Luddytime, CreatorCon & Yoda: Knowledge 16 – Day 3

CreatorCon Keynote: Enable The Service Revolution

Normally by the third day of a conference, people are wandering round looking tired, lost and a bit hungover. Not so at Knowledge 16 when we rocked up to a packed auditorium for the day 3 keynote.

First up was Pat Casey, SVP & GM ServiceNow Platform Business Unit, with his top 4 customer challenges:

  • Siloed environment
  • Users hate it
  • Development takes forever
  • Accountability

followed quickly by how ServiceNow can help turn things around:

  • Single system
  • Delightful customer experience
  • Develop fast
  • IT can control

Pat shared the stage with representatives from the University of Melbourne and Desjardins of Canada who shared details of their ServiceNow projects; with Desjardins reporting an impressive 30% increase in productivity since implementation.

Pat talked about the effort and care that goes into each ServiceNow release “we want to make sure that when customers use their ServiceNow platform they love it”.

With that, it was time for Fred Luddy, CPO of ServiceNow to join the stage. He opened by sharing his main aim for the ServiceNow platform:

Fred used his session to demonstrate how easy it is to configure the platform, showcasing inbuilt games and widgets.

Fred ran an interactive session, encouraging the audience to get involved, using ServiceNow to give live updates on session tweets.

Fred’s final note? “This is the most powerful dev environment I’ve ever worked on”

Fred handed over to Pat who talked about the ever changing IT landscape:

Pat was then joined onstage by Pascal Gibert, GM & VP Platform Business Unit at ServiceNow and Allan Leinwand CTO at ServiceNow. The first order of business was to share the exciting news that with the Helsinki release, ServiceNow is aligned with the ECMA5 script standard. Why is this important? ECMA has “strict mode” for more thorough error checking and 5.1 is aligned to ISO/IEC 16262:2011.

Pascal and Allan went on to talk about using delegated development for control saying “pre Helsinki if someone wanted to develop on the platform we had to give them admin rights. That’s a lot of rope. Post Helsinki we can assigned roles in a defined environment”.

They demonstrated adding and removing roles by the use of check boxes, and the new 4 step delegated development model:

  • Create App
  • Assign developer
  • Set permissions
  • Build the App

As Allan put it “there is no try, just do”.

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The session finished by showcasing the new scoped administration function to enable customers to innovate safely

ServiceNow Fun Facts

I thought I’d round off the day with some fun facts about ServiceNow. Here’s what I found out over the course of #KNOW16:

  • ServiceNow was started by Fred Luddy, the ex-CTO of Peregrine Systems, in 2004 with the intention of making a better IT service management (ITSM) tool: “The IT industry deserves a tool that just works. We’re going to give it to them”
  • ServiceNow customers include Boots, eBay, ING Group, Coca Cola, Johnson & Johnson, GE, BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank and NASA. That’s right people ServiceNow look after everyone from the makers of Coke to astronauts – how amazing is that?
  • In 2012, ServiceNow became a publicly traded company becoming the first technology company taken public by Morgan Stanley since Facebook.
  • Over 11,000 people attended #KNOW16
  • Of the 200 sessions, over 90% were presented by ServiceNow customers.

 

Did you go to Knowledge 16? Let us know in the comments!

Image Credit

Marathon Rock Stars, Sparkly New Qualifications & Business Value – The Open Group Managing The Business Of IT4IT Event

It’s Westminster baby! The Open Group hosted an event in central London last week. The theme? Boundaryless Information Flow – Enabling Digital Business. The event ran for most of the week covering everything from the internet of things to TOGAF and enterprise architecture. We were there to cover the first day which was all things IT4IT.

Opening Keynote – Steve Nunn

Steve opened up the event with the exciting news around the IT4IT certification path.

The Open Group have created a sparkly new qualification to make certification available to individuals who know and understand the IT4IT reference architecture – version 2 standard. The purpose of the IT4IT Foundation certification, is to provide validation that the candidate has gained knowledge of the terminology, structure, basic concepts of  IT4IT and understands the core principles of the reference architecture and the IT Value Chain. The learning objectives at this level focuses on knowledge and comprehension. The exam is your standard fare –  a 40 question exam following a course of self-study or attendance at an accredited training course.

How to Stop Talking Architecture and Start Talking Business Value using IT4IT – Tony Price & Eric van Busschbach

There was much excitement ahead of Tony and Eric’s session as let’s face it, we all want to know how to get the rest of the business to understand the value of IT4IT. Tony opened the session by sharing these words of wisdom “stop talking about technical architecture and start talking about business value. If you start a conversation with the CEO with architecture in its own then you will fail because it’s boring”.

Tony then shared some real life customer problem statements and explained why IT4IT is so important “IT4IT is brilliant because it’s all about value and that opens doors.” Tony continued by saying “we need to know our audience to truly deliver value. For most organisations that’s better, faster, cheaper, safer.”

Tony handed over to Eric who talked about balance “day to day IT operations has evolved from traditional to industrialised to digitalised and is much more customer orientated. It’s not just a technology shift, it’s a cultural shift”.

Eric went on to explain the IT4IT value chain, and why establishing the right culture is so important: “ transforming IT impacts every aspect of your organisation.”

He gave practical advice “ when you use the IT4IT approach think big, start small, iterate, fail fast and learn from your mistakes. Fixing things is where the magic happens”.

Eric and Tony concluded on this note “we all want value, context is key and we need to deliver quickly, driving regular value realisation”.

Managing the Business of IT – Michael Fulton, David Hornford, David Gilmour & Luke Bradley

Next up was the dream team of IT4IT experts. Their session was a group of case studies on IT4IT, followed by a Q&A panel discussion. First up was Michael Fulton, his message? “We need to lift our IT professionals out of their silos so they can do their jobs more effectively”. Michael talked about the need to keep improving “ we need to use IT4IT as an accelerator to drive business transformation.”

