IT500 Conference: Behave Yourself, Building IT Relationships

I spoke to Simone Jo Moore and Mark Smalley ahead of their session at IT500 tomorrow.  Their workshop will focus on driving the right behaviors to ensure IT and the business work together effectively. The audience will get to participate to identify and formulate behaviours between both partners so that they can collaborate and be more productive.

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The session will look at:

  • How you can change behaviour
  • What drives certain types of behaviours
  • Carrot versus stick approach
  • Deep rooted value & belief systems

You should attend this session if:

You’re interested in emotional intelligence and looking at changing mindsets to drive transformation.

The official bit:

This highly participative workshop will will improve your personal and organisational performance. We’ll explore how behavious affects results and how behaviour is determined by an iceberg of factors that include values, beliefs and emotions.We will look at the changes to be made that can improve behaviour and results.

 

For more information, check out this link.

 

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Guest Post: Practical ways to end the DevOps – IT Service Management Stand-Off

There’s some great dialog in the final standoff between Batman and the Joker in the movie The Dark Knight. It’s no-rules anarchy versus incorruptibility – “this is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object”- as the Joker maniacally puts it.

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In some ways it’s analogous to the friction existing between development and IT service management (ITSM) – especially how each group views DevOps. If you ask each team what DevOps means to them you’ll probably get two different answers. On the one hand, developers may stress freedom of action and faster releases, while on the other, ITSM practitioners might say DevOps changes nothing. After all, processes and controls painstakingly developed over many years is the ‘tough love’ needed to ensure regulatory compliance and address many other governance related issues.

Unstoppable force meets immovable object

Some ‘modernists’ will of course argue that old-style ITSM can be excluded from DevOps initiatives. After all, it’s a set of practices designed for a style of business computing where risk tolerance was low. So armed with new terms like lean, agile and fail-fast, it’s a case of get with the program or get out of the way. Well good luck with that, because without recalibration, those traditional incident, problem, change and release management contact points between development and ITSM will become even more abrasive. So enrolling the support of existing ITSM roles and practices is critical; turning naysayers and opponents into advocates. But this isn’t going to be easy and requires some deft organizational footwork. If everything remains equal nothing will change In order to remove friction, DevOps leaders should start by clearly communicating why it’s necessary to change. Care should be taken to avoid over hyping DevOps; preferring instead concise explanations as to why the change is occurring in the context of business impact and outcomes. During this early stage it’s also important to set a collaborative foundation; giving strong consideration to temporarily seconding key ITSM influencers to the DevOps program so as to build trust.

In many industries, computing controls, especially in areas such as change and release management, exist to ensure compliance with regulatory mandates. To development these appear cumbersome, but have been specifically designed to mitigate risk – even if that means slowing down processing. Furthermore, these controls deliver auditable proof that compliance procedures are being followed. The problem is that many of these controls might be too rigid to support development projects where risk tolerance is higher, so it’s critical for teams to optimize or right-size sets of controls for specific use cases. Here, care should be taken not to abrogate risk responsibilities by simply passing control ownership (for example, enabling development managers to approve changes but still carry all auditing responsibilities), since that might lead to increased friction and resistance to change – where you least want it – within the development group itself.

In terms of optimizing existing (but necessary) controls, this could involve enacting faster and more reliable ways to meet compliance requirements. For example, employing automated test suites during the actual development process – versus having auditing ‘gatekeepers’ come in at the end of the process and discover the system isn’t compliant.

In God we Trust – everyone else brings data!

Organizations have usually made a significant investment in IT service management tools. These tools, especially the knowledge bases supporting processes like incident, problem and change management can provide teams rich sets of information to drive DevOps improvements. Change records correlated with performance-related incidents and problems could help teams focus on non-functional aspects of development and testing requiring attention. Additionally, emergency change procedures could be reviewed to determine their applicability in supporting business-critical or urgent software updates. In all cases, however, teams should ensure flexibility doesn’t increase business risk – for example – by teams choosing the path of least resistance to avoid governance scrutiny. There are many other ITSM contact points teams can review to reduce friction. In incident management developers often complain that it takes too long for them to be notified of problems related to their code – only after lengthy level 1 and level 2 operations review. This causes friction because developers might be taken off projects to fire-fight problems that due to time delays have become more complex to diagnose and remediate.

