow step Workflow step - Used within jobs for discreet steps within a process

change management finalize Finalizing the change / job

What comes first, the Change Request, or the Job?

Potentially both, and perhaps neither!

It depends on the type of change, and the circumstances under which the request for change is raised.  Each model serves a purpose and a business workflow.  They are not mutually exclusive.   It is important to note that not every change request needs to have a job logged for it that precedes the change, and similarly, not every existing job needs to transition into a change request.

Request for change first

A change-first model occurs when a request for change is created first, which then leads to logging a subsequent job in order to carry out the implementation.  In order for the implementation job to be logged, the RFC must first be defined, logged, and either pre-approved, or approved via a voting system.

change management - RFC first

A “change request first” approach may occur due to one or more of the following:

  • The change is a scheduled, regular change
  • The change is expected
  • The change is a planned change

Job First

A job-first model occurs when a request for change stems from an existing job. 

change management job first

This may be because a support case transitions into a change request out of necessity.  This is a common progression.  In ITIL terminology, this could be described by the following cycle:

Incident > Problem > Change Request > Fix and close problem > Close incident > Close Change

In this case, the incident record is logged first, then a corresponding problem record which necessitates a change.

Other times, a more complex change request may be best described and implemented as a more complex job that has a series of associated workflow steps and multiple change requests/approvals.  Such a complex change might only be served best by logging an initial job that contains the sequence of changes and approvals via discrete steps within its associated workflow.

Common Change Request Models

Below are some ideas that may be useful in working with Change Management in HelpMaster. 

Request for change with approval.  Simple change.

change management simple approval process

Starts with an RFC which has to be approved.  Once approved, the change is implemented and the RFC is closed.  In this simple model, no job is used for the implementation as the type of change is simple enough to not warrant logging a separate job for tracking and managing implementation.  All details of the change are documented in the RFC and this is sufficient for this type of change.

Request for change with approval leading to template-based job implementation 

change management CAB approval with template-based implementation

Starts with a RFC which has to be approved.  Once approved, a pre-made job template is used to log a job that will be used to track and manage the implementation process.  This type of change is usually a well-known type of change, because a job template has already been made for it.  This indicates that there is a standard workflow/implementation to the change. 

Pre-approved change with a job for implementation

change management pre-approved change, or standard change

Standard, or well-known changes may not require a formal approval process.  This type of change is pre-approved, however the RFC is logged for the sake of reporting.  A separate job is also logged for tracking and managing the implementation

Job-first, Multi-stage approval with workflow.  Complex Change

change management job first multi-stage workflow involving multiple approval stages

This scenario is more complex.  It starts with an existing job that has either been logged to initiate a change process, or perhaps it was logged as a regular support case (incident/problem etc.) which then requires a change.  Either way, as part of the workflow, there are multiple change request items built into the workflow.  Each change request could be used as a unique change, or perhaps for an approval process.

Job First, request for change with approval process

change management job first with CAB approval

A variation on the first model, only that a job pre-dates the change.  No further job is required for implementation.  The implementation of the change is either documented in the change record, or in the initiating job.

Job First, pre-approved change

change management job first with pre-approved change

Similar again.  A pre-existing job initiates a pre-approved request for change.  No further job is required for implementation.  The implementation of the change is either documented in the change record, or in the initiating job. 

Your changes, your way

Ultimately, any change request within HelpMaster can be defined, classified, implemented and closed in any way that makes sense to the business and the requirements of the change itself.  There are no set rules on how change requests could, or should be implemented.  Use any combination of the Change Request templates, Jobs and Job Templates, and Workflow to build change management processes that work for you.

See Also

Change Management Overview

Change Approval Process

Change Request Templates

Job Templates

Workflow Overview

8.4 - Change Request Templates

Change Request Templates

A change request template is a pre-made change request that includes pre-defined information such as scope, summary, linked entities, approval board, other other change-related information.  Change request templates are used to speed up the process of creating a change request, and provide consistency of data.

Change Request templates can also be using in workflow to initiate a change at a certain point in the life-cycle of a job.

Use

Give each Change Request template a unique title that describes its purpose and makes identification and searching easy.  Select an appropriate category via the drop-down box.  The values listed in the category box are configured via the System Code Administration screen.

Defining the layout of the Change Request

Each change request template can have a different set of fields that are used to capture information about the change.  Depending on the type of change, use the “Definition” tab of the change request template to select the appropriate fields for the change.  Choose from the following list of change-related fields.

  • Risk assessment
  • Risk
  • Implementation
  • Reason for change
  • Effect of Non-implementation
  • Rollback procedure
  • Test plan
  • Impact (Systems / Services affected)
  • Business justification
  • Cost
  • Notes

Approval Board

Use the Approval Board tab to configure the approval process that the change requires.

Best practice

Build Change Management Templates for each recurring type of change that is common in your business.  Build templates for:

  • Standard change
  • Complex change
  • Workflow-based changes

See Also

Change Management Overview

Creating a new change request

Approval Process

Templates Overview

Implementing Change

Change Request Implementation

Job Overview

Workflow - Change Management Template

Workflow

Workflow Overview

General Administration

System Code Adminstration

8.5 - Email Templates

Email Templates used in Change Management

As a request for change passes through each stafe of its life-cycle, it may be advantageous to send email notifications to the relevant person who has been nominated for that stage change.  Changes, and Change Templates have the ability to set dedicated email templates for each stage.

request for change email notification

Voting

As part of the change voting processes, it is possible to send out an email to all members of the approval board with the details of the change.  This email can also contain a link to the HelpMaster web portal to a page where they can vote.

