ITSM Tools Overview
Key Features of ITSM Tools
IT ticketing is the most basic functionality of an ITSM solution. It is a tool that allows all employee issues and requests to be logged and tracked as incidents, problems and/or changes. More advanced ticketing systems enable IT staff to configure automated workflows that can be used to route and escalate tickets as well as help IT staff remain compliant with an organization’s agreed upon Service Level Agreements (SLAs).
Problem management and incident management:
While the two terms are commonly used interchangeably, the two are actually quite different. Incident Management is related to the initial triage of highly repetitive requests and/or issues, which are generally impacting a small number of employees (say 1-3). If an incident cannot be remediated quickly by level 1 support staff, it is typically escalated to a level 2. In contrast, Problem Management involves more complex requests and/or issues involving a large number of employees (i.e., an email server going down or an employee requesting rights to access sensitive data).
Problem Management requires a much deeper level of root cause analysis than what takes place in incident management. As a result, Problem Management is typically handled by more senior level IT staff and involves longer resolution times. ITSM solutions that enable both incident and problem management will have built-in IT Asset Management capabilities that allow IT staff to easily view the location and status of their hardware and software resources and associated them with incident, problem and change records.
IT Asset Management
IT Asset management is software that’s used to track the location and current state of an organization’s IT hardware and software resources. Typically, these solutions include, or integrate with asset discovery software.
The information stored in Asset Management software is commonly used in IT organizations to:
- Efficiently manage and secure devices
- Schedule system upgrades
- Reclaim/reallocate software licenses
- Properly utilize manufacturer warranties
- Ensure systems are properly disposed
- Protect against data lost/compromise (i.e., in cases where employees have lost or stolen equipment)
- Efficiently patch and update systems
- Enable IT managers to make more informed budgeting and purchasing decisions.
License management refers to solutions that help organizations verify that are, and will remain, in compliance with a software vendors usage/entitlement rights. Often referred to as Software Asset Management (SAM), these solutions typically include, or integrate with, asset discovery software. SAM software is often used to ensure that employees are installing and using software accordance with the vendors policies. It’s also used to identify and reduce shelf-ware. As licensing rules and entitlements become increasingly complex, particularly with large scale enterprise software systems like SAP, Oracle, AutCAD, etc., SAM is critical for mitigating the risk of failing costly software licensing audits. SAM software also helps enterprises cut costs by ensuring software licenses fully optimized. SAM tools are also applied for software assets in the public cloud as SaaS delivery models add layers of complexity around licensing rules, pricing and entitlements.
Today there are many ITSM frameworks that provide guidance to IT organizations on establishing ITSM best practices and process workflows. Examples of such these include ITIL, COBIT and VeriSM etc. Additionally, many service desk software solutions have designed their software to support these frameworks. They include features and functions that directly align with a specific framework(s). For instance, advanced service desk tools will automatically open and close a ticket as well as update the IT Asset Management database whenever an employee provisions an asset for the service catalog. Many of the leading IT service desk software vendors, like ServiceNow, Cherwell and BMC, promote precisely how many ITIL service concepts and processes they support.
How is technology impacting ITSM?
The IT service desk has long been the entry point for employees to get access to the tools, the technology services and the support they need to do their jobs. More and more, employees today want convenient, personalized access to resources like they receive in their personal lives to be matched wherever and whenever they work. And as cloud computing and increased mobility transform where and how we work, employees want a different level of service from their IT departments. They want service 24/7, regardless of location, personalized to their needs. In short, employees want more out of ITSM. And, as a result, ITSM is more critical to employee success and the business’ growth trajectory than ever before.
It’s this move towards digital transformation and workplace mobility that has presented a distinct challenge for the IT service model we know today. IT service desks now must keep pace with rising employee expectations on service delivery and availability. These expectations have been bolstered by the consumer technology employees use outside of work that consistently delivers superior service experiences within the consumer electronics, personal banking, on-demand transportation services, and more.
And workforce transformation trends show no signs of slowing. In fact, a study by Strategy Analytics found that the mobile workforce is on track to make up 42.5 percent of the global workforce by 2022, up from 38.8 percent in 2016.
Savvy IT leaders know that selecting the right IT service management solution — one that can support today’s dynamic IT landscape and mobile workforce is more important than ever. But what are the top ITSM tools available today?
