Review: ServiceNow for Service Catalogue

This independent review is part of our 2013 Service Catalogue Group Test.

Executive Summary – ServiceNow

Overview
  • High end functionality
  • Enterprise focus
  • Strong corporate backing and growth
Strengths
  • Extensive functionality
  • Best Demand dashboard functions
  • Flexibility of product
Weaknesses
  • UI busy and complicated
  • Flexibility of product
  • Organisation geared towards enterprise clients
  • Needs usability configuration/customisation
Primary Market Focus “ServiceNow are the Enterprise IT Cloud Company”

Commercial Summary

Vendor ServiceNow
Product ServiceNow
Version reviewed Berlin
Date of version release September 2012
Year founded 2004
Customers 1600 enterprise customers as of May 2013.
Pricing Structure “ServiceNow offers a subscription license based on IT process users. We charge $100 / IT process user / month with volume discounts available. We also offer end user pricing in certain scenarios.”
Competitive Differentiators ServiceNow state:

  1. “A single, organically developed ITSM platform built in the cloud with nothing acquired or OEMed that leverages knowledge management, collaboration, graphical workflow engine, ITSM stack, service catalogue and request, runbook automation, CMDB, ITAM, software license management, etc. all included in the subscription license.
  2. An approachable, social and modern Web UI built to improve the end user experience with IT through an emphasis on usability and self service.
  3. A configurable platform includes a content management system that allows IT to provide a user experience that is identical to existing customer Web properties and that matches existing user experience and IT workflow.”

ServiceNowlogo_STANDARD_RGB_226px_122012Independent Review

ServiceNow has emerged in recent years as a leading innovator in the SaaS and Cloud provision of ITSM products – this is backed up with an active and innovative community of users and partners that use the platform to develop new applications and approaches with the toolset.

The Service Catalogue product is part of an extensive and function-rich ITSM toolset that is aimed at competing and ultimately leading the enterprise area of the market – the company has achieved impressive growth and market share, replacing major legacy ITSM systems, leading with speed, agility and a disruptive commercial model.

The Catalogue product has full functionality and meets all the stated requirements. In particular the demand management, dashboard and reporting capabilities are impressive and delivered to support useful views of consumption vs. forecast etc. The system supports multi-tenancy operations and provides good integration with asset and discovery modules to create service bundles.

The product offers a potential hybrid and options for ‘bottom up’ and ‘top down’ approach. The vendor offers a variety and depth of implementation and development services and as well as support to clients through workshops and training – supported by a growing partner network of integrators and consultancies.

The standard Out of the Box interface looks busy and complicated – there are many good tailored implementations which are built for clients, however these may take consultancy and configuration time.

This is a good option for enterprise clients who need to customise their system, look and feel, as well as needing to develop some specific functionality. Product tailoring and configuration would suit large enterprise organisations with expansive requirements. Small, medium-sized, and some enterprise organisations – with standard requirements, looking for ‘vanilla’ implementations –  might struggle with the complexity and User Interface of the Out of the Box version.

Overview

  • ITSM track record over last 6/7 years of significant growth and ‘rip-out’ replacement implementations – major ‘disruptive’ player introducing new commercial model and fast implementation approach
  • Comprehensive functionality available – competing with enterprise ITSM tools
  • Meets all stated requirements
  • Out of the box User Interface and overall functionality looks busy and complex
  • Catalogue functionality integrates with ITSM processes
  • Strong capability in Demand Management
  • Vendor has developed strong, open user community and partner base for sharing knowledge and innovation with the product
  • Consultancy and tailoring required for a simple, intuitive implementation

Strengths

  • Extensive functionality available for hardware and software request and lifecycle management
  • Effective portal and user request functionality
  • Seamless integration with discovery and asset modules to build service bundles and ‘discover’ services
  • Vendor has experience and skilled resources for technical integration of request management/portal processes
  • Expanding and impressive portfolio of enterprise client implementations
  • Partner network provides input to innovation and development of leading edge product best practice
  • Real time dashboards and reports look impressive
  • Excellent breadth of (delivered) Demand Management functionality
  • User and partner community a great resource and source of innovation and good practice
  • Vendor has growing resources and financial backing as part of growth strategy
  • System highly tailorable and therefore suitable for large bespoke implementations and requirements

Weaknesses

  • Out of the Box interface looks busy and over-engineered for many basic functions
  • Basic functionality will require tailoring for a simple clean interface and functionality  – may not suit organisations looking for clarity and simplicity in solution
  • Strength of flexibility may also be weakness in complexity
  • Standard implementations of Service Catalogue around 10 days – re-design for simple clean look and feel requires more time and cost

ServiceNow Service Catalogue Customers

In Their Own Words:

“ServiceNow Service Catalogue and Request Management offers all your defined business and technical services via flexible storefront interface. Using configurable ServiceNow workflow, you can provide a friendly, personalized user experience to capture data, collect approvals, automate fulfilment, and leverage the benefits of operating in one platform to deliver value to the business.

Empower your business and technical users to interact and order the services they need to do their job, provide transparency into the approval process, and allow users to track the progress of their own requests. Through the service catalogue, your organization can deliver standardized services, capture data for an array of department services, coordinate transfer pricing between departments, and improve internal controls with full audit capabilities.

