On our five-year anniversary, we’ve taken the difficult decision to put the ITSM Review on ice whilst we focus our efforts on the continued growth and interest in our sister site, The ITAM Review.
The ITSM Review has been an active community for ITSM professionals between August 2011 and August 2016. In five years we’ve observed the emergence and plateau of cloud as an ITSM delivery platform, the privatization of the ITIL franchise, the transformational effects of mobile and social and the growth of using ITSM practices beyond the IT department.
We’ve also seen the continued demise of the big behemoth outsource contracts and subsequent interest in polite baton passing between smaller specialist outsourcers (SIAM). Of all trends, the most powerful is the disruptive force of DevOps. Perhaps in one hundred years, we will smile about the fact that with DevOps the IT department learnt to a) Proceed in small increments based on progress and b) Listen to the customer (Which begs the question – what in hell were we doing before this revelation?). In the meantime it is changing the landscape of how IT services are delivered.
Our first ever blog post was an interview with Ben Clacy, who at the time was the CEO of itSMF UK. During the interview Ben referred to itSMF as the user group for ITIL. In 2016 ITIL’s halo seems to have slipped somewhat under management in the private sector, perhaps still a predominant force to be reckoned with, but just another utility in the practitioners toolkit.
We’ve been pleased to see the continued convergence between ITAM and ITSM and foresee further integration between these two disciplines. ITAM seeks to mature beyond responding to supplier demands and build long-term process, whilst ITSM seeks the financial, risk and business awareness that ITAM can provide.
We may have increasingly savvy IT users who prefer to use their own kit, we may not actually build anything ourselves but just buy in blocks of services, and we may not know where the network starts and finishes, but the ability to deliver IT services is still fundamental and the skills of those ITSM professionals who can wrangle with the complexity, delight the customer and help businesses innovate will continue to be in high demand. Ultimately, world-class ITSM provides competitive edge, and we hope that worldwide ITSM professionals continue to beat that drum.
The ITSM Review’s back catalogue of articles still attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors a year so we hope to maintain past articles as a permanent public archive and will continue to promote ITSM tool reviews on Tools Advisor (Tool Reviews supported by real customer reviews).
A sincere thank you to everyone that has contributed and shared our posts in the last half decade, we’re proud to have provided a platform for sharing knowledge between passionate ITSM professionals.
It’s Edinburgh baby! IT500 and Scot-Tech will be hosting Scotland’s biggest ITSM and IT Operations Management conference at Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh this October. This conference will follow previous IT500 & Scot-Tech events such as IT in the park 2015 and the IT500 Learning Conference; both of which gained great acclaim from speakers, sponsors and attendees alike. The 2015 conference had over 200 IT professionals gathered in one place to share ideas, hear case studies and learn about new products and services.
Delegates were a good mix from both public and private sectors. Speakers included the CTO of Arnold Clark, CIO of St Andrews University and senior representatives from Standard Life, the Scottish Government and Fife Council. Over 95% of delegates surveyed post event stated that they intend to return with many indicating that they would also be bringing additional colleagues. The event facilitated great networking opportunities with high levels of engagement and a real buzz. New faces, sparkly new products, case studies and workshops – what’s not to love?
On October 25th 2016 the crack team of IT500 & Scot-Tech will take IT in the Park a step further, adding industry hot topics such as SIAM, DevOps and ITAM to complement their existing core messages around best practice and value driven IT services. The agenda promises to be exciting and action packed; here is a list of some of the presenters and experts who will be speaking on the day:
John Custy – Services Management Education, Consulting and Training at JPC Group
Claire Agutter – ITSM professional & online education specialist, The ITSM Zone
So here’s the thing. I’ve worked in IT forever and in ITSM for over 15 years and it never fails to amaze me how many failed or unused Service Catalogues there are kicking about out in industry. As a consultant I’ve seen and heard horror stories of clients paying upwards of £60,000 for a Service Catalogue they were told would solve all their problems only to be presented with a 2 page spreadsheet listing a few business services at the end of the engagement. As an Irish person who remembers the halcyon days of the Celtic Tiger, I’m calling this the ITSM industry’s very own “ah here” moment.
So what is the Service Catalogue and does it deserve all the hype? ITIL defines the Service Catalogue as a database or structured document with information about all live IT services, including those available for deployment. The Service Catalogue is part of the service portfolio and contains information about two types of IT service: customer-facing services that are visible to the business; and supporting services required by the service provider to deliver customer-facing services. In other words the Service Catalogue is a menu of all available services available to the business. It also provides the real link between the business and IT; it defines the business processes based on IT systems enabling IT to focus on ensuring those services perform well. Not too scary so far right?
The Service Catalogue has two main purposes:
To provide and maintain a single source of consistent information on all operational services and those being prepared to be run operationally; essentially acting as a menu for the business to order IT services from. An ex collegue of mine (waves to Pink Elephant UK) used to say that the first rule of ITSM is “always make it easy for people to give you money” aka the Hubbard – Murphy law of ITSM. How can we make it easy for customers to give us lots of lovely money? By giving them a sparkly menu of course.
To ensure that it is widely available to those who are authorised to access it; in order to be effective the Service Catalogue needs to be front and centre of your IT operation so that it’s used consistently. Let’s think about it logically for a moment, if it’s not being used by the business, then what value is it adding? Exactly.
The scope of Service Catalogue Management is to provide and maintain accurate information on all services that are being transitioned or have been transitioned to the production environment ie anything that’s live or about to be very shortly.