David Hornford and David Gilmour talked about getting the basics right and ensuring that IT acts as an enabler, taking the audience through a score based approach; a capability based assessment for all IT providers – a roadmap to improve. They talked about the need to use an Agile approach to continually deliver value.

Luke Bradley from Vodafone talked about the practical benefits that IT4It can bring. Vodafone have 42 different Remedy platforms (42!) and a scary number of Sharepoint sites. Vodafone used IT4IT to bring about the daddy of all IT transformations using continual monitoring to keep everything on track.

Agile DevOps and How IT4IT helps – Gunnar Menze

Following a quick coffee break was Gunnar Menze, fresh from running the London marathon! His session was on DevOps challenges and how IT4IT can help.

Gunnar started by doing some DevOps mythbusting and why DevOps came about. Gunnar explained how DevOps can drive value, using a business case based on increased agility, quality, innovation and reduced outages. We’re all familiar with the gloomy statistics that approximately 80% of Incidents are caused by Change activity. Gunnar suggests that applied well, DevOps can drive that figure down to 30 – 40% by continual deployment and CSI.

The next part of Gunnar’s session talks about how IT4IT can help by using the value chain, ways of working are applied consistently. Gunnar explained the IT4IT definition of DevOps is a way of collaborating and industrialising using highly automated processes to deploy solutions that evolve as fast as the business needs them to.  Using DevOps and IT4It together means you can have a continual release cycle supported by a consistent way of working.

Gunnar concluded by talking about the DevOps maturity model and how it related to IT4IT from Level 1; basic to Level 5; team dynamic processes, near instant deployments and no dev related outages.

Successful Business Transformations in the Adaptive Enterprise – Henry Franken

Henry Franken ran the final presentation before lunch. He opened by sharing some of the current challenges being faced in the world of IT and digitisation:

Henry talked about the way our world is changing:

Henry continued by talking about the use of technology can help; “you can use tools to raise the bar”

The next part of the session focused on how to overcome the challenges of living in an adaptive environment getting the balance right between innovation and keeping the lights on. It was also audience participation time!

Putting the IT4IT Reference Architecture to Work – David Hornford

The first post lunch session was run by David Hornford of Conexiam on putting the IT4IT reference architecture to work. David talked about the need for structure “using a scoring based approach gives you a control plate to use so you can be a real differentiator for your business. “IT4IT is an accelerator, it aids speed to market.”

David continued by explaining why using a reference architecture is so important “the beauty of using an end to end model is that you don’t forget stuff.”

David talked about the need for continual improvement “if you don’t excel, your reason for existence within an organisation is gone”.

David concluded on this note “IT4IT is a thing of beauty; it helps us to be consistent”.

Seven Reasons IT4IT Is Good News For Architects – Daniel Warfield

The final session we attended was Daniel Warfield’s presentation on why IT4IT is good for architects. Daniel started by sharing some real life problem statements:

Daniel continued by talking the audience through the top seven reasons why we should all care about IT4IT:

  1. People get it, simple as. There’s no faffing around with complex dependencies between multiple processes. No one’s got time for that.
  2. It’s not proprietary. There’s no bias from tech vendors, service vendors or professional bodies.
  3. The value chain model gives you a roadmap to show financial benefits.
  4. It really is about service delivery and adding value.
  5. It requires a common operational data model. Having one end to end model that spans IT in its entirety is a great start.
  6. Standard APIs across diverse tool sets; more control and less expensive custom integrations.
  7. Strategic transformation; we need to be comprehensible from the start, have one picture on the wall that everyone can agree on.

David concluded by reminding us that there are no silver bullets:

For my money it was a really good day. I learned lots more about IT4IT and look at all the light reading delegates were given!

Thanks to The Open Group for inviting us and we hope to cover their next event. Are you planning on finding out more about IT4IT? Let us know in the comments!

itSMF Ireland Conference Review

The itSMF Ireland hosted its annual conference in Dublin last week. The theme of the conference was Continual Service Improvement something I for one was really excited about. Most of the time conferences will talk about Service Design, Transition or Operation but there’s usually little if anything on CSI. The other reason for the excitement was that for me, itSMF Ireland is my home conference so hands up, I may be slightly (read extremely) biased.

The conference itself was held at the Clyde Court Hotel in Dublin. There was a great atmosphere that day because the hotel is right next to the Aviva Stadium (or Landsdowne Road if you’re old school like me) the home ground for the Republic of Ireland football team. There was a World Cup qualifier that night against Germany and the whole nation was hyped up, hoping to create the glory days of Italia 90. Anyway, Ireland’s sporting excellence aside, the hotel was gorgeous, the food was fab and the people on reception were lovely. Parking was a very reasonable at 7 euros for the day *stares hard at the itSMF UK 2014 conference where it cost £45 for 10 hours parking – and no, the carpark didn’t have unicorns, rainbows or vodka fountains*.

The event was kicked off by Fran Davern aka the busiest man in Ireland. Fran heads up the itSMF Ireland management board as well as holding down a full time gig as principal consultant with Davern itSM. The conference was co run by the itSMF Ireland and the Irish Computing Society. The social media machine was well and truly ready for action with the organisers encouraging attendees to Facebook, Tweet and get involved!

Fran welcomed everyone to the annual bash and introduced the first speaker of the day, Ian MacDonald.


Unlocking your CSI potential – Ian MacDonald, Multiple itSMF Award Winner & chartered IT professional

Ian’s session was hotly anticipated as it was about empowering IT to make CSI truly part of everyone’s day job.

Ian talked about practical ways to not only get CSI off the ground but to make it meaningful. He went on to explain that not all benefits are tangible but it doesn’t mean that they’re not important saying “Cost is tangible, value is a feeling. Value should be promoted to support CSI”. The key take away from the presentation was keep making improvements however small “Keep it manageable, small CSI improvements are important because the aggregation can have a big impact”.


Agile ITSM – Dave van Herpen, Consultant, Sogeti

Next up was Dave’s session on using Agile. Dave started his presentation by talking about Agile and not getting hung up about definitions stating “if you’re combining customer involvement, incremental improvements and fast value, you’re already be doing Agile.”

