ITSM Back To Basics – The Service Catalogue

Introduction

So here’s the thing. I’ve worked in IT forever and in ITSM for over 15 years and it never fails to amaze me how many failed or unused Service Catalogues there are kicking about out in industry. As a consultant I’ve seen and heard horror stories of clients paying upwards of £60,000 for a Service Catalogue they were told would solve all their problems only to be presented with a 2 page spreadsheet listing a few business services at the end of the engagement. As an Irish person who remembers the halcyon days of the Celtic Tiger, I’m calling this the ITSM industry’s very own “ah here” moment.

So what is the Service Catalogue and does it deserve all the hype?  ITIL defines the Service Catalogue as a database or structured document with information about all live IT services, including those available for deployment. The Service Catalogue is part of the service portfolio and contains information about two types of IT service: customer-facing services that are visible to the business; and supporting services required by the service provider to deliver customer-facing services. In other words the Service Catalogue is a menu of all available services available to the business. It also provides the real link between the business and IT; it defines the business processes based on IT systems enabling IT to focus on ensuring those services perform well. Not too scary so far right?

Purpose:

The Service Catalogue has two main purposes:

  1. To provide and maintain a single source of consistent information on all operational services and those being prepared to be run operationally; essentially acting as a menu for the business to order IT services from. An ex collegue of mine (waves to Pink Elephant UK) used to say that the first rule of ITSM is “always make it easy for people to give you money” aka the Hubbard – Murphy law of ITSM. How can we make it easy for customers to give us lots of lovely money? By giving them a sparkly menu of course.
  2. To ensure that it is widely available to those who are authorised to access it; in order to be effective the Service Catalogue needs to be front and centre of your IT operation so that it’s used consistently. Let’s think about it logically for a moment, if it’s not being used by the business, then what value is it adding? Exactly.

Scope:

The scope of Service Catalogue Management is to provide and maintain accurate information on all services that are being transitioned or have been transitioned to the production environment ie anything that’s live or about to be very shortly.

Value to the business

  • Provides a central source of information about the IT services delivered by the service provider organisation.
  • The Service Catalogue maintained by this process contains:
    • A customer-facing view of the IT services in use
    • A description of how they are intended to be used; in clear business centric language; there’s a time and a place for technical jargon and the Service Catalogue isn’t one of them. et’s not frighten the horses here.
    • A list of the Business processes they enable (this should be fron and centre – remember – make it easy for people to give you money, right?)
    • A description of the levels and quality the customer can expect for each service, preferable one that links to the appropriate SLA, OLA or contract.

Different Views

  • The Business Service Catalogue  – This contains details of all IT Services delivered to the Business (in Business language and available to the Business if required). The Business Service Catalogue should contain the relationships with business units and business processes that are supported by each IT Service. Typically these are in the forms of Service Level Agreements (SLAs).
  • The Technical Service Catalogue – This expands the on the Business Service Catalogue with relationships to supporting services, shared services, components and Configuration Items necessary to support the provision of services to the Business (typically this is an internal document so it’s not available to the Business). The Technical Service Catalogue focuses internally on defining and documenting support agreements and contracts (Operational Level Agreements and contracts with external providers or third parties).

 

OK, so that’s the basics covered, come back soon for our top tips on implementing a Service Catalogue successfully.

 

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Integration, Bow Ties & Service Catalogues; Cherwell SIAM Survey Results

Andy White, Cherwell
Andy White, Cherwell

 

 

Our friends over at Cherwell recently conducted a survey on all things SIAM and I was lucky enough to catch up with Andy White, Vice president & General Manager for EMEA to talk through some of the findings.

 

 


Andy’s take on SIAM:

“SIAM provides a performance regime to govern and control so organisations only pay for things they can use and access. It delivers explicit service integration parameters that govern performance, availability, quality but more from a user’s perspective rather than a commercial or vendor perspective. It supports the skills and capabilities required to manage third-party suppliers in a commodity-based environment. SIAM’s really delivering an open view, an open standards view, to delivering workflow, reporting, financial metrics in the entire service delivery to the ultimate end customer.”

In other words, SIAM is a way of delivering value to customers via multiple suppliers in a seamless way that ensures performance, availability and quality requirements are taking care of.  As Andy put it, the bow tie is getting bigger. On one side you have customer perception and on the other side you have the technology available with IT in the middle. Drones, the Internet Of Things, AI, as technology becomes more and more accessible, customer expectations will increase meaning IT departments have to deliver in order to stay relevant.