Value to the business
Provides a central source of information about the IT services delivered by the service provider organisation.
The Service Catalogue maintained by this process contains:
A customer-facing view of the IT services in use
A description of how they are intended to be used; in clear business centric language; there’s a time and a place for technical jargon and the Service Catalogue isn’t one of them. et’s not frighten the horses here.
A list of the Business processes they enable (this should be fron and centre – remember – make it easy for people to give you money, right?)
A description of the levels and quality the customer can expect for each service, preferable one that links to the appropriate SLA, OLA or contract.
The Business Service Catalogue – This contains details of all IT Services delivered to the Business (in Business language and available to the Business if required). The Business Service Catalogue should contain the relationships with business units and business processes that are supported by each IT Service. Typically these are in the forms of Service Level Agreements (SLAs).
The Technical Service Catalogue – This expands the on the Business Service Catalogue with relationships to supporting services, shared services, components and Configuration Items necessary to support the provision of services to the Business (typically this is an internal document so it’s not available to the Business). The Technical Service Catalogue focuses internally on defining and documenting support agreements and contracts (Operational Level Agreements and contracts with external providers or third parties).
OK, so that’s the basics covered, come back soon for our top tips on implementing a Service Catalogue successfully.
Guest post by our friends Tom Bosch & Cathy Won at BDNA. We met Tom & Cathy at Knowledge 16 earlier this year (Vegas baby!) and got chatting about how we need to be more agile in getting both ITSM and ITAM established.
Today’s IT departments are grappling with the sea change brought by cloud architectures, virtualization, mergers and acquisitions, software audits, compliance, security, upgrades and a host of other initiatives, such as BYOD (bring your own device). These new challenges only exacerbate current complexities in managing company laptops, desktops, servers, operating systems, network hardware, and now, mobile devices and tablets.
As the IT landscape continues to evolve, it is vital that enterprises gain greater control over the various components within their IT infrastructure. Not only do ITAM solutions help companies detect and prevent IT and regulatory risks, they also maximize a company’s productivity.
The challenge is understanding where and how to begin deploying a new IT Asset Management (ITAM) program, or how to leverage existing ITAM solutions in a way that keeps up with these changes. Below are suggestions for how an effective ITAM program can be established in less than 30 days.
Deploy Sooner than Later
Software vendors frequently — and without warning — audit customers to ensure they are in compliance with license contracting terms. An audit can be triggered out of nowhere, and failing one audit could trigger more. For software vendors, it’s simple business logic: Make sure customers pay for any software usage above and beyond what they are entitled. But for customers, providing proof that the organization is using only properly licensed software can be cumbersome and complicated.
According to a recent survey of several hundred IT professionals conducted by Information Week and BDNA, more than 61 percent of companies were audited within the last 18 months, and more than 17 percent of them were audited more than three times within that same 18-month period.
And as anyone who has been through one is aware, software audits carry hefty fines. In addition to the hefty financial burden of paying for the settlement, true-ups and additional IT, legal and PR resources, organizations also find their productivity, credibility, opportunity and reputation impacted post-audit.
Given the high consequences of non-compliance, ITAM can no longer be taken lightly as an optional discipline. The sooner an ITAM program is put into place, the sooner a company is protected from a costly audit.
Know the Answers
More than 85 percent of the BDNA survey’s respondents admitted that they were “accidental” software pirates, either deploying software for which they had never paid or exceeding their number of acquired licenses.
When senior executives ask how to make ITAM projects as simple as they can be, they really want a process that answers these three questions:
What do I have?
Are we using what we’ve purchased?
Are we entitled to all we are using?
By achieving greater visibility, an enterprise achieves some key benefits:
Stronger negotiation position with suppliers
Better security and system integrity
Reduced risk and improved governance
4 Steps to Greater Visibility
The most fundamental goal of greater visibility can be achieved in less than 30 days with these four steps:
1) Discovery: The first step to greater visibility into the enterprise is to discover what assets the enterprise holds. Many enterprises already possess the tools to do part of this, but are not properly integrating the tools into their overall IT management processes. Existing tools such as System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) can often be used to capture raw data about IT assets. Most companies have at least six tools installed and can leverage that data – and ensuring the right processes are in place to do that is key.
2) Reconcile the data: Eliminate unnecessary, irrelevant and duplicate data discovered across multiple tools. That duplicate data can be safely discarded, ridding the enterprise of distracting clutter.
3) Remove redundant and unauthorized applications by identifying overlaps and keeping only those that are being fully utilized.
4) Pair inventory with your procurement process: This improves compliance in preparation for an audit as well as identifying unused resources and licenses, giving you additional leverage to negotiate with your suppliers.
By following these guidelines, enterprises can significantly minimize the risk from an audit and disruption to business as usual in less than a month.
About the Authors
Tom Bosch is a Certified Software Asset Manager who operates as director of Sales at BDNA Corporation. He has spent the last five years working with dozens of corporations solving ITAM issues. With a diverse 30-year background in sales, operations and finance management, Tom has been involved in numerous re-engineering projects in which the focal point remains process simplification.
Cathy Won is director of product marketing at BDNA. Cathy has extensive product marketing and product management experience, including time at NetApp, Juniper Networks, EMC, VERITAS, Legato and Brocade.
A sparkly new global survey from LOGICnow shows that data-driven automation is imminent among IT service providers.
