Project success with Organizational Change Management (OCR)

Prepare for three camps in your communications
Prepare for three camps in your communications

This article has been contributed by Mike DePolis, ITSM Practice Lead at Fruition Partners

Organizations that are undertaking an ITSM initiative all too often leave out the centerpiece of success, or merely give lip service to it. Whether your organization is undertaking improvement of a single process, an entire transformational change, or even an ITSM tool replacement, Organizational Change Management (OCM) is that centerpiece to success.

In this article I will lay out some of the most important aspects and actions to consider for an OCM effort in your organization. These high level topic areas will be further expounded up in later articles.

Every project I’ve seen where OCM is a dedicated work stream, with thoughtful attention paid to it, has been extremely successful. Most of the failed projects I’ve encountered have either had no OCM component, or gave it a superficial nod in the beginning of the project, then quickly put such activities on the back burner.

At a high level, communication, training, and marketing are at the core of OCM, but there are other very important activities that should be considered.

Organizational Assessment

Even though you know your organization, interesting details can emerge that can be of benefit to your initiative by completing an organizational assessment. Such assessments can determine your organization’s propensity for change on a detailed level. Also revealed will be the largest barriers that should be addressed through the OCM program.

The assessment will reveal how the people in your organization view the current state, the proposed future state as well as many measures to help you understand where issues could occur.

There is another very important output of the assessment, and that is to understand which changes you should make now, and which changes should wait for subsequent efforts. Change can only happen at a certain pace for a given organization and attempting too much change for the culture and current level of maturity will likely doom an effort to failure, regardless of how much care is put into OCM activities.

The Three Camps

In any change there will be three camps of people, two minority camps and one majority camp. The first minority camp will actively embrace the change and can be used to further the cause in the organization. The second minority camp will very much be against the camp, and some will likely even actively attempt to undermine the change. The majority camp (generally about half the population) will wait and watch to see what camp will win out. Target the majority camp with appropriate communications and marketing. The minority camp against the change is very unlikely to change their minds.

Assess the Change

A detailed assessment of the change should be completed to provide a rich understanding of how the change will affect the organization. Start by listing how the new state differs from current state. Then evaluate the following:

  • Who will have to be involved who wasn’t before?
  • Who was involved before and will not be now?
  • Who is more empowered or less empowered then before?
  • Which changes make things easier for people?
  • Which changes will be perceived to make things harder (for example, process or procedure where they didn’t exist before?

For each item listed determine a high, medium or low level of impact. All items on the high list will be called the “Major Shifts”.

Create the Messages

The information provided from “Assess the Change” will be an input into creating the messages. The messages are the communication bullet points to the organization about what is changing, why it is changing and the benefit of the change to the organization. Creating this list of messages will be the basis of several forms of communications in the OCM communication plan. The focus here needs to be on the Major shifts for broad communication, and on a smaller scale addressing the more minor points.

The Champions

Identify a list of champions that will actively embrace the change and can help with the project, and organizational change itself. The champions should be very interested, involved parties which will clearly fall into the minority camp that embraces the change. From spreading the word in the halls to providing team based versions of broader communications the champions are the voice for supporting the change.

Strongly consider some incentive and reward for your champions for their efforts in helping to sell and realize the change. This will help them stay engaged for longer running projects.

Top Down and Bottom Up

Everyone is aware how important it is to have executive support for ITSM improvement programs, however, organizational change efforts should be targeted to the different audiences. In addition to messages from the executive team defining the vision and providing support for the program (top down) there should also be bottom up efforts. The champions can play a key part in this messaging. As an example, think about doing lunch and learns hosted by the champions, with their peers, addressing what changes will be coming up, and explaining the benefits to them and to the organization.

Communication and Training

The very first piece of a communication and training plan should be a stakeholder analysis. Every level of the organization should be mapped (CIO, VP Level, Director Level, Mid Manager Level, Heavy Process Participant Level, Casual Process Participant Level, Customer Level).

Each of these levels should have specific training and communication plans tailored to them. These plans should include messaging to address the following areas:

  • The major shifts discussed above
  • Benefits of the change
  • What they do not need to do anymore
  • What they need to do in the future
  • How they should communicate upward, downward, and to peers

It is most beneficial to structure training to include the OCM messaging, process training, and if applicable, tool training together in a single session. Using this approach allows for the elements to be pulled together so major shifts can be related to process, and process elements can be related to any tool changes.

Get Assistance

Good Organizational Change Management relies upon well-crafted messaging that delivers the right information in precisely the right way for the organization. Utilize your organization’s existing marketing and training departments, when available, as they have the needed expertise in these areas to provide the right experience. Consider looking outside for assistance on planning and execution of a complete organizational change program that is directly tied into your ITSM program.

Conclusion

I like to say that ITSM (and any other) initiatives are made up of at most 20% process and 20% tool components. The carbon based units involved represent the remaining 60% of the equation. This should highlight why initiatives with a strong OCM component are so much more successful than those where OCM becomes an afterthought.

Mike DePolis is a seasoned IT leader with a strong focus on business alignment and ITIL V3 Expert certification. As the ITSM Practice Lead at Fruition Partners, Mike has vast experience heading large segments of IT departments, and helping clients improve their operations.

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Industry News Roundup Incl The Project Management Rap

13050063965_7a64771344_zNo time to read all the interesting industry news and info floating around social media and appearing in your inbox? Read our round up of what we’ve found interesting this week.