Dave used a traffic example to explain how Agile works. He talked about a square in Holland that had the highest rate of accidents in the nation despite warning notices, traffic lights, signs and speed bumps. In the end, the local authorities were at a loss at what to do so removed all the traffic calming measures. That area now has one of the lowest rates of accidents because as Dave explained “if you have too many processes, people forget to think”. Dave went on to explain that we need to focus on customer satisfaction rather than just trying to hit SLAs or randomly chucking processes at everything.

Dave then talked about using Agile to make collaboration work saying “DevOps isn’t just about Development and Operations. It’s about having a multi talented team involving Development, Operations, Testing, Supplier Management and the business. It’s about everyone in the chain working together and helping each other out.” In other words if people actually talk to each other, we have a better chance of getting things right – yay for common sense 🙂

Dave wrapped his session up by talking about using Kanban for casework, referencing Rob England’s work on standard cases.


CSI: Bite Sized Nuggets – John Griffiths, Former itSMF Trainer of the Year

Following a quick coffee break, we were back to see John Griffiths present on doing CSI in small, manageable chunks. I’m personally a huge fan of this approach as it’s common sense. When you learn about the Deming cycle, you learn that small bite sized chunks is often the way to go rather than huge projects that will invariable fall apart once the day job gets in the way, we have a crisis or management get distracted by the next shiny new thing. Obviously that’s not the exact wording used in my ITIL foundation training but you get the gist 🙂

John started off the session by saying “it’s not called CSI for nothing, we must continue to drive improvements for our customers”. Should be common sense but how many of us forget about CSI when we’re at the sharp end of a Major Incident? Exactly.

John talked about the basic things that we need to have CSI in place. We need a CSI register, a strategy (so we know what we’re doing), a budget (so we can actually do stuff) and a comms plan (so we can tell the rest of the business about all our great work). The most important thing is to have CSI champions as people are everything. John talked about how Suppliers were key players at driving CSI at a strategic level. encouraging the audience to challenge them to get involved and suggesting the inclusion of a CSI clause in Underpinning Contracts.

John went on to explain the 7 step model using booking a holidays as an example sparking a huge response asking if we would all get holidays for doing CSI. Our Irish readers will know that there’s a tradition here in Ireland, there’s a talk show called The Late Late Show and one of the catch phrases is “there’s one for everyone in the audience!”. Sadly, it turned out that no, you don’t get a free holiday just for doing your day job but is was a brilliant way to explain how the model works.

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John’s session was dedicated to his colleague Mike Baker who sadly passed away this year. John, your session was excellent and you did Mike proud, a sentiment that was echoed by the audience and all the session posts on Twitter.

 

Onwards and upwards – Stuart Wright, Severn Valley ITSM

Stuart was next in the hot seat talking about his experience of what works best when doing CSI. This was also the session that got #stewiesteam trending briefly on Twitter (more on that shortly). Stuart advised us to look to the results of our customer satisfaction surveys when looking for improvement opportunities.

Stuart also talked about the importance of promoting CSI wins telling the audience “ we’re good at what we do but we don’t tell anyone, we must promote CSI wins, we need a flag to wave that shouts “we’re better than everyone else!”

Stuart advised us to “stop writing policies on the back of fag packets, it’s not professional”. Thanks Stuart, that’s me told 🙂 He went on to explain how sometimes the things that give us the most pain are the things that can give us the most solid base to build improvements from, talking about the importance of baselining (gives us a solid starting point) and SLAs (if we don’t have them, the customer perception is “we can have anything we want, whenever we want”).

It was at this point in the proceedings that Stuart mentioned that he needed to do a bit of rebranding on his team as it was known as Stewie’s Team and not the CSI Team. Of course being in Dublin, no one was going to miss out on a golden opportunity for acting the maggot* and within minutes #stewiesteam was trending on Twitter. If I were to list the funniest tweets tagged #stewiesteam we’d be here all day but suffice to say there were lots of references to the A-team and a message may have been sent to the team back at ITIL towers (AXELOS) if we could introduce the term “pulling a stewie” for delivering CSI projects successfully if we ever move to ITIL 4.

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Stuart talked about the need for keeping the show on the road and ensuring that CSI sponsors remained committed. He also talked about differing approaches and that sometimes we need to slow down the hares in our team and to get the tortoises to speed up.

Stuart’s final piece of advice was to use simple the simple things to keep momentum going – on one engagement the staff canteen had menu holders with space for additional pages. Stuart used the outside covers to hold leaflets promoting the CSI wins of his department – a move that publicised to the world and it’s mum all the fantastic work being achieved.

 

Practical CSI: Getting started with Continual Service Improvement – Stuart Rance, Service management & Security management consultant, Optimal Service Management

Mr Rance had the first post lunch slot and was quick to bring in some ground rules: “House rules, do not fall asleep, I will see you and I will point it out whilst laughing at you”. We wouldn’t dare Stuart 🙂

Stuart explained that in it’s simplest form, Kanban is “stop starting things and start finishing things”

and that CSI all about driving Attitudes, Behaviors & Culture, or ABC:

Stuart explained the ITIL approach to CSI using practical examples:

  • Vision – “a lovely big picture of what the future looks like
  • Where Are We Now – baselining
  • Where Do We Want To Be – measureable targets: “never believe something can’t be measured. If you care about something enough, it can be measured because you will find the extra resources and money.”
  • How Do We Get There – the plan
  • How Do We Measure The Milestones – in short:
    • Don’t focus on process maturity, focus on what your customers care about
    • Don’t confuse technical targets with business targets
    • Use Critical Success Factors (CSFs) instead of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to demonstrate performance in customer service reviews and you can have a real conversation about value rather than arguing over numbers.
    • Don’t use numbers to tell your customers they’re happy, it will only lead to disaster

(I may have heard this last point delivered in the style of Craig Revel Horward from Strictly “that was a disaster darling”)

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  • How Do We Keep The Process Of Improvement Active – the CSI register is a place to write down things you ought to be doing; it’s also a great way to promote success.

