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).

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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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Problem management challenges and critical success factors

Following his presentation on “problem management challenges and critical success factors” at the 8th annual itSMF Estonia conference in December, Tõnu Vahtra, Head of Service Operations at Playtech (the world’s largest publicly-traded online gambling software supplier) gives us his advice on understanding problem management, steps to follow when implementing the process, and how to make it successful. 

Tõnu Vahtra
Tõnu Vahtra

Problem management is not a standalone process

Incident management and event management

It cannot exist without the incident management process and there is a strong correlation between incident management maturity and problem management efficiency/results. Incident management needs to ensure that problems are detected and properly documented (e.g. the basic incident management requirement that all requests need to be registered). Incident management works back-to-back with the event management process, if both of these processes are KPI managed then any anomalies in alarm or incident trends can be valuable input to problem management. Incident management also has to ensure that in parallel to restoring service during an incident it has to be ensured that relevant information is collected during or right after resolution (e.g. server memory dump before restart) so that there would be more information available to identify incident root cause(s).

Critical incident management

Problem management at Playtech gains a lot from the critical incident management function, which is carried out by dedicated Critical Incident Managers who have the widest logical understanding of all products and services and years of experience with solving critical incidents. They perform incident post mortem analysis following all major incidents, and they also start with initial root cause analysis (RCA) before handing this task over to problem management. RCA is handed over to Problem Managers within 24 hours from incident end time during which the Critical Incident Manager is collecting and organizing all information available about the incident. Critical Incident Managers usually do not have any problems with allocating support/troubleshooting resources from all support levels as critical incident troubleshooting and initial preventive measures are considered the highest priority within the mandate from highest corporate management. All the above ensures high quality input for problem management on a timely manner.

Change management and knowledge management

In Error Control phase the two most important processes for problem management are change management and knowledge management. Most action items identified during RCA are implemented through change management, the stronger the process the less problem management has to be involved directly in change planning (providing abstract goals VS concrete action plan or task list for implementation) and the smaller the risks of additional incidents during change implementation. Change management also needs to have the capability and documented process flow to implement emergency changes in an organized way with minimum impact to stop reoccurring critical incidents as fast as possible.

Knowledge management is vital for incident management for ensuring that service desk specialists would be able to quickly find and action specific workarounds for known errors until their resolution is still in progress by problem management. Regular input and high attention is needed from problem management to ensure that every stakeholder for known error database (KEDB) would be able to easily locate information relevant to his/her role, all units would be aware of information relevant to them and that all the information in KEDB would be relevant and up to date. In Playtech problem management is also managing process errors identified from root cause analysis and process improvements only last when properly documented, communicated to all relevant stakeholders and additional controls are put in place to detect deflections from optimal process. Local and cross-disciplinary knowledge management for process knowledge has an important role here.

Defect management

Problem management has to go beyond ITSM processes in a software development/services corporation like Playtech and also integrate to software development lifecycle (SDLC). For this purpose in Playtech a separate defect management sub-process has been established under problem management. Defect management is managing the lifecycle of all significant software defects identified from production environments and aligning defect fixing expectations between business and development departments. Defect Managers ensure a consistent prioritized overview of all significant outstanding software defects, which warrants optimal usage of development resources and minimizes overall business impact from defects. They act as a single point of contact for all defect related communication and ensure high transparency of defect fixing process and fix ETA’s. Defect Managers define the defect prioritization framework between business and development key stakeholders and govern the agreed targets.

Software problem management

Problem management is leading the software problem management process through defect management. Under the software problem management process (which is usually being ran by a quality assurance team in relevant development units) development teams are performing root cause analysis for defects highlighted for RCA by problem management or raised internally. Every defect is analyzed from two aspects: firstly why the defect was created by development and secondly if the defect was created then why was it not identified during internal QA and reported from production environment first. Root causes and action items are defined from both questions and tracked with relevant stakeholders. This process ensures that similar defects will not be created or will be identified internally in the future. Even more importantly there is a direct feedback channel from the field to the respective developer or team who created the defect so that they get full understanding of the business implications in relation to their activities.

Important steps to take problem management to the next level

The problem management unit has to become more proactive, to get more involved in service design and service transition phases to identify and eliminate problems before they reach production environments. Problem management needs resources to accommodate contributing to pre-production risk management and even more importantly this involvement has to be valued and enforced by corporate senior management as it may take additional resources and delay time-to-market in some situations.

