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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Coming Soon: The Battle of Change, Configuration and Release

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Let the battle begin!

We’re excited to be kicking off our research briefings next week for our competitive analysis on Change, Configuration and Release. Scheduled for publication in May, vendors confirmed to participate so far include:

The research will highlight competitive differentiators; feature key strengths (and weaknesses too of course); and showcase innovation within each product. Once reviewed, we will crown one Vendor “Best in Class” and the “leader” in Change, Configuration and Release.

Our research is based solely on responses to an in-depth questionnaire as well as a series of briefings, but we are always interested in hearing the end-user perspective.

Do you have experience with any of the participating Vendors? Do you have any views on their capabilities when it comes to Change, Configuration and Release? Are there any Vendors that you think are successful in this area who are not currently scheduled to participate in this review?

The review will be conducted by Rebecca Beach. For more information on the assessment view the Group Test criteria here. Vendors can still sign up to be involved up until Friday 31st January.

Subscribe to the ITSM Review newsletter or follow us on Twitter to receive a notification when the research is published.

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Review: Cherwell for Integrations

This independent review is part of our Integrations 2013 Group Test.

Executive Summary

Elevator Pitch A key understanding of what is required and the ability to provide innovation across the whole organisation – Cherwell show they understand what organisations need and are ready to supply connectors to a wide variety of additional sources of information. A comprehensive solution throughout.
Strengths
  •  Based on their experience – Cherwell cover pretty much everything required in typical deployments – the 80/20 rule – which gets clients running very rapidly but also ticks all the boxes in terms of what is offered versus what is generally required,
  • Recognise areas to offer clients in terms of integration points using elements such as Twitter and RSS.
  • Provide web services inbound bound and a very comprehensive range of connectors to external sources
Weaknesses
  • Perhaps missing a trick now in terms of integrating with task management and resource management tools (such as linking with Outlook calendars and tasks for technicians).
Primary Market Focus Based on the information provided, Cherwell are typically active in the mid-market but are scalable to Enterprise customersThey are classified for this review as:Specialised Service Management Suite – Offering ITIL processes and proprietary discovery tooling and Data Integration Points

Commercial Summary

Vendor Cherwell
Product Cherwell Service Management®
Version reviewed Version 4.6
Date of version release July 2013
Year founded 2003
Customers 550+
Pricing Structure Saas, Subscription, Perpetual options
Competitive Differentiators
  1. Service automation and innovation through actionable features – a nice touch in particular is being able to create a new incident from an incoming Twitter feed, and exploring using RSS feeds for travelling technicians.
  2. Mobile applications (iPad/iPhone) for IT users utilising location services but also recognise that this has a business use as well – allowing service business managers to visit locations making the integration more of a proactive tool
  3. Continued ease of use, through effective development of wizards to handle all the integrations.

Independent Review

logo_cherwell-softwareCherwell recognise that all points of integration can be applied to any part of the ITSM suite, and that organisations are going to have tools in place and so focus on making the inevitable need to pull in data from external sources as easy as possible.

Integration points are all guided by wizards – even at the start of the pre-deployment, which is in keeping with their fundamental principle that everything should be codeless – so the UI hides the administrator from the backend XML magic that goes on behind the scenes.

Within their admin panel – the customer is created as a business object – which creates a core table in their database and allows the flexible wizard driven interfaces to map across to whatever is required.

There is a lot that can be done with their One-Step macros, that allow simple customisation for repeatable task – a clued-up admin can make light work of many of the pre-deployment and scheduled updates using these customisable objects.

They have utilised some nice new innovative touches to lend itself not only to ITSM staff (travelling technicians being able to use either mobile devices or RSS feeds to pull information depending on their location), but also to continue to build on what IT can offer other business areas – that same technology can be applied to business managers travelling from location to location.

Perhaps an area could still benefit from attention – more and more vendors recognise the value of linking with resource or task-management tools, as tools start to connect with Outlook calendars and put intelligence around task management and more importantly task distribution.

Cherwell very much hold by an 80/20 philosophy in what they offer – and that still provides one of the most comprehensive ITSM and business process suites on the market.

Integration and specific recognised criteria

Cherwell offer the following points of integration with no additional coding required (everything is driven by wizards):

OLE DB

Connect to External Databases – commonly used to pull data from SCCM, LANDesk, SNOW, Lansweeper, CRM data.

Active Directory (and other Directory Services)

Used for Authentication and Data Population (e.g. Customer Contacts)

SAML

SAML (Security Assertion Markup Language) is an XML-based open standard for exchanging authentication and authorization data between Identity Providers and Service Providers to support Single-Sign-On (SSO) capability

Email (POP/SMTP, IMAP, Exchange (EWS))

Used for inbound and outbound electronic communications

Bomgar

Secure Remote Control and Chat

Twitter

Monitor Feeds and Send Tweets

RSS

Monitor Feeds and RSS Query for Cherwell

Web Service

Consume external (WSDL and REST) Web Services via our codeless one-step functionality

File System

Write File and Read File functionality from our codeless one-step functionality

Run program

Run any external program from our codeless one-step functionality – call any program or Powershell script parsing parameters from Cherwell

Cherwell Windows API

Any .Net developer can utilize the Cherwell Windows API to call Cherwell functions and features

Cherwell Web Service

Any .Net developer can utilize the Cherwell Web Services API to call a subset of Cherwell functions and features

Security Controls

Cherwell use the security controls which are governed by the specific type of integration.

