Podcast Episode 9 – SLM & the Currency of Business

In Episode 9 of the podcast, SLM and the Currency of Business, Barclay Rae and myself discuss Service Level Management with Clive Davey, IT Service Level Manager at a leading financial institution in the UK.

Topics include:

  • Business currency
  • Cost versus value
  • Collaboration
  • Real business risk and impact
  • ‘We the business’

View all our podcasts on SoundCloud or iTunes.

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ITSM14 Preview: Karen Brusch and Managing Multiple Suppliers from an SLM Perspective

Karen Brusch of Nationwide Building Society and itSMF UK
Karen Brusch of Nationwide Building Society and itSMF UK

In the run up this year’s itSMF UK conference, ITSM14, I chatted with Karen Brusch of Nationwide Building Society and itSMF UK about her upcoming session entitled “Managing Multiple Suppliers from an SLM Perspective”.

Q. Hi Karen, can you give a quick intro to your session at the itSMF UK Conference?

The itSMF UK Service Level Management SIG has always been keen to research and present topics that are identified as problem areas by practitioners in the industry. Supplier Management and how that impacts Service Level Management has been an area of discussion which has gained momentum over the last 18 months. This session takes a look at some key points around the complexities of managing multiple suppliers.

Q. What impact does managing multiple suppliers have on an organisation?

The most obvious impact is the failure to deliver what an organisation’s business needs. It is hard enough to understand and document business requirements when you have one supplier; but when you have a multitude of suppliers, there is a real risk that requirements become diluted, compromised, or more crucially missed. Managing multiple suppliers is a black art, where what works for one set of suppliers will not necessarily work for another; so each combination requires a modified approach. Service Integration specialists (SIAM) have helped to shape some answers, but even here, flexibility is the key. So any organisation embarking on a multi-vendor strategy has to have the knowledge, capability and determination to succeed.

Q. Where should organisations start with managing multiple suppliers?

The most important thing is to understand your business’ end game; where do they want to be in 5 years’ time, for example. Once you have this information you can begin to formulate supporting IT strategies and requirements. Too many organisation write their Invitations to Tender (ITTs) and Request for Proposals (RFPs) without understanding business strategy

Q. What are likely to be the potential pitfalls and/or benefits an organisation may experience with implementing a framework for managing multiple suppliers?

An organisation will derive real benefit for taking the time to develop an appropriate governance framework for the selected preferred suppliers. As I’ve said already, each combination requires a modified approach, so it really pays to invest some time in this activity. The fundamental pitfall that I’ve seen on many occasion is that organisations select the cheapest provider for each area/tower of service, not taking into consideration the overall impact and integration issues. It goes back to having people with the knowledge, capability an determination to succeed.


Karen is an ITIL Expert, recognised as a member of the itSMF UK Expert Faculty, and a Service Design specialist with 12 years’ experience. She chaired the itSMF UK Service Level Management Special Interest Group for several years, and has recently stepped down from this role to support the newly formed Service Design SIG. When not engaged in itSMF activities, she works for Nationwide Building Society as a Service Design Consultant.

medium ITSM14 banner aug 14

Karen’s session is on day two and featured within the Managing Complexity track. To find out more or to book your conference place please visit itSMF UK

Follow Karen on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn

Technology Review: EasyVista

Easy VistaThis is a review of the EasyVista ITSM solution. The product (set) reviewed was:

  • EasyVista ServiceManager
  • EasyVista Service-Apps
  • EasyVista Click2Get

These collectively make up ‘EasyVista.com’ – the product set reviewed will be released on July 1st 2014.

At a glance

EasyVista is an established and growing player in the ITSM industry – from an initial start in 1988 through to a floated business in 2005 with a native Cloud platform, to its current position challenging the enterprise market.

The company focuses on EMEA and US markets with Head Offices based in both New York and Paris. Recent growth has been impressive and the company is expanding and developing into new markets and market areas. This review looks at EasyVista’s core capabilities, strengths and weaknesses, plus go-to-market strategy and vendor reach.

