Self Service Review [2015] – The Results

logoThis is a review of software products and vendors with their products in the ‘Self Service’ market area.

Products reviewed:

1 Overview

1.1 Self Service and the ITSM Market

‘Self Service’ is a current buzzword for vendors and practitioners alike in the ITSM world.

For some time this simply referred to the process whereby users/customers could carry out some standard contact/communications activities via a portal or an Intranet page, rather than call a Service Desk. So for example, this would include: raising and tracking tickets, ordering kit and browsing FAQs and other published pieces of information relating to IT.

These are of course key functions – and most product offerings include them – and have done for some years. The context of this has changed somewhat in recent times due to the demands for better user interfaces and customer experience (no one these days wants or expects to use an old IT menu-driven ‘greenscreen’).

The capability of automation and collaboration products has also increased expectation and potential around what these types of interface can deliver and achieve, not only for IT departments and their users, but also for wider enterprise orgnaisations beyond IT.

In short, Self Service is now the entry point towards great efficiency and as a means of transformation and collaboration. It is an opportunity for IT departments to reverse their fortunes and improve their image and effectiveness, by automating repeatable and manual processes, thereby affording more time for strategy and customer engagement.

So what sorts of capabilities are available? Above and beyond the classic areas referred to above: – e.g. Ticket logging, tracking and escalating, request logging tracking and escalating:

  • Automated password resetting
  • Mobile support and facilitation
  • Automated delivery – e.g. software provisioning, product ordering, account creation
  • Non-technical interfaces for Workflow and process creation
  • Simple development of work management tools
  • Real-time collaboration and social interfaces
  • Real-time dashboards and dynamic reporting

All of these functions – particularly around ease of use and automation – are highly valued in the current market, due to the need for IT organisations to use these tools as a means of managing their work more efficiently, whilst at the same time offering a greatly improved user experience of interacting with IT – and other back office departments like HR/Finance – through familiar and easy to use interfaces.

1.2 Market Observations

Recent developments have seen a number of technical innovations that have allowed increased automation, faster delivery and provisioning, which many of the products reviewed can deliver in some form or another.

The areas of differentiation in the market are therefore defined in the following terms:

Target clients – SME, Mid-market and Enterprise, Product and vendor (e.g. Microsoft/VMware) focus.

Some products are clearly only aimed at one specific market niche, or by client size and ITSM maturity. In some areas such as product or vendor focus this is clear, although many of the SME vendors aspire to move into the Enterprise space, which may confuse and squeeze the market.

Flexibility and ease of implementation – including non-technical tailoring, ease of use/skills needed, ability to tailor without coding, vendor implementation support.

A significant focus area for many vendors centres on the ‘codeless’ capability of their products, whereby applications and workflows can be simply modified without technical skills. The level to which this is delivered is a highly useful feature given the need to implement and update portals, workflows and catalogues quickly and efficiently.

This also works well in support of ‘non-IT’ implementation – i.e. for process collaboration across internal service departments.

Complementary products and capabilities – including IT Management, automation, provisioning, security, ITSM capability.

For many buyers, particularly at the enterprise level, simply buying the ‘front end’ or self-service function (and even just ITSM functionality) is not enough.

There is a growing need to procure and implement products that go beyond process and service management, so the need to identify those with the capacity to provide or at least interface with other IT Management tools is becoming a key requirement.

1.3 Market Product Review and Comparison

In summary, LANDESK and Cherwell are seen to be the most complete solutions, with LANDESK having greater capability to deliver to the Enterprise client, whereas Cherwell has the best UI and is more suited to the upper middle market.

EasyVista and Alemba are also seen as excellent products that would fit the enterprise as well as upper mid market.

SMT-X is an excellent option for a front-end solution that can be added to existing ITSM tools for large organisations.

Cased Dimensions is a good option for bespoke solutions – based on a Microsoft System Center platform.

Atlassian and Freshservice are also excellent options for SMEs or discrete teams to get Self Service up and running, with minimum tailoring or bespoking.

 

