SIAM Group Test – The Results

This group test is a review of software products and vendors in the service integration and management (SIAM) market area. Our remit was to explore how toolsets can support and optimise SIAM.

SIAM Overview

SIAM is a framework for managing multiple suppliers of information technology services and integrating them to provide a single business-facing IT organisation.

The starting point for SIAM is the creation of a SIAM team. This team acts as the single point of accountability and is an effective way of minimizing or mitigating potential multisourcing issues, and optimising the composite IT organisation.

A SIAM function, department or team will typically:

  • Manage multiple suppliers to give the optimal mix of flexibility, innovation, standard and consistent service.
  • Be accountable for the integrated services that are being delivered back to the business.
  • Specify IT service management processes and procedures to be deployed across the enterprise and ensure they are followed.
  • Act as the central point of control between IT demand and IT supply.
  • Play a pivotal coordinating role in all service management processes.

Market Overview

For most organisations, just following ITIL best practice isn’t good enough any more. ITIL focuses on delivering end-to-end service via the life cycle approach but provides limited guidance on how to manage a multi-sourced environment. SIAM complements ITIL by focusing on the effective, efficient and safe management of services in a multi sourced environment. The challenge is, while ITIL is well established and has a set of books to guide practitioners and process managers, SIAM is a much newer concept and different people will have different interpretations of what integration truly means.

As more and more organisations are moving towards outsourced, cosourced or multisourced operating models, best practice is evolving and the tools universe is expanding to support SIAM. Tools that don’t currently offer integration functionality will struggle to keep up in an already crowded market, as the need for SIAM isn’t going away. As more and more organisations move towards the flexibility afforded by working with multiple vendors and partners, the need for SIAM will only increase.

For our money; the market for SIAM tools is going in two directions:

  1. Current ITSM tool providers are adding SIAM capabilities to existing solutions
  2. Stand-alone tools are being developed to act as a complimentary add-on to traditional ITSM products.

Ultimately; this is good news for anyone considering the need for a SIAM tool as it means that the buyer can select the best possible fit for the customer organisation.

The Group Test Process

It was really important to me that the group test was fair. Each vendor was asked to fill in a questionnaire and then I had an individual session with each supplier; for them to demo their tool and for me to ask lots of geeky questions. All the vendor presentations were slick and professional; it really helped me when vendors went out of their way to tailor the session to differentiators and functionality that was value driven. 

SIAM Group Test – The Players

  • Service-Flow
  • Cherwell
  • Vivantio

Key Benefits of SIAM

  • A single point of contact, ownership & control for IT Services.
  • Clearly defined roles & responsibilities (preferably nailed down in RACI charts)
  • Optimised cost of services
  • Streamlined management of IT services
  • Increased customer satisfaction
  • Consistently applied processes
  • A more transparent IT landscape

Product Strengths & Weaknesses

Service-Flow
Strengths

  • Market leading technology
  • User friendly interface
  • Fast set up – can connect, run and configure in a day
  • Built in support for all ITIL processes & SIAM
  • Collaborative approach
Weaknesses

  • Positioning needs to be clear to avoid confusion; this is an integration product to work alongside existing ITSM tools
  • Role based security isn’t currently available, something that might be challenging for organisations in more heavily regulated sectors such as the financial services industry
Cherwell
Strengths

  • Impressive list of integration options
  • Enterprise level reporting capabilities
  • Colour based widgets to view SLA clocks making it easy to track tickets across entire lifecycle via multiple suppliers
  • Cordless functionality means that changes can be made easily via drag & drop or wizards without a single line of code needing to be deployed
Weaknesses

  • Sheer size may mean that it may be too big a solution for smaller organisations
  • Sticker shock; the price may seem higher than some of the competition but the price is all-inclusive
Vivantio
Strengths

  • Built in support for ITSM
  • Technical excellence via WebHooks & WebMethods
  • Scheduled tasks to make life as easy as possible for Supplier Managers
  • Flexible; interfaces include Microsoft Azure, Gmail & Bomgar
Weaknesses

  • New player in EMEA market
  • No chat function at the moment but work is under way to create one

 

Product Reviews

Service-Flow

  • Market leading technology
  • User friendly interface
  • Fast set up – can connect, run and configure in a day
  • Built in support for all ITIL processes & SIAM
  • Collaborative approach

Service-Flow was founded in 2011 when CEO and co-founder Juha Berghall identified the need for integration. As organisations moved to multi sourcing models, integration was becoming complex, expensive and slow, a real pain point in the market. The idea behind Service-Flow was that there must be another way; one that was driven by the customer and service provider rather than being held to ransom by technology.

Fast forward to 2016 and Service-Flow has offices in Helsinki and London with over 130,000 end users and over half a million messages being transferred across the tool each month.

Integration Service-Flow can be connected to any tool with an interface. The product can provide ready-to-use adapters that can be taken into use without any coding or development work on the linked system. All adapters are part of the Service-Flow SaaS meaning that they’re automatically and continuously maintained and developed.

Out of the box integrations include:

ServiceNow, BMC, HPE, CA, LANDESK, Efecte, Jira, Microsoft.

Security Each integration is supported by a defined read or edit access for the management of all configurations related to a single end point.
Supplier & Contract Management Service-Flow clients can easily on-board new suppliers. In practise this means that we have technology that adapts to any interface, meaning supplier and the end-user clients can keep their interface and related ITSM tool “as is”. Typically these supplier tools are connected via an ESB (Enterprise Service Bus) or similar integration platform which mirrors ITSM tools interface. More importantly, Service-Flow SaaS also enable all parties to keep their processes “as is” since mapping, data translations and business rules are defined and configured “in the middle” via Service-Flow UI. This makes on-boarding of new suppliers so much easier since processes and data models don’t have to be equally defined in ITSM tools.

When new supplier connection is set-up (takes a couple of days) it will automatically become part of the SaaS solution and has SLA of 99.9% / 24/7 and is monitored by Service-Flow Ops.

Industry Best Practice Service-Flow SaaS supports all ITIL processes, but is not limited to ITIL/ITSM related data and process integration.
End To End Ticket Management Even though most tools use industry standards in their API’s, the way they use them and the data models are always unique. Service-Flow’s technology adapts to these different ways of communication and displays the result in a common way. The product can manage master ticket data by either including this info into the synchronized ticket data, or by setting up a separate integration to sync needed master data. The future tool will provide tools for doing lookups to validate the data used in process integrations.
Reporting & Analytics Service-Flow provides clear and understandable dashboards to integrated related variables. The views are for message relaying, integration configuration and integration related variables such as pass-through times, error counts etc.
System Access Options Web & Mobile.

Service-Flow aims to enable the digitisation of IT processes in a typical use case, an Incident is logged and passes via multiple suppliers. Multiple reference numbers are created, one for the customer and one for the vendor so that the ticket can be tracked across the entire lifecycle. One of my favourite things about the tool is that when you log an Incident, you get a picture of a motivational whale that says, “everything’s going to be ok”. Can we have this feature in all IT tools please? The user interface is clear and easy to follow; all information is available in a predefined format with a conversation view that most users will recognise from Facebook, LinkedIn etc.

