ITSM Tools, Service Delivery & Being Awesome; EasyVista Are Leading The Way In Digitisation

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Being just “good enough” isn’t good enough any more. We live in an age of innovation and CSI; where we need to be continually adapting to changing business priorities and finding ways to be leaner and more agile in our delivery. But let’s face it, how does that work in the real world? A real world where budgets are limited, resources are stretched and our people feel overworked and undervalued.

Enter EasyVista with their ITSM tool. With over 20 years of industry experience, as well as being Pink Verified for 11 processes; here’s what they have to say on digitisation.

Digitisation The EasyVista Way

The IT service desk has become ground zero for the Digital Workplace that is currently transforming the work environment and fundamentally changing the relationship between employers and employees. It’s no longer just a place to get IT support. The IT service desk is evolving to become an employee concierge of sorts, offering fast, easy access to all kinds of employee services—things like HR benefits, payroll information, facilities services and hard and soft asset tracking.

We believe that with its digital-first approach EasyVista is at the forefront of enabling enterprise companies to launch their digital workplaces. Serving 1,000+ enterprise companies around the world, EasyVista has many real-world examples of this major trend in the IT service management industry.

If you speak to any of the companies investing in EasyVista IT service management platform — whether they are in retail, insurance, higher education, healthcare, government, etc. — it’s clear how integral their charters have become to corporate strategic initiatives. In fact, Gartner * wrote recently that digital workplace leaders should understand the needs of employees to help focus digital workplace priorities, include non-IT business units in digital workplace planning and execution, and make the service desk one of the focal points of the digital workplace.”

Kevin Coppins, EasyVista General Manager of North America couldn’t agree more. He will tell you that the future success in service management depends on a philosophical commitment to the employee service experience, including:

  • Stronger focus on mobility to enable productivity from anywhere
  • More emphasis on a ‘service apps’ mentality mirroring what we’re accustomed to in our lives outside of work
  • Deeper integration with a wide range of enterprise systems
    • Services that can be quickly created and tailored for any number of employee needs.
    • Services that are device agnostic and available to workers across a variety of platforms or operating systems.

Kevin says companies that leverage the service desk to advance their digital workplace strategy are seeing improvements in several ways:

  • Better support for emerging work styles
  • Increased employee productivity and overall agility
  • Higher employee morale and motivation

How are companies embracing the digital workplace? They:

  • are turning the service desk into a hub for the digital workplace
  • are including non-IT business units in digital workplace planning and execution
  • can better understand the service needs of their employees
  • are embracing shadow IT trends
  • are using a bimodal approach to IT investments to support changing work and business models
  • can allow time for IT to deliver quick value to the organization
  • are changing laggard perceptions to an attitude of innovation

 

The EasyVista vision is easy to deliver, easy to use and with over 6 million SaaS end users and a customer renewal rate of over 98% they must be doing something right!

EasyVista are certainly gaining ground in a packed ITSM market place. They’ve been crowned a high performer by G2 Crowd and have been selected for Gartner Peer Insights. One of the things that differentiates EasyVista is that it is purpose built as a mobile-first experience. Instead of a more traditional experience where it can take months to roll out an enterprise level ITSM tool, EasyVista uses service apps to get customers up and running quickly.

The EasyVista ethos is to use their proven power (hello 20+ years of innovation!) to deliver awesome services without having to spend millions on delivery or supporting tools. EasyVista are seeing a shift from Chief Information Officers to Chief Service Providers and with the industry shift to enterprise Service Management, using ITSM outside of IT to drive other functions like HR, Finance and Facilities, it’s not hard to see why.

The EasyVista tool is run on service based apps and features codeless functionality meaning that you can customise it to fit your business without needing to write a single line of code. The portals are role based and EasyVista aim to have their customers achieve value realisation within 60 days of deployment.

The ITSM industry is certainly taking notice. Gartner placed EasyVista third behind ServiceNow and BMC in terms of digital workplace leadership; given the scale of both the BMC and ServiceNow offerings, EasyVista offers customers a real alternative. An alternative that’s agile, service based and a tool that used digital transformation as an enablement strategy rather than a reactive, defensive strategy.

Awesome services, proven power and over 1,000 happy customers? Deal us in!!

 

* Gartner, Recipe for Digital Workplace Execution: Transform the Employee Experience, March 2016.