  • When The Hell Are You Going To Patch? – Rex McMillan writes for LANDESK on why sometimes you just need to patch the hole. Read more here
  • Project Management Rap– Making us laugh, learn and, if we’re honest, cringe a little in the office this week is this Project Management Rap from Chris Croft. Watch/Listen here (Via Vladimir Ivanov on LinkedIn)
  • Changing Jobs in Your Twenties Could Lead To A More Fulfilling Career – Thinking those applicants who’ve moved jobs several times are a hiring risk? Think again. Read more here
  • Why You Should Never Swear On Your LinkedIn Profile – With 93% of recruiters using LinkedIn to vet candidates the reasons are obvious. If you ask us the pussycats and fluffy bunnies should also be reserved for Facebook. Read more here
  • Lack Of BYOD Policies Put Mobile Business Data At Risk – BT warns that UK businesses are not taking adequate measures against mobile security breaches. Read more here
  • Culture: The One Thing A Bank Can’t Buy – Matt Pancino of Suncorp explains how culture makes the difference between those that disrupt and those that are disrupted. Read more here
  • Find A Career Wingman To Help Navigate The Career Ladder – No longer just for trying to find a suitable…um…partner, a wingman could help you with your job! Read more here

Vendor News

Got some interesting news to share – say hello via @gobbymidget 

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ITSM14 Conference

OVO Energy win IT Service Management Team of the Year at ITSM14
OVO Energy win IT Service Management Team of the Year at ITSM14

This ITSM14 conference article is written jointly between myself, Vawns Murphy Guest of Virgin Media and Duncan Watkins of SHL Talent Measurement from CEB the winner of the ticket giveaway we ran jointly with itSMF UK

This year’s conference saw something old and something new. The old was a return to the Novotel London, a venue whose size fitted nicely with the event and had a much better layout than last year at the International Convention Centre in Birmingham. The new was the double session format. This meant that each seminar session was made up of 2 x 30 minute sessions rather than a standalone 40/45 minutes.

In amongst the usual mix of consultants and vendors in the exhibition hall were a couple of welcome newcomers. The Conference In a Box stall had a fine selection of salted caramel brownies to give away, whilst the Velocity stand had an entertaining and highly competitive ankiDrive game (a new twist on the Scalextric) where delegates compete against each other for a prize. Rebecca came a very respectable joint fifth and we wont mention Duncan’s abysmal performance!

The Conference

John Windebank, Chair of itSMF UK kicked off the conference reminding everyone that with $3 trillion invested in IT every year we have a great responsibility to ensure that we stay current and relevant and not just rest on one’s laurels.

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Next up was Richard Corbridge, CIO at NIHR Clinical Research Network asking us to be prepared for the future. With the internet of things rearing its head we need to know now how we’re going to deal with all those items that will soon be connected to our networks, such as heating systems, flood, fire and dementia monitors. Is it even sensible to try and catalogue all of them?

Sessions

Back to basics? Shouldn’t that be forward to basics? – Ivor Macfarlane, Service Management Specialist at IBM

This session focused on real world learning and how we’ve got to get the basics right to be able to deliver value to our customers.

Ivor started by talking about what the text books say versus the real world. If we’re trying to demonstrate value quickly so that we can get support and buy in, why would we start with Configuration Management? If it can take up to 18 months to see tangible value from a CMDB, why are we doing it first if quick wins are key? Start with something the CEO and CFO like and go from there.

Things have changed since the good old days, now everyone does ITIL to some degree; it’s the levels as you go up and improve that are amazing. New back to basics needs to focus on Service and giving our customers value.

We need to keep moving forward. Expectations of improvement are a huge compliment so let’s take it as such!

A practitioner’s tale: adding value through real ITSM in the real world” – Dave Churchley, Service Management Officer at Newcastle University

This session was based on Dave’s take on Newcastle University’s ITSM journey over the last 5 years. Dave’s point was that we need to be lead by our customers.

One of our favourite examples from the session was a Service Desk call David happened to oversee. One of the doctors from the university called the Service Desk to report his PC wasn’t connected to the network. Service Desk tech asked him if he could check if the network cable was plugged in to the back of the PC. The reply?

“I’m afraid I don’t know how to do that. I’m only a brain surgeon.”

Like Ivor, Dave is very much of the opinion that we need a culture change; we need to focus on customers and services rather than just the technology. We need an open environment and we need to talk to each other. Not rocket science but it’s amazing how many people forget. Sometimes all that’s needed to sort something out is to pick of the phone or go and see someone. It’s easy to hide behind e-mails but let’s face it – a stroppy, passive aggressive e-mail chain as long as your arm helps no one – least of all your customer.

One of the main messages of the session was that having an expensive, market leading ITSM software solution will not solve all your problems. As the saying goes, a fool with a tool is still a fool.

Conquering the black arts of licence compliance management – Steve Massie of Incit Technology Ltd

What we loved most about Steve’s session was his honesty. Yes, getting control of your licences is not easy and it’s not a one off exercise. In our experience, it can be a complete freaking nightmare but you’ve got to start somewhere.

The session had lots of interesting facts here about how to get support and buy in for your Software Asset Management process. 30% of software used in Europe is being used illegally. A recent Gartner study has revealed over 30% of CEOs are concerned about software audits.

He also shared his advice on getting started. Don’t try to fix everything at one – start with your top vendor and work down. Great advice! We’ve seen so many people try to do it all at once and either miss something glaringly obvious or get in a right old flap about where to start, panic, and then give up.

Keynote – Mark Hall, Director of Service Management & Operations at Aviva

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There were a number of standout sessions. At this year’s event. In the realm of future ITSM, came Mark Hall’s first day keynote speech. He talked about the benefits associated with building teams that are able to take advantages of agile frameworks to move more swiftly. A key component of this are self-forming teams that are empowered to right their own agenda in a bottom up fashion, rather than a micro-managed top down approach. However, the key idea that for me was the dissolution of the traditional customer/supplier relationship. Rather than think of ourselves as suppliers delivering to internal or external customers, we should see ourselves as part of an extended value chain that extends outside of technology through the whole of the business. For me this was a fundamental shift in perception about what I do and more importantly how I do it.

Bring me problems – Not solutions! Tobias Nyberg

Tobias opened with a quote from Einstein:

If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.