Pros Cons Overall Review Rating
Alemba
  • Clean and fresh interface – simplified but functional
  • Technical integration and virtualized capability
  • Legacy product well regarded
  • Still being developed to compete at high end of marketSmall
    company, now independent from
  • VMware – still growing
  • Limited social and collaborative interfaces and functionality
8
Atlassian
  • Easy and simple fo use for fast implementation
  • Workload tab – nice quick view of tickets / SLAs per analyst
  • Well set up for non-IT people
  • User access limited functionality
  • Only basic workflow functions can be edited non-techlimited
    innovation or eg social interfaces
7
Cased Dimensions
  • MS focus
  • MS integration – eg with System Center
  • Lots of pre-built processes
  • MS FocusSmall company
  • Bepsoke/consultancy approach won’t work for every organisation /
    small organisations
7
Cherwell
  • Functional capability
  • UX and ease of use
  • Vendor approach and focus
  • Competition from both ends of the market
  • Capability to deliver in tier 1 – though growing in size
  • Multi-tenancy not native
9
EasyVista
  • Good standard self service functionality
  • Open, flexible, using industry tools
  • Global network of data on use and performance
  • Workflows and configurations look complex and not
    intuitive/graphical ITSM tool looks strong although slightly dated
  • May need to focus target market/position
8
Freshservice
  • Low cost
  • Simple, straightforward operability
  • Gamification
  • Limited non-tech configuration
  • Org not set up for Enterprise customers
  • Lacks some key interfaces, social, provisioning
7
BEST IN CLASS:
LANDESK
  • ITSM complete
  • User friendly to develop and manage
  • Focus on automation to improve efficiency
  • May be overkill for some smaller organisations
  • Self service not available standalone
  • Social not embedded in tool – minor
10
SMT-X
  • Clear market niche well defined – good positioning
  • Product is multi-functional/function rich
  • Professional looking – will engage non IT people
  • Company size – small
  • Not an ITSM tool – limited and reducing market as competition
    improves
  • Could improve UI for workflow/design
7

 

Target Clients Flexibility /implementation Complementary Products
Alemba Enterprise and large IT and ITSM organisations –
particularly VMware customers.
Broad level of flexibility, vendor supports
implementation
VMware product integration
Atlassian SMB, SME or teams within large orgs Limited flexibility, client drives implementation Other Atlassian products
Cased Dimensions Large IT organisations, using Microsoft Systems Center –
looking for bespoke build
Highly flexible, vendor drives build and implementation Microsoft
Cherwell Large SMEs and medium enterprise organisations Customer tailorable, vendor/partners offer
implementation support
Numerous industry products. MS Partner
EasyVista Medium to large and some enterprise organisations Good level of flexibility, vendor moving from SME to
enterprise offering
A number of established links to industry products
Freshservice SME/SMB, small enterprises Limited flexibility, client drives implementation APIs in progress – e.g. Azure
LANDESK Large/Medium and enterprise IT organisations Highly and easily flexible, Vendor offers multi-level
implementation services
Numerous LANDESK offerings and industry integrations
SMT-X Enterprise organisations and their IT and back office
functions
Flexible and configurable, Vendor supports
implementation – limited resources
Established links to ITSM tools

 

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 the ‘Group Tests’ section, on our Disclosure page.

Review: Freshservice

This independent review is part of our Self Service Market Review.

Also participating:

Commercial Summary

Vendor Freshdesk Inc.
Product Freshservice
Version reviewed N/A
Date of version Release January 2015
Year Founded 2010
Customers 3000
Pricing Structure Per agent and per number of assets.

Review

Elevator Pitch This is a good product aimed at the SMB and mid-market primarily, with a lot of basic ITSM functionality at a relatively low cost.
Industry areas Small to medium business, internal IT.
Unique points The gamification capability is very straightforward, looks good and is simple to use. Also their general ITSM approach and UX is quite straightforward.
Target market SME, SMB, Medium and small enterprise.
Solutions/ issues solved Simple OOTB implementation and low cost.
Product/vendor gaps
  • Beyond basic configuration, the tool still needs tech skills to build or change
  • Product currently missing a social interface
  • Overall functionality developing but still behind market in some areas
Positives
  • Single sign on using AD – for access
  • Company is growing in numbers and continuing to develop product
  • Multiple portal capability
  • Knowledge auto-suggestions when entering data – liked by customers
  • Planning and developing a number of new areas:
    – SCCM integration with Patch management 2 / 3 months
    – MS Azure now released
    – Integration with Bomgar released March 2015- already integrated with password reset
    – Social (Yammer) interface
Negatives
  • Basic customization can be non-technical – advanced configuration requires some HTML programming
  • E.g. Process workflow can be amended although not with graphical interface
  • No direct provisioning / fulfilment at present
  • End user interface – basic options based on IT analyst/agent details
  • Knowledgebase help for end users – basic searching only. IT internal users can get access to articles
Overall view Freshservice have gained a lot of customers in a relatively short space of time, and are working hard to get the product up to a good broad level of ITSM capability.
 
They may also take more customers from larger legacy vendors when clients switching to cloud and looking for simple solutions at low cost.
 
A good option for low cost basic functionality with some excellent features – e.g. Gamification.
 
The Self Service Capability is functional if limited OOTB. This may be sufficient for the (Target) SME market.

 Vendor inlogoformation

Freshservice is an online ITIL service desk with a fresh twist. It puts a refreshing user experience on top of powerful ticketing and asset management capabilities, and is the most user-friendly app in the space.  In addition to core functionalities like Incident, Problem, Change, Release and Asset Management, Freshservice also lets you put your knowledge base on the cloud.

