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

ITAM and ITSM Integration Group Test – The Results

Map-Large
Six tools offering ITAM and ITSM from around the globe

This Group Test explores the relationship between the IT management disciplines of IT Asset Management (ITAM) and IT Service Management (ITSM).

Our remit was to explore the opportunities for managing assets and interacting with ITAM teams whilst maintaining everyday ITSM processes. In particular we were looking to review ITSM tools that offer ITAM functionality or integrate with tools that do – or ITAM tools that provide value to ITSM lifecycles.

I was pleasantly surprised and encouraged by the growing overlap between ITAM and ITSM functionality in the tools reviewed. It was great to see all camps taking advantage of the obvious benefits of ITAM and ITSM integration. It was also refreshing to review technology from all four corners of the globe; including some new vendors that some of our readers might not have heard of yet.

Participants in this “bake-off” were:

Supplier Country of Origin Number of Customers Summary
InvGate Argentina 3,000+ Comprehensive ITAM & ITSM solution with next-generation interface
ManageEngine India 100,000+ A good solid solution for building an integrated ITAM and ITSM foundation.
Matrix42[Best in Class] Germany 900+ Arguably the first vendor to offer comprehensive Enterprise grade SAM within a full ITSM suite
Miradore Finland 500+ A desktop management solution providing ITAM and Configuration Management capabilities and opportunities for automating routine ITSM tasks
SupaTOOLS New Zealand 80 A refreshing alternative to big ITSM tool frameworks at a competitive price.
Virima USA 2 ITAM and ITSM in a competitive package. Detailed inventory for datacenter environments plus key service management functions to be able to turn datacenter insight into action.

Deep Dives:

ITXM – ITAM and ITSM (2+2=5)

What are the benefits of integrating ITAM and ITSM?

The vision for fully integrated ITAM and ITSM is –

  • For ITAM:
    1. Meeting compliance and efficiency goals whilst decisions and changes are being made rather than attempting to clean up mess afterwards, allowing the business to make smart technology choices without booby-traps and with visibility of total cost of ownership.
    2. Allowing users to be productive and have access to the assets they need whilst being compliant.
  • For ITSM:
    1. Offering visibility of asset relationships and costs to facilitate faster incident resolution, proactive problem management and less error prone change management.
    2. Delivering self-service without risks.
    3. Updating asset data on the fly as part of BAU for everyone’s benefit – allowing smarter decision making.

Vendor Summary – Strengths and Weaknesses

Supplier Product Strengths Weaknesses
InvGate Assets and Service Desk Code free configuration / Low consulting requirement No server / service dependency mapping
Strong interface and user experience
Next generation IT Management Tooling
Strong embedded game mechanics
ManageEngine ServiceDesk Plus Fully Integrated ITAM & ITSM Lacks polish
Free Version Shortage of specialist knowledge
Use for outside IT department
Matrix42 ITSM Suite and Workspace Management A modern IT management platform with vast platform coverage. Minimal market penetration outside central Europe
ITAM and ITSM mapping from day one
Workflow driven solution – adapt for every process
BYOD, Mobile and Cloud addressed
Miradore Miradore Good offering for Managed Service Providers A good complement for the service desk – but offers no ticketing or core service desk functions.
Light versatile and automated desktop management
Low cost monthly subscription
Good inventory and asset verification offering
Self service software request platform
SupaTOOLS SupaDESK, SupaCMDB Strong CMDB centric ITSM offering Minimal license management capabilities
Cloud, on-premise or flip between two
Well though out design, easy to use
Great relationship views for viewing ALL attributes
Low consulting requirement
Virima Technologies EcosystemManager Datacentre Visibility New software offering, limited existing customers
Turn datacentre insights into service management actions
Ideal for datacentre migration or consolidation
Strong visualisation of dependencies

ITAM & ITSM Integration Review (10)Best in Class for ITAM & ITSM – MATRIX42

We’ve awarded Matrix42 Best in Class for ITAM and ITMS integration for their comprehensive ITAM and ITSM suite.

ITXM – Full ITAM & ITSM integration at last!

“Matrix42 want to be the management layer that sits on top of the services that run IT and claim their key differentiators are strength of integration, automation and speed to value – eschewing the consulting heavy approach of many IT management tool rivals.”

Matrix42 is the closest toolset manufacturer we’ve seen to be able to realize the full ITAM and ITSM vision from one platform. The solution offers both strong ITSM capabilities (verified for eight ITIL processes via a modern interface) whilst also offering depth of datacentre SAM coverage (identifying options and packs enabled for Oracle database). Matrix42 are arguably the first vendor to offer comprehensive Enterprise grade SAM within a full ITSM suite.

Deep Dives:

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 our Disclosure page.

ManageEngine for ITAM and ITSM

This independent review is part of our ITAM vs. ITSM Integration group test.