To address this, teams should carefully review notification procedures; perhaps even changing the first point of escalation to be the development group responsible for the application or service – even after hours. Expect push-back where you least expect it. Developers may resist mandated on-call support. Therefore it’s important to impress how their early involvement in incident response is critical to drive improvements. It’s also a good idea to equip them with analytic tools and proactive methods that help them resolve complex and emerging issues. Finally, an important, but often understated bi-product of this ‘skin in the game’ approach is developers working to improve the ongoing supportability of applications. For example, it could result in improving documentation and fault logging so they only need to be called in when absolutely necessary.

Ignoring the points of friction between DevOps and older (but still important) ITSM processes will cause initiatives to stall or fail. The only way to ensure success is when teams put all governance and risk-versus-speed and agility concerns on the collective table and enact improvements in the context of required business outcomes. Always consider that without constant engagement, staff on both sides will revert to sub-optimal practices – the ones that stifle innovation or carry huge risk.

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This article was contributed by Peter Waterhouse, Senior Strategist, CA Technologies

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IT500 Conference: DevOps & Agile in an ITSM World

I spoke to Claire Agutter & Dave Van Herpen last week to talk about their upcoming masterclass at the IT500 conference in June: DevOps & Agile In An ITSM World.

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The workshop will look at how you can use DevOps and Agile if you’re already doing ITSM but want to do something new. Claire and Dave will look at how to use a blended approach to get the best results and will look at practical ways to improve whilst blitzing a process backlog.

The session will be interactive and will follow the why – what – how journey starting from looking at drivers and building the business case for transformation to interactive group sessions including:

  • Looking at the 3 ways of DevOps
  • Designing Kanban boards
  • Applying Scrum
  • Selling DevOps
  • Investigating opportunities and risks.

You should attend this conference if:

You want to become an ITSM ninja familiar with Agile and DevOps!

The official bit:

DevOps and Agile represent a new way of working, but it’s not all about throwing away everything that’s already in place. We will look at how these techniques can be applied alongside other methodologies including ITIL and investigate other propositions such as Value Stream Mapping, Kanban for IT Operations and the use of Scrum.

 

Are you starting to move from ITSM to Agile, DevOps and beyond? Let us know in the comments!

 

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Event Listing: IT500 Event; The IT Learning Conference – Everything IT Service Management & Operations

The ITSM Review are excited to be confirmed as official media partners for the latest IT500 event; The IT Learning Conference – Everything IT Service Management & Operations being held on 1st June 2016 in Edinburgh

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Following on from the IT in the park event in November, IT500 surveyed their delegates to ask what else they would like to see in Scotland. The event will bring together 20 IT thought leaders and practitioners from across Europe to deliver a series of master classes and workshops designed to highlight obstacles, provoke creative thinking and provide answers to some of today’s IT challenges. How exciting is that?

 

Highlights include

  • IT4IT – how and where do you start?
  • 11 actions for SIAM success
  • DevOps – bring IT out of the shadows
  • Behave yourself – building IT relationships
  • Reignite your customer experience
  • Agile and DevOps in an ITSM world
  • Using ITIL practitioner skills to impress the CEO
  • ITSM in action – lessons from the real world
  • Introducing a CSI sat nav
  • Effective CSI in a SIAM eco system

 

Event Breakdown

WHAT: IT500 – The IT Learning Conference

WHERE: Edinburgh

WHEN: 1st June

WHO: IT500

HOW TO BOOK: Click Here.

We’re looking forward to attending and covering this event and hope to see you there!

BEYOND20 SIXTEEN Conference – Next Month

Happy Monday everyone! There’s still time to register for the BEYOND20 SIXTEEN conference in May!  As media partners we have an exclusive offer for you; if you enter the code ITSMReview when registering you will get $100 off the ticket price.

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If you’d like to find out more, this is the link to our event listing and if you’d like a preview of forthcoming attractions check out keynote speaker Mike Bland talking about DevOps:

Will you be going to BEYOND20 SIXTEEN next month? Let us know in the comments!

The Holy Trinity of IT Service Management

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People, technology and process are the compounds that construct the IT Service Management triumvirate. Having already identified the technology trends, and in particular how predictive analytics will impact incident management, what can we say about the other two members of this very exclusive club?

While process tends to lead the way, it needs people to champion it, and technology to support it. Technology, in the grand scheme of things, tends to be the easiest part to implement as long as it exists and is fit for purpose.

Low level detection

The ability to detect and avoid incidents isn’t something that’s included in the ITIL manual. We could spin it into something to do with Continual Service Improvement, but activities in this area tend to be run on a project basis. They are in effect more likely to be elements of a change programme.

So what can be done when dealing with information relating to the future at such a granular level on a daily basis? The simplest thing would be to treat predictive events as actual incidents, pop them into a team’s queue and let them deal with them alongside everything else.

