What makes for a compelling metrics story?

reading1In my first article “Do your metrics tell a story?” I discussed the “traditional” approach to reporting metrics, and why that approach is ineffective at driving action or decisions.

Personal observations are far more effective. Personal observations appearing to conflict with the data presented can actually strengthen opposition to whatever decision or action the data suggests. Presenting data as part of a story reboots the way we receive data. Done well, it creates an experience very similar to personal observation.

So how can we do this well? What makes a compelling metrics story?

Every element must lead to a singular goal

This cannot be stressed enough. Any metrics story we tell must have a singular purpose, and every element of the package must exist only to achieve that purpose. Look at any report package you produce or consume. Is there a single purpose for the report? Does every piece of information support that single purpose? Does the audience for the report know the singular purpose? If the answer to any of these questions is no, then there is no good reason to invest time in reading it.

ITSM legend Malcolm Fry provides an excellent example of the singular goal approach with his “Power of Metrics” workshops. If you haven’t been able to attend one of his metrics workshops, you are truly missing out. I had the honor when Fry’s metrics tour came through Minneapolis in August 2012. The most powerful takeaway (of many) was the importance of having a singular focus in metrics reporting.

In the workshop, Fry uses a “Good day / Bad day” determination as the singular focus of metrics reporting. ThoughtRock recorded an interview with him that provides a good background of his perspective and the “Good day / Bad day” concept for metrics. The metrics he proposed all roll up into the determination of whether IT had a good day, or a bad day. You can’t get clearer and more singular than that. The theme is understood by everyone: IT staff, business leaders … all the stakeholders.

There are mountains of CSF/KPI information on the Internet and organizations become easily overwhelmed by all the data, trying to decide which CSFs and KPIs to use. Fry takes the existing CSF and KPI concepts and adds a layer on top of CSFs. He calls the new layer “Service Focal Point”.

The Service Focal Point (SFP) provides a single measurement, based on data collected through KPIs. Good day, bad day is just one example of using SFPs. We only need to capture the KPIs relevant to determining the SFP.

(Fry also recently recorded a webinar: Service Desk Metrics — Are We Having a Good Day or a Bad Day? Sign up, or review the recording if you are reading this after the live date).

Create a shared experience

A good metrics story creates a new experience. Earlier I wrote about how personal histories – personal experiences – are stronger than statistics, logic, and objective data in forming opinions and perspectives. Stories act as proxies for personal experiences. Where personal experiences don’t exist, stories can affect opinions and perspectives. Where personal experience does exist, stories can create additional “experiences” to help others see things in a new way.

If the CIO walks by the service desk, and sometimes observes them chatting socially, her experience may lead to a conclusion that the service desk isn’t working hard enough (overstaffed, poorly engaged, etc.) Giving her data demonstrating high first contact resolution and short caller hold times won’t do much to change the negative perception. Instead, make the metrics a story about reduced costs and improved customer engagement.

A great story creates a shared experience by allowing us to experience similarities between ourselves and others. One of the most powerful ways to create a shared experience is by being consistent in what we report and how we report it. At one point in my practitioner career I changed metrics constantly. My logic was that I just needed to find the right measurement to connect with my stakeholders. It created the exact opposite outcome: My reports became less and less relevant.

The singular goal must remain consistent from reporting period to reporting period. For example, you may tweak the calculations that lead to a Good day / Bad day outcome, but the “storyline” (was it a good day or a bad day?) remains the same. We now have a shared experience and storyline. Everyone knows what to look for each day.

Use whatever storyline(s) works for your organization. Fry’s Good day / Bad day example is just one way to look at it. The point is making a consistent story.

Make the stakeholders care

A story contains an implied promise that the story will lead me somewhere worth my time. To put it simply, the punch line – the outcome – must be compelling to the stakeholders. There are few experiences worse than listening to a rambling story that ends up going nowhere. How quickly does the storyteller lose credibility as a storyteller? Immediately! The same thing happens with metrics. If I have to wade through a report only to find that there is ultimately nothing compelling to me, I’ll never pay attention to it again. You’ll need to work pretty hard to get my attention in the future.

This goes back to the dreaded Intro to Public Speaking class most US college students are required to take. When I taught that class, the two things I stressed more than anything was:

  • Know your audience
  • Make your topic relevant to them

If the CIO is your primary audience, she’s not going to care about average call wait times unless someone from the C-suite complained. Chances are good, however, that she will care about how much money is spent per incident, or the savings due to risk mitigation.

Know your ending before figuring out the middle of the story

This doesn’t mean you need to pre-determine your desired outcome and make the metrics fit. It means you need to know what decisions should be made as a result of the metrics presentation before diving into the measurement.

Here are just a few examples of “knowing the ending” in the ITSM context:

  • Do we need more service desk staff?
  • How should we utilize any new headcount?
  • Will the proposed process changes enable greater margins?
  • Are we on track to meet annual goals?
  • Did something happen yesterday that we need to address?
  • How will we know whether initiative XYZ is successful?

A practical example

Where should we focus Continual Service Improvement (CSI) efforts? The problem with many CSI efforts is that they end up being about process improvement, not service improvement. We spend far too much time on siloed process improvement, calling it service improvement.

