1 Choosing IT Service Management Software What to look for in an IT Service Management solution Monitor 24-7 Inc
2 Introduction Service management is one of the top catch phrases in today's IT business environment. The question is: with so many service management software and providers out there, how do you choose the right one? You may choose service management software based on price, or on the recommendations of a peer or associate, or by the provider's brand name. Because IT has to adapt to support the changing needs of the business, we believe you should choose service management software based on what best meets your current needs at a price you can afford, and has the features to support your future needs at no additional cost. First, you need to consider - what are IT s requirements to support the business and what features must the solution have to address these requirements? The goals of well-implemented IT service management software are: to improve communication within and among IT groups, and the customer; to ensure all requests are managed using a consistent, defined process; to meet/exceed all customer expectations by supporting service level agreements; and to provide management with accurate, reliable reports from which key business decisions can be made. The results of well implemented IT service management software are: efficient management of IT; and a high level of customer and employee satisfaction. Satisfied employees tend to work smarter and faster, creating business efficiency in your organization. IT will achieve its mandate from the business when the service management goals are reached -- the customer is satisfied and the business is efficiently supported. Business efficiency is defined as being in total control of all aspects of the business. As the business needs change, IT must quickly adapt to support the changing demands of the business. The flexibility and features of the underlying software is a key component of IT being able to adapt to support the service management needs of the business. How do you know which software fits your business? This whitepaper will help you define your needs, explain what is important in choosing a solution, and allow for a more informed decision to be made. Defining the need for an IT service management software solution Every IT department is unique, however the core operating requirements is the same: to deliver a high-value service to customers at the lowest cost possible while achieving the highest level of efficiency possible. To achieve this balance, management must work with the service management process owners to ensure that all processes are defined and supports the needs of the business. Once defined, a flexible, cost-effective software must be implemented to automate and manage the processes. As stated earlier, the software must be flexible and require little effort (and cost) to manage the changing needs of the business; otherwise the software and automated processes will become outdated and not be able to support the core requirements of IT and the business. A well-organized IT department results in satisfied customers As the needs of the business changes because of an increase in market share, acquisitions, or the need to be more competitive, organizations will rely more and more on IT for hardware and software support. IT will have to do more to meet the needs of the organization, with less financial and people resources. Management needs to ensure their IT departments are organized in order for the company to continue its current success of providing the right product or service at the lowest price. How can the right service management software help the business? Basically, there are two areas in every business that will benefit from a service management solution: service to your internal customers and service to other internal IT departments to help support your organization. So how do you know if service management software will be of benefit to the business? First, you need to define how the business can benefit by asking the following questions: Is your organization committed to solving issues and answering IT related questions in a specific timeframe? Does your organization have procedures that you perform regularly - such as recurring IT requests, new employee requests or submitting purchase orders that require management approvals? Do you need to manage IT assets and its performance? Do you provide specific services to your customers, such as moving assistance or staff software training? If your answer is "yes", a service management software solution will definitely help you to improve your service.
3 What can a service management software solution do for your organization? You may be wondering what a service management software solution can do for you? If your solution supports all of your organization s IT service processes, including the automation of workflows, simply stated, your staff members' jobs will be easier and you will be in better control. Before going into detail about what kind of solution could help you, the following are some examples of where the business can benefit from a service management software solution. These examples can provide a significant Return on Investment (ROI) for the business -- a very important factor to consider when selecting the right solution. IT Service Desk A thorough examination of your IT service desk is often the first step to determine if you need a service management software solution. As you know, an organization's IT service desk is its lifeblood and one of the most frequently contacted departments in any business. Anyone within the organization with questions about their system or software contacts the IT department and expects an answer or solution immediately. As well, since the continuity of your business is directly affected by your IT department s actions, it is important that you have control over it. Tasks such as automating priorities, monitoring requests, assigning tasks to specialists, and managing vendors - which service management software can provide -- will ensure your service desk stays organized. You will want to make sure that your service management software can perform the following functions: Log problems Provide a central contact point Help engineers solve issues quickly by presenting solutions through a knowledgebase Provide a way to get specialists involved in solving the issue The system must be able to receive and view requests through various communication channels including web, , phone, mobile, etc. - known as a "multi-channel" response Log questions for a person and also for the piece of equipment or asset that is experiencing the problem Manage your equipment and software Manage changes in your organization and show the impact a change has on the rest of the organization Automate customer reviews on your service Create management reports which help you monitor your service at different levels: management view, operational view and personal view The features above are just some of the functions you should look for in service management software. The best approach is to sit down with a team from your organization including representatives from IT, end users and management and decide what your business truly needs. Supporting the service desk with service management software will allow you to: Improve the management of the IT teams; Ensure your people are freed up to focus on providing quality service to your customers instead of answering the telephone; Ensure agreed-upon response times can be monitored and measured; Be informed on what is happening in your organization; Locate the weaknesses in your business -- staff, equipment or processes; Ensures that IT will prioritize tasks using defined customer SLAs and provide customer updates via web and channels; View and assess valuable business information - which can save you money; Allows you to proactively manage your services - providing a high level of support.
