Using Lean Sigma In The Real World

Ahead of Pink 16 I caught up with Troy DuMoulin, VP for Research & Development at Pink Elephant about Lean Sigma. We’ve already chatted about Change Management but I couldn’t resist asking Troy about his planned sessions on Lean as well.

Lean Sigma

For those of you who are going “Lean what?” Lean Sigma is a methodology that relies on a collaborative team effort to improve performance by systematically removing errors and service waste. Lean Sigma combines lean manufacturing/lean enterprise and Six Sigma to eliminate the eight kinds of waste: Time, Inventory, Motion, Waiting, Overproduction, Over processing, Defects, and Skills (usually shortened to ‘TIMWOODS’).

Lean Sigma uses the DMAIC improvement cycle for improving, optimizing and stabilizing business processes and designs. DMAIC stands for:

  • Define: clearly articulate the business problem, goal, potential resources, project scope and high-level project timeline
  • Measure; objectively establish current baselines as the basis for improvement
  • Analyse; identify, validate and select root cause for elimination
  • Improve;  identify, test and implement a solution to the problem
  • Control;  monitor the improvements to ensure continued and sustainable success, or in the words of Walt Disney, to “keep moving forwards

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Troy’s session will look at how to use Lean in a real life, fast paced IT environment to reduce errors and optimise service.

Official Overview

What IT Managers Need To Know About Lean Management; Troy DuMoulin, VP, Research & Development, Pink Elephant

In this overview, Troy will explain Lean’s origins and major guiding principles. You’ll walk away with an understanding of what Lean Management is, and an awareness of its business and IT value.

Simply put, Lean is focused on getting the right things to the right place at the right time in the right quantity to achieve perfect work flow, while minimizing waste and being flexible and able to change. To accomplish this, Lean thinking changes the focus of management from optimizing separate technologies, assets, and vertical departments to optimizing the flow of products and services through entire value streams that flow horizontally across technologies, assets, and departments to customers. Eliminating waste along entire value streams, instead of at isolated points, creates processes that need less human effort, less space, less capital, and less time to make products and services at far less costs and with much fewer defects, compared with traditional business systems. Organizations are able to respond to changing customer desires with high variety, high quality, low cost, and with very fast throughput times. Also, information management becomes much simpler and more accurate.

Will you be going to Pink 16? Let us know in the comments – bonus points for anyone that gets the T Rex reference!

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How to assess Changes

One of the things that I wish was covered in more detail during the ITIL intermediate training is how to properly impact assess Changes. Change Managers are the guardians of the production environment so making sure that all changes are properly assessed and sanity checked is a key part of service delivery. Asses too low and high risk rangers go through unchallenged, assess too high and you block up the process by examining every change no matter how small as if they could kill your organisation.

Here are the things that I look for when assessing a Change:

The Basics:

Title Does it highlight the affected services so that it’s easy to identify in any reports?
Description Is it clear and does it make sense? Sounds basic I know but let’s make it easier for the other people assessing and authorising the Change.
Benefits Why are we doing the Change? Remember, this isn’t just about technology, what about business and financial benefits?
Risk What are the risks in carrying out this Change? Has a risk matrix been used to give it a tangible risk score or is it a case of “reboot that critical server in the middle of the day? Be grand”. Imagine explaining to senior management what went wrong if the Change implodes – have you looked at risk mitigation? Using a formal risk categorisation matrix is key here.  Don’t just assume technicians know what makes a change low risk.  One of the key complaints from the business is that IT does not understand their pain. Creating a change assessment risk matrix IN A REPEATABLE FORMAT should be your first priority as a Change Manager.  If you can’t assess the risk of a change in the same way each time, learning from any mistakes, then you’re not doing Change Management. Period.

Timings:

Scheduling Does the proposed timing work with the approved Changes already on the Change Schedule (CS)? Has the Change been clash checked so there are no potential conflicts over services or resources?
Implementation windows Look at the proposed start and end times. Are they sensible (i.e. not rebooting a business critical server at 9 o’clock on Monday morning)? Does the implementation window leave time for anything going wrong or needing to roll back the Change?
Special considerations Are there any special circumstances that need to be considered? I used to work for Virgin Media; we had Change restrictions and freezes on our TV platforms during key times like the Olympics or World Cup to protect our customer’s experience. If you don’t know when your business critical times are then ask! The business will thank you for it.