But what priority should they be given? The predicted incident can’t be high as nothing is broken, and nobody is screaming. On the other hand, if they are treated as a low priority, the issue may never be dealt with in a timeframe that permits the incident to be avoided. Medium, then? Perhaps not, as if the resolution requires additional spend then you need to conform to a purchasing timeframe and once again the benefit of being able to avoid a failure, may be lost.

The answer, unsurprisingly, is that it depends. It will depend on the organisation and how mature its processes are, how stable its services are, and its attitude to risk.

A stitch in time?

How many organisations will zealously fund proactive remedial work? Securing the budget to keep things in a current and supported state is difficult and at times impossible. I’m sure every organisation has a server somewhere that has effectively been shrink wrapped as it is no longer supportable and needs to be kept as protected from change as much as possible, as the service it supports provides good, perhaps even essential value to the business.

It is unlikely that an IT department will be given a blank cheque book to allow it to respond to predicted events. Does this mean that that things will knowingly be left to fail?

Therein lies another people aspect. How are IT Service Management staff rewarded?

Fire fighter or keeper of the peace?

If services operate without issue the IT department becomes the focus of cost cutting.

If on the other hand systems fail, all thanks are given to those that worked tirelessly through the night, surviving only on pizzas and vending machine coffee. Like or lump it, the reality is that in these types of scenarios, those that are seen to be doing are those that progress.

IT has a very real culture of martyrdom embedded within it that will be difficult to change.

Of course there will still be unexpected incidents that can’t be predicted but in a world where we can now identify and avoid incident there needs to be a balance that encourages and rewards the proactive as much as the reactive.

Different thinking is needed together with a different reward structure. Pavlov discovered long ago that you have to reward the behaviours you want.

Are your service team keeping the peace or fighting fires? I’d suggest you want people calmly going about their business to let business go about business. Avoiding the avoidable helps them to do just that.

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This article was contributed by Stuart Higgins, Technical Evangelist at Sumerian

 

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BEYOND20 SIXTEEN: Automating Change Control

Ahead of the BEYOND20 SIXTEEN ITSM and DevOps conference in May, I was lucky enough to catch up with Sherry Chang of Intel to talk about her session; Automating Change Control.

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Preview of forthcoming attractions:

Sherry’s session will look at how automation can transform a Change process from blocker to key enabler. During the presentation, Sherry will look at how automation can support the Standard Change model to enable more Changes to pass through the service pipeline without sacrificing effectiveness, quality or safety. For those of you who are new to the Standard Change model they are simply pre assessed, pre authorised activities that are low risk, relatively common and follow an agreed procedure or work instruction. So far so good right?

Sherry will give practical guidance on setting up your organisation to follow the Standard Change approach and will look at how these virtual quality gates can work as a more efficient approach to Change volumes over human scrutiny. As DevOps becomes the more preferred way of delivering value, Automated Governance will become more and more important in driving Continuous Delivery; Sherry’s aim is to empower attendees by sharing tips, tricks and case studies in making Change quick, effective and successful.

You should attend this session if:

You want an action packed, practitioner overview of how to move to a more Continuous Delivery stream using Standard Changes.

The official bit:

The conference overview of Sherry’s session is below:

‘Change Management and Continuous Delivery are commonly viewed as incompatible.   Gates imposed by Change Control Board often slows down any velocity gain achieved by Continuous Delivery.   However, control and velocity can be achieved by automation.  Attend this session to learn how you can achieve higher velocity, better scrutiny, and comprehensive audit trail with Automated Governance.’

 

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PINK16 Day 2 PM & Day 3 – Dead Cats, Football Legends & Batman

Multi-Speed IT Rob England, The IT Skeptic

Kicking off the afternoon on Day 2 was the legend that is Rob England aka The IT Skeptic

Rob opened his session by explaining that for IT to truly deliver value “we must accommodate multiple cadences; your IT cadence must be matched to the speed of your business”.

Rob went on to talk about how in order to stay relevant; we need to change our working culture: “Change Management need to move from Change control to Change facilitation”. The other example he used was avoiding “dead cat syndrome” aka as the Dev guys chucking something over the fence into production and expecting the Ops guys to make it work seamlessly. As a former colleague from Pink would say “that’s taking blind optimism at step too far”

Rob talked about how using the standard case model can add value; talking about having a standard lifecycle aligned to the bespoke requirements of your business. Looking to the future; Rob talked about how Change Managers will build the lifecycle so that Dev can manage production. He talked about the need for culture change stating “we will need a cultural change towards trust and empowerment. We need to stop people from gaming the system”.