The Problem Management Team itself can get more resources for proactive tasks by reducing their direct participation in reactive Problem management activities. This has to be done via advocating the Problem management mindset across the entire corporation (encouraging people to think in terms of cause and effect with the desire to understand issue causes and push their resolution for continuous improvement) so each major domain would have their Problem Coordinators and identify root causes/track action items independently and problem management could take more a defining and governing role. To assert the value created from problem management and enlist more people to spread the word about problem management ideas for them to go viral, it is essential to visualize the process and explain the relations between incidents, root causes and action items to all stakeholders for them to understand how their task is contributing to the bigger picture.

There is a high number of operationally independent problem management stakeholders in Playtech and implementing KPI framework that would be fit to measure and achieve problem management goals and be applicable to all major stakeholders individually and cross stakeholders seems almost impossible a task. The saying ”You get what you measure“ is very true in problem management and no stakeholder wants to be measured by problems that involves other stakeholders and are taking actions to remove such problems from their statistics instead of focusing on the problem and its solution. At the same time problem management tends to be most inefficient and difficult for problems spreading across multiple division. A Problem Manager’s role and assertiveness in facilitating a constructive and systematic process towards the resolution of such problems is crucial. And still problem management needs to find a creative approach to reflect such problems in KPI reports to present then as part of the big picture and sell them to executive management to get their sponsorship for major improvement tasks that compete with business development projects for the same resources while the latter has a much clearer ROI.

No problem exists in isolation and the problem records in KEDB can be related to specific categories/ domains and also related hierarchically to each other (there can be major principal problems that consist of smaller problems), also specific action items can contribute to the resolution of more than one problem. Problem categories cannot be restricted to fixed list as it can have multiple triggers and causes, it should be possible to relate a problem record to all interested stakeholders, for this dynamic tagging seems to be a better approach than limited number of categories (for example list of problems that are related to a big project). Instead of looking into each problem in isolation each problem should be approached and prioritized in the right context fully considering its implications and surroundings. No ITSM tool today provides the full capabilities for problem tagging or creating the mentioned relations without development, not to mention the visualization of such relations that would be a powerful tool in trend or WHAT-IF analysis and problem prioritization. Playtech is still looking for the most optimal problem categorization model and the tool that would enable the usage of such model.

Advice to organizations that are planning to start the implementation of the problem management process

For organizations starting the implementation of problem management process  my advice is don’t take all the process activities from the ITIL book and start blindly implementing them, this is not the way to start the implementation of this process or any other. Problem management success depends mostly on a specific mindset and in an already established organization it may take years for the right mindset to be universally accepted. Problem management formal process should be initially mostly invisible to all the stakeholders outside of the Problem Management Team to avoid the natural psychological tendency to resist change.

It is essential to allocate dedicated resources to problem management (Playtech assigned dedicated person to problem management in 2007, and any problem management activities prior to that were ad-hoc and non-consistent). The problem management unit should start from performing root cause analysis and removing the root causes of present major incidents that have the highest financial and reputational impact on the organization. If such incidents are being closely monitored by senior management and key stakeholders, solving them can earn the essential credits for problem management to get attention and resources for solving problems elsewhere. Secondly problem management should look at the most obvious reoccurring alarm and incident trends that result in a high support/maintenance cost. By resolving such problems they gain the trust of support and operational teams whose workload is reduced and they are more willing to contribute and cooperate in future root cause analysis. Problem final review before closure is a task often neglected but to improve the process it is essential to assess if the given problem was handled efficiently and to give feedback about problem solution to all relevant parties. Proactive problem management or KPI’s are not essential to start with and Problem Managers should concentrate on activities with highest exposure and clear value.

In summary

There will definitely be setbacks in problem management and in order to make a real difference with this process and increase the process maturity over time it has to have at least three things. A strong and assertive leader who is persistent in advocating the problem management; a continuous improvement mindset throughout the organization; and the ability to find a way forward from dead-end situations with out of the box thinking. When there is no such leader then involving external problem management experts may also help as a temporary measure to get the focus back on the most important activities. However, this measure is not sufficient in the long-term as the problem management process constantly needs to evolve with its organization and adjust with significant operational changes to be fit for purpose and remain relevant.

You can download Tõnu’s presentation in full here.

itSMF Estonia Conference Round-up

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Beautiful Estonia

On Wednesday 11th December, in a very cold and snowy Tallinn, President of itSMF Estonia, Kaimar Karu kicked off the annual itSMF Estonia conference by introducing all of the speakers and encouraging delegates to ask questions of them throughout the day.