The Technical Details:

Service Affected Have all affected services been identified? What about supporting services? Has someone checked the CMS to ensure all dependencies have been accounted for? Have we referenced the Service Catalogue so that business approvers know what they’re authorising?
Technical Teams Affected Who will support the Change throughout testing and implementation? Will additional support be needed? What about outside support from external suppliers? Has someone checked the contract to ensure any additional costs have been approved?
User Base Affected Check and check again. The last thing you want to do is deploy a Change to the wrong area of the business.
Environments Covered What do you mean what environments are we covering? Surely the only environment we need to worry out is our production environment right? Let me share the story of my worst day at work, ever. A long time ago and pre-kids, I worked for a large investment bank in London. A so called routine code change to one of the most business critical systems (the market data feed to our trade floors) took longer than expected so instead of updating both the production and DR environments, only the production environment was updated. The implementation team planned on updating the DR environment but got distracted with other operational priorities (i.e. doing the bidding of whichever senior manager shouted the loudest). Fast forward to 6 weeks later, a crisis hits the trading floor, the call is made to invoke DR but we couldn’t because our market data services were out of sync. Cue a hugely stressful 2 hours where the whole IT organisation and its mum desperately scrambled to find a fix and an estimated cost to the business of over $8 million. Moral of the story? If you have a DR environment; keep it in sync with production.
Licencing Are there any licensing implications? Don’t forget, changes in the number of people accessing a system, number of CPUs, or (especially) the way in which people work (moving from dev to prod) have huge impacts on licences.

Testing:

Pre Implementation Testing How do we make sure the Change will go as planned? Has the Change been properly tested in an appropriate environment? Has the testing been signed off and have all quality requirements been met?
Post Implementation Verification OK; the Change has gone in, how do we make sure everything is as it should be? Is there any smoke testing we can carry out? This is particularly important in transactional services; I once saw a Change that went in, everything looked grand but when customers tried to log in the next day, they couldn’t make any changes in their online banking session. I’ll spare you the details of the very shouty senior management feedback; let’s just say fun was most definitely not had that day. If at all possible; test that everything is working; the last thing you need is a total inability to support usual processes following a Change.

Planning:

Implementation Plan Does it make sense and does everyone involved know what they are meant to be doing and when.  If other teams are involved are they aware and do we have contact details for them? Are there any dodgy areas where we might need check point calls? Do we need additional support in place such as additional on call / shift resource on duty senior manager to mitigate risk? The plan doesn’t have to be fancy; if you need some inspiration I can share some template implementation plans in our members / subscribers area.
Back Out Plan What happens if something goes wrong during the Change? Do we fix on fail or roll back? Are the Change implementers empowered to make a decision or is escalation needed? In that case; are senior management aware of the Change and will a designated manager / decision maker be available? Can the Change be backed out in the agreed implementation window or do we need more time? If it looks like restoration work will cause the Change to overrun; warn the business sooner rather than later so that they can put any mitigation plans / workarounds in place.

Support

What Early Life Support Is Planned? What early Life support is planned? Are floorwalkers needed? Are extra team members needed that day to cope with any questions? Have we got defined exit criteria in place?
Is The Service Desk Aware? Has someone made the Service Desk aware? Have they been given any training if needed? I know it sounds basic but only a couple of months ago; I had to sit down and explain to an engineer why it was a good idea to let the Service Desk know before any Changes went live. Let’s face it; if something goes wrong the Service Desk are going to be at the sharp end of things. And speaking as an ex Service Desk manager (a very long time ago when they were still called Help Desks) there is nothing worse than having to deal with customers suffering from the fallout of a Change that you know nothing about.
Communication Has the Change been comm’ed out properly? Do we have nice templates so Change notification have a consistent look and feel?
SLAs If the business are pushing for a Change to be fast tracked with minimum testing can you ask them to formally acknowledge the risk by relaxing any SLA?

The above list isn’t exhaustive but it’s a sensible starting point. There’s lots of guidance out there; ITIL has the 7 R’s of Change Management and COBIT has advice on governance. What do you look for when assessing Changes? Let me know in the comments!

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Optimising Change Management For Speed

I was lucky enough to talk to ex colleague and all round ITSM rock star Troy DuMoulin ahead of next month’s Pink16 conference in Vegas.

Pink Elephant

Troy has a number of sessions at the conference but one that caught my eye (because I’m a total Change Management geek) was his take on optimising Change Management for speed.

Troy’s session will look at the Critical Success Factors (CSFs) for optimising the speed of Change and will focus on risk models to handle different types of Change and automation to be able to cope with increased throughput without sacrificing process effectiveness.

 

Preview Of Forthcoming Attractions

One of the hints Troy gave me about his session was that he will look at the three layer model for Service organisations. I can’t reveal too much (because spoilers!) but what I can share is Troy’s view which is that service organisations have three core architectures:

  1. technical architecture
  2. product architecture
  3. service architecture

The mistake that some IT leaders make is that they focus solely on technology and forget about managing products and services. I think most of us have been guilty of this at some point in our careers but if you look at it – by focusing only on the gadgets we’re only managing one third of our total outcome. A scary thought and I think we can all agree that our customers deserve more. I think Troy’s session will be really valuable for anyone involved in Change Management so if you’re around on the 17th, check out his presentation; it’s currently the morning session on Track Eight.

