Virima Technologies for ITAM and ITSM

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I recently reviewed Ecosystem Manager from Virima Technologies for the ITAM vs. ITSM Integration group test.

Below is a summary, read the full review on Tools Advisor here.

Also Participating:

To read the summary, strengths and weaknesses, and criteria please visit this page.

In Summary

EcosystemManager from Virima is a new addition to the ITAM and ITSM IT management tools market. We were impressed with EcosystemManager; it offers both detailed inventory for datacenter environments plus key service management functions to be able to turn datacenter insight into action.

ITAM + ITSM in a Competitive Package

If your organization is considering migrating or consolidating datacenters or migrating to cloud infrastructure – EcosystemManager is definitely worth further investigation. It would also be extremely valuable for those looking for comprehensive datacenter visibility to support compliance goals.

EcosystemManager includes both ITAM and ITSM functions integrated into one product.

High-level product feature overview:

  • Asset Discovery – datacenter discovery, inventory, relationship mapping, asset register and CMDB
  • Infrastructure – configuration audit trail and management, change and release management, project management
  • Service Desk – Incident, problem, self-service and knowledge management, request

EcosystemManager Asset MapView (1)

 


Tools Advisor

 

Read the full review on Tools Advisor here.

Do you use EcosystemManager?

Please share your opinion for the benefit of others.

Leave a customer review on Tools Advisor here.

 


Transition, collaboration & cute penguin videos – it’s the itSMF UK 2015 Conference! Part 2

Day 2

Following our coverage of Day 1 of the itSMF UK conference, we’re back as promised with Day 2!

Selling Problem Management – the views of the ITSMF UK Special Interest Group Barry Corless, Global Knowledge

First up on day 2 was Barry’s session on the itSMF UK Problem Management SIG whitepaper on selling Problem Management.

Barry’s session was focused on the output of the white paper, essentially, Problem Management needs a bit of a rebrand. It’s not a dumping ground for anything and everything, it’s a service driven follow up to reduce recurring Incidents.

Barry continued by asking the audience how they managed their Problem Management effectiveness stating “your measurements must have credibility”.

One really useful piece of advice I took away from the session was this: “go out and actually talk to your customers because not everyone fills out the customer satisfaction survey.” I loved Barry’s advice on promoting Problem Management: “selling PM is a balancing act. Crow about it too much and something is guaranteed to fall over the next day.” I’ve been there Barry *remembers own bitter experience*.

Barry finished up on a magical note: “our magic wand is to reduce risk and empower people with the skills to solve things themselves.” Brilliant point plus it made me think of this:

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Incident & Problem – Do we Really Need Both? Peter Hubbard, Pink Elephant EMEA

Next up was Peter Hubbard from Pink Elephant. His first act? Naming and shaming me as a partner in crime at previous itSMF conferences – thanks for that Pete!

Pete’s session was on Incident and Problem Management, how to get it right and what works in the real world. Pete opened by sharing what one customer said to him when he asked if they did Problem Management: “no, because we’re much too busy fixing Incidents.”

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It was an absolutely brilliant session and if you’re interested in Problem Management then I’d highly recommend having a look at Pete’s slides when they are published on the itSMF UK website. The highlight for me was when he talked about the ITIL books:

“ITIL says we should be on our Problems like a cheetah on a trampoline”

Just think about that for a minute (plus send me any funny pics you have of cheetahs on trampolines, I couldn’t find any).

Pete talked about how important proactive Problem Management is but how hard it is to get the buy in for it. When he asked how many people in the room did proactive Problem Management, only one hand went up.

Pete went on to reference Rob England’s standard case approach, giving real life examples of how it can reduce pain. He also gets bonus points for the cute cat picture:

The final part of Pete’s presentation focused on how to get support from our higher ups  stating “if you want to get some management fire power behind you, find out what business risks your exec is personally accountable for and see how fixing your Problem records could help.”

Collaboration for Successful Service Acceptance Sue Cater, Atos IT Services (UK) Ltd

After a quick coffee break, Sue Cater was up with her session on driving successful service acceptance. Sue’s session focused on 3 key areas:

  1. Operational Acceptance Criteria
  2. OLAs
  3. Service Acceptance Boards

Sue explained Operational Acceptance Criteria or OAC “lubricate the interface between techies and the business”. Sue went on to give some practical guidance on OACs reminding us that “they’re not build tasks. They’re at a much higher level”. Sue explained the benefits of OACs, “having OACs improved customer satisfaction levels. The cricket bat in my handbag had nothing to do with it!” We believe you Sue!

Sue continued on how using OLAs at an account level rather than a service level was much more efficient in her environment. By having one OLA per account, you can have all the individual (quirks) features of each service documented without the duplication. One of my favourite things about Sue’s presentation (apart from the cricket bat) was her guidance on putting together sensible OLAs. As the lady herself put it “make sure you have the right information at the right level. No one wants to be faffing about on SharePoint at 3 am trying to find the number for the support team”.

Next up was the Service Acceptance Board or SAB. As Sue said on the day “the golden rule is that there should be no surprises at go live.” Sue set out the rules for the SAB. It meets between 2 – 4 weeks before project go live and is attended by the project manager, the service manager and representatives from the business. The idea is to look at the service, ensure it’s hitting its previously agreed OACs and OLAs so that the people in attendance can make an informed decision at the Go / No Go point, just before go live.

Awesome session Sue and well done for styling it out despite loosing your voice on the morning. If I’d lost my voice the morning I was due to present I would have been simultaneously having kittens and tipping vodka into my coffee so kudos!