LOGICnow have recently released the results of a survey into data driven automation in the ITSM community. The results overwhelmingly suggest that data driven automation is becoming an important trend in the ITSM world with over 44% of IT Service Providers & MSPs calling themselves “data driven” and of the 54% of IT service providers that collect and store data on customers’ IT performance, 81% were able to use the data to proactively improve service delivery.
So What Is Data Driven Automation & Why Do We Need It?
Data driven automation is:
The ability to automatically transform raw data into insights that can be implemented immediately
Enabling data to automatically trigger corrective actions using analytics beyond simple event/ threshold triggers
So far so Skynet right? The reality is that data driven analytics is becoming more and more prevalent in ITSM as we move from the traditional reactive model to a more proactive stance to improve customer experience. The concept of simply waiting for our customers to ring the Service Desk to report Incidents is becoming less and less useful as we have more sophisticated event monitoring in place to capture alarms, alerts and notifications before they spiral into Incidents that adversely impact our people. It’s not just the Service Desk that are getting more proactive; Problem Management is a key area for getting ahead of the game, from trending to simply going out and asking our support teams and delivery managers what keeps them up at night; proactive activities give you a solid list of potential issues. Extend that out to other processes such as Change Management, Knowledge Management and CSI and you have potentially game changing improvement options.
LOGICnow Research Findings In Their Own Words:
LOGICnow, now a part of the SolarWinds family and still a global market leader in integrated cloud-based IT Service Management (ITSM) solutions, today announced the results of a global research study entitled “The value of data-driven automation to the ITSM community.” The results are based on a survey of over 350 ITSM companies across the US, UK, Europe and Asia Pacific. Results show that the ITSM community is on the cusp of a massive shift towards data-driven automation. This is fueled by the widespread recognition of its importance and commercial potential—and the fear of losing ground to early adopters who are already enjoying measurable commercial benefits.
According to the research, 44 percent of IT service providers and MSPs are already “data-driven” i.e. able to collect, store and act upon performance data drawn from their customers’ IT estates. However, automated processes to produce proactive recommendations and reactions based on this data are currently a step too far for all but eight percent.
The findings also highlight the quantified benefits that those few companies that are using automation are enjoying, including 38 percent seeing client servicing capacity at least double; 72 percent now able to service more complex IT estates; and 21 percent able to identify 100 percent or more ROI from automation.
Key findings from the new LOGICnow research include:
54 percent of IT service providers collect and store data on customers’ IT performance, 81 percent of whom are able to use the data to proactively improve service delivery. Yet only eight percent have put in place automated processes for transforming data into actionable recommendations.
21 percent of these early adopters have enjoyed 100 percent ROI or more; within two years, those experiencing 100 percent or more ROI is expected to rise to 47 percent.
Of those who have not yet deployed data-driven automation strategies (the 92 percent majority): Almost 75 percent believe that doing so will enable them to deliver a range of new services, while 49 percent believe that it is a route to offer more sophisticated services and win more business. 85 percent believe it will give them a competitive advantage, and 52 percent actively fear they will lose out to more advanced competition if they do not adopt automation. Six percent believe either late or no adoption will lead to them going out of business within two years.
“The need to collect and query customers’ IT performance data delivers a proven competitive advantage, regardless of the MSP’s size. Armed with this data, IT service providers have the power to investigate trends, pre-empt threats and deliver more thorough and proactive services,” said Alistair Forbes, Managing Director, SolarWinds MSP (former General Manager, LOGICnow). “However, the most powerful benefits of data use stem from automating the actions and recommendations, empowering engineers to escape routine tasks and focus on value-adding services. Every day that service providers spend not doing this enables their competition to surge further ahead. The industry is predicting a major shift: that data-driven automation will be the norm in less than two years. Considering the progress made so far and the benefits already seen, it is hard to disagree.”
The full report, “The value of data-driven automation to the ITSM community,” is available to download here.
LOGICnow ® delivers the only 100% SaaS, fully cloud-based IT service management (ITSM) platform, backed by collective intelligence and the highest levels of layered security. LOGICnow’s MAX products including Risk Intelligence, Remote Management, Backup & Disaster Recovery, Mail and Service Desk – comprise the market’s most widely-trusted integrated solution. Deployed on over two million endpoints across 240,000 networks, the platform has the industry vision to define and deliver the future of the market. LOGICnow provides the most comprehensive IT security available as well as LOGICcards, the first ever IT notification feature powered by prescriptive analytics and machine learning. LOGICnow’s passion is helping IT professionals secure and manage their systems and data through actionable insights, rewriting the rules of IT. For more information, visit www.logicnow.com.
When making plans to improve IT service management (ITSM), most IT leaders adopt one of two approaches. They either improve what they have by integrating with other IT systems, or they adopt forward-looking projects that leverage IT trends and advancements such as cloud, mobility, social media and IoT to help drive efficiencies and plan for the future.
According to a March 2015 report, “The Future of ITSM,” the top three strategic priorities for most ITSM teams include:
Improved experience for end users
Improved operations-to-ITSM integration for incident and problem management
Improved operations-to-ITSM integration for configuration and change management
“IT leaders must understand and prepare for the impacts these disruptive trends will have on people, their businesses and IT departments, and then determine how they can provide competitive advantage.”