 

The Official Bit

Below is the official overview of Troy’s session and you can get further info here

Optimizing Change Management For The Speed Of Need; Troy DuMoulin, VP, Research & Development, Pink Elephant

In today’s fast-paced business environment your IT organization is being challenged to deliver faster results while at the same time keep the business from risk and harm. The question is, how do you achieve these seemly contradictory goals? The answer is that in order to go faster in some areas it is important that you slowdown in others. In short, acceleration requires you to have practices you can trust and automation that streamlines decision making and process flow (you wouldn’t expect to drive on the Autobahn with a Go-Cart).

In this informative session, Troy will describe the critical success factors for optimizing the speed of your Change Management process including: the development of a risk model to handle different change types, working with development to automate and increase the use of pre-approved changes and making all changes visible in one tool.

 

Will you be going to Pink16? Let us know in the comments!

The 7 habits of highly effective CABs

As a former Change Manager I can honestly say that the Change Advisory Board (or CAB) is one of the most important and useful meetings a service orientated organisation can have. It sets out a view of what’s happening to key services over the next week, reviews previous Change activity and looks at CSI so what’s not to like? CAB meetings are all about the people attending them and handled badly your CAB meeting will have all the power of a chocolate teapot so here are our top tips for running them effectively.

Step 1: TCB Power!

A colleague of mine once told me that TCB or tea, coffee and biscuits was one of the most important acronyms in IT. When I worked for a large investment bank in London, one of my first tasks was to roll out a sensible Change Management process across one of our service families. Trying to persuade grumpy techies who saw Change Management as red tape rather than an important part of service delivery was not going well until I brought out the big guns; Krispy Kreme doughnuts and chocolate biscuits. In all seriousness, a CAB meeting is where you want people to feel comfortable representing Changes or asking questions so anything that makes your meeting easier, nicer or makes people feel more relaxed can only be a good thing.

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What not to do! 

Step 2: Get organised

Make sure that your CAB has a terms of reference document so that everyone knows what they’re doing and why. The Change manager should send out the CAB agenda, including the Changes to be discussed, the Change Schedule (CS) and any Changes that caused Incidents well in advance of the CAB meeting.  Service Delivery teams and Project Managers need time to read and consider the Changes as well as identify any potential issues or questions.

Step 3: Look for the big hitters

One of the biggest mistakes people make is insisting all Changes should go to CAB.  Not a good idea unless you want your CAB meeting to be overrun with server reboots or patching requests. Use automation where possible so that the CAB meeting can focus on the major, high category Changes that need to be sanity checked and talked through.

 Step 4: Play nicely with your attendees

Some members of the CAB will be needed for their opinion on every Change; for example the Service Desk, Network Services and Server support and will make up the core CAB attendee list. Other attendees such a Project Managers, Service Delivery Managers and external suppliers might only be needed to discuss a couple of Changes on the list. If this is the case then be kind. Move those Changes to the beginning of the CAB so that these temporary or “flex” CAB attendees can discuss the relevant Changes and then leave.

Step 5: Ask the horrible questions

You know the ones, what everyone in the room is thinking but no one wants to actually ask. Some examples could include:

  • “What’s the remediation plan? Do we fix on fail or roll back?”
  • “What happens if rolling back doesn’t fix the issue?”
  • “Is the person doing the Change empowered to make that decision or do we need to arrange for extra support to be on call?”
  • Or even; “is this really a good idea?”

It’s better coming from the Change Manager than from an angry customer or senior manager following a failed Change right? Make sure the Service Desk feel comfortable asking questions as well; they’ll be the ones at the sharp end of customer complaints if anything goes wrong so make sure they’re happy with the Change content and plan.

Step 6: Keep it pacey

There is nothing worse than a two hour CAB meeting. I guarantee you; if you are regularly putting your CAB attendees through marathon meetings then people will run short of both patience and good will. There’s also a very real chance that someone may fall asleep. Keep things moving. If someone has launched into a long winded, uber waffley technical explanation and you get the sense that it’s adding no value as well as making everyone in the room lose the will to live then break in with a question so that you can get things back on track. Do it nicely though obvs.

Step 7: CSI

Don’t forget to review your list of previously implemented Changes. If something’s gone well then brilliant! Let’s template it or add it to any Change models to share the love. If something hasn’t been successful or worse, has broken something generating a load of Incidents then look at what happened, figure out the root cause and look at ways of preventing recurrence. If your Problem Manager isn’t attending CAB then invite them – they are the subject matter experts in this area.

What do you think? What are your top tips for effective CAB meetings? Tell me in the comments!

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Webinar: Change Management – 28th January 2016

Enterprise Service Management events

Happy January everyone! We are pleased to announce our new program of ITSM training modules; Bite Sized ITSM. The training is a year long educational course based on Service Management best practice and will balance practitioner experience against industry frameworks including ITIL, COBIT and Lean Sigma.

The programme enables worldwide ITSM professionals to attend monthly, one hour, webinar sessions to learn about key elements of ITSM from the comfort of their own workspace. Each session is free and the first module will be on Change Management.