Also participating:

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

Commercial Summary

Vendor ManageEngine; a division of ZOHO Corp
Product ServiceDesk Plus
Version reviewed 9.1
Year Founded 2002
Customers 100,000+
Pricing Structure By Technicians / Assets (Nodes) Available On premise and SaaS

ManageEngine ServiceDesk Plus

ManageEngine is a division of Zoho Corp, a privately owned Indian software company with 3,000 employees.

Zoho’s divisions include:sdp_high_res_logo

  • ZOHO – CRM, email and back office functions
  • WebNMS – Network management framework
  • ManageEngine – IT management tools

ServiceDesk Plus from ManageEngine includes a service desk offering and asset management features. ManageEngine claim that ServiceDesk Plus has over 125K deployments in over 100K customers and is used in 186 countries in 29 language variations.

A core differentiator for ManageEngine is delivering IT management tools at a fraction of the price of their enterprise IT management rivals.

 

ServiceDesk Plus Editions

ServiceDesk Plus is available in Standard, Professional and Enterprise editions.

In summary: 

  • Standard Edition (Free): Free software for Incident Management, providing self-service and a knowledgebase. Aimed at the first rung of the ladder of ITSM and getting organizations organized for free.
  • Professional Edition – As per the Standard Edition plus asset scanning and Software Asset Management capabilities.
  • Enterprise Edition – The full suite (Incident, problem, change, asset, service catalogue, CMDB and IT Project Management). Billed as ”ITIL ready helpdesk software with Asset and Project Management”.

The free version from ManageEngine is a bold move to capture market share. There are no limitations on number of agents or tickets raised. ManageEngine state that they provide this free software as a way of giving back to the ITSM community.

Complementary Tools from ManageEngine

The full ManageEngine product portfolio includes:

  • Datacenter & Server Performance
  • Network Performance
  • Log Analysis and Security
  • Desktop and Mobile Device
  • Application Performance
  • Active Directory Management

And for the purposes of IT Asset Management and IT Service Management complementary products to ServiceDesk Plus include:

  • AssetExplorer – Standalone Inventory Management Software
  • Social IT Plus – An internal private social network for IT
  • SupportCenter Plus – Customer facing customer support software

 

Asset Lifecycle Embedded within ITSM  

Asset dashboardServiceDesk Plus includes asset discovery of all IP devices directly into the service desk based on agent based or agent-less scanning. All software and hardware information is recorded and managed for each asset.

Once IT assets are inventoried, administrators can group and manage assets by their preferred criteria or attributes. Asset status can also be assigned for easier visibility of assets in use such as ‘in repair’, ‘disposed’, ‘in use’ and so on. Asset managers can assign contracts and maintenance expiry dates to certain assets and manage them throughout their lifecycle, including non-IT assets.

ServiceDesk asset scanning also includes recording of software usage metering, so with effective policies and management ServiceDesk Plus customers can remove software waste and ensure they only pay for software being used. Organizations can also monitor the usage of restricted applications to support the enforcement of IT policy and to mitigate information security risks.

ServiceDesk Plus include Software Asset Management (SAM) features including the management of various license types such as CAL, concurrent, subscription and node locked licensing.

However ServiceDesk Plus should be considered a basic solution for organizations getting started with the management of desktop SAM. In particular – recognition of software is manual, so administrators must manually scan; move applications to managed status and then manually check for accuracy. This will be very labour intensive for medium to large organizations managing hundreds if not thousands of applications.

The real strength of an integrated suite such as ServiceDesk Plus is the asset register and inventory records all living within service management lifecycles.

ITAM and ITSM Integration

ServiceDesk Plus provides a holistic view over both ITAM and ITSM functions and provides a good integration between the two disciplines. Customers can pin problematic assets to service requests, problems and changes and drill down to see the relationships and inventory history for each asset associated with service.

There is a seamless link between asset and service allowing service managers to see how assets perform during a change, plan changes by viewing impacted assets or troubleshoot troublesome assets by analyzing all the incidents, problems and changes associated with assets.

ServiceDesk Plus has no current integration with Microsoft SCCM, a market leader in desktop deployment. Competitive solutions integrate with the patch and deployment lifecycle, although ManageEngine do offer their own integrated solution in the form of Desktop Central as an alternative to SCCM.

ManageEngine report that around 20% of their customers have taken ServiceDesk Plus beyond the IT department to functions such as HR, maintenance, facilities and travel. So there is clearly scope for expanding the initial value and investment in ServiceDesk Plus well beyond the IT department and providing automation and efficiency gains.

Lacks Polish

Customer - software dashboardManageEngine lacks some of the sophistication and polish of their ITSM market competitors, and lacks the depth compared to specialist ITAM players – but nonetheless is a good solid solution for building an integrated ITAM and ITSM foundation.