With both incremental and future needs in mind, here are three projects to consider for your five-year ITSM plan:
Project 1: Add IT Asset Management
Without ITAM integration, technicians must rely on verbal discovery, a process that can waste valuable time. By mapping IT assets to the person using the asset, support can quickly determine which devices and software the employee is using, including hardware, OS and application versions, recent updates and warranty expirations. Having easy access to these details aids in decision-making and rapid problem resolution. It also allows analysts to more easily determine if certain devices or configurations are the source of recurring or major incidents.
Furthermore, many IT organisations now automate repetitive tasks and processes, including ordering and assigning IT assets. For example, if someone needs specific software for her job, an automated request and software delivery process can eliminate the need for an analyst to get involved. Automations may also result in an improved user experience. However, software asset management is required as part of the process, in order to track software entitlement and protect the organisation from allocating more licenses than it owns.
Despite the obvious benefits, many organisations have failed to properly define and fund asset management projects in the past. With the rapid rise of IoT devices on the network, however, that may no longer be an option.
Gartner estimates that by 2020, a typical family home could have more than 500 smart devices – a significant increase from the approximately ten we see today. Imagine, then, what that means for average-sized organisations; especially when you consider connected devices are expected to explode from 4.9 billion in 2015 to 25 billion in just five years.
This aspect of an ITAM-to-ITSM project has forward-looking considerations. For many organisations, there isn’t an immediate need to integrate IoT into their ITSM solution. However, as the influx of IoT assets continue, it’s hard to imagine controlling hardware inventory, licenses and security without a proper IT asset management system in place.
Any time IT has to investigate issues on the network, there are costs associated. The longer it takes to find the issue, the more it costs. With potentially millions of IoT devices in a large environment, just determining where those assets are located could quickly overwhelm IT resources. Additionally, connected devices could pose a security risk unless properly managed.
Organisations can prepare for the oncoming IoT surge by taking on the right projects now, and integrating IT asset management into an existing ITSM implementation is a good place to start.
Project 2: Automate Processes and Integrate Tools Wherever Possible
In many institutions, automating processes like inventory discovery or software updates serve as go-to tactics for reducing IT cost. Eliminating the need for support to make a single trip to an employee’s desk to troubleshoot or apply updates often justifies the cost of such tools. With such a rapid ROI, many IT leaders have implemented client and mobile device management. However, only a fraction of these groups have taken the next step and integrated their systems management solutions with their ITSM environment.
If you are operating with reduced budgets, one of the best ways to improve service offerings and prepare for emerging trends is to integrate those tools with the ITSM environment. In doing so, you’re making their capabilities more easily accessible to both service analysts and end users.
As you evaluate how to make this project a reality, look for opportunities to automate wherever possible – inside and outside of your ITSM solution – and then integrate the processes.
For example, HR has procedures for new hires that require employees to complete tax and insurance information. Rather than keep information siloed, why not connect these processes to your ITSM solution to coordinate related IT onboarding requests such as hardware procurement or automatically provisioning the system with the software and network access required for the job?
Once this architecture is in place, your ITSM environment will be better prepared to handle evolving technology trends and the increased workloads expected as IT support is required to extend to non-traditional devices.
Project 3: Improve Self-Service
Many organisations provide basic self-service portals to allow employees to request corporate software. As millennials and other tech savvy employees enter the workforce, it makes sense to empower them to handle common IT requests on their own. Done correctly, self-service projects also improve service desk response times and end user satisfaction.
A recent global study shows that more than 81 percent of end users try to solve their own IT problems before asking for help. With that in mind, it’s beneficial to help them be as successful in their attempts as possible. However, that same research also indicates that less than 18 percent of those users leverage their organisation’s service portal, turning to Google or co-workers for help before calling IT directly. Clearly, there is room for improvement.
For instance, when a user has a problem, a good self-service portal should provide access to a knowledge base of common issues and frequently asked questions. Recent knowledge management innovations simplify the process even further. Now, a user can take a picture of an error on the screen and the system will automatically search for an answer. If additional help is needed, the user can open a support request from the page, using a simple form designed to route the incident to the appropriate group.
The automation example above can also extend to self-service. For example, while many organizations provide automated password resets for customer-facing websites, they haven’t made the same capability available to employees. When a user forgets his/her password, a support person with the appropriate rights has to unlock the account using network tools. An automated process would instead allow the analyst to trigger the reset by simply pressing a button on the incident page. Ultimately, the best way to handle this scenario is with a self-service process that eliminates the need for an analyst to be involved at all.
Whether your self-service portal needs an update, or you need to build one from scratch, this project can leverage your asset management and automation efforts. The good news is, like automation, self-service projects can significantly reduce IT support costs – freeing up the resources necessary for other initiatives that enable your organisation to adapt to future technology demands.
IT leaders are constantly looking for ways to improve IT service management, but no matter how they aim to tackle it, keeping the end user experience and operations-to-ITSM integrations in mind is key. When putting together a five-year ITSM plan, leaders should be cognizant of both the immediate needs of the organisation and what’s to come in the future. Taking steps to prepare for the IoT surge and accompanying IT asset management demands, growing need for automated processes and integrated tools and self-service portals will not only assist IT teams now, but for years to come.
This article was contributed by Marcel Shaw, ITSM and ITAM specialist at LANDESK.
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.
This group test is a review of software products and vendors in the service integration and management (SIAM) market area. Our remit was to explore how toolsets can support and optimise SIAM.
SIAM is a framework for managing multiple suppliers of information technology services and integrating them to provide a single business-facing IT organisation.