Pre-Deployment Integration

Typically Cherwell will look to use Active Directory for contact information to import with all subsequent updates as a scheduled activity.

Asset and Configuration Information

Cherwell has its own Discovery and Inventory to capture data on network devices, printers, windows PCs and devices and Apple MAC workstations, utilising it’s scheduled and automated processes.

Again Cherwell use wizards to handle migrating the collected data into the CMDB including mapping the fields, frequency of updates and so on.

Cherwell also recognise that third party ITAM tools (SCCM, LANDesk, Centennial, SNOW, etc.) are often in place in organisations – they recommend using an External OLE DB Connection method to map, import and schedule updates from external database tables and views into Cherwell.

After the CMDB is populated with information, then a configuration manager can manipulate and maintain the non-auto-discovered aspects of the data and the relationships. That then is used across all the other ITSM processes (e.g. incident, problem, change, etc.)

Support Services Integration

  • Remote Control

Cherwell partners with Bomgar and can use their Chat function in any ITSM and/or business process that has been built into the CSM platform. This allows them the flexibility of linking what would be considered as service management tooling into parts of the business that may not necessarily use the same interfaces (for example HR portals).

  • Social Media

Twitter, Email and RSS are all possible communications methods that can also be incorporated into any of the processes (Business or ITSM processes). The platform used then depends on the kind of process – Major Incident communications might use Twitter and RSS, regular Incident may suffice with email. Cherwell can offer the flexibility depending on an organisation’s requirements.

Additional Areas of Integration

  • Cherwell offer the flexibility to build out business processes (for example to Finance or HR) to help join one part of the business to another. When the industry is constantly looking at ways to show how IT can help the business – this is a useful area of development.
  • Event management – the tendency is for it to be centred around email integration – alerts come in and get converted into an event record from that point.

Cherwell Customers

From the Cherwell Brochure

  • Fully integrated, comprehensive view of the relationships between Incidents, Problems, Changes and other processes and resources.
  • Intuitive wizards and drag-and-drop functionality that allows you to quickly and easily modify processes to match your specific business needs
  • Service management teams move from managing activities to delivering solutions.

In Their Own Words:

Positioned on the 2013 Gartner®  Magic Quadrant for ITSSM tools and recognised by Forrester Research as one of the top three enterprise SaaS ITSM tools worldwide, Cherwell Software is one of the fastest growing IT service management software providers. It has corporate headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colo., U.S.A.; EMEA headquarters in Wootton Bassett, U.K.; and a global network of expert partners. Cherwell Software is passionate about customer care and is dedicated to creating “innovative technology built upon yesterday values.”

Its flagship product is Cherwell Service ManagementTM, a fully-integrated service management software solution for IT and technical support professionals with out-of-the-box PinkVERIFY accredited ITIL processes. Its wizard-driven customisation allows customers to tailor the tool to match their processes without writing any code. Cherwell Service Management offers unmatched flexibility in hosting and concurrent licensing for low total-cost-of-ownership.

Please visit www.cherwell.com for more information about Cherwell Software.

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Further Information

This independent review is part of our Integrations 2013 Group Test.

Day 2 Review: itSMF UK Conference

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Following on from my review of Day 1 of the itSMF UK Conference and Exhibition, it’s time to take a look at what happened on Day 2.

As the second day started I couldn’t help but look around slightly relieved that I wasn’t feeling as bad as the majority of the other conference goers looked. By all accounts the wine on the table had been completely obliterated and some people (mentioning no names) didn’t even managed to make it down for breakfast!

Talking of breakfast the fare at the Hyatt Regency was a decent spread and didn’t taste too much like it had been standing for hours.  My experience of the waiting staff was that they were efficient and courteous, something you’d think would be a given but it never ceases to amaze me how hotels can charge such an extortionate amount for breakfast and then get it so very wrong.

In the Exhibition Hall more revellers surfaced and headed straight for the coffee in an attempt to freshen up somewhat before another full day of sessions. Anyway, less talk of breakfast and hangovers and more talk about the actual conference content…

Service Integration and Management (SIAM) – ITSM’s New Discipline by Kevin Holland, IT Service Management Consultant Specialist 

My first session of the day was Kevin Holland’s Practical Tips for Effective Service Integration.

After threatening all the hungover attendees to stay awake or he’d do another Harmonica solo Kevin warned that System Integration is not Service Integration and that there is no need for an expensive supplier…you can do it yourself!

10 Steps to Problem Management – A Real Life Journey by Amanda Kirby, Virgin Media

It took me a little while to concentrate on Amanda’s session as I was mesmerized by her fantastic shiny red shoes! Getting Problem Management right is one of those elusive things that is so important and yet difficult to put into practice so I was interested to see Virgin’s experiences.

Amanda ran a visual exercise to show how difficult it can be keeping all the balls in the air…literally!

She also shared Virgins mantra “Screw it…let’s do it!” which appealed to the part of me that gets frustrated with the bureaucratic nonsense we’ve all experienced.

Amanda’s bubbly enthusiasm was totally infectious and by the end of it I was ready to go back and tackle implementing Problem Management…you know… if we needed such a thing at The ITSM Review.