We also have a sparkly new partnership with our friends at Pink Elephant; if you would like to learn more about a subject covered on our webinars; you can qualify for an exclusive 15% discount on their extensive ITIL training program.


Module 1 – Change Management

Change Management

About This Event

This is the 1st module in the series covering an Introduction to Change Management. This webinar was presented live by Vawns Murphy on 28th January 2016. If you missed the live session or enrolled late… No problem, all sessions are recorded for future playback. Register below to view the recording of this session.

Learning Objectives

1. Goal and objective

2. Types of Change, CAB meetings, and implementation planning

3.  Change Management process; a practitioners guide

Who should attend? 

  • Change Managers
  • Change Analysts
  • Project Managers
  • Service Delivery Managers
Why you should attend
  • Cost – The Webinar is FREE. Convenience – You can participate in the webinar from a location of your choosing.
  • No travelling/ travel costs involved.
  • Interaction – You have the opportunity to communicate and ask questions with the presenter and peers.

REGISTER HERE

 

For details of the full Enterprise Service Management Training Programme, click here.

Cakes, Dilbert & ServiceNow!

We were lucky enough to be invited to a ServiceNow seminar in London just before Christmas. The theme of the event was “is your ITSM keeping up with the business?” Naturally we pounced on this like a cheetah on a trampoline so here’s our take on the big day.

ServiceNow

2015 Update – Tom Warren, Sales Director of New Business – ServiceNow

First up was Tom Warren, Sales Director of New Business for ServiceNow. Tom kicked off the afternoon by giving us a whistle stop tour of how 2015 has treated ServiceNow. It’s been an impressive year in terms of growth; two thirds of the world’s biggest banks are now ServiceNow customers.

Tom talked about the passion ServiceNow has for embracing technology: “self-service empowers our users and synergises what they’re using at home. No one wants to use tech that’s 20 years out of date” so far so standard for ITSM toolsets but Tom went on to explain that there is now a ServiceNow app for Apple Watch. Can you imagine being able to log Incidents or approve Service Requests on your watch? How awesome is that?!! (Disclaimer: I’m a huge geek).

Tom continued by talking about how ServiceNow can drive efficiencies at an enterprise level by automating manual tasks. He shared how the product has evolved over time by working with partner ecosystems to drive the transformation process.

Tom ended his session by re-affirming the ServiceNow commitment to its customers encouraging everyone to look at the ServiceNow user community for news, support and FAQs. He reminded the audience “24 by 7 by 365 support and upgrades are included in the licence because we want you to have the best product” – something I totally agree with as there’s nothing worse than spending thousands of pounds on a tool only to spend yet more money every time you have an issue, question or need to upgrade.

 

Value & Efficiency – Neil MacGowan, Enterprise Strategist – ServiceNow

Next up was Neil MacGowan, enterprise strategist for ServiceNow. Neil’s opened his session with a Dilbert cartoon so naturally I was totally on board from the off. Neil gave us the shocking statistic from a recent study that found people are spending 15 hours a week on admin tasks. I loathe anything admin related with a fiery burning passion so completely agree that we need to sort this out. Neil continued by saying that the reason we do so much admin is “multiple departments, outdated tech & inefficient processes”.

Neil gave us a practical example of how ServiceNow can help “before we used ServiceNow for purchase orders, it took an average of 20 emails just to sort one purchase order”. Ouch.  Neil outlined a user experience we can all empathise with: “users go from using Facebook, Amazon, Google etc. at home, then they go into work and are forced to use Soviet era tech. No wonder they’re frustrated”.

Neil demonstrated how ServiceNow can be used to support HR, Marketing and Facilities as well as IT and explained how CreateNow module can create a new support application in minutes. Neil talked about CSI and next steps stating “today’s innovation is tomorrow’s commodity. We need CSI to keep going”.

Neil ended his session by talking about value reminding us: “the true value of  ServiceNow is (1) what you can save (2) what you gain in operations & (3) innovation”

 

Bans Sagoo – Functionality Expert – ServiceNow

The final session we attended was run by Bans Sagoo. His session was called “a look under the hood” Bans used his session to outline how ServiceNow can be used to manage multiple Service Desks, Major Incidents and management analytics.

Bans took us through the ServiceNow Major Incident experience which was slick, efficient and optimised with fab reporting dashboards enabling beleaguered Incident Managers everywhere to be able to report back to management with sensible updates. Bans finished by explaining that having a solid common workflow means you can build structured processes; something I completely agree with especially if you use modelling and templates.

 

A Fun, Informative Event

For my money, this was a really useful and fun event. It’s always nice to see the big software companies give something back and the day was an exciting mix of brand, functionality and process design presentations. The customers I spoke to were all really engaged and a great day was had by all. Thank you to ServiceNow for inviting us along and we hope to be back next time.

