Do Your Metrics Tell a Story?

Do your service management metrics tell a story? No? No wonder nobody reads them.

That was a tweet I sent a few weeks ago, and it’s had some resonance. I know that during my practitioner days, I missed many opportunities to tell a compelling story. I wanted everyone else to get the message I was trying to communicate, and couldn’t figure out why my metrics weren’t being acted upon. I had a communications background before getting into IT, so I should have known better.

Facts are not the only type of data

I’ve blogged about metrics a few times before. In “Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics: 7 Ways to Improve Reception of Your Data” I shared a story about how my metrics had gone astray. I was trying to make a point to reinforce my perspective on an important management decision. In what became a fairly heated meeting, I found myself saying at least three different times, “the data shows…” Why wasn’t it resonating? Why was I repeating the same message and expecting a different result?

readingGo back and read that article to see how it resolved. The short answer: I lost.

I’d love to live in a world where only objective, factual data is considered when making decisions or influencing others; but we have to recognize two important realities:

  1. Other types of data, especially personal historical observations that often create biases, are more powerful than objective data ever could be.
  2. Your “objective” factual data can actually reduce your credibility, if it is inconsistent with the listener’s personal observations. As the information age moves from infancy into adolescence, we are becoming less trusting of numbers, not more.

So, giving reasons to change someone’s mind is not only ineffective, it can also make things worse. Psychological research indicates that providing facts to change opinion can cement opposing opinion more deeply than before.

Information, whether accurate or not, can be found that backs up almost any perspective. Why should I trust your data any more than the data I already have? Read the comments section from almost any news story about a controversial subject. How many minds get changed?

We need a reason to care

Why should I pay attention to, act on, or react to, your metrics if there is no compelling reason for me to do so? We have to give our audience a reason to care. We want the audience of ITSM metrics to do something as a result of the metrics. The metrics should tell a story that is compelling to your intended audience.

Let’s look at a fairly common metric – changes resulting in incidents. Frequently we look at the percentage of changes that generated major incidents (or any incidents at all). Standing alone, what does this metric say? Maybe it shows a trend of the percentage going up or down over time. Even so, what action or decision should be made as a result of that data? Without context we can look for several responses:

Service Desk Manager: “Changes are going in without proper vetting and testing.”

Application Development Manager: “We need to figure out why the service desk is creating so many incidents.”

IT Operations Director: “Who is responsible for this?”

CIO: “zzzzzzzz”

Who has the appropriate response? The CIO of course (and not just because she’s the boss)! The reality is that the metric means nothing at all. Which is kind of sad really, since there may actually be something to address.

Maybe the CIO will initiate some sort of action, but not until she hears a compelling story to accompany the metric. If the metric itself doesn’t tell the story, decisions will be made based on the most compelling anecdote, whether or not it is supported by the metric.

Metrics need to tell a story

At a new job around 15 years ago, I inherited a report that had both weekly (internal IT) and monthly (business leadership) versions. Since the report was already being run, I assumed it must be useful and used. The report consisted of the standard ITSM metrics:

  • number of calls opened last month vs. historical
  • incident response rate by team and priority
  • incident resolution rate by team and priority
  • highest volume of incidents by service
  • etc.

However after a few months I realized that nobody paid attention to these reports, which surprised me. According to ITIL these are all good metrics to pull. I saw useful things in the data, and even made some adjustments to support operations as a result. However, my adjustments were limited in scope, and the improvements I saw initially didn’t hold and so everyone simply went back to the “old ways”. The Help Desk team that reported to me did experience a sustained significant improvement in their first contact resolution rate, but all other areas of support saw nothing but modest improvements over time.

The fact is that the reports didn’t tell a compelling story. There were other factors as well, but looking back now I can see that the lack of a consistently compelling metrics story held us back from achieving the transformation for which we were looking.

So your metrics need to tell a story, but how?

The traditional ITSM approach to presenting data does a poor job at changing minds or driving action, and it can actually strengthen opposing perspectives. Can you think of an example where presenting numbers drove a significant decision? Most likely, the numbers had a narrative that was compelling to the decision maker. It could be something like, “our licensing spend will decrease by 25% over the next three years, and 10% every year after.” That would be a pretty compelling story for a CFO decision maker.

In my next article, we’ll look at how metrics can tell a compelling story.

Image credit

The $6BN Gorilla

One of my personal indicators gauging the success of an enterprise software vendor in a market is the ‘grumble factor’.

This is an anecdotal measure that says – you can usually tell who is doing well in a market by the volume of other vendors grumbling about them. Successful vendors in the ascendancy are often accused of being ‘aggressive’, ‘discounting all over the place’ and ‘killing the market’ etc.

This is certainly the case for ServiceNow. One close competitor named them ‘The Gorilla in the market’.

On a recent analyst call with Frank Slootman, President and CEO of ServiceNow, we learned that the Gorilla is now weighing in at healthy $6BN market cap on the NYSE scales. Mummy Gorilla is very proud.

Summary

  • Last quarter revenue $102.2 million, 80% increase compared to the second quarter of 2012, and an increase of 19% from the first quarter of 2013.
  • Added 138 new customers in the second quarter, 1,778 total, customer renewal rate of 94.2%
  • ServiceNow were not in the black for the quarter. All resources are said to be feeding the machine.

(Source)

ServiceNow have slowly doubled their original entry price of $18 [See image below].

ServiceNow Stock price since IPO, June 29th 2012 (NYSE: NOW) Dowsing Rods say go long.
ServiceNow Stock price since IPO, June 29th 2012 (NYSE: NOW) Dowsing Rods say go long.

Realistic Cap?

$6BN? Really? The scope of the market says $6BN, but do ServiceNow have sufficient competitive differentiation to warrant $6BN? It’s not like their offering is totally unique, despite what Frank might be telling investors:

“Our customers are actually frustrated because it’s tough to negotiate with a vendor who doesn’t have much competition, you know,”

Hmm.

Slootman has been keen to dress down any ‘dotcom’ hysteria over their market capitalization in recent interviews. ServiceNow are clearly not shooting for any ‘best place to work’ gongs anytime soon:

“We don’t do all the lattes and back rubs and all that. My favorite perk is high-equity value,”

The ServiceNow public listing was said to restore credibility to the technology IPO process after Facebook’s listing [See image below]. Note the recent Facebook jolt in price when it was revealed mobile ads were working.

Facebook [NASDAQ:FB] IPO MAY '12 vs. ServiceNow [NYSE:NOW] IPO JUNE '12
Facebook [NASDAQ:FB] IPO MAY ’12 vs. ServiceNow [NYSE:NOW] IPO JUNE ’12
My final hobbyist chart tracks ServiceNow versus older enterprise software industry stalwarts. Most striking is the flat green line. Medic?

ServiceNow vs Industry Stalwarts (HP, IBM, CA, BMC)
ServiceNow vs Industry Stalwarts (HP, IBM, CA, BMC)

ONNAMA (Oh no not another marketing acronym)

Frank made it clear, via their “SRM” vision that the Gorilla is done shaking the ITSM tree for now and is going to beat it’s chest in other verticals such as HR, Finance and Facilities etc. Let’s apply what we’ve learnt and use our ITSM logic in these other disciplines. I like the sentiment but I’m not convinced by the market definition. I’m not sure ServiceNow are either. Thank goodness.