Impromptu SM Congress Talk – Patrick Bolger, Barclay Rae, Paul Wilkinson and Mark Smalley

Over the course of the conference I had heard a few people commenting on how there wasn’t a lot of mention of SM Congress and so I was pleased to find that an impromptu talk by a few of the members who attended the original sessions at Fusion were going to answer some of the questions that had been raised since.

The session was particularly useful to those who were hesitant about SM Congress, as it helped clear the air and display the facts about the initiative.

For those of you that have been on the moon for the last couple of weeks and missed all the SM Congress talk you can find out more about it here.  I also recommend taking a look at #SMCongress on Twitter for general discussions about the initiative.  If you have great ideas to help shape the IT community and the future of ITSM then please consider getting involved.

DevOps – Shattering the Barriers by Kaimar Karu, itSMF Estonia

My final session of the day was a relatively new subject for me.  Kaimar explained the methodology and benefits of DevOps and why Beer is such an important part of forging relationships, although judging by what I saw over the course of the conference any old alcohol will do!

In summary

At the end of day two I was thoroughly shattered but hugely buzzed by everything I’d learnt, and I had list as long as my arm of further reading and cool stuff to investigate.

Despite some of the comments that there was a smaller attendance than in previous years, all of the sessions that I went to were very well attended and all of the staff at ICC I encountered were welcoming and helpful.

Some of the vendors I spoke to were concerned that due to the layout there was less opportunity for delegates to pass through the exhibition area on their way from one session to the next.  However vendors such as Gaming Works that invested significantly in self promotion via social media and other avenues leading up to the conference hardly saw time where their stand wasn’t attended.

We managed to sneak a few photos with some of the exhibitors:

Wherever there is an ITSM event there is Barclay Rae and his ITSM Goodness
Wherever there is an ITSM event there is Barclay Rae and his ITSM Goodness
APMG International exhibited to help raise awareness of their exams
APMG International exhibited to help raise awareness of their exams
Cherwell Software said that it's pivitol for them to exhibiti at the conference because itSMF UK is such a core foundation of the ITSM industry
Cherwell Software said that it’s pivitol for them to exhibit at the conference because itSMF UK is such a core foundation of the ITSM industry
Hornbill Systems attend the event because it gives them great insight into what is really happening within the ITSM industry
Hornbill Systems attend the event because it gives them great insight into what is really happening within the ITSM industry
Focus Group Europe were attending to promote ServiceNow and get updates on the ITSM market
Focus Group Europe were attending to promote ServiceNow and get updates on the ITSM market
3Gamma
3Gamma enjoying the event
Bomgar said that brand recognition at events like itSMF UK is important and is also good for lead generation
Bomgar said that brand recognition at events like itSMF UK is important and is also good for lead generation
HP wanted to reconnect with customers, showcase products and see what their customers are doing in ITSM
HP wanted to reconnect with customers, showcase products and see what their customers are doing in ITSM
Nexthink enjoying the event
Nexthink attended to showcase their unique solution giving Service Desk and Help Desk teams a real-time view of the end-user experiences across the complete enterprise
OpenText attended to increase its visibility and awareness of its acquisition of ICCM
OpenText attended to increase its visibility and awareness of its acquisition of ICCM
TopDesk regards itSMF UK as a high profile event
TopDesk regards itSMF UK as a high profile event
AlfaPeople attended itSMF UK conference to increase brand awareness and showcase Microsoft solutions as 'no one does what we do'.
AlfaPeople attended itSMF UK conference to increase brand awareness and showcase Microsoft solutions as ‘no one does what we do’.

All in all an enormously enjoyable event that I will not hesitate to revisit.

In closing we would just like to take the opportunity to wish Ben Clacy all the very best in his future endeavours.  Thank you Ben for everything you have done for ITSM.

SDI Software Showcase: Here Comes the Sun

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No more cloud… please!

Wednesday 23rd October was SDI’s Service Desk Software Showcase held at ThinkTank Birmingham.

A crash on the M5 motorway and some technical difficulties meant that things kicked off a little later than scheduled, but it gave me a good chance to mingle and find out what other attendees were hoping to take away from the day even if that was just a nice Danish (which didn’t materialise).

Kick off

Ken Goff, Owner at K GOFF M LIMITED kicked off with his usual exuberance reminding everyone that this is ‘serious stuff’ as “you’re not buying a tin of beans” and to make sure you tackle this with a strategic vision. Your criteria should cover what you will need in the future not just what you need now.

He continued to say that it’s not just about finding a Vendor that’s right for you but about you being the right Client for the Vendor, and that on your hunt for the right tool you should be led by capability not money. Lovely sentiment, but as one of the attendees said, what’s the point of finding what you think is the perfect tool just for the man holding the purse, to say no?

Hornbill Systems

The first of the Vendors to present was Abdi Hamisi, Senior Sector Manager at Hornbill Systems who had apparently been dropped in it at the last minute to give a presentation. He drew the comparison between ITSM Tools and F1 cars. I personally know next to nothing about F1 but the point he seemed to be making was that like F1, ITSM Tools are built to the same set of standards but garner very different results. However this was hotly debated on Twitter by Greg Sanker, Field Services Unit Manager at Oregon Department of Transportation.

Abdi showed possible configuration of the tool and talked us through some of the available integrations, not forgetting of course to mention that it’s available on the cloud.