 

 

ITAM and ITSM Integration Group Test – The Results

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Six tools offering ITAM and ITSM from around the globe

This Group Test explores the relationship between the IT management disciplines of IT Asset Management (ITAM) and IT Service Management (ITSM).

Our remit was to explore the opportunities for managing assets and interacting with ITAM teams whilst maintaining everyday ITSM processes. In particular we were looking to review ITSM tools that offer ITAM functionality or integrate with tools that do – or ITAM tools that provide value to ITSM lifecycles.

I was pleasantly surprised and encouraged by the growing overlap between ITAM and ITSM functionality in the tools reviewed. It was great to see all camps taking advantage of the obvious benefits of ITAM and ITSM integration. It was also refreshing to review technology from all four corners of the globe; including some new vendors that some of our readers might not have heard of yet.

Participants in this “bake-off” were:

Supplier Country of Origin Number of Customers Summary
InvGate Argentina 3,000+ Comprehensive ITAM & ITSM solution with next-generation interface
ManageEngine India 100,000+ A good solid solution for building an integrated ITAM and ITSM foundation.
Matrix42[Best in Class] Germany 900+ Arguably the first vendor to offer comprehensive Enterprise grade SAM within a full ITSM suite
Miradore Finland 500+ A desktop management solution providing ITAM and Configuration Management capabilities and opportunities for automating routine ITSM tasks
SupaTOOLS New Zealand 80 A refreshing alternative to big ITSM tool frameworks at a competitive price.
Virima USA 2 ITAM and ITSM in a competitive package. Detailed inventory for datacenter environments plus key service management functions to be able to turn datacenter insight into action.

Deep Dives:

ITXM – ITAM and ITSM (2+2=5)

What are the benefits of integrating ITAM and ITSM?

The vision for fully integrated ITAM and ITSM is –

  • For ITAM:
    1. Meeting compliance and efficiency goals whilst decisions and changes are being made rather than attempting to clean up mess afterwards, allowing the business to make smart technology choices without booby-traps and with visibility of total cost of ownership.
    2. Allowing users to be productive and have access to the assets they need whilst being compliant.
  • For ITSM:
    1. Offering visibility of asset relationships and costs to facilitate faster incident resolution, proactive problem management and less error prone change management.
    2. Delivering self-service without risks.
    3. Updating asset data on the fly as part of BAU for everyone’s benefit – allowing smarter decision making.

Vendor Summary – Strengths and Weaknesses

Supplier Product Strengths Weaknesses
InvGate Assets and Service Desk Code free configuration / Low consulting requirement No server / service dependency mapping
Strong interface and user experience
Next generation IT Management Tooling
Strong embedded game mechanics
ManageEngine ServiceDesk Plus Fully Integrated ITAM & ITSM Lacks polish
Free Version Shortage of specialist knowledge
Use for outside IT department
Matrix42 ITSM Suite and Workspace Management A modern IT management platform with vast platform coverage. Minimal market penetration outside central Europe
ITAM and ITSM mapping from day one
Workflow driven solution – adapt for every process
BYOD, Mobile and Cloud addressed
Miradore Miradore Good offering for Managed Service Providers A good complement for the service desk – but offers no ticketing or core service desk functions.
Light versatile and automated desktop management
Low cost monthly subscription
Good inventory and asset verification offering
Self service software request platform
SupaTOOLS SupaDESK, SupaCMDB Strong CMDB centric ITSM offering Minimal license management capabilities
Cloud, on-premise or flip between two
Well though out design, easy to use
Great relationship views for viewing ALL attributes
Low consulting requirement
Virima Technologies EcosystemManager Datacentre Visibility New software offering, limited existing customers
Turn datacentre insights into service management actions
Ideal for datacentre migration or consolidation
Strong visualisation of dependencies

ITAM & ITSM Integration Review (10)Best in Class for ITAM & ITSM – MATRIX42

We’ve awarded Matrix42 Best in Class for ITAM and ITMS integration for their comprehensive ITAM and ITSM suite.

ITXM – Full ITAM & ITSM integration at last!

“Matrix42 want to be the management layer that sits on top of the services that run IT and claim their key differentiators are strength of integration, automation and speed to value – eschewing the consulting heavy approach of many IT management tool rivals.”

Matrix42 is the closest toolset manufacturer we’ve seen to be able to realize the full ITAM and ITSM vision from one platform. The solution offers both strong ITSM capabilities (verified for eight ITIL processes via a modern interface) whilst also offering depth of datacentre SAM coverage (identifying options and packs enabled for Oracle database). Matrix42 are arguably the first vendor to offer comprehensive Enterprise grade SAM within a full ITSM suite.

Deep Dives:

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 our Disclosure page.

InvGate for ITAM and ITSM

invgate logo words verticalI recently reviewed InvGate for the ITAM vs. ITSM Integration group test. Below is a summary, read the full review on Tools Advisor here.

Also Participating:

To read the summary, strengths and weaknesses, and criteria please visit this page.