On a practical level Rob talked about how faster doesn’t always = riskier explaining “you can automate controls within your pipeline”. Rob went on to talk about practical examples in Release Management “if you package everything into one massive release and chuck it into production, why are we surprised when everything breaks? If you’re releasing every day and something breaks, you know exactly what caused it so you can fix it straight away.”

Rob ended on this final message: “To deliver value, you need a spectrum of speeds that empower the business”. Go Rob”

Success Under Pressure: Gary Bailey, Former Manchester United Soccer Star & Speaker

The final session of the afternoon was with Manchester United legend Gary Bailey. In the interests of honesty, I was born on the United side of Manchester and then moved to Dublin when I was 6 months old. I’ve always been a massive Man Utd fan and always will be so excitement about this session from my side had reached almost Start Wars proportions.

Gary’s session was based on the premise that effective leadership under pressure is critical for achieving success. Gary shared the G.R.E.A.T principles of how to thrive under pressure and become even more successful in business.

Gratitude – or as Gary put it; look for the new in everything; be grateful for the good and for when you’ve avoided the bad stuff. Essentially;

Reframing: stop the inner criticism and reframe them. In other words; so what if that one person at work doesn’t’ like you. Lots of other people do.

Energy; aka exercising and STEPPING AWAY FROM THE SUGAR.

Advancement; keep improving or get left behind.

Teamwork: as Gary put it; say nice things to people as oxytocin is a natural cuddle drug.

Day 3

Morning Keynote – Four Conversations For Success – Stuart Knight

Stuart opened the morning with a session on creating powerful relationships. Stuart had been the MC and facilitator for the entire conference so a big high five to him for doing such a brilliant job.

Collective Genius: The Art & Practice Of Leading Innovation – Troy DuMoulin, VP, Research & Development, Pink Elephant

@troydumoulin ran a session on the principles of innovation, leaders of innovation, creating the environment & willingness for innovation and the 6 leadership paradoxes. As Troy put it; “innovation is a team sport. There is no guarantee that something will last forever, especially if we don’t focus on innovation”

Or, in other words: “get off the hamster wheel of death by organising for innovation”.

The second part of Troy’s session was the 6 paradoxes of collaboration:

Paradox 1; Affirm the individual and the group nn

Paradox 2: support & confrontation; allowing people to ask the hard questions within clear supportive rules

Paradox 3: Experimentation v performance; aka maintaining a sense of urgency

Paradox 4: Promote improvisation & structure ie more jazz ensembles over marching bands

Paradox 5: Show patience and urgency; ie create a leadership within peers

Paradox 6: Encourage initiative from the bottom up and intervene from the top down ie only get involved when people start throwing food at each other.

IT Governance Vs. Compliance : Taking Back The Strategy High Ground – Peter Hubbard, Principal Consultant, Head of Product Portfolio Development – UK, Pink Elephant

The final session we attended starred Pete Hubbard from @pinkelephantuk

Pete’s an ex colleague so there was no way I was going to miss a chance to heckle support him. Pete’s opening note was around governance and red tape explaining to his audience: “if people are complaining about red tape then you’re doing governance and compliance wrong.”

Pet went on to explain how COBIT can be used to support strategy by providing enhanced levels of governance and control.

Pete talked about process overkill asking the audience “put your hands up if you’ve seen an organisation with all 20 odd ITIL processes in place. Keep it up if it’s been a success.” You can imagine the response; as Pete said – it’s magical unicorn time.

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Pete explained how to use COBIT to ensure your ITSM processes map directly back to senior management objectives:

To recap: COBIT is an awesome way to map IT processes to business goals. Just remember; it’s there to enhance strategy alignment not replace it!

His final piece of advice on governance? “I don’t care if you use ITIL, COBIT, DevOps or a ouija board as long as your processes are effective, efficient and transparent.

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Nice work Mr Hubbard –  ex colleague high five!

With that, it was time to find the airport to make the long journey home. Thank you so much to @20yearspinky for having us. It’s been an amazing conference, and we’re already planning a return trip next year.

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Incident Management Group Test 2016 – The Results

This group test is a review of software products and vendors in the ‘Incident Management’ market area. Our remit was to explore how toolsets can support and optimise the Incident Management process.