The Future of Work & Importance of Collaboration Technologies Patrick Bolger, Hornbill

The final session of the morning was Pat Bolger from Hornbill. 

Pat opened with this: “more functionality will not solve all your problems”. I really agree – how many times have we seen someone trying to fix business problems by chucking an expensive tool at it? It never ends well, believe me.

Pat went on to explain why social media had changed the game “one bad customer experience, and it’s out there”.

Pat talked about the benefits of collaboration “it gives people a voice. A study carried out by McKinsey found that collaboration can raise a person’s skills by 25%”

Pat outlined some top strategies for making it stick in the workplace. “Define the purpose of collaboration and make it sticky by using it to track productivity. One example of this is to link in with the timesheet system.” Pat continued by saying, “collaboration needs to be a destination application, people will go to it to get their stuff done.”

Pat finished on a really strong point – it’s better when we work together. You can view the video here (NB, no cute baby penguins were harmed during the filming of the video.)

After a long lunch, there was a quick interactive plenary and I do mean quick. Quite a few of the delegates were saying that they would have prefered a shorter lunch break and a longer Q&A session – maybe that’s something to take away for next year? People were definitely beginning to get a bit tired at this point:

For me, the highlights of the discussion were Jame’s take on DevOps “DevOps is a philosophy on delivering value to the business. ITSM and DevOps will compliment each other”and Caroline’s stance on Shadow IT “cockroach IT more like, only one licence but load of users on it”. Former itSMF UK Chair John Windebank reminded us to think of our customers “remember every Incident is a failure of our IT Services.”

Conference Closing Keynote Manchester – Devolution and Impact on ICT Bob Brown, CIO, Manchester City Council

The closing keynote, Bob Brown from Manchester City Council on how they’re making it work.

Bob gets bonus points for being the first speaker to mention the C word. Minds out of the gutter people! I’m talking about Christmas as apparently Father Christmas (or Santy for our Irish readers) is currently sat on top of their city hall:

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Bob’s mantra is “Manchester City Council services are life and death so we live and breathe our support for those services.” One memorable example was the crematorium as a member of Bob’s team said, “lose the IT services behind that and the bodies will literally build up”.

The theme of Bob’s speech was the customer experience. Bob’s team are careful to spend time with their customers with Bob personally manning their version of the genius bar once a month.

Before we knew it, it was 4 o’clock and it was time for Barclay to wrap things up. Thank you to the itSMF UK for inviting us, great conference and we’ll be back next year. Roll on #ITSM16!

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Coming Soon: Incident Management Group Test

Next on the chopping block for our independent reviews: The workhorse of ITSM; Incident Management
Next on the chopping block for our independent reviews: The workhorse of ITSM; Incident Management

Our next Group Test will explore the core deliverable of Service Management:

Incident Management.

Our Group Tests review and compare the features and strengths of technology for a particular use case.

The aim of the review is to support prospective buyers with their selection process by providing features to consider when selecting service desk tooling and highlighting key competitive differentiators between products.

Previous Group Tests:

The ITSM Workhorse – INCIDENT MANAGEMENT

Review Topic areas:

  • Incident logging, categorization & automation options
  • System access options (web, fat client, mobile, etc)
  • Incident tracking and lifecycle
  • Prioritizing and escalating incidents
  • Major incidents
  • Applying industry models and frameworks
  • Incident closure
  • Reporting and analytics
  • Interaction/workflow with Problem Management
  • Logging non-IT related incidents, incident management beyond the service desk

The research will highlight competitive differentiators; feature key strengths and showcase innovation within each product. Once reviewed, we will crown one Vendor “Best in Class” and the “leader” in Incident Management.

For more information on the assessment please contact us.

Subscribe to the ITSM Review newsletter or follow us on Twitter to receive a notification when the research is published.

Photo Credit

Atlassian tops table for customer satisfaction, 17 tools ranked by customers at #SITS15

The ITSM Review team recently attended the ITSM trade show SITS15 to collect customer reviews of ITSM tools for our new sister site: TOOLS ADVISOR.

We wanted to know how SITS15 visitors rated their ITSM tools:

  • How did they rate the tool? is it good value for money?
  • Are the support team responsive, did tool buyers receive a good level of support?
  • How satisfied were they with the product and how likely were they to recommend this product to a friend or colleague?

Thank you to everyone who attended the Tools Advisor booth and congratulations to Ben Moore, Head of Service Management at Callcredit Information Group who won the iPad mini.

Notes on Scoring

  • Below is an early preview of the results, a handful of reviews are yet to be verified or were for tools unrelated to ITSM. We collected over 100 reviews during SITS; the table below includes tool vendors who received more than one review.
  • Vendors with only one review: Blue Prism, Citrix Gotoassist, Dameware, Infra, Logmein Pro, Marval, Nagios, Netsupport, Omnitracker, OTRS, Podio, BMC Remedy on Demand, Sunrise, Topdesk. It will be great to add these vendors to the table when they have more entries.
  • Each review published below has been verified as genuine.

Full reviews (including the strengths, weaknesses and suggested improvements to each tool) will be published in full on Tools Advisor soon.

Do you agree with these scores? Why not submit your own review?