“So is Service Relationship Management a new software “category” No. Or at least we think not. It’s just a term that ServiceNow is using to help customers think beyond ITSM”

Maybe we could just call it… err, IT? Have we not always done that? Let the good stuff permeate the enterprise based on solid reputation and successful execution against business outcomes, not silly definitions.

The Next Salesforce.com?

Business Insider touted ServiceNow as the next Salesforce.com. If Salesforce.com is aiming to own the mindshare of the CMO, ServiceNow has the opportunity to own the IT service delivery plumbing and mindshare of the CIO (or perhaps even COO if Bill gets his promotion). But they have plenty of competitors on their heels vying for this space.

For this journey ServiceNow will need to be a lot more ‘App’ and a lot less ‘Toolkit’. Market trends say Mr HR director wants to build and deploy his own solutions. Not get bored waiting for IT to deliver it. IT can own the plumbing, governance and can help automate but ultimately departments will want the freedom to do their own thing, building and fiddling themselves. Salesforce.com got there through the use of ‘Editions’ and converting their platform to a marketplace for niche apps to plug into.

Missing ITAM Savvy

As an ITAM specialist I was disappointed to see little mention in the roadmap around ITAM features, building on the first elements in Berlin. I look forward to looking at this in more depth. This is a significant hole in the ServiceNow portfolio.

The strategic partnership with BDNA can only be considered a short term band-aid unless it is truly embedded in the platform. BDNA have good content to offer but it’s not exactly aligned to the ‘Cloud IT Company’ rhetoric. The last time I looked at BDNA it required the install of an Oracle database and whole rack of kit to run it.

Salesforce.com swallowed up a small army of tech firms to bolster their current $26BN valuation and market dominance, I expect ServiceNow to do the same. Watch this space.

Images from Google Finance

Integrations Group Test line up announced

Winning team: Which tool set will lead our Integration Group Test by Ros Satar (…and gratuitous shot of Chris Froome in his yellow jersey enroute to win the 100th edition of the race with Team Sky)
Winning team: Which tool set will lead our Integration Group Test by Ros Satar (…and gratuitous shot of Chris Froome in his yellow jersey enroute to win the 100th edition of the Tour de France with Team Sky)

Absolute Software, BDNA, Bomgar, Cherwell, EasyVista, LANDesk, ManageEngine, Matrix42, Nexthink and ServiceNow are confirmed participants for our upcoming ‘Integrations’ review.

The review will delve into integration tools which compliment ITSM processes.

“Whether it be speeding up implementations by cleaning up the original data needed to set up the system in the first place, to incorporporating Systems Management data, we want to take a look at the supporting products that help us manage IT and business services end to end.”

The assessment criteria at a glance:

  • Pre-Deployment Set-up
  • Integrations to Asset and Configuration information
  • Event Management
  • Support Services
  • Resource Management
  • Any other useful data that supports ITSM

Full details of the assessment criteria can be found here.

Reviewer: Ros Satar

Confirmed Participants:

  1. Absolute
  2. BDNA
  3. Bomgar
  4. Cherwell
  5. EasyVista
  6. LANDesk
  7. ManageEngine
  8. Matrix42
  9. Nexthink
  10. ServiceNow

Publication

All results will be published free of charge without registration on the ITSM Review. You may wish to subscribe to the ITSM Review newsletter (top right of this this page) or follow us on Twitter to receive a notification when it is published.

Image Credit (Sky Wallpapers)

Simple steps towards Agility and Service Management improvement

Dead as a...

There have been many hundreds of words recently written on the subject of Agile Development and IT Operations practices. For the average ITSM practitioner, however, a life where both are interwoven into the organisations day-to-day work seems as unattainable as ever.

Sure, you might work for one of the few organisations that practices DevOps. If so congratulations… you’re one of the cool kids. Maybe you picked up a copy of “The Phoenix Project“** and the authors words resonated with you.

“I should start introducing Agile and Lean concepts into my IT organisation”

It’s not as if these words have fallen on deaf ears as such – it’s just that most ITSM practitioners are struggling to join the dots in their head, not even able to mentally apply Agile/Lean/DevOps to their own environments.

It’s hard to see how you get from your current position today to a position of continuous delivery and business agility, along with the bragging rights on Twitter about how great your aligned development and IT Operations organisations are.

You now want to improve… So what can you do to get started?

I have two quick tips for those IT Operations folk that want to start taking steps towards Agility and Service Management improvement. These tips won’t transform your IT department overnight but they are both cheap and easy to implement (in fact you could do it this week).

Tip number 1: Hold retrospectives

The most valuable skill of a good Agile team is the ability to self-learn. Self-learners have a habit of looking at their performance as a team and can identify positive and negative characteristics from their recent behaviour. By learning from past experiences they pledge to improve in the future.

The mechanism for Agile teams to drive improvements is to hold regular retrospectives.

A retrospective is a time boxed activity (a meeting) that is held at the end of a period of work, or in Agile-speak an “iteration”.

Development teams often work in regular short bursts of work called “sprints”, which in my company are always two weeks long, therefore we hold retrospectives on the last day of each sprint.

IT Operations work is not normally neatly defined in two week iterations – you tend to deal with KTLO work (Keep the lights on – Incidents and Problems) and perhaps projects. However, you should avoid the habit of only holding retrospectives to find improvements at the end of projects or when things are going wrong.

If you want to take a few Agile steps in your IT Organisation my advice is that you open your calendar application right now and setup a recurring meeting for your team that lasts for an hour every two weeks. Take this time to review work from that two week period and identify improvements.

Build self-learning and improvement sessions into your schedule. Don’t leave opportunities for improvements to project post-mortems or to when things have already gone wrong.

So what happens in a retrospective session?

Firstly, it should be a facilitated session so you’ll need someone to lead the team, but this isn’t a daunting task (OK – it is the first time you do it but it gets easier after that). Secondly, it’s a structured session rather than an hour to ‘bitch and moan’ about the Incidents that came in during the last two weeks.

Retrospectives are structured meetings with a clear objective – not a general conversation about performance

The objective of a retrospective is to get a documented commitment from the team to change one or two aspects of their behaviour. Documenting these commitments is covered below in tip number two.

Changing the behaviour of a team is absolutely not as challenging as it first seems, people only need a few things to happen to change their behaviour: to have their opinion heard; to be able to commit to the change; and to be held accountable. The format of a retrospective allows for all of this.

Also with retrospectives we don’t focus purely on examples where things went wrong. I’ve been in many retrospective sessions where teams have focused on unexpected success, have researched the factors that contributed to that and committed to spreading whatever practice caused the success to a wider organisation.

Identifying what worked well for a team in the previous two weeks and pledging to repeat that behaviour is just as powerful as pledging not to repeat negative behaviours.

I mentioned that retrospective sessions are structured. This really helps, especially when a team starts out on a path of self-learning and improvements. The structure holds the meeting together and guides the team to its objective for the meeting – validation of existing working agreements and proposals for new working agreements.