Incident Management Overview

Incident Management is a key part of the ITSM Software Market – think about it – what organisation doesn’t do Incident Management? Incident Management is one of the most visible processes in the ITIL lifecycle. The aim of Incident Management is to restore usual service to customers as quickly as possible and with as little adverse impact whilst making sure nothing is lost, ignored or forgotten about. Can you imagine what would happen if end users couldn’t raise Incidents or contact the Service Desk in the event of a crisis? I reckon it would be 5 minutes max before total chaos.

When I’m explaining the Service Desk and Incident Management in ITIL training; I refer to them as the superheroes of the ITSM world. Let’s face it; they’re constantly firefighting, at the sharp end of the user community if something’s gone wrong as well as being under targets that would make lesser beings hide under their desk whilst mainlining vodka.

Frontline service desk and incident management, heroes of the ITSM world
Frontline service desk and incident management, heroes of the ITSM world!

Incident Management is a rockstar process and deserves a rockstar tool to support it so without further ado, let’s get started!

Customer Numbers

  • Alemba (UK) – 300+
  • Atlassian (Australia) –  15,000+
  • Cherwell Software (USA) – 1,000+
  • HPE – Hewlett Packard Enterprise (USA) – 1,500+
  • InvGate (Argentina) – 3,000+
  • ManageEngine (India) – 100,000+
  • Marval Software (UK) – 500+
  • Matrix42 (Germany) – 3,000+
  • Nexthink (Switzerland) – 600+
  • Summit Software (India) – 100+

Incident Management Group Test – The Players

Alemba Ltd.

Strong Incident Management offering which puts the end user experience at the heart of the tool.

Funky user interface using bubbles to highlight workflow and orbitor tool that aids the user by highlighting available actions.

Facebook style notifications alert users and technicians if the ticket has been updated with a handy “add me” option for Major Incidents.

Special module for displaying analytics to Service Desk screens – great idea that does away with the need for manual processes and faffing around with USB keys.

Atlassian

Solid Incident Management functionality. Atlassian are Incident Management ninjas; they aim to get customers up and running within one – two weeks of buying the tool.

Integration with Hipchat for easy chat and video calls.

Seamless integration with other JIRA products so that the customer has a consistent user experience.

Cherwell Software

User friendly user interface with Outlook integration to make it easier of users to log tickets.

Xmatters compatibility gives it advanced SMS gateway, telephony stats, monitoring and fault tolerance functionality.

Thriving customer community; FAQ’s, “how to” guides and oodles of free apps.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE)

Awesome landing page that empowers everyone from end users to senior management to customise and view reports.

Revamped reporting module that completely removes the need for any Crystal Reports faffery. Relationships clear and specific; instead of vague linked records, tool delivers meaningful linkages such as “fixed by Change” or “caused Incident”.

Big data is used to power the Knowledge Base; fixes and workarounds are automatically suggested and hot topics can identify Incident trends and proactively raise Problem records.

InvGate

Brilliant customer focused ethos: “Service Desks are like snowflakes, no two are alike”.

User interface modelled on common social media platforms making it easy for end users to navigate.

Service Catalogue actively encourages end user to use the self-help route and gives a virtual high five message for every Incident logged.

Market leading gamification; kudos points for adding Knowledge Base article, merit badges for resolving Incidents within SLA and mini quests to encourage healthy competition between Service Desk Analysts.

ManageEngine

ManageEngine user their superpowers for good; free PinkVerified Incident & Knowledge Management tools available via the ManageEngine website.

Thriving user community; customers have access to over 90 products and free tools.

User friendly interface; users can chose from raising an Incident or a Service Request and FAQs are on the right hand side of the screen meaning that help and further information is easily accessible.

Impressive use of predefined categories and email integration – tickets can be auto logged and updated without duplication of effort.

Marval Software

Outstanding Incident Management functionality.

Just like Starfleet, Marval have a prime directive, theirs is to enable people to be as productive as possible as quickly as possible.

Special instructions field part of every customer entry.

Each Knowledge entry has a set of work instructions, useful links, tools and diagnostic scripts.

Integrated ITSM process driven solution which is service and customer centric underpinned by a service portfolio.

Brilliant use of Near Field Communications, you can log an Incident simply by zapping a smart tag.

Slick Major Incident process that closely links into Problem, Change and IT Service Continuity Management.

Use their powers for good out in industry, regular contributors to the itSMF and Service Desk Institute.

Matrix42

Initial landing screen is very similar to your standard Microsoft offerings so most users will find the familiarity of the dashboard makes it easier to navigate.

Analyst screen easy to customise.

The tool can be configured to integrate with CTI systems so you can start a phone call and have it added to the audit diary.

Fab use of automation so you can use workflows to schedule routine tasks like server reboots.

