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Incident and Problem Management are such mainstays of an ITSM tool, it is quite hard to find a way to dig through the differentiators.
The process and the related workflows themselves are so seemingly straight forward, are there really any ways to improve?
Not only that, but it has to be looked at in the context of the trends in the industry to focus on the end-user’s experience. That’s all fine when we take a look at the options available to an end-user logging an incident from a self-service portal.
But in reality, people still call service desks.
The answer is – there are ways to improve, and in many ways they are subtle features that make tools stand out.
This review bought out nuances and features to help make a couple of mature processes look exciting again.
- Stylish use of forms, questions and linkage to knowledge bases
- Resourcing and task planning
- Real-time end-user analytics
These tools do more than just provide a mechanism to move an incident or a problem from A to B.
It looks to improve the lifecycle, and practice the points of the Process Certification that vendors put themselves through.
A word should be said, though, about the knowledge levels of the people who market these products day in, day out.
I would like to share an insightful tweet from Forrester’s Stephen Mann
Are we at a point where we think more about the quality of a software vendor’s people than we do the product when “judging” them? #random
— Stephen Mann (@stephenmann) March 13, 2013
In both the reviews I have done, it is always good to work from qualified consultants who have a very good understanding of balancing what the tool can do, functionally, against what the real world sometimes requires.
The devil for all these tools is in the detail of the customisation – any tool, with dedicated customisation, and knowledge, pragmatic consultancy can get the best out of any record-pushing mechanism.
Having replaced many a tool in large-scale ITSM deployments, I often recognised shortcomings in both the outgoing and the incoming tool-set.
But the key remains – can the vendor impart a sense of comfort that they not only understand their tool, the processes that need to be translated to workflow, but can they identify ways to improve?
Having people who not only understand the tool, but also recognise the need to encompass evolving best practices goes a long way to make a tool stand out from its peers in the crowd.
For the purposes of this review, vendors were classified based on their primary market focus, and product capabilities.
|Target Market Size||Specialist ITSM Functions||Discovery Own Tool/Third Party Integration||Event Management & Monitoring Own Tool/Third Party Integration||
Real-Time End-User Analytics
|Axios assyst||Large Very Large||Own||Third Party Integration|
|BMC FootPrints||Medium Large||Own||Own (via Integration)|
|Cherwell Service Management||Small Medium Large Very Large||Own||Third Party Integration|
|Nexthink||Small Medium Large Very Large||Own||Third Party Integration||
|TOPdesk||Small Medium Large||Own||Third Party Integration|
The table below shows a high level overview of the competitive differences between the tools
- Elevator Pitch – An independent assessment of what this module has to offer
- Strengths – key positive points, highlighted during the review
- Weaknesses – areas perceived to be lacking, during the review
|Axios assyst||A tidy interface, driven by product hierarchies, and backed up with a potentially powerful CMDB.Work put in to customise the Info Zone, Guidance and FAQs can make the job of the Service Desk, Analysts, and even the end user interaction easier||
|BMC FootPrints||An improved interface and comprehensive coverage of Incident and Problem Management, with some added innovation to make scheduling work a little easier for Service Desks and support staff alike.||
|Cherwell Service Management||Cherwell use intelligent interfaces and well constructed forms to automate the basics of the processes in a comprehensive and informative way||
|Nexthink||If systems management monitoring takes care of servers, Nexthink presents you all you need to know about the end-user side of the coin.Nexthink sits apart from the nuts and bolts of Service Management tooling, but offers guidance to analysts to help expedite resolution with real-time End-user IT Analytics, integrated into major ITSM tools to significantly reduce problem diagnosis times||
|TOPdesk||TOPdesk adds Kanban-type resource scheduling to add a new dimension onto Incident and Problem Management||
Approximate number of customers for each vendor:
- Axios assyst – 1000+
- BMC FootPrints – Approximately 1000 customers across Europe and 5000 worldwide
- Cherwell Service Management – 400+
- Nexthink – 400
- TOPdesk – 3150 approximate TOPdesk Enterprise customers, >5000+ unique customers in total
|Axios assyst||A tidy interface with a lot of focus on driving the product hierarchies for categorisation.||Pre-populated forms and scripted guidance for the service desk.Chat function for support staff to collaborate.||Axios focus on ways to automate as much as possible.Backed up with a very comprehensive CMDB structure at its core, work put into the configuration of a system up front will reap rewards in efficiency down the line.|
|BMC FootPrints||Great to see a vendor improve from customer (and analyst) feedback and the result is a modern looking tool that handles the “bread and butter” tasks of Incident and Problem efficiently||FootPrints links to Microsoft Exchange to display a view of the support staff resources and allocation of repetitive tasks.Logging by Type, Category and potentially Symptom adds an appealing level of granularity.||BMC FootPrints is not alone in exploring and incorporating a view of the support staff resources, and it is evolving to be a very smart looking, mid-market offering that can punch above its weight.|
|Cherwell Service Management||Cherwell add a number of features that make the process speedier – and their Specifics forms provide a great touch in terms of initial investigation.||Cherwell get the balance right, with customisable features (forms and macros) and include a breadcrumb trail throughout the lifecycle of the record.||Cherwell recognise that it is not just IT functions that need to use the tool – the Impact and Urgency in business language (Incident) and their other features all make it a roundly comprehensive tool to appeal to organisations of all sizes.|
|Nexthink||Nexthink is not a traditional ITSM tool. Instead it offers a chance for support analysts to proactively resolve issues faster by means of End-User real-time analytics||It’s power comes from being able to assess elements from an end-user perspective, and integrates with existing ITSM tools to provide a comprehensive view of an end-user’s machine.||There are a number of ways that Nexthink and ITSM tools can co-exist – Nexthink is a powerful enabler for much more proactive incident and problem resolution.|
|TOPdesk||TOPdesk use wizards and key word matching to help drive efficient Incident and Problem logging and resolution||TOPdesk takes resource planning to another level, planning shift patterns, and operating a Kanban style method of dragging and dropping tasks to less loaded support staff.||The whole combination of the resource board, the way their task board can focus on the most pressing first, and their links to Knowledge Management made this a very attractive tool to review,There were some configuration niggles which can all be customised (some more easily than others) but it is certainly heading in the right direction.|
BEST IN CLASS
|Vendor||End-User Base||Product Characteristics|
|Cherwell Service Management||
Best in Class (Small-Med-Large) – BMC FootPrints
BMC FootPrints have taken on board customer feedback, and even observations from previous reviews to make subtle but very noticeable adjustments to their interface.
The result is a tool that offers more intuitive investigation diagnostics as calls are being logged, and is continually looking to improve.
FootPrints is getting a real benefit from being part of the larger BMC brand, but is fast establishing itself as a tool to appeal across the entire market-place.
Best in Class (Small-Med-Large-V Large) – Cherwell
As with FootPrints, the inclusion of diagnostic forms, within records, linked to the categories makes Cherwell stand out when logging Incidents, in particular.
Best in Class (All Tools):TOPdesk
The inclusion of the Kanban-style resourcing board, but also the way in which tasks can be placed and moved about really made this stand out, in terms of the way that innovation within a tool can really make processes less cumbersome.
Honourable Mention: Nexthink
This tool deserves to stand apart from its Service Management cousins.
It adds a unique element, which can truly help drive efficiencies, especially where Problem Management is concerned.
With the right business drivers and strategic vision, not to mention strong partnership with some of the ITSM industry big-hitters, Nexthink’s real-time end-user analysis can help in so many more service management disciplines. I feel we have only scratched the surface of its potential.
Further details for each vendor can be found by using the links below:
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.