Esther Derby and Diana Larsen, who both inspired me to focus on retrospectives with their book, “Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great“ describes the structure for retrospectives very well in the SlideShare presentation below. Take time to study and implement their meeting structures.

What should the meeting structure look like?

The recommended meeting structure is as follows:

  • Set the stage

  • Gather data

  • Generate insights

  • Decide what to do

  • Close the retrospective

Each element in the meeting agenda is an opportunity for the facilitator to engage the team and run exercises to uncover what worked well (to be repeated) and what did not work well (to be avoided).

By structuring the meeting and facilitating people through the process you avoid the temptation for people to use the time simply complaining and placing blame for things that didn’t go well.

The meeting structure drives the retrospective towards its objective – an actionable set of Working Agreements for the team to use.

Tip number 2: Use Working Agreements

In a previous role in IT Operations and support I often felt the sensation of “spinning plates”. As soon as we could put one fire out another would flare up. Our problems as a team were that different people worked in different ways which is a real problem in Infrastructure teams.

My solution at the time was to try and write an all-encompassing “rule book” which described how we as a team react to any given circumstance. We’d build this “rule book” up over time and end up with a comprehensive document to remove confusion on how to perform work.

I’m sure you can imagine the outcome – we started.. we didn’t get that far.. as soon as the rule book was of any decent size it became out of date and unwieldy.

What my team then really needed, and the way that my Agile development team now works, is to have a lightweight document explaining the rules of the road. We call this document our “Working Agreements”.

What should Working Agreements look like?

  • They should be small enough to fit on a single side of A3 paper

  • Agreed upon by the team

  • The output of retrospective sessions, worded to enforce good behaviour or to prevent negative behaviour

  • Should be reviewed during each retrospective – do we need this Working Agreement now or is it part of our standard behaviour.

  • Should be very visible in the area

Having a lightweight set of agreements that the team commit to and that are reviewed regularly are a great way to drive cultural and technical changes that actually stick! Rather than review meetings that mean nothing once the team leave the room.

In summary

Driving improvements to a team means you are trying to change peoples behaviour which is never an easy task. Teams will change if some basic needs are met. They need to be listened to, they need to commit to the change and they need to be held accountable for future behaviour.

This is possible in your IT Operations teams today – hold regular retrospectives to identify what works and what does not. Get the team to commit to working agreements which are agreed by the team, meaningful and visible.

Let the improvements commence!

** If you didn’t nod when I mentioned The Phoenix Project then you aren’t one of the cool kids and you better find out what it is… pronto!

Image Credit

The Chips Are Down at Know 13, Vegas

AriaThere is something so unique about visiting Las Vegas – Home to ServiceNow’s Knowledge13 this year

Quite apart from the breath-taking scenery as you fly in (we’ll forget about the nerve racking sprint through Chicago and making the connecting flight literally with minutes to spare for now), it is like a whole other world.

And that also goes for the resort complex – held in the Aria complex, it really was a location that had it all – shops, there was even a pub for us Brits!

The main themes for this year focussed on Transformation and Innovation, and certainly in the first Opening Keynote by ServiceNow’s CEO Frank Slootman, The End of No, The Beginning Of Now.

There have been a few memorable events since ServiceNow’s last conference – namely ServiceNow going public on the NYSE.

The popularity of the event has grown too, with more than double the attendees- almost 3900 attendees this year.

Frank Slootman’s keynote included representatives from large companies, all with a key story to tell about IT-Led Enterprise Transformations.

Now obviously as it is an event sponsored by a vendor, you would expect Servicenow to be at the forefront of the good-news stories, but at the tail end of the panel session that Alison Collop, Global Director of Coca Cola shared the key message behind the success of IT-Led Transformation:

Organisational Change Mangement- Empowered the team to make decisions and recognising it takes everyone to help change the way they work

It was the first time that any of the panel really addressed the mindset required, not just the technology – a bold move and the golden nugget at the end of this opening keynote.

The Fred Luddy Keynote

ServiceNow Founder and CPO Fred Luddy is a hugely charismatic character and this was the keynote that everyone wanted to see.

He treated us to a (literal) face off between Google Glass and Siri, but more importantly a look and how far the industry has come, but what we need to do to continue to move forward.

There are repeatable patterns, since the 1800s – Technology is used to streamline processes (get something to work a bit faster), and create a business differentiator.

And just as in the first keynote, we were shown the finalists for ServiceNow’s Innovation of the Year award – where businesses have seen something that IT have done (streamlining) and thought of a way to help drive the business forward by creating applications within the ServiceNow platform.

The winners were Target – their employees had demanded a more personal approach to IT, and had to look to manage up to 60 appointments a day.

Target used ServiceNow to develop a booking application, as well as a custom iPad application, allowing visitors to create an appointment in person, and to be able to track and assign work and on-site support.

The application has a customer satisfaction of 94% and has moved support out of call centres.

Conduct Unbecoming The Opposition? How To Professionally Demonstrate Your Product

What stood out for me was the demonstration of the ServiceNow functionality on tablets – perhaps for a different reason than intended:

As part of Fred Luddy’s keynote, he took the audience through some of the new innovations, particularly in the area of mobile devices.

He walked us through the specific optimisation they had done for tablet devices, and it had been important for them to ensure that the full product functionality existed for staff using a tablet, perhaps supporting services remotely.

They have also developed a specific iPhone application allowing resources to be accessed, and customised to suit the individual – all with the purpose of being able to use the product to either access catalogue items (via Service Request), log incidents or work on records, assignments – all through improvements to the mobile user interface.

As an analyst, I get emails from vendors and from consultancies every day about recent press releases and new happenings – it’s nothing new, it’s part of the job.

So when I headed off to Vegas, I was not surprised to get an email from someone representing another vendor, plugging their own mobile solution, having gathered that I would be entertained by ServiceNow.

But during the first day, the #Know13 hashtag was hijacked (for want of a better word) by people connected to this vendor (I hesitate to use the word employees, partners – we just do not know) plugging their solution.

No real problem, I guess – it is, after all, a free market economy, but if it was a mischievous, puckish prank, it soon backfired in the eyes of the attendees (remember, we are talking around 3900 people… count them!).

People chattered in the breaks and at the expo wondering “why?” – after all as far as I understood, the capabilities were very different.

In all, it was a bit unprofessional (in my humble analyst opinion), and being bombarded for the week afterwards by the same partner to talk to them instead did nothing to make me reconsider that view.

ITopia

Allan Leinwand took us through the Now State of IT respectively, along with the ITopia demo in full.

This keynote really helped reinforce one of the key messages of the conference – A Single System of Record.