Whether you use the HelpMaster web portal, or the HelpMaster desktop edition (or both) for casting votes, it is a best practice to send out an email to notify people of their invitation to vote on a change request.

Change Management Email Templates are similar to other email templates in their basic function, however they have unique email tags associated with them and do not display in the regular email template drop-down boxes.  They are only displayed in the drop-down box on the Request for Change screen on the Approval Board tab.

Use

Change Management Email Templates can be administered via the dedicated Change menu > Change Email Templates toolbar button

Create change management email templates in the same way as you would a regular email template Email Templates, however use the special email tags to insert change-management related fields into the email. 

In order to vote via the HelpMaster web portal, you will need to include the special email tag «Change_VotingWebLink» into the email template.  This tag will be replaced with a link to your HelpMaster web portal.  In order for this to work the HelpMaster web portal will need to be installed and configured for use. 

See Also

Change Management

Email Topics

Regular email templates

Email Template Tags

HelpMaster Web Portal

8.6 - Creating a new request for change

Creating a new request for change

There are 3 ways to create a new change request

  1. From the main toolbar, select the Change menu, and the click the “New Change” toolbar button
  2. From an existing job, click the "New Request for change" button on the toolbar
  3. A change request can be automatically created as part of the workflow within a job

When the blank New Change screen appears, you can start filling in the required fields, or select a pre-made Change Template from the drop-down box located in the top-right of the change screen.  When a template is used, any additional change fields that have been configured in the template will appear on the new change screen.

ITSM Change Management

The following fields are presented on the New Change Request screen:

Details Tab

Summary: A short description of the change

Details of change: A detailed description of the change

Created by:  Automatically set to display the person that created the change

Date Created: Automatically set to display the date the change was created

Start Date: The proposed start date of the change

Duration: The duration of the change.  Setting this will automatically adjust the End Date

End Date: The proposed end date of the change

Requester: The person who has requested this change.  Can be a staff or client

Priority: The priority of the change.  This is the same priority classification code that is used by jobs

Assign To: Who the change is assigned to.  Must be a staff member.  The change will be displayed in the Explorer screen for this person

 

Approval Board tab

The Approvals tab is where the approval system and voters are configured.  This is used if a change requires a vote to determine whether it is approved or rejected/denied.

Implementation tab

The implementation tab is used to record details about the actual implementation of the change.  It also contains links to job templates that can be converted into “implementation jobs”, as well as links to any “implementation jobs” that have been logged for this purpose.

Review tab

The review tab is used to record details about the actual reviewof the change.  It also contains links to job templates that can be converted into “review jobs”, as well as links to any “review jobs” that have been logged for this purpose.

Email tab

Use this tab to configure the email templates that will be used for notification for each stage of the change request.

Use the links tabs to link other entities to the Change Request. Anything linked here is for reference only, and intended to give additional meaning/context to the change request.  See Linking Entities for further details

Attachments tab

Use the attachments tab to link file-based attachments to the change request.  See Attachments for further details

History tab

The history tab is automatically populated with information as the life-cycle of the change request progresses.  Each time a new stage is reached, this is recorded in the history tab.  Similarly, whenever a change is made to a change request this is also recorded here.  It is similar to the Audit History tab of a job.

See Also

Change Management Overview

Implementing a Change Request

Reviewing a Change Request

Closing a Change Request

8.7 - Approval Process

Approval Process

A request for change may often require approval in order to be implemented.  Sometimes the approval is a once-only approval, whereas more complex changes may require multiple approvals in various stages of the change process.

Approvals may be required for:

  • Overall change approval
  • Feasibility study approval
  • Technical requirements approval
  • Downtime and time-to-implement approval
  • Test deployment review approval
  • Financial approval
    • others

Pre-approved

Some changes do not require a formal approval process.  They are either trivial and don’t require approval, or they have simply been pre-approved in concept.

Approval required

Some changes do require a formal approval process.  In such cases, one or more people must review and approve of the proposed change.  They do this by registering a formal “vote” on the change.  HelpMaster supports a range of different approval mechanisms and types.

Approval Voting Mechanisms

The following voting styles are supported by HelpMaster:

Everyone must approve

Everyone who is listed in the voters list must vote and agree with the change.  eg.  If 5 people are configured to vote, all 5 must vote, and unanimously approve the change.

Everyone who votes must approve

Not everyone has to vote, but those that do have to unanimously agree to the change.

Fail on denied count

Use this voting style when you want to reject the change if one or more people reject it.  When this style is selected, you need to also specify how many “denied” votes will reject the change.  If this number of “denied” votes is reached, the change will be rejected.

Majority Vote (by number of votes)

An outcome is determined by the majority of votes either approving or rejecting the change.

Majority Vote (by weight of votes)

This is a weighted voting system.  Each voter in the approval board, has a pre-selected “voting weight” (a number between 1 and 10).  This mechanism allows for some voters to carry more voting clout than others.  The outcome is determined by adding up the individual weightings for each vote type (approved / denied), with the highest total determining the outcome.

Percentage target (by number of votes)

An outcome is determined if a specified percentages of approved votes are submitted.

