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OTRS – Free ITSM Tool

ITSM implementation needs

IT Service Management is quite complicated process with many dependencies and huge needs in area of information. It is required to have ticketing system, knowledge database, Configuration Management Data Base, tool supporting Change Management, Service Level Management and many other processes. There are of course many tools which try to support ITSM – in better or worse way. It’s easy to find them on internet. But I would like to take a look at one that is developed in Open Source model and available for free.

OTRS functions

Standard package of OTRS provides you with good solution for Service Desk. There are possibilities to add queues, match them with e-mail addresses, assign technicians to them. Also other functions, like defining SLA for each queue and work calendar are available. Managers can create reports about work done and track how SLA is kept.
However with such functionality OTRS could not aspire to fully featured ITSM tool. Fortunately there are at least two “must have” extensions to this tool, which allow you to take all advantages of ITIL. Those additions are: OTRS ITSM extension, which adds CMDB, Change management, Service Definition and FAQ which can be used as Knowledge Database for Service Desk and other functions.

Getting started with OTRS

This is not a place to write how to install OTRS – it is well described on the web page. This is rather quick view how to take the best from the tools the easiest way.
In my opinion there are two critical things that must be used from the beginning:
  •     CMDB
  •     Service Desk

Why those two? In CMDB we can gather information about IT items we have in our company – routers, servers, switches, printers, workstations, laptops, software, etc. This is very important data for the technicians who will try to solve the problems reported by end users. On the other hand implementing Service Desk will give users single point of contact with IT – what will be much better than calling technicians directly and will give us traceability of all reported issues – how they are solved, by whom, how long does it take, and which configuration items are impacted the most.

Later on when we enter the information about services we will be able not only to trace which items make the most troubles for users, but also which services. What can result in good continual service improvement actions and also will help us to assign resources to most important services.


It is not possible to write in such short article about all features of OTRS and give detailed advice how to implement it in a company. It will be different in each case. However I encourage you to taking some time to familiarize with the tool. Nowadays, when everyone is looking for potential savings, this tool may be very helpful, because you can get it for free and take all the benefits of using it for good of your IT unit.

Have you got any experience with OTRS?. Share it with us!
Author: Ziemowit Brysiak (All Rights Reserved by the author).
Source: Original Text (based upon first hand knowledge).
Help us to improve it: how-todiscussion.