 

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Winners and Losers in the ITSM Premier League

Six leading ITSM vendors went head to head this week at the itSMF UK Tools forum. The free event was held at the Etihad stadium in Manchester, home of the 2012 premier league winners Manchester City.

This was openly promoted as a tool focused event. A perfect opportunity for some of the leading lights of the industry to showcase their technology and highlight their competitive differentiators.

An opportunity to shine?

It’s a tough, competitive market out there. Differentiate or die.

I was eager to find out which vendors could articulate their unique qualities, who could position themselves in the market? Could they inspire confidence in buyers? Would buyers be safe in their hands?

The result? In my opinion – Delegates experienced the full spectrum from cutting edge to dull as dishwater:


Roy IllsleyOvum (6/10)

Roy gave us an interesting, thought provoking presentation. The content seemed to be a bit out of place for the theme of the day but otherwise it was great talk and I look forward to delving into the slide deck when it becomes available (Applying Lean principles to IT Strategy).

Patrick BolgerHornbill (9/10)

You can tell why Patrick has ‘Evangelist’ in his job title. Patrick gave us an inspirational pitch for not only his company but also the industry as a whole. If all Hornbill customers have the same software installed and the same ITIL training – how is it that they experience vastly different results? Patrick argued that it is because of the people. Hornbill believes in putting their successful customers on a pedestal when positioning their solution. Nice job Patrick.

Tony Bambury, FrontRange (1/10)

Tony provided us a live demo of their SaaS solution and ran through a user ordering an iPhone. I struggled to see how FrontRange differed from the rest of the pack. An opportunity missed.

Kevin Parker, Tom Burnell and James Warriner from Serena (8/10)

Serena have some closet amateur dramatics buffs in their midst. Serena declared an end to dull PowerPoint pitches and provided a refreshingly different demonstration of their technology. We were entertained by means of a reenactment of one of their ‘Doug Serena’ episodes.  For me, it would have been the presentation of the day – but unfortunately it was difficult to hear their presentation and the ‘actors’ were not always visible, so we lost the thread at times. Otherwise – an excellent slot by Serena and they should be congratulated for their effort, preparation and originality (the product looked good too!).

Dave D’Agostino from ServiceNow (5/10)

Dave gave a safe and steady presentation on ‘SaaS driving forces’ and positioned ServiceNow as a cloud platform rather than pure ITSM focused tool. I’m personally not convinced that the market needs telling the advantages of cloud anymore and I would welcome some more pragmatic advice about shifting services to the cloud. E.g. if you are in this particular industry facing abc market forces and xyz legislation this is what similar customers achieved. Perhaps it’s time to move the conversation on from ‘You don’t need to buy servers!’.

I also thought Dave’s ROI model of on premise versus cloud looked a bit shaky, given the likely implementation / customization costs of ServiceNow over a 3 year period – I would welcome some independent industry statistics on this.

Don Page, Marval (4/10)

I tuned out for Don’s session. It was entertaining but a bit of a rant. If I were a prospect for a new ITSM tool provider I would be left with the impression that Don is a great guy and unique personality, but I would be a bit lost if you asked me to remember the redeeming features of his solution, apart from ‘Buy British’.

Tony Probert, Cherwell (7/10)

Tony set out the stall for Cherwell in his no-nonsense forthright style. Tony urged us to think about business services over support and that if we were doing break-fix for a living we were ripe for outsourcing.

He openly stated that most of Cherwell’s features were ‘just like everyone else’ but then managed to clearly articulate their competitive differentiators:

  1. Code-less configuration
  2. Autonomy from Cherwell (not dependent on consultancy and feature lock down)
  3. and seamless upgrades despite customization.

Three bullets to separate Cherwell from the competition and an attractive proposition for those migrating from on-premise tools. That one slide was a refreshing change to the others of the day who struggled to articulate their competitive differentiators.


Same again next year?

Like the SDI tools day, this is a great format by the itSMF and I hope they repeat it again soon. As with regionals – perhaps some real life user feedback could be shoehorned into the day. Further upcoming itSMF events can be found here.

Great seminar location: The view from the 'Legends' lounge at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester.

The Curious Technologist & The Case of the Analogies

Sometimes technicians, to paraphrase the character of Ian Malcolm, are: “… so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

As the new analyst for The ITSM Review, I was presented with the objectives and characteristics of the role – namely that of The Curious Technologist.