Summary of Key Findings

Strengths Weaknesses
Simple yet powerful customer presentation layer Limitations on vendor implementation capacity
Comprehensive ITSM functionality – good Service Catalog capability May need to develop more/new capabilities and project services for larger enterprise clients
Cradle to grave Asset Management – extensive financial capability Recent core focus on US has slightly hindered UK presence to date behind, however we understand that this is being addressed
Intuitive user-friendly workflow – NEO capability for tech-free design and admin Reporting capabilities and templates could be improved
Strong multi-language offerings
Impressive recent financial growth

Analysis

Overall EasyVista has a very strong product-set in the ITSM market.With a long pedigree, since 1988, as a mid-market vendor, with focus in some key geographical markets, EasyVista is now broadening its appeal and reach across wider global markets and is also becoming more tuned to enterprise organizations needs.

This is having some success with a number of recent wins over ServiceNow and Cherwell Software, who they view as main competitors. As is the case with these companies, EasyVista is also winning new business from legacy CA/HP/BMC sites with its modern, agile, user-friendly, and user-configurable approach and (web-based) product set; as well as competitive costing and minimized cost of upgrade path.

The product-set aims to provide a comprehensive, yet simple and intuitive interface for build and maintenance, reducing the time to implement and also the cost and skill level required for ongoing tailoring and configuration. A key concept is the simplified ‘presentation layer’, which effectively provides a simple and business-focused interface to allow user organisations to focus on business objectives and not be side-tracked by infrastructure and technical details and data. This also supports the approach that allows the underlying infrastructure and services details to change without impacting the presentation layer – i.e. the User Interface and outputs. EasyVista’s pitch aims to support the idea that the tool helps to reduce complexity around IT and ITSM delivery – by linking ‘Service Management with Content Management’ – so that all sources are presented/rendered consistently.

As an ITSM tool it has a full set of Service Management capabilities available, delivered in ‘standard’ tabular formats (i.e. process functions as expected for ITSM/ITIL processes and lifecycle) with the ability to make changes easily and without technical skills/support.The core Incident, Problem and Change processes are presented in a clean and simple format with the ability to use multiple layers of Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and Operating Level Agreements (OLAs) as required – e.g. for tracking, OLAs can be easily nested and tracked within a wider SLA. The Service Catalog functionality is extensive and compares well with other product offerings, featuring some straightforward and effective features like graphical displays of linked services, parent/child service ‘bundles’, and simple logical links to all other ITSM functions.

The asset and configuration elements of the toolset are also key features with function-rich capabilities around asset tracking and financial management (e.g. insurance values, residual value, depreciation etc). This includes an end-to-end approach with the ability to create orders and pick from stock as part of the asset lifecycle. Whilst this functionality has been around for many years in large enterprise products, it is encouraging to see this level of detail and control being made available from a mid-size vendor and product – with a modern, simplified and connected (social) interface.

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Discussion threads offer social capabilities that can be used effectively for approvals – e.g. for Change Advisory Boards (CABs) – and are a useful and social way to communicate (like a Facebook wall) and contribute to incidents and other events – i.e. beyond those simply on the escalation path. This can also be used for knowledge sharing and also to present real-time knowledge content within incidents. The ‘NEO’ function provides advanced capabilities without the need for technical skills, and is based on a graphical interface for workflow, forms design, tables, and field and screen creation that is simple to administer – i.e. using drag and drop. Development of the presentation layer for IT or departmental customers is supported by the NEO capability. EasyVista has built a range of widgets, such as charts, navigation, dashboard components, and HTML widgets, as well as provided access to a range of other web widgets from the likes of Google, Twitter etc. These widgets can be used to easily build Service Apps like CIO dashboards or Service Catalogs, enhancing functionality and integration of processes.

Reporting and monitoring are available with user-defined dashboards – i.e. that can include standard widgets as already mentioned. This could be further developed to provide more pre-canned templates and standards offerings to clients. EasyVista has strong language capabilities with 12 core languages available across a single meta-data structure – therefore global implementation can be effective across a single platform. EasyVista also provides a robust network of data centers across EMEA, the US and Singapore to provide continuous business continuity. There is also an extensive and effective global knowledge community sharing product information and guidance.