The demo showed how ServiceNow could be used across the enterprise, using a single database to help automate and improve efficiency, involving a cast of people playing a roles across an organisation:

  • Data Centre Manager – using dashboards to manage on premise and cloud environments, linkage to Change, and automated provisioning via the Service catalogue
  • Network Operations Centre – moving away from reactive alerts to filtered events and more proactive practices, using collaborative tools to drive Change Management
  • Procurement – More accurate inventory information and dashboards to show contract expiration and licence information
  • Field Services Technician – working remotely with mobile devices with the same amount of functionality as he would expect if located centrally
  • Human Resources – Using automation to help drive the onboarding process for new employees
  • Help Desk – Knowledge Management and collaborative tools (LiveFeed and Chat tools) to help people contacting them in a more structured way
  • Development Manager – Seeing where software defects are being logged and who are having the issues
  • Development Operations – Using the new App Creator where all the information to create a new application on the ServiceNow platform is focussed in one place
  • Crisis Response Manager – how they could retire a best-of-breed external application by developing their own within ServiceNow to do the same thing and putting all the information in one place
  • Facilities Management – recognising that their request forms, with a little modification, and by adding items to the CMDB, could also use the same system
  • Business Line Manager – Dashboard focussed on projects and associated costs, as well as automation of repetitive tasks
  • Project Management – keeping track of resources and their assigned tasks, and making that information available to stakeholders in the organisation
  • Governance – Real time collation of evidence for audits and dashboards to help identify immediate risks
  • Finally, the CIO – to demonstrate the underlying theme of the conference  – how IT can help transform the enterprise from within a single platform.

Instead of having a number of applications, they showed how applications could be built in the platform, how dashboards be used across the enterprise to show pertinent information, how new applications can be developed, all using a single course for information – the single source of record.

And none of this is amazingly new fangled gadgetary that has materialised at the hands of aliens with super-powers (even allowing for the fact we were in Vegas for a week)!

This conference gave attendees an insight as to what was possible, using existing technologies, teamwork, collaboration, and dare I say it, a bit of common sense.

Something Fun & New – The Hackathon

A new addition to the ServiceNow conference was the introduction of the Hackathon, inviting administrators and developers to show off their innovative flare to create transformational applications using the ServiceNow Service Automation Platform.

There were no limits as to what could be built, but it had to be built on ServiceNow.

The winners developed a Project Incubator application allowing users to gather required resources for new projects, across an organisation.

What others had to say

Ken Gonzalez, Know13 Session Panellist and Senior Advisory Consultant (now Capita):

I think that the diversity and topics that are associated with that, and the sessions that I went to, they talked about the technology and they talked about how to leverage it but it had a nice blend of “hey you want to do real interesting stuff, here’s some things you want to think about”

I think it struck the right blend between being too prescriptive and too salesy

Mark Kawasaki, Know 13 Speaker and ITSM Specialist at Emory University

To me it was a lot of meeting some great, some new people too, especially some practitioners that I met that were really struggling with some things.

It’s funny, one guy came up to me and said he had just spoken on CMDB and gave the exact opposite points that I gave on CMDB.

It was good discussion I had with him on different ways you can look at it.

Adam Mason, Know13 Hackathon Winner and featured customer as part of Frank Slootman’s Presentation.

I really enjoyed the quality of presenters that I saw was very high calibre and I thought the expo hall was fantastic

It was nice to see what others are doing with the product besides just customers that were trying to push the envelope a little bit so I thought that was impressive.

The Hackathon was just a ton of fun, it was a good communal experience too and I would hope they do it again

Stephen Mann Former Forrester Analyst, now Senior Manager – Product Marketing, ServiceNow

The things that really stuck out for me:

Firstly the size and the enormity of it – to get that many people who use a single product rather than parts of a portfolio of products is absolutely crazy.

Second thing would be the organisation and then within that the quality of the content, particularly yesterday – Everything consistently seemed great throughout the day.

What resonated with me

There were a lot of phrases bandied about throughout the week.

From the beginning of the week, ERP for IT and the excessive use of the word ecosystem perhaps made me roll my cynical analyst eyes, but in the panel session as part of Frank Slootman’s keynote, and in a Q&A with customers, the real drive for transformation innovation came from within the teams, with a passion and drive to innovate using the technology that exists today.

For me – the concept of Single System of Record and ITopia continue to promote applying common sense, technology and teamwork to solve business problems.

I conclude with my own thanks to Dawn Giusti and her team – their organisation on the ground was superb.

With so many attendees, it was flattering to feel that you were under their watchful eye, known by name, and that they would take care of things for you.

A great week, all round.

Knowledge 14 will take place – April 27th to May 1st 2014, at The Moscone Centre, San Francisco.

See you all same time next year?

Service Catalogue 2013 Group Test – The Results

This is a review of software products and vendors in the ‘Service Catalogue’ market area.

This is a complex and varied market place and consideration should be given to the Market Overview section.


Download Review

(Free PDF, No Registration Required – 405kb, 8 Pages)


Service Catalogue 2013 Best in Class: Axios Systems
Service Catalogue 2013 Best in Class: Axios Systems

Service Catalogue 2013 Best in Class

  • Axios – scalable to big customized projects as well as nice UI for OOTB implementations. Strategic ITSM focus.

Of the other products reviewed, these areas were of particular note:

Best for MSPs and Small/Medium Organizations: 

Best for Enterprise Organizations:

  • ServiceNow – particularly for large implementations where customization is expected. Good product and corporate fit

Service Catalogue Market Overview

By Barclay Rae

Service Catalogue Approach

large ‘Service Catalogue’ market is a niche sub-set of the IT Service Management (ITSM) Software market, which has seen considerable interest and growth in recent years.

Whilst ‘Service Catalogue” can be given a clear definition, the term can be and often is used to cover a number of functional and strategic approaches that stretch from fairly low-level request fulfilment to strategic Service Design and Strategy.

This approach varies because there are several different components that can be described as ‘Service Catalogue” – from ‘front-end’ portal to ‘back-end’ workflow and high-level business views of services. There are also potentially a number of different inputs and outputs – and types of document – that can be described as part of the ‘Service Catalogue’.

This reflects the developing nature of how the industry has defined and understood what a ‘Service Catalogue’ is, which has led to some fundamental differences and interpretations of how to make this work and what the expectations are from implementation.

In a nutshell the 2 main different approaches are:

Strategic/Top Down

This is where the organisation takes a strategic view of all IT services – including the business services (applications/departmental services, external customer services). Usually this will lead to a definition of an overall service structure of Core IT Services (PCs, Phones, email etc.) and Business Services (departments, business processes, applications).

This can then drive service reporting and service differentiation and is a long-term strategic approach to ‘service’ management and value demonstration. Request fulfilment follows out of this process, once the overall structure has been defined.

Technical/Bottom Up

This tends to be started by technical teams to ‘discover’ services, solve specific configuration management and integration problems and provide a practical user interface for consumption of core services and request fulfilment.

Both approaches are viable and necessary at some point to lead to a successful implementation:

Top Down is useful to ensure that the whole IT organisation is on board and that the wider goals and expectations are defined as part of a customer engagement process. Visualisation is useful for all parties to have a tangible view of the overall goals for IT.

Bottom Up can be a good tactical approach to get moving quickly. Request Management automation usually provides efficiency benefits and can significantly improve service quality to customers. The strategic view will need to be defined at some point so should be considered whenever (and as soon as) possible.