17 Tools Ranked by Customer Satisfaction

17 ITSM tools ranked by customer satisfaction
17 ITSM tools ranked by customer satisfaction

Top 5 by Customer Service

  1. Atlassian
  2. Solarwinds
  3. Landesk
  4. ManageEngine
  5. Alemba

Top 5 by Value for Money

  1. Atlassian
  2. Alemba
  3. Sysaid
  4. Microsoft
  5. ManageEngine

Top 5 by Customer Support

  1. Atlassian
  2. ManageEngine
  3. Landesk
  4. ServiceNow
  5. Alemba

Top 5 by Overall Satisfaction

  1. Atlassian
  2. Solarwinds
  3. ManageEngine
  4. ServiceNow
  5. Alemba

Top 5 by NPS Score

  1. Solarwinds
  2. Atlassian Jira
  3. ManageEngine
  4. Alemba
  5. ServiceNow

The Tools Advisor Stand at #SITS15

Do you agree with these scores? Why not submit your own review?

Enterprise Release Management Tools: Plutora

Introduction

image3Enterprise Release Management is an increasingly prominent discipline, occupying the intersection of technical release management, project delivery and change management. Its focus is on understanding and governing the full portfolio of multi-stream changes, be they quarterly ERP releases, one-off project deliveries or monthly patching.

The demands on enterprise level release managers are many: governing and managing individual releases, maintaining the forward schedule as far as 12 months ahead, making sure non-production environments are efficiently used and more. Most release managers will have built and refined an array of spreadsheets and calendars to manage everything from release scope, defect lists, release gateway checklists, cutover plans and forward schedules.

Spreadsheets and calendars can work perfectly well when there are only half a dozen releases to track across 2-3 test environments, but once this starts scaling up – especially with multiple release managers – keeping these spreadsheets up to date becomes an administrative challenge and resource drain, letting inevitable errors creep into manual processes.

This is the tipping point where dedicated Enterprise Release Management tools make their case. The initial benefits are obvious: moving spreadsheets online to offer a single version of the truth slashes administrative waste and allows for pivoted views of the same data. Common tasks or release governance structures can be defined and re-used.

Clever reporting can replace hours of spread sheet and Powerpoint wrangling with the click of a button, and this is only scraping the surface. In this review, we’ll see what else leading vendor, Plutora, has built into their tool to add some real intelligence into the process far beyond simply lifting and shifting a spreadsheet online.

Quick facts & review highlights

Version Reviewed

Plutora V 3.5
October 2014

Market focus & customer counts

Large/very large IT organisations with a strong or dedicated project delivery arm who are presently struggling with visibility of their forward release schedule, environment utilisation or quality of repeatable release activity.

Customers:

  • USA: 18
  • EUROPE: 8
  • ASIA PAC: 15

License Options

SaaS licenses available in packs of 25 or unlimited enterprise option.

Competitive Differentiators

  1. Purpose-Built and Comprehensive: Plutora Enterprise Release Manager enables all of your end-to-end release management processes out of the box. Plutora is differentiated with its capability to combine release management, test environment management, deployment management and self-service reporting in a single comprehensive tool.
  2. Enterprise SaaS: Plutora is 100% SaaS to ensure rapid implementation and adoption of the solution within your organization. Plutora scales in the cloud to meet the growing complexity of your organization as teams become increasingly distributed.
  3. Vendor-neutral integrations: To provide a unified view across all your releases, Plutora integrates seamlessly into your landscape with an open API and adapters to your existing Project Portfolio Management, Application Lifecycle, Quality Management and IT Service Management tools.

Products

  • Plutora Enterprise Release Manager
  • Plutora Test Environment Manager
  • Plutora Deployment Manager

We think Plutora is stronger in…

Conversion of simple, powerful & common tools frequently used (and easily recognised) by release managers into a web application and expanded to make the most of pivotable underpinning data.

Strong & flexible presentation of critical information, both from pre-configured views & reports, and user-built reporting.

Powerful deployment management command & control function.

Clever system impact matrix with regression-test flagging.

We think Plutora is weaker in…

As a release-focused tool, less emphasis on non- transition related IT Service Management information may mean release decisions are taken in isolation and solved problems are not learned. Plutora offers the ability to add customized data fields and comments for non-transition related information.

Not aggregating change/feature resource cost into release-level capacity monitoring (and instead doing this manually) feels like a missed opportunity.

Some medium-sized IT organisations do not have 25 users, Plutora’s minimum license. Less focus on technical release aspects such as build/integration tooling, though this is on the feature roadmap.

In their own words…

Plutora’s purpose-built SaaS solution for Enterprise Release Management, Test Environment Management and Deployment Management enable you to manage complex application releases with transparency and control. Using Plutora, organizations can deliver higher quality software more frequently to meet customer demand with no impact on downtime.

Plutora ensures high-quality, on-schedule releases by driving enhanced enterprise collaboration and coordination for all key elements of a successful release: timing, composition, status, and stakeholders across their lifecycle – with ease. Real-time dashboards show release schedules and how they are tracking according to governance gates within the release framework.

Plutora provides a unified repository for all release information where users can source data, including project dependencies, without needing to piece together the shape of a release from multiple sources. Plutora integrates with your existing IT management tools to ensure that no data needs to be manually re-entered by users.

Customers

Over 30 enterprises across the globe as of March 2015, including Telstra, ING Direct, Boots UK, News Corporation, and GSK, manage $5 billion of releases using Plutora.

About this review

This was an unusual review, since Enterprise Release Management is an emergent discipline, combining both technical release management and project-delivery capabilities, but with an operational focus.

As an emergent discipline, there are no standard ways of dealing with the inherent challenges in this field, so the assessment of quality comes both from a mixture of judgements made during the review, in-depth use* and trusted industry awards. In this last category, Plutora has pedigree: named by Gartner as ‘Cool Vendor of the Year’ in 2014.