Drag-and-drop your way to a powerful, world-class experience and improve communication, transparency, and the perception of IT by the rest of the business. All the workflow orchestration, notifications, request fulfilment, interface design and connections to underlying processes are built into the ServiceNow platform.”

Screenshots

Further Information

Group Test Index

This independent review is part of our 2013 Service Catalogue Group Test.

Review: Axios assyst for Service Catalogue [BEST IN CLASS]

This independent review is part of our 2013 Service Catalogue Group Test.

Executive Summary – Axios (BEST IN CLASS)

Overview
  • High-end option for Medium – Enterprise
  • Simple intuitive UI/OOTB
Strengths
  • Seamless integration with assyst ITSM processes
  • UI
  • Strategic approach
  • Vendor capability
Weaknesses
  • Not geared up for standalone SC implementation
  • May be overkill for technical or small implementations
Primary Market Focus Based on the information provided, Axios typically market to large/very large customers with a minimum of 1000 business users.They are classified for this review as:Specialised Service Management Suite – Offering ITIL processes and proprietary discovery tooling.They provide Event and Monitoring bridges as integration points.

Commercial Summary

Vendor Axios Systems
Product Axios assyst
Version reviewed v10
Date of version release February 2012 (multiple feature packs since initial release)
Year founded 1988
Customers 982
Pricing Structure Axios state:

  1. “SaaS – Organizations that are focused on capital expenditures and do not want to be concerned with managing hardware.
  2. On-Premise – Organizations that would rather pay a larger upfront cost, keep their annual costs lower, and keep their data in house.
  3. On-Premise Pay-Per-Month – Organizations that would like to spread the costs across 3 or 5 years, keeping their upfront cost low, while at the same time keeping their data in house.Within each of these delivery models, users can have either concurrent or dedicated license or a mix of both.While these form the basic structure of our licensing options, variants within these options are also available.  Furthermore, if a client should, at any point, want to move between the different models, we will certainly provide for that capability.    The assyst solution supports both dedicated (named) and concurrent models to allow flexibility with all core functions covered under a single licence.”

largeIndependent Review

Axios is an established vendor with a track record in the ITSM market. The Service Catalogue product is a relatively recent addition, now seamlessly integrated into the wider ITSM product functionality.

The standard interface is clean, uncluttered and intuitive, and in many cases could be used Out of the Box (OOTB). The system provides extensive functionality with all requirements met, although some advanced demand management functions require extra configuration (will be in next release). assyst offers ‘multi-tenancy’ options with links to its Customer Service Groups (CSG) functionality, which allows for customer separation and simple service definition.

The seamless integration with the rest of the assyst ITSM functional areas makes it suitable for a ‘top-down’ approach. It has not been sold extensively as a stand-alone (Service Catalogue) product, although there are some customers and so it could support a ‘bottom up’ approach The vendor is geared up to sell and implement to the ITSM market in general rather than marketing the Service Catalogue as a separate product. The vendor has extensive experience of technical integration with other products.

This is a high-end product and would be suitable for medium and large enterprise implementations. It is an excellent option for existing or prospective assyst customers and is a simple and function-rich option for others, although it may be a high cost and over engineered option for those simply looking for a request portal to get started. It is a good option for enterprise clients who want an intuitive simple interface and minimal tailoring and configuration.

 Overview

  • Existing ITSM vendor
  • Established (25+ years) independent vendor competing with large framework vendors for enterprise-wide ITSM functionality
  • Relatively recent entry to Service Catalogue market – design has incorporated recent thinking and practice
  • Strong approach that meets strategic and technical approach
  • Meets all state requirements
  • Seamless integration with existing assyst ITSM process and event management engine
  • Good overall Service Catalog product and implementation service offering for assyst clients
  • Was designed as potentially standalone product
  • Excellent full functional option for enterprise and medium sized IT organisations

Strengths

  • Pitch and approach suggests strategic focus and capability in full strategic value of Service Catalogue
  • Follows Service Strategy and Service Design approach generally in line with ITIL v 3 onwards
  • Simple forms-based service design – creates service structure and relationships
  • Services integrate with existing CMDB data and existing Incident Problem and Change functionality and workflows.
  • Existing Customer Service Grouping (CSG) functionality is a strong offering for ITSM wide integration – good business-view option for Managed Services clients who require multi-tenancy ITSM with Service Layer.
  • Recent version has developed and improved slick interface for end users and IT users.
  • Request Management workflow simple and dynamic – looks easy to use for non-technical staff
  • Strong approach based on workshops and skills transfer to clients. Axios has an in-house global network of implementation staff with technical and process experience.
  • The product visualises service structure well, providing opportunity to see services and relationships. This is a key element in developing awareness and ‘buy-in’ across a number of stakeholders.
  • Established integrations with other ITSM and technical products
  • Mobile function allows full functionality
  • Meets all stated requirements

Weaknesses

  • May be over-rich ‘high end’ option where simple technical request management and portal is required
  • Mobile functionality late to market – relatively low pick up to date – particularly of standalone version
  • Designed to be a standalone product – Axios sales, marketing and implementation approach geared up more for large ITSM-wide sales cycle and projects
  • Some areas of Demand Management still to be fully implemented – can track and review consumption by reporting, but this needs to be developed as a dynamic real-time feature (next release)
  • Limited global recognition and limited partner network – limited pool of global expertise beyond in-house
  • Dashboard tool can involve some external technical work to develop beyond standard configurable offerings

assyst Service Catalogue Customers

In Their Own Words:

“For more than 25 years, Axios Systems has been committed to innovation by providing rapid deployment of IT Service Management (ITSM) software. With teams in 22 locations globally and over 1,000 successful customer SaaS and on-premise deployments, Axios is a worldwide leader in ITSM solutions, with an exclusive focus on ITSM.