For example, how often do you see measurement efforts around incident resolution time? How does that indicate service improvement by itself? Does the business care about the timeliness of incident resolution? Yes, but only in the context of productivity, and thereby cost, loss or savings.

A better approach is to look at the kind of incidents that cause the greatest productivity loss. This can tell us where to spend our service improvement time.

The story we want to tell is, “Are we providing business value?”

The metric could be a rating of each service, based on multiple factors, including: productivity lost due to incidents; the cost of incidents escalated to level 2 & 3 support; number of change requests opened for the service; and the overall business value of the service.

Don’t get hung up on the actual formula. The point is how we move the focus of ITSM metrics away from siloed numbers that mean nothing on their own, to information that tells a compelling story.

If you would like guidance on coming up with valid calculations for your stories, I highly recommend “How to Measure Anything: Finding the Value of Intangibles in Business” by Douglas Hubbard.

… and a few more excellent resources:

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2nd Birthday

2nd Birthday
The terrible two’s? (Categorized by temper tantrums, saying “No” to everything, or refusing to do as they are told)

We’ve been so busy here at The ITSM Review we missed our own 2nd Birthday, Whoops!

Our very first article hit the interwebs on 3rd August 2011. Some 200 articles later, we have 24,000 visits a month (August 2013) from all over the globe.

A sincere thank you to all the readers, contributors, clients and supporters who have helped us grow.

Thank you for supporting us and sharing the stuff you like. We’ve grown organically through sharing and word of mouth thanks to your support.

Our first article was an interview with Ben Clacy, CEO of itSMF UK. Two years on and we’re very pleased to be supporting itSMF as their headline media partner for the UK itSMF conference in November. In a moment of madness we’ve decided to give away a free ticket to the conference! (Click here for details).

Country-Hotspots
ITSM Review readers by major cities (August 2013)

We’re proud to provide a platform for anyone in the ITSM industry to share their expertise, connect with peers and voice their opinions. We’re also excited by the new ways to collaborate we’re building for the near future.

If you would like to share your expertise with the industry or get on your soapbox and discuss an issue close to your heart please get in touch. Similarly if there is something you’d like to see us provide please let us know.

Contact form here or connect with us on Twitter.

Competition: Why do you deserve a free ticket to this year’s itSMF UK conference?

fireworks

As part of our Media Partnership with the itSMF UK Conference and Exhibition, 4-5 November in Birmingham, we have a free ticket (to both days of the event) to giveaway to one lucky reader.

So pay close attention, because this is a great giveaway!

The ticket

The free ticket will include:

  • Entry to the pre-conference networking event on Sunday 3rd November
  • Entry to both days of the conference and exhibition (Monday 4th and Tuesday 5th November)
  • Entry to the fabulous Awards Dinner on the evening of Monday 4th November

The ticket will not include:

  • Any accommodation
  • Travel expenses (we’re generous, we’re not THAT generous, sheesh!)

The full value of this ticket is £901.00 + VAT. The cost of this ticket to the winner will be £0.00. The value of this ticket to the winner will be… immense.

The competition

It’s simple.  Just tell us why you deserve to win a free ticket.

To be clear, we don’t want to hear stories about how you need the ticket to help you escape from work for a  couple of days because the colleague who sits next to you drives you mental singing along to “I Will Survive”  every day. Trust us, a free event ticket is not what you need to deal with that.

We want to know what great things you have achieved in the ITSM space to warrant a free pass to such a great conference.  We want to know how this conference will help you in your day-to-day job and why you need that help. We want to know how this ticket will change your ITSM life!

Oh, and did I mention that we need all that in less than 200 words?

Submit your entry here.

The Rules

  1. Deadline to enter is Friday 18th October
  2. You don’t have to be an itSMF UK member to participate in this competition
  3. This competition is open to readers all over the world
  4. How to enter: Post your reason why you deserve to win this free ticket here
  5. The ITSM Review will choose the winning entry
  6. The ITSM Review’s decision is final (and all that jazz…)
  7. We reserve the right to change the rules retrospectively at any point, because… well because this is our competition and we said so.

GOOD LUCK and make your 200 words count!

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BCS event review: An evening with Axelos

Greg
Gregory Bayliss-Hall

On the 12th September AXELOS (the new commercial joint venture between the UK Government and Capita) arranged an evening at the BCS offices in Covent Garden to discuss its plans for the future of ITIL, and the rest of the Best Practice Management portfolio, now that they’re the new custodians.

When I arrived, long before the presentation started, I couldn’t help notice a large crowd of people already there (I’m normally the first) – inside and outside the event rooms people where busy chatting, networking and enjoying the refreshments. The atmosphere was building – attendees were genuinely excited and concerned as to what AXELOS had planned.

AXELOS is a hot topic

It’s currently the hottest topic in the ITSM space – reflected when a week before the event the venue was fully booked. Luckily for us nobody was disappointed – BCS had the capacity to move the event to a larger room to accommodate a diverse audience that included ATO’s, consultants, penguins, ITSM tool vendors, sector analysts, and practitioners like myself to hear what Chris Barrett – Director and “opening batsman” for AXELOS had to say about the new joint venture.

AXELOS themselves are in their infancy and are still pulling together a management team and working towards full autonomy by 1st January 2014. The new joint venture will no longer be bound by government constraints, “the shackles are off”, which in my opinion can only be a good thing. Asked who keeps AXELOS on the straight and narrow – Chris replied “the community”.