For the purposes of this review both of the above approaches have been considered and the overall key elements for tools defined as follows:

  • General – user friendly and with proven integrations to other tools
  • Service Design – the ability to create a database of service records, containing a number of business and technical attributes, processes and workflows
  • Service Structure – the ability to organise and structure these services into a hierarchy of services and service offerings – ideally in a graphical format
  • User Request Portal – a user friendly portal with an intuitive interface to request and track services
  • Request Fulfilment – request management workflow and functionality that can be easily used and configured by system users
  • SLA and Event Management – the ability to define SLAs that can be linked via Event Management to other ITSM processes
  • Demand Management – the ability to provide real-time allocation and monitoring of service consumption, with e.g. financial calculations
  • Dashboard – real-time user-friendly graphical monitoring and analysis of usage, trends and metrics across services and to various stakeholders
  • Service Reporting – the ability to present output that summarises individual and ‘bundled’ service performance, consumption, SLA and event performance – in user-friendly, portable and graphical format

See the full list of criteria here

Approach to Implementation

Organisations and their practitioners who are considering buying and implementing Service Catalogue technology should consider the following:

  • As there are a number of potential applications and objectives for Service Catalogue, these must be clearly defined and agreed in advance. This shouldn’t be embarked upon because it is the ‘flavour of the month’ or it ‘looks like a good thing to do’.

Key benefits that can be derived:

    • Improved professionalism and quality of service experience to customers
    • Value demonstration of IT through business and service based reporting
    • Clarity around service differentiation and value – e.g. commodity versus quality, value-add, time to market
    • Improved cost efficiency of request management and administration
    • Improved quality and speed of service for request management and administration
    • Greater visibility of IT costs and service level performance
    • Improvement in Service Desk performance via better central access to information
  • It is vital that all participants not only understand the expected benefits and objectives, but are also clear on the taxonomy of Service Level Management. This saves considerable time during projects, due to the fact that there are often many misconceptions and variances in understanding around basic concepts like SLAs, Service Catalogue etc. Time spent on some explanations and clarification of definitions is time well spent.
  • The big mistake that orgnaisations still make is to try to do Service Level Management (Portfolio Management, Request Management, SLAs and Service Catalogue…) all without engaging with their customers and supported businesses. The process requires engagement (service definition, performance discussion, objective setting, feedback on the customer experience etc.) as a major input to this process. This provides business validation as well as improving the relationship and demonstration of understanding between parties. It also vitally provides clear goals in terms of service provision and performance reporting. Without this the process can completely miss out on customer requirements and expectation, and so is wasteful, arrogant and bad PR.
  • Organisations should define their services in a simple structure – ideally that can be visualised and shown on 1 page or 1 slide for clarity. This can be done in a workshop, where key people are brought together to work through the concepts and definitions (this can begin with some education) and then use this to define the service structure for that organisation. There are always ‘learning curves’ to be overcome (e.g. the distinction between ‘systems’ and ’services’) – however if this is done in a workshop then this build momentum and consensus.
  • The Service Structure is a vital element as it provides the visual key to this process and also then the framework for a repository of information on each service. From this the project can start to create other outputs, documentation and service views as required from the project goals.
  •  Getting started and moving is a vital element to avoid long term prevarication and too much theorising. A lot can be achieved relatively quickly with some workshops and brief customer meetings. It’s essential to produce a simple representation of the service structure that helps to visualise the process for all involved and give them a consistent view of what is being delivered and defined. All this can be done within a few days and weeks based around workshops and a clear set of objectives.
  • Ultimately this is a business-focussed process so it’s important to have people with business and communications skills to work on the project. Technical details and understanding will be needed but should not be the starting point, which tends to be what happens if this is given to technically-focussed people.

Market Products

Products in this area fall into 2 main categories:

  • Existing ITSM Toolsets with Service Catalogue functionality
  • Specific Tools with Service Catalogue and Request Management functionality

Existing ITSM Toolsets

These often will have either modular or intrinsic functionality based around the ‘ITIL’ framework – Incident, Request, Problem and Change Management, plus Asset and Configuration Management and Service Level Management.

The Service Catalogue should be a valuable addition to this with a ‘service layer’ that can be added to the existing task and event management functions, as well as providing customer/user-friendly portals and ‘front-ends’ for requesting and tracking services.

Generally these products will be used by organisations to develop and to implement a ‘service strategy’ – as well as implementing request management – so these will generally follow a more ‘top down’ approach.

Ideally these will be able to leverage work already down defining existing ITSM processes and the Service Catalogue can then easily integrate with these. This is not always the case, as previous configuration structures may need to be revised to meet new Service Structure requirements.

Specific Service Catalogue Tools

These are newer, standalone systems that have come into the market in the last few years – initially as there was little functionality in this area in the existing ITSM tool market.

They will generally follow a more technical ‘bottom up’ approach that provides faster and more agile implementations. So they can deliver high quality user interfaces, discovery and request management workflow in short timeframes and deliver fast Return on Investment (ROI)/Time to Value (TTV) around the automation of a number of manual processes that speed up the customer experience.

Challenges can include how to reverse-engineer these systems for a strategic service structure once in operation, plus the need to integrate with a variety of other tools, including the existing ITSM solution.

These tools all have some level of basic Help-desk/Incident Management and support processes – the level to which these can either be used or integrated depends on the requirements and maturity of the existing systems (and organisations)

Market Observations

  • ‘Service Catalogue’ is a term that can encompass a number of areas – request management, user portal, service strategy and design, SLAs, portfolio management, service reporting, customer, business and technical views. There is no single product or view that is definitive and products that focus on one area only will require some technical and process integration.
  • In key areas of request management, portals and workflow, reporting and SLAs, most products offer very similar functionality. Variations exist in the development of Demand Management, strategic Service Design and Service Visualisation.
  • In particular vendors can be differentiated by their approach – strategic and technical, but also the level to which they can offer support and value added services to help with implementation. This is still a relatively new area and few practitioners and/or organisations have broad experience or even clear requirements for how to make this work – vendor support and guidance is a key asset and differentiator.
  • Implementation support should also be in the form of template and standard configurable data – i.e. to provide sample service ‘bundles’, workflows, reports, dashboards and in general as much practical guidance as possible.
  • Whilst implementation approach and product focus are the key differentiators – i.e. strategic vs technical Bottom Up / Top Down – a key strength is also the ability to show a clear path that encompasses both approaches.
  • Integration experience and proven capability is a key capability (more than just a differentiator) – this will always be required to some extent:
  • For ‘Service Catalogue Specific’ vendors this is essential to get their product working with a variety of monitoring, asset and event management tools, as well as interfacing with other ITSM systems. Usually they will offer a number of existing APIs and proven links as part of their approach. These tools are useful for standalone Service Catalogue implementation at mid-market level and can also be found sold into enterprise organisations at the technical and integration level.
  • For ‘Existing ITSM Vendors’ they will lead on the seamless integration with their own tools. This is a good pitch for their existing customers but a dilemma for the wider market, i.e. whether to buy a standalone Service Catalogue product (from one ITSM Vendor) separately from a new or existing ITSM product from another ITSM vendor. Many of these vendors will have already created links to other systems via their multi-source and managed services clients.
  • In all aspects of this area, consideration should be given to the customer experience in using these systems and the interaction with IT organisations, particularly in terms of how SLAs and service delivery expectations are set.
  • These toolsets can help to improve service quality and experience, as well as improving the value demonstration of IT. However this will not simply be delivered by tool implementation alone and care is required where systems and vendors promise this without some significant process and organisational change.
  • Overall the market has developed significantly in the last 2/3 years although most vendors are still developing their approach to financial and demand management. Some of this functionality is available across the market but generally only as reports and with some development rather than as an integral feature for dynamic business use.  