Established as the world’s first SaaS product for service integration, Service-Flow provides a ready-to-use, online integration service for connecting disparate ITSM tools used by companies and their IT service providers, as well as subcontractors, partners and other suppliers. As a result of this, Service-Flow are becoming more visible in the ITSM market as the need for service integration increases year on year. What really impressed me about ServiceFlow was their commitment to the user experience (motivation whale anyone?) as well as the extensive list ITSM tools it can integrate with. The speed of deployment coupled with the ease of integration with other ITSM tools makes Service-Flow an ideal choice to supercharge an existing ITSM tool into one that can handle SIAM quickly, effectively and securely with market leading subject matter expertise.

Cherwell

  • Impressive list of integration options
  • Enterprise level reporting capabilities
  • Codeless functionality
  • Integrated ITSM & SIAM functionality
  • Role based security

Lets face it, Cherwell need no introduction. A regular presence at industry events such as the itSMF UK conference and SITS, along with their “80% of the functionality at 20% of the cost” ethos, Cherwell are talked about in industry as one of the few ITSM tools that could compete with the juggernaut that is ServiceNow.

Cherwell was founded in 2004. Its first product launch was in 2007 and they now have over 1,000 customers worldwide. They acquired Express Metrix in 2014 and now have a host of partners including T Systems and Pink Elephant.

Integration Cherwell can integrate via:

  • Web Service / API
    •  both REST and SOAP supported.
  • Database
    • link and import (SQL, MySQL, Oracle, OLE DB, ODBC).
  •  Email
    • inbound, actionable email monitor; and
    • ad-hoc & automated outbound notifications.
  • Data import
    • Scheduled & ad-hoc data import via CSV.
  • Data export
    • Ad-hoc data export from e.g. lists.
    • Reports can be run on a scheduled & ad-hoc basis (multiple formats including PDF, PNG, CSV).
    • Pre-formatted Excel reports can be run on a scheduled & ad-hoc basis (e.g. for finance departments).
  • Other / bespoke applications via command line
    • Any application that can be controlled via the command line, launched from Cherwell’s automation engine.
  • Specific integrations:
    • OOTB integration plugins to Bomgar, AD, Exchange, Skype for Business, Twitter, etc.
Security All security and permissions are role based and all access to the application is audited in a system audit log
Supplier & Contract Management New suppliers will have a new record created, to reflect the on-boarding process phase of the supplier. Then the supplier is mapped to the appropriate catalogue items (and the individual tasks that are covered by the new supplier). The end users normally are not aware of the new supplier, as all automation happens behind the scenes. Where a new supplier is a preferred supplier; any new requests that include the supplier work unit/ task will be assigned to the new supplier. Existing tickets are not impacted.

Cherwell only charges for licences for [IT] users, there is no concurrent licence consumed for portal usage or integrations.

Industry Best Practice Cherwell aligns with the ITIL framework (PinkVerified for 11 processes). Whilst not certified for COBIT and ISO 20000, there are elements from these frameworks.
End To End Ticket Management Cherwell collects the information from internal and external supplier sources. This information can then then be utilised across the Cherwell solution, such as in the integration supplier service catalogue, incident management, or change management, for example. Many integrations have been performed previously; others can be integrated using common integration methods such as API, database links, or email.

Cherwell manages master data via an integrated CMDB. Each CI can be integrated with others and/or external sources. An example is a computer [CI] which has a dependency on software licenses, installed software, and location and ownership data.

Cherwell manages the multiple SLAs, OLAs and Contracts via a colour coded widget for Supplier Managers to use.

Reporting & Analytics All data in Cherwell can be reported on for historical and real-time data analysis. Cherwell provides over 150 reports based on ITIL best practices. Additional reports can be created using Cherwell Report Writer and Dashboard Manager. Data can also be exported as a CSV file or exported to a formatted Excel document.

There are 4 main ways to use Cherwell’s powerful, critically acclaimed reporting and dashboard capabilities:

  1. Dashboards & Widgets
  2. Report
  3. Search
  4. Excel
System Access Options ·       Browser User-Interface – for access anywhere/anytime.

·       Smart Client User-Interface – Cherwell’s smart-client auto-deploys to the desktop in a matter of seconds for a far superior experience than working in a web browser all day.

·       Mobile User-Interface – Cherwell Mobile provides on-the-go access to common service desk functions for your technicians with iOS and Android apps or browser access for other devices.

·       Outlook User-Interface – Anything that can be done on the desktop can be done from within the Outlook UI including the functions within custom Business Objects that you may develop.

·  Cherwell has a mergeable applications (mApp) exchange; where users can download, and share new applications to the Cherwell platform.

Cherwell has existing integrations with a number other vendors; such as JIRA, BMC, Bomgar, CA, Dell, ServiceNow, FireScope, Infor, Lansweeper, Microsoft, etc. The initial view or landing page displays a process view showing different contracts and a Service Catalogue to underpin Request Fulfilment. There is a preferred suppliers section that maps contract’s scope cost and performance to catalogue items; a really nice feature that will make the Service Catalogue Manager’s job easier and more efficient.

On-boarding new suppliers is an easy, wizard driven process, which prompts the user to select tasks from a predefined checklist. The product can flex to different security models and has role based permissions.

The MAP xchange has been redesigned to be more dynamic and the search function has been improved.

End to end ticket management is seamless with colour based widgets to track Incident SLAs across multiple suppliers and Changes can be labelled as impacting via Task Management so that only service impacting Changes will be visible to partner organisations.

Cherwell are major players in both the ITSM and SIAM markets and from reviewing the product, it’s not hard to see why. The tool combines enterprise level ITSM capabilities with a SIAM component that lets an organisation use a multisourced environment seamlessly. If you are looking for an all encompassing tool that supports both ITSM and SIAM then Cherwell is a great choice.

Vivantio

  • Impressive list of OOTB alignment with other ITSM tools
  • Excellent integration options via Webhooks & Webmethods
  • Scheduled tasks to make life as easy as possible for Supplier Managers
  • Flexible; interfaces include Microsoft Azure, Gmail & Bomgar

Vivantio have been making SaaS based software since 2003 and have offices in the US and the UK.

Integration Vivantio has an open API to integrate with other systems, but by far a better way to do this is via HTTP Webhooks and Web Methods. Out of the box integrations include: JIRA, CentraStage (AutoTask) and Microsoft TFS. The company also have working examples of CopperEgg monitoring, New Relic, Twilio communications platform, Bomgar and ServiceNow ITSM. New connections can be easily established, especially if the other vendors also allow integration via Webhooks and Web Methods or an Open API.
Security There is a full Roles and Permissions module built into the main Vivantio application. Different Partner Portals can be built to give access to the information and functionality needed by each potential partner. Roles and permissions can be set on a per user basis.
Supplier & Contract Management It depends on the level of integration and requirements for each partner. It could be as simple as setting up a supplier portal for the assignment of work to the supplier enabling them to work within the portal, thus measuring work sent to supplier and any SLAs around the contracts with the supplier.

If there is a need for integration with a Supplier’s own toolset, this is achieved by setting up Webhooks and Web Methods within the admin area. This is all configurable within the Vivantio toolset and would not require any additional development work.

The tool supports the effective management of commercial tasks such as managing contracts, procurement, service level penalties and invoicing via the use of Custom Forms and Fields.

Industry Best Practice Vivantio is aligned to ITIL.
End To End Ticket Management The tool acts as an integration engine; taking multiple data streams in disparate formats from multiple partners transforming them into one standardised pre agreed format by utilising either Open API or WebHooks and WebMethods. Vivantio supports all the standard formats within Webhooks; JSON, XML, SOAP.