4 IT Service Desk and ITIL Your business may also decide to configure your service desk using the ITIL approach. There are many service management software solutions with pre-built ITIL processes, which will force your business to significantly change your processes before being able to use the solution. As noted earlier, every business is unique - yours included. Therefore, you must make sure that you are able to adapt the general ITIL framework to support your organization s ITIL implementation. In other words, the software you choose should adapt easily to your needs. It is important that as the business grows and your needs change, you should be able to modify the software using internal resources, without the need for high-priced consultants. Low-end products deliver solutions that give you incident management and change management functions, but they may not be flexible enough to meet your needs. High-cost products deliver solutions which can be completely customized to your needs, but often require significant effort using high-priced consultants. It's best to find software which offers both functionality and adaptability, at a reasonable price. You should look for software that offers a framework where you can define your processes using basic templates, but with the ability to reconfigure the templates to support your business functions. Figure 1: IncidentMonitor Integrated ITIL approach Support your development team Many businesses have specialists on staff that develop specific software solutions or manage and develop on third-party software tools. The development department deals with problems, bugs, enhancement requests and more. In most cases, the development department uses an internally developed tools or shareware software to manage issues. Typically the service desk solution and bug tracking solution are not integrated because these are two separate and distinct processes. The service desk is the first point of contact for any IT related issues and is the single point of contact for your customers. When a customer calls in with a software issue, the help desk agent will log the issue using the help desk solution. If the development department is not using the service desk solution, the agent will inform development and does not have access to the review and resolution of the software issue and as a result is not able to provide the level of support to your customer. Therefore, when looking for a service management software solution, the solution should support the development team s process as well. It's wise to ensure questions about bugs or enhancement requests being logged by the IT help desk can be routed easily to the development department. Then, once the issue is resolved, you want to make sure the solution can assign the issue back to the service desk. This will allow you to separate software problems from daily IT problems, and to track all the issues. To demonstrate, in the diagram we can see a client submitting a request to the helpdesk. The service desk then assesses the issues to determine it is a software development issue. The service desk then enters a "Send to Development" task within the service desk project. The "Send to Development" task automatically opens a request within the development project. When the bug is fixed, a message is sent back to the helpdesk agent to follow up with the customer. Figure 2: Service Desk Development collaboration
5 Knowledge Management and Self Service Providing self help for your customers will decrease the number of calls to the IT help desk--which is the ultimate goal for any IT support organization. Therefore the IT Service Management software solution must support self service and knowledge management; preferably accessible through as well as a web based service portal. Be aware that older applications in the market still use the old fashion way of building a knowledge tree. Look for solutions that can index and search your knowledge documents through intelligent language search. Also look into security and accessibility of certain knowledge sections. You may want to publish only relevant information to specific groups in your organization. Another important factor in Self Service Portals is working with web forms. Look for a solution that can deliver a service catalog in which web forms can be published to your end user community. Using web forms will help you to auto categorize, prioritize and assign requests to the right persons with the right skills. When you have an up to date service portal you will see an immediate ROI--in cost as well as in satisfaction. Your end users will have easy access to knowledge articles, have the ability to access their requests and can view in real time the status of their issues. The IT department will log fewer phone calls, fewer s and have a much better overview on what is going on. Infrastructure Management Managing the IT infrastructure is a key activity of any support department. There are many monitoring tools on the market which can be configured to proactively and reactively monitor critical applications, networks and hardware. With proactive management, you can set notification thresholds. For example, when the CPU utilization on a critical server reaches 70%, notify the systems administrator, who then takes the appropriate steps to ensure there isn t a failure. Reactive management processes failures. For example if a server suddenly becomes unavailable, notify the appropriate resources so the failure can be resolved within the SLA defined by the business. Monitoring tools do a great job at tracking events and raising flags. However, monitoring tools are not designed to manage the resolution of configured events, based on the