Axios’s enterprise ITSM software, assyst, is purpose-built, designed to transform IT departments from technology-focused cost centers into profitable business-focused customer service teams. assyst enables better, faster, less costly delivery and support of IT services, and was developed to support current ITIL® best practices. Designed for SaaS and on-premise, assyst offers the latest in real-time dashboard technology, social IT management, mobility, reporting, resourcing and forecasting.

assyst allows our clients to offer unparalleled multichannel support, bringing substantial tangible business benefits. We take pride in our complete ITSM package, and all customer-facing staff is ITIL foundation qualified and all consulting staff is ITIL Service Manager (Expert / Master) qualified to ensure our customers get the best solution for their business.

In addition to recognition from leading organizations, including Gartner, Ovum and Forrester Research, we have been honored by the Service Desk Institute, PINK and HDI.  Axios Systems was also:

  • Ranked in the top 1% of software companies for financial stability in 2010 by Dunn & Bradstreet
  • First in the world to adopt ITIL®
  • Involved in the original ITIL V3 re-write

Axios is headquartered in the UK, with offices across Europe, the Americas, Middle East and Asia Pacific.”

Screenshots

Further Information

Group Test Index

This independent review is part of our 2013 Service Catalogue Group Test.

Review: Biomni Front Office for Service Catalogue

This independent review is part of our 2013 Service Catalogue Group Test.

Executive Summary – BIOMNI

Overview
  • Good functionality
  • Nice commercial approach
  • Good option for Tech-only implementations (e.g. MSPs)
Strengths
  • Good intuitive functionality
  • Commercial approach
  • Speed of implementation – doesn’t need other ITSM processes
Weaknesses
  • Little Strategic implementation focus
  • Functionality gaps
Primary Market Focus Offers IT Service Management, with integration to third party Systems Management software

Commercial Summary

Vendor Biomni
Product Front Office
Version reviewed V7.3
Date of version release December 2012
Year founded 1999
Customers 600
Pricing Structure End Users; either one-off purchase or subscription.
Competitive Differentiators
  1. Flexibility via easy configuration not customisation and supporting of multi-clients with users of different language
  2. Intuitive self service portal designed with shopping cart or app store like request experience
  3. Decoupled service catalogue able to integrate to multiple existing fulfilment system and not tied to any specific services desk
Additional features Biomni say “We have built a variety of integration adapters for cloud, service desk, asset management, user directory systems and platforms. Our community site allows customer to download service and request templates and adapters.”

largeIndependent Review

Biomni is based in the UK and is focussed on Service Catalogue capability. The vendor has developed a number of proven technical links with other products and providers, and offers a ‘bottom up’ discovery and integration approach.

The product is simple to use and has an intuitive WYSIWYG interface – the user view is similar to familiar retail experiences. The system meets most functional requirements, although there are gaps in visualisation of services and hierarchies, plus also some areas of reporting and demand management – although some aspects of this look effective (Reporting consumption forecast vs. actual).

Prospective clients can also use the product free as a trial until the catalogue is needed as an ‘actionable’ system (i.e. transactional) – this is useful for flexible and fast appreciation of Service Catalogue concepts and also for presentation of services, which can be useful to get buy-in and financial backing.

The vendor is focussed on developing and selling mostly at the technical level, so is not widely known as a fully functional option – they are now extending some marketing activity to make more of the industry aware of the product.

This product is useful for a variety of organisations as a simple and low cost entry to the market – the commercial option allows potential users to try out and create some functionality without major effort or expense. As a more strategic option it requires more focus from the vendor on positioning and capability around the product – in order to sell in at a more senior level.

This product is an excellent option for small and medium sized organisations as a means to quickly get up and running with Service Catalogue – it is also a good option for those looking outside their own existing ITSM product, as the vendor is experienced and capable in developing interfaces and integration with a number of ITSM tools. It is sold to enterprise organisations, although mostly as part of a ‘bottom-up’ technical integration.