Screenshots

Freshservice Review for Proactive Problem Management

This is part of a competitive review of software vendors who offer Proactive Problem Management capabilities as part of their IT service management (ITSM) solution.

Other products reviewed:

Commercial Summary – Freshdesk FreshService Review

Vendor Freshdesk Inc.
Product Freshservice
Version reviewed n/a
Date of version Release n/a
Year Founded 2010
Customers 1200
Pricing Structure The licensing structure is based on the number of agents. Freshservice is a SaaS only offering

Executive Summary

Elevator Pitch Freshservice is an uncomplicated and attractive ITIL service desk solution.The simplicity of Freshservice allows customers to provide basic proactive problem management services whilst easily linking to the other areas of the solution.
Strengths
  • Simple easy to use interface
  • Easy linkage between processes
  • Proactive suggestion of possibly related records when creating description
Weaknesses
  • Internal monitoring within the solution could be improved
  • Financial management capabilities require extending
  • Lack of automation in areas such as setting records as proactive
Primary Market Focus Based on the information provided, Freshservice is primarily a small to mid market solution

Independent Review

freshservice-logoFreshservice is a straightforward solution for users with straightforward needs. Simple and easy to use, the drag and drop workflow and form templates make for an easy set up of proactive problem management as well as the main solution.

Problem management is dealt with in much the same was as incident within the solution and although this will be perfectly acceptable for the majority of Freshservice’s customers those with more mature proactive problem requirements will likely find that this solution lacks the automation they will expect. The addition of automation to distinguish between the different types of problems would be useful together with the ability to smartly decide which problems are, in actual fact, a problem. The issue many IT teams are experiencing at this time is not that events and alerts are not being received but that so many are received that it is difficult to sort through to find the ones that actually matter. If Freshservice can master this then their worth to their customers would dramatically increase.

The ability to set a “book value” for a particular type of asset is a useful feature, providing the ability to report on those assets that are perhaps experiencing continued faults to see whether continued endeavour is of benefit, I would like to see this area expanded to help track the cost of faults. My impression of the solution is that it would be suitable for all small to large organisations of low to medium proactive problem management maturity. For the vast majority of these organisations, I believe that Freshservice has all the functionality required to perform proactive problem management to a successful level. However, if your organisation is likely to grow in the near future then I believe a more sophisticated solution would be suitable. The number of manual actions required within the solution would be counterproductive to organisations with large numbers of reported proactive problems.

General

User configuration possible for:

Forms

Tables

Workflows

Dashboards

N.B. every form and workflow can be customized through the admin module

  • Open API
  • Existing standard integrations with Event Management tools such as Nagios and Solarwinds
  • Default forms and structure as basic starting point
  • Easy linkage between Problems and other types of tickets (i.e. Incident)
  • Proactive solution suggestion as ticket details inputted
  • Implementation support available

Identification

Freshservice defines the difference between a reactive and proactive problem management record within the solution by the addition of a “known error” tag next to the problem subject. This is done manually by agents within the Problem Module and then provides the ability for reports to be run on “known errors”. I would like to see the ability for Freshservice to automatically recognise these and tag accordingly without the need for the manual process. For organisations receiving large numbers of proactive problems I imagine this would become quite an onerous task. Freshservice’s internal Discovery probe is able to scan networks to populate the CMDB and is able to monitor the available disk space of relevant items.

Freshservice advise that although currently this is all that is able to be monitored, additional capabilities are to follow. Alerts from monitoring and networking tools such as Nagios and Solarwinds, which can be integrated via existing standard integrations, can be sent to Freshservice using Email commands and then automatically create a record within the solution.

Assessment and Alerting

Freshservice calculates an objective risk assesment of the proactive problem and is able to flag this against an associated CI as low, medium or high (colour coded) depending upon how the CI’s business proprity has been set. Assets are able to be attached to all proactive problem records with the importance of the asset viewable from within the record screen.

The solution also contains a basic visual relationship map for impact assesment. Freshservice is able to manually route proactive problems to relevant resolver groups by assigning the particular record to the respective group or agent from the Problems module, alternatively workflow rules can be used to automatically assign records to assign proactive problems to resolver groups or agents. Once a group or user has been assigned an email notification will alert the relevant people.

Implementation  

Freshservice provides the ability to link records to each other in one click. Workflow rules within the system can be utilized to provide the ability to update all linked records upon the update of the problem record. All file types and in solution notes can be attached to a proactive problem record ensuring that all relevant information is available to agents. Changes of status are possible by the use of a dropdown box within the record screen. Although there is no ability to set individual assets and CI’s as unavailable, the solution can be used to advise users of planned outages using both email and the self-service area. In the future I would like to see the ability to set items as unavailable, when affected by a fault that causes it to be so, in order that users can easily see the state of the item. Freshservice state that their customers main need is automatic notification when there is an issue and as a result I believe that development of this area would be very beneficial to both them and their customers.