This review was written on the basis of a maximum 2 hour demonstration of the 5 key capabilities by each of the vendors. It is not exhaustive, and some capabilities which you especially require may be present in the tools but not covered in this review. As such, if you believe that Enterprise Release Management tooling is appropriate for your organisation, it is worth speaking to Plutora to ascertain best fit for your specific objectives.

*and thus not part of this review

Assessment Criteria

  • Tracking and managing a release with repeatable & templated processes
  • Tracking the entire release portfolio and presenting this information to diverse stakeholders
  • Managing resource and environment usage
  • Using data inside or connected to the tool and built-in intelligence to help inform release activities.
  • A single tool to remove reliance on spread sheets, calendars or manual processes.

Functional Review

Plutora is purpose built to enable end-to-end release tracking in a single solution. It comprises 3 modules: Enterprise Release Manager, Test Environment Manager and Deployment Manager.

A release in Plutora comprises a number of customer-specified phases that focus on their respective exit gates, and each has a checklist of activities or exit criteria a release manager would need to have completed before moving to the next. For example, a ‘QA’ phase exit gate would be reliant on, say, Completion of Functional Testing, Completion of Performance Testing and Signed Off Test Completion Report as activities required to move to the next phase.

Once a release ‘model’ has been built using these phases and checklists, it is then very easy to clone this to a new release. According to Plutora, many of its customers prefer using this cloning approach to template their releases rather than building dedicated theoretical templates which may themselves require overhead to manage and keep up to date. The cloning approach allows a maturing release management organisation to learn and adapt quickly to changing situations – taking only the elements they know work and evolving them organically.

Additionally, some customers of Plutora also use this cloning feature and general checklist features to build operational maintenance checklists – so, although the tool is heavily targeted at the change delivery side of the organisation, it can also be of significant benefit to operational and technical maintenance functions.

The templating and checklist functionality doesn’t stop there. Implementing a release is another area often devolved to shared spreadsheets, but Plutora delivers not just a single-source-of-truth replacement for these spreadsheets, but in Deployment Manager a clever, real-time command and control capability to let a single release manager monitor, trigger and track deployment steps in multiple releases simultaneously with internal or external delivery teams.

Once the work has been put into ensuring that the individual releases are accurate, the aggregate view starts to take shape and provide value. The Plutora Enterprise Release Schedule provides a tailored view of all releases. The schedule can be detailed, showing all phases, gateways and environments, or quickly summarised into a powerful senior stakeholder view. The schedule also supports diverse delivery approaches, whether agile, continuous delivery or more traditional waterfall as well as the simple operational checklists mentioned earlier.

However release management tooling is not just about visibility of the release schedule or implementing releases effectively. Plutora has two additional features, the release capacity planner and the systems impact matrix which add data-driven intelligence to release management.

The systems impact matrix is a simple-seeming view of dependencies between systems and releases. This on its own is a useful tool, giving a summary of which releases touch which applications. But the really clever bit is how Plutora not only identifies which systems are being touched by the release, but which linked systems are also impacted thus needing a regression test. This feature alone could make the business case to purchase Plutora.

The release capacity planner is also a useful feature. It allows release resource ‘containers’ (eg. number of test cases) to be specified and tracked in an accessible and easily summarised view, letting release managers clearly articulate release capacity. However my only major criticism of Plutora is that this capacity specification is manual and performed by the release manager. Since many ALM tools with which Plutora can share data (eg. Jira) can contain the development & test effort within their own records, it would seem logical for Plutora to take in this change-level data and aggregate it into a total release effort measure (adding extra overhead as necessary for release-level activities). The overall size of the release container can still be defined by the release manager, but the usage of each container could, and in fact should come from the individual change/feature records, and Plutora doesn’t do this. Despite this, the capacity tool is still incredibly useful for discussions with the business about setting realistic delivery expectations and customized fields can be added to incorporate additional information relevant to the release management process.

The last core area of functionality is test environment management. Test Environment Management in Plutora is fairly tightly coupled with the rest of the release functionality in planning and executing releases, but there are a couple of additional features worth noting.

Plutora contains an environment request and approval tracking system to allow projects or releases to book time in specific environments. Combined with the system impact matrix described above, Plutora’s ability to ingest data from external configuration/discovery tools and the ability to define complex environment groups of related systems makes for a powerful management suite to make better use of non-production environments.

The Test Environment Manager also has its own version of the release schedule (but from an environment-centric view) and likewise can be used to easily identify & articulate over or under utilisation at a glance. In addition, by specifying those stakeholders within the tool and enabling message broadcasts, clashing stakeholders can be made aware of contentions and work to resolve the issue.

This feature actually extends throughout all of Plutora. Stakeholders, systems, organisations and more are specified when initially configuring the tool and message broadcasting can be selectively activated at release or environment level.

Finally, reporting. Plutora has obviously invested considerable time and effort in getting reporting right, with pre-configured single-page overview reports providing real value to release managers as well as keeping senior stakeholders happy. The reporting dashboard is also configurable, allowing release managers to build graphs and displays from data within the system and then combining these into a personalised dashboard. This isn’t revolutionary functionality, but it is solid and well executed in Plutora.

Verdict

Enterprise Release Management tooling is ostensibly about removing the array of spreadsheets that proliferate to manage scope, timelines, environment usage and cutover plans. Plutora not only does this exceedingly well, its also used the opportunity to add some intelligence and polish to the tool to make people’s lives easier and improve the quality of the release passing through it.

Plutora is the tool one release manager would build for another. Plutora has taken existing practices, made them collaborative, structured and business-ready, then extended them to both pre-empt and answer the most common questions asked of release managers or that release managers ask of themselves.