Overview

  • Specific Service Catalogue/Request Management Vendor
  • Simple, easy to use and effective portal, user administration and request management system
  • Well established and integrated with multiple ITSM and other 3rd party systems management software
  • Interesting and useful commercial approach – software provided free as a presentation system
  • Meets most of the stated requirements – full request management – gaps in visualisation, service hierarchy, demand management, reporting
  • Sales and implementation approach is focussed on technical integration and organic development
  • Vendor becoming active in ITSM community
  • Little focus on strategic/top down approach

Strengths

  • Strong product for Service Portal and Request Management, plus discovery and IT user administration – e.g. security
  • Strong track record of integrations and front-end implementations with other ITSM and systems management tools
  • Product is offered on free basis until it becomes actionable (i.e. with transactional capability rather than just a service brochure). This is useful in this area as it allows for gradual organic development and implementation – or ‘suck it and see’ approach
  • Vendor becoming active in ITSM community – marketing and partnerships
  • Strong technical focus and subject matter skills from vendor
  • Demand Management not fully complete but looks to be potentially highly effective – forecasting vs. actual feature already in place. Looks intuitive and easy to use

Weaknesses

  • No dynamic graphic visualisation for service structure and hierarchy
  • Some gaps in demand management
  • Little vendor focus on business services and strategic approach
  • Gaps in dashboard and reporting features OOTB – requires specific consulting or in-house SQL skills
  • Vendor focussed on technical and bottom up implementation – could do more marketing around IP and practise to develop interest beyond technical level
  • Vendor has limited recognition beyond technical areas and also beyond UK/European base.

Front OfficeService Catalogue Customers

In Their Own Words:

“Biomni Front Office provides IT organizations of any size a flexible decoupled self-service portal through which users can intuitively discover and request services of any type. With easy point and click configuration and extensive interfaces to integrate supporting systems, processes such as cloud, software and user provisioning can be made available for self-service consumption with highly automated fulfilment.

In use by over 1 million production users globally, Front Office is a proven addition to any customer ITSM tool portfolio, delivering rapid tangible and highly visible value.

Front Office Essentials is the free entry level edition to the Front Office suite and provides foundation Service Portfolio/Catalogue management and publishing functionality.

Front Office Express adds shopping cart and app store requesting with optional approval to provide a fully actionable Service Catalogue. Request forms, approval routing rules and service packages/bundles can be configured and linked to services for intuitive self-service requesting.

Front Office Enterprise adds request fulfilment and measurement functionality, allowing requests to be orchestrated across multiples fulfilment systems and teams.

Front Office Service Provider adds multi-client support including client specific branding and support for client hierarchies (e.g. distributors and resellers) within a single instance of Front Office.”

Screenshots

Further Information

Group Test Index

This independent review is part of our 2013 Service Catalogue Group Test.

Axelos: Capita and ITIL joint venture lift lid on new brand

AXELOSThe new owners of ITIL and Prince2, a joint venture between the outsourcing firm Capita and the UK Cabinet Office, have today lifted the lid on their new brand – Axelos.

Being an uncultivated simpleton, I thought Axelos sounded like a nondescript logistics company or no-frills airline with a brand uncomfortably close to ITSM tool vendor ‘Axios’.

Luckily, we can refer to our resident ITSM philosophy buff Barclay Rae for a considerably more cultured opinion:

Axelos stems from the Greek-French philosopher Kostas Axelos, a philosopher who ‘United old and new with games and openness’.

Perhaps a sign that G2G3 was not an opportunistic purchase but part of a serious attempt by Capita to modernise the frameworks via game mechanics and simulation.

In other related news:

  • G2G3 have been acquired by Capita but are not part of the JV Axelos.
  • I’m curious to know how itSMF, who have historically positioned themselves as an ‘ITIL User Group‘, fit within the new venture. Today’s bulletin from itSMF UK shared no details.
  • G2G3 have appointed Ian Clayton and Kenneth Gonzalez to ‘Strengthen the Americas team

Top Banana

Axelos CEO Peter Hepworth
Axelos CEO Peter Hepworth

Axelos will be led by CEO Peter Hepworth.

Peter said:

‘Today is the first major milestone as we build towards becoming fully operational in January 2014. Over the next few months we will be in listening mode, working alongside product users, trainers and examiners to gather together their invaluable expertise. With thoughtful investment and innovative learning techniques, we are looking forward to developing this unique suite of management tools.”

The JV team should be congratulated for getting out there and engaging with the industry. Although I suspect practitioners and training organizations will soon grow impatient with ‘Listening’ and want to hear a lot more ‘Action’.

Watch this space:

Product Reviews Roadmap

Ros_Satar
Swit Swoo! Ros Satar looking glam at Edgasbaston Cricket Stadium in Birmingham for the SDI awards dinner.

We have the following technology reviews scheduled for publication before the end of 2013 on The ITSM Review:

Service Catalogue

Knowledge Management

Integrations

  • Tools and technology that facilitate ITSM processes – By Ros Satar
  • Invites being sent now, contact us to participate

Managed Service Providers

  • By Barclay Rae
  • Scheduled for later in 2013

Change, Config and Release

  • by Ros Satar, pencilled in for early 2014
  • If you have any questions or suggestions about who should participate in these reviews please give us a shout.

Futures

We’re currently planning our review calendar for 2014 and very open to your suggestions. Current ideas include Game mechanics on the service desk, Pure play SaaS ITSM, use of ITSM tech for non-IT, Social IT & codeless ITSM.

Don’t be shy, let us know what you want to see! 🙂

Thanks, Martin

Image Credit

Quick Guide to Knowledge Management Tool Selection

"Tomatoes don’t go in fruit salad"
“Tomatoes don’t go in fruit salad”

In this extended article, Barclay Rae provides an independent guide to Knowledge Management and in particular Knowledge Management tool selection.