Moral of the story? Problem Management is about getting it right first time. Having Problems isn’t a bad thing, it’s how we respond to them that adds the value.

Tobias talked about his experiences trying to focus his team on understanding exactly what problems are rather than jumping straight to solutions. He detailed a three stage approach that ultimately can be applied to almost any area of life. First you focus on detailing what the problem is and all that relates to it. Secondly, you look at the goal you are trying to achieve. And lastly you look at the solution once you’ve truly explored the other two. What really made the presentation stand out for us was Tobias’s focus upon how problems make us feel. Approaching and acknowledging the feelings we have about problems allows us to better deal and ultimately solve them.

Day 2 Keynote – Peter Hepworth and Keith Richards of Axelos

Axelos announced the changes to the website and the extension to the PRINCE2 best practice PRINCE agile the first of, what I’m led to believe will be many “Axelos and…” initiatives. As always there were the supporters and the detractors but I feel that it shows Axelos’ acknowledgement that it’s best for organisations when they cherry pick the bits of the best practices that work for them.

http://twitter.com/Driver_8_Ace/status/532105620024209408

Governance – Custodian to Changing Business Trends and IT Landscape – Suresh GP, TaUB Solutions

Suresh’s session started on explaining that there is a lot of confusion over the difference between Governance and Management with IT governance primarily concerned about IT’s delivery of value to the business and mitigation of IT risks whereas Management plans, builds, runs and monitors activities in alignment with the direction set by the governance to achieve the enterprise objectives or, more simply put…

After lunch Suresh’s enthusiasm and energy were just what we needed to get us through to the end.

Awards Dinner – Hosted by Paul Sinha

Nothing short of hilarious and I think the majority of the attendees were immensely entertained. We thought the food was delicious, although there have been others that disagree and as we were on a table with the Velocity guys we were well entertained.

Unfortunately the actual awards were not as good as they could have been. We would have liked to see more lead up to the awards with more information circulated on why the nominees had been nominated. There seemed to be a slight absence of interest with the applause dying out in many cases before the winner had even reached the stage. It is such a huge achievement to win an award and we truly hope that more thought is given to promoting the nominees and their achievements next year.

A full list of the worthy winners (and finalists) can be found here. All of us here at the ITSM Review would like to congratulate both winners and finalists on their fantastic achievements. Well done to all.

In Summary

A big topic of discussion was the new double session format. For our money, when it worked it worked well but when it didn’t, it really didn’t. A positive example occurred on the first day with David Wheable followed by Eva Franconetti & Mark Adley of Telefonica. David was able to use real life examples from Telefonica’s approach within his talk. This gave an element of ground work to Eva and Mark’s, allowing them to concentrate more fully on the detail. In contrast, Tony Brough and Daniel Breston had spent a lot of time working together to align their presentations. Despite their best efforts though, the subject matter of each was too far removed to begin with. In the end it felt like two separate presentations that didn’t quite have enough time.

The venue was lovely and easily accessible albeit extortionate in terms of parking. At £45 for 10 hours we would have expected the car park to be made of gold with vodka & coke fountains and unicorn valets but, in fairness, I guess that’s central London for you.

All in all it was a good event with some great content. The ultimate test is whether there is anything you want to try when you get back to the office and we certainly felt that, whether our colleagues are ready for our new ideas is another matter altogether.

Thank you to itSMF UK for inviting us along and we hope to see you again next year.

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Event Review, itSMF India Annual Conference, Bangalore

itSMF India held their 2nd annual conference at the Vivanta Hotel in Bangalore on the 5th November. My quick video review is below.

Some thought provoking presentations, interactive panel sessions and great simulation exercise to finish the day. Congratulations to Suresh GP and the itSMF India team for an excellent conference and thanks for inviting us.

Unashamed commercial plug: Suresh GP (Our courteous host in India and all round good egg) has left the HP ITSM team to venture out in the world of independent consulting.

Quick Video Review

Social

Gallery

Suresh GP leading an expert panel of Indian ITSM leaders
Suresh GP leading an expert panel of Indian ITSM leaders
Full house of 140 delegates
Full house of 140 delegates
Worldwide ITSM experts discuss demonstrating value
Worldwide ITSM experts discuss demonstrating value
Kaimar Karu from Axelos provided an interesting and modern view of ITSM best practices
Kaimar Karu from Axelos provided an interesting and modern view of ITSM best practices
Srinivasan Thiagarajan from Cognizant provided an interesting perspective on modelling for business outcomes.
Srinivasan Thiagarajan from Cognizant provided an interesting perspective on modelling for business outcomes.
Arvind Parthiban from ManageEngine provided some practical approaches to Change Management in the real world.
Arvind Parthiban from ManageEngine provided some practical approaches to Change Management in the real world.
James Finister from TCS evangelising about the value of culture in outsource relationships and growing importance and development of SIAM.
James Finister from TCS evangelising about the value of culture in outsource relationships and growing importance and development of SIAM.
Parvinder Singh from Quint led an excellent management simulation
Parvinder Singh from Quint led an excellent management simulation

Visit http://itsmfindia.in/ for updates on future events.

ITSM14 Preview: Patricia Speltincx with “The 7 Building Blocks for ITSM Success”

Patricia SpeltincxIn the run up this year’s itSMF UK conference ITSM14, I chatted with Patricia Speltincx about her upcoming session entitled “The seven building blocks for IT Service Management success”.

Q.  Hi Patricia, can you give a quick intro to your session at ITSM14?

In my presentation, I will challenge the classical ITSM implementation approach and propose a different paradigm based on 7 building blocks, hence the title of my presentation and of my white paper that won two itSMF awards (UK and International) in 2013.

I have worked in IT environments for 30 years and more specifically in ITSM for the last 15 years.  I have seen organisations trying hard to implement ITIL® best practices with various degrees of success.  It progressively became clear to me that focusing on processes and technology (2 of the 7 building blocks) was far too restrictive and therefore was not the right thing to do.