Sunrise Software

Next up was Neil Penny, Product Director and David Bullivant, Business Consultancy Manager from Sunrise Software showcasing their product Sostenuto ITSM. There was all the usual kind of stuff, but David spent some time going through the Wallboards which you can set up to give real time information to the business rather than having to send millions of reports. He also discussed how their tool incorporates Gamification to help with Reward and Recognition. David was clearly very passionate about the product, which frankly was missing from most of the other presentations.

I was taken with the simplistic buttons down the left hand side of the screen rather than the worded menu the majority of the other tools had. In my opinion these types of menus take up a lot of space and when you’re doing the same thing day in day out won’t a simple button/icon do? Generally I felt it just looked so much fresher than the other products, and left the other Vendor offerings looking dated and tired.

Oh and good news people… it’s available in the cloud.

TOPdesk

Luis Soares, Accounts Director from TOPdesk followed confirming that he is not the famous footballer and promising that he wouldn’t bite. I wish he would have as it would have made the experience at least a little entertaining.

One of the few things I took away from the presentation was the ability to book resources such as equipment and rooms from within the tool which seemed sensible. Oh and you guessed it… it’s available in the cloud.

Bomgar Corporation

William Culbert, Senior Solutions Engineer from Bomgar Corporation was up next with a cheesy video (his words not mine) of how Bomgar can help you remotely support your staff in a safe and secure way. I have used this product before in my previous incarnation but still enjoyed the show.

Frontrange

Chris Powell, Senior Pre-Sales Consultant from Frontrange opened with talk of the cloud but I persevered and tried not to hold it against him. The main area of interest to me was the ability for customers to rate KB articles that they have found useful to help you to keep relevant.

Cherwell Software

I unfortunately missed the name of the chap at Cherwell Software (though it wasn’t Tony Probert who was billed) who in a slightly ‘ranty’ (if this isn’t a word then I’m making it one) way stated that you always have to compromise with ITSM tools and that you will never be able to do everything.

He went on further to quote the University of Wolverhampton in their assessment that the tool is ‘Funky’. Presumably this is because of their colour coded screens and Dashboards, which are more like Powerpoint presentations than the usual graph filled spaces. Oh and guess what? It’s available in the cloud.

LANdesk

Andy Parker, Pre-Sales Consultant from LANdesk lambasted attendees for sending through reams of tender documentation when Vendors that are Pink Verified have already answered it. Perhaps this particular tirade should be directed at Procurement though Andy and not the people that don’t usually have any say in it?!

The interesting takeaway from this presentation was the concept of ‘Software Loading’, using the tool as a library to borrow what you need when you need it, keeping licencing requirements to a minimum. Nice idea.

HP

The penultimate Vendor was Eileen O’Mahony (no LinkedIn profile…) from HP and that’s pretty much all I can tell you as I fell asleep (well… almost).  It could be Eileen’s lilting voice that did it, as there were several people making their excuses and sneaking out. Or perhaps it could have been that people were leaving to avoid being taught how to suck eggs?

Autotask

The final Vendor was Aaron Gayle, Business Development Representative from Autotask who I assume had been given two minutes at the eleventh hour to prepare, as he looked somewhat like a rabbit in the headlights trying to sum up the tool quickly with no visual aids. It did however make me want to go and find out more about the tool, whereas the majority of the other presentations had not.

Finishing up

Ken returned to close with the reminder to take the holistic approach and not just concentrate on the tool and to involve everybody in the process.

Having not attended a software showcase before I was thoroughly expecting to be hit with the razzle dazzle and to have to really concentrate on picking up the differences in the tools from the slick and entertaining presentations. In reality the concentrating was mostly to avoid falling asleep and snoring in a room full of people (although judging by the attendees I have spoken to since I certainly wouldn’t have been the only one).  By the time I looked up at the end of the last presentation (I was just resting my eyes) the right hand side of the room had dwindled dramatically.

SDI do a great job putting on this very useful showcase, I just hope next time the Vendors treat it as the opportunity it is and put more effort into. Well done to Sunrise Software in being the only Vendor to keep me interested through almost the whole of their presentation, not much of a feat admittedly but more than the others managed by quite a way.

Oh and one final note… for the love of God people no more cloud talk, it’s pretty much the same as being able to log an Incident now it’s not a USP!

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Knowledge Management 2013 Group Test – The Results

This is a competitive comparison of Knowledge Management technology.

Products reviewed:

  • Cherwell
  • EasyVista
  • ITinvolve [BEST IN CLASS]

Download Review

(Free PDF, No Registration Required – 343kb, 4 Pages)


Knowledge Management 2013 Best in Class

Knowledge Management 2013 Best in Class: ITinvolve
Knowledge Management 2013 Best in Class: ITinvolve
  • ITinvolve – all 3 products are a good option as they meet the basic requirements requested, however this product looks to be an excellent (if brave) choice that works towards an intuitive KM solution. EasyVista and Cherwell have similar in built functionality and are established ITSM players, whilst ITinvolve is a more innovative product, with good customer results and stories so far. Whilst this is the best product option, ITinvolve are still a new and small vendor and will need to develop their client-base to consolidate this result.

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

Good for practical simple and effective use (with existing platforms)

  • EasyVista and Cherwell – both provide excellent standard integrated Knowledge functionality with the existing toolsets. Either product is an excellent option for Knowledge Management, integrated with the other ITSM toolset areas – both are recognized and established ITSM vendors.