On a personal level, my favourite part of Stuart’s session was around achieving culture change. Stuart chose a very zen approach : “If you want to make a culture change, change yourself because it’s the one thing you have under your control.”

On one particular engagement, Stuart change the culture from “lets have a witch hunt and fire people” following each failure to a no blame culture by, in his own words “ostentatiously crowing about my own failures.” It reminded me of when I was a baby techie, I worked for an organisation where in the Server team, you got handed the sword of grayskull from He-Man / She-Ra as a reward for bouncing the most live servers that week.

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Stuart finished on a strong note by reminding us all that: “the biggest enemy for CSI is complacency and doing too much. Just start with the little things and keep going”.

 

CSI: Taking a Different Perspective – Michael Brophy, CEO, Certification Europe

Michael had the penultimate session of the day and started by reminding us to “never try anything for the first time when you’re up on a podium in front of a room full of people.” Mile’s perspective focused on 3 areas:

  • Standards
  • Marginal Returns
  • Lean

Starting off with a discussion on standards, Mike used ISO 27001 (Information Security), ISO 22301 (Business Continuity) & ISO 31000 (Risk Management) to demonstrate that we don’t have to be afraid of using standards: “you don’t need to be an expert to read ISO 27001, but if make some improvements to your information security based on what you’ve read, you’ve made your organisation more secure and that’s CSI.”

Mike also advised us to look at some of the less well known standards for improvement ideas. A personal favourite of mine Mike, is ISO 3103 also known as “how to make the perfect cup of tea”.

The next section of Mike’s presentation dealt with the doctrine of marginal returns perspective. As the man himself explained it “ if you keep making small improvements, you will get there.”

Mike was fantastic at making his subject matter relatable using exam preparation as an example

https://twitter.com/lizmcbride68/status/652121473163857921

The final part of Mike’s presentation looked at how using Lean could make big savings in efficiency, enabling you to do more with your existing resources without having to negate gains with additional overheads. Mike also encouraged the audience to ask for an independent perspective “we had got to the point where we couldn’t see the wood for the trees”

 

Measures That Matter – Andrew Vermes, UK Practice Leader, Kepner-Tregoe

Andrew was last up talking about making sure our measurements are appropriate telling us if we get it wrong “it’s possible to be the best by gaming the system”

Andrew got the audience energised with an interactive exercise designed to make us realise that focusing on quantity over quality isn’t necessarily the best thing and that we need to focus on people rather than just looking at the numbers and the KPIs

https://twitter.com/lizmcbride68/status/652125597536251905

Andrew reminded us that we need to be prepared:

The final part of the presentation looked at how to use white space effectively:

Andrew made the point that every process has white space, it’s how you manage it that matters. Andrew suggested having rules to manage white space for example the technician has one chance to guess at root cause and then has to follow the full process.

 

Final Thoughts, preview of forthcoming attractions and award winning tweets

Before we knew it, it was 4 o’clock and it was time for Fran to wrap things up with a preview of forthcoming attractions:

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There was also an award for the best tweet that day with the prize going to the very deserving Niamh Armstrong:

https://twitter.com/NiamhieA/status/652121447142432769

Nice one Niamh!

All in all it was a great event with some fantastic content. There were attendees from all sorts of organisations from the financial services industry (AIB), utilities (ESB) and third level education (Institute of Technology, Tallaght – again – not that I’m biased but a big shout out to ITT and to Lorraine Carmody). For my money, the itSMF Ireland is one of the friendliest itSMF chapters, everyone had a good time and everyone went away with something be it new friends / work contacts, a new enthusiasm for CSI or new things to try back in the office. Thank you to the itSMF Ireland for inviting us along and we’ll be back next year. Oh and just in case you’re wondering, Ireland won the match (1-0 #thanksshanelong #COYBIG).

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That’s all folks, go raibh maith agat agus slán abhaile.

*Acting the maggot – messing around

Review: Atlassian JIRA Service Desk and Confluence

This independent review is part of our Self Service Market Review.

Also participating:

Commercial Summary

Vendor Atlassian
Product JIRA Service Desk and Confluence
Version reviewed 2.2-OD-08
Date of version Release December 2014
Year Founded 2002
Customers 9000 including starter licenses
Pricing Structure Agent based pricing

Review

Elevator Pitch Simple clean transactional / collaboration tool with good standard functionality, based around service desk and back office support functions.
Industry areas Nice approach on pitch around HR/Finance and IT service model.

 

Looks easy to use, simple to develop with standard functions.

Unique points No ‘sales team’ – sold via web.

 

Primarily for SMB and mid size. Enterprise sold via partners (‘experts’) – do have some good Enterprise clients – Twitter, Citi.

Target market SMB, SME or teams within large organisations.
Solutions/ issues solved Looks like product that can get support and self service up and running quickly for small organisations and discrete teams in larger organisations.
Product/vendor gaps End user configuration and access is limited – i.e. to using a specific Service Desk. So no user-based filed level security and e.g. dashboard views.
Positives
  • Some nice presentations of filtered views, based around multiple business portals. Set up using simple non tech, non-ITIL language
  • SLAs are defined from tagged lists and can be set in the background, transparent to users
  • Workload tab – nice quick view of tickets / SLAs per analyst
  •  Quick, standard implementation
  • Well set up for non-IT people
  • Simple toggle between customer and analyst view
  • UI Language – user friendly – What do you need? Why do you need this?
  • Knowledge articles – have ‘likes’ – and can add comments – as per social
  • Analyst Q – ordered in time to resolution – shows breached SLAs and views as required
  • Workflow – simple graphical overview
  • Atlassian Marketplace – can download or buy workflows and add-ons from large app store
Negatives
  • Editing and configuring the system e.g. workflow is limited in some areas and requires more technical updates for some basic functions – e.g. serial/parallel workflow activities
  • UX looks basic in comparison to other products
  • Basic social interface, Knowledgebase
  • Customer portal has limited choices only
  • Partitioning – by Service Desk – will show by SD level. Not by user level.
  • Limited flexibility in user reporting
Overall view
  • Works well as part of larger Atlassian offering and sells well via Web (No Sales Force pitch) – 9,000 customers.
  • Atlassian ‘marketplace’ community is useful for canned data and models that can be used or bought.
  • Good for simple/fast implementations
  • Limited appeal for Enterprise unless bought via partners who have to configure.