To achieve success, there is a need to broaden the scope and open to a more systemic view of the ITSM reality, in other words to see it from a more global perspective.  An IT Service Organisation is still an ‘organisation’ and therefore ITSM should not be the only reference model.

Using different reference models coming from organisational theories, I came up with 5 additional building blocks, which I will discuss at the itSMF UK conference in London.

Q.  Why is getting IT Service Management right so important for organisations?

Well, it is important to get everything right nowadays, so IT Service Management is no exception.

We live in an interesting period where old paradigms are seriously challenged due to the difficult economical context.

High levels of performance have become a survival condition for organisations.  As a consequence, there are more and more pressures on people who have more and more difficulties to find motivation at work, which in turn has a negative impact on results.  A lot of organisations seem stuck in this vicious circle.  To get out of it, it is important that they get their global strategy right, two key elements of it being people and IT.  Nowadays, you can’t do without engaged people and without efficient IT.

Q. What can attendees hope to take away from your session?

In my session, I will encourage attendees to open their mind to a different, broader and more systemic approach to ITSM.  They will understand on which other building blocks organisations should focus their attention in order to achieve success. They will take away concrete ideas to build solutions to the current ITSM difficulties organisations are facing.


Patricia is an ITIL® Expert with wide experience as a trainer, consultant and coach in IT environments.

Fascinated by human potential, she is also a certified coach.  She studied and practiced several theories linked to the development of individuals and organisations. This, combined with her coalface experience in IT allowed her to develop an original approach to IT Service Management.

She is currently focusing her activities on helping individuals and organisations that are willing to challenge themselves to achieve high levels of performance.

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Patricia’s session is on day one of ITSM14 and featured within the Skills track. To find out more or to book your conference place please visit itSMF UK

Connect with Patricia via LinkedIn or Twitter

Proactive Problem Management Review [2014] – The Results

This is a competitive review of software vendors who offer proactive problem management capabilities as part of their IT service management (ITSM) tool.

Products reviewed:

 Proactive Problem Management 2014 

ppmThere seems to be a imbalance within proactive problem management and alerting generally that means that either you aren’t able to pull in enough useful data or you end up with way too much and end up drowning in a sea of notifications.

Best in Class – ALEMBA vFIRE

Alemba vFire seems takes all of this in its stride and gives the ability to set outages and rules to stop alerts being received when they are not required leaving analysts free of the need to wade through the detritus that many other solutions produce. This together with the ability to simulate outages to show what kind of impact to the business could be expected in the event of a outage and the one-click ‘Find Causes’ facility which shows all items and services that could be the cause of a failure provide powerful automation and give control, intelligence and awareness back to the IT organisation.

We believe that vFire has the functionality the vast majority of organisations require to assist in operating an efficient and successful proactive problem management process.

Honourable Mention

Nexthink V5 is a highly sophisticated analytical solution which operates by monitoring the end-user experience and reporting back on real-time events recording dependencies and relationships without the need to install additional monitoring tools.

Offered as a stand-alone solution with no ticketing functionality, Nexthink state that the solution contains the necessary API and connectors to integrate with ticketing tools to create proactive alerts and track actions taken upon its analytics. We feel the solution proactively delivers timely and relevant real-time information whenever needed.  The solution greatly reduces the burden on staff and ensures risk can be quickly and accurately assessed.

We feel that Nexthink is a remarkable analytical tool but would perhaps be overkill for those less mature or organisations looking purely for proactive problem management capabilities.

Introduction

Most of us are familiar with the concept of problem management whether we are practicing it within our organisation or not. The objective is to minimise both the number and severity of incidents and potential problems to the business by investigating the root cause of issues rather than concentrating on finding the cure.

Problem management is split into two different, but equally important aspects:

  • Reactive deals with problem solving after one or more incidents occur
  • Proactive involves Identifying and solving problems and known errors before incidents occur

If reactive problem management is concerned with addressing the root cause of incidents, then proactive problem management is the systems and techniques to address these incidents before they occur and cause service disruption, or reduce or eliminate recurring incidents.

This review looked at four ITSM solutions, targeting all market sizes, that assist organisations in taking proactive step towards managing incidents and problems and exploring problems before they result in incidents.

The main topic areas covered by the review included:

  • Managing the lifecycle of problems
  • Identifying problems
  • Assessment and alerting
  • Solving problems, root causes and problem solving methodologies
  • Known errors / managing work in progress / CSI
  • Integrations, monitoring and triggers

Market Positioning

For the purposes of this review, vendors were classified based on their primary market focus and product capabilities as follows:

  • Enterprise – Either integrated or part of a suite/brand that provides E2E IT Systems & Service Management, for example: Includes Monitoring, Discovery & Service Management capability.
  • Specialised – Offers IT Service Management, with integration to third party Systems Management software
Vendor Primary user base Product Characteristics
Freshservice Small Specialised
Nexthink Large Specialised
ServiceDesk Plus Small to medium Enterprise
vFire Large Enterprise