The starting point for SIAM is the creation of a SIAM team. This team acts as the single point of accountability and is an effective way of minimizing or mitigating potential multisourcing issues, and optimising the composite IT organisation.
A SIAM function, department or team will typically:
Manage multiple suppliers to give the optimal mix of flexibility, innovation, standard and consistent service.
Be accountable for the integrated services that are being delivered back to the business.
Specify IT service management processes and procedures to be deployed across the enterprise and ensure they are followed.
Act as the central point of control between IT demand and IT supply.
Play a pivotal coordinating role in all service management processes.
For most organisations, just following ITIL best practice isn’t good enough any more. ITIL focuses on delivering end-to-end service via the life cycle approach but provides limited guidance on how to manage a multi-sourced environment. SIAM complements ITIL by focusing on the effective, efficient and safe management of services in a multi sourced environment. The challenge is, while ITIL is well established and has a set of books to guide practitioners and process managers, SIAM is a much newer concept and different people will have different interpretations of what integration truly means.
As more and more organisations are moving towards outsourced, cosourced or multisourced operating models, best practice is evolving and the tools universe is expanding to support SIAM. Tools that don’t currently offer integration functionality will struggle to keep up in an already crowded market, as the need for SIAM isn’t going away. As more and more organisations move towards the flexibility afforded by working with multiple vendors and partners, the need for SIAM will only increase.
For our money; the market for SIAM tools is going in two directions:
Current ITSM tool providers are adding SIAM capabilities to existing solutions
Stand-alone tools are being developed to act as a complimentary add-on to traditional ITSM products.
Ultimately; this is good news for anyone considering the need for a SIAM tool as it means that the buyer can select the best possible fit for the customer organisation.
The Group Test Process
It was really important to me that the group test was fair. Each vendor was asked to fill in a questionnaire and then I had an individual session with each supplier; for them to demo their tool and for me to ask lots of geeky questions. All the vendor presentations were slick and professional; it really helped me when vendors went out of their way to tailor the session to differentiators and functionality that was value driven.
SIAM Group Test – The Players
Key Benefits of SIAM
A single point of contact, ownership & control for IT Services.
Clearly defined roles & responsibilities (preferably nailed down in RACI charts)
Fast set up – can connect, run and configure in a day
Built in support for all ITIL processes & SIAM
Service-Flow was founded in 2011 when CEO and co-founder Juha Berghall identified the need for integration. As organisations moved to multi sourcing models, integration was becoming complex, expensive and slow, a real pain point in the market. The idea behind Service-Flow was that there must be another way; one that was driven by the customer and service provider rather than being held to ransom by technology.
Fast forward to 2016 and Service-Flow has offices in Helsinki and London with over 130,000 end users and over half a million messages being transferred across the tool each month.
Service-Flow can be connected to any tool with an interface. The product can provide ready-to-use adapters that can be taken into use without any coding or development work on the linked system. All adapters are part of the Service-Flow SaaS meaning that they’re automatically and continuously maintained and developed.
Out of the box integrations include:
ServiceNow, BMC, HPE, CA, LANDESK, Efecte, Jira, Microsoft.
Each integration is supported by a defined read or edit access for the management of all configurations related to a single end point.
Supplier & Contract Management
Service-Flow clients can easily on-board new suppliers. In practise this means that we have technology that adapts to any interface, meaning supplier and the end-user clients can keep their interface and related ITSM tool “as is”. Typically these supplier tools are connected via an ESB (Enterprise Service Bus) or similar integration platform which mirrors ITSM tools interface. More importantly, Service-Flow SaaS also enable all parties to keep their processes “as is” since mapping, data translations and business rules are defined and configured “in the middle” via Service-Flow UI. This makes on-boarding of new suppliers so much easier since processes and data models don’t have to be equally defined in ITSM tools.
When new supplier connection is set-up (takes a couple of days) it will automatically become part of the SaaS solution and has SLA of 99.9% / 24/7 and is monitored by Service-Flow Ops.
Industry Best Practice
Service-Flow SaaS supports all ITIL processes, but is not limited to ITIL/ITSM related data and process integration.
End To End Ticket Management
Even though most tools use industry standards in their API’s, the way they use them and the data models are always unique. Service-Flow’s technology adapts to these different ways of communication and displays the result in a common way. The product can manage master ticket data by either including this info into the synchronized ticket data, or by setting up a separate integration to sync needed master data. The future tool will provide tools for doing lookups to validate the data used in process integrations.
Reporting & Analytics
Service-Flow provides clear and understandable dashboards to integrated related variables. The views are for message relaying, integration configuration and integration related variables such as pass-through times, error counts etc.
System Access Options
Web & Mobile.
Service-Flow aims to enable the digitisation of IT processes in a typical use case, an Incident is logged and passes via multiple suppliers. Multiple reference numbers are created, one for the customer and one for the vendor so that the ticket can be tracked across the entire lifecycle. One of my favourite things about the tool is that when you log an Incident, you get a picture of a motivational whale that says, “everything’s going to be ok”. Can we have this feature in all IT tools please? The user interface is clear and easy to follow; all information is available in a predefined format with a conversation view that most users will recognise from Facebook, LinkedIn etc.