Percentage target (by weight of votes)

This is a weighted voting system.  Each voter in the approval board, has a pre-selected “voting weight” (a number between 1 and 10).  This mechanism allows for some voters to carry more voting clout than others.  The outcome is determined if a specified percentage of the individual weightings for each vote type (approved / denied) has been reached.

Vote race (by number of votes)

An outcome is determined when a certain percentage of approved votes, or denied votes is first reached.  Unlike a standard “Percentage Vote” style that is determined when a particular percentage of “Approval” votes has been reached, a “Vote Race” can be “won” by a percentage of “Denied” votes.  It’s a race between approved and denied.  The first side to reach the specified percentage target will determine the outcome.

Vote race (by weight of votes)

This is a weighted voting system.  Each voter in the approval board, has a pre-selected “voting weight” (a number between 1 and 10).  This mechanism allows for some voters to carry more voting clout than others.  An outcome is determined when a certain percentage (based on weight - not count) of approved votes, or denied votes is first reached.  Unlike a standard “Percentage Vote” style that is determined when a particular percentage of “Approval” votes has been reached, a “Vote Race” can be “won” by a percentage of “Denied” votes.  It’s a race between approved and denied.  The first side to reach the specified percentage target will determine the outcome.

Other voting settings

Minimum votes required

Specify the minimum percentage of votes that must be cast in order to determine the result.  e.g.  If you have 10 voters, setting this value to 60% means that 6 people will have to vote one way or another in order for the approval to have a valid determination.

Allow abstained votes

Checking this options allows voters to abstain from voting if they so choose.  Approvals with this option turned on will display an additional “Abstain from voting” option on the voting page.  Abstained votes do not count in any of the outcome determinations.

End voting when a result has been determined

Checking this option will close the voting process if a valid result has been determined already.  People who have not yet voted will be shown a “Voting has closed - an outcome has been reached” message if they try to vote.  If this option is not used, this will allow more time for people to vote, even though a result has already been determined, but it allows you to gather feedback regardless.   

Email to send on starting the approval process

This option allows you to specify an email template that will be used to send everyone in the approval board an email to inform them that they are part of the request for change process and provide them with a link to vote.

If web-based voting will be used, ensure that the email template contains the special email tag «Change_VotingWebLink».  This special email tag will be replaced with a hyperlink that links to the HelpMaster web portal change request voting page.  In order for this to work, you'll need to have installed and configured the HelpMaster web portal.  

Pre-Approved Changes

Not all changes need to have a formal voting processes where others are involved.  In such cases, the change owner can simply bypass the approval/voting stage of a change and approve the change manually.  This is done by clicking the “Pre-approved change” button.

See Also

Voting on a request for change

Change Management email templates - Used to send the invitation to vote email

HelpMaster Web Portal - Use to provide the voting page

Change Management Overview

Discussion Board Post

Workflow Approvals and Attachments

8.8 - Voting on a request for change

Voting on a request for change

Overview

When a request for change has requires approval via an approval board, the members of the approval board will need to vote on the change.  Voting can be achieved via the Desktop, or the web portal versions of HelpMaster.

Depending on the way the voting system has been defined, members of the approval board may be able to approve, deny, or abstain from voting.  They will also have the option to provide a comment with their vote.

The approval phase of a request for change occurs after the change has been defined.

Use

Once a request for change has been defined, and the approval board has been set, its time to vote.

Click on the “Start Approval Process” button.  If you have selected a Change Management email template in the drop-down box this will be sent at this stage. 

Remember, if you don’t send an email with a web-link to the web portal to vote, all members of approval board will have to use the Desktop edition of HelpMaster to cast their vote.

Once a person has voted, they cannot vote again for that change request.  The exception to this is if the request for change was amended after the voting had started, and the change owner decided to re-cast the vote.

Voting via the web portal

Voting via the web portal is only possible if:

  1. The web portal has been installed and configured for use
  2. The email template that was selected as part of the Approval Board definition contained the special web-link voting tag

Once a person has clicked on the link in the email to cast their vote, they will be taken to the voting page for that request for change where they will be presented with the options and details as specified in the voting specification. 

change management cab voting visibility

Voting via the desktop edition

Voting via the desktop edition is performed via the Job Explorer screen.  Expand the Change Management section to display and change requests that require approval.  Changes can be opened for viewing, or right-click to cast a quick vote.

Changing a request and Resetting a vote

Once a request for change has reached the voting stage and the “Start Approval Process” button has been clicked, the details of the change are locked down and set to read-only mode.  This can be changed, but it will require the change owner to acknowledge that a vote is already in process, and provide a comment on why the request for change is being amended after the approval process has already started.

If a request for change is amended after voting has already started, the change owner has the ability to reset the vote and start again (cancelling all existing votes), or to allow the original approval process and votes to stand and continue as normal.

See Also

Approval Process

Change Management email templates

8.9 - Implementation Phase

Implementation Phase

Overview

Once a request for change has been defined and approved, it moves into the implementation stage.

Implementation refers to the process of actually performing the task(s) that are involved in the change request.  Implementation can may take one or more of the following forms:

  • Referring to a existing HelpMaster job(s) to track and manage the implementation
  • Logging new job(s) to track and manage the implementation
  • Use the Request for Change record to record the implementation
  • Do not link or log any jobs, and just record the details of what was done in the "Implementation text box" directly on the change request form

Use

To being the implementation stage, click on the "Start" button on the change record next to the Implementation stage label.  This will enable the implementation tab and time-stamp the Change Record with the current date and time, and enter an event in the History tab.