The product manages the exchange of master ticket data by using the built-in functionality of the ITSM toolset. Vivantio at its core is an ITSM toolset that covers the full ITIL spectrum. Vivantio supports tickets of different types with the possibility that tickets of different type can be linked; Incident > Problem > Change. Tickets can link to different object types as well, Assets Client Callers and equally Assets can link to other Assets, etc. Built-in functionality of the ITSM toolset around ticket and task management and Escalation Rules and Full Business Rules engines. The tool applies multiple SLAs (running in parallel) to Incidents by use of tasks within a single ticket or multiple SLAs running on the same ticket.

Master data management is all controlled within the Admin area of the toolset and the use of bulk uploads and the Vivantio Integration Service Component.

Reporting & Analytics There are built-in reports and dashboards that can be configured or new reports can be written with an easy-to-use Report Builder tool. Once the reports are written, they can be published to the Vivantio application so a library of reports can be built up. These reports can be scheduled or published to the Self-Service or Partner portals. The report builder itself can be used as a wizard type of tool guiding the user to writing their reports or the full SQL can be exposed for more complex and advanced uses.
System Access Options All applications are web-based, but this can be split into the main application, mobile application and the Self-Service Portal application.

The Vivantio ethos is to deliver flexible, reliable, trusted ITSM software to empower the delivery of service excellence to the customer organisation. From the product demonstration, this ethos was clear to see as the flexibility of the product spans interfaces from everything; from Microsoft to Google.

Automation is used to great effect, the Vivantio product has an expression builder based on business rules that automates the criteria for a ticket being sent to the hub vision centre for processing, removing the risk of duplication. The integration options are clearly built with practicality in mind, one available workflow is an integration with Active Directory that automatically identifies a person’s line manager when a Service Request has been raised and automatically prompts them to review and action the request, linking them to their local Request Fulfilment portal.

What really impressed me about Vivantio was their dedication to making life easier for beleaguered Ops and Supplier Managers. The use of technology to not only support integration but also automate pre-defined responses to ticket event, really makes this a strong contender in the tools universe. Vivantio would be a great option for small to medium organisations looking for an ITSM tool that can also support a SIAM environment. 

SIAM Group Test – Winners

Overall Winner: Cherwell

Fantastic tool for organisations that need an integrated ITSM and SIAM solution. The sheer breadth of the Cherwell experience means that the tool is easy to use with seamless integrations. Some of my favourite things about the Cherwell tool are:

  • Impressive list of integration options
  • Enterprise level reporting capabilities
  • Colour based widgets to view SLA clocks making it easy to track tickets across entire lifecycle via multiple suppliers
  • Ease of use; codeless functionality means that changes can be made easily via drag & drop or wizards without a single line of code needing to be deployed.

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

 

Image credit

Integration, Bow Ties & Service Catalogues; Cherwell SIAM Survey Results

Andy White, Cherwell
Andy White, Cherwell

 

 

Our friends over at Cherwell recently conducted a survey on all things SIAM and I was lucky enough to catch up with Andy White, Vice president & General Manager for EMEA to talk through some of the findings.

 

 


Andy’s take on SIAM:

“SIAM provides a performance regime to govern and control so organisations only pay for things they can use and access. It delivers explicit service integration parameters that govern performance, availability, quality but more from a user’s perspective rather than a commercial or vendor perspective. It supports the skills and capabilities required to manage third-party suppliers in a commodity-based environment. SIAM’s really delivering an open view, an open standards view, to delivering workflow, reporting, financial metrics in the entire service delivery to the ultimate end customer.”

In other words, SIAM is a way of delivering value to customers via multiple suppliers in a seamless way that ensures performance, availability and quality requirements are taking care of.  As Andy put it, the bow tie is getting bigger. On one side you have customer perception and on the other side you have the technology available with IT in the middle. Drones, the Internet Of Things, AI, as technology becomes more and more accessible, customer expectations will increase meaning IT departments have to deliver in order to stay relevant.

Here are some of the highlights of the Cherwell study:

  • SIAM isn’t going anywhere. 45% of the survey respondents managed between 21 and 100+ suppliers and nearly a third of all respondents had already implemented SIAM.
  • Those at the sharp end of IT operational issues better understand the benefits of SIAM. The research found that more senior IT professionals (38%) have implemented SIAM processes compared with director level respondents (21%).
  • Whilst obtaining reports and metrics is deemed easy, managing risk is harder. An enormous 93% of those surveyed reported being able to access management information easily. Managing risk effectively in a SIAM environment is a tougher prospect  with over 24% of respondents admitting to finding it hard or very hard to assign tangible risks in a multi vendor environment.
  • Service Management is maturing; 76% of respondents had an integrated Service Catalogue in place to enable end users to select business services.

The top 3 takeaway findings from this survey:

  1. Everyone knows SIAM.
  2. We need to be having the right conversations with C level and above so that SIAM gets on the business agenda.
  3. We need the right tools to be able to visualise performance. Dashboards and reports will supply C level intelligence and help to drive performance.

 

You can check out the survey in full here. What do you think? Let us know in the comments!

Incident Management Group Test 2016 – The Results

This group test is a review of software products and vendors in the ‘Incident Management’ market area. Our remit was to explore how toolsets can support and optimise the Incident Management process.

Incident Management Overview

Incident Management is a key part of the ITSM Software Market – think about it – what organisation doesn’t do Incident Management? Incident Management is one of the most visible processes in the ITIL lifecycle. The aim of Incident Management is to restore usual service to customers as quickly as possible and with as little adverse impact whilst making sure nothing is lost, ignored or forgotten about. Can you imagine what would happen if end users couldn’t raise Incidents or contact the Service Desk in the event of a crisis? I reckon it would be 5 minutes max before total chaos.

When I’m explaining the Service Desk and Incident Management in ITIL training; I refer to them as the superheroes of the ITSM world. Let’s face it; they’re constantly firefighting, at the sharp end of the user community if something’s gone wrong as well as being under targets that would make lesser beings hide under their desk whilst mainlining vodka.

Frontline service desk and incident management, heroes of the ITSM world
Frontline service desk and incident management, heroes of the ITSM world!

Incident Management is a rockstar process and deserves a rockstar tool to support it so without further ado, let’s get started!

Customer Numbers

  • Alemba (UK) – 300+
  • Atlassian (Australia) –  15,000+
  • Cherwell Software (USA) – 1,000+
  • HPE – Hewlett Packard Enterprise (USA) – 1,500+
  • InvGate (Argentina) – 3,000+
  • ManageEngine (India) – 100,000+
  • Marval Software (UK) – 500+
  • Matrix42 (Germany) – 3,000+
  • Nexthink (Switzerland) – 600+
  • Summit Software (India) – 100+

Incident Management Group Test – The Players

Alemba Ltd.

Strong Incident Management offering which puts the end user experience at the heart of the tool.

Funky user interface using bubbles to highlight workflow and orbitor tool that aids the user by highlighting available actions.

Facebook style notifications alert users and technicians if the ticket has been updated with a handy “add me” option for Major Incidents.

Special module for displaying analytics to Service Desk screens – great idea that does away with the need for manual processes and faffing around with USB keys.

Atlassian

Solid Incident Management functionality. Atlassian are Incident Management ninjas; they aim to get customers up and running within one – two weeks of buying the tool.

Integration with Hipchat for easy chat and video calls.