requirements of the business; or provide the necessary operational and management reports. These are functions of the service management software solution. Select a service management software solution which will easily integrate with any monitoring tool. Most organizations use a variety of monitoring tools to manage specific components of the infrastructure. The service management software solution must be easily integrated with multiple tools. The integration must be simple, to allow your resources to configure and re-configure the integration without assistance from the vendor; yet robust enough to manage any event of interest raised by the monitoring tool. Tickets created from infrastructure events have to be managed based on the needs of the business. A key component of the integration of the service management and monitoring tool is the ability to easily define the requirements of the business for the management, resolution and measurement of the event. These include severities, response times, resolution times, escalation parameters, intelligent routing, corporate policies, workflow and operational & management reports. The service management software solution must also perform actions, such as publishing all alerts on a central dashboard and whiteboard. Service Request Management Earlier in the document in the paragraph How can the right service management software solution help my business? we briefly mentioned requests like purchase orders, new employees, moving assistance, software training requests, etc.. Once you have fine tuned your IT service processes, we advise you to have a look at other processes that touch your IT support department. Processes like new hires, requests to move an office or room, etc.. Processes like these require immediate action from IT and therefore has an immediate impact on IT resource scheduling. Therefore it will benefit you to consider non-it service requests when purchasing a solution. The solution must be flexible enough to support IT and non-it service requirements and must provide a simple interface to all internal departments (IT and non-it) as well as directly to the end user. To support service request management, the software must be able to: Support service catalogs which present the various services offered by the internal departments to your end user. This will simplify end user service request submissions, which results in fewer phone calls to your internal departments. Support flexible workflows to create simple and complex flows. These flows will automatically route the request through the organization assigning tasks to individuals and departments in parallel, serial or adhoc order. Separate service requests based on user access requirements. Provide full request audits, showing users who performed the task. This becomes critical in requests which have a direct impact on the business, such as approvals for purchase requests or new employees. Examples you can consider are: New employee process support Moving employees and the IT equipment
6 New software and hardware requests Complaint management Temp staff requests Contact us to see examples of other processes our customers have implemented. What kind of technology do you need? It is important that your choice of software is designed to be scalable -- meaning you can add servers to the system as your user community grows in size. Don't be fooled by older products on the market that use old client/server technology that won't scale up as your business grows. All of the performance leaders in the Transaction Processing Performance Council's (TPC) (www.tpc.org) benchmark tests use multi-tier architectures. The TPC is a non-profit corporation founded to define transaction processing and database benchmarks and to disseminate objective, verifiable TPC performance data to the industry. All vendors should make their architecture visible to customers. Below an example of IncidentMonitor 's architecture. The three rings in the centre represent the server or servers, depending on the size of your environment. Benefits of a Good Architecture There is a saying that change is constant, and this applies to the business world as well. The solution s architecture should provide the basis to support your changing business and the needs of your user community. You never know what the future holds and the solution s architecture shouldn't limit you to the functionality you have today. The architecture should be able to take advantage of new technologies as they become available. Well-designed architecture provides a distinct advantage over other systems that may not have been designed to accommodate change. Open and adjustable architecture can adapt to change with very little effort or additional cost. The advantages of welldesigned architecture may not be readily apparent to you until you need to make some changes to your system in order to support your business. The following is a list of benefits good architecture will provide: Leverage what you already have, so you don't need to "reinvent the wheel" Easily add capacity to the system so it grows as your needs grow Connect your business with other businesses or departments by merely agreeing on a data exchange format Never have system imposed limits due to design decisions Having an open system allows you to adapt to any future changes Be able to use other systems or components from within the architecture Leverage the architecture in other applications F i figure 3: IncidentMonitor architecture
