Commentary - When working with enterprises on IT Service Management (ITSM) implementations or program improvements, we often hear about frequent mistakes organizations make with their selection and use of ITSM-enabling technology. Despite making a significant investment in ITSM tools, organizations often find they are not able to achieve the ROI they anticipated due to performance deficiencies that include:
- Old technology – Organizations want to leverage past investments, but older versions of tools often cannot meet the demands of newer, more robust process needs.
- Patchwork syndrome – Incremental investments in tools without a broader, long-term vision results in disparate tools, often heavily customized and configured. These tools become expensive to support, overly-complex and are often maintained within silos of an organization.
- Lack of integration – Tools are often acquired for specialized purposes and are not integrated properly, resulting in ITSM impairment.
- Too many choices – The market is ripe with tool choices, making the purchase process more complicated - causing confusion.
In light of these deficiencies, any organization looking to implement ITSM practices should take the time to:
1. Understand the organization’s needs. Be clear about the desired outcome; agree with the customer about what is important to them, document requirements and the approach you will take.
2. Focus on process development. To ensure success, dedicate time to process development and cultural adoption. Refine these to best fit specific circumstances.
For years, experts have agreed that tools should not drive people and processes, but they should complement and automate already well-embedded and efficient processes and practices. If an ITSM solution does not support an organization’s workflow, it won’t work.
However, most organizations approach ITSM in stages and the tools they select to automate processes become a patchwork of applications that over time have been tweaked and often heavily customized. This results in ITSM tools that are expensive to support and maintain. While all this tweaking seems logical at the time, it can end up costing far more than planned. Organizations are learning that a more strategic, long-term view about service management can significantly lower costs for ITSM and offer greater overall ROI.
How can you get started down the path of ITSM success? Below are 10 tips to consider…
- Understand your requirements: Separate the “wants from the needs.” Define what will truly generate value for your company.
- Think of tools as strategic partners: Thinking of tools within the context of “applications that execute functionality” is a mistake. ITSM tools offer far more than process automation and workflow execution. They can collect information, analyze and present it in a variety of ways that go beyond storing and reporting data. Many of today’s tools have business intelligence built in and can analyze data, project outcomes and create hypothetical answers to “what if” questions.
- View ITSM as a relationship not a line item: Most ITSM tool acquisitions are one of the higher IT-related expenditures for an organization. The tool, however, is only the beginning. Enterprises are also entering into a long-term relationship with the vendor. Be certain the vendor is a good fit for the organization.
- Evaluate ease of migration and integration: You will likely have existing data and tools that will need to be integrated into the new system. Make this a serious part of the decision criteria. Organizations that have locked themselves into customized solutions often underestimate what it will take to migrate information and integrate tools.
- Validate through certification: Review ITSM certifications and ratings to determine if a product is meeting compliance standards or adhering to ITSM best practices.
- Ensure workflow integration: The synergy of integrated process automation within ITSM tools should be strong criteria for tool selection.
- Adhere to legislation requirements: Legislative mandates on information and the tools that manage such data need to be considered when evaluating an ITSM solution.
- Assess delivery models: Companies are able to choose from a SaaS-based or on-premise ITSM deployment. Each has special considerations for your business. Take the time to determine what makes the most sense.
- Beware of common traps: Do not fall victim to false statements such as: “Greater product sophistication means a better ROI” or “There is no such thing as out-of-the box.” These statements are no more than marketing ploys to get you to deploy complicated and expensive systems that lock you in – and ultimately fall short on meeting long-term goals for growth, scalability, functionality and maturity.
- Find the right solution - generate a strong ROI: ITSM tools can provide an increase in ROI and positively affect cost of ownership. Not only can the right ITSM tool pay for itself in less than a year or two, it can drive down costs in other areas of your organization through cost and risk avoidance in administration, operational overhead, training and just about every other cost center of the IT budget.
The single most important thing to remember when selecting a tool or deciding to improve upon choices already made: take your time. Do not rush into a decision. Once the choice is made, if not well thought out, it will haunt you long after the pressure of buying decisions are complete.
Do not underestimate the power of an ITSM solution, looking well beyond today’s needs to ensure you are not short-changing innovation opportunities for tomorrow. Find the right vendor. Trust their experience and advice. Allow the vendor to become a true partner. The result? ITSM innovation that will forever transform the way your company manages IT services.
Markos Symeonides is executive vice president of Axios Systems, a leader in IT Service Management (ITSM) software and services and a pioneer in automated ITIL. Symeonides is responsible for North American operations including partnering with customers to achieve optimum business benefit through best practice ITSM deployment. Follow him on Twitter: @ma4kos, @Axios_Systems.