Languages available:

  • Bosnian
  • Brasilian
  • Catalan
  • Chinese (Traditional)
  • Chinese (Simplified)
  • Dutch
  • English (UK)
  • English (US)
  • French
  • German
  • Italian
  • Polish
  • Portugeze
  • Spanish

The vendor is expanding and recruiting to support its current growth and sales success. This is part of a continuing development plan to consolidate and build on an improving market position, and challenging enterprise vendors on price and flexibility, whilst still offering a full set of functionality plus innovation in the product that has been built as a native cloud-based system.

Revenues have grown from $11.5M (2010) to over $20M in 2013, with recurring revenue accounting for over 70% due to its SaaS customer base. The stock price has accordingly quadrupled (from $10.00 to $40.00) over the last year.

The vendor has been operating in the mid-market for several years and is now successfully engaging more with the enterprise market, where there may be more requirements from customers to deliver project and consultancy-based services. At present EasyVista have a global network of (40) implementation partners – with a majority of sales being made direct (95% direct in US, 50% direct in EMEA). Corporate resources are therefore focused on development, and sales and marketing, and less on implementation – this may need to be revised with more demanding enterprise-sized customers.

The challenges for EasyVista are in maintaining its focus on innovation, quality installations and client success, whilst also growing its market share and delivering successful implementations in new vertical and horizontal markets. This is recognized by the company with a recruitment programme and a renewed growth plan in the UK, which was consciously left alone some years ago when the focus was on building market share in the US and continental Europe. At that time the UK ITSM market was seen as stagnant, but there is now renewed interest in this market for replacement solutions following new innovations and the impact of disruptive (Cloud/SAAS) commercial models. EasyVista were left exposed in the UK and are now working to recoup some position in this market – however in future there may be issues in other areas if resources are stretched across multiple geographical markets and levels of the IT/ITSM market.

Delivery of sales message (which is seen to be good) and the ability to deliver to a new market area (enterprise) are also seen as major challenges – along with the ability to consolidate and maintain growth. The product set is comprehensive and possibly complex at first sight, therefore the ITSM Review recommends that EasyVista aligns its message (simplicity and business focus) with its overall presentation of the modules and areas of the product. The three product areas – Service Manager, Service Apps and Click2Get – plus the Neo function, sit over the ITSM modules with different pricing structures and this can initially look at odds with the company’s ‘simplify IT’ message, although we understand the pricing is very competitive. Whilst there are some corporate and delivery challenges, the product provides a comprehensive solution, is well positioned, and the pitch plays well to a market hungry for savings, simplicity and new ways of working.

On a comparative level with the upper mid-market and also at an enterprise level, the product-set has good functionality and offers innovation and a user-friendly operation. Development has been applied to the use and usability of the product and this should reduce the need for extensive consulting and implementation services. However there is always a need for implementation guidance and support for less-mature organisations. This is a gap and opportunity for EasyVista to provide more value-added services to support these clients’ implementations.

Overall, EasyVista is an excellent offering for customers/buyers who are mature, know what they want from ITSM (particularly in some key areas like Service Catalog and Asset Management), and are able to implement this mostly themselves.

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Key Capabilities

EasyVista is an integrated solution that covers IT Service and Asset Management. The modules provided are:

  • Service Operation: Incident, Problem, Service Request and Event Management. This module addresses core service desk functionality.
  • Service Transition: Change, Knowledge and Release Management. This addresses the ability to manage the entire lifecycle of Change records and how they relate to Releases in the CMDB. Additionally the knowledgebase is managed in this module allowing the management and subsequent publication of knowledge articles to technical and non-technical users.
  • Service Strategy: Financial areas such as Budget Planning/Control, Procurement, Charge Back, IT Costing etc. are provided by this module allowing customers to have fiscal control over all aspects of IT delivery.
  • Service Design: The management of SLAs/OLAs, Continuity Plans, Availability Targets, Catalog content etc. is managed in this module, providing the ability to create and manage all of these aspects ‘codelessly’ and quickly.
  • Asset Management: provides full financial lifecycle Asset Management for all assets as part of the core solution. This includes all aspects of Asset Management including request, order, delivery, contract, budget, loan, repair, depreciation etc.
  • Extended CMDB: The extended CMDB module provides a fully graphical interface for viewing and analyzing the relationships between CIs and ultimately assessing impact.
  • Business Relationship Management: This covers the areas of Self-Service Portal, Social IT, and Mobility, allowing customers to interact with all product areas in a variety of different ways.
  • Continual Service Improvement: A built-in, proprietary reporting engine providing Analytics, Dashboards, and Standard Reporting.
  • Business Process Management: Automated Workflow Engine, Business Rules Engine, and pre-defined Business Wizard Accelerators. These areas allow customers to build their own processes, automate workflow, and streamline their day-to-day tasks with no coding required.

These functions are presented in tabular form and generally follow the ITIL v3 lifecycle structure. The building of forms and functions (events, escalations, SLAs, validation approvals etc.) into processes can be done simply using a consistent graphical workflow tool – this can incorporate (e.g. Google) ‘widgets’ as required and can also simply be amended using ‘drag and drop’ functionality. As such, creation of ‘standard’ ITSM processes is simple, intuitive and extensive, based on a turnkey set of processes in the product-set – i.e. capable of delivering to a high level of complexity and detailed functionality for SME and enterprise requirements.

Key functions observed:

Incident Management – extensive, flexible form creation, escalations, tracking and filters, user-defined workflow, and knowledge integration.

Problem Management – as above, plus integrated reporting.

Change Management – includes the ability to use ‘discussion threads’ to manage approvals via social-lie interfaces.

Service Catalog – comprehensive functionality, well-presented multi-view and graphical representation of services and CMDB links. Good use of service ‘bundle’ approach – i.e. grouping of components together to build supply chain of IT services.

Service Level Management – extensive and capable of managing multiple levels of SLA, availability of services etc., plus ability to manage and track nested OLA timeframes within SLAs.

Asset Management – high level of specification and capability, particularly around financial management, depreciation, residual value etc.

Knowledge Management – using ‘widget’ plug-ins can bring a variety of options for presenting and managing associated knowledge articles.

Reporting – dashboards shown with the potential for extended functionality and flexibility. Vendor could develop more ‘templated’ report and dashboard content to enhance presentation.

Go-to-market Strategy

EasyVista’s sweet spot target clients:

Staff 2,000 – 20,000
IT Staff 25 – 600
Nodes 10,000 – 200,000
IT Maturity Medium – High
Market level Mid/upper mid-market and Enterprise, some F500Vertical and horizontal – no sector focus
Challenges Cost, Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), global multi-language, need for flexibilty and ease of use

Regional focus:

  • Significant investment in the USA – Past 2 years has seen 100%+ growth per year
  • Continued expansion in EMEA – Past 2 years has seen 20% growth in a tough market
  • Tactical investment in APAC
  • Planned expansion and increased investment in the UK planned for late FY14

Channel Focus:

  • USA – 95% direct sales. 70% direct services and 30% through strategic partners.
  • EMEA – 50% direct and 50% indirect.
  • 40 fully accredited partners with 280 certified engineers worldwide.

Features delivered as part of the standard offering:

Service Manager, Asset Management, Service Apps and Click2Get are licensed independently. SaaS customers can obtain a product called myEasyVista, which is SaaS performance and administration portal – this is included in the SaaS subscription.

Service manager is sold with full functionality (all processes / and capabilities)

  • Incident Management
  • Problem Management
  • Availability Management
  • Service Asset and Configuration Management
  • IT Service Continuity Management
  • Service Catalog Management
  • Service Level Management
  • Service Portfolio Management
  • Request Fulfillment
  • Knowledge Management
  • Change Management
  • Asset Management

Licensing and Payments:

  • On premise = Concurrent
  • SaaS = Named or Concurrent

Range of project values for a typical installation:

  • SaaS: $75K/year – $300K/year
  • On Premise:  $100K – $500K

Annual maintenance and support cost:

  • 20% of On Premise software sale price.
  • 6 – 10 weeks average implementation time.