Kaimar had managed once again to raise attendance of the conference (by 10%), with representation from 10 different countries, and with a very good female representation in the audience too.

Delivering Service Operations at Mega-Scale – Alan Levin, Microsoft

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First speaker was Alan Levin of Microsoft whose presentation talked through how Microsoft deal with their vast number of servers and how, built into all of Microsoft products, is the ability to self-heal.

On the subject of Event Management Alan spoke about ensuring that alarms are routed to the correct people and how, in your business, any opportunity you have to reduce alerts should be taken.

Enabling Value by Process – Viktor Petermann, Swedbank

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Viktor opened his presentation by saying that 4 out of 5 improvement processes fail because people are not robots. You cannot just expect them to know what you want and how you want things to work.

He continued by saying that having the right culture, processes and learning from relevant experiences will enable you to do the right things the right way.

Viktor warned that like quitting smoking, change will not happen unless you really want it to.  Before embarking on any change make sure that you are willing to give it 100%.

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Oded Moshe

Benchmarking and BI, Sat Navs for Service Desks – Oded Moshe, SysAid Technologies Ltd.

After having to rest his voice for 24hrs due to contracting the dreaded man-flu Oded still managed to show how to use Benchmarking to improve your Service Desk.

His presentation contained useful guidance on what areas to look at and how to benchmark yourself against them.

He also explained how you can use SysAid and it’s community to gather global service desk metrics to measure yourself against.

Presentation words of wisdom from Oded: Don’t become fixated with metrics and benchmarking as they are not the only way to measure.

Service-Based Public Sector – Janek Rozov, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications

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In contrast to the other presentations “Service-Based Public Sector” was presented in Estonian.  Although I do not speak Estonian I could tell how passionate Janek was about the subject and it was one of the most talked about presentations that evening in the bar.

The presentation covered how the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communication are using ICT to fulfill their vision of supporting Estonians as much as possible, while they are using their rights but bothering them as little as possible in the process. Perhaps we could pay for Janek to spend some time with the UK Government in the hopes that some of this common sense might rub off?

If you would like to know more about Estonian ICT success in the public sector you can read Janek’s pre-conference article “Standardizing the delivery of public services”.

Service Desk 2.0 – Aale Roos, Pohjoisviitta Oy

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Aale spoke profusely about how service desk’s and the mentality of “break fix” is old fashioned and flawed.  He described how the service desk needs be brought kicking and screaming into the 21st century, concentrating on proactive measures and outcomes.

He continued to say that ITIL has been outdated for over a decade and that unlearning ITIL and moving to a “Standard + Case” approach is the way of the future.

Networking

There was lots of opportunity for networking across the event, and at lunch I got the opportunity to speak to a few of the delegates and presenters to find out what they thought of the conference.

Quote from Oded Moshe:

I think the first session by Alan Levin from Microsoft was a great chance for us all to see the insides of one of the largest operational support organizations in the world! They are in charge of providing more than 200 cloud business services to more than 1 billion people with the help of more than 1 million servers. So Problem Management, Incidents, Monitoring – everything is on a HUGE scale – it is easy to understand why you must have your service processes properly tuned otherwise you are in a master-mess…

Peter Hepworth – CEO of AXELOS, Kaimar Karu – President of itSMF Estonia and Patrick Bolger – Chief Evangelist at Hornbill Service Management
Peter Hepworth – CEO of AXELOS, Kaimar Karu – President of itSMF Estonia and Patrick Bolger – Chief Evangelist at Hornbill Service Management

Industry Leaders Agree IT is Revolting – Patrick Bolger, Hornbill Service Management

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Adapt or die was the message in Patrick’s session with references to high street names that didn’t and paid the price.

Comparing how we in IT think we are viewed and how the business actually views us was sobering but mentions of SM Congress and Arch SM show that the industry is ready to change and we are not doing this alone.

Problem & Knowledge, The Missing Link – Barclay Rae, Barclay Rae Consulting

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Presenting on the missing links in ITSM, Barclay hammered home why Problem and Knowledge Management are so fundamentally important.

Using his ITSM Goodness model Barclay showed how to move away from the process silo’s we so often find ourselves in and which processes to group together for maximum effectiveness i.e. Incident, Problem, Change.

Barclay also held well-attended workshops pre-conference in conjunction with itSMF Estonia.

DevOps, Shattering the Barriers – Kaimar Karu, Mindbridge   

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Kaimar’s message is unorthodox:  Don’t play it safe, try to break things, don’t mask fragility and plan for failure, for this is the road to increased quality and innovation.