InvGate Assets & Service Desk

Invgate is an Argentinian software company offering Service Desk and Asset Management applications. InvGate claim to have a strong market share in their home Latin American territory and gaining traction in USA and EMEA. The company has over 3000 customers and is ideally suited to organizations between 1,000 and 5,000 employees. InvGate is well placed to take advantage of both smaller organizations that have outgrown cheap and cheerful solutions and larger organizations that are perhaps weary of the large price tag and consulting heavy approach of large enterprise players.

InvGate offer standalone ITAM or ITSM solutions via an excellent interface. This is a strong solution and we found it difficult to find fault with it. One-third of InvGate customers are said to own the Service Desk only, one-third Asset Management only and the final third own both.

A world-class interface and user experience

The stand out differentiator when reviewing InvGate is the interface and user experience. They have managed to capture very technical IT management capabilities and communication of IT data – in a remarkably well-designed interface.

The balance between ITAM and ITSM features, ease of use and flexibility is beautifully executed. This is the future of IT management tools, tackling IT complexity head-on.

Code free configuration and first-class design means customers won’t need to engage with consultants to customize the software or ask for custom fields, they can simply do it themselves.

Getting beyond ITIL process box checking

InvGate includes a versatile and easy to use process engine to build any process, including core ITIL processes – but it’s refreshing to see this requirement take a back seat in favour of pure usability and experience.

This is technology your teams and stakeholders will want to use. The user experience and simplicity of execution is head and shoulders above anything else we have seen.

A game everyone wants to playInvGate Service Desk Assets Integration

Invgate Service Desk has game mechanics and social network elements woven into its design and day-to-day interactions. Customers or end users provide immediate feedback and ratings to interactions within the workflow itself (as opposed to receiving an email later).

Social network elements are executed well, it not just ‘likes’ and ‘feeds’ but provides a visual and easy to understand ‘RACI’ chart of the key stakeholders underpinning each service desk process. Interactions are natural and collaborative whilst meeting process goals.

See also ‘GAMIFICATION: Collecting coins on the service desk’ from 2012.

 


Tools Advisor Logo 1

 

Read the full review on Tools Advisor here.

Do you use InvGate?

Please share your opinion for the benefit of others.

Leave a customer review on Tools Advisor here.

 

 


 

SupaTOOLS for ITAM and ITSM

This independent review is part of our ITAM vs. ITSM Integration group test.

Also participating:

To read the summary, strengths and weaknesses, and criteria please visit this page.

 Commercial Summary

Vendor SupaTOOLS
Product SupaDESK, SupaCMDB
Version reviewed 20150104, released 4th April 2015
Year Founded 2014 (The product was formerly known as easyCMDB developed by Tech Inventions Limited which was founded in 2006)
Customers 80 (Approximately 40% Americas, 25% Australasia, 25% EMEA, 10% Asia)
Pricing Structure
  • SupaCMDB = Number of configuration items to be managed
  • SupaDESK, SupaRELEASE, SupaSTOCK = Number of analysts Priced by managed device per month
  • Available SaaS and on-premise

SupaTOOLS

logo6913229_mdMost ITSM tools were born from a foundation of ticketing and logging incidents. SupaTOOLS, in comparison, was first a CMDB. SupaTOOLS began life as ‘easyCMDB’ in 2006 and has evolved into a well-rounded and competitive ITSM offering.

The founders of SupaTOOLS saw a gap in the market for a robust CMDB solution offering and began developing their CMDB. Whilst SupaTOOLS suite of tools can be used without using the CMDB element, it is clear that CMDB is the foundation and a CMDB ethic of configuration, relationships and connectivity runs throughout the software.

SupaTOOLS is a web-based ITSM solution built around ITIL principles. Customers can choose a Windows or Linux install, with MySQL or SQL Server as a backend repository. Customers can also choose either on premise or SaaS (75% of SupaTOOLS customers install on premise). SupaTOOLS customers can also shift between SaaS on premise as required with many SupaTOOLS customers beginning with a cloud-based setup and shifting to on premise once the installation meets their requirements. Both customers and service management staff can access the SupaTOOLS system via mobile – on iOS and Android.

The SupaTOOLS portfolio consists of four main modules:

  • SupaCMDB – for config. and change management
  • SupaDESK – As the main service desk including Incident and requests
  • SupaRELEASE – A release management offering
  • SupaSTOCK – For inventory, warehouse management and stock control

Despite the SupaTOOLS depth of features we found the interface easy to understand and simple to navigate. Core service desk features included in SupaDESK navigation include service catalogue, incident and problem management, known errors, requests, knowledgebase, incident calendar, business services, service level agreements and reporting.

The SupaTOOLS offering is well thought out with great design. Configuration Managers in particular will love it; it is effectively an extensible database that can be configured to suit any individual customer requirements.