ManageEngine has an enormous portfolio of products. This diversity is reflected in their ITAM and ITSM offerings, which sometimes show a shortage of specialist knowledge. However for organizations seeking to build a service management platform with inbuilt asset register at a competitive price ServiceDesk Plus should be on your shortlist.

Vendor information – in their own words

“ManageEngine ServiceDesk Plus for ITAM & ITSM

ServiceDesk Plus is web-based help desk software built on the ITIL framework with over 125,000 deployments in more than 100,000 organizations. ServiceDesk Plus is SMB affordable help desk software loaded with enterprise features. It can be the right fit for organizations that are looking for to organize their IT help desk without having to spend huge dollars.

ServiceDesk Plus enables an easier service delivery to the end users with a range of easy code-free customizations starting from the user interface. Automation ranging from ticket handling to automated notifications in ServiceDesk Plus help increase productivity of the technicians. ServiceDesk Plus has minimal learning curve and is easy to learn for both the technicians as well as the end users thereby ensuring a faster ROI for service desk teams.

The native mobile apps provide anytime, anywhere access to the technicians to create, edit, assign, and close requests. ServiceDesk Plus delivers the right insights on the help desk performance s with canned and custom reports, and real time dashboards. ServiceDesk Plus is also scalable for organizations of different sizes. The key features of ServiceDesk Plus include: –

  • Incident Management
  • Problem Management
  • Change Management
  • Asset management
  • Project Management
  • Purchase and Contract Management
  • Self-Service Portal
  • Knowledge Base
  • Automated Workflows
  • Multi-Site Support
  • 150+ Canned and Custom Reports
  • CMDB
  • Real-Time Dashboards
  • Service Catalogue
  • User Survey
  • Native Mobile Apps

The standard edition of ServiceDesk Plus with the basic help desk functionality is completely free without any restrictions on the number of end users, technicians, or requests. The main objective is to eliminate the cost of decision-making for small organizations and enable them to take their first step towards an organized IT and streamline their incident management process.”

Product Information: https://www.manageengine.com/help-desk-software.html

Online demo: http://demo.servicedeskplus.com

Imprivata Case Study: Why Limit the Service Desk to IT?

Imprivata is a leading provider of authentication and access management solutions for the healthcare industry.

Recall the last time you visited a hospital or medical center, or perhaps watched your favorite medical drama. Health care professionals working in a busy medical environment don’t have time for usernames and passwords to access electronic medical records across multiple IT systems. The preferred security mechanism is a swipe of a badge or simply put your finger down on a biometric reader.

Imprivata provides this authentication and single sign on technology. The same badge tap or fingerprint recognition technology can also allow health care staff to access thousands of systems across the hospital. The bottom line benefit is health care staff spending more time helping patients and less time fiddling with technology.

Imprivata has experienced fast growth over the last year, and Alex Wong, CIO, recently discussed his experiences implementing a “corporate ticketing system” to support the rapidly increasing Imprivata employee count and his overall review of ManageEngine.

Imprivata

Imprivata

  • Founded 2002
  • Headquarters: Lexington, Massachusetts, USA
  • NYSE: IMPR
  • Annual Sales $82.2M USD
  • www.Imprivata.com

 

Alex Wong

Alex Wong

 


Note: ManageEngine commissioned this case study. Thank you to Alex from Imprivata for being so candid and sharing his opinions with the ITSM Review community. Kudos also to ManageEngine for the confidence to allow us to publish Alex’s opinions and review verbatim. The responses below, which I hope you will find to be balanced and honest, have not been edited by ManageEngine or exposed to the usual PR polish.


ITSM Review: Alex, can you explain your strategy for implementing a corporate ticketing system and how this differs from a traditional IT helpdesk?

Alex, Imprivata: We’re growing very fast. One year ago we were 260 staff, we’re now over 350.

When new employees join Imprivata and have issues, they want to know who to contact. We want to make that process easy for them. So we have developed a common platform so that they don’t need to know who to contact – they can just get their questions answered. The corporate ticketing system, built on ManageEngine, gives them the ability to do that.

We wanted to build a single ticketing system for all business departments, not just IT.

You’ve been CIO for just over a year. So things have happened pretty quickly. How long did it take to implement?

We invested in some training to implement ManageEngine. We used the training time to configure the system to our requirements. Within two to four weeks of the training, we had implemented ManageEngine for the IT department. Within another two months, HR and facilities came on board. Then our Business Desk team joined two weeks later.

Why ManageEngine? Could you not have done all of that with your previous technology platform?

We were previously using Zendesk. We also looked at Salesforce.com and JIRA. Ultimately, we felt that we’d be able to implement the quickest with ManageEngine.

We also like the categorization of data with ManageEngine. We can define tickets in terms of categories and sub-categories, which we couldn’t do easily in Zendesk.