Good for an innovative approach using new/social tools

  • ITinvolve – Nice approach and social integration means the barriers to usage can be radically broken down. There may be challenges for organisations taking this approach on, but it looks to be excellent option (and is also integrated with some other ITSM tools).

Knowledge Management Market Observations

KM

  • ‘Knowledge Management’ (in the ITSM context) doesn’t really have a specific product sector. This tends to be an application of one or more product areas to support the process of knowledge creation and knowledge sharing. E.g. a useful ‘Knowledge Management’ solution could easily be SharePoint, or an intranet portal.
  • ITSM value in this area comes from integration with regular ITIL processes like Incident, Problem, Change, SLM and Configuration, plus automation and self-help delivered via customer-friendly portals.
  • Of the 3 products reviewed, EasyVista and Cherwell were seen to be good example of knowledge functionality applied to an existing ITSM toolset – both showed good integration and provide good standard functionality. ITinvolve was clearly built more as a knowledge and social platform and is seen as an innovative product with some new concepts.
  • All 3 products displayed capabilities well in keeping with the stated requirements and would offer good opportunities for development of Knowledge Management (with the caveats as described above).
  • Differentiators were therefore relatively minor in terms of functionality (particularly between EasyVista and Cherwell). The main difference was in the overall (and quite radical) approach from ITinvolve – this was seen as positive and interesting, although involving a more challenging procurement and implementation approach.
  • As with many tools in this area, much of the success is down to the interface and usability, plus how this can remove resistance to use. Tools that are seamless and integrated, plus those which can leverage slick and familiar ways of working and user interface will help to build loyalty and effective usage.
  •  Knowledge Centred Support (KCS) was not seen as a differentiator for any of the vendors reviewed – none saw value in investing in accreditation and this had not been an issue in procurement to date.

Market Positioning and Approach

Vendor Mid-Market Enterprise   Approach
Cherwell

Standard ITSM
EasyVista

Standard ITSM
ITinvolve

Innovative Social

        – Definitely

       – Possibly

 

Comparative Overview

Vendor Overview Strengths Weaknesses
Cherwell
  • Vendor emerging across ITSM market space
  • Knowledge approach seamless with other ITSM areas in product
  • Provides all functionality required for review
  • Good vendor approach
  • knowledge article key element of system
  • Overall looks a good option
  • Meets all functionality required for review
  • ‘Knowledge shipped OOTB and is key element
  • Configuration can be done by non-tech users
  • User portal simple and user-friendly
  • Access to KAs can specified to (field) level security
  • KAs can be associated to services
  • Approval process sets % approvers
  • Approval steps can be defined at multiple levels
  • ‘One Step’ feature to simplify approval process
  • Nice ‘Community Discussion’ board
  • KAs can be raised and applied to any (process) area of the tool

  • Can look overly complex in places
  • IT User interface could be clearer and less complex
  • Can’t map approval workflow process

EasyVista
  • Good functionality meets all stated requirements
  • Seamless integration across the ITSM product set
  • Vendor established global position in mid-market –limited presence in some markets – e.g. UK
  • User Interface user-friendly
  • Some good features around discussion boards, crowdsourcing options and multi-level KAs
  • Overall looks a good option
  • Meets all functionality required for review
  • Pink Verified for Knowledge Management
  • Multi- level deployment in different languages
  • Able to control who uses ‘user rating’ – for KA relevance
  • Can reference 3rd party search engines and rate solution
  • Search engine automatically searches
  • Can create technical and simplified version of same KA, then apply to relevant profile
  • Nice statistics Dashboard
  • Discussion groups within product – nice like Facebook wall
  • Vendor geared to mid-market implementation
  • Limited positioning or presence in some key markets – e.g. UK
  • Could provide more focussed, results-based information on customer success stories using KM

 

ITinvolve
  • New vendor with innovative product and approach
  • Viral/organic knowledge approach
  • Lots of good features  well thought-out functionality
  • Product requires a big shift in approach from client
  • Vendor still developing pitch and positioning
  • Good option for some organisations

  • Meets all functionality required for review
  • Uses ‘Social’ crowdsourcing
  • Users ‘follow’ objects, creating knowledge and understanding of real experts and stakeholders facilitates ‘crowdsourcing’
  • Can be used in conjunction with other ITSM products –
  • Approach based on actual usage and practice rather than theoretical processes
  • Support staff see all followers and knowledge for an object.
  • Graphical representation of relationships – showing users + stakeholders.
  • Stakeholders crowdsource knowledge  and change – based on ‘objects’ they are following
  • Can also use more ‘traditional’ approach of approval and review as needed
  • Vendor offers Proof of Concept and trial. Implementation approach aims to support client self-sufficiency where possible
  • Good customer success examples given
  • Implementation approach based around successful client adoption of KM processes
  • Requires a major client shift in approach
  • Requires use of new terminology
  • Looks complex in places and requires clients with open or new approach to implementation
  • Sales pitch needs to be developed to grab attention more quickly
  • New and small vendor with limited market track record

Deep Dive

Further details for each vendor can be found by using the links below:

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: Cherwell for Knowledge Management

This independent review is part of our 2013 Knowledge Management Group Test. 