7 Making a Choice With the myriad of IT service management choices out there, how can you make the best choice for the business? We feel the best approach is to pull together staff from IT, management, and the customer service team and brainstorm how you think it might help. Make sure you involve staff who are directly involved with using the solution and those who look at it from a broader perspective. You can use this information to prepare your request for information from the different vendors. Create a data sheet that lists all your needs and requirements and have vendors fill out the list. If you weight your needs you should be able to narrow down your choice to three vendors and ask for a demonstration. For the demo, you should prepare a document which outlines a live example. The preparation and response of the vendors should show you if they can listen to and meet your needs. Then ask the vendor to show you some examples which have not been prepared. Evaluation: The demonstration should help you make your choice. If you still feel you are lacking information, request an evaluation version from the vendor. Be sure that you plan a couple of days for the evaluation, and that you use the solution for several hours each day. Try several scenarios with the solution and ask the vendor to show you some basic administrative actions. If you have any questions while using the solution, call the vendor. They should have someone ready to speak to you and talk you through the process. Quote and order: Once you have run your demo and evaluation, and have further narrowed down your choices, there are a few criteria to use when asking for a quote. We have found lower-priced vendors may offer you less expensive licenses to start, but the costs may climb over the long term. It is important that you make a calculation of the cost of implementing your service management solution over three years. Questions should include: What are your one-time costs for licenses? What is your yearly returning cost? Is there training provided and what is the result of that training? Are you able to build your own processes or adapt existing processes after the training? How much services are needed from the vendor to get the software successful implemented? Where do you go from here? We hope this document has provided you with an understanding of what an IT service management solution can do for you. Choosing the right service management solution for your business is critical. The right solution will help you exceed in managing customer-facing processes and supporting your business processes in today's continuously changing business environment. Our goal is to help you to make the right choice, based on where your business is today and where your business will be in the future. We have seen many organizations having to replace their IT service management solution because it does not meet their future and growing needs. You should make sure: You select software that can be easily implemented without the hassle of defining processes. e.g. if you are interested in IT service desk, select software which provides this out of the box. The software is able to meet your business flows simply by configuration and without the need for expensive customization The software is able to act as a shared service center with the goal of supporting other processes that might be implemented in the future The initial process can be easily adapted, by your own trained staff, when the needs of the business changes The underlying architecture is flexible, well designed, reliable and open -- able to support 100 calls monthly or 100,000 calls per day. A well designed solution should be able to handle any capacity and operate problem free for many years The software gives you the opportunity to integrate to other applications and allows you to configure the integration without requiring consulting services from the vendor.
8 About Monitor 24-7 Inc. Monitor 24-7 redefines service management by helping organizations improve their customer-facing functions. Monitor 24-7 awardwinning solution IncidentMonitor, provides simple solutions that tackle complex service desk processes -- right out of the box. IncidentMonitor is available as an on-site install or SaaS. IncidentMonitor has received PinkVERIFY certification for 10 ITIL v3 processes. All processes are provided at no additional cost. Our goal is to help customers reduce running costs, manage change, implement a fully functional advanced software solution and lower the cost of ownership. Monitor 24-7 is a software development organization focused on service management. Years of experience and many different customers have brought us where we are today. We believe we have proven ourselves and we are very proud of our flagship IncidentMonitor -- an enterprise service management solution which is being used in many different environments, from very simple service desk to very complex ITIL and SOX oriented organizations. Monitor 24-7 s staff are highly skilled senior people who have proven their skills in service management and software development. Our engineers and developers use their skills not only behind the laptop but face-to-face with customers. Our unique approach along with the flat hierarchy of our organization means we understand the needs and problems of our customers. This understanding is reflected in the ongoing development of IncidentMonitor. New features have often been requested by our customers. Since our start in 1999, Monitor 24-7 is growing in North America and Europe. We are headquartered in Toronto, Canada and our European office is in The Netherlands. Monitor 24-7 supports customers and resellers in more than 20 countries. Monitor 24-7 solutions are used by a broad base of global customers in a variety of industries. For details please contact our sales team at or at , via at or at
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