Also, staff that have been with us for quite a while, or certain suppliers, are used to routing queries to dedicated email aliases such as facilities@imprivata.com. With ManageEngine we are able to route all tickets through the same system.

We’re pleased with the tool and how configurable it is.

 What impact has your corporate ticketing system had on business departments outside IT?

Teams have stated they have much better visibility into tickets. The old model was primarily email-driven, so a manager would be dependent on the team to gauge how things were going. Now, managers can see exactly what issues are arising and what issues remain outstanding to allow them to prepare for the next day. Having that visibility has been very helpful.

Visibility of issues has also been very useful for the responsiveness of departments. For example if an employee raises an issue with the heating in the UK and the office manager is out, a team in another country can address the issue and provide coverage. Previously, the issue would have been stuck in someone’s email inbox.

How are issues from all these different departments routed?

Our first line of defense is usually the service desk. A single tracking mechanism for all tickets across all departments on the same platform has been very helpful. We usually receive about 40-60 tickets a day.

Imprivata employees typically log issues via three main channels:

  1. More than half of all staff work in the corporate headquarters, so a good proportion of tickets are raised via walk-ups.
  2. Tickets can be logged via email through help@imprivata.com
  3. You can go into the system, http://help.imprivata.com, directly via a browser and log a ticket

Everything goes into this platform, from “it’s too cool in here” to “my machine is broken.” From here, our first priority is to understand what’s coming in and process it. We try to resolve the issue on the first line straight away or route the ticket to a department queue or specialist.

You’ve mentioned that categorisation of tickets was important in your tool selection process – why is this so important to Imprivata?

Classification is important to us because if we see common or repeated issues, we try to 1) group them into common problem sets, 2) solve them and understand the root cause, and 3) prevent it from happening again.

For example, our new hire process includes a list of things that need to be done to support a new hire. If I see a ticket from a new hire asking for help in printing something – that means we’ve failed in the new hire process. Printer drivers were not installed properly, or we don’t have the correct FAQs for them to turn to. This information lets us know how we’re doing from a process standpoint.

That seems quite advanced problem management compared to other organizations we speak to.

We try to be very, very, analytical about how we think about our support model.

We’re quite small, and we extensively use interns. So our support model and process has to be very well-defined for us to be successful.

How do you measure success?

We provide internal support, making sure folks on the frontline selling products to customers are getting the help they need. Our measure of success is happy customers and customer satisfaction.

We measure how long it takes to get back to people, how long does it take to close a ticket and resolve an issue. How often are we reopening a ticket because we didn’t get it right first time?

We also have a process for checking aged tickets out there. Our internal customers know that they can escalate tickets if they are not getting what they need. We’ve built some automation with ManageEngine to monitor and escalate against SLAs, but we’ve also built communication channels for customers to provide feedback.

Would you recommend ManageEngine?

I would.

It’s flexible enough to manage our tickets within a best practice framework. We’re a public company, and there are certain processes we need to follow to adhere to legislation. For example, anyone that requires access to the general ledger system needs pre-approval. We’re governed by regulations such as Sarbanes Oxley that we know we’re going to be audited on, so having a system that supports us with these elements while managing our business in an efficient manner was a key requirement. So far, ManageEngine has delivered on those requirements.

Is there anything you would change if you had the choice?

Certain things could be better from a reporting point of view. It is not always intuitive, so we are reliant on the support team to help us out quite a bit. There a few nit-pick items such as the ability to

classify tickets with more refinement than today. But overall, we are very satisfied with ManageEngine.

How has the ManageEngine team responded to these or issues suggestions?

It’s been a mixed bag. Sometimes they are very responsive; sometimes it takes a couple of days. Given how important the system is to us, we’d pay for a faster response time if it were available.

We’d also like to invest in consulting services to address our reporting needs but have been pointed back to the support team. These are nit-picks, not showstoppers; but if these areas were improved, we’d be extremely happy.

What version are you running? Are you on the free version?

We started with the free version but quickly transitioned to the paid model.


Overall Review of ManageEngine by Imprivata

servicedeskplus-ondemand-logo-img

 

 

 

“The investment in ManageEngine is very easy to justify. The cost of running ManageEngine is not very expensive. And the fact that we can automate ticketing for other business departments within the same budget as our previous IT helpdesk is a real bonus”

Strengths

  1.  General flexibility
  2. Ability to adapt to business requirements

Weaknesses

  1. More granularity in classifications
  2. Reporting requires more depth, it is not intuitive as it could be

Ratings

  • Product 8/10
  • Ease of use and intuitiveness 8/10
  • Reporting 8/10
  • Overall satisfaction with ManageEngine 9.5/10

Event Review, itSMF India Annual Conference, Bangalore

itSMF India held their 2nd annual conference at the Vivanta Hotel in Bangalore on the 5th November. My quick video review is below.