Implementation details for the change can be found on the "Implementation" tab.

Depending on the complexity and scope of the change, the implementation stage can either be very simple, or as complex as you need it to be.

Simple Implementation - No additional job(s) to be logged

A simple change implementation refers to when there are no additional jobs that have been logged, or need to be logged to record and track the change implementation.  In this case, you can simply specify details about the implementation in the implementation text box (or not), and this becomes the "Implementation notes" for the change.  Using this simple model, all of the implementation details are stored with the change request, and appear on the Implementation tab in the text-box provided.

Job-based implementation

For more complex change implementations, new jobs can be logged that will record and track the change implementation.  If existing jobs have already been logged for this purpose, these can also be linked to the change record by dragging them into the jobs listview control.

When a job-based implementation is used, the idea is that existing jobs, or new jobs will contain all of the definition, the workflow and process of a regular job that will be used for the implementation work.  These jobs may be based on Job Templates as per usual.

When a change request is created via a Change Request Template, any Job Templates that are linked to the Change Template will be transferred into the change and appear as "jobs to do" on the Implementation tab.  Use the toolbar button to convert the job template into a real job.

When implementation jobs are logged from, or linked to a change request, these will need to be completed (closed) before the change can be closed.

Note: The implementation phase of a change is performed in HelpMaster in a functionally similar way to the review phase.

 

See Also

Change Request Templates

Closing a change request

8.10 - Reviewing Phase

Reviewing Phase

After a change request implementation has been performed, the next stage is to review the implementation.  This stage is part of quality control and to review the work that was performed.

Reviewing a change refers to the process of verifying and reviewing that the implementation phase of the change request was executed correctly.  Reviewing a change can take any of the following forms:

  • Referring to a existing job(s) to track and manage the review
  • Logging new job(s) to track and manage the review
  • Use the Request for Change record to record the review
  • Do nothing at all

Use

Review details for the change can be found on the “Review” tab.

Depending on the complexity and scope of the change, the review stage can either be very simple, or as complex as you need it to be.

Simple Implementation - No additional job(s) to be logged

A simple change review refers to when there are no additional jobs that have been logged, or need to be logged to record and track the change review.  In this case, you can simply specify details about the review in the implementation text box (or not), and this becomes the “Review notes” for the change.  Using this simple model, all of the review details are stored with the change request, and appear on the Review tab.

Job-based implementation

For more complex change reviews, new jobs can be logged that will record and track the change review.  If existing jobs have already been logged for this purpose, these can also be linked to the change record.

When a job-based review is used, this means that existing jobs, or new jobs will contain all of the definition, the workflow and process of a regular job that will be used for the review work.  These jobs may be based off-of Job Templates as per usual.

When a change request is created via a Change Request Template, any Job Templates that are linked to the Change Template will be transferred into the change and appear as “jobs to do” on the Review tab.  Use the toolbar button to convert the job template into a real job.

When review jobs are logged from, or linked to a change request, these will need to be completed (closed) before the change can be closed.

Note: The review phase of a change is performed in HelpMaster in a functionally similar way to the implementation phase.

See Also

Closing a change request

Change Management Overview

8.11 - Closing a change request

Closing a change request

Overview

The final stage of a change request is to close it.  This may be done when all previous steps have been completed and the change is no longer active, however closing a change request may occur at any-time, and for any reason.

Use

To close a change, click the "Close" button on the side-status bar.  This will take you to the close tab where you can enter the following information:

Close Date:  Defaults to the current date/time.  Can be over-written.

Closed By:  Defaults to the current person.  Can be over-written.

Change Result:  Select from the list the appropriate Change Results.  The list includes the following options:

  • Successful: Use for a successful change.
  • Failed: Use when the change failed.  An additional "Unsuccessful reason" box will enable.
  • Rolled-back: Use for when the change failed, but was rolled-back.  An additional "Unsuccessful reason" box will enable.
  • Cancelled: Use for when the change was cancelled for any reason.  An additional "Unsuccessful reason" box will enable.

Close Details:  A free-text area to enter additional closure notes.

See Also

Implementing a change request

Reviewing a change request (Implementation review)

Change Management Overview

9 - System Administration

System administration, configuration and customisation

HelpMaster is a flexible and powerful system that can be configured for a wide range of business uses. The System administration options allow administrators to configuration all aspects of HelpMaster for operational use.

9.1 - Skillgroups and Security

Staff can be grouped into Skilgroups, and assigned a security role per skillgroup

9.1.1 - Security overview

Security overview

HelpMaster features a comprehensive security and workflow model that will allow system administrators to secure all aspects of the product in a flexible and granular manner. 

Security within HelpMaster refers to the following concepts:

  • Access to various screens within the product
  • Access to each of the HelpMaster modules
  • Access to jobs, and the degree of work/actions that can be performed on those jobs
  • The ability to configure system codes, and other system settings

The security features within HelpMaster allow system administrators to finely control the level of access, functionality and visibility into all areas of the HelpMaster product suite.  HelpMaster implements security via the use of the following 3 security related concepts:

  1. Skillgroups
  2. Application security roles
  3. Job security roles

Skillgroups

A Skillgroup represents a grouping of staff that have common skills, or belong to a common organizational structure.  In a security context, a skillgroup plays a role in determining what jobs a staff member can see.  Skillgroups are linked to Workflow roles (see below) to determine job visibility and action.