The evening

Over the 90 minute session Chris walked through his slides giving the attendees an enthusiastic insight into the JV which was reciprocated by a lively audience who came armed with an arsenal of questions.

Quality, relevance and innovation were the themes running through the presentation and are clearly a strategic aim of the JV. The quality is there, but Chris is keen that AXELOS raise the bar, improving the framework and making it more relevant to specific groups such as practitioner’s and CIO’s.

This will come with ideas such as

  • Stronger links to its community and stakeholder groups with a more open and less isolated stance
  • Referencing areas that other frameworks do well that isn’t a key strength of ITIL and complimenting the ISO standards that ITIL helps to underpin
  • Different flavours of courses – refresher, advisory and tailor made training for an organisation could be offered as well as of off shelf learning
  • Internationally they’ll focus on areas that are more relevant to different regions, cultures translations and local nuances; these will be carefully thought through to grow the brand

Training

Training was a hot topic and as with any change people get anxious, some were hanging off each and every one of Chris’s words. He explained it isn’t about doing away with how things are done now – but exploring opportunities such as gamification and giving the end user more options.

The best training in my opinion still comes from having a trainer who has been there and has the experience (and scars) to convey the learning’s. Whether this is via slides, e-Learning or gamification doesn’t matter. It’s about how it feels and the choices that are the best for each individual.

It’s no secret that G2G3 was recently acquired by Capita (the bigger half of the JV) and naturally there will be some influence. Chris added that in his mind this adds to the quality and fuels the innovation, but stressed that it would not be mandatory, simply an added choice for ATO’s. Personally I can’t wait to try it!

Modulate ITIL?

An idea being bounced around is to modulate ITIL. Benefits of doing this would be not having to have a refresher every five years, keeping it progressively updated and relevant, improved interaction with MSP and Prince2 leading to the possibility of a common glossary, and learning the parts of ITIL that are relevant to you. For those in the audience that have been “doing” ITIL for a while, this approach has a sense of ITIL V2 about it.

The AXELOS plan and challenges

Short-term – Minimal disruption to the ecosystem

Medium-term – Continue relationship building with the various stakeholder groups and organisations such as The BCS, ITSMF UK and SDI

Long-term – Developing brand ITIL and ultimately achieving the goal of making ITIL a global framework truly recognised internationally, developing new Best Practice Management products and working with other frameworks.

ITSM Pen
ITSM Penguin – a familiar face at AXELOS events

Final Thoughts

This is nothing short of an ambitious vision from AXELOS. Inevitably there will be difficult key decisions to be made and “not everybody will be pleased, but everybody will be listened to” – Aspects of ITIL and the Best Practice Management Portfolio need to be nurtured and invigorated and it’s reassuring to know that this is the direction AXELOS is taking.

Chris had a good innings and took a record breaking 49 questions from an empowered audience that evening and probably many more afterwards. I guess he may have come away from the BCS that night feeling like he scored his first century.

As always, if you have an opinion as to the future of ITIL, please respond to this blog or email AXELOS direct. You can also follow what’s happening by looking for their communications on Twitter or Google+

This article was contributed by Gregory Baylis-Hall, IT Service Management Analyst at Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP. Enthusiastically geeky about the Service Management schema – he enjoys working out how it all connects together. Follow him on Twitter.

Practitioners: Do you feel unwelcome in your hometown?

bibleAs a practitioner within a large organization and having been so for about eight years now, I find myself quoting the Bible every now and then when talking to my colleagues about IT consultants.

The quote I mostly refer to is Luke 4:24 – “Truly I say to you, no prophet is welcome in his hometown.”

I’m not a religious person, but from my Bible reading I can definitely understand the frustration and the annoyance of not being listened to by management. Jesus probably didn’t have a problem with his management per se, but he sure had some problems getting his message through.

Have you ever felt this?

There seem to be two main situations within business where people feel like the unwelcomed prophet; when they return from a course and when the IT consultant shows up.

Situation One: Bad Education

Employees return from a course, perhaps even with a certificate of excellence, filled with new knowledge and energy. Do management and colleagues listen to these employees and the new knowledge that they have to share? Or are they too preoccupied listening to their favourite podcast (I know that even I have been guilty of this)?

This is a good example of the prophet (the employee) not being welcomed. Colleagues and bosses don’t accept that the employee has gained new knowledge, nor will they let them use their new insights. Nobody believes that the employee has come back from the course more skilled than before.

However, some people do come back from a course with a clear vision of how to change things for the better. They can connect their new insights to their already existing knowledge and wisdom. But no one cares since they can’t see that the prophet actually has anything new to say.

In this situation an employee will feel unappreciated. Why did the company invest both good time and money in education that they aren’t prepared to listen to and/or harvest any value from?

Situation Two: All hail the Messiah

I’m sure most of us have, at least once, found ourselves in the situation where a new IT consultant is brought into the team and suddenly receives “Messiah” status. You know, where management automatically listens to everything he or she says? Often despite the fact that you have been saying the exact same thing for years and no one ever bothered to listen to you. The stranger is more welcome than the, since long established, employee.

The consultants words are automatically taken for truth, the measures they suggest are taken as law and if you (the practitioner) do not obey then you are a troublemaker without a doubt.