As I embark on this odyssey, I want these articles in particular to be a little more anecdotal in nature, as this subject can be as dry as toast (see what I did there?)

Incoming…

I landed in the world of ITIL back in 2005, when bids were looking for my organisation to demonstrate ITIL alignment and revolved around seemingly holy grail of Configuration Management

A simple gallop around potential contacts in the geographic regions, and within the various departments showed that everyone had their own ideas of what Configuration Management.

There was actual configuration setups of machines, to the rigidly adhered to ITIL descriptions in the book.

Welcome… to Jurassic Park!

Perhaps my favourite, certainly for Configuration Management was the ‘Jurassic Park’ principle.

Ask any technical group what their discovery tool does, and you will receive the most complex, macro-ridden spread-sheets with all manner of data widgets that can be scanned.

Trying to change the mind-set of technical folk to focus on configuration item data that is relevant is a challenge.

In the film, as the main protagonist, John Hammond, is smugly announcing his plans to literally unleash recreated dinosaurs on the unsuspecting tourist public, a mathematician specialising in chaos theory sets him straight.

Sparring from the start, the character of Ian Malcolm chides him for taking work that others have done, and just taking that extra (terrifying) step.

Sometimes technicians, to paraphrase the character of Ian Malcolm, are: “… so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

Whilst maybe not as (fictionally) fatalistic, this is true when we looked at the depth of scan-able data versus what is actually required to make Configuration Management achievable.

The next logical step was to analyse the list of discovered widgets but to ask two key questions:

  1. How frequently is the data element scanned?
  2. How current is it kept and used as part of another process?

Not surprisingly, a lot of things are scanned once, and never once referred to again, or even updated again.

The linkage with Change Management in particular proved to give us the grounds to define the “highest” common denominator, which is the most typical configuration item to be affected in a change.

And therein lay the basis for our definitions (in this case) on standards.

 “Here in my car, I feel safest of all…”

Perhaps my most constant analogy of all was one that was taught to me as I was preparing for my first billable project.

In moving to a new role recently I was fortunate enough to be working on a different service desk tool, and indeed my late career was often spent moving clients from one tool to another.

There is no real difference in the raison d’être of a tool – it exists to take a ticket from the start of its life-cycle journey to another.

Processes are the fuel that will drive that engine – but essentially a ticket is opened, it is assigned, it is resolved or closed.

Not unlike a car.

I could give anyone of you the keys to my car and with a few moments of familiarisation someone could drive it away.

Simplistic analogy?  Yes.

But it is often a necessary first step in detaching recipients from their emotional attachment to whatever tool is being replaced.

Welcome to… The Curious Technologist…

A lot of these articles may well be anecdotal, but in my years of watching some of the best consultants at practice, the ability to boil down a complex requirement or approach sometimes requires a more simplistic touch.

After all, if the prospect of moving to a new set of tooling meets with barriers straight away, then how will the deployment ever move forward?

Sure, the use of film lines or pop culture may cause me more amusement than my audience, it does bring a mechanism to channel people’s thoughts along a different line, which is vital in the complex environment we often work in.

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Service Desk and IT Support Show 2012 – All in all a good two days.

Diversified Communications reported a 13% increase in attendance

Just before taking up my new role here as an Analyst for The ITSM Review, I was lucky enough to be given the chance to come to this show as preparation for the task ahead.

Certainly on the second day, in our London “drought”, the shelter from the torrential rain provided by exhibitors was interesting, perplexing, and at times irritating, thankfully not in equal measure.

 A Commercial Success

Diversified Business Communications UK reported an impressive 13% increase in visitors for the Service Desk & IT Support Show, held last month, heralding a success as its new owners.

The two-day show drew 4,495 ITSM and IT support professionals from thousands of leading UK and European business organisations, over 24 and 25 April 2012.

“The reaction to the show this year has been incredible,” said event manager Laura Venables.

From visitors to exhibitors, from sponsors to speakers, everybody gained real value from being involved and we’re delighted that it was a complete success.”

The Foot-soldier’s view

It was an interesting two days for me, leading into my new role as an Analyst for The ITSM review mainly because it has been a while since I have been to any technical conference shows like this.

