Help desk software has eye on compliance

Earlier this month, UniPress Software Inc. rolled out FootPrints 6.0, a new version of its Web-based help desk software. The company believes that some of the new and existing features of its software package might make it useful for a second purpose beyond running a help desk — namely, it could be used as a tool to help document and track 21 CFR Part 11 compliance.

FootPrints lets IT staffs enter problems into a centralized database and share information about the progress made towards solving each problem. The help desk system is accessed using a browser. This is in contrast to many other help desk systems, which require special client software to access a server-based system. The browser-based access simply allows IT staffers to use any computer on the enterprise network to do their work.

The new features in FootPrints 6.0 include an enhanced knowledge management capability where knowledge bases of solutions to IT problems can be divided into public and private databases. This lets a company make information, such as solutions to common problems like a printer not working, available to everyone in the company through a self-service online database. The private database can be set up so that only help desk agents and IT staffers can perform searches.

The new version of FootPrints also has new graphical reporting features and includes support for Microsoft’s .Net Web services. Additionally, a new Web-based calendaring and scheduling system lets managers more easily track projects. And companies can also integrate appointments and help desk jobs into existing Microsoft Outlook and other personal calendars. Additionally, FootPrints 6.0 touts more robust workflow management capabilities.

FootPrints is already being used in several health care and life science companies.

Company president Mark Krieger believes that with slight modification (on UniPress’ side), the project tracking capabilities and the way FootPrints saves and archives events or steps of a process would satisfy 21 CFR Part 11 requirements. The one feature that Krieger says needs to be added specifically is a second level of password protection. UniPress would need to add this secondary password to authenticate a user whenever an existing record was modified or edited. Additionally, Krieger feels that even though FootPrints is already being used in some life science companies, he would like to partner with a consulting company that specializes in 21 CFR Part 11 compliance rather than enter this market alone. The idea would be that this partner would use FootPrints in its customers’ sites as a compliance tool.

FootPrints 6.0 is available now. Pricing starts at US$3,995 for a three-agent starter pack; volume, concurrent, and site licenses are also available.