Competitive Overview

Vendor Elevator Pitch Strengths Weaknesses
Freshservice Freshservice is an uncomplicated and attractive ITIL service desk solution.The simplicity of Freshservice allows customers to provide basic proactive problem management services whilst easily linking to the other areas of the solution.
  • Simple easy to use interface
  • Easy linkage between processes
  • Proactive suggestion of possibly related records when creating description
  • Internal monitoring within the solution could be improved
  • Financial management capabilities require extending
  • Lack of automation in areas such as setting records as proactive
Nexthink Nexthink V5 is an intelligent and attractive solution.Providing far more than proactive problem management, Nexthink delivers extensive analytics and intelligence capabilities in a user-focused manner
  • Ability to search in normal non-IT language (natural language, plain English, google-like experience)
  • Ability to compare objects and contextual situations in order to troubleshoot
  • Robust visual impact analysis
  • No ticketing facility within the solution but has API and connectors to integrate with
ServiceDesk Plus ServiceDesk Plus is a solution that contains the ability to carry out problem management but is immature with specific regard to proactive problem management.The attraction of ServiceDesk Plus is the ability to open several instances of the solution at the same time ensuring multitasking is possible whilst providing easy linkage between records.
  • Proactive problem management records link with other record types
  • No automatic suggestion of knowledge base articles, workarounds etc
  • Too much manual input required
  • Does not seem to clearly separate proactive from reactive problem management
vFire vFire 9.1 is a strong and uncomplicated proactive problem management solution.The solution provides advanced capabilities allowing customers to take advantage of many automated features to make problem management less painful.
  • ‘Find causes’ functionality takes a good portion of the leg work out of troubleshooting
  • Ability to simulate an outage to show possible impact to business
  • Good visual display of CMDB showing related items and services
  • While the dashboards are easy to create and contain a good choice of information they are not the best looking

Number of Customers

  • Freshservice 1200
  • Nexthink 500
  • ManageEngine 25,000
  • Alemba 350

Please note that for the purposes of this report we are showing paying customers only

Analysis

Vendor Functionality Summary Analysis
Freshservice
  • Open API
  • Existing standard integrations with Event Management tools such as Nagios and Solarwinds
  • Default forms and structure as basic starting point
  • Easy linkage between Problems and other types of tickets (i.e. Incident)
  • Proactive solution suggestion as ticket details inputted
  • Implementation support available
Freshservice provides basic yet capable functionality for use by users with low to medium proactive problem management maturity.If you’re after bells and whistles such as sophisticated visual service mapping then this is probably not the solution for you, however, if you are after a good basic package, with ticketing, that has the proactive problem management essentials then Freshservice is a good option
Nexthink
  • Nexthink is a standalone analytics and intelligence solution which integrates with ticketing tools. It does not contain it’s own ticketing capabilities
  • Full integration toolkit. Data can be imported into and out of Nexthink in various ways to serve many different purposes. More info: http://www.nexthink.com/integration/
  • Templates and pre-filled forms and structure available for basic starting point from Nexthink library, a cloud based platform for collective intelligence
  • Web API
  • Existing standard integrations with Service Desk solutions such as LANDESK, ServiceNow, BMC Remedy, EasyVista and PMCS Helpline.
Nexthink provides a comprehensive analytics and intelligence solution which provides far more than Proactive Problem Management capabilities. What’s more it provides them in a user-focused way which is quite different to the majority of other solutions on the market that are all data centre focused.I believe that this solution would create huge value to any organisation looking for real-time end-user analytics.
ServiceDesk Plus
  • Drag and drop templates
  • API’s available to integrate with third party tools such as event management
  • Default templates and admin configuration wizard for quick install
  • Implementation support available
ServiceDesk Plus provides a very basic and mostly manually driven proactive problem management offering. I feel that this solution would be more suitable for those organisations looking for reactive problem management capabilities with the ability to integrate event/alert monitoring. If ManageEngine were to invest in creating more automated features in the proactive problem area, such as auto update from CMDB, the solution would appeal to a much wider and more mature audience.
vFire
  • Drag and drop workflow design
  • User defined dashboards
  • 188 out of the box reports available
  • Existing standard integrations with monitoring tools such as SAM and SCOM
  • Default forms and structure as basic starting point
  • Known errors and outages displayed on customer portal bulletin board
  • Easy linkage between Problems and other types of tickets (i.e. Incident)
  • Proactive solution suggestion as record details inputted
  • Implementation support available
vFire provides very good functionality for users with all levels of proactive problem management maturity.vFire provides more automation than most of the other solutions reviewed and goes the extra mile with regard to fault finding and diagnosis via it’s graphical interface. I believe that this solution would be a good option for most medium to large enterprise organisations.

Deep Dive

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

Disclaimer, Scope and 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.

Nexthink V5 Review for Proactive Problem Management

This is part of a competitive review of software vendors who offer Proactive Problem Management capabilities as part of their IT service management (ITSM) solution.

Other products reviewed:

Commercial Summary – Nexthink V5 Review

Vendor Nexthink
Product Nexthink V5
Version reviewed 5.2
Date of version Release July 2014
Year Founded 2004
Customers +500
Pricing Structure Perpetual and subscription licences for both Nexthink Analytics Platform and Nexthink Analytics Modules. All priced per number of devices/endpoints.

Executive Summary

Elevator Pitch Nexthink V5 is an intelligent and attractive solution.Providing far more than proactive problem management, Nexthink delivers extensive analytics and intelligence capabilities in a user-focused manner.
Strengths
  • Ability to search in normal non-IT language (natural language, plain English, google-like experience)
  • Ability to compare objects and contextual situations in order to troubleshoot
  • Robust visual impact analysis
Weaknesses
  • No ticketing facility within the solution but has API and connectors to integrate with
Primary Market Focus Based on the information provided, Nexthink is primarily a large-market solution

Independent Review

nexthink-logoNexthink V5 is a highly sophisticated solution yet still manages to look clean and simple. In contrast to the other solutions reviewed within this group test Nexthink does not contain any ticketing functionality and is wholly an analytical tool. However, it does have the necessary API and connectors to integrate with ticketing tools to create proactive alerts and track actions taken upon its analytics.

Proactive problem management is provided by monitoring the end-user experience and reporting back on real-time events. Dependencies and relationships are recorded without the need to install additional monitoring tools.

Nexthink is about discovering what you don’t know by learning and detecting what is different to the norm. In a time when event notification overload can cause more harm than good, Nexthink uses context to ensure that only pertinent info is alerted…

i.e. If you leave your car unlocked a normal monitoring tool would send an alert regardless, however if you were parked within a locked garage Nexthink would be able to apply context to recognise that this is not alert worthy (or less critical).