Vendor information

jiraservicedesk_rgb_blue_atlassian JIRA Service Desk is new service management software that IT and business teams actually like to use.

Built on Atlassian’s JIRA, the market leader in helping teams get work done, JIRA Service Desk delivers an effortless service experience, adapts to your needs, with pricing and set up time at a fraction of competitors.

Redefine what IT means to your business at www.atlassian.com/servicedesk

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Review: SMTX Service Catalogue SSP

This independent review is part of our Self Service Market Review.

Also participating:

Commercial Summary

Vendor SMT-X
Product SSP
Version reviewed 7.1
Date of version Release October 2014
Year Founded 2009
Customers 45
Pricing Structure #End Users

Review

Elevator Pitch High End Service Catalogue and fulfillment engine, with a user-friendly front end. Suitable to be used in conjunction with legacy ITSM tools.Extensive functionality and control, plus integration experience. Also built to include other enterprise functions such as HR and Finance, room booking etc. Good front end to make an existing IT department engaging/accessible, without having to replace a legacy tool.
Industry areas Aimed at IT and back office functions in large enterprise organizations. Nice front end tool for big IT departments and service operations.
Unique points Nicely built and thought out applications for e.g. HR – requesting future managers, creating email addresses etc.
 
Asset functions built around good practical functions, e.g. lost and stolen kit.
Target market Enterprise organisations and their IT and back office functions.
Solutions/ issues solved For large Enterprise organisations – no coding, just configuration.Organisations to gain control over internal and external services.
Product/vendor gaps
  • Not an ITSM tool, so obviously doesn’t do ITSM standard functionality.
  • Workflow design looks a bit clunky and could be more visually appealing
Positives
  • Product looks good and is generally intuitive.
  • Well-presented pitch, approach and product
  • Planned feature to provide strategic business level Catalog views
  • Future Service Catalogue – ITIL
  • Can define multiple bundled business services, SLAs etc
  • Good functions about asset lifecycle – including lost/stolen status
  • Established links with ITSM tools – Assyst, ServiceNow, BMC, HP TopDesk
  • HR onboarding -some nice features around future roles and working relationships, creating an email address
  • Nice graphics showing progress bar
Negatives
  • It isn’t an ITSM tool, so obviously doesn’t do that standard functionality.   Workflow design looks a bit clunky and could be more visually appealing
  • Company is currently small and may have to make strong choices on direction and sales and marketing approach
  •  Small company at present
  • Workflow forms -looks a bit complicated, not beautiful graphics
Overall view
  • A good option where a front end and user collaboration tool is needed, but the ITSM tool is embedded and may take time to replace – this can sit on top of that and deliver relatively quick results.
  • Projects a professional image to the IT dept.
  • Currently most clients are on premise
  •  If they stick to their niche it could do well – may benefit from some strategic partnership approaches for targeting

 Vendor information

smtx logoSMT-X is a specialized software company, providing a state-of-the-art Self Service solution with a strong ability to integrate. Its flagship solution, SSP, provides a solid basis for any IT department wishing to provide an easy to use and easy to understand service catalog to their users. Through webshops, appstores, dynamic request forms, reservations, mobile apps, and workflows, SSP enables these IT departments to streamline even the most complex requests, removing complexity for the end-users, and providing end-to-end control to service owners, service delivery managers, service level managers, and department heads.

End-users can browse through their service catalogue showing only those services of interest to them. End-users will never be confronted with complex back-office solutions again and always know where to go for new orders.

By using out-of-the-box integration adapters existing IT service management solutions can be fully integrated with SMT-X’s SSP solution.

SSP offers service request templates containing commonly used forms, like employee onboarding, software distribution, file access management, meeting room reservations, and hardware ordering, making it easy to set up the relevant catalog(s) and start rolling it out.

SSP’s administration is fully web-based and doesn’t require any programming skills. Adding products to a shop and releasing them to any number of users is done in minutes. A complete new request form with dynamic question trees and approval workflow is realized within a single day.

Get in touch with SMT-X to learn how you can add more value to your customers by offering your customers a state-of-the-art request management portal.

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Self Service Review [2015] – The Results

logoThis is a review of software products and vendors with their products in the ‘Self Service’ market area.

Products reviewed:

1 Overview

1.1 Self Service and the ITSM Market

‘Self Service’ is a current buzzword for vendors and practitioners alike in the ITSM world.

For some time this simply referred to the process whereby users/customers could carry out some standard contact/communications activities via a portal or an Intranet page, rather than call a Service Desk. So for example, this would include: raising and tracking tickets, ordering kit and browsing FAQs and other published pieces of information relating to IT.

These are of course key functions – and most product offerings include them – and have done for some years. The context of this has changed somewhat in recent times due to the demands for better user interfaces and customer experience (no one these days wants or expects to use an old IT menu-driven ‘greenscreen’).

The capability of automation and collaboration products has also increased expectation and potential around what these types of interface can deliver and achieve, not only for IT departments and their users, but also for wider enterprise orgnaisations beyond IT.

In short, Self Service is now the entry point towards great efficiency and as a means of transformation and collaboration. It is an opportunity for IT departments to reverse their fortunes and improve their image and effectiveness, by automating repeatable and manual processes, thereby affording more time for strategy and customer engagement.