In this situation an employee will feel a lack of confidence from management and that their skills and knowledge are less valuable than a strangers.

Sadly enough I have seen many practitioners go against the IT consultants, even when they actually agree with them, simply because they felt wrongly treated by management.

So how should you handle these situations?

Unfortunately I don’t have all the answers, but I can tell you how I’ve personally started to deal with these situations as a practitioner (aka the prophet).

  • Let things take time ­– if you come back from a great course, sit on your new found knowledge for a while and share it piece by piece.
  • Don’t give up – when you feel unappreciated and mistreated, stand up straight and show that you are to be reckoned with.
  • See the good for the company, not just yourself – it’s not a one man show and sometimes it’s okay to stand back for the greater good.
  • Let the consultants shine too – if the IT consultant does a good job, it will rub off on you. You might even learn something new.

In Summary

The consultants that are the good ones understand the problem of prophet/practitioner vs Messiah/consultant, the not so good ones don’t mind taking credit for everything as long as they look good in the eyes of management. Needless to say we (the practitioners) don’t care much for the latter.

Good consultants know how to cultivate and grow the practitioners that they work with – and we, the good practitioners, know how to behave to maximize this symbioses of development and change.

So if you are in a place where you feel like the consultants are Messiah, where the gospel are sung only by outside people and where you preach to deaf ears or an empty temple, think again.

If management does not utilize your skills and knowledge the way you feel is for the best, be persistent and await your time.

Maybe it’s not the words of Luke but the words of Matthew we should embrace; “But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.” (Matthew 5:39)

To any practitioners reading this article, how do you personally deal with these situations?

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itSMF UK Conference and Exhibition 2013

itsmfuk
Last year’s conference

We are excited to announce that we will be the Headline Media Partner for this years itSMF UK Conference and Exhibition 2013 (ITSM13)!

This news is not only exciting for us, but also potentially for you, as we will soon be launching a competition to give one lucky reader the opportunity to win a free ticket (networking, awards dinner and all) courtesy of our partnership with itSMF UK. Stay tuned for more information…

The event, which brings together 1000 ITSM professionals in six tracks of educational presentations, interactive sessions and case studies, will kick off on Sunday evening, November 3rd at 6.30pm with a pre-conference networking event.  This will be the perfect opportunity to catch up with old friends and make new business acquaintances before the full conference begins.

ITSM13 offers:

  • 2 full days of networking with global, ITSM industry experts, practitioners, educators, vendors and consultants
  • Over 50 educational presentations, delivered by experienced users, consultants and subject specialists in all areas of service management
  • ITSM Exhibition, showcasing the latest products and services from around 50 service management software, training and consultancy organisations
  • The prestigious annual awards dinner, where the greatest achievements in service management are highlighted and rewarded. Awards will be presented for best project, innovation, submission, team, volunteer contributor, trainer, student, as well as the famous Paul Rappaport lifetime achievement award.

ITSM13 will also be the launch pad for The Big Four Agenda for 2014, a renewed focus by itSMF UK on the issues facing IT leaders today and in the future. This initiative represents the culmination of six months’ work from a broad range of member organisations and individuals, highlighting the four key areas that are at the forefront of IT leaders’ minds and, more specifically, the ways that service management can provide solutions to these issues.

itSMF UK have also launched a new ITSM13 app on iOS and Android app dedicated to this years conference. Download it to keep on top of conference news, to check out the event schedule, see who is exhibiting, and more.

If you would like to schedule a catch up and/or one-on-one meeting with us at the conference please email me. We are interested in hearing from all attendees whether you are a vendor, end-user, consultant or other!

We hope to see you there!


Event Summary

WHAT

itSMF UK Conference and Exhibition 2013 (ITSM13)

WHERE

International Convention Centre, Birmingham

WHEN

Monday 4th – Tuesday 5th November (with pre-event networking on Sunday 3rd)

BOOKING

Early booking rates and other information

Knowledge Management 2013 Group Test – The Results

This is a competitive comparison of Knowledge Management technology.

Products reviewed:

  • Cherwell
  • EasyVista
  • ITinvolve [BEST IN CLASS]

Download Review

(Free PDF, No Registration Required – 343kb, 4 Pages)


Knowledge Management 2013 Best in Class

Knowledge Management 2013 Best in Class: ITinvolve
Knowledge Management 2013 Best in Class: ITinvolve
  • ITinvolve – all 3 products are a good option as they meet the basic requirements requested, however this product looks to be an excellent (if brave) choice that works towards an intuitive KM solution. EasyVista and Cherwell have similar in built functionality and are established ITSM players, whilst ITinvolve is a more innovative product, with good customer results and stories so far. Whilst this is the best product option, ITinvolve are still a new and small vendor and will need to develop their client-base to consolidate this result.

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

Good for practical simple and effective use (with existing platforms)

  • EasyVista and Cherwell – both provide excellent standard integrated Knowledge functionality with the existing toolsets. Either product is an excellent option for Knowledge Management, integrated with the other ITSM toolset areas – both are recognized and established ITSM vendors.

Good for an innovative approach using new/social tools

  • ITinvolve – Nice approach and social integration means the barriers to usage can be radically broken down. There may be challenges for organisations taking this approach on, but it looks to be excellent option (and is also integrated with some other ITSM tools).