Below, we’ve put together a top ITSM tools list based on capabilities related to enterprise service management, scalability and mobility.
Breaking down the top ITSM Tools
To address the IT service management needs of organizations of varying sizes, BMC offers service desk software through its BMC Remedy offerings (on-Premise and OnDemand) for the enterprise and through its Remedyforce and FootPrints offerings for the midmarket.
Remedy is the company’s flagship IT service management solution. Remedy is built on a single code base that can be delivered as a SaaS, an on-premises, or a hybrid solution. BMC Remedy has integrations to BMC TrueSight, Discovery, Atrium Orchestrator, and Control-M, allowing customers to evolve their IT service management practice to reference network and application availability and performance monitoring, as well as configuration management and workload process automation.
BMC Digital Workplace
BMC also offers Digital Workplace (formerly MyIT), an offering aimed at providing a modernized platform for IT organizations to deliver services to their customers using social technologies and mobile devices.
BMC Smart IT
In addition, Remedy includes persona-based Smart IT, an user experience layer designed for IT administrators. BMC Smart IT supports a wide range of personas including authors writing knowledge base articles, change coordinators/managers, service desk managers, level 1 service desk agents, field support technicians, and release managers etc.
BMC Digital Workplace
BMC’s Digital Workplace catalog product offers advanced out-of-the-box integrations with BMC Cloud Lifecycle Management. These integrations enable IT organizations to deploy a master self-service catalog to aggregate, manage, and deliver services from multiple sources, helping improve business user productivity while reducing service desk requests.
BMC Innovation Suite
BMC’s Innovation Suite allows customers to create custom applications with complex workflows using a combination of modern app architecture, coding languages, and intuitive drag-and-drop design tools. The company also offers out-of-the-box HR case management and security operations, allowing customers to leverage the solution outside of IT and into the lines of business.
Cherwell has an ITSM solution that offers a number of product modules such as service catalog, knowledge management, self-service portal.
Cherwell Service Management
CSM, Cherwell’s ITSM solution, is a service desk that, in addition to a service catalog, incident management, knowledgement, and self-service portal, also offers IT and business intelligence reports and dashboards across a wide variety of device types to include native iOS and Android applications.
Cherwell Asset Management
Cherwell also aims to break down traditional silos between IT service management and IT operations teams. In 2016, Cherwell established a partnership FireScope, a company that does cloud-based enterprise monitoring, enabling Cherwell to expanded its Asset Management offering (CAM) with advanced discovery and dependency mapping capabilities.
When integrated with CSM, the CAM and FireScope technologies enable IT organizations to automatically discover, populate, and update the CSM configuration management database. IT departments also have the ability to map business-critical service dependencies and monitor their associated services.
Cherwell Orchestration Pack for Microsoft Azure
Additionally, Cherwell’s Orchestration Pack for Microsoft Azure on the Cherwell mApp Exchange enables customers to better manage Azure workloads and VMs. For example, Cherwell Service Management Orchestration Pack for Azure allows IT staff to automate and streamline the service request, provisioning, and change processes for virtual machines running in Azure.
What’s more, Cherwell’s custom apps “mergeable applications” or mApps allow customers to design, build, and implement customized line-of-business applications in a codeless environment for departments such as HR and Facilities.
ServiceNow offers a single cloud-based service automation platform that enables customers to use a single data model to share information and workflow processes across all of its service and support focused applications.
ServiceNow offers several standalone applications that support enterprise service management use cases, such as IT operations, HR service delivery, facilities, security, and Customer Service Management (CSM). These use cases help to alleviate the high productivity costs of ad hoc, manual business processes such as employee onboarding, phone ordering, and project management. In addition, customers can also leverage the ServiceNow Development platform to rapidly build, test, deploy and sell applications via their own custom apps. Within IT, the company offers products for IT Business Management, IT Operations Management and IT Service Management. This post focuses specifically on the ITSM ServiceNow tool.
The ServiceNow ITSM platform supports a broad range of ITIL-compliant functions including discovery, CMDB population, incident management, change management, problem management, release management, and more.
Likewise, ServiceNow offers out-of-the-box integrations between its IT service management and IT operations management modules. This allows users to leverage unified workflow and discovery automations as well as system configuration and cloud provisioning functions. In addition, the solution allows customers to use drag-and-drop functionalities to configure their own workflows as needed.