My impression of the solution is that it would be suitable for all medium to large enterprise organisations of medium to high proactive problem management maturity.

I believe that this highly developed solution could provide organisations with the visibility and insight into not only proactive problem management but also big data generally by only collecting summary activity data and related issues rather impractically expecting IT departments to mine through everything or make decisions on what is, and what is not important.

General

User configuration possible for:

Forms

Tables

Workflows

Dashboards

N.B. every form and workflow can be customized through the admin module

  • Nexthink is a standalone analytics and intelligence solution which integrates with ticketing tools. It does not contain it’s own ticketing capabilities
  • Full integration toolkit. Data can be imported into and out of Nexthink in various ways to serve many different purposes. More info: http://www.nexthink.com/integration/
  • Templates and pre-filled forms and structure available for basic starting point from Nexthink library, a cloud based platform for collective intelligence
  • Web API
  • Existing standard integrations with Service Desk solutions such as LANDESK, ServiceNow, BMC Remedy, EasyVista and PMCS Helpline.

Identification

The integration of end-user IT analytics for incident and problem management is driven from the service desk. Nexthink helps align incidents and problems and enables the service desk to identify outage-problems in real-time and configuration-change-problems faster. In other words Nexthink can fast track incident to problem identification and help provide probable cause to solve problems and/or provide suitable workarounds before (further) incidents recur.

Nexthink’s internal technology assists in the identification of potential proactive problems via

Self-learning, topological relationships, base lining, benchmarking, statistics & heuristics.

Nexthink states that their solution, without configuration or definition of a potential problem can discover what’s in-use, understand the dependencies (process, devices, ports, services, server, cloud domain, etc.) and profile a baseline to further identify deviations e.g. connection is getting slower or failing for a specific group of users.

Information about the context of any identified proactive problem is displayed on Nexthink user interfaces (Finder and Portal). Portal is a web-based dashboard platform where specific widgets can be added to see the past, current and potential future impact of a change, a growing issue or an outage, including break-ups by departments, and type of problems (devices, network/infra, web requests, servers, etc.).

Nexthink specify that integration with network and server monitoring solutions is not necessary for their analytics to perform and deliver but welcome such integrations to create a full end-to-end visibility with both user-centric (outside-in) and server-centric (inside-out) visibility and analysis. They maintain that the solution is able to identify anomalies in data patterns resulting from configuration changes without the aid or knowledge of those changes and that it’s more efficient and effective to use the many diagnostic tools available within the solution to do root cause analysis.

Assessment and Alerting

Nexthink calculates an objective risk assesment via the end-user perspective. Their argument is that this positions users to compute an impact analysis from a business point of view because they will already have information such as the department, job role, location of affected users and are therefore using business language rather than IT speak i.e. you are not saying x router interface was flapping for 10min, dropping xxx packets, but rather 15 users from our Finance department attempted to use SAP without success for 10 minutes (while the 45 users from sales didn’t have any issues).

Nexthink also provides the ability to compute based on current activity, e.g. if we shut down these 10 servers now, 120 users currently connected to these servers with these 10 applications will suffer and this equals, based on each application business criticality, a business loss of £££. Based on feedback we receive from readers this functionality is highly sought after yet sadly lacking from many solutions. We believe that this functionality provides solid value to potential customers. Analytics provides the ability to push the concept of proactive problem management to preemptive and predictive.

Although there is no ticketing tool available within Nexthink, by analyzing all end-users’ activity collectively and centrally the solution is able to apply mechanisms and algorithms to understand if the problem is on the device, user, application, network/infrastructure or server side enabling the problem to be routed to the most appropriate group using the integration interface or finding the solution looking at the Nexthink Portal or Finder.

Implementation  

Tracking and management of the lifecycle of a proactive problem would have to be provided by an integration with a third party ticketing tool. However, new/updated information can be fed into the third party tool to notify about a situational change, i.e. the problem has increased in severity.

Auditing and Accountability

Nexthink gives the option to visually display an impending breach/breach of an SLA by colouring the issue yellow/red within the widget, building a history trends graph, triggering an alert or exporting context (what, when, where, what, how long, how badly) to a third party tool. Gives the context and impact of the breach (what, when, where, what, how long, how badly).

In Summary

Nexthink provides a comprehensive analytics and intelligence solution which provides far more than Proactive Problem Management capabilities. What’s more it provides them in a user-focused way which is quite different to the majority of other solutions on the market that are all data centre focused.

I believe that this solution would create huge value to any organisation looking for real-time end-user analytics.

In Their Own Words:

Nexthink is the innovator of End-user IT Analytics for security, ITSM and transformation. Our software uniquely provides enterprise-wide, real-time: analytics covering all endpoints, users, applications and network connections; and visualization of IT infrastructure and service delivery. Nexthink helps IT departments connect, communicate and collaborate to achieve their major goals and to optimize endpoint security, operations, support and workplace transformation projects. Nexthink’s real-time analytics and visualization extend help desk, server monitoring, APM (application performance management) and PCLM (PC lifecycle management) tools and provide essential visibility for IT governance.

Nexthink pro-actively monitors IT networks and reports on important end-user related events, such as changes in the IT infrastructure, application usage and bandwidth, error messages and crashes, as well as potential security risks, ensuring that the performance of IT services is recorded and uniquely visualized from the end-user perspective.

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Freshservice Review for Proactive Problem Management

This is part of a competitive review of software vendors who offer Proactive Problem Management capabilities as part of their IT service management (ITSM) solution.