Auditing and Accountability

Freshservice’s simple workflow rules can be utilised to set thresholds to notify of impending SLA breaches to both individual users and groups. Escalation emails can also be set to once breach has taken place. Each asset has a history of all requests associated with it – problem, change, release etc. that can be viewed after the request has been closed.

In Summary

Freshservice provides basic yet capable functionality for use by users with low to medium proactive problem management maturity. If you’re after bells and whistles such as sophisticated visual service mapping then this is probably not the solution for you, however, if you are after a good basic package, with ticketing, that has the proactive problem management essentials then Freshservice is a good option.

In Their Own Words:

Freshservice is an online ITIL service desk with a fresh twist. It puts a refreshing user experience on top of powerful ticketing and asset management capabilities, and is the most user-friendly app in the space.  In addition to core functionalities like Incident, Problem, Change, Release and Asset Management, Freshservice also lets you put your knowledge base on the cloud. Freshservice offers a plug and play ITIL solution for organizations looking to align themselves to best practices without getting any expert implementation help. It has been developed by the team of experts behind Freshdesk, the leading customer support software that is currently being used to support over 5 million customers across the world.

Screenshots

Assessment Criteria: Proactive Problem Management Product Review

In August of this year, we will be kicking off our product review dedicated to “Proactive Problem Management”, the use of ITSM technology that enables organizations to practice proactive or pre-emptive problem management.

Which vendor will win when it comes to proactive problem management?
Which vendor will win when it comes to proactive problem management?

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: Outside IT.

Assessment Criteria 

This review will support prospective buyers with their selection process by providing features to consider when selecting ITSM systems and highlighting key competitive differentiators between suppliers.

Proactive Problem Management – if problem management is concerned with addressing the root cause of incidents, then proactive problem management is the systems and techniques to address these incidents before they occur and cause service disruption, or reduce or eliminate recurring incidents.

This review looks at the technology to assist organizations take a proactive step towards managing incidents and problems and explore problems before they results in incidents.

A problem is a problem, whether it has caused an incident yet or not” – Rob England, “Proactive Problem Management

Main Topic Areas

  • Managing the lifecycle of problems
  • Identifying problems
  • Solving problems, root causes and problem solving methodologies
  • Known errors / managing work in progress / CSI
  • Integrations, monitoring and triggers

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 “Proactive Problem Management” product review should contact us directly. We also welcome feedback from readers on their experience with their use of ITSM tools and proactive problem management (although this feedback will not directly impact the review).

Image Credit

The 2014 ITSM Tools Universe

Runners, riders, market share and market focus for the ITSM Tools market
2014 ITSM Tools Universe: Runners, riders, market share and market focus for the whole ITSM Tools market

Please note that we are no longer accepting entries to be part of this report.

Today we kick off our 2014 ITSM Tools Universe research in which we will be looking at the multitude of tools out there that claim to help with the management of Information Technology Services; from one function tools through to the ‘all-singing-all-dancing’ suites.

Why invest in ITSM tools?

Organizations typically invest in ITSM technology to help them:

  • Improve customer satisfaction
  • Improve service availability and response times
  • Integrate or improve integration between processes
  • Improve root cause analysis
  • Automate or improve business workflows
  • Improve business visibility of IT services

We are looking to talk with ANY supplier who has technology in these areas.

The Assessment Process

There is no cost to participate in our ITSM Universe research.

Steps:

  1. Complete this online questionnaire
  2. Upon completion, schedule an online briefing and arrange customer references

We have tried to automate our assessment process as much as possible given the number of tools we plan to assess, so we have used an online submission form to initiate the process. I have posted a PDF version for participants for reference. If you have any questions please contact me.

ITSM Universe Objectives

Rather than reviewing just the major competitors, this review hopes to shed light on the emerging players and, over time, the changes in the position of the companies involved and moves in market share.

Consideration will also be given to where vendors focus their efforts and to which customer type their products are suitable.

Results will be published in Spring 2014 using our ‘Universe Methodology‘.

The criteria we will be focusing on is as follows:

  • Competitive differentiators
  • ITSM processes included out of the box
  • The level of in-house customization possible and by whom
  • Possible configurations available out of the box
  • Self-Service options
  • Reporting capabilities
  • Process linkage
  • Interaction with business outcomes
  • Alignment with industry frameworks

The last tool showcase I attended offered very little in the way of USP promotion so I am especially interested to see what vendors believe are their competitive differentiators …please don’t let it be ‘The Cloud’!

Participating Vendors

Other Vendors

The following vendors will not be part of this report:

These vendors either declined, were unable to commit to the report schedule or were unable to provide customer references.