So what sorts of capabilities are available? Above and beyond the classic areas referred to above: – e.g. Ticket logging, tracking and escalating, request logging tracking and escalating:

  • Automated password resetting
  • Mobile support and facilitation
  • Automated delivery – e.g. software provisioning, product ordering, account creation
  • Non-technical interfaces for Workflow and process creation
  • Simple development of work management tools
  • Real-time collaboration and social interfaces
  • Real-time dashboards and dynamic reporting

All of these functions – particularly around ease of use and automation – are highly valued in the current market, due to the need for IT organisations to use these tools as a means of managing their work more efficiently, whilst at the same time offering a greatly improved user experience of interacting with IT – and other back office departments like HR/Finance – through familiar and easy to use interfaces.

1.2 Market Observations

Recent developments have seen a number of technical innovations that have allowed increased automation, faster delivery and provisioning, which many of the products reviewed can deliver in some form or another.

The areas of differentiation in the market are therefore defined in the following terms:

Target clients – SME, Mid-market and Enterprise, Product and vendor (e.g. Microsoft/VMware) focus.

Some products are clearly only aimed at one specific market niche, or by client size and ITSM maturity. In some areas such as product or vendor focus this is clear, although many of the SME vendors aspire to move into the Enterprise space, which may confuse and squeeze the market.

Flexibility and ease of implementation – including non-technical tailoring, ease of use/skills needed, ability to tailor without coding, vendor implementation support.

A significant focus area for many vendors centres on the ‘codeless’ capability of their products, whereby applications and workflows can be simply modified without technical skills. The level to which this is delivered is a highly useful feature given the need to implement and update portals, workflows and catalogues quickly and efficiently.

This also works well in support of ‘non-IT’ implementation – i.e. for process collaboration across internal service departments.

Complementary products and capabilities – including IT Management, automation, provisioning, security, ITSM capability.

For many buyers, particularly at the enterprise level, simply buying the ‘front end’ or self-service function (and even just ITSM functionality) is not enough.

There is a growing need to procure and implement products that go beyond process and service management, so the need to identify those with the capacity to provide or at least interface with other IT Management tools is becoming a key requirement.

1.3 Market Product Review and Comparison

In summary, LANDESK and Cherwell are seen to be the most complete solutions, with LANDESK having greater capability to deliver to the Enterprise client, whereas Cherwell has the best UI and is more suited to the upper middle market.

EasyVista and Alemba are also seen as excellent products that would fit the enterprise as well as upper mid market.

SMT-X is an excellent option for a front-end solution that can be added to existing ITSM tools for large organisations.

Cased Dimensions is a good option for bespoke solutions – based on a Microsoft System Center platform.

Atlassian and Freshservice are also excellent options for SMEs or discrete teams to get Self Service up and running, with minimum tailoring or bespoking.

 

Pros Cons Overall Review Rating
Alemba
  • Clean and fresh interface – simplified but functional
  • Technical integration and virtualized capability
  • Legacy product well regarded
  • Still being developed to compete at high end of marketSmall
    company, now independent from
  • VMware – still growing
  • Limited social and collaborative interfaces and functionality
8
Atlassian
  • Easy and simple fo use for fast implementation
  • Workload tab – nice quick view of tickets / SLAs per analyst
  • Well set up for non-IT people
  • User access limited functionality
  • Only basic workflow functions can be edited non-techlimited
    innovation or eg social interfaces
7
Cased Dimensions
  • MS focus
  • MS integration – eg with System Center
  • Lots of pre-built processes
  • MS FocusSmall company
  • Bepsoke/consultancy approach won’t work for every organisation /
    small organisations
7
Cherwell
  • Functional capability
  • UX and ease of use
  • Vendor approach and focus
  • Competition from both ends of the market
  • Capability to deliver in tier 1 – though growing in size
  • Multi-tenancy not native
9
EasyVista
  • Good standard self service functionality
  • Open, flexible, using industry tools
  • Global network of data on use and performance
  • Workflows and configurations look complex and not
    intuitive/graphical ITSM tool looks strong although slightly dated
  • May need to focus target market/position
8
Freshservice
  • Low cost
  • Simple, straightforward operability
  • Gamification
  • Limited non-tech configuration
  • Org not set up for Enterprise customers
  • Lacks some key interfaces, social, provisioning
7
BEST IN CLASS:
LANDESK
  • ITSM complete
  • User friendly to develop and manage
  • Focus on automation to improve efficiency
  • May be overkill for some smaller organisations
  • Self service not available standalone
  • Social not embedded in tool – minor
10
SMT-X
  • Clear market niche well defined – good positioning
  • Product is multi-functional/function rich
  • Professional looking – will engage non IT people
  • Company size – small
  • Not an ITSM tool – limited and reducing market as competition
    improves
  • Could improve UI for workflow/design
7

 

Target Clients Flexibility /implementation Complementary Products
Alemba Enterprise and large IT and ITSM organisations –
particularly VMware customers.
Broad level of flexibility, vendor supports
implementation
VMware product integration
Atlassian SMB, SME or teams within large orgs Limited flexibility, client drives implementation Other Atlassian products
Cased Dimensions Large IT organisations, using Microsoft Systems Center –
looking for bespoke build
Highly flexible, vendor drives build and implementation Microsoft
Cherwell Large SMEs and medium enterprise organisations Customer tailorable, vendor/partners offer
implementation support
Numerous industry products. MS Partner
EasyVista Medium to large and some enterprise organisations Good level of flexibility, vendor moving from SME to
enterprise offering
A number of established links to industry products
Freshservice SME/SMB, small enterprises Limited flexibility, client drives implementation APIs in progress – e.g. Azure
LANDESK Large/Medium and enterprise IT organisations Highly and easily flexible, Vendor offers multi-level
implementation services
Numerous LANDESK offerings and industry integrations
SMT-X Enterprise organisations and their IT and back office
functions
Flexible and configurable, Vendor supports
implementation – limited resources
Established links to ITSM tools

 

Disclaimer, Scope and Limitations

The information contained in this review is based on sources and information believed to be accurate as of the time it was created.  Therefore, the completeness and current accuracy of the information provided cannot be guaranteed.  Readers should therefore use the contents of this review as a general guideline, and not as the ultimate source of truth.