Application security roles

Application Security Roles are used to control the level of access that staff have to the various screens and HelpMaster modules.  Each staff member must belong to one and only one application security role.  Although security groups do contain some job related settings, the main mechanism for restricting job access and workflow is determined via a workflow role / skillgroup combination.

Job security roles

job security role

A Job Security roles is a collection of job-based permissions that are applied to a staff member for a particular skillgroup.  System administrators can create as many job security roles as are required to cater for all of the different staff / skillgroup / job security scenarios that exist in the organization. 

See Also

SQL Server Database permissions

9.1.2 - Job Security Role

Job Security Role

job security role

A job security role defines the security level for each staff member per skillgroup they are associated with.  Staff can belong to multiple skillgroups, and with job security roles system administrators can control the level of access the staff member has to each of the skillgroups to which they belong.

For example:

A staff member might have full-control for one skillgroup, but have only basic read-only permissions in another skillgroup.  The following diagram describes this relationship between staff, skillgroups and job security roles.

 

The permissions that can be configured for each job security role are divided into 3 parts.  These are:

My Jobs for the skillgroup

This section relates to any job that is assigned to the staff member belonging to the skillgroup.  “My Jobs” refers to the person that is currently logged onto HelpMaster.

Other peoples jobs for the skillgroup

This section relates to jobs that are assigned to other people that belong to the same skillgroup as the staff member.

The Un-assigned jobs for the skillgroup

This section relates to jobs that are assigned directly to the skillgroup but not to a specific person within that skillgroup.

Each of these 3 sections has a number of checkboxes that relate to specific job related security and workflow privileges.  System administrators can create very detailed job workflow permissions by using a combination of the job security roles.

Create new, edit existing, or delete

To create or edit, or delete a job security role, click on the job security tab to display all of the current skillgroups.  Use the toolbar buttons View, New and Delete.

Assigning a job security role to a staff member

  1. Select the slider control called “Skillgroups viewed by Staff grouping”
  2. Expand the staff member you wish to administer to display all of the skillgroups that the staff member belongs to
  3. Drag and drop the job security role onto the appropriate skillgroup.  Alternately, you can select both the skillgroup and the workflow role and click the Add role button

Assigning a workflow role to a staff member

Job security roles are assigned to a staff member via the Staff Manager screen.

View all jobs: Allows visibility to all jobs

View jobs assigned to the staff member only: Allows visibility only to jobs that are directly assigned to the staff member that is logged on

View jobs assigned to the skill group of the staff member only: Allows visibility to any jobs that are assigned either to the staff member, or to the skill group to which they belong

Working with jobs

Adding actions: Refers to the ability to add any type of action to a job.

Changing status: Refers to the ability to change the status of a job.  Users can still action a job, but will not be able to change the status.

Re-assigning: Refers to the ability to reassign of a job.  Users can still action a job, but will not be able to reassign it

Reopening of closed jobs: Refers to the ability to reopen a closed job

Jobs to be closed that still have actions to do: If unchecked, users will not be able to close jobs that still have one or more Actions to do associated with the job.

Promotion of child jobs: Refers to the ability to remove a child job from a parent, thereby making it a non-child job.

Removal of actions to do from a job: Refers to the ability to remove any linked Actions to do associated with the job.

Changing priority: Refers to the ability to change the priority of a job

See Also

Security Overview

Skillgroups

Application Security Roles

9.1.3 - Application Security Role

Application Security Role

Application security roles are used to control the level of access that staff have to the various screens and HelpMaster modules.  Each staff member must belong to one and only one application security role. Although application security roles do contain some job related settings, the main mechanism for restricting job access and workflow is determined via a job security role / skillgroup combination.

The security system within HelpMaster allows the system administrator to define any number of application security roles to which staff members of HelpMaster are associated with. Each application security role includes details about whether a particular screen or function can be accessed. 

Please note that the security settings do not apply to the system administrator. The administrator is able to use and modify any screen and access all system functionality.

Administration

Every staff member must belong to one Application Security Role.  This can be done either via the Client Screen > Staff tab, or via the Application security role screen.

Via the Client screen > Staff tab

  1. Open the client screen for the staff member you wish to administer
  2. Click on the Staff tab
  3. Select the appropriate Application Security Role from the drop-down box
  4. Click Apply / OK

Via the Application Security Role screen

  1. Open the Application Security Role screen by using the Administration menu > Application Security Roles toolbar button
  2. Use the search screen to find the Application Security Role you require
  3. Click on the Add button
  4. Use the Client search screen to find the staff member, and click Select
  5. Click Apply/OK on the Application Security Role screen

Settings Explanation

Name : The name of the security group.  Must be unique


Staff Members tab

Use this tab to add or remove staff members from this role.  Use the buttons at the bottom of the screen.


