The SMB IT Decision Maker s Guide: Choosing a SaaS Service Management Solution

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1 BEST PRACTICES WHITE PAPER The SMB IT Decision Maker s Guide: Choosing a SaaS Service Management Solution Nine Things to Look For in Your Next SaaS Service Desk

2 Table of Contents Introduction criteria A User Request Portal Problem Management IT Service Management Automation Integrated Change Management IT Asset Tracking and Management Team Communication and Collaboration Information to Guide Management Decisions A Platform for Growth Security and Reliability conclusion

3 Introduction One of the biggest challenges that face most small and medium businesses is competing against larger firms while having a much smaller budget. In a smaller organization, the IT staff must constantly juggle routine day-to-day problems while also rolling out new applications and services. To effectively match larger rivals, you need efficient service management and help desk tools and processes to reduce incident response time and costs without incurring the expense and complexity of implementing a service desk solution yourself. Choosing a SaaS service management and help desk solution can eliminate the headaches of buying and maintaining servers and software, allowing you to manage services, not servers. However, not all SaaS service desk solutions are created equal. By selecting a solution based on the ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library ) standard, you get field-proven best practices that speed problem resolution, increase the efficiency and effectiveness of your staff, and document the value IT is delivering to the business. Here are nine important criteria to look for in a SaaS service desk solution that will help increase user satisfaction, the morale of your IT staff, and the success of your business. Criteria 1. User Request Portal The least expensive help desk call is the one that s never made because users can instantly see the status of their requests or problems online or better still, solve them on their own. That s why your solution should include a portal that allows users to easily enter and track requests. What s more, your IT staff can use the information from the portal, in the form of incidents, to prioritize requests and track their volume, and to proactively communicate with users to reduce their anxiety and the number of expensive calls they make to the service desk. Look for a dynamic user request portal that allows direct entry of a service request from the user s PC or mobile device, as well as one that provides additional options, such as . Users should not only be able to submit their requests, but also to track the status of those requests, thus reducing time-consuming follow-up calls, such as Have you looked at my ticket yet? Adding knowledge-based self-help articles can also increase the number of potential requests handled by the users themselves with simple-to-follow instructions on such subjects as setting up my PC to connect to a printer or how to load more toner. The more options for self-service you provide, the fewer manual requests you must handle and the lower your costs. Further, the more automation the portal provides, the lower the risks of manual error (through data input) and delays (as work orders are relayed among service desk staff). The portal should also provide chat and remote support that allows service personnel to help users in real time. This reduces the number of onsite visits required to solve problems, improves user satisfaction, and speeds the resolution of problems. 2. Problem Management A problem management system helps IT analysts understand the root causes of incidents and prevent them in the future. Key features to look for include:»» The ability to easily add artifacts, such as logs and incident reports»» Support for complex searches to help analysts identify problems with common causes»» Integration with service desk solutions to automatically capture incident information»» Integration with a configuration management database (CMDB) to more quickly and accurately identify the IT components that caused an incident 3. IT Service Management Automation IT service management automation reduces costs and cycle times, and helps assure quality through the standardization of common functions. Look for automated workflows based on ITIL best practices that allow the smooth handoff of tasks from the initial report through approval of the required work as well as any required change management processes and final close-out. This goes beyond ticket handling to managing and automating the entire process using best practices to solve problems and keep 1

4 the business running through workflows for approvals, escalation, and changes. Automation, combined with self-service, is particularly effective in speeding common functions, such as repairing failed servers, resetting passwords, recovering files, and changing access rights. Key automation capabilities to look for include:»» Self-service options for password resets and requests for access, which alone can eliminate almost half of the manual effort required to resolve repetitive incidents»» Integration with password management solutions to allow service desk personnel to provide self-service password options to users 4. Integrated Change Management Change can mean anything from upgrading a user s PC to installing a new customer relationship management (CRM) system. Performing changes is one of the most common functions performed by an IT organization, and can cause the most problems if not done correctly. To help prevent such problems, look for a service desk solution with built-in best practices that assure changes are made correctly and at the least cost. Effective change management is even more critical when you consider that when an application service, let alone your Web site, fails, it can cost thousands if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost revenue. One common cause of improper or poorly implemented changes is silos within the IT organization that allow a test or development organization to modify the production environment without notifying the operations staff that must evaluate the impact of such changes. Look for solutions that incorporate workflows requiring that changes are properly planned, evaluated, and approved. These workflows should be flexible enough to allow various business managers to approve appropriate types of changes as needed. Another way to break down information silos is to create a unified change management information repository that ensures all staff have access to correct and timely information about the IT infrastructure and the changes made to it or planned for it. Your SaaS service desk solution should also include ITIL-compatible processes to assure changes are made correctly, with the proper provision for evaluation, testing, audit, and rollback, if needed. What s more, it should offer a graphical change schedule to help IT staff schedule and coordinate their work most effectively. Finally, look for a SaaS solution that includes integrated work order management and complete inventory tracking for the items affected by each change. This helps speed tracking and troubleshooting in the event of a change that causes unexpected problems. 5. IT Asset Tracking and Management Proper management is critical to making the most effective use of your most expensive assets your hardware, your software, and the skilled staff to manage them. Not having a clear picture of your IT assets can lead to expensive purchases of hardware or software you already own but may not be aware of. It can also expose you to liability if you own the wrong type of licenses or fewer software licenses than you need. When integrated with the user request portal, effective asset management lets you streamline and automate your approval and deployment process, as well as to track inventory and usage as business needs change. Asset management also speeds problem resolution by keeping service desk personnel up to date on the software, hardware, and network devices within the organization. This allows the operator to see any past problems with an asset, its current status, or any recent changes that may have caused the problem. 2