Executive Summary – Cherwell

Overview
  • Vendor emerging across ITSM market space
  • Knowledge approach seamless with other ITSM areas in product
  • Provides all functionality required for review
  • Good vendor approach
  • knowledge article key element of system
  • Overall looks a good option
Primary Market Focus Based on the information provided, Cherwell actively market to customers of all sizes (Small <100 to Very Large >10,000) They are classified for this review as:Specialised Service Management Suite – Offers IT Service Management, with integration to third party Systems Management software

Commercial Summary

Vendor Cherwell Software
Product Cherwell Service Management
Version reviewed v4.3a
Date of version release January 2013
Year founded 2004
Customers 500+ ITSM customers worldwide.
Pricing Structure Fully inclusive concurrent user usage for both perpetual and SaaS licensing models.
Competitive Differentiators
  • Completely integrated management processes and totally configurable against an organisation’s current and future service request models, without the need to write a single line of code via programming or scripting services.
  • Integrated Platform as a Service (PaaS) technology to empower users to easy develop and deliver integrated business services offerings.
  • Quick, easy, seamless system upgrades and low cost of ownership for ongoing system management overheads.

 

Independent Review

cherwell-logoThis is an easy to use and multi-capability option for Cherwell users – the knowledge function is shipped with the product and seamlessly integrated with it.

Some nice features around integration of discussion boards and the ability to link articles to services and incidents.

A good option for developing knowledge for Cherwell users or those considering the product overall, with a view to making Knowledge Management work.

 Overview

  • Vendor emerging as strong contender across ITSM market space
  • Knowledge approach seamless with other ITSM areas in product
  • Provides all functionality required for review
  • Vendor approach aims to drive clients to use and integrate knowledge management with other processes
  • Knowledge article key element of system ‘business object’ – with links to other processes, tracking and clearly defined lifecycle
  • Overall looks a good option – in places a bit complex-looking (user UI is good), but generally will deliver integrated Knowledge Management functions.

Strengths

  • Meets all the basic functionality required for the review, for creation, approval, maintenance, tracking of Knowledge Articles (KAs)
  • ‘Knowledge is shipped OOTB with the product and is a key element cross ITSM processes
  • Federated search’ engine provides facility to search multiple knowledge sources simultaneously
  • Configuration and set up of system can be done by non-tech users – ‘codeless’ programming
  • User portal interface for self-help looks simple and user-friendly
  • Delivery and access to KAs can be controlled and specified to (field) level security
  • KAs can be associated to services (which in turn can be linked)
  • Approval process can set % approvers required rather than just all approvers
  • Approval steps can be defined at multiple levels
  • ‘One Step’ feature can be used to create set of tasks, updates, escalations, to simplify approval process
  • Can simply combine number of internal and external knowledge sources
  • Able to create relationships between articles and specific incidents
  • Tracking – simple to identify usage and like/dislike of KAs
  • Knowledge ‘Mapping’ – can show relevant knowledge sources in context – e.g. different in Incident vs. Change Management
  • Nice ‘Community Discussion’ board – can see threads of discussion and collaboration related to KA. Can also raise incident or create KA from Discussion area
  • KAs can be raised and applied to any (process) area of the tool

Weaknesses

  • Can look overly complex in places
  • Internal (IT User) interface could be clearer and less complex
  • Can’t map approval workflow process
  • Could provide more tangible, focussed information on customer success stories using KM

Cherwell’s Knowledge Management Customers

In Their Own Words:

Positioned on the 2012 Gartner®  Magic Quadrant for ITSSM tools and recognized by Forrester Research as one of the top three enterprise SaaS ITSM tools worldwide, Cherwell Software is one of the fastest growing IT service management software providers. It has corporate headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colo., U.S.A.; EMEA headquarters in Wootton Bassett, U.K.; and a global network of expert partners. Cherwell Software is passionate about customer care and is dedicated to creating “innovative technology built upon yesterday values.”

Its flagship product is Cherwell Service Management®, a fully-integrated service management software solution for IT and technical support professionals with out-of-the-box PinkVERIFY accredited ITIL processes. Its wizard-driven customisation allows customers to tailor the tool to match their processes without writing any code. Cherwell Service Management offers unmatched flexibility in hosting and concurrent licensing for low total-cost-of-ownership. Please visit www.cherwell.com for more information about Cherwell Software.

Screenshots

Further Information

Knowledge Management Review Index

This independent review is part of our 2013 Knowledge Management Group Test.

Reasons to be cheerful: ITSM in the ascendancy at #SITS13

I have just returned from the Service Desk and IT Support show held at Earls Court in London over the last couple of days. It has been great to catch up with industry friends: old, new and digital.

A snapshot of ITSM Industry sentiment from the last two days would be: Buoyant

  • If 2012 was about thinking/planning, 2013 is about doing
  • Many more organizations are looking to proceed with projects and have a green light on implementation
  • Visitors come armed with very specific requirements and needs rather than ‘we might be in the market for a new helpdesk’
  • Frameworks are a given, it’s much more than Service Desks – visitors have much broader, longer term ITSM objectives

But don’t take my word for it – Some pillars of the ITSM industry have kindly shared their views:

Peter Durrant, LANDesk
Peter Durrant, LANDesk

Peter Durrant, Enterprise Sales Director for LANDesk Software, who recently hit 150% of their European Sales target, reports new clients are increasingly approaching LANDesk with end-to-end ITSM requirements rather than replacing ticketing systems. In difficult times, customers see LANDesk as a low risk and reliable option with a strong reputation.