Knowledge Management Market Observations

KM

  • ‘Knowledge Management’ (in the ITSM context) doesn’t really have a specific product sector. This tends to be an application of one or more product areas to support the process of knowledge creation and knowledge sharing. E.g. a useful ‘Knowledge Management’ solution could easily be SharePoint, or an intranet portal.
  • ITSM value in this area comes from integration with regular ITIL processes like Incident, Problem, Change, SLM and Configuration, plus automation and self-help delivered via customer-friendly portals.
  • Of the 3 products reviewed, EasyVista and Cherwell were seen to be good example of knowledge functionality applied to an existing ITSM toolset – both showed good integration and provide good standard functionality. ITinvolve was clearly built more as a knowledge and social platform and is seen as an innovative product with some new concepts.
  • All 3 products displayed capabilities well in keeping with the stated requirements and would offer good opportunities for development of Knowledge Management (with the caveats as described above).
  • Differentiators were therefore relatively minor in terms of functionality (particularly between EasyVista and Cherwell). The main difference was in the overall (and quite radical) approach from ITinvolve – this was seen as positive and interesting, although involving a more challenging procurement and implementation approach.
  • As with many tools in this area, much of the success is down to the interface and usability, plus how this can remove resistance to use. Tools that are seamless and integrated, plus those which can leverage slick and familiar ways of working and user interface will help to build loyalty and effective usage.
  •  Knowledge Centred Support (KCS) was not seen as a differentiator for any of the vendors reviewed – none saw value in investing in accreditation and this had not been an issue in procurement to date.

Market Positioning and Approach

Vendor Mid-Market Enterprise   Approach
Cherwell

Standard ITSM
EasyVista

Standard ITSM
ITinvolve

Innovative Social

        – Definitely

       – Possibly

 

Comparative Overview

Vendor Overview Strengths Weaknesses
Cherwell
  • Vendor emerging across ITSM market space
  • Knowledge approach seamless with other ITSM areas in product
  • Provides all functionality required for review
  • Good vendor approach
  • knowledge article key element of system
  • Overall looks a good option
  • Meets all functionality required for review
  • ‘Knowledge shipped OOTB and is key element
  • Configuration can be done by non-tech users
  • User portal simple and user-friendly
  • Access to KAs can specified to (field) level security
  • KAs can be associated to services
  • Approval process sets % approvers
  • Approval steps can be defined at multiple levels
  • ‘One Step’ feature to simplify approval process
  • Nice ‘Community Discussion’ board
  • KAs can be raised and applied to any (process) area of the tool

  • Can look overly complex in places
  • IT User interface could be clearer and less complex
  • Can’t map approval workflow process

EasyVista
  • Good functionality meets all stated requirements
  • Seamless integration across the ITSM product set
  • Vendor established global position in mid-market –limited presence in some markets – e.g. UK
  • User Interface user-friendly
  • Some good features around discussion boards, crowdsourcing options and multi-level KAs
  • Overall looks a good option
  • Meets all functionality required for review
  • Pink Verified for Knowledge Management
  • Multi- level deployment in different languages
  • Able to control who uses ‘user rating’ – for KA relevance
  • Can reference 3rd party search engines and rate solution
  • Search engine automatically searches
  • Can create technical and simplified version of same KA, then apply to relevant profile
  • Nice statistics Dashboard
  • Discussion groups within product – nice like Facebook wall
  • Vendor geared to mid-market implementation
  • Limited positioning or presence in some key markets – e.g. UK
  • Could provide more focussed, results-based information on customer success stories using KM

 

ITinvolve
  • New vendor with innovative product and approach
  • Viral/organic knowledge approach
  • Lots of good features  well thought-out functionality
  • Product requires a big shift in approach from client
  • Vendor still developing pitch and positioning
  • Good option for some organisations

  • Meets all functionality required for review
  • Uses ‘Social’ crowdsourcing
  • Users ‘follow’ objects, creating knowledge and understanding of real experts and stakeholders facilitates ‘crowdsourcing’
  • Can be used in conjunction with other ITSM products –
  • Approach based on actual usage and practice rather than theoretical processes
  • Support staff see all followers and knowledge for an object.
  • Graphical representation of relationships – showing users + stakeholders.
  • Stakeholders crowdsource knowledge  and change – based on ‘objects’ they are following
  • Can also use more ‘traditional’ approach of approval and review as needed
  • Vendor offers Proof of Concept and trial. Implementation approach aims to support client self-sufficiency where possible
  • Good customer success examples given
  • Implementation approach based around successful client adoption of KM processes
  • Requires a major client shift in approach
  • Requires use of new terminology
  • Looks complex in places and requires clients with open or new approach to implementation
  • Sales pitch needs to be developed to grab attention more quickly
  • New and small vendor with limited market track record

Deep Dive

Further details for each vendor can be found by using the links below:

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: ITinvolve for Knowledge Management [BEST IN CLASS]

This independent review is part of our 2013 Knowledge Management Group Test.

Executive Summary – ITinvolve

Overview
  • New vendor with innovative product and approach
  • Viral/organic knowledge approach
  • Lots of good features  well thought-out functionality
  • Product requires a big shift in approach from client
  • Vendor still developing pitch and positioning
  • Good option for some organisations
Primary Market Focus Base on the information supplied ITinvolve typically target customers in the upper end of the Medium segment and higher (500+ employees). They have customers in the medium, large, and very large segment.