Here are some of the highlights of the Cherwell study:

  • SIAM isn’t going anywhere. 45% of the survey respondents managed between 21 and 100+ suppliers and nearly a third of all respondents had already implemented SIAM.
  • Those at the sharp end of IT operational issues better understand the benefits of SIAM. The research found that more senior IT professionals (38%) have implemented SIAM processes compared with director level respondents (21%).
  • Whilst obtaining reports and metrics is deemed easy, managing risk is harder. An enormous 93% of those surveyed reported being able to access management information easily. Managing risk effectively in a SIAM environment is a tougher prospect  with over 24% of respondents admitting to finding it hard or very hard to assign tangible risks in a multi vendor environment.
  • Service Management is maturing; 76% of respondents had an integrated Service Catalogue in place to enable end users to select business services.

The top 3 takeaway findings from this survey:

  1. Everyone knows SIAM.
  2. We need to be having the right conversations with C level and above so that SIAM gets on the business agenda.
  3. We need the right tools to be able to visualise performance. Dashboards and reports will supply C level intelligence and help to drive performance.

 

You can check out the survey in full here. What do you think? Let us know in the comments!

Smart Watches, Kangaroos & Demand Management; Knowledge 16 – Day 1

It’s Vegas baby! Knowledge is an annual event hosted by ServiceNow to share, collaborate and promote their platform. To give you an idea of the scale of this years Knowledge16 event, it has over 11,000 people registered, 160+ sponsors & partners and there are presentations on everything from Agile to password resets.

This year’s event celebrates 10 years of Knowledge so here’s our recap of Day 1.

Opening Keynote: Frank Slootman, CEO ServiceNow

To say the auditorium was packed /out in anticipation of Frank’s opening keynote is a bit of an under statement:

Frank opened with this thought: “Speed is not an issue until someone comes along who is faster than you. Software enables speed and helps you get where you need to be”.

The next part of the keynote focused on ServiceNow as an enabler. Frank shared the stage with representatives from KPMG, Fiser and AGFA Healthcare who shared real life experiences of how ServiceNow helps them to drive their organisations. Frank talked about how the world of ITSM is constantly evolving and talked about how important SIAM and the Internet of Things were in terms of advancement and improvement.

The final part of the session was on innovation. As Frank put it; “our ultimate ambition is to change how people work” and offered up these three things to help organisations make that transformation:

  1. Subscribe & notify; reversing the flow of data so that people can be more purposeful.
  2. Connect & collaborate; applying context so the right people can collaborate in the right way with the right event.
  3. Predict; removing the temporal problem so that organisations can move to real time, using predictive analytics to prevent problems before they occur.

Frank then introduced the rest of his team to promote the ServiceNow take on wearable tech. The team were able to demo a smartwatch where an Incident can be logged with a single gesture.

The team role played a scenario whereby an Incident could be logged and escalated via the smart watch and progressed through the resolution workflow within seconds. Wearable tech which means I could keep an eye on things whilst making my kids dinner? Deal me in!!

Now on Now: How ServiceNow uses ITOM technologies to deliver the most reliable cloud platform – Sridhar Chandrashekar VP & GM of the ServiceNow ITOM Division

Sridhar rocked his session with this opening: “ we use ServiceNow for pretty much everything. We drink our own champagne.” He talked about the complexity of the ServiceNow infrastructure which includes:

  • 4 large datacentres
  • 12 smaller data centres
  • 3.5 million CMDB CIs
  • Over 7,500 servers
  • Over 2,000 network devices

In short, no small task.

Sridhar talked about the importance of maintaining SLAs and customer uptime and how ServiceNow use ITIL and other best practice frameworks to maintain services. ServiceNow process over 7,000 Changes and 6,000 Incidents a month, following a structured model.

The next part of the presentation focused on automation and the cloud. All 16 data centres run off a single instance of ServiceNow and complex automations are used to support service integration. As Sridhar put it “our aim is to automate pretty much everything” and to this end ServiceNow have lodged 25 automation patents. Sridhar explained why having automated cloning and failover processes were so important to ensure customers experience a seamless service and even demonstrated to the audience how easily it is to fail over an instance of ServiceNow to an alternative instance.

DISHin’ up a robust Service Catalogue – DISH Network Corp & Service Now

The next session was run by both DISH and ServiceNow as a team effort. DISH Network Corp are a Fortune 250 company with over 19,000 employees and are America’s third largest paid TV provider. They quite like kangaroos.

Their presentation was about the journey DISH went on to replace their legacy system with a cloud based Service Catalog. So far, so straightford right? Not quite.