Colin Rudd, itSMF
Colin Rudd, itSMF

Colin Rudd, Chairman itSMF UK reports good interest in membership at the show. Echoing Peter’s comments above Colin stated the industry is maturing beyond ITIL and Service Desks into much broader ITSM requirements. Exciting times for the industry and to be part of the itSMF community.

Tony Probert, Cherwell
Tony Probert, Cherwell

Tony Probert, Managing Director UK and EMEA at Cherwell Software stated that SITS is a barometer on where the industry is going and his judgement from the last few days was a lot more positive. Projects are becoming unstuck, purse strings are being released and the industry is looking very positive. Clients are becoming very specific about their requirements and have moved beyond Incident, Problem and Change to Portals, Systems Integration and Advanced Reporting. Cherwell have put effort into building their partner community and have recently signed up new business partners in Spain, Russia, Hungary and Norway.

Emma Spear, SDI
Emma Spear, SDI

Emma Spear, Head of Marketing and Events at The Service Desk Institute broke with the norm with a relaxed and sociable ‘tea party’ presence at SITS. Emma reported the SDI Service Desk Certification was very popular and the team were preparing for the SDI Conference on June 18th – 19th in Edgbaston.

Tom West-Robinson, Marval
Tom West-Robinson, Marval

Tom West-Robinson, Account Manager at Marval Group also noted that show visitors have a much clearer understanding of what they want and that projects are beginning to make progress. Tom stated that many organizations face high value maintenance renewals on their existing helpdesk software and are actively investigating better value alternatives.

Andrew Smith, BMC
Andrew Smith, BMC

Finally, Andrew Smith, Solutions Marketing Manager at BMC Software, expressed his surprise at the vibrancy of the show. He stated that although 2012 was good in terms of visitor numbers, this year has been particularly good for the level of engagement. Lots of companies were talking about projects in 2012; in 2013 they are starting to implement them. Andrew noted it was great to see new exhibitors and alternative technologies appearing as well as the industry regulars.

SITS visits Berlin in late September before returning to Earls Court in April 2014.

Review: Cherwell

This independent review is part of our 2013 Incident and Problem Review. See all participants and terms of the review here.

Executive Summary

Elevator Pitch Cherwell use intelligent interfaces and well constructed forms to automate the basics of the processes in a comprehensive and informative way.
Strengths
  • Core stages of process management as part of the user interface
  • In-context configuration mapping that makes handling concurrent incident and problem mapping management very easy
  • Potential depth of customisation in terms of use of forms (Specifics) lends itself to improving/enhancing investigation and first-time-fix.
Weaknesses
  • While promotion to a Major Incident, automatic raising of a Problem, linkage to the Global Alerts feature and the ability for users to indicate they are affected too from Self Service is great, that indication is linked to the automatically opened problem record, not the Major Incident.
  • Customers seem to have indicated interest in linkage to the Major Incident as an out-of-the-box capability and it would make sense to provide it.
Primary Market Focus Based on the information provided, Cherwell actively market to customers of all sizes(Small <100 to Very Large >10,000)They are classified for this review as:Specialised Service Management Suite – Offering ITIL v3 processes and proprietary discovery tooling.

They use a best of breed approach to Monitoring and also Third Party discovery tools.

Commercial Summary

Vendor Cherwell Software
Product Cherwell Service Management
Version reviewed V4.3
Date of version release December 2012
Year founded 2003
Customers 400+
Pricing Structure Fully inclusive concurrent user usage for both perpetual and SaaS licensing models.
Competitive Differentiators
  • Completely integrated management processes and totally configurable against an organisation’s current and future service request models, without the need to write a single line of code via programming or scripting services.
  • Integrated Platform as a Service (PaaS) technology to empower users to easy develop and deliver integrated business services offerings.
  • Quick, easy, seamless system upgrades and low cost of ownership for ongoing system management overheads.
Additional Features Integrated application development platform. Integrated Project Portfolio Management module. Full social media integration and features for BYOD management. Multi portal, multi user, fully configurable web portal technology.

Independent Review

There was an interesting debate to be had about the incorporation of the core elements of recording an incident, as part of the record – Record, Classify, Investigate, Resolve, Close.

This “Breadcrumb Trail” is an effective way to have the system reinforce best practices.

One of the best features is the ability to create as much automation around the investigation phase of incident recording.

Cherwell make use of a form structure (“Specifics”) that are presented crisply and succinctly within the record to help the service desk to work through some very simple initial investigation queries.

Several are supplied out of the box but can be easily built.

Using business language in the impact and urgency matrices (again primarily for Incident) shows that Cherwell recognise that ITSM tools need to work across organisations.

There is a lot to like out of the box for Cherwell, and their 80/20 philosophy pays off again, in trying to expedite the processes.

Logging & Categorisation

From the moment an incident record is opened, the interface can bring up all kinds of neat interfaces for example:

The level of integration demonstrated within the tool allows for callers to be identified by just first name and department (if they so chose) and also bring up a wealth of information about the caller if required for example assets related to them, information about any surveys they have responded to, and other record they have opened.

The Categories and Sub-Categories are dependent on the type of service selected (the Sub-Category determines if that record is indeed an Incident, or a Service Request).

But behind that the “Specifics” form structure that Cherwell provide (both out of the box and customisable) provide the Service Desk Analyst with a number of queries to try and drive a first-time-fix resolution.