Expectations meet reality
Over the past 5 years, huge advancements in ITSM user interface design and self-service capabilities have fostered wider adoption and utilization of ITSM solutions and best practices. However, most IT organizations still struggle to effectively manage the implementation, promotion and management of employee self-service. As a result, self-service adoption is tending much lower than expected.
For instance, a recent survey from Happy Signals found that employees rated self-service portal with the lowest score of all service and support channels and the channel that contributed the most to lost productivity. Employees reported that calling the help desk was nearly an hour faster than self-service.
For many IT service departments, this dynamic, coupled with the business’ growing reliance on technology is causing a rise in ticket volumes for which they cannot efficiently and effectively support. As a result, ticket response times increase, IT staff’s precision and performance declines, and employee satisfaction scores suffer.
Why the stall in self-service adoption at a time when employees want speed?
Even in the most advanced ITSM solutions, employee self-service portals, are built using static service catalogs that make employees search through a long list of technologies to find what they’re looking for. And when they finally find it, they’re often provided with a link to a form or instructed to call the service desk to submit requests. So while they can self-serve, the experience is lackluster.
What employees really want is a personalized service experience aligned to their job function, location and role. It’s the lack of personalization and automation, coupled with service portal complexity that frustrates users and ultimately drives them back to traditional support channels like voice and email.
To live up to the promise of making employees more productive, self-service needs to more closely emulate human-to-human customer service interactions.
Filling the gap with AI-driven automation:
Today more and more people are using virtual assistants in their daily lives to perform simple tasks such as scheduling appointments, making purchases and paying bills online from anywhere, any time.
Similarly, the rise of consumer-based AI and ML applications are fueling conversations within the ITSM community about how to benefits from these technologies to deliver business value.
And that’s where AI-driven automation comes in! What is AI-driven automation?
IT organizations have amassed a significant amount of operational data within their ITSM tools. By using an AI system that learns from it, IT can tap into its large sets of structured data (i.e. knowledge base articles) and unstructured data (i.e. incident record transcripts) to train an AI system to drive advanced automations that enhance IT service and support productivity. This is what is referred to as “AI-driven automation”.
AI-driven automation wraps a layer of intelligence around ITSM solutions and other systems of record. It unifies virtual agent, automated incident routing and categorization, and predictive analytics technologies to enable employee support organizations, like IT and HR, to deliver personalized and reliable support 24×7, regardless of employee location.
Not all Al automation is created equal:
What are the key capabilities to look for in a AI-driven automation platform? Is it enterprise chatbots? Auto-routing tickets? Automated knowledge sharing? Predictive insights?
To address the entire IT service delivery lifecycle not one, but all of these capabilities are needed.
The most effective enterprise chatbots (typically referred to as virtual agents within ITSM) need to be able to access information and workflows within multiple sources/systems of record like ServiceNow, BMC and Cherwell, allowing employees to submit incidents, make requests for goods and services and/or receive answers to common questions in real-time.
To be considered enterprise-grade, virtual agents need to be able to accurately route incidents to human agents based on criteria like incident category and staff availability. And when incidents are escalated to live agents, they should provide relevant information such as related user requests, incident records, change records and knowledge articles. This helps support agents comply with SLAs and improve operational metrics, such as MTTR.
Automated incident routing
Automated incident routing uses machine learning algorithms to ensure tickets are routed to the right agents, at the right time with the right priority level. This mitigates the need for level 1 staff to manually route and triage cases.
Furthermore, by automatically correlating and embedding relevant information (such as knowledge articles from ServiceNow, BMC and Cherwell) directly into the incident record, support agents can fulfill employee requests faster and more accurately. More importantly, employees have less downtime.
With predictive analytics, support organizations have valuable insights at their fingertips. Information related to when, where and how employees are consuming corporate services allows service owners and managers to more effectively measure the health and utilization of their services. In turn, support departments can fine tune how the AI system makes its predictions and recommendations as well as optimize processes and workflows to improve employee experiences; ensuring all employees have access to the right information and services via the right channel at the right time.
Most importantly, AI-driven automation enables employee support staff to focus on higher value tasks, enhancing their ability to drive real business value.
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