Feature by Feature Summary Scoring

Tracking and managing a release with repeatable & template processes ★★★★
Tracking the entire release portfolio and presenting this information to diverse stakeholders

★★★★★

Managing resource and environment usage ★★★★★
Using data inside or connected to the tool and built in intelligence to help inform release activities.

★★★★

A single tool to remove reliance on spreadsheets, calendars or manual processes.

★★★★

Scoring Key

★★★★★ – Advanced features well developed

★★★★ – Advanced features present

★★★ – Solid coverage of basic requirements with some additional/advanced features

★★ – Basic requirements covered, some less thoroughly than expected or with minor gaps

★ – Not all basic requirements, significant gaps

Last words

Plutora is the tool which, in the reviewer’s opinion, embodies the term ‘Enterprise Release Management’.

It will work well in busy, large IT organisations and whilst it has a place in supporting operations, it feels targeted firmly at the development/delivery side of the IT organisation where teams of project managers, release & environment managers and more can collaborate with tooling they already instinctively know how to use.

Appendix – Screenshots

DISCLAIMER, SCOPE AND LIMITATIONS

The information contained in this review is based on sources and information believed to be accurate as of the time it was created. Therefore, the completeness and current accuracy of the information provided cannot be guaranteed. Readers should therefore use the contents of this review as a general guideline and not as the ultimate source of truth. Similarly, this review is not based on rigorous and exhaustive technical study. This is a paid review. That is, suppliers included in this review paid to participate in exchange for all results and analysis being published free of charge. The ITSM Review © 2015.

Review: Atlassian JIRA Service Desk and Confluence

This independent review is part of our Self Service Market Review.

Also participating:

Commercial Summary

Vendor Atlassian
Product JIRA Service Desk and Confluence
Version reviewed 2.2-OD-08
Date of version Release December 2014
Year Founded 2002
Customers 9000 including starter licenses
Pricing Structure Agent based pricing

Review

Elevator Pitch Simple clean transactional / collaboration tool with good standard functionality, based around service desk and back office support functions.
Industry areas Nice approach on pitch around HR/Finance and IT service model.

 

Looks easy to use, simple to develop with standard functions.

Unique points No ‘sales team’ – sold via web.

 

Primarily for SMB and mid size. Enterprise sold via partners (‘experts’) – do have some good Enterprise clients – Twitter, Citi.

Target market SMB, SME or teams within large organisations.
Solutions/ issues solved Looks like product that can get support and self service up and running quickly for small organisations and discrete teams in larger organisations.
Product/vendor gaps End user configuration and access is limited – i.e. to using a specific Service Desk. So no user-based filed level security and e.g. dashboard views.
Positives
  • Some nice presentations of filtered views, based around multiple business portals. Set up using simple non tech, non-ITIL language
  • SLAs are defined from tagged lists and can be set in the background, transparent to users
  • Workload tab – nice quick view of tickets / SLAs per analyst
  •  Quick, standard implementation
  • Well set up for non-IT people
  • Simple toggle between customer and analyst view
  • UI Language – user friendly – What do you need? Why do you need this?
  • Knowledge articles – have ‘likes’ – and can add comments – as per social
  • Analyst Q – ordered in time to resolution – shows breached SLAs and views as required
  • Workflow – simple graphical overview
  • Atlassian Marketplace – can download or buy workflows and add-ons from large app store
Negatives
  • Editing and configuring the system e.g. workflow is limited in some areas and requires more technical updates for some basic functions – e.g. serial/parallel workflow activities
  • UX looks basic in comparison to other products
  • Basic social interface, Knowledgebase
  • Customer portal has limited choices only
  • Partitioning – by Service Desk – will show by SD level. Not by user level.
  • Limited flexibility in user reporting
Overall view
  • Works well as part of larger Atlassian offering and sells well via Web (No Sales Force pitch) – 9,000 customers.
  • Atlassian ‘marketplace’ community is useful for canned data and models that can be used or bought.
  • Good for simple/fast implementations
  • Limited appeal for Enterprise unless bought via partners who have to configure.

Vendor information

jiraservicedesk_rgb_blue_atlassian JIRA Service Desk is new service management software that IT and business teams actually like to use.

Built on Atlassian’s JIRA, the market leader in helping teams get work done, JIRA Service Desk delivers an effortless service experience, adapts to your needs, with pricing and set up time at a fraction of competitors.

Redefine what IT means to your business at www.atlassian.com/servicedesk

Screenshots

 

Review: Cased Dimensions SCSM Self-Service Portal

This independent review is part of our Self Service Market Review.

Also participating:

Commercial Summary

Vendor Cased Dimensions
Product SCSM Self-Service Portal
Version reviewed 2.2
Date of version Release December 2014
Year Founded 2009
Customers 40+
Pricing Structure Number of employees in a company (priced per user).

Review

Elevator Pitch Portal and request management capability for ITSM and beyond.
 
Aimed only at Microsoft Customers with MS system center.
Industry areas MS clients wanting to build on System Centre and SD – building automation.
Unique points HTML5 compliant (BYO and varied hardware devices are supported such as Microsoft and Apple tablets)
Single Sign on (AD integration).
Chat integration.
Exchange, SharePoint, Lync and System Center integration
Target market SME to enterprise – MS clients only. 500 employees to 30,000+ employee.
Solutions/ issues solved Integrated with Asset Management. Single CMBD with auto discovery ensuring data is in one place to aid Process Efficiency.
 
Integration with MS – canned from vendor.
Product/vendor gaps Lacks a bit of user friendliness – presentation shown looks a bit complex.
 