Market Positioning and Approach

Vendor

Mid-Market

Enterprise

 

Top Down

 

Bottom Up

Axios

question

Matrix42

question

Biomni

question

ServiceNow

question

    – Definitely

question    – Possibly

Top Down / Bottom up?

Vendor

 

Top Down

 

Bottom Up

Axios

  • Approach geared to Business and Tech services
  • Good UI with visualisation of services and structure

question

  • Vendor and product can start from discovery approach
  • Unlikely to be sold as SC only bottom up product

Matrix42

  • Little product or vendor focus Business or Top Down approach
  • May not be relevant for some clients – e.g. MSPs

  • Product and vendor geared to discovery approach
  • Excellent tool for fast implementation of Request and self service for IT products

Biomni

  • Little product or vendor focus on Business or Top Down approach
  • Commercial approach helps for quick start and visualisation

  • Product and vendor geared to discovery approach
  • Excellent tool for fast implementation of Request and self service for IT products

ServiceNow

  • Approach geared to Business and Tech services
  • Good strategic focus in dashboards and Demand Management functions

  • Can start from discovery approach
  • Sales focus on enterprise with Business and Tech capability

    – Definitely

question   – Possibly

Competitive Overview

Vendor

Overview

Strengths

Weaknesses

Axios

  • High-end option for Medium – Enterprise
  • Simple intuitive UI/OOTB
  • Seamless integration with assyst ITSM processes
  • UI
  • Strategic approach
  • Vendor capability
  • Not geared up for standalone SC implementation
  • May be overkill for technical or small implementations

Matrix42

  • Strong request and Catalogue functionality – technical focus
  • Good option for Tech-only implementations (e.g. MSPs)
  • Good Request and Catalogue functionality
  • Speed of implementation – doesn’t need other ITSM processes
  • Service Now integration
  • Lack of US/UK coverage
  • Approach – little strategic implementation focus
  • Functionality gaps

Biomni

  • Good functionality
  • Nice commercial approach
  • Good option for Tech-only implementations (e.g. MSPs)
  • Good intuitive functionality, commercial approach
  • Speed of implementation – doesn’t need other ITSM processes
  • Little Strategic implementation focus
  • Functionality gaps

Service Now

  • High end functionality, enterprise focus
  • Strong corporate backing and growth
  • Extensive functionality
  • Best Demand dashboard functions
  • Flexibility of product
  • UI busy and complicated
  • Flexibility of product
  • Organisation geared towards enterprise clients
  • Needs usability configuration/customisation

Product Deep Dive

Follow the links for a deep dive review of Service Catalogue features:

Further Reading


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.

Review: Matrix42 for Service Catalogue

This independent review is part of our 2013 Service Catalogue Group Test.

Executive Summary – Matrix42

Overview
  • Strong request and Catalogue functionality – technical focus
  • Good option for Tech-only implementations (e.g. MSPs)
Strengths
  • Good Request and Catalogue functionality
  • Speed of implementation – doesn’t need other ITSM processes
  • ServiceNow integration
Weaknesses
  • Lack of US/UK coverage
  • Approach – little strategic implementation focus
  • Functionality gaps
Primary Market Focus “Mid Market – Suite describes Matrix42 market focus. From 500 to 10,000 users/devices is our sweet spot, although we have several customers with 10,000+ users”

Commercial Summary

Vendor Matrix42
Product Workplace Management 2013
Version reviewed v6.0
Date of version release May 2013
Year founded 1992
Customers Over 2,500 customers in total; approximately 350 with Service Catalogue / Service Desk
Pricing Structure Per Managed Device:  Service Desk and Service Catalogue are included free: Can be Cloud hosted (Monthly Rental) or on Premise (License + Annual Maintenance)
Competitive Differentiators Matrix42 state:

  1. We offer our Service Catalogue AND Service Desk unlimited for FREE with any of our other products
  2. We offer an integrated Suite of award winning Products for Managing Physical, Mobile and Virtual Devices and Users Interaction with IT as recognised by Gartner Magic Quadrant.
  3. We seamlessly integrate out-of-the-box with Products where they are already in place (e.g. SCCM, ServiceNow, Citrix).
Additional features “Free of Charge out-of-the-box integration with Airwatch, Microsoft SCCM 2007 / 2012, ServiceNow, Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop. Other Products (e.g. BMC Remedy) can also be integrated using consulting services to download service and request templates and adapters.”

MATRIX42 LOGOIndependent Review

Matrix42 is relatively new player in the UK and US markets, although established in Germany and other European markets.

The Service Catalogue product provides an effective and full set of request management, portal and catalogue functionality. This is based on the technical ‘bottom up’ approach and includes some effective discovery and asset management functionality. Demand Management has some useful outputs although this, SLAs and Service Desk integration still needs to be developed to meet the full criteria.

The vendor has technical capability and experience of interaction with other products and vendors – there is also a partnership with ServiceNow for wider ITSM functionality. The vendor’s approach is focussed on the technical and discovery aspects rather than strategic and high level services – so e.g., the system can’t easily show graphical representation of service structure and hierarchy.

The customer interface looks professional and similar to a retail experience. Implementation can be quick and doesn’t depend on other ITSM functionality – so this can be an effective and fast way to get started with a catalogue and portal. The vendor primarily works with medium sized enterprises although also has some good large client references.

This product is a good option for medium sized organisations to get started quickly and automate request and fulfilment processes. Buyers would need to have a clear view on how to roll up low-level services into business services using this product – this system may suit managed services providers who may not need to use ‘business’ systems and supply components only – or ‘bundles which are mostly comprised of hardware or commodity systems.

A longer term route to wider and more strategic ITSM integration is available via the ServiceNow integration.