DISH had a legacy system combined with a homemade web tool containing over 13,000 Service Catalog items. That’s right, 13,000 separate items. There was no self service option for Incident Management and Request Fulfillment and the CMDB was manually maintained. The asset tool was also a legacy in house app, and daily Change meetings were required to mitigate the risk of Change related failure. It also appeared that the IT department lived in a cupboard:

Enter ServiceNow. Their strategy was as follows:

  • Redefine item & categorisation
  • New tables for approvals & request fulfillment
  • Data driven forms
  • Data driven workflow

The biggest challenge was wrangling over 13,000 Service Catalogue items into a sensible format. Tables were used to great effect along with authorisation models. Check out the sample approval matrix:

Let’s face it, if I had to chose two people to resolve my Incident I’d pick Bruce Willis and Sandra Bullock as well 🙂

Data driven forms were used to support automation and the final product looked something like this:

Mission well and truly accomplished guys, well done.

IT work intake – using idea & demand applications; Debbie Balmos, IT Support Director, HMS

After a quick ice cream break it was time for Debbie’s presentation on Demand Management. Debbie’s session was about using Demand Management to increase transparency and collaboration with business partners with the help of business focused applications.

Debbie started by outlining some of the challenges her IT organisation faced. These included:

  • Unclear work intake
  • Inability to prioritise
  • Disconnect and silos
  • No collaboration with the business
  • No idea of cost per service

The plan? Project Unity to automate the end to end IT service.

Debbie talked about engaging with ServiceNow and how she was able to use it to combine and replace three separate legacy systems. This gave her organisation a holistic view of critical services and enabled her to balance supply with demand.

The second half of Debbie’s presentation focused on demonstrating her new environment and talking through how it worked in real life. The new process routes all Incidents and Service Requests through a single HMS branded self service portal and a defined workflow supports the process. The result? Happy customers!

 

That’s all for now, come back soon to read our recap of Day 2!

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Two Speed Transition – Agile vs. Traditional

The service transition SIG presented an interactive session at the itSMF conference in November to discuss modern innovative and traditional approaches to Service Transition.

The conference session covered Release Management, Service Catalogue and Early Life Support and arguments were made for both traditional and more modern innovative approaches in quick fire 5 minutes presentations.

After each round, the audience discussed and voted which approach they preferred.

Presenters were as follows:

Release Management

  • Agile – Matt Hoey
  • Traditional – Sue Cater

Service Catalogue

  •  Agile – Patrick Bolger
  • Traditional – Vawns Murphy

Early Life Support

  • Agile – Jon Morley
  • Traditional – Peter Mills

The final scores were as follows:

Two speed transition

As you can see in the table above, the audience favoured Matt’s approach to release management but were on the fence for both Service Catalogue and Early Life Support.

My key takeaway from the session was that most folks were keen to explore new innovative approaches as long as the key benefits were adopted from traditional methods.

Two Speed Transition – 5 minute Video Summary

For further information on the Service Transition SIG please visit www.itsmf.co.uk

Industry News Roundup Incl IT4IT Forum Launch

14452224395_c539043c05_qNo time to read all the interesting news and info floating around social media and appearing in your inbox? Read our news roundup of what we’ve found interesting this week.

  • Why Shell, BP & PwC Teamed Up To Launch Platform-Neutral IT4IT Forum – Archana Venkatraman at Computer Weekly reports that Shell, BP and PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC), along with IT suppliers Microsoft, IBM and HP, have launched the IT4IT Forum – a supplier-neutral consortium that provides enterprises with a reference architecture to simplify their IT management, cut costs and improve IT efficiency. Read more here
  • Watch Out for Suspicious Microsoft Office Files…It Could Be Malware – Microsoft recently announced a security advisory warning of specially crafted Microsoft Office files that can give an attacker the same user rights as the user that opens it. Read more here
  • Ask A Superhero! Q&A With Jenny Jordan, Service Desk Superhero 2013 – As part of IT Service Week 2014 Service Desk Institute (SDI) held a webinar with Jenny Jordan of Edge Hill University who was the winner of last year’s Service Desk Superhero award. Listeners’ questions were put to Jenny and she was probed for tips on being a super-star on the service desk. Read/listen here
  • A New Kind of Service Catalogue? Robin Goldsbro proposes an alternative approach to the service catalogue that better represents the business. Read more here
  • Twitter Wants To Be Your Gatekeeper – Twitter makes a move designed to do just what Facebook does…but with less data sharing. Read more here
  • Why CFO’s Should Embrace SysAdmins – CFOs often see Devs as creating innovation while sysadmins are there to make sure that innovation runs and runs efficiently with their view of technology coming down to this: Invest in innovation, and cut your infrastructure costs. Bill Koefoed explains why this way of thinking should change. Read more here

Vendor News

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

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ITSM: Going beyond IT – thoughts from Stephen Mann (Video)

This interview was filmed at the Pink Elephant Conference and features Stephen Mann, Senior Manager, Product Marketing at ServiceNow discussing the current hot topics he is seeing in ITSM, such as service catalogue, SIAM, and the consumerization of IT.