Key Reference Customers

OTD

Innovation, quality performance, integrity and teamwork – One Touch Direct is a premier call center service company and leader in developing customized direct marketing strategies. They specialize in developing integrated direct response marketing programs supported by state of the art call center services. OTD is based in North America, employs over 2000 team members and offers call center support in English, French and Spanish.

Domtar

Domtar-Centralizing IT Worldwide – Domtar was founded in 1848 and has grown from a widely diversified organization to an industry leader focused on paper manufacturing. The 1990s and the early 2000s were years of significant expansion, including the acquisition of Ris Paper Company Inc. and Georgia Pacific paper mills.

Expro

Expro delivers a true global SaaS ITSM solution in weeks with EasyVista – Expro is a world leader in well flow management technologies with core and more specialized services assisting customers to measure, improve, control and process flow from their wells. Expro’s expertise extends across the lifecycle of a well, reinforcing their ability to help customers achieve their goals – from Exploration & Appraisal through to Abandonment. Expro operates in all the major hydrocarbon producing areas of the world, employing more than 5,000 people in 50 countries.

Case studies available from these customers.

Geographical Coverage

Direct Presence Geographical area:

  • USA
  • Canada
  • UK
  • France
  • Germany
  • Spain
  • Portugal
  • Italy

Vendor Profile – In their own words

“We recognize the IT landscape we live in and therefore the ITSM requirement to our customers has radically changed. ITSM is no longer just about looking after the employees IT equipment and services, but also about how IT can build non-IT centric services and applications that improve your employee and business unit’s function, efficiency and service to the ultimate end customer.

Today’s ITSM challenge comes from these two ‘customer needs’ but also, the fundamental shift in the way we build IT. The number of systems we use directly or indirectly to transact business with our customers is x50 higher than it was just 3 years ago. All of this data and all of the new communication channels needs to be harnessed and coordinated to provide Service and SupportYet the current platforms that provide the service and support were built for a different age. They may support social, cloud and business analytics – but the hard way. Hard wired, ridged and very costly to administer, change and integrate.

IT is now at a pivotal moment in its corporate career. One that could transform the organization and make rock-stars out of IT leadership. The days of big, highly integrated, proprietary and complex platforms are dead. We live in the age of the web. The next generation of service and support will harness web architectures and services into a harmonious and dynamic service.

We would like to introduce you to a New Way. The Easy Way.

  • An Agile Web Service and Support Customer User Interface Engine.
  • An Agile Web Service and Support Workflow Engine.
  • An Agile Web Service and Support Asset Management Engine.
  • An Agile Web Service and Support Integration Engine.
  • With ‘Dynamic Orchestration’ – Not manual hard wired integration.

All codeless, and all joined up.”

Screenshots

Further resources

Contact details

www.easyvista.com

Phone: +1 (888) EZV ITSM

 

EASYVISTA

Summary

Strengths Weaknesses
Simple yet powerful customer presentation layer Limitations on vendor implementation capacity
Comprehensive ITSM functionality – good Service Catalog capability May need to develop more/new capabilities and project services for larger enterprise clients
Cradle to grave Asset Management – extensive financial capability Recent core focus on US has slightly hindered UK presence to date behind, however we understand that this is being addressed
Intuitive user-friendly workflow – NEO capability for tech-free design and admin Reporting capabilities and templates could be improved
Strong multi-language offerings
Impressive recent financial growth

Disclaimer, Scope and Limitations

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

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

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

For further information, please read our Disclosure page.

Event Listing: Service Desk & SLM Seminar, itSMF UK, 12th September 2012, Manchester

What?

itSMF UK Seminar – Service Desk and SLM

The Service Desk is at the frontline to increase service quality, reduce cost and pressed to do more with less. Many are still searching for tools to help move them from their traditional fire fighting roles in-order to free up resources to more spend time on better managing customer expectations and improving service.

What are the best approaches to meeting this challenge?