Overview

  • Specific Service Catalogue/Request Management Vendor
  • Established in Germany and other territories – now making sales and marketing incursion into established ITSM markets
  • Excellent Customer and User Interface for IT hardware and software request and lifecycle management
  • Meets most stated requirements – full request management – gaps in strategic approach
  • Vendor not well known in ITSM market
  • Little focus or capability in strategic implementation approach from vendor
  • Gaps in stated requirements – SLAs with Service Desk integration, Demand Management, Dashboards and Reporting
  • Function rich product for technical/bottom up functionality

Strengths

  • Excellent customer and user interface for hardware and software request and lifecycle management
  • Strong and intuitive portal and user request functionality
  • iPhone/iPad integrations looks impressive
  • Good integration with discovery and asset systems to build service bundles and ‘discover’ services
  • Vendor offers clear understanding of technical integration and request management/portal processes
  • Simple and effective structure and levels of service criteria
  • Some excellent enterprise client implementations
  • Strategic Partnership and integration with ServiceNow – opportunity for wide pool of product expertise
  • Some nice views and outputs for Demand management tracking
  • Can be quickly implemented without need to develop ITSM processes

Weaknesses

  • Vendor approach set up for request management and technical / bottom up approach only
  • Matrix42 are passionate technologists, a strategic ‘top down’ view of ITSM services is not currently a key focus
  • Vendor not widely known or established in ITSM community outside of Germany
  • Service Desk and Service Catalogue modules not intrinsically integrated – SLAs not delivered OOTB for Requests in Service Catalogue module, although this is in Service Desk
  • Lack of full function-rich SLA capability without customisation
  • Service hierarchy not fully available in graphical format
  • Demand Management – lacks full requirement without bespoke consulting
  • Gaps in Dashboard and reporting features OOTB – requires specific consulting or in-house SQL skills
  • Basic Help desk/Incident Management functionality

Workplace Management 2013 Service Catalogue Customers

In Their Own Words:

“Integrate or Replace? – Your Choice

What makes Matrix42 unique is our vision to be an aggregator of technology that interacts with end users. If you believe in putting your users first, our solutions help to achieve a great user experience, whilst the Service Desk team maintains control and reaps the benefits of automation. We provide best of breed software that interacts with the user’s Workplace, but we also integrate out-of-the-box with products like ServiceNow, Microsoft SCCM and Citrix, as well as providing an integration layer for other vendors.

Our strengths are:

  1. Simple: Very simple user interface – requires no end user training. Full control over what the end user can see and request. Fully searchable. Our new graphical Workflow Designer allows easy and flexible customisation of request and delivery processes.
  2. Interactive: Users and IT can see exactly where their request is in the system, and issue reminders, WITHOUT calling the Service Desk.
  3. Intelligent: Requests can be auto authorised, one step, two step, conditional extra step if procurement required and can be dependent on factors such as requestor, cost center, service owner, items in stock, licenses available.
  4. Integrated: Out-of-the-box automation for Software Delivery & Configuration of Physical, Virtual & Mobile Devices as well as Active Directory and 3rd party systems.
  5. Holistic: Full Contract Management & automated Licensed Software recognition, enables a complete and automated out-of-the-box solution for Software Request, License Compliance, Procurement and Delivery.”

Screenshots

Further Information

Group Test Index

This independent review is part of our 2013 Service Catalogue Group Test.

Review: ServiceNow for Service Catalogue

This independent review is part of our 2013 Service Catalogue Group Test.

Executive Summary – ServiceNow

Overview
  • High end functionality
  • Enterprise focus
  • Strong corporate backing and growth
Strengths
  • Extensive functionality
  • Best Demand dashboard functions
  • Flexibility of product
Weaknesses
  • UI busy and complicated
  • Flexibility of product
  • Organisation geared towards enterprise clients
  • Needs usability configuration/customisation
Primary Market Focus “ServiceNow are the Enterprise IT Cloud Company”

Commercial Summary

Vendor ServiceNow
Product ServiceNow
Version reviewed Berlin
Date of version release September 2012
Year founded 2004
Customers 1600 enterprise customers as of May 2013.
Pricing Structure “ServiceNow offers a subscription license based on IT process users. We charge $100 / IT process user / month with volume discounts available. We also offer end user pricing in certain scenarios.”
Competitive Differentiators ServiceNow state:

  1. “A single, organically developed ITSM platform built in the cloud with nothing acquired or OEMed that leverages knowledge management, collaboration, graphical workflow engine, ITSM stack, service catalogue and request, runbook automation, CMDB, ITAM, software license management, etc. all included in the subscription license.
  2. An approachable, social and modern Web UI built to improve the end user experience with IT through an emphasis on usability and self service.
  3. A configurable platform includes a content management system that allows IT to provide a user experience that is identical to existing customer Web properties and that matches existing user experience and IT workflow.”

ServiceNowlogo_STANDARD_RGB_226px_122012Independent Review

ServiceNow has emerged in recent years as a leading innovator in the SaaS and Cloud provision of ITSM products – this is backed up with an active and innovative community of users and partners that use the platform to develop new applications and approaches with the toolset.

The Service Catalogue product is part of an extensive and function-rich ITSM toolset that is aimed at competing and ultimately leading the enterprise area of the market – the company has achieved impressive growth and market share, replacing major legacy ITSM systems, leading with speed, agility and a disruptive commercial model.

The Catalogue product has full functionality and meets all the stated requirements. In particular the demand management, dashboard and reporting capabilities are impressive and delivered to support useful views of consumption vs. forecast etc. The system supports multi-tenancy operations and provides good integration with asset and discovery modules to create service bundles.

The product offers a potential hybrid and options for ‘bottom up’ and ‘top down’ approach. The vendor offers a variety and depth of implementation and development services and as well as support to clients through workshops and training – supported by a growing partner network of integrators and consultancies.

The standard Out of the Box interface looks busy and complicated – there are many good tailored implementations which are built for clients, however these may take consultancy and configuration time.

This is a good option for enterprise clients who need to customise their system, look and feel, as well as needing to develop some specific functionality. Product tailoring and configuration would suit large enterprise organisations with expansive requirements. Small, medium-sized, and some enterprise organisations – with standard requirements, looking for ‘vanilla’ implementations –  might struggle with the complexity and User Interface of the Out of the Box version.

Overview

  • ITSM track record over last 6/7 years of significant growth and ‘rip-out’ replacement implementations – major ‘disruptive’ player introducing new commercial model and fast implementation approach
  • Comprehensive functionality available – competing with enterprise ITSM tools
  • Meets all stated requirements
  • Out of the box User Interface and overall functionality looks busy and complex
  • Catalogue functionality integrates with ITSM processes
  • Strong capability in Demand Management
  • Vendor has developed strong, open user community and partner base for sharing knowledge and innovation with the product
  • Consultancy and tailoring required for a simple, intuitive implementation

Strengths

  • Extensive functionality available for hardware and software request and lifecycle management
  • Effective portal and user request functionality
  • Seamless integration with discovery and asset modules to build service bundles and ‘discover’ services
  • Vendor has experience and skilled resources for technical integration of request management/portal processes
  • Expanding and impressive portfolio of enterprise client implementations
  • Partner network provides input to innovation and development of leading edge product best practice
  • Real time dashboards and reports look impressive
  • Excellent breadth of (delivered) Demand Management functionality
  • User and partner community a great resource and source of innovation and good practice
  • Vendor has growing resources and financial backing as part of growth strategy
  • System highly tailorable and therefore suitable for large bespoke implementations and requirements

Weaknesses

  • Out of the Box interface looks busy and over-engineered for many basic functions
  • Basic functionality will require tailoring for a simple clean interface and functionality  – may not suit organisations looking for clarity and simplicity in solution
  • Strength of flexibility may also be weakness in complexity
  • Standard implementations of Service Catalogue around 10 days – re-design for simple clean look and feel requires more time and cost

ServiceNow Service Catalogue Customers

In Their Own Words:

“ServiceNow Service Catalogue and Request Management offers all your defined business and technical services via flexible storefront interface. Using configurable ServiceNow workflow, you can provide a friendly, personalized user experience to capture data, collect approvals, automate fulfilment, and leverage the benefits of operating in one platform to deliver value to the business.