Back in my early days we graduates would all gallop gleefully around the big exhibitions at the NEC, and we were allowed, as it gave us a good chance to learn those all important networking skills.

Also, we weren’t ‘useful’ yet; once you get established in client projects, these jaunts soon disappear from the diary.

It is not as easy as it looks to just launch into conversations with people, even if they ARE trying to sell you something.

For this role in particular, I have to strike a balance between getting information, and giving some kind of perception that they will get anything other than an independent review, should we ever choose to do one.

Of course, it has been amazing for putting faces to some of the great-and-the-good names of Linked In group leaders, providing me with hopefully some good material for my ITSM Review articles.

Review

It would be unfair to base my review on my tired legs, and worn out stand-staffers fed up of smiling, so it’s best to round up my experiences based on the second morning.

  • For the most part, exhibitors are keen to greet with the words “are you looking to invest in a new [insert offering here],” and some seem a little disappointed if they find out you are Press.
  • Others see it as an opportunity to find out if they can send you more stuff.

There have been a couple of disappointments though.

  • One vendor seemed uninterested to the point of: “here’s our literature, email if you have questions.”
  • One key ‘Best Practice’ organisation was not really capable of giving me their three minute elevator pitch and finally just resorted to suggesting I read their website, or maybe come to an event.
  • My pet peeve is where you are having a conversation with someone and suddenly they spy a more established customer and bellow across at them in the “old pals” style with delightful in-jokes and joshery – plain rude, in my opinion.

Conspicuous by their absence

Perhaps more confusingly, some of the biggest players in the ITSM field were not here.

IBM, for example, have a SaaS ready model for their IBM Tivoli Service Request Manager suite, yet they were at Infosec show next door, but not here, with a product that focuses on Service Desk, Incident, Problem and Change Management etc.

Meanwhile in one of the larger displays, BMC are proudly announcing to anyone and everyone about their ability to appeal to any size of market.

The giveaway chart

Now, young or old, a vital part of any conference is the amount of freebies you can get!

Herewith, my run down of what I got!

  • The boys from Service Now won my heart with coffee, jellybeans, a metal pen and an iPad stylus.
  • Followed by the ITIL Training Zone with a nifty plastic card holder (handy for hassled commuter travel cards especially!).
  • Pink Elephant were promoting their latest facilitation offering, looking at Attitude, Behaviour, Culture (ABC) and bravely gave away their ABC decks of cards.  I say bravely, because the cards on their own are amusing, but the value is the workshop that fits around it, and it’s a subject I intend to dig into for The ITSM Review.
  • BMC had a little plastic dancing/boxing man, which was cute but really served no purpose other than to set up to two of them and watch them fight to their plastic death.
  • Axios gave away the smelliest plastic bags but maybe I should thank them as it meant no-one was keen to stand too close in the rush hour tube journey.

Best Value Add

Some stands gave away content on USB memory sticks – especially vital if you want to demo ITSM up in the clouds.

Looking at these purely in the context of my new role, these were the best prizes of the lot.

Will I do this all again next year?

All in all, for me anyway, it was a good two days, and something I see myself doing more and more.

Having worked largely in the enterprise solution space, and rarely having implemented in small-scale projects, it was especially interesting to stop in on some of the less ostentatious stands.

I look forward to testing out a number of demos, getting started with a cycle of Operational Assessments and Product Reviews.

But right now, I would settle for a comfy pair of slippers to rest my tired feet.

ITSM Metrics: Known Knowns, Known Unknowns and Unknown Unknowns

Former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld
Former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld

Common sense tells us we ought to choose a select few ITSM metrics which clearly demonstrate value.

But what happens if we outgrow our original metrics? Or the goalposts change? Or we acquire 15 different companies?

Similarly, once we have completed the basics and want to start exploring continual service improvement – Do we start all over again? or can we work with what we have?

Former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld famously stated in 2002:

“There are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – there are things we do not know we don’t know.”

The same might be said of ITSM metrics. The reporting capabilities of most industry tools are based on a certain subset of metrics which are usually accessed via canned reports, bespoke queries or bespoke reporting (Known Knowns). But what if we want to peel back the layers of the ITSM onion and REALLY discover what is going on? We need to explore the Unknown Unknowns.

Next Generation BI?

The next logical step is to investigate Business Intelligence (BI) – but unfortunately most IT professionals I know shudder at the prospect of BI project because we want the results next month not next year.