Seamless integration with other JIRA products so that the customer has a consistent user experience.

Cherwell Software

User friendly user interface with Outlook integration to make it easier of users to log tickets.

Xmatters compatibility gives it advanced SMS gateway, telephony stats, monitoring and fault tolerance functionality.

Thriving customer community; FAQ’s, “how to” guides and oodles of free apps.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE)

Awesome landing page that empowers everyone from end users to senior management to customise and view reports.

Revamped reporting module that completely removes the need for any Crystal Reports faffery. Relationships clear and specific; instead of vague linked records, tool delivers meaningful linkages such as “fixed by Change” or “caused Incident”.

Big data is used to power the Knowledge Base; fixes and workarounds are automatically suggested and hot topics can identify Incident trends and proactively raise Problem records.

InvGate

Brilliant customer focused ethos: “Service Desks are like snowflakes, no two are alike”.

User interface modelled on common social media platforms making it easy for end users to navigate.

Service Catalogue actively encourages end user to use the self-help route and gives a virtual high five message for every Incident logged.

Market leading gamification; kudos points for adding Knowledge Base article, merit badges for resolving Incidents within SLA and mini quests to encourage healthy competition between Service Desk Analysts.

ManageEngine

ManageEngine user their superpowers for good; free PinkVerified Incident & Knowledge Management tools available via the ManageEngine website.

Thriving user community; customers have access to over 90 products and free tools.

User friendly interface; users can chose from raising an Incident or a Service Request and FAQs are on the right hand side of the screen meaning that help and further information is easily accessible.

Impressive use of predefined categories and email integration – tickets can be auto logged and updated without duplication of effort.

Marval Software

Outstanding Incident Management functionality.

Just like Starfleet, Marval have a prime directive, theirs is to enable people to be as productive as possible as quickly as possible.

Special instructions field part of every customer entry.

Each Knowledge entry has a set of work instructions, useful links, tools and diagnostic scripts.

Integrated ITSM process driven solution which is service and customer centric underpinned by a service portfolio.

Brilliant use of Near Field Communications, you can log an Incident simply by zapping a smart tag.

Slick Major Incident process that closely links into Problem, Change and IT Service Continuity Management.

Use their powers for good out in industry, regular contributors to the itSMF and Service Desk Institute.

Matrix42

Initial landing screen is very similar to your standard Microsoft offerings so most users will find the familiarity of the dashboard makes it easier to navigate.

Analyst screen easy to customise.

The tool can be configured to integrate with CTI systems so you can start a phone call and have it added to the audit diary.

Fab use of automation so you can use workflows to schedule routine tasks like server reboots.

Concurrence management is in place so if more than one person is updating the Incident at the same time, the data is merged and nothing is lost.

Nexthink

A vendor that loves talking to customers and end users!

Impressive IT analytics tool to drive proactive Incident Management.

Initial dashboard gives you an immediate, real time view of business critical services.

Automation drives out white noise and focuses on anomalies; enabling Service Desk Analysts to focus on the most important issues to the business.

The end user analytics support asset tracking and licensing monitoring.

As part of the product training, Nexthink advises Service Desk analysts to spend the time saved by automation to go out and talk to users; maximising value and improving the relationship between IT and the rest of the business. Love it when a vendor recognises that the end user is everything!

SUMMIT Software

Easy to navigate user interface – when an end user logs on to raise an Incident they can see their five most recently logged Incidents along with status information.

Analyst view flexible and easy to customise.

Service Request module is directly accessible from the Incident screen and is clear and fully configurable. Up to ten levels of approval can be used which to me covers every possible scenario.


Deep Dives


The Group Test Process

It was really important to me that the group test was fair. Each vendor was asked to fill in a questionnaire and then I had an individual session with each supplier to demo the tool and to ask lots of geeky questions. All the vendor presentations were slick and professional; it really helped me when vendors went out of their way to tailor the session to differentiators and functionality that was value driven.

Key Benefits of Incident Management

ITIL defines Incident Management as “the process responsible for managing the lifecycle of all Incidents. Incident management ensures that normal service operation is restored as quickly as possible and the business impact is minimized.” An effective Incident Management tool is a fundamental part of delivering Incident Management to the rest of the organisation.

In general, Incident Management is made up of the following steps with monitoring, communication, ownership and tracking carried out by the Service Desk:

  • Incident detection – something falls over, has performance issues or isn’t as it should be
  • Logging and recording; capturing all the details in an Incident record
  • Categorisation and prioritisation – ensuring that the Incident is categorised against the correct service and has the appropriate priority set by impact and urgency
  • Initial diagnosis -first go at resolving the Incident. If the Incident is resolved by the Service Desk at this point it is known as a first time fix.
  • Escalation -there are two types; Functional, where it goes to the next level of support eg from first line to second line support and Hierarchical, where something gets escalated to a team leader or manager.
  • Investigation and further diagnosis – where we figure out what’s gone wrong and how to fix it.
  • Resolution & Recovery -we’ve fixed the issue – happy days – normal service has been restored!
  • Closure -ensuring the end user is happy and closing off the Incident record with resolution details.

The following are some of the benefits of using a dedicated Incident Management toolset:

  • Models and templates to ensure all Incidents and Service Requests are handled consistently
  • Central point of capture so that nothing is lost, ignored or forgotten about.
  • Better adherence to SLAs, OLAs and UCs due to toolset monitoring.
  • Major Incidents workflow; especially with automated communication workflows.
  • Better results for Availability and Capacity Management; if Incidents are logged and managed effectively; they will also be resolved more effectively meaning that downtime and performance issues are minimised.
  • Increased Configuration Management accuracy; the Service Desk can check and confirm CI data when logging Incidents.
  • Enhanced management information regarding service quality due to reporting dashboards
  • Increased customer satisfaction.

Market Observations

From carrying out this group test, it quickly became clear that the Incident Management toolset game has been well and truly upped. Recent developments have seen a number of technical innovations that have allowed increased automation, faster delivery and quicker benefit realisation. The areas of differentiation in the market are therefore defined in the following terms:

  • End to end approach- the days of silos or everyone working in their own little bubbles are well and truly over. The most effective tools are aligned with other ITSM modules such as Configuration, Change, Problem, Service Level and IT Service Continuity Management.
  • User-friendly navigation -the most effective tools had the user journey modelled on common social media applications such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. By making it easier to log Incidents and Service Requests not only are we encouraging our customers to buy in to Incident Management, we’re getting them back up and running quicker via self-help and Knowledge Management.
  • Flexible workflow -there is no one size fits all. A start up IT organisation with less than twenty employees will have different requirements than a global financial institution with thousands of employees so flexibility is key.
  • Automation – models, templates and workflows all take the pain out of logging and managing Incidents and anything that makes the Major Incident process less of a nightmare or avoids someone having to get out of bed to reboot a server (automated task management) has got to be a winner!
  • Gamification – we work in IT – we are techies, geeks and engineers saving the world one Windows update at a time so work should absolutely be fun! Not only does gamification drive engagement from both end customers and support personnel; by rewarding people with fun badges and bragging rights in the office, we drive up productivity as well.
  • Big Data – a recent US study estimates that poor data quality costs US organizations over $600 billion a year. Missing, incorrect or out of date information is completely unacceptable in a service driven environment. Enter big data analytics which streamlines the Incident Management process, promotes self-service / self-help via Knowledge Management and allows users to log Incidents via smart tags without a single inbound call to the Service Desk.
  • Value driven approach – ever since the launch of ITIL V3; value has been the name of the game. By doing Incident Management we are committing to our customers. This commitment isn’t applying lip service, talking a good talk or even asking “have you tried switching it off and then on again?” on loop. This is about delivering our customers the service that they deserve. By committing to Incident Management via a solid process and toolset; we’re saying to the business – we care.