Established as the world’s first SaaS product for service integration, Service-Flow provides a ready-to-use, online integration service for connecting disparate ITSM tools used by companies and their IT service providers, as well as subcontractors, partners and other suppliers. As a result of this, Service-Flow are becoming more visible in the ITSM market as the need for service integration increases year on year. What really impressed me about ServiceFlow was their commitment to the user experience (motivation whale anyone?) as well as the extensive list ITSM tools it can integrate with. The speed of deployment coupled with the ease of integration with other ITSM tools makes Service-Flow an ideal choice to supercharge an existing ITSM tool into one that can handle SIAM quickly, effectively and securely with market leading subject matter expertise.
Lets face it, Cherwell need no introduction. A regular presence at industry events such as the itSMF UK conference and SITS, along with their “80% of the functionality at 20% of the cost” ethos, Cherwell are talked about in industry as one of the few ITSM tools that could compete with the juggernaut that is ServiceNow.
Cherwell was founded in 2004. Its first product launch was in 2007 and they now have over 1,000 customers worldwide. They acquired Express Metrix in 2014 and now have a host of partners including T Systems and Pink Elephant.
Cherwell can integrate via:
Web Service / API
both REST and SOAP supported.
link and import (SQL, MySQL, Oracle, OLE DB, ODBC).
inbound, actionable email monitor; and
ad-hoc & automated outbound notifications.
Scheduled & ad-hoc data import via CSV.
Ad-hoc data export from e.g. lists.
Reports can be run on a scheduled & ad-hoc basis (multiple formats including PDF, PNG, CSV).
Pre-formatted Excel reports can be run on a scheduled & ad-hoc basis (e.g. for finance departments).
Other / bespoke applications via command line
Any application that can be controlled via the command line, launched from Cherwell’s automation engine.
OOTB integration plugins to Bomgar, AD, Exchange, Skype for Business, Twitter, etc.
All security and permissions are role based and all access to the application is audited in a system audit log
Supplier & Contract Management
New suppliers will have a new record created, to reflect the on-boarding process phase of the supplier. Then the supplier is mapped to the appropriate catalogue items (and the individual tasks that are covered by the new supplier). The end users normally are not aware of the new supplier, as all automation happens behind the scenes. Where a new supplier is a preferred supplier; any new requests that include the supplier work unit/ task will be assigned to the new supplier. Existing tickets are not impacted.
Cherwell only charges for licences for [IT] users, there is no concurrent licence consumed for portal usage or integrations.
Industry Best Practice
Cherwell aligns with the ITIL framework (PinkVerified for 11 processes). Whilst not certified for COBIT and ISO 20000, there are elements from these frameworks.
End To End Ticket Management
Cherwell collects the information from internal and external supplier sources. This information can then then be utilised across the Cherwell solution, such as in the integration supplier service catalogue, incident management, or change management, for example. Many integrations have been performed previously; others can be integrated using common integration methods such as API, database links, or email.
Cherwell manages master data via an integrated CMDB. Each CI can be integrated with others and/or external sources. An example is a computer [CI] which has a dependency on software licenses, installed software, and location and ownership data.
Cherwell manages the multiple SLAs, OLAs and Contracts via a colour coded widget for Supplier Managers to use.
Reporting & Analytics
All data in Cherwell can be reported on for historical and real-time data analysis. Cherwell provides over 150 reports based on ITIL best practices. Additional reports can be created using Cherwell Report Writer and Dashboard Manager. Data can also be exported as a CSV file or exported to a formatted Excel document.
There are 4 main ways to use Cherwell’s powerful, critically acclaimed reporting and dashboard capabilities:
Dashboards & Widgets
System Access Options
· Browser User-Interface – for access anywhere/anytime.
· Smart Client User-Interface – Cherwell’s smart-client auto-deploys to the desktop in a matter of seconds for a far superior experience than working in a web browser all day.
· Mobile User-Interface – Cherwell Mobile provides on-the-go access to common service desk functions for your technicians with iOS and Android apps or browser access for other devices.
· Outlook User-Interface – Anything that can be done on the desktop can be done from within the Outlook UI including the functions within custom Business Objects that you may develop.
· Cherwell has a mergeable applications (mApp) exchange; where users can download, and share new applications to the Cherwell platform.
Cherwell has existing integrations with a number other vendors; such as JIRA, BMC, Bomgar, CA, Dell, ServiceNow, FireScope, Infor, Lansweeper, Microsoft, etc. The initial view or landing page displays a process view showing different contracts and a Service Catalogue to underpin Request Fulfilment. There is a preferred suppliers section that maps contract’s scope cost and performance to catalogue items; a really nice feature that will make the Service Catalogue Manager’s job easier and more efficient.
On-boarding new suppliers is an easy, wizard driven process, which prompts the user to select tasks from a predefined checklist. The product can flex to different security models and has role based permissions.
The MAP xchange has been redesigned to be more dynamic and the search function has been improved.
End to end ticket management is seamless with colour based widgets to track Incident SLAs across multiple suppliers and Changes can be labelled as impacting via Task Management so that only service impacting Changes will be visible to partner organisations.
Cherwell are major players in both the ITSM and SIAM markets and from reviewing the product, it’s not hard to see why. The tool combines enterprise level ITSM capabilities with a SIAM component that lets an organisation use a multisourced environment seamlessly. If you are looking for an all encompassing tool that supports both ITSM and SIAM then Cherwell is a great choice.
Impressive list of OOTB alignment with other ITSM tools
Excellent integration options via Webhooks & Webmethods
Scheduled tasks to make life as easy as possible for Supplier Managers
Flexible; interfaces include Microsoft Azure, Gmail & Bomgar
Vivantio have been making SaaS based software since 2003 and have offices in the US and the UK.