Microsoft only solution. Microsoft vendor aligned.
Positives
  • Microsoft focus
  • Microsoft integration – eg with System Center, SharePoint, AD, Exchange & Lync
  •  Lots of pre-built processes
  • Bespoke/Consultancy approach – working closely to address customers requirements
  •  Microsoft Trusted Alliance Partner
  • High-end client solutions
Negatives
  • Microsoft FocusSmall client base (new entrant)
  • Product looks a little busy/complex
Overall view A niche offering for clients wishing to build process management and automation using the Microsoft platform.
 
Cased Dimensions has deployed Self-Service Portal to support not only IT Service Management Self-Service but also HR, Facilities Management and Finance Self-Service.
 
Vendor is also niche as a provider of solutions rather than simply software, so the solutions are high-end, bespoke and consultative rather than turnkey.

 Vendor information

download (1)Cased Dimension’s Self-Service Portal allows access to Self-Help from any hand held device – PC, Laptop, iPhone, Windows Phone, Android, MAC etc… Many other vendors lock users out due to a reliance on Silverlight, Flash or old HTML languages which do not work on Smart Phones or tablets.

Our focus is to enable a Self-Service platform similar to Amazon shopping or Internet Banking. Usability is easy for the typical employee with little or no training. We have had clients train 24,000+ plus employees with a 5 min video on “how to”.

Other Vendors deliver Portals which are typically technical / ’clicky’ and difficult for employees to use. Our portal is similar to an Amazon-Shopping Kart experience or online banking where features and usability aligns to ‘Journeys’ employees are already trained in.

Our platform supports Business IT, HR, Finance, Facility and other departmental Self-Service Portal Processes. For Managed Service providers, we support “client” specific Portals for Self-Service.

Standard Features exist including departmental home pages, help area categorization with easy to use menu’s. In addition, we also support Chat Integration, Asset Management Integration, Software Distribution, Password Rest and much more….

Cased Dimensions allows Enterprises to “GO DIGITAL” for all areas of their business in Self-Help (IT included).

For administrators, configuration is “type and save”. Our platform is a “zero code environment” from a configuration perspective. All features are configurable & updatable by administrators.

With clients ranging from 500 employees up to clients with 30,000+ employees, our platform is excellent for small and large alike.

Client references state a call logging threshold of 70%.

For further information, please visit Cased Dimensions or Contact Us.

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Review: SMTX Service Catalogue SSP

This independent review is part of our Self Service Market Review.

Also participating:

Commercial Summary

Vendor SMT-X
Product SSP
Version reviewed 7.1
Date of version Release October 2014
Year Founded 2009
Customers 45
Pricing Structure #End Users

Review

Elevator Pitch High End Service Catalogue and fulfillment engine, with a user-friendly front end. Suitable to be used in conjunction with legacy ITSM tools.Extensive functionality and control, plus integration experience. Also built to include other enterprise functions such as HR and Finance, room booking etc. Good front end to make an existing IT department engaging/accessible, without having to replace a legacy tool.
Industry areas Aimed at IT and back office functions in large enterprise organizations. Nice front end tool for big IT departments and service operations.
Unique points Nicely built and thought out applications for e.g. HR – requesting future managers, creating email addresses etc.
 
Asset functions built around good practical functions, e.g. lost and stolen kit.
Target market Enterprise organisations and their IT and back office functions.
Solutions/ issues solved For large Enterprise organisations – no coding, just configuration.Organisations to gain control over internal and external services.
Product/vendor gaps
  • Not an ITSM tool, so obviously doesn’t do ITSM standard functionality.
  • Workflow design looks a bit clunky and could be more visually appealing
Positives
  • Product looks good and is generally intuitive.
  • Well-presented pitch, approach and product
  • Planned feature to provide strategic business level Catalog views
  • Future Service Catalogue – ITIL
  • Can define multiple bundled business services, SLAs etc
  • Good functions about asset lifecycle – including lost/stolen status
  • Established links with ITSM tools – Assyst, ServiceNow, BMC, HP TopDesk
  • HR onboarding -some nice features around future roles and working relationships, creating an email address
  • Nice graphics showing progress bar
Negatives
  • It isn’t an ITSM tool, so obviously doesn’t do that standard functionality.   Workflow design looks a bit clunky and could be more visually appealing
  • Company is currently small and may have to make strong choices on direction and sales and marketing approach
  •  Small company at present
  • Workflow forms -looks a bit complicated, not beautiful graphics
Overall view
  • A good option where a front end and user collaboration tool is needed, but the ITSM tool is embedded and may take time to replace – this can sit on top of that and deliver relatively quick results.
  • Projects a professional image to the IT dept.
  • Currently most clients are on premise
  •  If they stick to their niche it could do well – may benefit from some strategic partnership approaches for targeting

 Vendor information

smtx logoSMT-X is a specialized software company, providing a state-of-the-art Self Service solution with a strong ability to integrate. Its flagship solution, SSP, provides a solid basis for any IT department wishing to provide an easy to use and easy to understand service catalog to their users. Through webshops, appstores, dynamic request forms, reservations, mobile apps, and workflows, SSP enables these IT departments to streamline even the most complex requests, removing complexity for the end-users, and providing end-to-end control to service owners, service delivery managers, service level managers, and department heads.

End-users can browse through their service catalogue showing only those services of interest to them. End-users will never be confronted with complex back-office solutions again and always know where to go for new orders.

By using out-of-the-box integration adapters existing IT service management solutions can be fully integrated with SMT-X’s SSP solution.