Every attribute of every asset, device or service can be clicked, drilled and viewed to a seemingly endless degree. Customers are never short of being able to see interconnectedness or similarities between any elements. In short, everything is linked to everything else. The relationship view is particularly useful when investigating the relationship between assets, previous incidents and changes and we particularly liked the visual management of racks within datacentres.SupaTOOLS_Integration_Diagram

From a change management perspective SupaTOOLS customers can alter how relaxed they wish to be about changes to the configuration database – from very relaxed to draconian. Settings include:

  • Loose – any data changes are allowed
  • Audit – Notes must be written justifying each change
  • Strict – each change requires a change request

These settings allow customers to increase configuration management discipline and control as their maturity improves or situations require.

SupaTOOLS is built from the ground up as a CMDB for IT departments, but could easily be used to other assets beyond IT. Customization to customer requirements is simple and straightforward and designed to be executed by customers rather than hiring consultants.

Our only criticism of SupaTOOLS is that organizations looking for a comprehensive solution for both IT Service Management and IT Asset Management might find some software license management elements lacking compared to specialist SAM tools, but the depth of visibility and control of datacentre environments will be very useful for Software Asset Managers managing datacentre software publishers.

SupaTOOLS is a refreshing alternative to big ITSM tool frameworks at a competitive price. Built from the ground upwards as a CMDB, it is well-designed and high quality solution for organizations seeking to deliver high-class services and IT management without having to re-mortgage the IT department.

Vendor information – in their own words

“SupaTOOLS

SupaTOOLS is a web-based IT Service Management solution based on the ITIL standard. SupaTOOLS comprises 4 main modules that deliver different processes:

  • SupaCMDB – Configuration and Change Management
  • SupaDESK – Incident, Request and Service Management
  • SupaRELEASE – Advanced Release Management
  • SupaSTOCK – Inventory Management 
All of the above modules can be combined into a single database to provide a fully integrated solution. This allows the customer to pick only the functionality they require and gives them the flexibility to add more at a later date.

SupaTOOLS is available as either a Cloud (SaaS) based service or on-premise install. It supports both Windows and Linux platforms running either MySQL or SQL Server back-end.

Most importantly, SupaTOOLS includes an extremely flexible database schema and UI, allowing the customer to tailor the CMDB to record any asset type and brand the UI according to their own requirements.

This can typically be achieved by the customer with minimal additional cost and involvement from the supplier. 
Our customers use SupaTOOLS can be used in a variety of ways, ranging from providing a fully featured and integrated Service Desk, to an Asset repository with integrated Change Management.

Tools are included to rapidly populate the database from spreadsheet data, which is where many of our customers start from. But equally SupaTOOLS can replace multiple existing disparate systems with a centrally trusted ‘source of truth’ 
We pride ourselves on being very attentive to our customer needs, and responding quickly to all customer queries. Many of our customer suggestions and wishes get included in future releases so that all can benefit.”

 

ManageEngine for ITAM and ITSM

This independent review is part of our ITAM vs. ITSM Integration group test.

Also participating:

To read the summary, strengths and weaknesses, and criteria please visit this page.

Commercial Summary

Vendor ManageEngine; a division of ZOHO Corp
Product ServiceDesk Plus
Version reviewed 9.1
Year Founded 2002
Customers 100,000+
Pricing Structure By Technicians / Assets (Nodes) Available On premise and SaaS

ManageEngine ServiceDesk Plus

ManageEngine is a division of Zoho Corp, a privately owned Indian software company with 3,000 employees.

Zoho’s divisions include:sdp_high_res_logo

  • ZOHO – CRM, email and back office functions
  • WebNMS – Network management framework
  • ManageEngine – IT management tools

ServiceDesk Plus from ManageEngine includes a service desk offering and asset management features. ManageEngine claim that ServiceDesk Plus has over 125K deployments in over 100K customers and is used in 186 countries in 29 language variations.

A core differentiator for ManageEngine is delivering IT management tools at a fraction of the price of their enterprise IT management rivals.

 

ServiceDesk Plus Editions

ServiceDesk Plus is available in Standard, Professional and Enterprise editions.

In summary: 

  • Standard Edition (Free): Free software for Incident Management, providing self-service and a knowledgebase. Aimed at the first rung of the ladder of ITSM and getting organizations organized for free.
  • Professional Edition – As per the Standard Edition plus asset scanning and Software Asset Management capabilities.
  • Enterprise Edition – The full suite (Incident, problem, change, asset, service catalogue, CMDB and IT Project Management). Billed as ”ITIL ready helpdesk software with Asset and Project Management”.

The free version from ManageEngine is a bold move to capture market share. There are no limitations on number of agents or tickets raised. ManageEngine state that they provide this free software as a way of giving back to the ITSM community.