Knowledge Management can be many things – from simple useable checklists to complex context-sensitive and case-based toolsets.

Some of the most effective knowledge solutions can be very basic, like lists of contact details, account numbers or simple spreadsheets.

The key to success is in getting people to use these sources and continuing to use them (and find them useful).

Good practical design is key to building tools that provide information and knowledge quickly, intuitively and appropriately – and that are regularly and continuously used.

For IT Support in particular this means:

  1. Getting the right level of information – accurate, up to date, relevant, useable
  2. To the right person – being aware of the support model and the levels of knowledge held at different support levels
  3. In a language and format that is appropriate for them – technical or not, plus summary or detailed, as required for the relevant support level and skillset
  4. Quickly and when and where they need it – Without need for long searches or trawling through long lists of options, delivered at the point of service or action as required.
  5. Context is everything – too technical or not technical enough, out of date, inappropriate, complex, slow – tools must be able to understand and deliver on these within a clearly context, otherwise the ‘knowledge is useless or even dangerous.

So, what is Knowledge Management?

This is the process or discipline that ensures that teams have relevant information to hand, to assist in having a clear understanding of a situation. Knowledge Management is the process that manages the capability to provide that information, based on accurate and relevant data. If the information is available at the right place and time, then those people accessing it can make more informed decisions and also speed up the support and resolution process – i.e. by reducing the need to escalate.

What Does Knowledge Management mean in ITSM?

Knowledge management is not just about getting information fast when trying to solve incidents, although this is a good practical starting point for many organisations. Data gathering, solution design, process design, knowledge transfer are all key elements – across all of IT and beyond. Knowledge should be able to be applied at all parts of the service ‘supply chain’ to ensure that this is built in a robust, complete and effective way. ‘Knowledge Management’ can be Data, Information, Knowledge or Wisdom (see list below) – all differing levels of content or applied and documented understanding that provides value in terms of improvements in service quality and efficiency.

  • DATA – Ten tomatoes
  • INFORMATION – He bought ten tomatoes
  • KNOWLEDGE – A tomato is a fruit
  • WISDOM – Tomatoes don’t go in fruit salad

Tools capture, store and make that information available, and relevant. Getting the right information to the right person – at the right level when they need it – is the goal. The easiest elements to identify and apply ‘knowledge articles’ to are Incidents, Problems and Service Requests. This should also be extended to Changes, Releases, CIs, Services, offerings, processes and workflows – all aspects of service delivery, where information and knowledge is needed. Key elements for tools should be in the ability to easily create, approve, review, update store and make available knowledge articles – i.e. secure curation. In addition the integration of these knowledge functions to other areas of ITSM should be seamless. Integration and alignment with other internal and external sources of knowledge is also useful, as is any formal approach or verification around approved techniques for KM – e.g. like KCS (Knowledge Centred Support). Like many aspects of ITSM technology and practice (and software in general) the value and success of this rests as much with the approach and focus around implementation, culture and governance, as it does with functionality. Vendors need therefore to possess understanding, skills and expertise in implementing these solutions and be geared up to pass on these skills to clients for successful implementation.

Knowledge Management Functionality

Knowledge Creation – systems should have the facility to easily create ‘knowledge articles’ (KAs). These can be original records (i.e. specific work instructions or content), and/or packages of content including documents. Linking – Content can be intelligently and seamlessly linked to external sources – tech manuals, wikis etc. Knowledge Curation – there should be definable process workflows to control the lifecycle of KAs as follows:

  1. Creation of record – ad hoc or as part of a defied process (e.g. release, change)
  2. Approval of record – functional escalation to pre-defined approver or approver group
  3. Publishing/Release of record
  4. Presentation of record – use of KA as designed and required
  5. Review/update of record
  6. Removal / archiving of record
  7. Tracking and assessment of use of record

Knowledge Sharing – promotion of process and information across systems and channels as required. Presentation of KAs:

  1. To multiple staff levels by login
  2. Presentation from searches (queries/predictive) on key classifications – type, impact, product, service, symptom, error message etc.
  3. Presentation of options based on case-based search criteria and probability
  4. Presentation as integral components of ITSM processes:
    • i.     Incident Management – issue resolution, triage
    • ii.     Service Desk – work instructions, manuals, fault fixing
    • iii.     Problem Management – known error records
    • iv.     Change Management – procedures and guidance
    • v.     Configuration Management – procedure and guidance
    • vi.     Services and Service offerings – Procedure and guidance
    • vii.     Request Fulfilment – Procedure and guidance
    • viii.     Release and Deployment Management – Procedure and guidance
    • ix.     Transition – Testing & Verification – testing notes guidance
    • x.     Service Introduction – support notes and guidance
  5. Vendors should show innovation through integration and interaction with new products and areas of technology – e.g. integration with Knowledge lockers like Evernote, Onenote, etc
  6. Self-help access to users via self-service portals – providing user friendly versions of internal KAs
  7. Crowdsourcing – links to Incident and Problem Management processes for access to outstanding issues and inputs to create known error records

Knowledge Development – ability to update and improve knowledge articles and also to assess the value of usage as input to predicting new records or record types Intelligence – Systems should show innovation by learning from existing records – types, content and usage – and prompting to create new KAs.