SSP offers service request templates containing commonly used forms, like employee onboarding, software distribution, file access management, meeting room reservations, and hardware ordering, making it easy to set up the relevant catalog(s) and start rolling it out.

SSP’s administration is fully web-based and doesn’t require any programming skills. Adding products to a shop and releasing them to any number of users is done in minutes. A complete new request form with dynamic question trees and approval workflow is realized within a single day.

Get in touch with SMT-X to learn how you can add more value to your customers by offering your customers a state-of-the-art request management portal.

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Self Service Review [2015] – The Results

logoThis is a review of software products and vendors with their products in the ‘Self Service’ market area.

Products reviewed:

1 Overview

1.1 Self Service and the ITSM Market

‘Self Service’ is a current buzzword for vendors and practitioners alike in the ITSM world.

For some time this simply referred to the process whereby users/customers could carry out some standard contact/communications activities via a portal or an Intranet page, rather than call a Service Desk. So for example, this would include: raising and tracking tickets, ordering kit and browsing FAQs and other published pieces of information relating to IT.

These are of course key functions – and most product offerings include them – and have done for some years. The context of this has changed somewhat in recent times due to the demands for better user interfaces and customer experience (no one these days wants or expects to use an old IT menu-driven ‘greenscreen’).

The capability of automation and collaboration products has also increased expectation and potential around what these types of interface can deliver and achieve, not only for IT departments and their users, but also for wider enterprise orgnaisations beyond IT.

In short, Self Service is now the entry point towards great efficiency and as a means of transformation and collaboration. It is an opportunity for IT departments to reverse their fortunes and improve their image and effectiveness, by automating repeatable and manual processes, thereby affording more time for strategy and customer engagement.

So what sorts of capabilities are available? Above and beyond the classic areas referred to above: – e.g. Ticket logging, tracking and escalating, request logging tracking and escalating:

  • Automated password resetting
  • Mobile support and facilitation
  • Automated delivery – e.g. software provisioning, product ordering, account creation
  • Non-technical interfaces for Workflow and process creation
  • Simple development of work management tools
  • Real-time collaboration and social interfaces
  • Real-time dashboards and dynamic reporting

All of these functions – particularly around ease of use and automation – are highly valued in the current market, due to the need for IT organisations to use these tools as a means of managing their work more efficiently, whilst at the same time offering a greatly improved user experience of interacting with IT – and other back office departments like HR/Finance – through familiar and easy to use interfaces.

1.2 Market Observations

Recent developments have seen a number of technical innovations that have allowed increased automation, faster delivery and provisioning, which many of the products reviewed can deliver in some form or another.

The areas of differentiation in the market are therefore defined in the following terms:

Target clients – SME, Mid-market and Enterprise, Product and vendor (e.g. Microsoft/VMware) focus.

Some products are clearly only aimed at one specific market niche, or by client size and ITSM maturity. In some areas such as product or vendor focus this is clear, although many of the SME vendors aspire to move into the Enterprise space, which may confuse and squeeze the market.

Flexibility and ease of implementation – including non-technical tailoring, ease of use/skills needed, ability to tailor without coding, vendor implementation support.

A significant focus area for many vendors centres on the ‘codeless’ capability of their products, whereby applications and workflows can be simply modified without technical skills. The level to which this is delivered is a highly useful feature given the need to implement and update portals, workflows and catalogues quickly and efficiently.

This also works well in support of ‘non-IT’ implementation – i.e. for process collaboration across internal service departments.

Complementary products and capabilities – including IT Management, automation, provisioning, security, ITSM capability.

For many buyers, particularly at the enterprise level, simply buying the ‘front end’ or self-service function (and even just ITSM functionality) is not enough.

There is a growing need to procure and implement products that go beyond process and service management, so the need to identify those with the capacity to provide or at least interface with other IT Management tools is becoming a key requirement.

1.3 Market Product Review and Comparison

In summary, LANDESK and Cherwell are seen to be the most complete solutions, with LANDESK having greater capability to deliver to the Enterprise client, whereas Cherwell has the best UI and is more suited to the upper middle market.

EasyVista and Alemba are also seen as excellent products that would fit the enterprise as well as upper mid market.

SMT-X is an excellent option for a front-end solution that can be added to existing ITSM tools for large organisations.

Cased Dimensions is a good option for bespoke solutions – based on a Microsoft System Center platform.

Atlassian and Freshservice are also excellent options for SMEs or discrete teams to get Self Service up and running, with minimum tailoring or bespoking.

 

Pros Cons Overall Review Rating
Alemba
  • Clean and fresh interface – simplified but functional
  • Technical integration and virtualized capability
  • Legacy product well regarded
  • Still being developed to compete at high end of marketSmall
    company, now independent from
  • VMware – still growing
  • Limited social and collaborative interfaces and functionality
8
Atlassian
  • Easy and simple fo use for fast implementation
  • Workload tab – nice quick view of tickets / SLAs per analyst
  • Well set up for non-IT people
  • User access limited functionality
  • Only basic workflow functions can be edited non-techlimited
    innovation or eg social interfaces
7
Cased Dimensions
  • MS focus
  • MS integration – eg with System Center
  • Lots of pre-built processes
  • MS FocusSmall company
  • Bepsoke/consultancy approach won’t work for every organisation /
    small organisations
7
Cherwell
  • Functional capability
  • UX and ease of use
  • Vendor approach and focus
  • Competition from both ends of the market
  • Capability to deliver in tier 1 – though growing in size
  • Multi-tenancy not native
9
EasyVista
  • Good standard self service functionality
  • Open, flexible, using industry tools
  • Global network of data on use and performance
  • Workflows and configurations look complex and not
    intuitive/graphical ITSM tool looks strong although slightly dated
  • May need to focus target market/position
8
Freshservice
  • Low cost
  • Simple, straightforward operability
  • Gamification
  • Limited non-tech configuration
  • Org not set up for Enterprise customers
  • Lacks some key interfaces, social, provisioning
7
BEST IN CLASS:
LANDESK
  • ITSM complete
  • User friendly to develop and manage
  • Focus on automation to improve efficiency
  • May be overkill for some smaller organisations
  • Self service not available standalone
  • Social not embedded in tool – minor
10
SMT-X
  • Clear market niche well defined – good positioning
  • Product is multi-functional/function rich
  • Professional looking – will engage non IT people
  • Company size – small
  • Not an ITSM tool – limited and reducing market as competition
    improves
  • Could improve UI for workflow/design
7