Complementary Tools from ManageEngine

The full ManageEngine product portfolio includes:

  • Datacenter & Server Performance
  • Network Performance
  • Log Analysis and Security
  • Desktop and Mobile Device
  • Application Performance
  • Active Directory Management

And for the purposes of IT Asset Management and IT Service Management complementary products to ServiceDesk Plus include:

  • AssetExplorer – Standalone Inventory Management Software
  • Social IT Plus – An internal private social network for IT
  • SupportCenter Plus – Customer facing customer support software

 

Asset Lifecycle Embedded within ITSM  

Asset dashboardServiceDesk Plus includes asset discovery of all IP devices directly into the service desk based on agent based or agent-less scanning. All software and hardware information is recorded and managed for each asset.

Once IT assets are inventoried, administrators can group and manage assets by their preferred criteria or attributes. Asset status can also be assigned for easier visibility of assets in use such as ‘in repair’, ‘disposed’, ‘in use’ and so on. Asset managers can assign contracts and maintenance expiry dates to certain assets and manage them throughout their lifecycle, including non-IT assets.

ServiceDesk asset scanning also includes recording of software usage metering, so with effective policies and management ServiceDesk Plus customers can remove software waste and ensure they only pay for software being used. Organizations can also monitor the usage of restricted applications to support the enforcement of IT policy and to mitigate information security risks.

ServiceDesk Plus include Software Asset Management (SAM) features including the management of various license types such as CAL, concurrent, subscription and node locked licensing.

However ServiceDesk Plus should be considered a basic solution for organizations getting started with the management of desktop SAM. In particular – recognition of software is manual, so administrators must manually scan; move applications to managed status and then manually check for accuracy. This will be very labour intensive for medium to large organizations managing hundreds if not thousands of applications.

The real strength of an integrated suite such as ServiceDesk Plus is the asset register and inventory records all living within service management lifecycles.

ITAM and ITSM Integration

ServiceDesk Plus provides a holistic view over both ITAM and ITSM functions and provides a good integration between the two disciplines. Customers can pin problematic assets to service requests, problems and changes and drill down to see the relationships and inventory history for each asset associated with service.

There is a seamless link between asset and service allowing service managers to see how assets perform during a change, plan changes by viewing impacted assets or troubleshoot troublesome assets by analyzing all the incidents, problems and changes associated with assets.

ServiceDesk Plus has no current integration with Microsoft SCCM, a market leader in desktop deployment. Competitive solutions integrate with the patch and deployment lifecycle, although ManageEngine do offer their own integrated solution in the form of Desktop Central as an alternative to SCCM.

ManageEngine report that around 20% of their customers have taken ServiceDesk Plus beyond the IT department to functions such as HR, maintenance, facilities and travel. So there is clearly scope for expanding the initial value and investment in ServiceDesk Plus well beyond the IT department and providing automation and efficiency gains.

Lacks Polish

Customer - software dashboardManageEngine lacks some of the sophistication and polish of their ITSM market competitors, and lacks the depth compared to specialist ITAM players – but nonetheless is a good solid solution for building an integrated ITAM and ITSM foundation.

ManageEngine has an enormous portfolio of products. This diversity is reflected in their ITAM and ITSM offerings, which sometimes show a shortage of specialist knowledge. However for organizations seeking to build a service management platform with inbuilt asset register at a competitive price ServiceDesk Plus should be on your shortlist.

Vendor information – in their own words

“ManageEngine ServiceDesk Plus for ITAM & ITSM

ServiceDesk Plus is web-based help desk software built on the ITIL framework with over 125,000 deployments in more than 100,000 organizations. ServiceDesk Plus is SMB affordable help desk software loaded with enterprise features. It can be the right fit for organizations that are looking for to organize their IT help desk without having to spend huge dollars.

ServiceDesk Plus enables an easier service delivery to the end users with a range of easy code-free customizations starting from the user interface. Automation ranging from ticket handling to automated notifications in ServiceDesk Plus help increase productivity of the technicians. ServiceDesk Plus has minimal learning curve and is easy to learn for both the technicians as well as the end users thereby ensuring a faster ROI for service desk teams.

The native mobile apps provide anytime, anywhere access to the technicians to create, edit, assign, and close requests. ServiceDesk Plus delivers the right insights on the help desk performance s with canned and custom reports, and real time dashboards. ServiceDesk Plus is also scalable for organizations of different sizes. The key features of ServiceDesk Plus include: –

  • Incident Management
  • Problem Management
  • Change Management
  • Asset management
  • Project Management
  • Purchase and Contract Management
  • Self-Service Portal
  • Knowledge Base
  • Automated Workflows
  • Multi-Site Support
  • 150+ Canned and Custom Reports
  • CMDB
  • Real-Time Dashboards
  • Service Catalogue
  • User Survey
  • Native Mobile Apps

The standard edition of ServiceDesk Plus with the basic help desk functionality is completely free without any restrictions on the number of end users, technicians, or requests. The main objective is to eliminate the cost of decision-making for small organizations and enable them to take their first step towards an organized IT and streamline their incident management process.”

Product Information: https://www.manageengine.com/help-desk-software.html

Online demo: http://demo.servicedeskplus.com