HelpMaster modules tab

Email Manager administration: Allows access and full rights to the Email Manager and associated menus via the Desktop edition

Priority Manager administration: Allows access and full rights to the Priority Manager and associated menus via the Desktop edition

Web Portal Administration: Allows access and full rights to the Web Portal settings and associated menus via the Desktop edition

Active Directory Integration Administration: Allows access and full rights to the Active Directory administration and associated menus via the Desktop edition

Triggered Events Administration: Allows access and full rights to the Triggered Event feature and associated menus via the Desktop edition


Screen Access tab

Use this section to grant, deny or limit access to various screens and functionality within HelpMaster.  Click on the screen/feature name to display a short description about the security settings and how it applies.  A general guide is given below.

Entity screen access section

Assets: Refers to the Asset administration screen

Clients: Refers to the client administration screen

Knowledge base: Refers to the Knowledge basescreen

Sites: Refers to the sites screen

Change Requests: Refers to the Change Management screen

Services: Not yet implemented

Template screen access section

Action templates: Refers to the Action template screen

Email templates: Refers to the Email Templates screen

Job Templates: Refers to the Job Templates screen

Workflow Templates: Referes to the Workflow Templates screen

Change Request Templates: Refers to the Change Request templates screen

Other screen access section

Broadcast message: Refers to the Broadcast message screen

Message board: Refers to the Message board screen

Q Check: Refers to the Queue Check screen

View reports: Refers to the reports screen

Deletion section

Purge/Delete Jobs, Actions and Changes: The ability to permanently delete these entity types

Delete Entities: The ability to delete entities (Clients, Sites, Assets)

Delete Templates: The ability to delete templates

Administration screen access section

Issues: Refers to the Issues screen

Site Hierarchy: Refers to the site hierarchy screen

System codes: Refers to the System Codes screen

Template Manager: Refers to the Template Manager screen

Request Catalogs:

Billing Templates:

Billing Manager:

System administration screen access section

Attachments administration: Refers to the Attachments administration screen

Custom fields: Refers to the custom fields administration screen

Data Validation rules: Refers to the custom fields data validation screen

Import / Export: Refers to the Import / Export screen

Purge Jobs: Refers to the purge jobs wizard

System administration: Refers to the system administration screen

Feature usage section

Action email options: Refers to the email section of the action screen.

Change Actions Template: Refers to the ability to change an action template once one has already been set

Default templates: Refers to the user default templates screen

Template subscriptions: Refers to the Template subscriptions screen


Job Security tab

Overrides all Job Workflow Roles section

Allow full access to all jobs and actions: Checking this box grants administrator like access to all jobs and actions.  It also means that any workflow roles that are assigned to staff members that belong to this security groups become ineffective, that is, this setting will over-ride any and all workflow roles that are assigned to the staff member.

Staff access to jobs they have logged section

Other Job Settings

Allow Staff to create new Jobs:  Checking this box allows staff members assigned to this security group to log jobs.

Allow editing the main fields of closed Jobs and Actions (adds an edit toolbar button) Check this box to allow staff to perform a “quick update” of a closed job or action. When this setting is on, an additional toolbar button will appear on jobs and actions that will allos editing the job/action details textbox, while the job/action is still closed. This is a handy feature to use when updating/correcting text on jobs and actions without having to re-open them, edit them, and then re-close them (also affecting the action log dates / job close time / date last actioned etc..)


Feature usage tab

General section

Allow Staff to update custom SQL text boxes, ro run SQL directly against the database: Checking this will allow staff to edit SQL statements throughout HelpMaster. 

Job/Action section

Allow Staff to change the “Actioned by” field of completed actions: Checking this will allow staff to change the “Actioned by” field for a completed action.  This is useful to update incorrect action details.

Allow Staff to add global image exclusions from the attachments tab of Jobs and Actions: Allow staff to exclude images.  See Excluding Images

Allow Workflow to be added when there is no current workflow on a job: Allows staff to add workflow to a job

  • Allow Workflow to be changed, edited and removed:  Allows staff to use, edit and work with workflow on a job

Undefined System Codes section

Settings that control the use of “Undefined codes”.  See Undefined system codes

Change Management section

Allow Staff to create new Change Requests Allows staff to create new Change Requests

Reminders section

Viewing Reminders : Use the options in this group to control reminder visibility

Staff / Client section

Allow Staff to change client passwords :  Refers to the ability to reset client passwords

Allow Staff to merge duplicate Client/Staff records:  Refers to the ability to merge clients

Allow Staff to create Staff members : Refers to the ability for staff to create other staff

Allow Staff to change Windows logon passwords: If checked, staff will be able to reset the Windows password for an Active Directory synchronized client.  This requires Windows domain permission.

Knowledge Base section

Allow staff to change Web enabled checkbox on knowledge base articles :  Refers to the ability to be able to toggle the “Is Web enabled” checkbox on the knowledge base screen.

Control Sets section

The checkboxes in this section control access and functionality as labelled for each entity type.

Messaging section

The option here control access and functionality as labelled

Billing section

Allow Staff to access the billing information on Actions:  Refers to the ability to enter financial information on the Action screen.

Allow Staff to manually override billing information for Actions: Refers to the ability to change billing information

Allow Staff to access billing formation and invoice Jobs: Refers to the ability to create an invoice from billable actions

Allow Staff to update and invoice billing information for closed Jobs and Actions: Refers to the ability to update and edit existing invoices

Allow Staff to delete invoices:  Refers to the ability to delete invoices.

Staff Creation tab

Allow Staff to create Staff members:  Checking this will allow staff members to create other staff members.  Once this is checked, select the appropriate roles that staff members with this access will be able to assign to new staff members.