In Summary

In addition, Stephen also talks about:

  • Witnessing an increased use of ITSM tools outside IT
  • The differentiators needed by vendors to disrupt the ITSM market
  • ServiceNow’s focus on the customer

Please note that owing to this interview being filmed live at the Pink Elephant event, there may be some minor volume issues and background noises throughout this video.

About ServiceNow

ServiceNow is the enterprise IT cloud company. “We transform IT by automating and managing IT service relationships across the global enterprise. Organizations deploy our service to create a single system of record for IT and automate manual tasks, standardize processes, and consolidate legacy systems. Using our extensible platform, our customers create custom applications and evolve the IT service model to service domains inside and outside the enterprise”. Visit www.servicenow.com for for more information.

About Pink Elephant

A global company with a proud and pioneering 30 year history – the world’s #1 supplier of IT Service Management and ITIL® education, conferences and consulting.Visit www.pinkelephant.com for more information about the company, services and products. This video was filmed at the 2014 Pink Elephant Conference. The 19th Annual Pink Elephant International IT Service Management Conference and Exhibition will take place at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, February 15-18 2015. Registration is now open.

Assessment Criteria: Outside IT Product Review

In March of this year, we will be kicking off our product review dedicated to “Outside IT”, which will take a look at the use of ITSM technology outside the IT department.

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Overview

The aim of this review is to showcase best of breed ITSM software in use outside the IT department, highlight key competitive differentiators and provide readers of The ITSM Review with impartial market intelligence to enable informed purchasing decisions.

Previously published product reviews include:

Also coming soon: Proactive Problem Management.

Assessment Criteria 

The aim of the review is to support prospective buyers with their selection process by providing features to consider when selecting ITSM systems and highlighting key competitive differentiators between suppliers.

Outside IT – How can service management software, traditionally used to underpin the IT service desk, be applied to other area of the business to streamline operations and deliver more efficient services?

Main topics areas

  • How can new systems be built outside IT?
  • What expertise is required, what templates or processes are required?
  • How do end users / customers interact with the system?
  • How can engagement / interaction with customers be customized?
  • How are systems maintained – especially for non-IT users?

Solutions that do not include all of the criteria above will not necessarily score badly – the criteria simply define the scope of areas will be covered. The goal is to highlight strengths and identify differences, whilst placing every vendor in the best light possible. 

Please note: The assessment criteria are just a starting point; they tend to flux and evolve as we delve into solutions and discover unique features and leading edge innovation. Identifying key competitive differentiators is a higher priority than the assessment criteria.

Confirmed participants

Vendors who wish to participate in this Outside IT product review should contact us directly. We also welcome feedback from readers on their experience with their use of ITSM tools outside IT (although this feedback will not directly impact this review).

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Service Catalogue 2013 Group Test – The Results

This is a review of software products and vendors in the ‘Service Catalogue’ market area.

This is a complex and varied market place and consideration should be given to the Market Overview section.


Download Review

(Free PDF, No Registration Required – 405kb, 8 Pages)


Service Catalogue 2013 Best in Class: Axios Systems
Service Catalogue 2013 Best in Class: Axios Systems

Service Catalogue 2013 Best in Class

  • Axios – scalable to big customized projects as well as nice UI for OOTB implementations. Strategic ITSM focus.

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

Best for MSPs and Small/Medium Organizations: 

Best for Enterprise Organizations:

  • ServiceNow – particularly for large implementations where customization is expected. Good product and corporate fit

Service Catalogue Market Overview

By Barclay Rae

Service Catalogue Approach

large ‘Service Catalogue’ market is a niche sub-set of the IT Service Management (ITSM) Software market, which has seen considerable interest and growth in recent years.

Whilst ‘Service Catalogue” can be given a clear definition, the term can be and often is used to cover a number of functional and strategic approaches that stretch from fairly low-level request fulfilment to strategic Service Design and Strategy.

This approach varies because there are several different components that can be described as ‘Service Catalogue” – from ‘front-end’ portal to ‘back-end’ workflow and high-level business views of services. There are also potentially a number of different inputs and outputs – and types of document – that can be described as part of the ‘Service Catalogue’.