Other products reviewed:

Commercial Summary – Freshdesk FreshService Review

Vendor Freshdesk Inc.
Product Freshservice
Version reviewed n/a
Date of version Release n/a
Year Founded 2010
Customers 1200
Pricing Structure The licensing structure is based on the number of agents. Freshservice is a SaaS only offering

Executive Summary

Elevator Pitch Freshservice is an uncomplicated and attractive ITIL service desk solution.The simplicity of Freshservice allows customers to provide basic proactive problem management services whilst easily linking to the other areas of the solution.
Strengths
  • Simple easy to use interface
  • Easy linkage between processes
  • Proactive suggestion of possibly related records when creating description
Weaknesses
  • Internal monitoring within the solution could be improved
  • Financial management capabilities require extending
  • Lack of automation in areas such as setting records as proactive
Primary Market Focus Based on the information provided, Freshservice is primarily a small to mid market solution

Independent Review

freshservice-logoFreshservice is a straightforward solution for users with straightforward needs. Simple and easy to use, the drag and drop workflow and form templates make for an easy set up of proactive problem management as well as the main solution.

Problem management is dealt with in much the same was as incident within the solution and although this will be perfectly acceptable for the majority of Freshservice’s customers those with more mature proactive problem requirements will likely find that this solution lacks the automation they will expect. The addition of automation to distinguish between the different types of problems would be useful together with the ability to smartly decide which problems are, in actual fact, a problem. The issue many IT teams are experiencing at this time is not that events and alerts are not being received but that so many are received that it is difficult to sort through to find the ones that actually matter. If Freshservice can master this then their worth to their customers would dramatically increase.

The ability to set a “book value” for a particular type of asset is a useful feature, providing the ability to report on those assets that are perhaps experiencing continued faults to see whether continued endeavour is of benefit, I would like to see this area expanded to help track the cost of faults. My impression of the solution is that it would be suitable for all small to large organisations of low to medium proactive problem management maturity. For the vast majority of these organisations, I believe that Freshservice has all the functionality required to perform proactive problem management to a successful level. However, if your organisation is likely to grow in the near future then I believe a more sophisticated solution would be suitable. The number of manual actions required within the solution would be counterproductive to organisations with large numbers of reported proactive problems.

General

User configuration possible for:

Forms

Tables

Workflows

Dashboards

N.B. every form and workflow can be customized through the admin module

  • Open API
  • Existing standard integrations with Event Management tools such as Nagios and Solarwinds
  • Default forms and structure as basic starting point
  • Easy linkage between Problems and other types of tickets (i.e. Incident)
  • Proactive solution suggestion as ticket details inputted
  • Implementation support available

Identification

Freshservice defines the difference between a reactive and proactive problem management record within the solution by the addition of a “known error” tag next to the problem subject. This is done manually by agents within the Problem Module and then provides the ability for reports to be run on “known errors”. I would like to see the ability for Freshservice to automatically recognise these and tag accordingly without the need for the manual process. For organisations receiving large numbers of proactive problems I imagine this would become quite an onerous task. Freshservice’s internal Discovery probe is able to scan networks to populate the CMDB and is able to monitor the available disk space of relevant items.

Freshservice advise that although currently this is all that is able to be monitored, additional capabilities are to follow. Alerts from monitoring and networking tools such as Nagios and Solarwinds, which can be integrated via existing standard integrations, can be sent to Freshservice using Email commands and then automatically create a record within the solution.

Assessment and Alerting

Freshservice calculates an objective risk assesment of the proactive problem and is able to flag this against an associated CI as low, medium or high (colour coded) depending upon how the CI’s business proprity has been set. Assets are able to be attached to all proactive problem records with the importance of the asset viewable from within the record screen.

The solution also contains a basic visual relationship map for impact assesment. Freshservice is able to manually route proactive problems to relevant resolver groups by assigning the particular record to the respective group or agent from the Problems module, alternatively workflow rules can be used to automatically assign records to assign proactive problems to resolver groups or agents. Once a group or user has been assigned an email notification will alert the relevant people.

Implementation  

Freshservice provides the ability to link records to each other in one click. Workflow rules within the system can be utilized to provide the ability to update all linked records upon the update of the problem record. All file types and in solution notes can be attached to a proactive problem record ensuring that all relevant information is available to agents. Changes of status are possible by the use of a dropdown box within the record screen. Although there is no ability to set individual assets and CI’s as unavailable, the solution can be used to advise users of planned outages using both email and the self-service area. In the future I would like to see the ability to set items as unavailable, when affected by a fault that causes it to be so, in order that users can easily see the state of the item. Freshservice state that their customers main need is automatic notification when there is an issue and as a result I believe that development of this area would be very beneficial to both them and their customers.

Auditing and Accountability

Freshservice’s simple workflow rules can be utilised to set thresholds to notify of impending SLA breaches to both individual users and groups. Escalation emails can also be set to once breach has taken place. Each asset has a history of all requests associated with it – problem, change, release etc. that can be viewed after the request has been closed.

In Summary

Freshservice provides basic yet capable functionality for use by users with low to medium proactive problem management maturity. If you’re after bells and whistles such as sophisticated visual service mapping then this is probably not the solution for you, however, if you are after a good basic package, with ticketing, that has the proactive problem management essentials then Freshservice is a good option.

In Their Own Words:

Freshservice is an online ITIL service desk with a fresh twist. It puts a refreshing user experience on top of powerful ticketing and asset management capabilities, and is the most user-friendly app in the space.  In addition to core functionalities like Incident, Problem, Change, Release and Asset Management, Freshservice also lets you put your knowledge base on the cloud. Freshservice offers a plug and play ITIL solution for organizations looking to align themselves to best practices without getting any expert implementation help. It has been developed by the team of experts behind Freshdesk, the leading customer support software that is currently being used to support over 5 million customers across the world.

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ManageEngine ServiceDesk Plus Review for Proactive Problem Management

This is part of a competitive review of software vendors who offer Proactive Problem Management capabilities as part of their IT service management (ITSM) solution.