Strengths & Weaknesses

CLICK TO ENLARGE
CLICK TO ENLARGE
CLICK TO ENLARGE
CLICK TO ENLARGE
CLICK TO ENLARGE
CLICK TO ENLARGE

Best Overall: Marval Software LimitedIM Best Overall Winner 2016_Marvel

Awesome tool. Everything about it was lovely to use both from an end user and a techie experience. It’s apparent from working with Marval that they’ve spent years sat beside Service Desk analysts and support techies watching them work, seeing the pressures they’re under and figuring out ways in which the tool can make life easier. It’s slick, user friendly and enterprise focused and a fantastic option if you want to take your Service Desk, support teams and Incident Management to the next level.  Some of my favourite things about Marval are the following:

  • The user information: everything from service information and CI data from the CMS to locational info (with Google Maps) and a special instructions section (FYI; my special instructions would be please send coffee and chocolate)
  • Automation: keyword lookups for suggested models and templates
  • The Knowledge Base: each Knowledge entry has a set of work instructions, useful links, tools and diagnostic scripts. The idea behind this according to Marval is that this information can be pre-populated by second and third line techies.
  • Near Field Communication or NFC: if you happen to walk by a jammed printer, you can let the Service Desk know simply by zapping the label – how cool is that?
  • Slick, effective Major Incident process with solid links to Change, Problem and IT Service Continuity Management.

Marval is fantastic option if you need your Incident Management process to be customer and service centric, bulletproof and mature so we’ve given them the Batman award for best overall Incident Management tool for this group test.

Best Innovation: InvGate Inc.

Gamification is used to fantastic effect to make Incident Management easy, scalable and fun whilst the user interface makes for an efficient, positive customer journey. Some of my favourite things about InvGate are the following:

  • IM Best Innovation 2016_InvGateThe login screen can be configured for single sign on, linking into Active Directory / Windows authentication and also works with Mac machines.
  • All the major navigation buttons are placed at the top of the screen and a social interaction log (similar to the Facebook alerts function) can be expanded to view recent interactions between the Service Desk and the end user.
  • If a user goes down the self-service route – they get a really cool “Kudos” message for successfully logging the Incident. It’s a lovely touch that gives a virtual high five to the user for rocking self-help.
  • Market leading gamification: kudos points for adding Knowledge Base article, merit badges for resolving Incidents within SLA and mini quests to encourage healthy competition between Service Desk Analysts.

InvGate is fantastic option to get up and running quickly; not just for ITSM but for other functions such as HR and Facilities. Gamification and a user centric interface makes this effective and fun to use so we’ve given them the Star Wars award for best innovation for this group test.

Best Use of Analytics: HPE

IM Best Use of Analytics 2016_HPIndustry leading use of Big Data analytics makes HPE the standout in this area. Some of my favourite things about HPE are the following:

  • Fully configurable landing page and introduction screen
  • The revamped reporting capability: point and click, oodles of config options and no complicated third party reporting software needed
  • The chat functionality: the system will even suggest people that could help resolve the related Incident!
  • The big data powered Knowledge Base with smart task management and keyword lookups
  • Heat mapping to view trends and anomalies

HPE is a fantastic product for large organisations. The tool has a comprehensive engine behind it that can manage any enterprise level ITSM task it encounters. Big Data analytics drive efficiency savings and support a move to more proactive service model without compromising on functionality or management information so we’ve given them the Spiderman award for best use of analytics for this group test.

IM Best For Proactivity 2016_Nexthink (3)Best for Proactivity: Nexthink

A powerhouse of proactivity. Here are some of my favourite things about the tool:

  • A new approach and a proactive way to do Incident Management – can notify users of a fault and work on a fix without a single inbound call to the Service Desk
  • Landing page gives a clear view of the operational status of all business critical services
  • Designed to remove white noise so Service Desk Analysts can focus on “the serious stuff”
  • Part of their training is to encourage analysts to spend the time saved by automation to go out and talk to users; which can only be good right?

Nexthink empowers the Service Desk and makes Incident Management proactive so we’ve given them the Superman award for proactivity for this group test.

Using their powers for good award: ManageEngine

IM Best Using Powers for Good 2016_ManageEngineManageEngine are definitely on the light side of the force with their free PinkVerified Incident & Knowledge Management tool available for free from their website. Here are some of some of my favourite things about the tool:

  • Thriving user community
  • User friendly self Service Portal – users can raise an Incident or Service Request and browse through the FAQs
  • Multifunctional – the tool can also be used for desktop support, the deployment of software upgrades, patch management and the management of mobile devices

ManageEngine pride themselves on having a significant percentage of the functionality of the four biggest ITSM vendors, so by offering their Incident & Knowledge Management tool for free they deserve the Black Widow award for using their powers for good for this group test.


Deep Dives


Disclaimer Scope & 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.

Image Credit

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.

Video Review: Cherwell EMEA Customer Conference 2015

Cherwell EMEA Customer Conference 2015
Cherwell EMEA Customer Conference 2015

The ITSM Review was invited to Cherwell Software’s EMEA Region Customer Conference on February 11th 2015, in Windsor, Berkshire, UK hosting in the region of 130 customers and partners.

The 2 day conference consisted of 25 educational sessions, covering ITSM & ITAM best practices from a mixture of Cherwell staff from the US and UK, industry experts and Cherwell customers.

We were keen to attend as customer conferences are always a good way to get a good understanding of what challenges ITSM professional face in their everyday work and how they use technology to find solutions to address these challenges in an informal and relaxed environment.

ITSM as Organisational Focal Point

There was a friendly and upbeat atmosphere at the event led by European MD Tony Probert and his team.

The Cherwell motto is ‘Innovative technology built on timeless values’ which seemed to fit the ethos of the event as the focus and structure of the first day was on simple and old fashioned customer engagement; listening to their customer’s feedback and requirements of the software and as importantly, how it is used to drive innovation of the tool in the future. The feedback loop from their customers accounted for 31% of version 5.0 enhancements came directly from customer requests.

Cherwell President Craig Harper opened the day with explaining that Cherwell were growing rapidly ( 1172% growth last year- Same as Linkedin) but were maintaining the right balance between customers, investors and employees. A refreshing approach in a world of software companies driven by the motivations of venture capitalists.

Engagement and Agility over Firefighting Efficiency

There was a very refreshing and thought provoking presentation from new VP of Product Marketing Jarod Greene, who stated that currently ITSM is reactive ( firefighting) and now needs to move towards a strategic response that is both innovating and engaging. Greene stated that there were the 4 Ps:

  • People: It’s all about the People
  • Place : Be where the business is
  • Platform : Appeal to the business user
  • Performance : Measure success in business outcomes

Thanks to the Cherwell team for inviting us!