Vendor Approach

  1. Vendors should demonstrate a clear understanding of how to approach Knowledge integration within their (and with other) products
  2. Innovation in approach and delivery are a differentiator – e.g. beyond simple functional KA creation and management
  3. Project management and tool implementation should include guidance, training, workshops etc. on strategic and technical aspects of Knowledge Management
  4. KCS accreditation and proof of capability desirable

General Knowledge Management Requirements

  1. User-configurable forms, tables, workflows
  2. Should be able to create user-defined rules for creation (e.g. mandatory fields) and lifecycle management (e.g. who, how when revised and updated.
  3. Lifecycle activity should trigger escalation processes – (e.g. automated emails/ texts to approvers, reminders etc.)
  4. Role-based security access – to allow control of access and level of information by login
  5. Ability to provide multiple levels and formats of information in KAs – i.e. bullet points for senior technical levels, scripted specific details for junior / non-technical staff.
  6. Vendors should provide expertise and guidance in the implementation of the tool and relevant processes and project requirements around Knowledge Management – e.g. with workshops and training as well as implementation consultancy.
  7. Open system for real-time integration with external ITSM.
  8. Vendors should have established proven links with other ITSM tools and modules, Incident, Problem and Change Management, CMDB and Service Catalogue.

Barclay will soon begin a competitive review of Knowledge Management technology. If you offer technology in this area and would like to participate in our next review please contact us.

Photo Credit 

Capita and ITIL: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

GBU

The Cabinet Office has entered into a joint venture with the outsourcing firm Capita to develop the ‘Best Management Practice’ portfolio, which includes ITIL and Prince2.

For readers outside the UK the early announcements may benefit from some context.

The UK treasury is between a rock and a hard place financially so joint ventures that generate cash from government owned intellectual property, whilst allowing the government to hold (49%) of the coat tails of growth in the future is good publicity.

This explains why most announcements in the popular press or general IT press in the UK have focussed on the ‘cash generated for taxpayers’ angle rather than the implications for ITSM.

“The government expects to earn £500 million over ten years from the deal” Computerworld, 26th April.

Unsubstantiated rumours from SITS13 suggest that APM Group/TSO, Pearson and EXIN/Van Haren were the other companies bidding for the portfolio.

Forgetting where it all started?

I have been interested to see industry veterans and ITSM spokespeople alike bellyaching about the irrelevance of ITIL after the announcement. I find this short-sighted nonsense similar to those irate individuals who get frustrated behind learner drivers.

Is ITIL the ITSM gospel? No. But it is the starting point and development path for a huge amount of individuals in the industry who work in ITSM yet don’t necessarily associate themselves with the ITSM industry.

Is ITIL perfect? No. But everyone has to start somewhere and as a framework for unifying an industry and generally raising standards I would say, in the context of other IT disciplines over the last two decades, it is true success story.

So what does the future hold for ITIL under the stewardship of Capita?

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

Capita – The Good

Capital Plc. is a FTSE 100 publicly listed company with 53,000 staff, which has shown good growth over the last five years despite a grim economic climate.

So it has exactly the right resources required to give the frameworks the attention they deserve. Equally, you could argue that Capita could easily write off the entire mess if it isn’t happy with it without batting an eyelid, but overall a well financed company on the up has to be better than a cash strapped government running the show.

A view echoed by Barclay Rae:

“We should view the investment opportunity as a possible means to further professionalise the approach and delivery of ITIL – moving away from the cottage industry to a proper business model. So hopefully this will mean a more professional and co-ordinated writing and editing approach for consistency, plus I hope e.g. we can see more clear business metrics and data that support the value derived from ITIL”

The UK government spun off the former defence research department (DERA) in 2001 in a similar fashion to form Qinetiq, which is now a FTSE 250 company, pocketing over £250m for the UK taxpayer on exit in 2008. So at first glance the model works if executed correctly.

Just before the announcement of the joint venture, Capita also acquired G2G3. This is a good sign according to Pink Elephant President David Ratcliffe:

“The timing of Capita’s acquisition of G2G3 – just days ahead of the announcement of the partnership with the Cabinet Office – looks to me like Capita may have their act together with a strategy for how to promote and deliver more valuable training in the ITSM field. I just hope I’ve read this correctly and am not setting myself up for a huge disappointment! (Fingers, toes and everything else crossable all crossed!)”

Mark R Sutherland of G2G3 is clearly pleased at the platform this provides his company:

“Capita’s strength, scale and global reach. As part of the Capita family, G2G3 now has access to resources that will help us strengthen and build upon our products and services and bring our latest innovations to life. We are clearly at a ‘tipping point’ with respect to our capabilities; the application of gaming dynamics and experiential learning across enterprise organizations is about to go mainstream – and we’ll be ready to make it happen.”

Mark also makes an interesting point regarding the ITSM industry as a whole:

“a chance to build a future for our industry which is based on community, collaboration and engagement.”