UK based Service Management Company ‘RMS Services’ believes it has hit upon an ideal solution to this conundrum with what it claims to be next generation Business Intelligence.

In a nutshell: RMS Vision provides free form search of both database schemas and data from multiple data sources simultaneously.

Gone are the limitations of enterprise integrations, labour intensive excel pivots and custom reporting – to be replaced by on-the-fly analytics across local or enterprise data sources. Best of all, hundreds of chart options are auto-generated.

From the brochure:

“RMS Vision combines a powerful keyword search engine, with comprehensive graphical reporting to deliver real-time business intelligence and analytics on terabytes of data, permitting unrestricted cross-dimensional  associations between data entries and spanning multiple data sources.”

I believe the most compelling aspect of this offering is that you can begin to start exploring data without knowing precisely you are looking for. You can just surf, browse and discover.

The end result is more flexible access to the stuff you know about and a creative process of discovering the stuff you don’t know about. All of which lead to more insights and better decision making. So if you are frustrated with the limitations of the reports in your existing technology but don’t want to throw out the whole service desk – it’s worth a look.

More info here or for UK based readers RMS will be exhibiting at SDITS next week.

University of Exeter Students Choose Twitter for IT Support

Given the choice, University of Exeter Students Opted to Receive IT Support Updates via Twitter

The itSMF held their UK South West & South Wales Regional meeting at the University of Exeter this week.

The theme of the day was processes and toolsets with a big emphasis on member interaction and discussion.

In a nutshell: A good day. Recommended.

Two presentations really stood out for me during the day. Firstly Deborah Pitt, Configuration Manager at Land Registry Information Systems in Plymouth, gave a compelling talk on how she managed to convince various IT teams within Land Registry to buy-in to their CMDB. In short, Deborah recalled her strategy of badgering, evangelising and more badgering.

Winning Friends and Implementing CMDBs

Deborah shared with us that she increased engagement and adoption with the CMDB by farming out responsibility for configuration items to various IT teams. For example, the team responsible for management of blackberry devices were assigned ownership of Blackberry data within the CMDB, a great strategy for building confidence in the system and getting users to let go of their precious excel sheets.

“Although process and tools have both been important in getting buy in from consumers and owners of the data that goes into the CMDB, another, often overlooked factor has been a major plank of getting the message across.   This is building successful, communicative relationships with both consumers and owners.  Through selectively targeting the audience and tailoring the message, Land Registry have been able to build enthusiasm for CMDB, such that there is now a widespread take up of CI use and ownership.” Deborah Pitt, Land Registry.

Bring Your Own Pot Noodle?

However, for me the most interesting talk of the day came from the hosts: Zach Nashed who runs the IT Helpdesk at the University of Exeter.

Zach shared how the IT support team at the University were coping with the changing demands of students. It was interesting to hear of the changing attitudes towards IT support since tuition fees were abolished. Since students will be paying £9K per annum out of their own pocket from 2012, this was beginning to translate into higher expectations and demands of IT support (e.g. If I’m paying £9K a year to study here I’m not paying extra for printing).

The IT team are also under increasing pressure to provide 24/7/365 IT services for multiple devices per student. For example students are arriving on campus with a laptop, tablet and phone with all flavours of platforms and expecting instant compatibility and high-speed ubiquitous WIFI access.

Fish Where The Fish Are

To provide higher levels of support at the University and align closely with current requirements Zach and his team hold focus groups with students. As a result the University has begun to explore Twitter as an IT support communication channel. When given the option, students at the University chose Twitter as their preferred update mechanism.

I think this is an important point for anyone considering implementing social channels into their support infrastructure. When considering implementation with a particular channel we need to consider:

  1. Do our customers actually use this social media channel?
  2. And do they want to hear from us when they are using it? (Zach noted that although students spent a great deal of time on Facebook their preferred update mechanism was Twitter)

If students of today are recruits of tomorrow then this initiative paints a picture of IT Support in 2015.

The University of Exeter are a long term Hornbill customer and are exploring a module from Hornbill specifically for twitter integration. Want to know how they get on? Follow them here.