Some thought provoking presentations, interactive panel sessions and great simulation exercise to finish the day. Congratulations to Suresh GP and the itSMF India team for an excellent conference and thanks for inviting us.

Unashamed commercial plug: Suresh GP (Our courteous host in India and all round good egg) has left the HP ITSM team to venture out in the world of independent consulting.

Quick Video Review

Social

Gallery

Suresh GP leading an expert panel of Indian ITSM leaders
Suresh GP leading an expert panel of Indian ITSM leaders
Full house of 140 delegates
Full house of 140 delegates
Worldwide ITSM experts discuss demonstrating value
Worldwide ITSM experts discuss demonstrating value
Kaimar Karu from Axelos provided an interesting and modern view of ITSM best practices
Kaimar Karu from Axelos provided an interesting and modern view of ITSM best practices
Srinivasan Thiagarajan from Cognizant provided an interesting perspective on modelling for business outcomes.
Srinivasan Thiagarajan from Cognizant provided an interesting perspective on modelling for business outcomes.
Arvind Parthiban from ManageEngine provided some practical approaches to Change Management in the real world.
Arvind Parthiban from ManageEngine provided some practical approaches to Change Management in the real world.
James Finister from TCS evangelising about the value of culture in outsource relationships and growing importance and development of SIAM.
James Finister from TCS evangelising about the value of culture in outsource relationships and growing importance and development of SIAM.
Parvinder Singh from Quint led an excellent management simulation
Parvinder Singh from Quint led an excellent management simulation

Visit http://itsmfindia.in/ for updates on future events.

ManageEngine ServiceDesk Plus Review for Proactive Problem Management

This is part of a competitive review of software vendors who offer Proactive Problem Management capabilities as part of their IT service management (ITSM) solution.

Other products reviewed:

Commercial Summary – ManageEngine ServiceDesk Plus Review

Vendor ManageEngine
Product ServiceDesk Plus
Version reviewed 9.0
Date of version Release September 2014
Year Founded 2004
Customers 85,000 (25,000 paid)
Pricing Structure Pricing is based on the number of technician login (named technicians) and the number of assets managed by the application.  License is issued both on Annual Subscription as well as Perpetual models.

Executive Summary

Elevator Pitch ServiceDesk Plus is a solution that contains the ability to carry out problem management but is immature with specific regard to proactive problem management.The attraction of ServiceDesk Plus is the ability to open several instances of the solution at the same time ensuring multitasking is possible whilst providing easy linkage between records.
Strengths
  • Proactive problem management records link with other record types
Weaknesses
  • No automatic suggestion of knowledge base articles, workarounds etc
  • Relationships and services require entering manually within CMDB
  • Does not seem to clearly separate proactive from reactive problem management
Primary Market Focus Based on the information provided, Service Desk Plus is primarily a small to medium-market solution

Independent Review

sdp_logoServiceDesk Plus is a solution heavily dependent upon manual input within the proactive problem management area.

The manual operation required within ServiceDesk Plus, especially the CMDB, means that for organisations with anything other than basic IT infrastructure there is going to be a lot of time and effort involved in mapping relationships and services in order to make troubleshooting easy within the solution as every time a change is made to the network or asset configuration relationships and services will need to be remapped. If however you are content to do this and your primary concern is with procuring a tool that pulls this information in and logs tickets then ServiceDesk Plus will be adequate.

My impression of the solution is that it would be suitable for all small organisations of low proactive problem management maturity.

For these organisations I believe that ServiceDesk Plus has the functionality required to perform proactive problem management. However, if your organisation is likely to mature in the near future then I believe a more sophisticated solution would be suitable. Having said that if ManageEngine were to increase the amount of automation in areas such as relationship management it would appeal to a more mature audience.

General

User configuration possible for:

Forms

Tables

Workflows

Dashboards

  • Drag and drop templates
  • API’s available to integrate with third party tools such as event management
  • Default templates and admin configuration wizard for quick install
  • Implementation support available

Identification

ServiceDesk Plus defines the difference between a reactive and proactive problem management record within the solution by providing the ability to add an additional drop down field within the problem template called “Create Problem Additional field” which allows the manual assignation to either Reactive or Proactive. I would like to see the ability for ServiceDesk Plus to automatically recognise the distinction and assign accordingly without the need for the manual process. For organisations receiving large numbers of proactive problems I imagine this would become quite an onerous task.

ServiceDesk Plus does not contain any internal technology to assist in the identification of proactive problems. It can however integrate with OpManager, the ManageEngine event and network monitoring software through a standard integration and third party event and network monitoring software via the open API.

Alerts from monitoring and networking tools can be sent to ServiceDesk Plus to automatically create an incident ticket. In order for this to be created as a problem record, reactive or proactive, the ticket must be manually changed. In the future I would like to see the ability for problem records to be created automatically cutting down on time and manpower for customers.