Commercial Summary

Vendor ITinvolve
Product ITinvolve Knowledge Collaborator
Version reviewed Summer ’13
Date of version release June 2013
Year founded May 2011
Customers 13
Pricing Structure SaaS-Based – Includes annual Platform cost of $50K, then licensed per user with annual list price of $1,600 per full user with lower price points for business/casual users. Typical net sales price is $65,000 per one year term with some deals exceeding $500,000 over multi-year term.
Competitive Differentiators
  1. “Architected from ground up to facilitate knowledge capture, sharing, and collaboration between IT professionals as well as business constituents. (ITinvolve leverages all relevant systems-based IT data and information sources and uses familiar social media techniques – e.g. crowd sourcing, peer review, following – to provide an always current and trusted source of an IT organization’s collective knowledge. All knowledge is represented through visually insightful objects and relationships. Objects may be technology elements – e.g. servers, databases, applications, policies, knowledge – e.g. articles, best practice documents, FAQs, automations, process activities – e.g. incidents, changes, requests, problems, as well as custom defined objects – e.g. manufacturing shop floor equipment, medical devices, even HR, Legal, Finance knowledge)
  2. Active Knowledge Delivery provides the right knowledge at the right time to the right people.  (Our solution proactively identifies and presents only the relevant knowledge in the context of the objects the user is viewing. Our product is designed to visually represent knowledge and relationships for quick analysis, and provides the ability to create personalized Perspectives on objects and their knowledge. Further, we use advanced techniques, such as tagging and relationship-based search, to provide quick easy and fast access to knowledge overcoming the limitations of traditional indexing and Google-like search approaches that generate dozens or more results that must be individually reviewed)
  3. ITinvolve provides the only solution that enables a user to create a decision scenario and evaluate the potential upstream and downstream impacts of the decision being considered, involving all relevant stakeholders in the process”

Independent Review

logoThis product is an innovative and interesting option for those wanting to really develop their Service Management using knowledge in an intuitive and new way, based on ‘social’ interaction.

There are lots of good functions and capabilities, plus the product has/can be used with other ITSM tools. The concepts are good and well thought through, and this is an excellent use of innovation, albeit that the system may look initially complex, without some explanation of the approach.

The vendor has a tough sales pitch to make to win new enterprise clients given the need for fairly radical cultural change, although the tool should appeal in particular to organisations aiming to achieve more value and results from knowledge-sharing.

The vendor is new and the product and positioning are developing. This looks to be a very good option for those looking to exploit ‘social’ and organic ways of working – also with an open and innovative approach to making processes work effectively.

Overview

  • New vendor with innovative product and approach
  • Not traditional knowledge management approach – overcoming traditional indexing and keyword searching problems.
  • Associating knowledge objects with users ‘following’ objects – creates viral/organic knowledge approach
  • Lots of good features and well thought-out functionality
  • A lot of new terminology
  • Product requires a big shift in approach from client
  • Vendor still developing pitch and positioning

Strengths

  • Architected based on knowledge-sharing approach, with ‘social’ approach
  • Uses ‘Social’ crowdsourcing as an intuitive and familiar approach, rather than traditional authoring and review
  • Users ‘follow’ objects, creating knowledge and understanding of who are real experts and stakeholders. This creates wider net of interested parties, and therefore facilitates a ‘crowdsourcing’ approach.
  • Can be used in conjunction with other ITSM products – using social and knowledge areas
  • Positive approach to using social and knowledge, based on actual usage and practice rather than theoretical processes. Uses Social-Media type ‘following’ of objects, services etc, as opposed to CMDB based assignment, to establish relationships and shared accountability.
  • Service desk or other support staff would see all the followers of an ‘object’ (application, server, database, incident, etc.). Then assign and track as appropriate
  • Nice status bar on each knowledge page – number of views, metrics etc.
  • Good visual representations of relationships – showing how many users involved in incidents and knowledge stakeholders, relationships between objects  etc.
  • Stakeholders crowdsource knowledge  and change – based on ‘objects’ they are following
  • Good overall approach to try and manage ‘real life’ way of working – ie involving relevant stakeholders in CAB type decisions.
  • Can also use more traditional approach of approval and review as needed
  • Some interesting new and ‘social’ terminology and verbs/actions – more intuitive and user-friendly version of RACI concepts
  • Vendor offers Proof of Concept and trial – (based on requirements – usually 30 – 60 days). Implementation approach aims to support client self-sufficiency with product where possible
  • Some good examples of focussed customer successes using KM – 70% reduction in change failures, 50% reduction in new start productivity, 50% reduction in mean time to restore services
  • Good understanding of varying SME/Enterprise implementation issues
  • Implementation based around successful customer adoption of KM processes

Weaknesses

  • Requires a major client shift in approach, with new terminology (verbs, actions) used – could be off-putting for some
  • Looks complex in places and requires clients with open or new approach to implementation
  • Sales pitch is good (based on solution selling and use cases) although needs to be developed and simplified to grab attention and quickly show route to value
  • New and small vendor with limited market track record as company

ITinvolve’s Knowledge Management Customers

In Their Own Words:

“ITinvolve Knowledge Collaborator provides a federated, comprehensive, and peer reviewed source of all your IT knowledge, and combines this with personalized visualization, in-context collaboration, and proactive delivery of relevant information to those who need it when they need it.