Concurrence management is in place so if more than one person is updating the Incident at the same time, the data is merged and nothing is lost.

Nexthink

A vendor that loves talking to customers and end users!

Impressive IT analytics tool to drive proactive Incident Management.

Initial dashboard gives you an immediate, real time view of business critical services.

Automation drives out white noise and focuses on anomalies; enabling Service Desk Analysts to focus on the most important issues to the business.

The end user analytics support asset tracking and licensing monitoring.

As part of the product training, Nexthink advises Service Desk analysts to spend the time saved by automation to go out and talk to users; maximising value and improving the relationship between IT and the rest of the business. Love it when a vendor recognises that the end user is everything!

SUMMIT Software

Easy to navigate user interface – when an end user logs on to raise an Incident they can see their five most recently logged Incidents along with status information.

Analyst view flexible and easy to customise.

Service Request module is directly accessible from the Incident screen and is clear and fully configurable. Up to ten levels of approval can be used which to me covers every possible scenario.


Deep Dives


The Group Test Process

It was really important to me that the group test was fair. Each vendor was asked to fill in a questionnaire and then I had an individual session with each supplier to demo the tool and to ask lots of geeky questions. All the vendor presentations were slick and professional; it really helped me when vendors went out of their way to tailor the session to differentiators and functionality that was value driven.

Key Benefits of Incident Management

ITIL defines Incident Management as “the process responsible for managing the lifecycle of all Incidents. Incident management ensures that normal service operation is restored as quickly as possible and the business impact is minimized.” An effective Incident Management tool is a fundamental part of delivering Incident Management to the rest of the organisation.

In general, Incident Management is made up of the following steps with monitoring, communication, ownership and tracking carried out by the Service Desk:

  • Incident detection – something falls over, has performance issues or isn’t as it should be
  • Logging and recording; capturing all the details in an Incident record
  • Categorisation and prioritisation – ensuring that the Incident is categorised against the correct service and has the appropriate priority set by impact and urgency
  • Initial diagnosis -first go at resolving the Incident. If the Incident is resolved by the Service Desk at this point it is known as a first time fix.
  • Escalation -there are two types; Functional, where it goes to the next level of support eg from first line to second line support and Hierarchical, where something gets escalated to a team leader or manager.
  • Investigation and further diagnosis – where we figure out what’s gone wrong and how to fix it.
  • Resolution & Recovery -we’ve fixed the issue – happy days – normal service has been restored!
  • Closure -ensuring the end user is happy and closing off the Incident record with resolution details.

The following are some of the benefits of using a dedicated Incident Management toolset:

  • Models and templates to ensure all Incidents and Service Requests are handled consistently
  • Central point of capture so that nothing is lost, ignored or forgotten about.
  • Better adherence to SLAs, OLAs and UCs due to toolset monitoring.
  • Major Incidents workflow; especially with automated communication workflows.
  • Better results for Availability and Capacity Management; if Incidents are logged and managed effectively; they will also be resolved more effectively meaning that downtime and performance issues are minimised.
  • Increased Configuration Management accuracy; the Service Desk can check and confirm CI data when logging Incidents.
  • Enhanced management information regarding service quality due to reporting dashboards
  • Increased customer satisfaction.

Market Observations

From carrying out this group test, it quickly became clear that the Incident Management toolset game has been well and truly upped. Recent developments have seen a number of technical innovations that have allowed increased automation, faster delivery and quicker benefit realisation. The areas of differentiation in the market are therefore defined in the following terms:

  • End to end approach- the days of silos or everyone working in their own little bubbles are well and truly over. The most effective tools are aligned with other ITSM modules such as Configuration, Change, Problem, Service Level and IT Service Continuity Management.
  • User-friendly navigation -the most effective tools had the user journey modelled on common social media applications such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. By making it easier to log Incidents and Service Requests not only are we encouraging our customers to buy in to Incident Management, we’re getting them back up and running quicker via self-help and Knowledge Management.
  • Flexible workflow -there is no one size fits all. A start up IT organisation with less than twenty employees will have different requirements than a global financial institution with thousands of employees so flexibility is key.
  • Automation – models, templates and workflows all take the pain out of logging and managing Incidents and anything that makes the Major Incident process less of a nightmare or avoids someone having to get out of bed to reboot a server (automated task management) has got to be a winner!
  • Gamification – we work in IT – we are techies, geeks and engineers saving the world one Windows update at a time so work should absolutely be fun! Not only does gamification drive engagement from both end customers and support personnel; by rewarding people with fun badges and bragging rights in the office, we drive up productivity as well.
  • Big Data – a recent US study estimates that poor data quality costs US organizations over $600 billion a year. Missing, incorrect or out of date information is completely unacceptable in a service driven environment. Enter big data analytics which streamlines the Incident Management process, promotes self-service / self-help via Knowledge Management and allows users to log Incidents via smart tags without a single inbound call to the Service Desk.
  • Value driven approach – ever since the launch of ITIL V3; value has been the name of the game. By doing Incident Management we are committing to our customers. This commitment isn’t applying lip service, talking a good talk or even asking “have you tried switching it off and then on again?” on loop. This is about delivering our customers the service that they deserve. By committing to Incident Management via a solid process and toolset; we’re saying to the business – we care.