Other products reviewed:

Commercial Summary – ManageEngine ServiceDesk Plus Review

Vendor ManageEngine
Product ServiceDesk Plus
Version reviewed 9.0
Date of version Release September 2014
Year Founded 2004
Customers 85,000 (25,000 paid)
Pricing Structure Pricing is based on the number of technician login (named technicians) and the number of assets managed by the application.  License is issued both on Annual Subscription as well as Perpetual models.

Executive Summary

Elevator Pitch ServiceDesk Plus is a solution that contains the ability to carry out problem management but is immature with specific regard to proactive problem management.The attraction of ServiceDesk Plus is the ability to open several instances of the solution at the same time ensuring multitasking is possible whilst providing easy linkage between records.
Strengths
  • Proactive problem management records link with other record types
Weaknesses
  • No automatic suggestion of knowledge base articles, workarounds etc
  • Relationships and services require entering manually within CMDB
  • Does not seem to clearly separate proactive from reactive problem management
Primary Market Focus Based on the information provided, Service Desk Plus is primarily a small to medium-market solution

Independent Review

sdp_logoServiceDesk Plus is a solution heavily dependent upon manual input within the proactive problem management area.

The manual operation required within ServiceDesk Plus, especially the CMDB, means that for organisations with anything other than basic IT infrastructure there is going to be a lot of time and effort involved in mapping relationships and services in order to make troubleshooting easy within the solution as every time a change is made to the network or asset configuration relationships and services will need to be remapped. If however you are content to do this and your primary concern is with procuring a tool that pulls this information in and logs tickets then ServiceDesk Plus will be adequate.

My impression of the solution is that it would be suitable for all small organisations of low proactive problem management maturity.

For these organisations I believe that ServiceDesk Plus has the functionality required to perform proactive problem management. However, if your organisation is likely to mature in the near future then I believe a more sophisticated solution would be suitable. Having said that if ManageEngine were to increase the amount of automation in areas such as relationship management it would appeal to a more mature audience.

General

User configuration possible for:

Forms

Tables

Workflows

Dashboards

  • Drag and drop templates
  • API’s available to integrate with third party tools such as event management
  • Default templates and admin configuration wizard for quick install
  • Implementation support available

Identification

ServiceDesk Plus defines the difference between a reactive and proactive problem management record within the solution by providing the ability to add an additional drop down field within the problem template called “Create Problem Additional field” which allows the manual assignation to either Reactive or Proactive. I would like to see the ability for ServiceDesk Plus to automatically recognise the distinction and assign accordingly without the need for the manual process. For organisations receiving large numbers of proactive problems I imagine this would become quite an onerous task.

ServiceDesk Plus does not contain any internal technology to assist in the identification of proactive problems. It can however integrate with OpManager, the ManageEngine event and network monitoring software through a standard integration and third party event and network monitoring software via the open API.

Alerts from monitoring and networking tools can be sent to ServiceDesk Plus to automatically create an incident ticket. In order for this to be created as a problem record, reactive or proactive, the ticket must be manually changed. In the future I would like to see the ability for problem records to be created automatically cutting down on time and manpower for customers.

Assessment and Alerting

In order for ServiceDesk Plus to calculate an objective risk assesment of the proactive problem relationships such as what/who is affected by each item will need to be manually built within the CMDB. Once this is done the solution does have the ability to visually notify of an issue with an asset by displaying an exclamation sign within the relationship map.

The problem with this process, as with all manual relationship creation, is that what was correct yesterday may well not be correct tomorrow. In order for this are of the solution to work for any but the smallest most basic of organisations to work without high overhead in both time and manpower then this really needs to be automated.

ManageEngine state  that there is no current ability within ServiceDesk Plus to automatically alert or route proactive problems to relevant resolver groups. They have however mentioned that by using Business Rules and Problem Closure Rules that there may be ways to manually create these processes.

Implementation  

ServiceDesk Plus provides the ability to easily link records to each other but there is currently no ability to change the status of a proactive problem record.

When updating a proactive problem record with linked records it is possible to copy problem solutions and workarounds to all associated incidents. It is also possible to close all associated incidents from the problem record.

ManageEngine state that notes, .doc, .docx and .xls formats are able to be attached to a proactive problem record within ServiceDesk Plus. I would like to see this extended in the future to include image formats for easier troubleshooting.

Currently there is no provision to record availability and capacity information within ServiceDesk Plus, however, as a workaround, ManageEngine have suggested additional fields can be created within “problem additional fields” to denote stock availability. Although the solution can be used to advise users of planned outages using both email and the self-service area, in the future I would like to see the ability to set items as unavailable, when affected by a fault that causes it to be so, in order that users can easily see the state of the item.

Auditing and Accountability

ServiceDesk Plus workflow rules can be utilised to set thresholds to escalate upon breach of both response and resolution time.

Each record has a history associated with it – problem, change, release etc. that can be viewed after the request has been closed.

In Summary

ServiceDesk Plus provides a very basic and mostly manually driven proactive problem management offering.

I feel that this solution would be more suitable for those organisations looking for reactive problem management capabilities with the ability to integrate event/alert monitoring. If ManageEngine were to invest in creating more automated features in the proactive problem area, such as auto update from CMDB, the solution would appeal to a much wider and more mature audience.

In Their Own Words:

ServiceDesk Plus is a help desk software with integrated asset and project management built on the ITIL framework. It is available in 29 different languages and is used by more than 85,000 companies, across 186 countries, to manage their IT help desk and assets. ServiceDesk Plus comes in three editions. First is Standard edition which covers the IT help desk module. The standard edition is completely free forever with no restrictions on tickets, users or tech agents. Available free both on-premise as well as Cloud. Next is professional edition, which comes with help desk management along with Asset management. And finally, the third is Enterprise edition which covers professional edition and adds ITIL and project management. The ITIL modules include Incident, Problem, Change, CMDB and Service Catalogue. In addition to all the modules, ServiceDesk Plus also comes with Purchase and Contract Management.

http://www.manageengine.com/products/service-desk/sdp-editions.html

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