This seminar is targeted at service desk, service level and service catalogue managers who want to ensure agreed customer expectations and promises are met

When?

Wednesday 12th September, 9am – 4pm

Where?

Museum of Industry & Science, Liverpool Road , Manchester, M3 4FP

Museum of Industry & Science Website

Map and Directions

Museum of Industry & Science (MUSI) in Manchester

Who?

itSMF UK

Agenda

Key learning outcomes of this seminar include:

  • Learn the processes that underpin a good service desk
  • Learn what are the key interfaces between the service desk, service level management and service catalogue
  • Learn how you know if you have got the right people working on your service desk
  • What is the skill profile and roles of a hybrid service desk manager and analyst
  • Learn which service desk structure is right for your organisation
  • Learn the challenges and approaches to managing a distributed or global service desk
  • Learn how to define a service catalogue with underpinning service levels that works for you
  • Learn how to get more out of 2nd line teams by implementing operational level agreements
  • Learn how to improve your workload planning and scheduling techniques to manage the service desk
  • Where will the service desk be in 5 years

Further Info…

Photo Credit

Jarod Greene, Gartner "The players haven’t changed, but the game has"

Who will be the winners and losers in the new Gartner Quadrant to define the ITSM market?
Who will be the winners and losers in the new Gartner Quadrant to define the ITSM market?

This interview has been contributed by Aprill Allen of Knowledgebird.

If your helpdesk experience is anything like mine was, you’ve been taking calls and tracking tickets in whatever software solution the decision makers handed down. So, when I first heard my experienced ITSM colleagues discussing the Gartner Magic Quadrant, I wondered what they were on about (Let’s just call it the MQ). 

Was it just some analytical mumbo-jumbo, or does it mean something to those of us who might still be in operational roles, today? When I met Gartner’s Jarod Greene at Knowledge12, he seemed like a nice enough guy, so I thought I’d throw a few questions his way for enlightenment.

Can you tell us about your role as Research Analyst at Gartner—what that involves and the career experience that lead you there?

I have been with Gartner for 8 years. I took a rather unconventional path to becoming an Analyst. I came to Gartner in 2004 with the end goal of becoming an Analyst at some point in the future. I started off working in Gartner’s customer support organization as Research Engagement Specialist, which positioned me directly between our customers and our research deliverables. My job was to properly align Gartner clients to the most appropriate analysts based on their needs, which required a deep understanding of the IT Operations Management market.

I used the tools at my disposal to learn the space from the inside out and identify trends. I would dissect client questions, probe vendors for details and reference materials, and listen in on analyst inquiries. I was learning IT operations from the most knowledgeable and influential minds in the industry. I made my analyst aspirations known to the analysts I supported who became my mentors with no hesitation. Specifically David Coyle and the late Kris Brittain served as my official mentors, but anytime I had a question I had places to go to get answers. For 3 years I played a de-facto duty analyst role, writing research and taking basic inquiries and continuing to working closely with our IT operations management analysts. I joined the team officially as a Research Analyst in February of 2011. It’s been quite the ride ever since!

I worked in operations for close to 15 years, and so much has changed, but so much has stayed the same. How have you seen the IT Ops sector change over the years?

In my 6 years of observing this space, I’ve found that we are still facing the same challenges associated with doing more with less and meeting the needs of the business at a competitive price. The difference is that it has been difficult for IT organizations to keep pace with the rate and pace of technology change they acquire to gain efficiencies.

These tools often introduce their own set of challenges, which compounds the issue! For example, when I began supporting IT Operations management, CMDB was the hottest topic on the planet. Organizations literally could not spell it CMDB right, but knew an IT service view CMDB would be their salvation and cure all organizational ails.  Well, here we stand and we still don’t see as many in production as expected, and it still remains one of the most daunting challenges in IT. I see the same cycle with IT Service Catalog today – great value proposition (and ITIL says you need one), but it introduces challenges and requires a maturity level and resources that the vast majority of organizations do not have.

I’ve asked you to take part in this interview, so I could find out more about the Magic Quadrant. What is the MQ and how does it apply to people working in the IT Operations sector?