Assessment and Alerting

In order for ServiceDesk Plus to calculate an objective risk assesment of the proactive problem relationships such as what/who is affected by each item will need to be manually built within the CMDB. Once this is done the solution does have the ability to visually notify of an issue with an asset by displaying an exclamation sign within the relationship map.

The problem with this process, as with all manual relationship creation, is that what was correct yesterday may well not be correct tomorrow. In order for this are of the solution to work for any but the smallest most basic of organisations to work without high overhead in both time and manpower then this really needs to be automated.

ManageEngine state  that there is no current ability within ServiceDesk Plus to automatically alert or route proactive problems to relevant resolver groups. They have however mentioned that by using Business Rules and Problem Closure Rules that there may be ways to manually create these processes.

Implementation  

ServiceDesk Plus provides the ability to easily link records to each other but there is currently no ability to change the status of a proactive problem record.

When updating a proactive problem record with linked records it is possible to copy problem solutions and workarounds to all associated incidents. It is also possible to close all associated incidents from the problem record.

ManageEngine state that notes, .doc, .docx and .xls formats are able to be attached to a proactive problem record within ServiceDesk Plus. I would like to see this extended in the future to include image formats for easier troubleshooting.

Currently there is no provision to record availability and capacity information within ServiceDesk Plus, however, as a workaround, ManageEngine have suggested additional fields can be created within “problem additional fields” to denote stock availability. Although the solution can be used to advise users of planned outages using both email and the self-service area, in the future I would like to see the ability to set items as unavailable, when affected by a fault that causes it to be so, in order that users can easily see the state of the item.

Auditing and Accountability

ServiceDesk Plus workflow rules can be utilised to set thresholds to escalate upon breach of both response and resolution time.

Each record has a history associated with it – problem, change, release etc. that can be viewed after the request has been closed.

In Summary

ServiceDesk Plus provides a very basic and mostly manually driven proactive problem management offering.

I feel that this solution would be more suitable for those organisations looking for reactive problem management capabilities with the ability to integrate event/alert monitoring. If ManageEngine were to invest in creating more automated features in the proactive problem area, such as auto update from CMDB, the solution would appeal to a much wider and more mature audience.

In Their Own Words:

ServiceDesk Plus is a help desk software with integrated asset and project management built on the ITIL framework. It is available in 29 different languages and is used by more than 85,000 companies, across 186 countries, to manage their IT help desk and assets. ServiceDesk Plus comes in three editions. First is Standard edition which covers the IT help desk module. The standard edition is completely free forever with no restrictions on tickets, users or tech agents. Available free both on-premise as well as Cloud. Next is professional edition, which comes with help desk management along with Asset management. And finally, the third is Enterprise edition which covers professional edition and adds ITIL and project management. The ITIL modules include Incident, Problem, Change, CMDB and Service Catalogue. In addition to all the modules, ServiceDesk Plus also comes with Purchase and Contract Management.

http://www.manageengine.com/products/service-desk/sdp-editions.html

Screenshots

Social IT in the enterprise: Getting past the hype

Caption goes here
Can social IT crack open information stuck in departmental silos and improve IT department to business communications?

Social IT has generated a lot of hype over the last few years but many organizations have been left wondering how to turn the grand theory into practice – in a way that delivers tangible results for the business. People know what social media is; they just don’t know how to transfer the principles of social media into the world of IT operations to improve efficiency, reduce costs and increase IT customer satisfaction.

Start at the top

The trick with social IT (as with any new technology) is to start with what you want to achieve. That means taking a top-down view of the challenges you are facing and examining how social IT principles and tools can help you face those challenges. You have to have a good understanding of the issues to begin with, as well as understanding the “toolbox” of social mechanisms that are available. If you start by looking at social IT technology, you won’t get the results you need. You’ll simply be implementing technology for technology’s sake. Focus effort by thinking about where social principles can help you to improve services, reduce costs and improve business satisfaction with IT.

Make it part of your strategic ITSM roadmap

Social IT isn’t something that you can do in isolation. Social IT should be implemented as part of your strategic ITSM roadmap, not as a separate IT initiative. It’s not something you can implement with a big-bang approach and then say “We do social IT.” Social IT isn’t something you can buy in a box (although you will need technology to make it work). Nor is it the answer to all of your problems. What social IT provides is some new ways to improve communication, problem-solving and decision-making across geographical and departmental boundaries. Better communication is something that most IT departments will benefit from. Social IT is already happening in your organization, in a limited way and at a local level. People frequently collaborate and share knowledge offline to solve problems. The challenge for IT is to “digitalize” this social behaviour and facilitate it on a global scale.