Easily capture and share your collective knowledge – configuration data, policies, best practices, tribal knowledge, lessons learned, and more – in one easy to use place. Gain unprecedented visibility into your complex IT environment configurations, dependencies, and relationships.

Leveraging modern social collaboration techniques, ITinvolve is always up-to-date and accurate so you can make operational decisions with confidence and without the fear of unintended consequences.”

Screenshots

Further Information:

Knowledge Management Review Index

This independent review is part of our 2013 Knowledge Management Group Test.

Review: EasyVista for Knowledge Management

This independent review is part of our 2013 Knowledge Management Group Test.

Executive Summary – EasyVista

Overview
  • Good functionality meets all stated requirements
  • Seamless integration across the ITSM product set
  • Vendor established global position in mid-market –limited presence in some markets – e.g. UK
  • User Interface user-friendly
  • Some good features around discussion boards, crowdsourcing options and multi-level KAs
  • Overall looks a good option
Primary Market Focus Base on the information supplied, EasyVista typically market to medium and large size customers.

Commercial Summary

Vendor EasyVista
Product EasyVista 2013
Version reviewed 2013
Date of version release April 2013
Year founded EasyVista was created as Staff & Line in 1988 and became EasyVista in 2012.
Customers 300 SaaS and 750 on premise
Pricing Structure SaaS, Named and concurrent options
Competitive Differentiators “Neo Technology: This is our ‘Codeless Framework’ that (at a high level) does two things;

  1. CONNECT – many API’s and integrations have been pre-written into ERP solutions, IT management tools, DB’s, directories, Cloud services and obviously AD / LDAP and Mail etc. all of which are increasingly used in building a service.
  2. BUILD – we believe we are significantly ahead of our competition here as we have not only build the mechanism for codeless programming (Graphical drag and drop / wizards etc — which many vendors have), but we have also developed all of the code required to build a service. (No Java or C## etc needs to be built and added into the graphical objects – which all of our competitors require. This equates to 6000 man hours of programming.”

Independent Review

EV_LOGO_RGBThis is a straightforward and standard Knowledge option with multi-level capability for EV users –  knowledge is shipped with the product and seamlessly integrated with it.

Some nice features around discussion boards, ‘crowdsourcing’ options and multi-levels KAs, plus searching and dashboard capability.

A good knowledge option for EV users or those considering the product with a view to making Knowledge Management work.

Overview

  • Good functionality which meets all stated requirements
  • Seamless integration across the ITSM product set
  • Vendor has established global position in mid-market – with limited presence in some markets – e.g. UK
  • User Interface is straightforward and user-friendly
  • Some good features around discussion boards, crowdsourcing options and multi-level KAs, plus searching and dashboard capability
  • A good option for EV customers or those considering this with requirements for developing standard Knowledge functionality

Strengths

  • Meets all the basic functionality required for the review, for creation, approval, maintenance, tracking of Knowledge Articles (KAs)
  • Pink Verified for Knowledge Management
  • Multi- level deployment in different – 6 languages shipped, can search in different languages Can search content of attachments, controls on records – with control over level of skill required to see and use record – ie based on specific certifications
  • Able to control who can use ‘user rating’ – for relevance of KA Actions. Can ‘publish as a news article’ – generate a record on home page
  • Nice feature to highlight regular searches that return no results – ie identify topics for articles
  • Can reference 3rd party search engines and also rate the solution
  • Search engine automatically searches, on logging an incident and on self-service portal
  • Ability to create question/answer scripts
  • Able to create Known Error with flexibility to allow changes to record during lifecycle and also check for duplicates
  • Can create (and link) technical and simplified version of same KA, then apply to profile to apply to relevant content by individual login
  • Search Statistics Dashboard  – able to see who is doing searches and volumes, types, dates, results – useful to see who is using the KM and whether they are searching for the right things
  • Discussion groups within product – nice like Facebook wall – can send KA information to all or specific groups
  • ‘Crowdsourcing’ by starting discussions on specific items and sharing or specifying viewers
  • Wiki going live – with global front end dashboard of usage across EV users. All product documentation online

Weaknesses

  • Vendor has been geared to mid-market implementation – now aiming more for enterprise market
  • Limited positioning or presence in some key markets – e.g. UK
  • Could provide more focussed, results-based information on customer success stories using KM
  • Global wiki portal relatively new

EasyVista’s Knowledge Management Customers

In Their Own Words:

“EasyVista is a leading, global provider of cloud based IT Service Management, Asset Lifecycle Management, and Organisational Service Management solutions for the large enterprise. We have the very best Pink Verify Certifications, hold a prominent position in the Gartner ITSSM magic quadrant and Gartner ITALM reports. We have one of the world’s most comprehensive cloud infrastructures for ITSM and ITALM. We run over  1.5 million platform tests a day  and support over 1000 clients worldwide. We are also not only a global company, but lead the field with our global product offering multiple languages, currencies time-zone management and administration.