This reflects the developing nature of how the industry has defined and understood what a ‘Service Catalogue’ is, which has led to some fundamental differences and interpretations of how to make this work and what the expectations are from implementation.

In a nutshell the 2 main different approaches are:

Strategic/Top Down

This is where the organisation takes a strategic view of all IT services – including the business services (applications/departmental services, external customer services). Usually this will lead to a definition of an overall service structure of Core IT Services (PCs, Phones, email etc.) and Business Services (departments, business processes, applications).

This can then drive service reporting and service differentiation and is a long-term strategic approach to ‘service’ management and value demonstration. Request fulfilment follows out of this process, once the overall structure has been defined.

Technical/Bottom Up

This tends to be started by technical teams to ‘discover’ services, solve specific configuration management and integration problems and provide a practical user interface for consumption of core services and request fulfilment.

Both approaches are viable and necessary at some point to lead to a successful implementation:

Top Down is useful to ensure that the whole IT organisation is on board and that the wider goals and expectations are defined as part of a customer engagement process. Visualisation is useful for all parties to have a tangible view of the overall goals for IT.

Bottom Up can be a good tactical approach to get moving quickly. Request Management automation usually provides efficiency benefits and can significantly improve service quality to customers. The strategic view will need to be defined at some point so should be considered whenever (and as soon as) possible.

For the purposes of this review both of the above approaches have been considered and the overall key elements for tools defined as follows:

  • General – user friendly and with proven integrations to other tools
  • Service Design – the ability to create a database of service records, containing a number of business and technical attributes, processes and workflows
  • Service Structure – the ability to organise and structure these services into a hierarchy of services and service offerings – ideally in a graphical format
  • User Request Portal – a user friendly portal with an intuitive interface to request and track services
  • Request Fulfilment – request management workflow and functionality that can be easily used and configured by system users
  • SLA and Event Management – the ability to define SLAs that can be linked via Event Management to other ITSM processes
  • Demand Management – the ability to provide real-time allocation and monitoring of service consumption, with e.g. financial calculations
  • Dashboard – real-time user-friendly graphical monitoring and analysis of usage, trends and metrics across services and to various stakeholders
  • 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

See the full list of criteria here

Approach to Implementation

Organisations and their practitioners who are considering buying and implementing Service Catalogue technology should consider the following:

  • As there are a number of potential applications and objectives for Service Catalogue, these must be clearly defined and agreed in advance. This shouldn’t be embarked upon because it is the ‘flavour of the month’ or it ‘looks like a good thing to do’.

Key benefits that can be derived:

    • Improved professionalism and quality of service experience to customers
    • Value demonstration of IT through business and service based reporting
    • Clarity around service differentiation and value – e.g. commodity versus quality, value-add, time to market
    • Improved cost efficiency of request management and administration
    • Improved quality and speed of service for request management and administration
    • Greater visibility of IT costs and service level performance
    • Improvement in Service Desk performance via better central access to information
  • It is vital that all participants not only understand the expected benefits and objectives, but are also clear on the taxonomy of Service Level Management. This saves considerable time during projects, due to the fact that there are often many misconceptions and variances in understanding around basic concepts like SLAs, Service Catalogue etc. Time spent on some explanations and clarification of definitions is time well spent.
  • The big mistake that orgnaisations still make is to try to do Service Level Management (Portfolio Management, Request Management, SLAs and Service Catalogue…) all without engaging with their customers and supported businesses. The process requires engagement (service definition, performance discussion, objective setting, feedback on the customer experience etc.) as a major input to this process. This provides business validation as well as improving the relationship and demonstration of understanding between parties. It also vitally provides clear goals in terms of service provision and performance reporting. Without this the process can completely miss out on customer requirements and expectation, and so is wasteful, arrogant and bad PR.
  • Organisations should define their services in a simple structure – ideally that can be visualised and shown on 1 page or 1 slide for clarity. This can be done in a workshop, where key people are brought together to work through the concepts and definitions (this can begin with some education) and then use this to define the service structure for that organisation. There are always ‘learning curves’ to be overcome (e.g. the distinction between ‘systems’ and ’services’) – however if this is done in a workshop then this build momentum and consensus.
  • The Service Structure is a vital element as it provides the visual key to this process and also then the framework for a repository of information on each service. From this the project can start to create other outputs, documentation and service views as required from the project goals.
  •  Getting started and moving is a vital element to avoid long term prevarication and too much theorising. A lot can be achieved relatively quickly with some workshops and brief customer meetings. It’s essential to produce a simple representation of the service structure that helps to visualise the process for all involved and give them a consistent view of what is being delivered and defined. All this can be done within a few days and weeks based around workshops and a clear set of objectives.
  • Ultimately this is a business-focussed process so it’s important to have people with business and communications skills to work on the project. Technical details and understanding will be needed but should not be the starting point, which tends to be what happens if this is given to technically-focussed people.