Ah, the million dollar question! Essentially the end user organizations looking at a Magic Quadrant should understand that is a visual snapshot of a market’s direction, maturity, and participants. It is designed to help organizations choose a product or service, but only if that organization properly understands the methodology.

The biggest misconception of an MQ is that it should be used as a vendor selection tool. That is not the case. It should help an organization analyze a market and help to focus their search on important criteria. MQ’s do not provide the details needed during the vendor selection process to align YOUR requirements to a vendor. This leaves the onus on the organization to make best vendor selection based on their specific set of requirements. Often making a vendor selection based on MQ positioning can be disastrous, as I’ve seen many times over the years.

What’s involved from the analyst perspective in putting the document together, and what input did you have, personally?

Jeff Brooks and I first have to identify a distinct and viable market.  2 years ago, Gartner retired the IT Service Desk MQ for a variety of reasons. Most significantly was the fact that the IT service desk market was very mature and well established, with low barriers to entry and little consolidation. MQ’s are for the middle phases of a market life cycle, so as a market begins declining, an MQ is no longer an appropriate methodology. Furthermore, the concept of purchasing a standalone IT service desk tool for ticking and reporting was all but gone.

IT service desk tool requirements (for organizations of all sizes) include modules that were pieces of a much larger IT service support strategy consisting of change, release, service request, and service level management, along with data center management components such as asset management, CMDB, and service Catalog. The personal input I have is in recognizing these changing dynamics and “creating” the market I’m set to analyze. The goal is to put forth an analysis that provides insights to help clients with planning and evaluating tools that fit common requirements.

From what I’ve heard, it’s a fairly rigorous exercise for the vendors aiming for inclusion in the document. What does Gartner look for from a vendor for consideration?

The biggest challenge with the document is setting the inclusion criteria. It is just not possible to include every vendor in the market, so you must focus your analysis on vendors we consider to be the most important best suited to our clients’ needs. When you set the inclusion criteria, you define what it takes to me considered for this market. It does not imply that a vendor is not viable or competitive; it just means a vendor may have a slightly different strategy or functional match, or it addressed a different target market. As Jeff and I research the market through various activities (client inquiries, vendor briefings, vendor provided-references, public sources, industry contacts, etc) we develop and understanding of vendors we believe meet the inclusion criteria, but also reach out through the community to see if we have missed someone.

This is where vendor briefings can be important – Gartner cannot get you on their radar if they don’t know you exist. Every vendor usually wants to be considered, but the criterion determines whether or not they will be evaluated. ITSSM annual license revenue for example may exclude a vendor from evaluation if they do not meet the pre-defined threshold. In some cases, being on a MQ can be a bad thing for a vendor if they do not have the resources to execute on increased demand.  There are cases where vendors have been on MQ’s one year, and insolvent shortly thereafter.

The MQ is a bit of a hot-button topic out there in the community of ITSM vendors and consultants, and it seems to becoming an almost lofty goal for those vendors serving the small to medium enterprises (SMEs). In my view, every vendor (of ANY software solution) should be aiming for a consistent ability to execute and a completeness of vision, anyway, but is it really how a recent CIO article explained—are the MQ authors limited to highlighting those vendors who focus on large enterprises?

I loved Richard’s article– very timely! As he pointed out, the majority of Gartner clients are enterprise organizations. 76% of the Global 500 support their decisions with Gartner advice, and we have over 12,000 customers worldwide, the majority of which are larger organizations. Speaking only to ITSM toolsets, larger organizations typically have a much more robust set of requirements than SMB clients.

An organization that needs to manage multiple service levels in multiple geographies in multiple languages may narrow their focus to vendors who can demonstrate this scalability consistently. For an SMB customer who has simpler requirements, it may not make sense to choose the vendor who demonstrates scalability that is not 100% pertinent to their needs. I also think every vendor, regardless of whether or not they are in an MQ should strive to execute on their vision of the market. They should also understand that Gartner will question a vendor’s execution capabilities and may not agree with that vendor’s vision of the market, and that’s fine, because ultimately the IT organization has to make the decision on which tool is most appropriate, given their requirements, not Gartner’s. If your requirements are fairly common, then it may make your evaluation process easier. However it’s not a given that choosing a tool in the leader quadrant means your organization improves processes and services automatically.