Review: Outside IT 2014

OutsideITTo download the full report as a PDF please visit : Outside IT 5th August 2014

This is a competitive review of software vendors who offer Outside IT capabilities as part of their IT service management (ITSM) solution.
Products reviewed:

 

Outside IT 2014 – Best in Class

ServiceNow(R)_logo_STANDARD_RGB_226px_122012(1)[1]

In The ITSM Review’s opinion, ServiceNow is an excellent option for large-and-very large sized businesses looking to achieve synergy and efficiency of cross-departmental operations, as well as flexibility in their IT and wider non-IT shared service operations. Furthermore, we believe it is an excellent option for large and very large organisations implementing service management and work automation across and beyond IT.

We feel that ESM is a strong and forward-thinking message and an excellent opportunity for real success through ITSM and wider service management and automation. In our opinion, this is a stronger and more sustainable message than ServiceNow’s earlier focus on Cloud/commercial models, community and flexibility (although useful and helpful) as the ESM message transcends IT and straddles business areas and can finally take ITSM to a C-Level audience for sales and delivered value.

In our view, continued expansion via the ESM message and product capability for Global Enterprises should be the ServiceNow goal, possibly with some options on how to take this message to the mid-market market in future.

Overview

This report has been unusual in terms of a normal industry product/vendor review – for two reasons:

  1. The initial review criteria were quite generic (by necessity) and to some extent vague (i.e. “what have you done with your product outside of IT?”) and
  2. The results and outcomes are not particularly (or only) related to functionality or product capability – and this relates strongly to marketing, positioning and implementation approach.

As a review of what vendors can or are doing with their (ITSM) products outside of the IT and ITSM operational area, this review had to be somewhat open-ended, giving the participating vendors specific requirements to follow, but also opening up the options for them to show us what else they can do and are doing outside of IT. This includes not just options on software functionality but also how the vendors are positioning themselves in the market.

Each vendor in this report provides ITSM tools that can be used to build forms and workflow based automation for administration of ‘back-office’ work, this includes: managing workloads; requests; automating approvals and escalations; automating spreadsheets and other databases centrally to remove risk; provide customer service and call centre tools; manage work schedules; provide knowledge repositories, calendars, reports dashboards and customer portals etc. In addition, they each provide this functionality in a modern, social, mobile and intuitive ‘connected’ environment that can be quickly implemented and maintained with minimum technical resources.

So what are the differences between the vendors in this report? How can we distinguish and identify differentiators, pros and cons between them? If all products can be used to develop work automation, logging and escalation/ownership and tracking of tasks etc., does this mean that the differences between vendors go beyond simple software functionality? This review looks at how to differentiate the vendors’ approach for beyond IT across the ITSM market.

Industry Context

There has been a move in recent times to develop more applications and tools that can cross the boundaries of internal service departments. The ITSM toolsets available have helped to drive practice in this area, in particular service catalogues, service portals, automated fulfilment processing, approvals etc. and for many organisations this is a huge opportunity for IT to be the department of solutions and success rather than simply the folks who say ‘no’ all the time.

Most manufacturers of ITSM tools report that their sales engagement process usually now involve the inclusion of non-IT people as the norm which has happened historically although not consistently with many vendors also reporting the fact that, once their ITSM tool has been successfully implemented, their clients in IT then help to ‘sell on’ the wider use of the toolsets within and across their own organisations.

Much of this has been driven by the opportunities offered via Cloud solutions and also via assorted sourcing options. However, the barriers between IT and its internal customers/departments are now also breaking down such that, finally, there is the appreciation that the overall needs of the organisation they support can be met via a ‘supply chain’ approach rather than a siloed one. Commoditisation of IT has led to greater awareness of, and demand for, proper end-to-end solutions and collaborative working. Toolsets are the final piece in this jigsaw, as they offer simple and effective solutions for this.

Opportunities for IT organisations

This is therefore a time of huge opportunity for IT organisations to re-invent themselves and to show their true value to the organisations that they serve. This moves away from just being inward-looking and self preserving around their own (IT) processes but to also being the facilitator, catalyst and ‘solution superheroes’ for the whole organisation. This can help to develop efficiency and remove risk by automating manual and single point of failure processes and systems, e.g. spreadsheets that still provide key business functions.

IT can show leadership in their own businesses if they grasp the nettle and use the skills they have developed via ITSM and the associated toolsets, relationship management, value-demonstration, service monitoring, and cost management. It’s the time and opportunity to take ITSM to the next level and IT organisations and their people are best placed to deliver this.

Client maturity

Whilst this sounds exciting, there is also the question of maturity and awareness, and this brave new world cannot apply across all organisations evenly. There are those IT organisations that have the maturity and drive to take their knowledge and skills forward to capitalise on these opportunities. These organisations will respond well to vendor positioning and messaging around business-led IT and the value of service management beyond IT.

However, there are also many (probably most) IT organisations that don’t yet have the vision, awareness, bandwidth and ITSM maturity to do this.

This is where intelligent use of new sourcing models can help to ensure that IT is moving with the times and delivering in response to needs and not just “treading water” and “sweating assets”.

These organisations will also be at risk of being by-passed in the sales process of forward thinking vendors who can then sell direct to other service areas (not IT) with their products and solutions. Vendors with mature implementations and good client relationships can also develop these accounts to “sell inwardly” as mentioned, and get the message across about collaborative working – with variable success depending on their ability to reach and get the right messages to the C-Levels working in their clients.

The new world of corporate collaboration

The message here for the vendor market – and in the context of this review – is therefore that ITSM vendors wishing to retain and increase their market share into new areas need to consider the positioning of their products in a wider context than just IT.

Products and vendors that only focus on internal IT – sold to internally focussed IT departments who don’t see the opportunities for collaboration – will be at risk, or at least will risk falling behind in the long run. There may be continuing opportunities for relatively straightforward ITSM-only sales in the short-term, but ultimately this will not be a sustainable strategy.

Vendors also need to be clear on how to reach non-IT people where necessary, as well as having clear strategies for up-selling their products beyond IT in existing and new accounts. Overall they will need to be clear as to the extent to which they take and promote these messages – from presenting either a business-focussed/business-enabled solution, to an IT-internally-focused only approach.

So whilst there is still a lively traditional ITSM ‘core market’ that vendors can focus on – where the prospects may not be interested in Outside IT (i.e. applications and their focus is solely on ITSM) – there is also a longer-term and potentially larger opportunity around selling to the wider organisation.

Clearly for vendors this requires some strategic decision making around positioning and marketing, with some implications around sales approach and targeting. This in turn may have significant cost and structural implications for vendors, and some may not have the resources to meet these requirements.

So the traditional sale to mid-management IT Operations may be simpler and easier in the short-term, but longer-term vendors may need to rethink their sales and marketing approach, collateral, and even the language used in the sales process.

So how do we evaluate the current Market?

The four vendors who participated in this review all have the capabilities to provide additional functionality outside of the ITSM/IT area and they also all have varying levels of customer adoption of this. These vendors cover a broad spectrum in terms of size, capability, and corporate coverage and their focus reflects this. All vendors also have different sales and marketing approaches to the concept of Outside IT. Details and examples of their individual offerings are shown below.

All four vendors can deliver non-IT applications with varying levels of toolkits, engagement approaches, and turnkey offerings.

 

To download the full report as a PDF please visit : http://download.itassetmanagement.net/outside-it/

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.


The ITSM Review are holding a series of seminars this year headed by ITSM superstar Barclay Rae. We will be starting in March with Transforming User Experience – Enterprise Service Management & Self Service. For more information click here

ITSM Industry Roundup

Fetching you the news!
Fetching you the news!