Vivantio has an open API to integrate with other systems, but by far a better way to do this is via HTTP Webhooks and Web Methods. Out of the box integrations include: JIRA, CentraStage (AutoTask) and Microsoft TFS. The company also have working examples of CopperEgg monitoring, New Relic, Twilio communications platform, Bomgar and ServiceNow ITSM. New connections can be easily established, especially if the other vendors also allow integration via Webhooks and Web Methods or an Open API.
There is a full Roles and Permissions module built into the main Vivantio application. Different Partner Portals can be built to give access to the information and functionality needed by each potential partner. Roles and permissions can be set on a per user basis.
Supplier & Contract Management
It depends on the level of integration and requirements for each partner. It could be as simple as setting up a supplier portal for the assignment of work to the supplier enabling them to work within the portal, thus measuring work sent to supplier and any SLAs around the contracts with the supplier.
If there is a need for integration with a Supplier’s own toolset, this is achieved by setting up Webhooks and Web Methods within the admin area. This is all configurable within the Vivantio toolset and would not require any additional development work.
The tool supports the effective management of commercial tasks such as managing contracts, procurement, service level penalties and invoicing via the use of Custom Forms and Fields.
Industry Best Practice
Vivantio is aligned to ITIL.
End To End Ticket Management
The tool acts as an integration engine; taking multiple data streams in disparate formats from multiple partners transforming them into one standardised pre agreed format by utilising either Open API or WebHooks and WebMethods. Vivantio supports all the standard formats within Webhooks; JSON, XML, SOAP.
The product manages the exchange of master ticket data by using the built-in functionality of the ITSM toolset. Vivantio at its core is an ITSM toolset that covers the full ITIL spectrum. Vivantio supports tickets of different types with the possibility that tickets of different type can be linked; Incident > Problem > Change. Tickets can link to different object types as well, Assets Client Callers and equally Assets can link to other Assets, etc. Built-in functionality of the ITSM toolset around ticket and task management and Escalation Rules and Full Business Rules engines. The tool applies multiple SLAs (running in parallel) to Incidents by use of tasks within a single ticket or multiple SLAs running on the same ticket.
Master data management is all controlled within the Admin area of the toolset and the use of bulk uploads and the Vivantio Integration Service Component.
Reporting & Analytics
There are built-in reports and dashboards that can be configured or new reports can be written with an easy-to-use Report Builder tool. Once the reports are written, they can be published to the Vivantio application so a library of reports can be built up. These reports can be scheduled or published to the Self-Service or Partner portals. The report builder itself can be used as a wizard type of tool guiding the user to writing their reports or the full SQL can be exposed for more complex and advanced uses.
System Access Options
All applications are web-based, but this can be split into the main application, mobile application and the Self-Service Portal application.
The Vivantio ethos is to deliver flexible, reliable, trusted ITSM software to empower the delivery of service excellence to the customer organisation. From the product demonstration, this ethos was clear to see as the flexibility of the product spans interfaces from everything; from Microsoft to Google.
Automation is used to great effect, the Vivantio product has an expression builder based on business rules that automates the criteria for a ticket being sent to the hub vision centre for processing, removing the risk of duplication. The integration options are clearly built with practicality in mind, one available workflow is an integration with Active Directory that automatically identifies a person’s line manager when a Service Request has been raised and automatically prompts them to review and action the request, linking them to their local Request Fulfilment portal.
What really impressed me about Vivantio was their dedication to making life easier for beleaguered Ops and Supplier Managers. The use of technology to not only support integration but also automate pre-defined responses to ticket event, really makes this a strong contender in the tools universe. Vivantio would be a great option for small to medium organisations looking for an ITSM tool that can also support a SIAM environment.
Fantastic tool for organisations that need an integrated ITSM and SIAM solution. The sheer breadth of the Cherwell experience means that the tool is easy to use with seamless integrations. Some of my favourite things about the Cherwell tool are:
Impressive list of integration options
Enterprise level reporting capabilities
Colour based widgets to view SLA clocks making it easy to track tickets across entire lifecycle via multiple suppliers
Ease of use; codeless functionality means that changes can be made easily via drag & drop or wizards without a single line of code needing to be deployed.
Disclaimer Scope & Limitations
The information contained in this review is based on sources and information believed to be accurate as of the time it was created. Therefore, the completeness and current accuracy of the information provided cannot be guaranteed. Readers should therefore use the contents of this review as a general guideline and not as the ultimate source of truth.
Similarly, this review is not based on rigorous and exhaustive technical study. The ITSM Review recommends that readers complete a thorough live evaluation before investing in technology. For further information please read the ‘Group Tests’ section on our Disclosure page.
It’s ServiceNow baby! ServiceNow have announced their Now Forum event schedule for Europe and will be visiting Paris, Frankfurt, Amsterdam and London in October. Now Forums are events for ServiceNow customers and partners and are packed with content covering everything from key note speeches and real life customer case studies to thought leadership and sparkly new functionality.
For our money, if you are a ServiceNow customer or are in the market for a new ITSM toolset, these events are well worth going to. The event is free to attend and ServiceNow provide some great content. Along with sales presentations there’s also great break out sessions, thought leadership keynotes and case studies from recent customers so you can get a real feel for the tool and how it can benefit your organisation.