I was too far down the food chain to be involved in any tool selection process, but I can tell you, in the last operational role I had (at a small financial institution) the data centre manager googled helpdesk software and chose the local product. What practical advice can you give IT managers about to embark on the tool selection process?

I’m not 100% against that approach!! The standalone IT service desk tools I mentioned before are commodities- you can get ticketing and reporting from just about anyone. The web can be a great start to your market analysis, but at some point you will need to rely on the guidance of a trusted advisor. My market analysis is based on over one thousands of end user inquiries per year. I validate vendor claims against customer references and I review a vendor’s ability to document and commit to development roadmaps. I have no agenda or any bias towards any one particular vendor. I can be one of your trusted advisors!

I can help you navigate this market, but I’m not naive enough to believe you cannot gain value in peer communities, particularly with users who live and breathe these tools on a day to day basis. There is a lot of good information out there, but I think it’s important to always understand who exactly is providing this information, what is their agenda for providing information, and what can you validate their information against.In terms of advice for IT managers set to embark on a tool selection process, I say purchase with your stomach, and not your eyes.

We find that organizations replace ITSM toolsets every 5 years, a trend our friend Karen Ferris calls “IT groundhog day” (I love that btw). That’s crazy when you think about it. There is a lot of conspicuous consumption in ITSM – meaning they think they are what they buy. IT managers buy what they think the mature shops use, as if the tool was the only thing that enabled them to be mature. The purchase of an IT service desk or ITSSM tool suite is often the first step in an organization gaining visibility and managing their infrastructure environment, and organizations believe that within a reasonable timeframe they will gain the process maturity necessary to implement industry best practices, mature and integrate processes, and integrate other systems management tools.  This does not happen automatically. There is a considerable amount of effort required to mature across people, process, business management, and technology dimensions, and often that work is discounted.

No tool, in itself, will make you a mature shop – so first develop an IT roadmap to maturity and align your tool purchase accordingly. If you are a reactive, fire fighting organization with ad hoc processes and low customer confidence, start with point, basic IT service desk ticketing tools that come at a relatively low cost and do not require professional services.  If you are on the path to higher levels of maturity, consider the ITSSM tools across both licensing models so that you have the capabilities you need when you are ready to use them. If you already are a mature shop, it’s very unlikely you are looking to replace your IT service desk tool, but consider tools that allow you to stay the course of continual service improvement and easily integrate with other systems management tools.

The next IT Service Support Management (ITSSM) Magic quadrant is coming next quarter, can you tell us if the formula may have changed from previous MQs and, without giving away any spoilers, if there are any new entries or surprises?

We are in the final stretch and I’m confident we will be done soon. The formula has changed considerably- keep in mind this is a new market, so it’s a new MQ. The players haven’t changed, but the game has. Yes, IT service desk (incident, problem, change, self service, knowledge, and reporting) is a component of the offering evaluated, but new to our analysis are release governance and SLA management (with regard to incident and service request management). We also wanted all vendors to offer qualifying products licensed in BOTH the perpetual and software as a service licensing models. This is becoming a requirement for customers who want the short term benefits of SaaS and the long term benefits of an on premise solution. Lastly, we wanted next generation support capabilities that offered usage of the product for mobile devices, social and collaboration capabilities, richer information analytics, and the ability to visually map an IT service view to support the incident, problem, and change management processes (so not quite CMDB, but providing similar visualization benefits).

We believe these are critical capabilities to meet the demands of the modern workforce. I don’t know how to describe the MQ without giving any spoilers away! There are some vendors who you did not see on the IT Service Desk MQ, but again, this is a new analysis. As per usual, where the dots are will be fiercely debated, but it may be more interesting to note where you don’t see dots.

Thanks, Jarod, for taking the time to answer the hefty questions. I look forward to some lively debate when the new analysis is released.

This interview has been contributed by Aprill Allen of Knowledgebird.