Similarly, this review is not based on rigorous and exhaustive technical study.  The ITSM Review recommends that readers complete a thorough live evaluation before investing in technology.

This is a paid review, that is, the vendors included in this review paid to participate in exchange for all results and analysis being published free of charge, without registration.

For further information, please read the ‘Group Tests’ section, on our Disclosure page.

Review: Cherwell Software Service Management

This independent review is part of our Self Service Market Review.

Also participating:

Commercial Summary

Vendor Cherwell SoftwareTM
Product Cherwell Service Management®
Version reviewed 5.1
Date of version Release December 2014
Year Founded 2007
Customers 700+
Pricing Structure # of IT Users, Concurrent Licensing

 

Review

Elevator Pitch Fully functional ITSM and self service capability. Product looks good and is simple to manage and maintain. Ticks the boxes for functionality, positioning (ITSM and Front end) and vendor approach.
Industry areas Mid market upwards. Organisations that want to be self-sufficient and to be able to control their own technology.
Flexible and function rich – self service is well designed for user engagement.
Unique points
  • One Step is simple micro template for workflow – can be applied across processes.
  • Process design / workflow are strong and well designed – good UX.Reporting and dashboards are also good quality.Vendor pitch leads on depth and quality of self-sufficiency and integration capability.
  • Merge-able Apps – (app-store) across customers also very useful to provide users with canned applications.
Target market Large SME – Mid sized and large Enterprise market – in-house IT and back office services.
Solutions/ issues solved Provides an engaging UX for customers. Simple to use and administer. Well integrated with other tools and platforms (e.g. Microsoft).
Product/vendor gaps Product doesn’t handle multi-tenancy easily.
 
Vendor still relatively small and growing – partner base recently tripled.
Positives
  • Workflow – editing is recorded – blueprint allows roll back if mistakes are made.
  • My Items – tracking on details of requests, incidents, problems and major incidents.
  • Consumerised product look and feel.
  • Can trigger other tools for Software distribution.
  • One step – workflow templates – micro workflow.
  • Now part of Microsoft Partnership Program.
Negatives
  • Dashboards for users – can run but not create dashboards.
  • Password reset – requires registration – link to AD or other validation resetting tool.
  • Scripting only for links to other tools – via API.
  • Product doesn’t handle multi-tenancy easily – not target (MSP) market.
Overall view Good all round solution, Vendor’s challenge is squeezed between low end low cost offerings – which it beats on quality and functionality – and high end ‘big 5’, where it can’t compete in corporate terms, but can on usability and self-sufficiency.
 
Cherwell in top area of the mid-size tier 2 market and now potentially challenging the large enterprise vendors.

Vendor information

download (2)As Cherwell Software was founded on a strategic vision to provide “Innovative technology built on timeless values”—a consummate commitment to build both great software solutions and exceptional customer relationships. Cherwell accomplishes this through a simple yet time-tested approach: we listen to our customers and serve their needs.

Cherwell Service Management® delivers exceptional business technology and business revenue enablement in an innovative and business consumer-oriented way, meeting our customers’ service desk software needs and giving them a powerful development platform to solve their long-term business process challenges throughout any organization – from HR to Facilities to Legal, creating a basis for strategic Service Relationship Management. Other competitors offer a development platform – we just do it better, easier, and make it more affordable.

Screenshots

Review: EasyVista Service Manager

This independent review is part of our Self Service Market Review.

Also participating:

Commercial Summary

Vendor EasyVista
Product EasyVista ServiceManager
Version reviewed 2014
Date of version Release Summer 2014
Year Founded 1988
Customers 887
Pricing Structure Both EasyVista packaging options, SaaS and On-Premise, include licensing that is all inclusive of ITIL functionality and is based solely on the number of IT Users. Licenses include mobile access, reporting and dashboard capabilities and administration access. Self-service portal and service catalog are included with unlimited access. EasyVista Discovery is fully integrated and based on the number of assets automatically discovered.

  • EasyVista SaaS includes all functionality and is available in named or concurrent subscription models. Maintenance is included in the subscription price.
  • EasyVista On-Premise includes all functionality and is available in a concurrent perpetual license model. Maintenance is 20% of the discounted software license price.
  • EasyVista ServiceApps (Gallery and Interface Designer) is included at no extra charge for EasyVista ServiceManager SaaS customers.

Review

Elevator Pitch EV provides a traditional and function rich ITSM toolset, plus a modern looking App store (Service Apps) approach that uses the toolset and other non-proprietary widgets to build customer and process-based tools.
Industry areas Good for medium sized organisations who want to leverage either ITSM functionality and/or easy to build (non-IT) service apps.
Unique points Self service provided is straightforward and utilizes other industry tools and ‘widgets’ for ease of implementation.
Target market SME to large medium sized or smaller enterprise.
Solutions/ issues solved Provides a good level of standard ITSM capability, plus industry standard tools to build interfaces and more advanced applications.
Product/vendor gaps Workflow, although ‘code-less’ looks basic and not as intuitive/graphics as some of its competitors.

Some functions look like they could be more integrated within the tool – there is a definite old/new split of UX.

Positives
  • Product does standard ITSM and Self Service functions.
  • Good levels of capability around provisioning, security, SSO, knowledge.
  • Widget approach to apps looks good
  • Nice feature re the recording and playback to customers of their analytics
  • Customer success network
  • Unlimited licences for self service and mobile
  • SSO – and 2 stage authorisation when needed
Negatives
  • Decision tree KB Option – a bit long winded
  • UX in some parts of system looks dated
  • Vendor experienced but with only recent experience of enterprise implementations – not set up with comparable professional services
Overall view Looks a good multi function product although doesn’t look and feel like this is really aimed at enterprise, as grown out of SME market.

 
May be squeezed against cheaper SME products and higher spec enterprise vendors.
 

Provides a good level of complete ITSM and self service capability, plus some nice features around customer data and feedback. Maybe needs more of a non-IT marketing focus to sell the enterprise capability.

 Vendor information

EASYVISTA_logo_4c-300x90EasyVista has designed a solution that makes it simple for each and every customer to engage with you.

