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)
- Optimised cost of services
- Streamlined management of IT services
- Increased customer satisfaction
- Consistently applied processes
- A more transparent IT landscape
Product Strengths & Weaknesses
- Market leading technology
- User friendly interface
- Fast set up – can connect, run and configure in a day
- Built in support for all ITIL processes & SIAM
- Collaborative approach
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.
|Integration||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.
|Security||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.
- Impressive list of integration options
- Enterprise level reporting capabilities
- Codeless functionality
- Integrated ITSM & SIAM functionality
- Role based security
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.
|Integration||Cherwell can integrate via:
|Security||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:
|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.
|Integration||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.|
|Security||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.
SIAM Group Test – Winners
Overall Winner: Cherwell
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.