 

Target Clients Flexibility /implementation Complementary Products
Alemba Enterprise and large IT and ITSM organisations –
particularly VMware customers.
Broad level of flexibility, vendor supports
implementation
VMware product integration
Atlassian SMB, SME or teams within large orgs Limited flexibility, client drives implementation Other Atlassian products
Cased Dimensions Large IT organisations, using Microsoft Systems Center –
looking for bespoke build
Highly flexible, vendor drives build and implementation Microsoft
Cherwell Large SMEs and medium enterprise organisations Customer tailorable, vendor/partners offer
implementation support
Numerous industry products. MS Partner
EasyVista Medium to large and some enterprise organisations Good level of flexibility, vendor moving from SME to
enterprise offering
A number of established links to industry products
Freshservice SME/SMB, small enterprises Limited flexibility, client drives implementation APIs in progress – e.g. Azure
LANDESK Large/Medium and enterprise IT organisations Highly and easily flexible, Vendor offers multi-level
implementation services
Numerous LANDESK offerings and industry integrations
SMT-X Enterprise organisations and their IT and back office
functions
Flexible and configurable, Vendor supports
implementation – limited resources
Established links to ITSM tools

 

Disclaimer, Scope and Limitations

The information contained in this review is based on sources and information believed to be accurate as of the time it was created.  Therefore, the completeness and current accuracy of the information provided cannot be guaranteed.  Readers should therefore use the contents of this review as a general guideline, and not as the ultimate source of truth.

Similarly, this review is not based on rigorous and exhaustive technical study.  The ITSM Review recommends that readers complete a thorough live evaluation before investing in technology.

This is a paid review, that is, the vendors included in this review paid to participate in exchange for all results and analysis being published free of charge, without registration.

For further information, please read the ‘Group Tests’ section, on our Disclosure page.

Review: Cherwell Software Service Management

This independent review is part of our Self Service Market Review.

Also participating:

Commercial Summary

Vendor Cherwell SoftwareTM
Product Cherwell Service Management®
Version reviewed 5.1
Date of version Release December 2014
Year Founded 2007
Customers 700+
Pricing Structure # of IT Users, Concurrent Licensing

 

Review

Elevator Pitch Fully functional ITSM and self service capability. Product looks good and is simple to manage and maintain. Ticks the boxes for functionality, positioning (ITSM and Front end) and vendor approach.
Industry areas Mid market upwards. Organisations that want to be self-sufficient and to be able to control their own technology.
Flexible and function rich – self service is well designed for user engagement.
Unique points
  • One Step is simple micro template for workflow – can be applied across processes.
  • Process design / workflow are strong and well designed – good UX.Reporting and dashboards are also good quality.Vendor pitch leads on depth and quality of self-sufficiency and integration capability.
  • Merge-able Apps – (app-store) across customers also very useful to provide users with canned applications.
Target market Large SME – Mid sized and large Enterprise market – in-house IT and back office services.
Solutions/ issues solved Provides an engaging UX for customers. Simple to use and administer. Well integrated with other tools and platforms (e.g. Microsoft).
Product/vendor gaps Product doesn’t handle multi-tenancy easily.
 
Vendor still relatively small and growing – partner base recently tripled.
Positives
  • Workflow – editing is recorded – blueprint allows roll back if mistakes are made.
  • My Items – tracking on details of requests, incidents, problems and major incidents.
  • Consumerised product look and feel.
  • Can trigger other tools for Software distribution.
  • One step – workflow templates – micro workflow.
  • Now part of Microsoft Partnership Program.
Negatives
  • Dashboards for users – can run but not create dashboards.
  • Password reset – requires registration – link to AD or other validation resetting tool.
  • Scripting only for links to other tools – via API.
  • Product doesn’t handle multi-tenancy easily – not target (MSP) market.
Overall view Good all round solution, Vendor’s challenge is squeezed between low end low cost offerings – which it beats on quality and functionality – and high end ‘big 5’, where it can’t compete in corporate terms, but can on usability and self-sufficiency.
 
Cherwell in top area of the mid-size tier 2 market and now potentially challenging the large enterprise vendors.

Vendor information

download (2)As Cherwell Software was founded on a strategic vision to provide “Innovative technology built on timeless values”—a consummate commitment to build both great software solutions and exceptional customer relationships. Cherwell accomplishes this through a simple yet time-tested approach: we listen to our customers and serve their needs.

Cherwell Service Management® delivers exceptional business technology and business revenue enablement in an innovative and business consumer-oriented way, meeting our customers’ service desk software needs and giving them a powerful development platform to solve their long-term business process challenges throughout any organization – from HR to Facilities to Legal, creating a basis for strategic Service Relationship Management. Other competitors offer a development platform – we just do it better, easier, and make it more affordable.

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