EasyVista allows IT to design secure, integrated and personalized customer facing Apps (interfaces) that bring together elements from disparate systems to create collaborative customer experiences, accessible on any device and that are tailored to their specific needs. One size does not fit all when it comes to the self-service shopping experience. With EasyVista you are no longer tied to a single self-service portal or service catalog. You can create multiple service catalogs and self-service portals that are brandable and can be embedded in any website or existing intranet portal. The flexibility to fully configure a website with a service catalog, chat/video/audio interactions, important customer facing metrics, knowledge articles, social media feeds, software on demand and any other IT or non-IT service related action is simple and accessible with EasyVista.

Screenshots

 

Review: Alemba vFire Core

This independent review is part of our Self Service Market Review.

Also participating:

Commercial Summary

Vendor Alemba Limited
Product vFire Core
Version reviewed 9.2.0
Date of version Release 2014
Year Founded 2007
Customers 350
Pricing Structure Currently vFire is sold as a perpetual licence for concurrent and dedicated agent users, the customer interface is supplied as an unlimited licence.

Review

Elevator Pitch ITSM functionality and user oriented product with simple and fresh interface.

Delivers most of the key functions and with simple intuitive editing and building capability.

Industry areas Aims to compete at enterprise level as a multi-function ITSM tool – also can provide a number of technical interfaces and views on virtualised environments – e.g. CMDB.
Unique points Alemba say their USP is their variety of plug in VMWare connectors – so they can provide technical insight and capability around highly virtualized environments.

Self Service function is provides standard-looking interface with extensive functionality.

Target market Enterprise and large IT and ITSM organisations – particularly VMware customers.

Positioned mostly at ITSM market.

Solutions/ issues solved Simple approach to ITSM – also some technical integration (in specific VMware market).
Product/vendor gaps
  • Little social interface or functionality
  • Could show more of a non-technical cross departmental builds – e.g. for HR –   but presentation is aimed at ITSM
Positives
  • Simple modern friendly interface
  • My IT world – nice simple dashboard
  •  Choice for users of logging via Service Catalogue or MY IT store
  • Extensive control and workflow integration – updating/creation drag and drop
  •  Multi-tenancy approach
  • Extensive control over KB creation and upkeep
  • Auto-provision Virtual desktop
  • Reporting – clear and simple
Negatives
  • Small company, now independent from VMware – still growing
  • Product still playing catch up in some areas as fully function rich ITSM enterprise offering
  •  Social interface missing
Overall view Looks to be a credible competitor in tier 1 and tier 2 markets – high end ITSM functionality for the enterprise.

May be playing catch up with other players in this area but the product has extensive functionality and also looks clean and quite fresh as an ITSM tool.

Vendor information

thumbnailAt Alemba we understand that effective communication between the IT Department and its end users is essential to the success of any organization. Designed with user engagement in mind, vFire Customer Portal offers a modern,attractive interface that is highly intuitive.

vFire provides:

  • self-service logging for your customers
  • a Knowledge Bank, making it easier to find solutions to known issues
  • a recognizable and intuitive Shopping Cart function
  • Service Desk performance statistics with customer friendly dashboards
  • review of Major Incidents affecting the customer organization
  • up-to-date, relevant News Bulletins
  • the ability to personalize vFire Portal to reflect corporate branding
Key Business Benefits
  • Effective communication between Service Desk and customer base
  • Efficient cost and resource management
  • Improved customer satisfaction
  • Fewer calls, improving the efficiency of the Service Desk
  • Fewer logged Incidents by promotion of Knowledge Bank articles.

Screenshots

 

Review: Freshservice

This independent review is part of our Self Service Market Review.

Also participating:

Commercial Summary

Vendor Freshdesk Inc.
Product Freshservice
Version reviewed N/A
Date of version Release January 2015
Year Founded 2010
Customers 3000
Pricing Structure Per agent and per number of assets.

Review

Elevator Pitch This is a good product aimed at the SMB and mid-market primarily, with a lot of basic ITSM functionality at a relatively low cost.
Industry areas Small to medium business, internal IT.
Unique points The gamification capability is very straightforward, looks good and is simple to use. Also their general ITSM approach and UX is quite straightforward.
Target market SME, SMB, Medium and small enterprise.
Solutions/ issues solved Simple OOTB implementation and low cost.
Product/vendor gaps
  • Beyond basic configuration, the tool still needs tech skills to build or change
  • Product currently missing a social interface
  • Overall functionality developing but still behind market in some areas
Positives
  • Single sign on using AD – for access
  • Company is growing in numbers and continuing to develop product
  • Multiple portal capability
  • Knowledge auto-suggestions when entering data – liked by customers
  • Planning and developing a number of new areas:
    – SCCM integration with Patch management 2 / 3 months
    – MS Azure now released
    – Integration with Bomgar released March 2015- already integrated with password reset
    – Social (Yammer) interface
Negatives
  • Basic customization can be non-technical – advanced configuration requires some HTML programming
  • E.g. Process workflow can be amended although not with graphical interface
  • No direct provisioning / fulfilment at present
  • End user interface – basic options based on IT analyst/agent details
  • Knowledgebase help for end users – basic searching only. IT internal users can get access to articles
Overall view Freshservice have gained a lot of customers in a relatively short space of time, and are working hard to get the product up to a good broad level of ITSM capability.
 
They may also take more customers from larger legacy vendors when clients switching to cloud and looking for simple solutions at low cost.
 
A good option for low cost basic functionality with some excellent features – e.g. Gamification.
 
The Self Service Capability is functional if limited OOTB. This may be sufficient for the (Target) SME market.

 Vendor inlogoformation

Freshservice is an online ITIL service desk with a fresh twist. It puts a refreshing user experience on top of powerful ticketing and asset management capabilities, and is the most user-friendly app in the space.  In addition to core functionalities like Incident, Problem, Change, Release and Asset Management, Freshservice also lets you put your knowledge base on the cloud.

Screenshots