Properties tab

Description : A brief description of the security group

See Also

Creating new staff

Job security roles

Explanation of security settings

Skillgroups

9.1.4 - Skillgroup Overview

Skillgroup Overview

A skillgroup represents a grouping of staff that have common skills, or belong to a common organizational structure. 

Each staff member (a staff member who has a HelpMaster login) must belong to at least one skillgroup, however staff can belong to multiple skillgroups. When staff members belong to multiple skillgroups, one specific skillgroup to which they belong is defined as their default skillgroup.

The default skillgroup for each staff member is selected by the HelpMaster administrator.

Icons used throughout HelpMaster

Client logo

Staff member (belongs to one or more skillgroups)

Skillgroup supervisor

The skillgroup supervisor.  There can only be one per skillgroup and must be set to one of the members of that skillgroup

Skillgroup

Skillgroup

Default Skillgroup

The default skillgroup for a person.  When a staff member belongs to more than one skillgroup, this icon will be used to display their default skillgroup

Unassigned

The “Unassigned” queue of a skillgroup

Viewing a skillgroup and skillgroup job queues 

When staff members belong to a skillgroup, they are able to view jobs within that skillgroup based on their security/ workflow role privileges.  When viewing, or working with jobs within a skillgroup, the following “job queues” become relevant. 

These 3 “job queues” exist for each skillgroup. 

My Jobs for the skillgroup

This section relates to any job that is assigned to the staff member belonging to the skillgroup. “My Jobs” refers to the person that is currently logged onto HelpMaster.

Other peoples jobs for the skillgroup

This section relates to jobs that are assigned to other people that belong to the same skillgroup as the staff member.

The Un-assigned jobs for the skillgroup

This section relates to jobs that are assigned directly to the skillgroup but not to a specific person within that skillgroup. 

Visibility and job-related workflow for each of these queues is determined by the application security role / job security role privileges assigned to each staff member.

Skillgroups and job assigning / ownership

Skillgroups play an important role in the assignment of every job that is logged, or actioned. Every job that is logged or re-assigned must be assigned to either a specific staff member, or to a skillgroup itself.

Furthermore…

  • When jobs are assigned to a specific staff member, they are also assigned to both the specific staff member and the skillgroup to which they belong. If a skillgroup is not selected during the assignment process, the default skillgroup for that staff member will be used

    Job staff skillgroup flow

  • When jobs are assigned to a skillgroup only, this means that every staff member that belongs to this skillgroup will be able to see the job, and be able to re-assign it to themself for further action. When a job is assigned directly to a skillgroup, it appears in the skillgroups unassigned job queue. Jobs in this state must be first assigned to a specific staff member before it can be actioned upon

    Job skillgropu unassigned queue staff flow

See Reassigning a job for further details about this.

Skillgroup Supervisors

Each skillgroup must have a “skillgroup supervisor”.  The skillgroup supervisor will be one of the staff members belonging to that skillgroup.  When there is only one staff member in a skillgroup, that staff member by default will be the skillgroup supervisor.  Whenever a job is assigned to the unassigned queue of a skillgroup, any email that is sent to the "New Assignee", or "Current assignee" via the Action screen will be re-directed to the skillgroup supervisor.  It is therefore important that every skillgroup supervisor has a valid email address specified for them in their client profile.

Administration

Only HelpMaster administrators can create, edit or delete Skillgroups. Administered is achieved via the Administration menu, Skillgroup button.

See Also

Skillgroup Administration

Application Security Roles

Assigning Jobs

Explorer screen

Queue Check

9.1.5 - Skillgroup administration

Skillgroup management and administration

Create new, edit existing or delete

To create or edit, or delete a skillgroup, use the Administration menu, Skillgroups button.  This is an administrator-only accessible option.

Use the search options to find a skillgroup, or use the New, Update, or Delete buttons as appropriate.

skill group

Skillgroup name

Each skillgroup requires a name - use a name that is descriptive of the function this group may have in your organization.

Assigning Staff members to a skillgroup(s)

Each staff member must belong to at least one skillgroup. 

  1. Use the Add button to add staff members to the skillgroup.  Staff can belong to more than one skillgroup.
  2. “Exclude from Auto Assignment” is used to exclude staff members from auto-assignment.  See Auto Assignment for further details.
  3. Exclude from email notifications is used to exclude staff members from receiving email notifications when email is sent to the skillgroup, as in the case when a job is assigned to the “Unassigned” queue of a skillgroup, and an email notice is sent to all members of that skillgroup.  See below for further details about this.
  4. Exclude from Change Advisory Board is used to exclude staff member from recieving email notifications when they are involved in a Request for Change and are linked to that RFC as a Change Advisory Board member.  In this case, they will not receive any email notifications.

Setting a skillgroup group supervisor

Each skillgroup must have a “skillgroup supervisor”.  The skillgroup supervisor will be one of the staff members belonging to that skillgroup.  When there is only one staff member in a skillgroup, that staff member by default will be the skillgroup supervisor. 

  1. Right-click the staff member and select “Set staff member as skillgroup supervisor”, or click the “Set as Skillgroup Supervisor” button
  2. The icon for the staff member will change to indicate that they are the skillgroup supervisor

Setting the default skillgroup for a staff member

When a staff member belongs to more than one skillgroup, a “Default Skillgroup” can be set for them.  This is performed via the Client Details screen > Staff tab.  To display this screen, double-click on a staff member from the Skillgroup screen.