No time to read all the interesting info floating around social media and appearing in your inbox? Read our round up of what we’ve found interesting this week.

  1. Firms failing on security basics, says Websense – Businesses still failing on the basic requirements for information security such as visibility of their data assets, says security firm Websense. Read more here
  2. ITIL Exam Figures Dropping – ITIL Exam figures for the first half of show a considerable loss compared to 2013. Read more here
  3. Cherwell release major new version – Oooh shiny! check out version 5 here
  4. People Who Jump From Screen To Screen Have Less Gray Matter In One Brain Region, Study Finds – As if we needed any more reason not to multi-task! Read more here
  5. Get More from Difficult People by Shaping Your Requests as Questions – Who doesn’t have to deal with someone on at least a semi-regular basis who lives to be just plain awkward? Read more on how to deal with it here
  6. You’re building what?! More bad CIO decisions – Not focused on the areas where technology will have the greatest impact? Then you’re doing it wrong. Read more here
  7. Employees waste 54 minutes per day as IT systems keep businesses in the slow lane – read more here (Via @knowledgebird)
  8. BMC sues ServiceNow – things are getting nasty between the two ITSM industry giants, read more here.
  9. Around 35% of Australian workers complain they are hindered at work by issues with legacy IT systems. Would be interesting to see the numbers in the UK. Read more here

Got some interesting news to share – say hello via @gobbymidget 

Image credit

Outside IT Group Test – The Results

Cherwell, Samanage, ServiceNow and TOPdesk reviewed for their capabilities and approach to delivering services outside the IT department
Cherwell, Samanage, ServiceNow and TOPdesk reviewed for their capabilities and approach to delivering services outside the IT department

I am pleased to share my latest analysis for The ITSM Review: Outside IT.

This is a review of how IT service management (ITSM) tools might be used beyond the IT department.

It explores how traditional ITSM tools, typically used for IT service and support, can be used for broader operation throughout the business such as underpinning internal business processes and handling non-IT business requests.

Technology vendors participating in this analysis include:

  • Cherwell
  • Samanage
  • ServiceNow
  • TOPdesk

There has been a move in recent times to develop more applications and tools that can cross the boundaries of internal service departments. The ITSM toolsets available have helped to drive practice in this area, in particular service catalogues, service portals, automated fulfilment processing, approvals etc. and for many organisations this is a huge opportunity for IT to be the department of solutions and success rather than simply the folks who say ‘no’ all the time.

Which vendor is ‘Best in Class’?

What are the differences between the vendors in this report? How can we distinguish and identify differentiators, pros and cons between them? If all products can be used to develop work automation, logging and escalation/ownership and tracking of tasks etc., does this mean that the differences between vendors go beyond simple software functionality? This review looks at how to differentiate the vendors’ approach for beyond IT across the ITSM market.

Download a copy of my report here (registration required):

http://download.itassetmanagement.net/outside-it/

Review: Cherwell for Integrations

This independent review is part of our Integrations 2013 Group Test.

Executive Summary

Elevator Pitch A key understanding of what is required and the ability to provide innovation across the whole organisation – Cherwell show they understand what organisations need and are ready to supply connectors to a wide variety of additional sources of information. A comprehensive solution throughout.
Strengths
  •  Based on their experience – Cherwell cover pretty much everything required in typical deployments – the 80/20 rule – which gets clients running very rapidly but also ticks all the boxes in terms of what is offered versus what is generally required,
  • Recognise areas to offer clients in terms of integration points using elements such as Twitter and RSS.
  • Provide web services inbound bound and a very comprehensive range of connectors to external sources
Weaknesses
  • Perhaps missing a trick now in terms of integrating with task management and resource management tools (such as linking with Outlook calendars and tasks for technicians).
Primary Market Focus Based on the information provided, Cherwell are typically active in the mid-market but are scalable to Enterprise customersThey are classified for this review as:Specialised Service Management Suite – Offering ITIL processes and proprietary discovery tooling and Data Integration Points

Commercial Summary

Vendor Cherwell
Product Cherwell Service Management®
Version reviewed Version 4.6
Date of version release July 2013
Year founded 2003
Customers 550+
Pricing Structure Saas, Subscription, Perpetual options
Competitive Differentiators
  1. Service automation and innovation through actionable features – a nice touch in particular is being able to create a new incident from an incoming Twitter feed, and exploring using RSS feeds for travelling technicians.
  2. Mobile applications (iPad/iPhone) for IT users utilising location services but also recognise that this has a business use as well – allowing service business managers to visit locations making the integration more of a proactive tool
  3. Continued ease of use, through effective development of wizards to handle all the integrations.

Independent Review

logo_cherwell-softwareCherwell recognise that all points of integration can be applied to any part of the ITSM suite, and that organisations are going to have tools in place and so focus on making the inevitable need to pull in data from external sources as easy as possible.

Integration points are all guided by wizards – even at the start of the pre-deployment, which is in keeping with their fundamental principle that everything should be codeless – so the UI hides the administrator from the backend XML magic that goes on behind the scenes.

Within their admin panel – the customer is created as a business object – which creates a core table in their database and allows the flexible wizard driven interfaces to map across to whatever is required.

There is a lot that can be done with their One-Step macros, that allow simple customisation for repeatable task – a clued-up admin can make light work of many of the pre-deployment and scheduled updates using these customisable objects.

They have utilised some nice new innovative touches to lend itself not only to ITSM staff (travelling technicians being able to use either mobile devices or RSS feeds to pull information depending on their location), but also to continue to build on what IT can offer other business areas – that same technology can be applied to business managers travelling from location to location.

Perhaps an area could still benefit from attention – more and more vendors recognise the value of linking with resource or task-management tools, as tools start to connect with Outlook calendars and put intelligence around task management and more importantly task distribution.

Cherwell very much hold by an 80/20 philosophy in what they offer – and that still provides one of the most comprehensive ITSM and business process suites on the market.

Integration and specific recognised criteria

Cherwell offer the following points of integration with no additional coding required (everything is driven by wizards):

OLE DB

Connect to External Databases – commonly used to pull data from SCCM, LANDesk, SNOW, Lansweeper, CRM data.

Active Directory (and other Directory Services)

Used for Authentication and Data Population (e.g. Customer Contacts)

SAML

SAML (Security Assertion Markup Language) is an XML-based open standard for exchanging authentication and authorization data between Identity Providers and Service Providers to support Single-Sign-On (SSO) capability

Email (POP/SMTP, IMAP, Exchange (EWS))

Used for inbound and outbound electronic communications

Bomgar

Secure Remote Control and Chat

Twitter

Monitor Feeds and Send Tweets

RSS

Monitor Feeds and RSS Query for Cherwell

Web Service

Consume external (WSDL and REST) Web Services via our codeless one-step functionality

File System

Write File and Read File functionality from our codeless one-step functionality

Run program

Run any external program from our codeless one-step functionality – call any program or Powershell script parsing parameters from Cherwell

Cherwell Windows API

Any .Net developer can utilize the Cherwell Windows API to call Cherwell functions and features

Cherwell Web Service

Any .Net developer can utilize the Cherwell Web Services API to call a subset of Cherwell functions and features

Security Controls

Cherwell use the security controls which are governed by the specific type of integration.

Pre-Deployment Integration

Typically Cherwell will look to use Active Directory for contact information to import with all subsequent updates as a scheduled activity.