What we do: We specialize in helping organisations make the transition from traditional IT Operations Management that was designed for a very different time, to ‘New IT’ Operations Management designed for now and the future. We transform your customer experience, simplify the management and constant change within of IT, provide visibility and intelligence and we help extend workflow automation services beyond IT into other functions within the enterprise, such as HR, facilities and customer service. ‘New IT’ needs new thinking. We believe the building blocks of IT have changed. Applications, compute, storage and services come from ‘everywhere’. IT is no longer exclusively in the basement. A broker of IT Service and Support is required that can connect, integrate and coordinate service and support across the ‘New hybrid IT’, and remove customer frustration, providing a familiar and logical support portal, for all IT and business services, as well as simplifying the workload on IT.”

Screenshots

Further Information:

 Knowledge Management Review Index

This independent review is part of our 2013 Knowledge Management Group Test. 

Review: Cherwell for Knowledge Management

This independent review is part of our 2013 Knowledge Management Group Test. 

Executive Summary – Cherwell

Overview
  • Vendor emerging across ITSM market space
  • Knowledge approach seamless with other ITSM areas in product
  • Provides all functionality required for review
  • Good vendor approach
  • knowledge article key element of system
  • Overall looks a good option
Primary Market Focus Based on the information provided, Cherwell actively market to customers of all sizes (Small <100 to Very Large >10,000) They are classified for this review as:Specialised Service Management Suite – Offers IT Service Management, with integration to third party Systems Management software

Commercial Summary

Vendor Cherwell Software
Product Cherwell Service Management
Version reviewed v4.3a
Date of version release January 2013
Year founded 2004
Customers 500+ ITSM customers worldwide.
Pricing Structure Fully inclusive concurrent user usage for both perpetual and SaaS licensing models.
Competitive Differentiators
  • Completely integrated management processes and totally configurable against an organisation’s current and future service request models, without the need to write a single line of code via programming or scripting services.
  • Integrated Platform as a Service (PaaS) technology to empower users to easy develop and deliver integrated business services offerings.
  • Quick, easy, seamless system upgrades and low cost of ownership for ongoing system management overheads.

 

Independent Review

cherwell-logoThis is an easy to use and multi-capability option for Cherwell users – the knowledge function is shipped with the product and seamlessly integrated with it.

Some nice features around integration of discussion boards and the ability to link articles to services and incidents.

A good option for developing knowledge for Cherwell users or those considering the product overall, with a view to making Knowledge Management work.

 Overview

  • Vendor emerging as strong contender across ITSM market space
  • Knowledge approach seamless with other ITSM areas in product
  • Provides all functionality required for review
  • Vendor approach aims to drive clients to use and integrate knowledge management with other processes
  • Knowledge article key element of system ‘business object’ – with links to other processes, tracking and clearly defined lifecycle
  • Overall looks a good option – in places a bit complex-looking (user UI is good), but generally will deliver integrated Knowledge Management functions.

Strengths

  • Meets all the basic functionality required for the review, for creation, approval, maintenance, tracking of Knowledge Articles (KAs)
  • ‘Knowledge is shipped OOTB with the product and is a key element cross ITSM processes
  • Federated search’ engine provides facility to search multiple knowledge sources simultaneously
  • Configuration and set up of system can be done by non-tech users – ‘codeless’ programming
  • User portal interface for self-help looks simple and user-friendly
  • Delivery and access to KAs can be controlled and specified to (field) level security
  • KAs can be associated to services (which in turn can be linked)
  • Approval process can set % approvers required rather than just all approvers
  • Approval steps can be defined at multiple levels
  • ‘One Step’ feature can be used to create set of tasks, updates, escalations, to simplify approval process
  • Can simply combine number of internal and external knowledge sources
  • Able to create relationships between articles and specific incidents
  • Tracking – simple to identify usage and like/dislike of KAs
  • Knowledge ‘Mapping’ – can show relevant knowledge sources in context – e.g. different in Incident vs. Change Management
  • Nice ‘Community Discussion’ board – can see threads of discussion and collaboration related to KA. Can also raise incident or create KA from Discussion area
  • KAs can be raised and applied to any (process) area of the tool

Weaknesses

  • Can look overly complex in places
  • Internal (IT User) interface could be clearer and less complex
  • Can’t map approval workflow process
  • Could provide more tangible, focussed information on customer success stories using KM

Cherwell’s Knowledge Management Customers

In Their Own Words:

Positioned on the 2012 Gartner®  Magic Quadrant for ITSSM tools and recognized by Forrester Research as one of the top three enterprise SaaS ITSM tools worldwide, Cherwell Software is one of the fastest growing IT service management software providers. It has corporate headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colo., U.S.A.; EMEA headquarters in Wootton Bassett, U.K.; and a global network of expert partners. Cherwell Software is passionate about customer care and is dedicated to creating “innovative technology built upon yesterday values.”

Its flagship product is Cherwell Service Management®, a fully-integrated service management software solution for IT and technical support professionals with out-of-the-box PinkVERIFY accredited ITIL processes. Its wizard-driven customisation allows customers to tailor the tool to match their processes without writing any code. Cherwell Service Management offers unmatched flexibility in hosting and concurrent licensing for low total-cost-of-ownership. Please visit www.cherwell.com for more information about Cherwell Software.

Screenshots

Further Information

Knowledge Management Review Index

This independent review is part of our 2013 Knowledge Management Group Test.