Skillgroup Settings

Use the Settings tab to adjust email settings for the skillgroup.

These email options for a skillgroup are used when a job is assigned to the “Unassigned” queue of a skillgroup, and an email is sent to either the “Current Assignee”, or “Previous Assignee”.  These options are possible via the email section on the Action screen.

Skillgroup visibility 

When working with jobs, each skillgroup is divided into three sections. These are:

  • My jobs
  • Other peoples jobs
  • Unassigned jobs

Each of these divisions within a skillgroups can be easily viewed via the Explorer screen. 

My Jobs

Refers to the job queue of the person who is logged onto HelpMaster.

Other people’s jobs

Refers to the job queue(s) of other people that belong to the same skillgroup as the currently logged on user.

Unassigned Jobs

Refers to the job queue for all of the unassigned jobs that belong to a skillgroup.

See Also

Skillgroups

Job ownership and assigning jobs

Assigning Jobs

Auto Assignment

Change Management

9.2 - System Codes

System codes are used to define settings, pick-lists, groups and more

9.2.1 - System codes administration

System codes are used to define and structure your HelpMaster configuration

System codes are the codes that HelpMaster uses throughout the entire program and are usually the options that appear in various drop-down boxes on many of the screens.  The system codes define the context of your system because they give the different entities meaning when they are associated with them.

This screen is restricted to Administrators of HelpMaster.  Access is granted via Application Security Roles

system codes

Use

Use this screen to create, update and administer all the system codes that are used throughout HelpMaster.  System codes define, classify and help organize your HelpMaster environment and configuration. 

Adding System Codes

  1. Open the System Codes screen by using the Administration menu > System Codes button
  2. Open the System code type tree by clicking on the + sign until you reach the category you require.
  3. Click on the node you wish the new System code to be placed under.
  4. Click on the New button. This will open the New System Code screen.
  5. Enter the name of the code.
  6. Enter a description if desired.
  7. Click on OK.

The new System code has been placed in the tree under the Selected node.

Deleting System Codes

  1. Open the System Codes screen.
  2. Open the System code type tree by clicking on the + sign until you reach the System code to be deleted.
  3. Click on the Delete button. 
  4. Click on OK.

The System code has been deleted.

Modifying System Codes

  1. Open the System Codes screen.
  2. Open the System code type tree by clicking on the + signs until you reach the System code to be modified.
  3. Click on the Update button.  This will open the Edit System Code screen.
  4. Make the modifications required.
  5. Click on OK.

Sorting System Codes

Use the sort option at the bottom-right of the screen to adjust the sort order for each system code type.  Click “Apply Order” to save the changes.

System Codes PKID

Each system code has a unique database identity, known as its “PKID”. This number is used internally by HelpMaster to identify the system code.  This number is displayed at the lower-right corner of the edit screen.  This number can be used for custom SQL, report writers and system developers.

system codes unique ID

System Code Description

Whenever a system code is used throughout HelpMaster, when the user hovers over the code in a drop-down box, the description for that code is displayed in the bottom-left corner of the screen.  This assists the user to select the most appropriate code and gives a short description of what the code is.

system code description tooltip

Job Status codes

Job Status codes have additional properties that can be set. Read about Job Status Codes.

See Also

Custom fields overview

Custom user-defined data

Creating Custom System Codes

Assigning Custom Data to Entity Screen

Undefined System Codes

Permission to access this screen via Application Security Roles

9.2.2 - Undefined System Codes

The classification you use, when you don’t have a classification

By default, a HelpMaster job must have values specified for each of the following system codes:

  • Job Type
  • Contact Type
  • Priority
  • Job Classification / Issue

Sometimes, however, this information may not be readily available, or accurately determined at the point of logging a job.  In such situations, it may be desirable to set each of these mandatory system codes to an “undefined” code and continue to log the job.  When HelpMaster is running in “Undefined system code” mode, this is possible. 

An undefined code is a special system code that will be displayed as an option for each of the mandatory fields above.  If selected, it will then prompt the next person who looks at, or tries to udpate the job to change its value before continuing.

undefined system codes

When this global feature is turned on, the <Undefined> code will appear in the System Codes screen for Contact Type, Job Type and Priority.  This code can be renamed, but it cannot be deleted.

undefined system codes

When Undefinied codes are used, the Issue Selector will display an <Undefined> code as the first node in the tree.

undefined system codes

When this global feature is turned on, HelpMaster users will be able to choose <undefined> from the drop-down box.

 undefined system codes

Job Templates can also use this.  This is very useful for designing Job Template for use with the Email Manager.  Generic Job Templates that use <Undefined> codes allow a job to be logged and assigned to a staff member or skillgroup where it can then be correctly classified. 

A good practice is to use generic job templates with the Email Manager, and then use the Template Modifiers to update the template based on the filter criteria.  See Template Modifiers for the Email Manager about this.

undefined system codes

Application security rolesprovide 3 options for working with <Undefined> codes as shown below.  Application security roles allow different levels of application functionality per staff member.

undefined system codes

Require staff to change the <Undefined> code

This option will stop the staff member from updating a job until all <Undefined> codes have been changed.

Require staff to change the <Undefined> code OR re-select the <Undefined> code

This option is similar to the first, however the staff