5 6. Team Communication and Collaboration Especially for an overstretched IT team, collaboration is essential to increasing productivity, sharing knowledge, and reducing response times. Look for collaboration capabilities that reduce the wasted time and effort as staff trade phone calls or s to find the status of projects, the delivery of parts, the answers to common questions, or information on any new problems that may have arisen since their arrival at a remote site. Also, look for the ability to quickly share updates about the status of outstanding issues and the solutions to them. Collaboration can also be used with knowledge base and problem management systems. A knowledge base captures information about common problems and the solutions for them. It should include an intuitive interface that makes it easy for users and IT staff to enter information, as well as robust search capabilities to allow easy and fast access to information. Automated discovery of the IT infrastructure can speed creation of this knowledge base. Other useful collaboration features include the ability to share information across mobile devices, push status updates and other information to staff members, and coordinate time-sensitive functions. The service desk solution should also allow the seamless transfer of outstanding questions or tasks among shifts without losing track of the work, duplicating steps, or repeatedly asking the user for the same information. Visual workflows help personnel easily understand and communicate processes to be automated. Dashboards help each employee see the tasks they must perform, as well as the order in which they should perform them and which categories make up most of their pending work. 7. Information to Guide Management Decisions To provide the best service at the lowest cost, you need to know what assets you have and how they are performing. You also need to know how many service requests you are handling, how quickly you are handling them, how many issues remain unresolved, and what systems and business units generate the most service requests. Look for a SaaS service desk solution that provides both IT and business management visibility into the status of your assets, and the quality of service you are providing, so you can improve your efficiency and effectiveness over time. Your SaaS solution should also report on the status of the IT infrastructure, and the work done by the IT staff, in language and formats that are easily understood by business managers. This includes dashboards showing the status of critical applications, as well as the number and type of hardware and software licenses owned by the organization and the current backlog of open requests. This combined view of IT assets, workloads, and the applications and business services they support helps business managers understand the contribution of IT to the business. 8. A Platform for Growth Because your requirements are changing constantly, you can t afford to get locked into a SaaS service desk platform that is too small and limited for your needs. Look for a dynamic platform that can quickly and easily scale to the number of users and scope of capabilities you need. It should also accommodate growth in the number and type of devices, applications, and services you manage. Look for a platform that does not consist of just a single application, but rather, supports development tools for the rapid and easy addition of new services. A true platform will also provide new capabilities via a vibrant partner ecosystem. Partner solutions enhance your core capabilities. Because they have been developed, tested, and approved as part of the platform offering, you can rest easy knowing that support, integration, and interoperability are handled by the solution provider, and are not your responsibility. 9. Security and Reliability Look for security features, such as encryption, access control, and proper segregation of data, which protect your organization s information in a multi-tenant environment. Insist on platforms that comply with rigorous security certifications, such as ISO 27001, SAS70 Type II, and SysTrust, as well as granular security and sharing rules to let customers decide which users see which information. This facilitates the delegation of less critical tasks to less-skilled workers, lowering support costs while assuring proper security. Also, insist on enterprise-level data backup and disaster recovery services to ensure uninterrupted service. 3

6 Conclusion Choosing to use a SaaS-based service management solution is only the first step to nimbly competing with competitors much larger than you. Insist on key features, such as embedded and automated ITIL best practices, comprehensive workflow, a flexible user portal, collaboration, and clear management reports, to reduce service costs while improving employee satisfaction and productivity. About BMC RemedyForce Service Desk BMC Remedyforce Service Desk is a flexible, scalable, SaaS-based service desk automation solution that delivers industrystandard best practices on a scalable, pay-as-you-go basis, with pricing as low as $79/month for one user. There is no infrastructure to buy and support, as your service desk runs on the same Force.com cloud infrastructure trusted by nearly 82,400 businesses running more than 135,000 applications with two million users per day. This solution has a 99.9 percent uptime record, proven real-time scalability, and ISO certified security trusted by some of the world s most securityconscious organizations. Backup, maintenance, and upgrades are done automatically, and BMC handles all administration and security. You can get started quickly and personalize your portal with the tools you need to be productive, getting the benefit of ITIL-based best practices at a fraction of the cost to implement them internally. All these features with more to come in ongoing releases are backed by BMC, the leader in the IT service desk field. With BMC Remedyforce, customers can take advantage of more than 20 years of service management leadership, a proven, trusted cloud delivery infrastructure, and the simplicity of a standardized cloud application. For more information and to sign up for a 30-day free trial please visit About Salesforce.com Salesforce.com is the trusted enterprise cloud computing company. Based on Salesforce.com s real-time, multitenant architecture, the company s Force.com platform and apps (http://www.salesforce.com/crm) have revolutionized the way companies collaborate and communicate. About BMC Business thrives when IT runs smarter, faster and stronger. That s why the most demanding IT organizations in the world rely on BMC Software across distributed, mainframe, virtual and cloud environments. Recognized as the leader in Business Service Management, BMC offers a comprehensive approach and unified platform that helps IT organizations cut cost, reduce risk and drive business profit. For the four fiscal quarters ended September 30, 2010, BMC revenue was approximately $1.96 billion. *187084* BMC, BMC Software, and the BMC Software logo are the exclusive properties of BMC Software, Inc., are registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and may be registered or pending registration in other countries. All other BMC trademarks, service marks, and logos may be registered or pending registration in the U.S. or in other countries. ITIL is a registered trademark, and a registered community trademark of the Office of Government Commerce, and is registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and is used here by BMC Software, Inc., under license from and with the permission of OGC. All other trademarks or registered trademarks are the property of their respective owners BMC Software, Inc. All rights reserved.

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