ITSM Vendor Directory V1.0 (itSMF UK Conference Exhibitors)

Web searches for tool vendors has given me a shortlist of over 100 ITSM related vendors (See here and here for a few examples).  However my goal is to present tool vendors in a meaningful and useful format for prospective buyers. The aim is to allow oranges to be truly compared with oranges.

As a starting point I have included software vendors who exhibited at the recent UK itSMF conference. I will add and enrich this grid over time adding more and more vendors as I comprehend them.

V1.0 itSMF UK Conference Exhibitors by Type / Focus

Vendors have been assigned to one of nine pens based on two characteristics; the primary market they serve and the company type. I don’t believe prospective ITSM buyers make decisions based on these criteria, but it allows a prospective buyer with an interest in one vendor to immediately see comparable vendors in that space. For example if I had shown some interest in Axios, I could quickly see companies of a similar ilk.

Market Focus

This is the primary market focus (i.e. not sole focus).

Generally speaking most software vendors will happily sell their software to anyone who wants to part with their cash, but they will typically have a market sweet spot that they focus on. I would be dubious of any company that claims to serve the entire market for every purpose, they are either desperate or naive.

The words ‘SME’, ‘Mid-Market’ and ‘Enterprise’ refer to product characteristics rather than specific numbers of users or company size. After all, each term will have a different meaning depending on where you live on the planet. A large enterprise in Helsinki is an SME in Houston. So for example, you might say that a characteristic of tools aimed at SME companies are typically aimed at high volume with DIY implementation.

Company Type 

  • Conglomerates – Large international brands with divisions that include ITSM tools.
  • Suites – IT Management tool sets which include ITSM tools
  • Specialists – vendors whose sole focus is ITSM.

Finally, I have deliberately avoided the word ‘Cloud’. Over the next few years I see this as being a delivery option rather than key competitive differentiator.

Other Categories

There are other product categories that are outside of scope of this grid which I would like to cover. They include utilities or enablers that are associated with ITSM (e.g. Intel exhibited at itSMF), customer service, general support ticketing tools and systems management tools with ITSM functionality. I also believe there is growing overlap with Social CRM tools.

Your Feedback?

Have these vendors been allocated accurately? what other characteristics would you track? Please share your feedback by leaving a comment. Thanks, Martin

ITSM Tools Census – Creating an Independent Guide to Tools

One of the primary reasons for starting The ITAM Review back in 2008 was to simply provide an unbiased list of the key players in the market. The vendor directory was one of the first pages to be published on The ITAM Review and continues to be one of the most frequently visited pages.

I commonly speak to organizations about to embark on their final technology selection with tools that are inappropriate for the job, they simply don’t know what is out there and what is most appropriate for their needs. They are choosing from solid software publishers who have great technology – but the technology may be wholly inappropriate for their current needs.

This is akin to planning a trip from London to the South of France with a family of four and choosing between a Scooter, and Family Saloon and a Juggernaut. All of them are good vehicles in their own right, with their own satisfied customers and accreditations – but only one is really suitable for the job in hand.

Another challenge we face in the enterprise software market is that sales reps make a persuasive case for buying a scooter or a juggernaut when we need a saloon and it is often difficult to assess their advice from an independent perspective.

I believe the same can be said of the ITSM tools market. Oranges are not always being compared with Oranges.

I plan to start conducting independent reviews of ITSM tools in 2012. My goal is to review, compare, rank and classify all of the various tools in the market, from the smallest of nimble start-ups with a handful of customers, to the industry stalwarts with hundreds of customers. My aim is that prospective buyers can discover clusters of tools that might be suitable for their particular need, maturity, size and budget rather than trying to assess the entire market.

In order to prepare for my reviews, I first intend to build a near-exhaustive list of tool providers which will include a high level overview of their value proposition, key competitive differentiators and sample customers and use cases.

CALLING ALL ITSM TOOL VENDORS

I am inviting vendors to complete an ITSM Tools Census to help generate the list – please encourage everyone you know from the vendor community to participate.

PLEASE NOTE: All results will be published free of charge without registration in a permanent public archive for future reference.

For ITSM Tool Vendors – Click here to complete the ITSM TOOL CENSUS

Thanks in advance for your time and cooperation.

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The ITSM Tool Pricing Ouch-O-Meter

Click to Enlarge

One thing that has surprised me during my initial exploration of ITSM tools is the simplicity of some SaaS based pricing models.

