When I speak to organisations about their approach to IT Service Management (ITSM), there is no doubt that there is an undercurrent of dissatisfaction. From exorbitant upgrade quotes on ITSM solutions, frustration at not getting the reports that they want from the systems themselves, or just simply not being easy to use, organisations using ITSM solutions don’t seem to be happy.
These IT organisations are often looking for ways to transform their operations and be more service-oriented. However, they are finding that their own ITSM systems and processes severely impede their efforts to meet this goal. Far too often, providing services outside of the “break-fix” realm seem to be beyond them. In a recent study conducted by Forrester Research and itSMF USA, one out of every five ITSM professionals surveyed said they were ready and working to switch ITSM solutions.
This internal frustration can also be felt within the wider business: if the ITSM system is difficult for the professionals that live with it every day, then the rest of the organisation stand even less of a chance of getting what they want. If you find yourself nodding at this point, then it appears that you have two options open: either consider a system upgrade, or a wholesale shift to a new solution. Both can provide opportunities to improve service, but also have their own drawbacks.
Moving up to the latest version of your existing ITSM solution can provide an opportunity to change processes, or look at opportunities to improve service. However, the cost of upgrading an existing service desk implementation or retrofitting it to meet demands for new services can sometimes outweigh the cost of replacing it. In this case, it’s time to analyse the overall cost and whether it is time to make a switch.
No need to rip and replace?
As part of this process, there may be some middle ground available. If you can live with your existing service desk tools for now, then one approach to consider is augmenting them with solutions for the wider management of ITSM.
At the heart of this approach is the requirement to look at the processes involved for managing ITSM: do they meet the needs of the service desk team, the wider IT function and the overall business? For example, the service desk analysts might be getting on fine with the tools that they have, but end-users could still be left in the dark on status requests and progress of work. In this case, improving the process management side would involve building out the business users’ single point of contact with your IT organisation.
By delivering a sleek unified service request portal, your IT team can not only provide your employees with a means to gain instant status updates on their requests but it also provides a way to showcase the breadth of IT and business services that you have to offer. Not only would this improve the face of IT to the business, it could also be used to build in some self-service elements around common tasks as well, reducing calls to the service desk and therefore cost.
At the same time, this approach also provides you with a process management platform to automate and deliver additional IT services that build on the service desk. This will go a long way in improving business satisfaction with IT. As all requests are funnelled through a common demand management framework, it is easy to have a single view of all work requests, for your IT managers to quickly spot resourcing issues, and for your executives to effectively track your IT organisation’s performance against Service Level Agreements (SLAs).
What this really points to is that ITSM has to show the same level of understanding around business process and requirements that the rest of IT has built up. Rather than focusing inward and just making sure that the ITSM basics are covered, consider establishing greater automation and orchestration across the IT service delivery process life-cycle, wider IT functions and business processes involved, as the value delivered by undertaking this is far greater than sticking with your existing approach.
Evaluating ITSM solutions? Questions to ask
Here’s a ten-point checklist to consider while evaluating alternative ITSM solutions:
- Does the solution come with pre-packaged ITIL v3 verified processes?
- Does it provide you with the flexibility to change or add processes to match how you actually deliver IT and business services – without having to bring in an army of vendor consultants to make those changes?
- Can it integrate ITSM processes and deliver full visibility into the status of issues and workloads through dashboards and configurable reports?
- Does it include an integrated Configuration Management Database (CMDB) so as to deliver contextual information that can speed incident and problem investigation?
- Does it provide intuitive forms and screens that improve user satisfaction and agent productivity?
- Can services be easily categorised and presented to your users in a single view?
- Is there a central portal that funnels all business requests in to IT, including development and operations?
- Does the solution deliver stellar self-service capabilities?
- Does it provide a robust process management foundation that can be leveraged to automate and streamline other core IT processes and services?
- Do you have the flexibility to deploy the solution on premises as well as in the Cloud?