Empower your business and technical users to interact and order the services they need to do their job, provide transparency into the approval process, and allow users to track the progress of their own requests. Through the service catalogue, your organization can deliver standardized services, capture data for an array of department services, coordinate transfer pricing between departments, and improve internal controls with full audit capabilities.

Drag-and-drop your way to a powerful, world-class experience and improve communication, transparency, and the perception of IT by the rest of the business. All the workflow orchestration, notifications, request fulfilment, interface design and connections to underlying processes are built into the ServiceNow platform.”

Screenshots

Further Information

Group Test Index

This independent review is part of our 2013 Service Catalogue Group Test.

Coming Soon: Axios, Biomni, Matrix42 & ServiceNow Showcase Service Catalogue

Peloton
Axios, Biomni, Matrix42 and ServiceNow - who leads the pack in Service Catalogue?

Axios, Biomni, Matrix42 and ServiceNow are confirmed participants for our upcoming ‘Service Catalogue’ review.

Our assessment criteria at a glance:

  1. Service Design – the ability to create a database of service records, containing a number of business and technical attributes, processes and workflows.
  2. Service Structure – the ability to organise and structure these services into a hierarchy of services and service offerings, ideally useable in a graphical format
  3. User Request Portal – a user-friendly/external facing portal that provides users with an intuitive User Interface to request services
  4. Request Fulfilment – request management workflow functionality that can be easily used and configured by system users
  5. SLA and event management – the ability (in the software or by integration) to define universal and bespoke levels of SLA which are then automated and escalated though an event management process – ideally linking with Incident, Problem and Change Management functionality
  6. Demand Management – the ability to provide real time allocation and monitoring of Service consumption, with financial calculations
  7. Dashboard – real-time user-friendly graphical monitoring and analysis of usage, trends and metrics across services and to various stakeholders
  8. Service Reporting – the ability to present output that summarises individual and bundled service performance, consumption, SLA and event performance, in user-friendly, portable and graphical format

Full details of the assessment criteria can be found here.

Reviewer: Barclay Rae

Confirmed Participants:

Publication

All results will be published free of charge without registration on the ITSM Review. You may wish to subscribe to the ITSM Review newsletter (top right of this this page) or follow us on Twitter to receive a notification when it is published.

Image Credit

2012 Request Fulfilment Group Test – The Results

In a previous article I looked at what ITIL 2011 had added to the Request Fulfilment process and some of the pitfalls we may have seen with implementation in the past.

This technology review looks at what this means, in practical terms, when approaching Request Fulfilment – what should we be looking for?

Our goal is to highlight the key strengths, competitive differentiators and innovation in the industry. The assessment criteria we used to steer the review process can be found here: REQUEST FULFILMENT ASSESSMENT CRITERIA.

Tools Reviewed:


INTRODUCTION

There is a particular challenge when it comes to assessing ITSM tools in some depth.

You want to see more than just a glossy demo – you want to understand how it can help you tackle some of the key processes at its core.

I decided the best way to showcase how ITSM tools and suites could help potential customers meet their process AND tool needs was to split up the processes and throw the doors open to vendors one by one.

The best place to start was the End User – how they come into contact with the ITSM beast in as seamless a way as possible to their experience.

Although the guts of the process involves pushing records from group to group before closure, the ways in which our participating vendors get you to the finish line was at times quite varied.

Do end users care about all the steps along the way regarding their requests? Or do they just want to see an end date by when they can expect a shiny new smartphone to land at their desk.

All of these elements can be tracked and configured to within an inch of their lives, if required.

One thing that was refreshing in this round of reviews was gaining an understanding of more than just the tool/module.

Quite often, the lifecycle of a record for any of the processes is going to be similar, creation, assignment, some decision trees and then done (in a perfect world!).

But it is the journey, and more importantly the interpretation by our featured vendors, that made this review as interesting as it was.


MARKET POSITIONING

Unlike many single-function tools out there, ITSM tools tend to have their fingers in many pies, and will offer integration to all kinds of other tools. All the vendors who participated were classified as Specialists – i.e. Vendors whose sole focus is ITSM.

Vendor

Mid-Market

Enterprise

BMC FootPrints

Cherwell

Marval

PMG

ServiceNow


COMPETITIVE OVERVIEW

The next table provides a high level overview of competitive differences between the tools.

  • In a nutshell – A brief description of each technology
  • Primary Purpose – Each technology may be used in different ways but this is the main purpose of the technology.
  • Strengths – key positive points highlighted during the review
  • Weaknesses – key negative points highlighted during the review

Vendor

Elevator Pitch Strengths

Weaknesses

BMC FootPrints Entry-level, flexible ITSM solution, offering customisable services Nice tough in incorporating screen-prompts to start to mould end-user behaviour Text driven workflow is comprehensive but lacks the visual effect of graphical workflows
Cherwell Cherwell offer an holistic approach by providing customers with a comprehensive out-of-the-box offering for fast deployment, and ease of use Predefined forms based on their years of experience of what details are required, for a number of standard requests Although not programming outright, some of the depth of customisation lends itself to administrators with string process knowledge, business logic and data structures.
Marval Marval bring their “ITIL: Common sense written down” approach to their tool, which takes you to the root of the task to get the job done. Simplicity and flexibility which does the job smartly. It would have been good to see what the supplied services and examples were Out of the Box.
PMG A “rescue remedy” for replacing inadequate Service Catalogue/Request Fulfilment modules of ITSM Suites A dedicated approach to providing enterprise delivery specifically around Service Catalogue & Request Fulfilment Although they have a few standalone ITSM customers, their Ticketing system for other ITSM processes is very basic when standing up against other
ServiceNow A solid integrated platform, with the focus on improving the user’s experience of Request Fulfilment, and also focussing on the equally important business view. They boast a unique approach of focussing on an end-user’s experience in engaging with IT through the Request Fulfilment process Although there are administration courses, all too often the responses relied on finding answers to configuration questions “in the wiki”.As comprehensive as it is, when others promote that element of “handover” to the system’s custodians, ServiceNow seem to want to default to detachment.

CUSTOMERS

Approximate number of customers for each vendor:

  • BMC Footprints – Europe: 1000+ ; Worldwide: 5000+
  • Cherwell – 400+
  • Marval – 400+
  • PMG – Not disclosed
  • ServiceNow – 1200+

BEST IN CLASS

Of the five vendors reviewed I was particularly impressed with the following vendors:

  • Best in Class Mid-Market: Marval – Their ethos of keeping it simple just made it stand out.
  • Best in Class Enterprise: ServiceNow – I had a managed service view of this product and thought I knew what I would see.  I was pleasantly surprised, and although I can completely appreciate PMG’s position and can absolutely understand why they are called in to replace some ITSM suites.
  • Best in Class All Tools: Cherwell – I was an IT Architect, specialising in ITSM, and the Pareto 80/20 rule was my mantra in my former life. Cherwell’s approach to (re)use their expertise and develop a depth of standard requests covering pretty much most details that are required makes them the most comprehensive offering in this review.

Deep Dive

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.