The “toolbox” of social mechanisms

  • Collaboration sessions/discussion boards – open forums that enable collaboration between groups around whatever issues, problems and projects they’re working on.
  • Follows – By letting staff follow the people, services, projects and devices that are relevant to them, they can stay informed without being overwhelmed with information.
  • Status updates – “Short-form” announcements that help people stay connected.
  • Wikis – User-generated knowledge bases that are maintained by the whole community to keep them in alignment with your live environment.
  • Likes – User-ratings for content, knowledge or services that indicate quality and usefulness
  • Hashtags – Tagging improves searchability by grouping different types of content with similar topics.
  • Social profiles – A who’s-who for your organization, helping people to pick suitable collaborators.

Scope of social IT

The scope of social IT isn’t restricted to within the IT department. There are two other angles you need to consider. There is a lot of value to be gained by harnessing social mechanisms to encourage and improve interaction between IT people and end users. Social IT can also be applied to the broader end user community by facilitating knowledge sharing and peer support (and empowering end users to take some of the day-to-day strain off the service desk). With all these new interactions going on, you will need to define policies to maintain a sensible level of control and set out which social mechanisms are appropriate in which situations. For example, a peer support forum is not the right place to report a critical application issue that is affecting an entire business unit. Sometimes it is still best to pick up the phone and call the service desk.

Mapping challenges to social solutions

Organizations can help ensure they gain business value from social IT by mapping business challenges to social solutions. Every organization is different, but there are many different ways in which social IT can help to improve efficiency, reduce costs and minimize risk. The way you map challenges to solutions will depend on your business structure and priorities, but here are some examples of how you can derive social IT tactics from strategic business drivers:

Challenge

Barrier

Social Solution

Resolve IT issues faster. Support knowledge is locked up in departmental silos. Facilitate collaborative discussions and the crowd-sourcing of solutions to issues.
Expose a searchable record of historic collaboration sessions to boost the knowledge base and helps support staff (and end users) to find more solutions more quickly.
Reduce negative impact of change. Lack of transparency between IT and the business prevents proper understanding of business risk and impact. Let end users follow the services and devices they use so that they are aware of planned changes and disruptions. Use microblog status updates to announce changes and linked blog posts or wiki articles to describe detail.
Use open collaboration sessions to consult with business stakeholders/end users to crowd-source a full impact analysis.
Drive continual improvement of services. IT doesn’t understand current business needs, or how business needs are changing over time. Social engagement between IT people and business people promotes better understanding of business demands and the issues that affect productivity. With collaboration tools, IT people and business people can discuss where and how improvement is needed to meet changing demand.
Drive business innovation with new technology. The IT department is bogged down with firefighting common issues relating to current technology. Facilitate peer support by enabling the sharing of fixes and best practices within the end user community. Collaboration sessions, wikis and a searchable knowledge base empower end users to find information and solve problems without intervention from IT.
Improve IT process efficiency. Geographical and departmental barriers restrict the flow of information. Integrating social collaboration into ITSM processes means IT staff can tap into an enterprise-wide knowledge/resource pool.

Conclusions

  • Social IT helps you get the most out of your people by creating collaborative communities and transforming the way people communicate and share knowledge. Collaborative problem solving is both more efficient and effective – and translates into higher productivity, lower costs and lower risk for IT and the business.
  • Social IT doesn’t start with buying new technology, it starts with examining the challenges that IT faces and working out how social mechanisms can help improve productivity and efficiency. However, tools play a vital part in facilitating open collaboration on a global scale.
  • Social IT helps you bring offline collaboration and problem solving activities online – to create a system of engagement that will help you optimize the activities that make up your IT processes.
  • Social IT is a “fuzzy” way of working that IT isn’t very familiar with. The open nature of social media requires IT to embrace new ways of thinking and let go of the need for such strict control of data and interactions. However, some governance policies are required.
  • Social IT doesn’t require a big-bang approach. You can apply social mechanics to small corners of IT to test the water and demonstrate value before a larger roll-out.

Image Credit

ManageEngine: The ITSM market needs more disruption (Video)

In this video, Barclay Rae interviews David Howell, European Director at ManageEngine about their recent move to offer the IT helpdesk module of their ITSM offering free of charge to companies of all sizes.

In Summary

In addition to explaining the reasons behind the decision, David discusses:

  • How free users will be supported
  • Installation timeframes
  • What it means for existing customers
  • How they expect the decision to be viewed in the market

 

 

Assessment Criteria: Proactive Problem Management Product Review

In August of this year, we will be kicking off our product review dedicated to “Proactive Problem Management”, the use of ITSM technology that enables organizations to practice proactive or pre-emptive problem management.

Which vendor will win when it comes to proactive problem management?
Which vendor will win when it comes to proactive problem management?

Overview

The aim of this review is to showcase best of breed ITSM software in use outside the IT department, highlight key competitive differentiators and provide readers of The ITSM Review with impartial market intelligence to enable informed purchasing decisions.

Previously published product reviews include:

Also coming soon: Outside IT.