Strengths & Weaknesses

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Best Overall: Marval Software LimitedIM Best Overall Winner 2016_Marvel

Awesome tool. Everything about it was lovely to use both from an end user and a techie experience. It’s apparent from working with Marval that they’ve spent years sat beside Service Desk analysts and support techies watching them work, seeing the pressures they’re under and figuring out ways in which the tool can make life easier. It’s slick, user friendly and enterprise focused and a fantastic option if you want to take your Service Desk, support teams and Incident Management to the next level.  Some of my favourite things about Marval are the following:

  • The user information: everything from service information and CI data from the CMS to locational info (with Google Maps) and a special instructions section (FYI; my special instructions would be please send coffee and chocolate)
  • Automation: keyword lookups for suggested models and templates
  • The Knowledge Base: each Knowledge entry has a set of work instructions, useful links, tools and diagnostic scripts. The idea behind this according to Marval is that this information can be pre-populated by second and third line techies.
  • Near Field Communication or NFC: if you happen to walk by a jammed printer, you can let the Service Desk know simply by zapping the label – how cool is that?
  • Slick, effective Major Incident process with solid links to Change, Problem and IT Service Continuity Management.

Marval is fantastic option if you need your Incident Management process to be customer and service centric, bulletproof and mature so we’ve given them the Batman award for best overall Incident Management tool for this group test.

Best Innovation: InvGate Inc.

Gamification is used to fantastic effect to make Incident Management easy, scalable and fun whilst the user interface makes for an efficient, positive customer journey. Some of my favourite things about InvGate are the following:

  • IM Best Innovation 2016_InvGateThe login screen can be configured for single sign on, linking into Active Directory / Windows authentication and also works with Mac machines.
  • All the major navigation buttons are placed at the top of the screen and a social interaction log (similar to the Facebook alerts function) can be expanded to view recent interactions between the Service Desk and the end user.
  • If a user goes down the self-service route – they get a really cool “Kudos” message for successfully logging the Incident. It’s a lovely touch that gives a virtual high five to the user for rocking self-help.
  • Market leading gamification: kudos points for adding Knowledge Base article, merit badges for resolving Incidents within SLA and mini quests to encourage healthy competition between Service Desk Analysts.

InvGate is fantastic option to get up and running quickly; not just for ITSM but for other functions such as HR and Facilities. Gamification and a user centric interface makes this effective and fun to use so we’ve given them the Star Wars award for best innovation for this group test.

Best Use of Analytics: HPE

IM Best Use of Analytics 2016_HPIndustry leading use of Big Data analytics makes HPE the standout in this area. Some of my favourite things about HPE are the following:

  • Fully configurable landing page and introduction screen
  • The revamped reporting capability: point and click, oodles of config options and no complicated third party reporting software needed
  • The chat functionality: the system will even suggest people that could help resolve the related Incident!
  • The big data powered Knowledge Base with smart task management and keyword lookups
  • Heat mapping to view trends and anomalies

HPE is a fantastic product for large organisations. The tool has a comprehensive engine behind it that can manage any enterprise level ITSM task it encounters. Big Data analytics drive efficiency savings and support a move to more proactive service model without compromising on functionality or management information so we’ve given them the Spiderman award for best use of analytics for this group test.

IM Best For Proactivity 2016_Nexthink (3)Best for Proactivity: Nexthink

A powerhouse of proactivity. Here are some of my favourite things about the tool:

  • A new approach and a proactive way to do Incident Management – can notify users of a fault and work on a fix without a single inbound call to the Service Desk
  • Landing page gives a clear view of the operational status of all business critical services
  • Designed to remove white noise so Service Desk Analysts can focus on “the serious stuff”
  • Part of their training is to encourage analysts to spend the time saved by automation to go out and talk to users; which can only be good right?