Market Products

Products in this area fall into 2 main categories:

  • Existing ITSM Toolsets with Service Catalogue functionality
  • Specific Tools with Service Catalogue and Request Management functionality

Existing ITSM Toolsets

These often will have either modular or intrinsic functionality based around the ‘ITIL’ framework – Incident, Request, Problem and Change Management, plus Asset and Configuration Management and Service Level Management.

The Service Catalogue should be a valuable addition to this with a ‘service layer’ that can be added to the existing task and event management functions, as well as providing customer/user-friendly portals and ‘front-ends’ for requesting and tracking services.

Generally these products will be used by organisations to develop and to implement a ‘service strategy’ – as well as implementing request management – so these will generally follow a more ‘top down’ approach.

Ideally these will be able to leverage work already down defining existing ITSM processes and the Service Catalogue can then easily integrate with these. This is not always the case, as previous configuration structures may need to be revised to meet new Service Structure requirements.

Specific Service Catalogue Tools

These are newer, standalone systems that have come into the market in the last few years – initially as there was little functionality in this area in the existing ITSM tool market.

They will generally follow a more technical ‘bottom up’ approach that provides faster and more agile implementations. So they can deliver high quality user interfaces, discovery and request management workflow in short timeframes and deliver fast Return on Investment (ROI)/Time to Value (TTV) around the automation of a number of manual processes that speed up the customer experience.

Challenges can include how to reverse-engineer these systems for a strategic service structure once in operation, plus the need to integrate with a variety of other tools, including the existing ITSM solution.

These tools all have some level of basic Help-desk/Incident Management and support processes – the level to which these can either be used or integrated depends on the requirements and maturity of the existing systems (and organisations)

Market Observations

  • ‘Service Catalogue’ is a term that can encompass a number of areas – request management, user portal, service strategy and design, SLAs, portfolio management, service reporting, customer, business and technical views. There is no single product or view that is definitive and products that focus on one area only will require some technical and process integration.
  • In key areas of request management, portals and workflow, reporting and SLAs, most products offer very similar functionality. Variations exist in the development of Demand Management, strategic Service Design and Service Visualisation.
  • In particular vendors can be differentiated by their approach – strategic and technical, but also the level to which they can offer support and value added services to help with implementation. This is still a relatively new area and few practitioners and/or organisations have broad experience or even clear requirements for how to make this work – vendor support and guidance is a key asset and differentiator.
  • Implementation support should also be in the form of template and standard configurable data – i.e. to provide sample service ‘bundles’, workflows, reports, dashboards and in general as much practical guidance as possible.
  • Whilst implementation approach and product focus are the key differentiators – i.e. strategic vs technical Bottom Up / Top Down – a key strength is also the ability to show a clear path that encompasses both approaches.
  • Integration experience and proven capability is a key capability (more than just a differentiator) – this will always be required to some extent:
  • For ‘Service Catalogue Specific’ vendors this is essential to get their product working with a variety of monitoring, asset and event management tools, as well as interfacing with other ITSM systems. Usually they will offer a number of existing APIs and proven links as part of their approach. These tools are useful for standalone Service Catalogue implementation at mid-market level and can also be found sold into enterprise organisations at the technical and integration level.
  • For ‘Existing ITSM Vendors’ they will lead on the seamless integration with their own tools. This is a good pitch for their existing customers but a dilemma for the wider market, i.e. whether to buy a standalone Service Catalogue product (from one ITSM Vendor) separately from a new or existing ITSM product from another ITSM vendor. Many of these vendors will have already created links to other systems via their multi-source and managed services clients.
  • In all aspects of this area, consideration should be given to the customer experience in using these systems and the interaction with IT organisations, particularly in terms of how SLAs and service delivery expectations are set.
  • These toolsets can help to improve service quality and experience, as well as improving the value demonstration of IT. However this will not simply be delivered by tool implementation alone and care is required where systems and vendors promise this without some significant process and organisational change.
  • Overall the market has developed significantly in the last 2/3 years although most vendors are still developing their approach to financial and demand management. Some of this functionality is available across the market but generally only as reports and with some development rather than as an integral feature for dynamic business use.  