Asset and Configuration Information

Cherwell has its own Discovery and Inventory to capture data on network devices, printers, windows PCs and devices and Apple MAC workstations, utilising it’s scheduled and automated processes.

Again Cherwell use wizards to handle migrating the collected data into the CMDB including mapping the fields, frequency of updates and so on.

Cherwell also recognise that third party ITAM tools (SCCM, LANDesk, Centennial, SNOW, etc.) are often in place in organisations – they recommend using an External OLE DB Connection method to map, import and schedule updates from external database tables and views into Cherwell.

After the CMDB is populated with information, then a configuration manager can manipulate and maintain the non-auto-discovered aspects of the data and the relationships. That then is used across all the other ITSM processes (e.g. incident, problem, change, etc.)

Support Services Integration

  • Remote Control

Cherwell partners with Bomgar and can use their Chat function in any ITSM and/or business process that has been built into the CSM platform. This allows them the flexibility of linking what would be considered as service management tooling into parts of the business that may not necessarily use the same interfaces (for example HR portals).

  • Social Media

Twitter, Email and RSS are all possible communications methods that can also be incorporated into any of the processes (Business or ITSM processes). The platform used then depends on the kind of process – Major Incident communications might use Twitter and RSS, regular Incident may suffice with email. Cherwell can offer the flexibility depending on an organisation’s requirements.

Additional Areas of Integration

  • Cherwell offer the flexibility to build out business processes (for example to Finance or HR) to help join one part of the business to another. When the industry is constantly looking at ways to show how IT can help the business – this is a useful area of development.
  • Event management – the tendency is for it to be centred around email integration – alerts come in and get converted into an event record from that point.

Cherwell Customers

From the Cherwell Brochure

  • Fully integrated, comprehensive view of the relationships between Incidents, Problems, Changes and other processes and resources.
  • Intuitive wizards and drag-and-drop functionality that allows you to quickly and easily modify processes to match your specific business needs
  • Service management teams move from managing activities to delivering solutions.

In Their Own Words:

Positioned on the 2013 Gartner®  Magic Quadrant for ITSSM tools and recognised by Forrester Research as one of the top three enterprise SaaS ITSM tools worldwide, Cherwell Software is one of the fastest growing IT service management software providers. It has corporate headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colo., U.S.A.; EMEA headquarters in Wootton Bassett, U.K.; and a global network of expert partners. Cherwell Software is passionate about customer care and is dedicated to creating “innovative technology built upon yesterday values.”

Its flagship product is Cherwell Service ManagementTM, a fully-integrated service management software solution for IT and technical support professionals with out-of-the-box PinkVERIFY accredited ITIL processes. Its wizard-driven customisation allows customers to tailor the tool to match their processes without writing any code. Cherwell Service Management offers unmatched flexibility in hosting and concurrent licensing for low total-cost-of-ownership.

Please visit www.cherwell.com for more information about Cherwell Software.

Screenshots

Further Information

This independent review is part of our Integrations 2013 Group Test.

Review: Cherwell for Knowledge Management

This independent review is part of our 2013 Knowledge Management Group Test. 

Executive Summary – Cherwell

Overview
  • Vendor emerging across ITSM market space
  • Knowledge approach seamless with other ITSM areas in product
  • Provides all functionality required for review
  • Good vendor approach
  • knowledge article key element of system
  • Overall looks a good option
Primary Market Focus Based on the information provided, Cherwell actively market to customers of all sizes (Small <100 to Very Large >10,000) They are classified for this review as:Specialised Service Management Suite – Offers IT Service Management, with integration to third party Systems Management software

Commercial Summary

Vendor Cherwell Software
Product Cherwell Service Management
Version reviewed v4.3a
Date of version release January 2013
Year founded 2004
Customers 500+ ITSM customers worldwide.
Pricing Structure Fully inclusive concurrent user usage for both perpetual and SaaS licensing models.
Competitive Differentiators
  • Completely integrated management processes and totally configurable against an organisation’s current and future service request models, without the need to write a single line of code via programming or scripting services.
  • Integrated Platform as a Service (PaaS) technology to empower users to easy develop and deliver integrated business services offerings.
  • Quick, easy, seamless system upgrades and low cost of ownership for ongoing system management overheads.

 

Independent Review

cherwell-logoThis is an easy to use and multi-capability option for Cherwell users – the knowledge function is shipped with the product and seamlessly integrated with it.

Some nice features around integration of discussion boards and the ability to link articles to services and incidents.

A good option for developing knowledge for Cherwell users or those considering the product overall, with a view to making Knowledge Management work.

 Overview

  • Vendor emerging as strong contender across ITSM market space
  • Knowledge approach seamless with other ITSM areas in product
  • Provides all functionality required for review
  • Vendor approach aims to drive clients to use and integrate knowledge management with other processes
  • Knowledge article key element of system ‘business object’ – with links to other processes, tracking and clearly defined lifecycle
  • Overall looks a good option – in places a bit complex-looking (user UI is good), but generally will deliver integrated Knowledge Management functions.

Strengths

  • Meets all the basic functionality required for the review, for creation, approval, maintenance, tracking of Knowledge Articles (KAs)
  • ‘Knowledge is shipped OOTB with the product and is a key element cross ITSM processes
  • Federated search’ engine provides facility to search multiple knowledge sources simultaneously
  • Configuration and set up of system can be done by non-tech users – ‘codeless’ programming
  • User portal interface for self-help looks simple and user-friendly
  • Delivery and access to KAs can be controlled and specified to (field) level security
  • KAs can be associated to services (which in turn can be linked)
  • Approval process can set % approvers required rather than just all approvers
  • Approval steps can be defined at multiple levels
  • ‘One Step’ feature can be used to create set of tasks, updates, escalations, to simplify approval process
  • Can simply combine number of internal and external knowledge sources
  • Able to create relationships between articles and specific incidents
  • Tracking – simple to identify usage and like/dislike of KAs
  • Knowledge ‘Mapping’ – can show relevant knowledge sources in context – e.g. different in Incident vs. Change Management
  • Nice ‘Community Discussion’ board – can see threads of discussion and collaboration related to KA. Can also raise incident or create KA from Discussion area
  • KAs can be raised and applied to any (process) area of the tool

Weaknesses

  • Can look overly complex in places
  • Internal (IT User) interface could be clearer and less complex
  • Can’t map approval workflow process
  • Could provide more tangible, focussed information on customer success stories using KM

Cherwell’s Knowledge Management Customers

In Their Own Words:

Positioned on the 2012 Gartner®  Magic Quadrant for ITSSM tools and recognized by Forrester Research as one of the top three enterprise SaaS ITSM tools worldwide, Cherwell Software is one of the fastest growing IT service management software providers. It has corporate headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colo., U.S.A.; EMEA headquarters in Wootton Bassett, U.K.; and a global network of expert partners. Cherwell Software is passionate about customer care and is dedicated to creating “innovative technology built upon yesterday values.”

Its flagship product is Cherwell Service Management®, a fully-integrated service management software solution for IT and technical support professionals with out-of-the-box PinkVERIFY accredited ITIL processes. Its wizard-driven customisation allows customers to tailor the tool to match their processes without writing any code. Cherwell Service Management offers unmatched flexibility in hosting and concurrent licensing for low total-cost-of-ownership. Please visit www.cherwell.com for more information about Cherwell Software.

Screenshots

Further Information

Knowledge Management Review Index

This independent review is part of our 2013 Knowledge Management Group Test.