Tracking and Escalations

From the start point of a Service Desk Analyst to transferring to support teams, the depth of information is primarily controlled by macros (called “One-Steps”).

These macros are used to automate as much of the process as possible.

As tools evolve, the more of the mundane that can be automated, the better the focus can be on the user experience, and One-Steps are a great mechanism for taking care of those repetitive actions.

The key, as with any tool, will be to ensure that the process (i.e. the point at which a record is transferred) is clear and concise and that the tool can provide that transition as seamlessly as possible.

When it comes to creating a Problem from an existing Incident, Cherwell offer a visual configuration map, which allows in-context updates to the related Incident and/or Problem without the need to navigate away from the map itself.

Prioritisation

Another great feature is the wording on the Impact and Urgency matrix.

The Matrix applies to a specific service and when customised, can display terminology that the business understands.

Instead of values of High, Medium and Low, having terminology like: Individual, Department, Building to describe the impact makes it a lot less like describing an IT problem, and a lot more like describing a business issue.

Closure

Coming back to those “breadcrumbs” – if a customer wishes to re-open a resolved incident, the core stages turn an angry red, with a warning triangle and escalation mark to make it very obvious this is a record that needs continued action.

Of course, those incidents that are resolved without further issues are seen as a soft-closure until the service desk receives concurrence from the user that the record can be closed.

Major Incident/Problems

There is not a separate workflow for Major Incidents (or Problems for that matter), and out of the box, there is a button to promote an incident to be Major.

This in turn triggers off the creation of a problem, and can update a Global Alert section on the Self Service Portal so that end users can see that there is something happening on a wider scale.

They can even indicate that they are affected too, but currently this will create a link to the Problem that was created when the Incident was promoted.

It can be easily resolved by the creation of a new business object for a Major Incident, and indeed customers have fed this back, so it is a little bit of an oversight that it works this way.

Conclusion

The value is how that experience can be enhanced to enable the Service Desk to achieve higher First-Time-Fix, and how terminology can be modified to appeal to the wider business, and not just those who read ITIL books at night.

The star of the Incident and Problem show were the Specifics forms – Business Objects that Cherwell have developed that sit within a record (across a number of processes) with meaningful prompts and questions.

Obviously this does not happen by magic – there is a case for a knowledgeable administrator who understands more than just playing with technical toys.

To really get the most out of this system, an administrator would need to understand the business processes in play, a level of system design knowledge, and the ability to not get carried away adding forms and macros.

Of course, the extremely customisable nature means that this is by no means guaranteed, but the level of knowledge given in demonstrations should ensure that organisations receive good advice.

The only glitch for me was the Global Alert link for affected users not lining up with the incident – this is easily fixable though and really is a minor pick, rather than a fundamental faux-pas.

Cherwell Service Management Customers

Screenshots

Click on the thumbnails to enlarge.

From the Cherwell Brochure

  • 11 PinkVERIFY™ ITSM processes
  • Intuitive wizards and simple drag-and-drop functionality
  • With Cherwell’s Codeless Business Application Technology (CBAT), you never need to write a line of code or script. Upgrades are effortless.
  • Rapid easy implementation and easily adaptable over time
  • Out-of-the-box processes to assist customers with critical Business Alignment

In Their Own Words:

Cherwell Software

The Complete IT Service Management Solution

Cherwell Software is the developer of Cherwell Service Management™ – a fully integrated solution for IT and support professionals.  The Cherwell solution offers complete choice of software deployment and licensing models: on premise or hosted; perpetual purchase or subscription; you choose!

Designed using Microsoft’s .NET platform and Web 2.0 technology, Cherwell delivers 11 fully integrated ITIL v3 PinkVERIFY accredited management processes straight ‘out-of-the-box’, including Incident, Problem, Change, CMBD, Request, SLA, Service Catalogue and Knowledge.

Web portal technology and social media integration is key to the future success of the Service Desk. With increasing business demand for enhanced services and improved access to information, Service Desks need agile, innovative and flexible web based technologies to meet the high expectations of  users.

Cherwell’s latest Web Browser Portal experience uses leading edge and cross-platform technologies (HTML5/CSS3, Ajax and jQuery) built from the ground up to provide a very responsive application-like experience with no browser plug-ins needed.

Cherwell Service Management is 100% configurable and customisable by its end users and delivers a highly scalable and extensible development platform.  Its CBAT platform enables customers to develop integrated business applications such as: CRM, HR, Project Management, Student Records and Facilities Management systems.

Offering a truly holistic approach to service management, Cherwell empowers IT and support departments to fully align themselves with the organisation they support.  Quick to deploy and easy to use, Cherwell delivers true enterprise functionality at lower costs and without the need for any programming resources.

Further Information

Group Test Index

This independent review is part of our 2013 Incident and Problem Review. See all participants and terms of the review here.

INFOGRAPHIC: Service Desk 2013 – A view from the frontline

Interesting infographic from Cherwell Software below.

“The SDI / Cherwell Software Service Desk 2013 survey [conducted December 2012] asked Service Desk professionals for their hopes, dreams, fears, frustrations and priorities for 2013. Here are the results…. the view from the frontline.”

‘Increasing our value to the business’ is still the number 1 priority.

(Am I alone in thinking the best way to quantify and prioritize service delivery is via ITAM?).

Positively, 39% report that life on the service desk has improved in the last year.

Click on the image to enlarge.