Are you planning to go to one of the Now forums? Let us know in the comments!
Your business has been relying on Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 for some time now, but it is becoming increasingly apparent that you will soon need to have things ready for a transition to Microsoft’s latest offering — Windows 10.
With Windows 10 comes a set of changes that your IT team may not yet be entirely familiar with, such as new security configurations, how to handle application management or creating policies around Windows 10 branching.
As your enterprise prepares to migrate to Windows 10, you have thousands of users to consider. This is no time to be understaffed, as there will be many moving parts for you to keep track of and under control. This naturally raises the question among IT professionals. How are we to staff our Windows 10 migration team correctly?
Whether you are planning on having a third party help you as a service integrator, considering a hybrid approach, or thinking about running it internally or via your Business As Usual (BAU) teams, it is time to start thinking about what roles to fill for a successful migration. Of course, when you are heading up the migration effort for tens of thousands of employees and a similar amount of devices including desktop and mobile assets, you’ll need to choose the best migration command and control tools to assist the new hires for the team and help them work more efficiently.
This is a project that calls for team stability, and you would be best served by recruiting resource (internal or external) that will be with you for the long haul. Preparation time for a Windows 10 migration in an enterprise could take as long as 9 to 12 months, according to a recent article at Computerworld. During that period, your new or contracted staff will be collecting pertinent information, making images, testing them to see how well they deploy before moving on to readiness tracking/scheduling migration.
You’ll want to define the roles that must be included in the migration team as well as which ones are optional, so you can deploy your resources as efficiently as possible. One of the more important tasks is to determine which skill sets will be required in your team.
Which Roles Should You Include?
A number of roles must be staffed for your successful Windows 10 migration. While every enterprise is different and will naturally have unique circumstances and requirements for staffing, the following is a list of roles that you should most likely need to include to ensure that the migration will go as smoothly as possible.
Key Stakeholders.Whilst these resources might not be involved daily with your project, their sponsorship and accountability for escalation is a critical element for project success. They should be the equivalent of a high-level steering committee, ensuring that the project is delivering to the requirements laid out in the business case and agreed by this same group.
Program Manager. You need someone to be accountable for the direction and success of your Windows 10 migration. They should manage the overall budget, ensure the project is moving forward and take the key decisions in conjunction with the businesses that are in scope.
Team Managers: A number of manager specialties will also need to be staffed, such as Application Managers. Project Managers, Risk Managers, Technical Project Managers and Deployment Managers. These people will be responsible for keeping their activities on track and reporting status to the Programme Manager.
Process & Infrastructure Experts. Expertise in process and infrastructure will be invaluable for your team, so make room for Process Experts and Infrastructure Experts before you begin the migration. They are responsible for your end to end solution design. Get it right here and the teams below will be much more efficient.
Engineering & Software Development. It is difficult to imagine a Windows 10 migration effort that does not make use of Software Developers and Engineers. You will need to utilize some Build Engineers to ready your gold OS image(s) and software re-development experts to help ensure that all applications are made compatible with Windows 10 (especially in-house apps).
Application Discoverers and Application Packagers. When it comes to applications, make sure to hire both Application Discoverers and Application Packagers to support your readiness efforts. It is likely that many applications will need to go through the factory for compatibility and testing.
Business Liaison Officers.In order to coordinate your activities with the various business teams involved, you will want to include Business Liaison Officers and Programs Officers. This role will ensure buy-in for your project within the user base and create the important link between your project goals and their business impacts/priorities.
Logistics Coordinators, Communications Experts, and Migration Schedulers.A team of logistics coordinators and schedulers that are focused on keeping things organized, especially when you are migrating many thousands of end users is important to drive migration numbers and ensure any deployment capacity is filled to maximum.
Deployment Engineers. Whilst many Windows 10 projects will be delivering multiple zero-touch in-place upgrades, there are still the hardware replacements and rebuilds to manage on-site. This is where a dedicated deployment team can help to drive the migration success and be the ‘feet on the street’ to help with those first-day migration issues.
Procurement. Not a dedicated project role, but an important function in the logistics chain. Ensuring a point of contact and liaison with the hardware and software vendors will guarantee that this function will not become a bottleneck.
Which Roles Are Optional?
Your organization’s definition of “optional” may be very different from similar businesses in the industry. However, it is good to keep in mind the roles that are of lower priority so you can deploy the most needed human resources first. Circumstances may change where what was once optional is now needed to keep the project on track.
For example, you may find that you can do without communications experts if you find that end users can do just fine with the available literature and training materials. Likewise, user acceptance testers who check on how Windows 10 works with the rank and file may be optional, depending on the knowledge and experience of the majority of your end users.
What Skill Sets Are Needed?
While organizing a list of various roles that you’ll need to staff before the Windows 10 migration is necessary, it is also worth noting the skill sets required to make your project a success.
Critical skill sets needed for the migration include asset management and role-based management, noted a recent report from BetaNews. Experience in centralized system packaging is also needed (making an image or through a bundled deployment).
You’ll also want someone on your team who is skilled at managing reboots and ensuring that all implementations are kept track of during installation.
It is not always going to be easy to fill in holes in your workforce, especially when talent is in high demand and your competitors are in the same position regarding staffing up for a Windows 10 migration. Keep in mind that your road to Windows 10 could be smoother if you use a dedicated IT project management tool. For more information about the Juriba’s Dashworks IT project management tool click here.