Nexthink empowers the Service Desk and makes Incident Management proactive so we’ve given them the Superman award for proactivity for this group test.

Using their powers for good award: ManageEngine

IM Best Using Powers for Good 2016_ManageEngineManageEngine are definitely on the light side of the force with their free PinkVerified Incident & Knowledge Management tool available for free from their website. Here are some of some of my favourite things about the tool:

  • Thriving user community
  • User friendly self Service Portal – users can raise an Incident or Service Request and browse through the FAQs
  • Multifunctional – the tool can also be used for desktop support, the deployment of software upgrades, patch management and the management of mobile devices

ManageEngine pride themselves on having a significant percentage of the functionality of the four biggest ITSM vendors, so by offering their Incident & Knowledge Management tool for free they deserve the Black Widow award for using their powers for good for this group test.


Deep Dives


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.

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Cakes, Dilbert & ServiceNow!

We were lucky enough to be invited to a ServiceNow seminar in London just before Christmas. The theme of the event was “is your ITSM keeping up with the business?” Naturally we pounced on this like a cheetah on a trampoline so here’s our take on the big day.

ServiceNow

2015 Update – Tom Warren, Sales Director of New Business – ServiceNow

First up was Tom Warren, Sales Director of New Business for ServiceNow. Tom kicked off the afternoon by giving us a whistle stop tour of how 2015 has treated ServiceNow. It’s been an impressive year in terms of growth; two thirds of the world’s biggest banks are now ServiceNow customers.

Tom talked about the passion ServiceNow has for embracing technology: “self-service empowers our users and synergises what they’re using at home. No one wants to use tech that’s 20 years out of date” so far so standard for ITSM toolsets but Tom went on to explain that there is now a ServiceNow app for Apple Watch. Can you imagine being able to log Incidents or approve Service Requests on your watch? How awesome is that?!! (Disclaimer: I’m a huge geek).

Tom continued by talking about how ServiceNow can drive efficiencies at an enterprise level by automating manual tasks. He shared how the product has evolved over time by working with partner ecosystems to drive the transformation process.

Tom ended his session by re-affirming the ServiceNow commitment to its customers encouraging everyone to look at the ServiceNow user community for news, support and FAQs. He reminded the audience “24 by 7 by 365 support and upgrades are included in the licence because we want you to have the best product” – something I totally agree with as there’s nothing worse than spending thousands of pounds on a tool only to spend yet more money every time you have an issue, question or need to upgrade.

 

Value & Efficiency – Neil MacGowan, Enterprise Strategist – ServiceNow

Next up was Neil MacGowan, enterprise strategist for ServiceNow. Neil’s opened his session with a Dilbert cartoon so naturally I was totally on board from the off. Neil gave us the shocking statistic from a recent study that found people are spending 15 hours a week on admin tasks. I loathe anything admin related with a fiery burning passion so completely agree that we need to sort this out. Neil continued by saying that the reason we do so much admin is “multiple departments, outdated tech & inefficient processes”.

Neil gave us a practical example of how ServiceNow can help “before we used ServiceNow for purchase orders, it took an average of 20 emails just to sort one purchase order”. Ouch.  Neil outlined a user experience we can all empathise with: “users go from using Facebook, Amazon, Google etc. at home, then they go into work and are forced to use Soviet era tech. No wonder they’re frustrated”.

Neil demonstrated how ServiceNow can be used to support HR, Marketing and Facilities as well as IT and explained how CreateNow module can create a new support application in minutes. Neil talked about CSI and next steps stating “today’s innovation is tomorrow’s commodity. We need CSI to keep going”.

Neil ended his session by talking about value reminding us: “the true value of  ServiceNow is (1) what you can save (2) what you gain in operations & (3) innovation”

 

Bans Sagoo – Functionality Expert – ServiceNow

The final session we attended was run by Bans Sagoo. His session was called “a look under the hood” Bans used his session to outline how ServiceNow can be used to manage multiple Service Desks, Major Incidents and management analytics.

Bans took us through the ServiceNow Major Incident experience which was slick, efficient and optimised with fab reporting dashboards enabling beleaguered Incident Managers everywhere to be able to report back to management with sensible updates. Bans finished by explaining that having a solid common workflow means you can build structured processes; something I completely agree with especially if you use modelling and templates.

 

A Fun, Informative Event

For my money, this was a really useful and fun event. It’s always nice to see the big software companies give something back and the day was an exciting mix of brand, functionality and process design presentations. The customers I spoke to were all really engaged and a great day was had by all. Thank you to ServiceNow for inviting us along and we hope to be back next time.