Market Positioning and Approach

Vendor

Mid-Market

Enterprise

 

Top Down

 

Bottom Up

Axios

question

Matrix42

question

Biomni

question

ServiceNow

question

    – Definitely

question    – Possibly

Top Down / Bottom up?

Vendor

 

Top Down

 

Bottom Up

Axios

  • Approach geared to Business and Tech services
  • Good UI with visualisation of services and structure

question

  • Vendor and product can start from discovery approach
  • Unlikely to be sold as SC only bottom up product

Matrix42

  • Little product or vendor focus Business or Top Down approach
  • May not be relevant for some clients – e.g. MSPs

  • Product and vendor geared to discovery approach
  • Excellent tool for fast implementation of Request and self service for IT products

Biomni

  • Little product or vendor focus on Business or Top Down approach
  • Commercial approach helps for quick start and visualisation

  • Product and vendor geared to discovery approach
  • Excellent tool for fast implementation of Request and self service for IT products

ServiceNow

  • Approach geared to Business and Tech services
  • Good strategic focus in dashboards and Demand Management functions

  • Can start from discovery approach
  • Sales focus on enterprise with Business and Tech capability

    – Definitely

question   – Possibly

Competitive Overview

Vendor

Overview

Strengths

Weaknesses

Axios

  • High-end option for Medium – Enterprise
  • Simple intuitive UI/OOTB
  • Seamless integration with assyst ITSM processes
  • UI
  • Strategic approach
  • Vendor capability
  • Not geared up for standalone SC implementation
  • May be overkill for technical or small implementations

Matrix42

  • Strong request and Catalogue functionality – technical focus
  • Good option for Tech-only implementations (e.g. MSPs)
  • Good Request and Catalogue functionality
  • Speed of implementation – doesn’t need other ITSM processes
  • Service Now integration
  • Lack of US/UK coverage
  • Approach – little strategic implementation focus
  • Functionality gaps

Biomni

  • Good functionality
  • Nice commercial approach
  • Good option for Tech-only implementations (e.g. MSPs)
  • Good intuitive functionality, commercial approach
  • Speed of implementation – doesn’t need other ITSM processes
  • Little Strategic implementation focus
  • Functionality gaps

Service Now

  • High end functionality, enterprise focus
  • Strong corporate backing and growth
  • Extensive functionality
  • Best Demand dashboard functions
  • Flexibility of product
  • UI busy and complicated
  • Flexibility of product
  • Organisation geared towards enterprise clients
  • Needs usability configuration/customisation

Product Deep Dive

Follow the links for a deep dive review of Service Catalogue features:

Further Reading


DISCLAIMER, SCOPE & LIMITATIONS

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

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

This is a paid review. That is, the vendors included in this review paid to participate in exchange for all results and analysis being published free of charge without registration. For further information please read the ‘Group Tests’ section on our Disclosure page.

Review: Matrix42 for Service Catalogue

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

Executive Summary – Matrix42

Overview
  • Strong request and Catalogue functionality – technical focus
  • Good option for Tech-only implementations (e.g. MSPs)
Strengths
  • Good Request and Catalogue functionality
  • Speed of implementation – doesn’t need other ITSM processes
  • ServiceNow integration
Weaknesses
  • Lack of US/UK coverage
  • Approach – little strategic implementation focus
  • Functionality gaps
Primary Market Focus “Mid Market – Suite describes Matrix42 market focus. From 500 to 10,000 users/devices is our sweet spot, although we have several customers with 10,000+ users”

Commercial Summary

Vendor Matrix42
Product Workplace Management 2013
Version reviewed v6.0
Date of version release May 2013
Year founded 1992
Customers Over 2,500 customers in total; approximately 350 with Service Catalogue / Service Desk
Pricing Structure Per Managed Device:  Service Desk and Service Catalogue are included free: Can be Cloud hosted (Monthly Rental) or on Premise (License + Annual Maintenance)
Competitive Differentiators Matrix42 state:

  1. We offer our Service Catalogue AND Service Desk unlimited for FREE with any of our other products
  2. We offer an integrated Suite of award winning Products for Managing Physical, Mobile and Virtual Devices and Users Interaction with IT as recognised by Gartner Magic Quadrant.
  3. We seamlessly integrate out-of-the-box with Products where they are already in place (e.g. SCCM, ServiceNow, Citrix).
Additional features “Free of Charge out-of-the-box integration with Airwatch, Microsoft SCCM 2007 / 2012, ServiceNow, Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop. Other Products (e.g. BMC Remedy) can also be integrated using consulting services to download service and request templates and adapters.”