Stuart Rance with ‘Two speed ITIL’ and Stephen Mann with #Back2ITSM may perhaps now get some formal recognition. Is Capita listening? Let’s hope so.

Capita – The Bad.

So far so rosy?

Those outside the UK might not be familiar with the public image of Capita.

Screenshot_02_05_2013_22_11

Capita does not have the strongest reputation. The satirical magazine Private Eye regular refers to ‘Crapita’ as an example of ‘failures and setbacks in the public sector’ and cynics will argue that Capita is an expert at winning tenders rather than delivering them (to be fair I hear this of all outsource companies).

Lost convicts, the CD with everyone’s inside leg measurements or accidently dropping the cat down the well – all archetypal Capita public bungles. Although you could argue that this goes with the territory of managing high profile public services (National census, criminal records, TV licensing, Major city call centre, health and safety executive etc.).  As the saying goes: Where there’s muck there’s brass.

For an industry crying out for more collaboration and industry participation the last thing we need is a big faceless corporate. Especially, as Chris Evans points out, if they take an industry best practice framework and try to apply their own badge to it:

“When any large organisation is involved in something, they will exert a proportionate influence.  Be it an alliance of countries/airlines/software companies, it is inevitable that they will want something out of the deal.  My concern is that ITIL (specifically as it is my day job) which has always been ‘industry’ best practice, might slowly evolve into ‘CapITIL’ where the organisational thinking of the parent company controls the direction of the product.  It is true that Capita as a services provider and outsourcer has a strong perspective on their market and that input will of course be welcome in future development but there is a risk that the model will lean towards their world and not the more holistic picture.”

Capita – The Ugly

Finally, it is worth considering the nature of Capita’s core business.

Capita is a Business Process Outsourcer. So Capita’s competitors might argue that a Burglar Alarm company just bought the Police Station (I’m sure there are more appropriate metaphors). The new joint venture will have a job on its hands to persuade the Accredited Training Organizations and others in the ITIL supply chain of the true vision and motives of the, yet to be named, joint venture company.

As Forrester Analyst Stephen Mann points out:

“Will other IT service providers still want to use something that “advertises” their competitors?”

As an eternal optimist I believe it’s a great move forward for the ITIL cult and ITSM industry as a whole. Exciting times.

For those with ITIL at the core of their day-to-day work – it might be worth considering the following over the next couple of months:

“All great changes are preceded by chaos.” -Deepak Chopra.

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Coming Soon: Axios, Biomni, Matrix42 & ServiceNow Showcase Service Catalogue

Peloton
Axios, Biomni, Matrix42 and ServiceNow - who leads the pack in Service Catalogue?

Axios, Biomni, Matrix42 and ServiceNow are confirmed participants for our upcoming ‘Service Catalogue’ review.

Our assessment criteria at a glance:

  1. Service Design – the ability to create a database of service records, containing a number of business and technical attributes, processes and workflows.
  2. Service Structure – the ability to organise and structure these services into a hierarchy of services and service offerings, ideally useable in a graphical format
  3. User Request Portal – a user-friendly/external facing portal that provides users with an intuitive User Interface to request services
  4. Request Fulfilment – request management workflow functionality that can be easily used and configured by system users
  5. SLA and event management – the ability (in the software or by integration) to define universal and bespoke levels of SLA which are then automated and escalated though an event management process – ideally linking with Incident, Problem and Change Management functionality
  6. Demand Management – the ability to provide real time allocation and monitoring of Service consumption, with financial calculations
  7. Dashboard – real-time user-friendly graphical monitoring and analysis of usage, trends and metrics across services and to various stakeholders
  8. Service Reporting – the ability to present output that summarises individual and bundled service performance, consumption, SLA and event performance, in user-friendly, portable and graphical format

Full details of the assessment criteria can be found here.

Reviewer: Barclay Rae

Confirmed Participants:

Publication

All results will be published free of charge without registration on the ITSM Review. You may wish to subscribe to the ITSM Review newsletter (top right of this this page) or follow us on Twitter to receive a notification when it is published.

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Barclay Rae: Assessment Criteria for Service Catalogue

Editor’s Note: We are very pleased to welcome Barclay Rae as Analyst and contributor to The ITSM Review. Barclay is a well respected pillar of the ITSM community and we look forward to publishing his first analysis.

I will soon be started a competitive analysis of Service Catalogue offerings in the ITSM market.

As with previous reviews completed on The ITSM Review my goal will be to highlight the key strengths, competitive differentiators and innovation in the industry.

The criteria I will use for my assessments are published below, if you have any comments or recommendations please leave a comment below or contact us.