Software licensing options offer vendors the ability to flex their competitive muscles, adapt their solutions to different customers and maximize revenue.

Microsoft is particularly good at this, if you are a left-handed student living in Outer Mongolia – Microsoft has a SKU code with your name on it! To the other extreme, Salesforce.com licensing is remarkably straight forward, if you have fifty users and you want Enterprise Edition – everyone must be on Enterprise Edition.

The counter to this simplicity is that customers might end up paying for development of software that they don’t use, but I think this is easily outweighed by simplicity and predictability. No hidden surprises and endless fiddling about with licensing scenarios.

Moreover, for a SaaS based subscription model it is in the interests of the vendor to ensure you are a happy customer, rather than the vendor constantly trying to sell the next upgrade or option. Vendors are more interested in longevity and retention over winning the big deal, in theory at least.

The KISS Principle

I was pleasantly surprised to see some SaaS based ITSM vendors offering one simple price per user per year. For everything. I’m not the sharpest tool in the box so I’m all for keeping things simple when the opportunity presents itself. KISS.

Being this crystal clear over licensing represents a significant paradigm shift for some traditional ITSM tool vendors. It is difficult to wean yourself from high margin professional services revenue when you have grown used to it – how will that revenue be replaced if we simplify everything for our customers? Similarly some vendors position relatively low cost ITSM tools specifically to generate new business for their consulting business.

Eyes Wide Open

I believe pricing simplicity should be a serious consideration when choosing a tool vendor. I have compiled a quick pricing ‘Ouch-O-Meter’ to help during the tool selection process. Click on the image above to enlarge it.

I’m not saying that SaaS is the only way to go, nor am I anti-consultant (being one myself) – I just like the simplicity of the licensing model. I believe how things are priced moving forward should be a serious consideration when exploring a new vendor relationship, there is nothing worse when securing a great deal than to find the hidden extras.

Am I entering into an ‘all you can eat’ license or a ‘We’re going to nickel-and-dime you every time you breath’ relationship?

Have I missed anything here? What else should be considered when it comes to vendor pricing?

5 Steps to Building a Tool Selection Scorecard

At the SDI event I attended last week, Ken Goff gave a compelling talk on tool selection.

This is not a new concept and I’m sure many readers would have used similar methodologies, nonetheless the credit for this article goes to Ken and SDI.

In this article I aim to provide an overview of Ken’s logic. The goal is to build a decision matrix for tool selection that is closely aligned to your requirements. The focus is on making an objective decision based on facts and stripping away any emotion or subjective bias.

5 STEPS

  • Step 1: Define your criteria, wish-list and desires of a new tool (This is a whole topic by itself and won’t be covered here).
  • Step 2: From this list define which of your criteria are Must Haves or Show Stoppers, there is no point investing in a tool if these features are not included. The remainder will be ‘wants’ or ‘nice to haves’.
  • Step 3: Assign a weighting score against each criteria
  • Step 4: Score each tool according to the criteria, then multiply the score by the weighting score to generate an overall score. Eliminate any candidates that do not meet the ‘Must’ criteria.
  • Step 5: Total all scores to provide an overall objective rating.
To demonstrate this in action I’ll use this methodology to choose a new house to purchase.

EXAMPLE

  • Step 1: Criteria: I’m looking for a house to buy in Poole, UK. I would like 3 bedrooms, a Sea View and for the property to be in Poole.
  • Step 2: Must or Want: It must have a least 3 bedrooms (Must), The Sea View and Location are nice to have.
  • Step 3: Criteria Score: I will assign a score to the criteria as follows: 3 bedrooms (10), Sea View (8) and Poole location (5).
  • Step 4: Scoring: See table below. As an example Property 1 has no Sea View (Score 0), it has four bedrooms (score 9) and is within Poole (score 8). Total aggregate score of scores versus weightings equals 130.
  • Step 5: Property 3 has the highest score, Property 2 is eliminated because it only has 2 bedrooms (A must) and Property 1 is last.

This method might seem overkill for 3 criteria, but becomes very useful when dealing with 50+ requirements.

I have used Poole in Dorset, UK specifically as an example (The fourth highest land value, by area in the world) since it doesn’t matter how suitable your tool is if you can’t afford it. Indeed, the price range of the tool might be factored into the criteria.

Please let me know if you have anything to add to this process or if you have any experiences to share.