Assessment Criteria 

This review will support prospective buyers with their selection process by providing features to consider when selecting ITSM systems and highlighting key competitive differentiators between suppliers.

Proactive Problem Management – if problem management is concerned with addressing the root cause of incidents, then proactive problem management is the systems and techniques to address these incidents before they occur and cause service disruption, or reduce or eliminate recurring incidents.

This review looks at the technology to assist organizations take a proactive step towards managing incidents and problems and explore problems before they results in incidents.

A problem is a problem, whether it has caused an incident yet or not” – Rob England, “Proactive Problem Management

Main Topic Areas

  • Managing the lifecycle of problems
  • Identifying problems
  • Solving problems, root causes and problem solving methodologies
  • Known errors / managing work in progress / CSI
  • Integrations, monitoring and triggers

Solutions that do not include all of the criteria above will not necessarily score badly – the criteria simply define the scope of areas will be covered. The goal is to highlight strengths and identify differences, whilst placing every vendor in the best light possible.

Please note: The assessment criteria are just a starting point; they tend to flux and evolve as we delve into solutions and discover unique features and leading edge innovation. Identifying key competitive differentiators is a higher priority than the assessment criteria.

Confirmed Participants

Vendors who wish to participate in this “Proactive Problem Management” product review should contact us directly. We also welcome feedback from readers on their experience with their use of ITSM tools and proactive problem management (although this feedback will not directly impact the review).

Image Credit

Free, the new normal

Arvind Parthiban Sr.Marketing Manager - ITSM, ManageEngine "Why pay for helpdesk?"
Arvind Parthiban
Sr.Marketing Manager – ITSM, ManageEngine “Why pay for helpdesk?”

A new inflection point was reached in the service desk technology market space this week.

A free service desk.

Whilst free and open source ITSM technology has been available for quite a while – this is the first supplier I’ve seen to offer a free service desk without limitation on number of analysts (please let me know if otherwise).

What is perhaps most significant is that the vendor, ManageEngine, already has a huge number of customers, is recognized on the Gartner ITSSM quadrant and has the resources to make a dent.

Techcrunch report today that Zoho/ManageEngine revenue is ‘9 figures USD’, growing at 30% per annum.

The entry level Service Desk offering from ManageEngine is now free. The previous ‘standard’ edition offered a Service Desk for up to five analysts for free – now it’s completely free for any size organization. Customers just pay for premium optional upgrades.

The new normal?

This sort of ‘Freemium’ business model is becoming increasingly popular in a world of very low cost or free apps and cloud-based delivery. Freemium is whereby the vast majority of users of a service can take advantage for free and the business can turn a profit from a small proportion that adopt premium upgrades.

For example Spotify the music streaming service has 6 million paying customers versus 20 million active monthly users and it is estimated that only around 10% of LinkedIn’s 200M users pay to use the service.

Will this kill the market?

No, I don’t think so.

Whilst it is disruptive and gutsy move at market share I don’t think it is necessarily going to kill the market. It will certainly mean existing competitors will have to seriously re-evaluate their value-add but it’s not the end of the world. Spiceworks (ad supported) is free and versions of OTRS (Open source) are free. Vendors have been competing against these for years and should know how to articulate their value. Great software supported by, rather aptly, great support.


However I would say that more fragile competitors should be worried. We’re yet to dig into the finer details of the detailed differences between the free standard edition and professional but at first glance there seems to be a lot under the hood considering the price.

Barclay Rae, commenting on the news said:

“It is certainly a brave and audacious move. I think there is no doubt that some core aspects of ITSM tool functionality is pretty much a commodity, so I guess ME are using this as a level to expand their client base and brand awareness, particularly into new markets and market areas.

ITSM still requires some levels of implementation and integration intelligence, along with organisational change etc., so there will need to be some recognition of the need to develop support mechanisms around the free product that safeguard the brand via successful implementation.

I’d expect ME will need to look at developing their support and professional service capability to support this, particularly for the enterprise market.

However this is still a brave and market shifting move – I wouldn’t be surprised to see more of this in due course.”

ManageEngine can presumably offer this for free because:

  • a) The marginal costs of additional customers on a cloud based infrastructure is negligible – assuming the product works ok without hitch
  • b) ManageEngine are betting that a sufficient number of free customers explore paid upgrades and other products in the ManageEngine range.
  • c) The cost of acquiring new customers into the marketing pipeline just got a lot cheaper – albeit at the cost of forgone revenue. Customers can now be convinced with delivery, rather than a short trial or promises, before parting with their cash. Theoretically they might be free customers for years before parting with any paid upgrades. Meanwhile ManageEngine has the all-important resource in the Internet economy – the customer’s attention.

As ManageEngine state in their press release – if it wasn’t already, the basic service desk has just become commoditized.

More info here:

http://www.manageengine.com/products/service-desk/free-it-help-desk-software.html?banner