Service Catalogue Assessment Criteria

Service Catalogue Products

Offerings should provide the following high-level functionality:

  1. Service Design – the ability to create a database of service records, containing a number of business and technical attributes, processes and workflows
  2. Service Structure – the ability to organise and structure these services into a hierarchy of services and service offerings, ideally useable in a graphical format
  3. User Request Portal – a user friendly/external facing portal that provides users with an intuitive User Interface to request services
  4. Request Fulfilment – request management workflow functionality that can be easily used and configured by system users
  5. SLA and event management – the ability (in the software or by integration) to define universal and bespoke levels of SLA which are then automated and escalated though an event management process – ideally linking with Incident, Problem and Change Management functionality
  6. Demand Management – the ability to provide real time allocation and monitoring of Service consumption, with financial calculations
  7. Dashboard – real-time user-friendly graphical monitoring and analysis of usage, trends and metrics across services and to various stakeholders
  8. Service Reporting – the ability to present output that summarises individual and bundled service performance, consumption, SLA and event performance, in user-friendly, portable and graphical format

Specific Requirements

  1. Service Design – the ability to create a database of service records, containing a number of business and technical attributes, processes and workflows, including:
    • Service design form – to create a service
    • Add attributes – e.g.  description, user groups, business owner, service owner, type, portfolio status, SLA details, Key metric details, cost/price, support model details (1st/2nd/3rd level), warranty details, vendor details, resolver group details, escalation, CIs and technical details, parent and child services, offerings, unit cost and price, user-created attributes
    • Creation of services in hierarchy – sub-services and service offerings (specific tasks)
    • Provide pre-filled service form templates
  2. Service Structure – the ability to organise and structure these services into a hierarchy of services and service offerings, ideally useable in a graphical format
    • Create a hierarchy of services, subservices and service offerings
    • Present this hierarchy in a graphical format
    • Link the service structure to internal or external CIs and CMDBs
    • Be able to access (drill down) service information via the graphical hierarchy
    • Provide pre-filled service structure templates
  3. User Request Portal – a user-friendly/external facing portal that provides users with an intuitive User Interface to request services
    • Intuitive UI – look and feel of commercial shopping sites
    • Ability to present short simple options for service fulfilment – based on ‘bundled’ services where appropriate (e.g. new user)
    • Ability to present variable options and presentations based on login/access
    • Shopping basket
    • Option on full set of individual services
  4. Request Fulfilment – request management workflow functionality that can be easily used and configured by system users
    • Task management – creation of standard tasks and assignment to owners
    • Ability to cope with multiple task types and associated variable SLAs
    • Escalation and notification of task breaching
    • Output to portal for users to be able to track progress
    • Internal dashboard facility to track progress of requests and SLA progress
    • Provide pre-filled workflow templates
  5. SLA and event management – the ability (in the software or by integration) to define universal and bespoke levels of SLA which are then automated and escalated though an event management process – ideally linking with Incident, Problem and Change Management functionality
    • ITSM process linkage to manage events against service definitions
    • Real-time links to event management across internal and external ITSM systems
  6. Demand Management – the ability to provide real time allocation and monitoring of Service consumption, with financial calculations
    • Ability to set budgets and allocated consumption levels for services and offerings
    • Monitoring and analysis capability to track consumption and escalate thresholds and breaches
    • Financial analysis of supply and demand on services
    • Provide pre-filled budget model templates
  7. Dashboard – real-time user-friendly graphical monitoring and analysis of usage, trends and metrics across services and to various stakeholders
    • User-configurable views
    • Ability to track multiple views on service, SLA, demand consumption etc
    • Provide pre-defined and configurable dashboard templates
  8. Service Reporting – the ability to present output that summarises individual and bundled service performance, consumption, SLA and event performance, in user-friendly, portable and graphical format
    • User-configurable views
    • Ability to track multiple views on service, SLA, demand consumption etc.
    • Ability to combine multiple metrics into service bundles
    • Set thresholds for RAG indicators
    • Provide pre-defined and configurable dashboard templates

General Requirements

  1. User-configurable forms, tables, workflows
  2. Role-based security access – to allow control of available requests
  3. Integration with ITSM tools event management and CMDB (for SC only products)
  4. Integration with CMDB (ITSM tools)and ability to link CI components into Service Bundles
  5. Open system for real-time integration with financial management and other monitoring tools
  6. Vendors (SC only and ITSM tools) should have established proven links with other ITSM, CMDB and financial management packages
  7. Product should provide templates and pre-filled forms and structure to act as basic starting date where possible – service structure, service attributes, SLAs, workflows etc.
  8. Vendors should provide expertise and guidance in the implementation of the tool and relevant processes and project requirements around Service Catalogue – e.g. with workshops and training as well as implementation consultancy

What is your view, what have we missed?

Please leave a comment below or contact us. Similarly if you are a vendor and would like to be included in our review, please contact us.

Barclay Rae: The Service Desk Inspector

Barclay Rae, The Service Desk Inspector
Barclay Rae, The Service Desk Inspector

ITSM Industry stalwart Barclay Rae has been working with SDI to produce some short, digestible video clips sharing news, rants and opinion on all things service management.

Barclay’s latest feature is the “Service Desk Inspector” whereby Barclay visits real organizations and offers his advice:

“Programmes will follow real organizations as they work with our ‘inspector’ Barclay Rae – an experienced ITSM consultant – to tackle their biggest service delivery challenges and improve overall performance.”

UK readers of a certain age might remember ‘The Troubleshooter’ or similar fly-on-the-wall documentaries digging into business issues. Barclay  follows a similar theme and does a sterling job. It is great to see some real life ITSM coverage with all of the ITIL framework and IT geekery stripped away.  Kudos to Mirus IT Solutions for being so candid and opening their business kimono for the entire world to see.

Episode 1

Episode 2