MATRIX42 LOGOIndependent Review

Matrix42 is relatively new player in the UK and US markets, although established in Germany and other European markets.

The Service Catalogue product provides an effective and full set of request management, portal and catalogue functionality. This is based on the technical ‘bottom up’ approach and includes some effective discovery and asset management functionality. Demand Management has some useful outputs although this, SLAs and Service Desk integration still needs to be developed to meet the full criteria.

The vendor has technical capability and experience of interaction with other products and vendors – there is also a partnership with ServiceNow for wider ITSM functionality. The vendor’s approach is focussed on the technical and discovery aspects rather than strategic and high level services – so e.g., the system can’t easily show graphical representation of service structure and hierarchy.

The customer interface looks professional and similar to a retail experience. Implementation can be quick and doesn’t depend on other ITSM functionality – so this can be an effective and fast way to get started with a catalogue and portal. The vendor primarily works with medium sized enterprises although also has some good large client references.

This product is a good option for medium sized organisations to get started quickly and automate request and fulfilment processes. Buyers would need to have a clear view on how to roll up low-level services into business services using this product – this system may suit managed services providers who may not need to use ‘business’ systems and supply components only – or ‘bundles which are mostly comprised of hardware or commodity systems.

A longer term route to wider and more strategic ITSM integration is available via the ServiceNow integration.

Overview

  • Specific Service Catalogue/Request Management Vendor
  • Established in Germany and other territories – now making sales and marketing incursion into established ITSM markets
  • Excellent Customer and User Interface for IT hardware and software request and lifecycle management
  • Meets most stated requirements – full request management – gaps in strategic approach
  • Vendor not well known in ITSM market
  • Little focus or capability in strategic implementation approach from vendor
  • Gaps in stated requirements – SLAs with Service Desk integration, Demand Management, Dashboards and Reporting
  • Function rich product for technical/bottom up functionality

Strengths

  • Excellent customer and user interface for hardware and software request and lifecycle management
  • Strong and intuitive portal and user request functionality
  • iPhone/iPad integrations looks impressive
  • Good integration with discovery and asset systems to build service bundles and ‘discover’ services
  • Vendor offers clear understanding of technical integration and request management/portal processes
  • Simple and effective structure and levels of service criteria
  • Some excellent enterprise client implementations
  • Strategic Partnership and integration with ServiceNow – opportunity for wide pool of product expertise
  • Some nice views and outputs for Demand management tracking
  • Can be quickly implemented without need to develop ITSM processes

Weaknesses

  • Vendor approach set up for request management and technical / bottom up approach only
  • Matrix42 are passionate technologists, a strategic ‘top down’ view of ITSM services is not currently a key focus
  • Vendor not widely known or established in ITSM community outside of Germany
  • Service Desk and Service Catalogue modules not intrinsically integrated – SLAs not delivered OOTB for Requests in Service Catalogue module, although this is in Service Desk
  • Lack of full function-rich SLA capability without customisation
  • Service hierarchy not fully available in graphical format
  • Demand Management – lacks full requirement without bespoke consulting
  • Gaps in Dashboard and reporting features OOTB – requires specific consulting or in-house SQL skills
  • Basic Help desk/Incident Management functionality

Workplace Management 2013 Service Catalogue Customers

In Their Own Words:

“Integrate or Replace? – Your Choice

What makes Matrix42 unique is our vision to be an aggregator of technology that interacts with end users. If you believe in putting your users first, our solutions help to achieve a great user experience, whilst the Service Desk team maintains control and reaps the benefits of automation. We provide best of breed software that interacts with the user’s Workplace, but we also integrate out-of-the-box with products like ServiceNow, Microsoft SCCM and Citrix, as well as providing an integration layer for other vendors.

Our strengths are:

  1. Simple: Very simple user interface – requires no end user training. Full control over what the end user can see and request. Fully searchable. Our new graphical Workflow Designer allows easy and flexible customisation of request and delivery processes.
  2. Interactive: Users and IT can see exactly where their request is in the system, and issue reminders, WITHOUT calling the Service Desk.
  3. Intelligent: Requests can be auto authorised, one step, two step, conditional extra step if procurement required and can be dependent on factors such as requestor, cost center, service owner, items in stock, licenses available.
  4. Integrated: Out-of-the-box automation for Software Delivery & Configuration of Physical, Virtual & Mobile Devices as well as Active Directory and 3rd party systems.
  5. Holistic: Full Contract Management & automated Licensed Software recognition, enables a complete and automated out-of-the-box solution for Software Request, License Compliance, Procurement and Delivery.”

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.