He advised that we need to not forget that developers are human and not unapproachable cowboys riding round on horses shooting code.  Get to know them over a drink so that everyone can relax and say what’s on their mind without the fear of repercussion.

But most of all remember that “Sh*t happens”.  Stop the blame, it doesn’t help…EVER.

Problem Management Challenges and Critical Success Factors – TÕnu Vahtra, Playtech

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The penultimate session of the day was from TÕnu on how Playtech are working through Problem Management and the issues they have encountered.

The major difficulties TÕnu has found is the lack of practical information on how to actually do Problem Management, and Playtech have found themselves having to teach themselves learning from their own mistakes as they go.

It was a very useful case study with helpful pointers to information and literature such as Apollo Route Cause Analysis by Dean L Gano for others struggling with Problem Management.

The Future for ITIL – Peter Hepworth, AXELOS followed by Forum

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Following on from the publication of AXELOS’ roadmap, and the announcement that they would be partnering with itSMF International, Peter talked through the progress AXELOS has made and its hopes for the future.

The forum was well attended and many useful suggestions were made for ways that ITIL and PRINCE2 could be improved.

You can learn more about AXELOS’ plans by reading our interview with Peter.

My thoughts

Considering the cost of a ticket to the conference I wasn’t expecting the content and presentations to be at the very high level it was.  I haven’t yet attended any of the other non-UK itSMF conferences but the bar has now been set incredibly high.

My main observation from the conference and the discussions that took place after is that the majority of delegates knew how very important Problem Management is, but are still struggling with implementation and making it work.  In the AXELOS workshop the main feedback seemed to be the need for ITIL to cut down on the number of processes available as standard and concentrate on the core areas that the majority of organizations have, or are trying to put in place.

Well done to Kaimar and team for the fantastic job and thank you for the wonderful hospitality. In addition to the conference I particular enjoyed the entertainment on the Tuesday evening, when some of the organisers, speakers, delegates and penguins ventured out in the snow for some sightseeing and a truly delicious meal at a little restaurant called Leib in the Old Town.

I highly recommend to anyone to attend the itSMF Estonia 2014 conference next December. With flights from most places in Europe less than £150, a hotel/venue that is less than £100 per night, and an amazing ticket price of less than £40, it is extremely great value for money. With outstanding content (90% in English), brilliant networking opportunities and excellent hospitality, it’s too good of an event to miss. I certainly look forward to being there again.

As a final note, thank -you to itSMF Estonia for having us involved as the Official Media Partner.  We are hoping to work with other international itSMF chapters in 2014, as well as on other worldwide ITSM events.  Watch this space 🙂

 

The Coming Workforce: A Case for IT Service Management

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Welcome to the Millenial generation

With the Boomer generation set to retire en mass, IT organizations are faced with the unprecedented brain drain of institutional knowledge. Generation X and Millennials have decidedly different work styles and career expectations than previous generations.

At the same time, expectations of productivity and customer value generation have never been higher. IT organizations must find ways to deliver increasing levels of service while embracing the next generation workforce.

Forbes.com contributor Jeanne Meister recently wrote that Job Hopping is the ‘New Normal’ for Millennials. She cites the staggering finding that 91% of Millennials plan to stay in a job “less than 3 years”, and will have 15 – 20 jobs  in their career. They are also quick to leave a position that is no longer meeting their needs.

While much has been written about organizational cultural changes to engage and retain millennials, I’m going to talk about working on the other side of the equation.

What can IT organizations do to thrive in the reality of the Two Year Employee?

The 2-year Employee

Most agree that it takes around six months for a new employee just to reach the break even point – where they’re producing more than they cost. Beyond that, the complexity of IT environments, and the amount of deep knowledge that takes years to learn makes it very hard for new staff to reach the ‘fully trained point’ even in the space of two years, let alone making a significant contribution. Imagine if your most senior IT staff have been on board less than three years!

And that’s the problem.

If it takes two years to bring Two Year Employees up to speed, something needs to change

And fast.

Rather than fight a losing battle against a culture we can’t change, we need to build an organizational culture around the Two Year reality.

Millennials bring a high level of self-motivation, initiative, and performance. They are eager to make a contribution to an organization that shares their values. If they aren’t allowed to do meaningful work quickly, they will leave for an organization that better meets their needs.

We’re currently burning a lot of that positive energy teaching them ‘how-we-do-it-here’.

A Comparison

Let’s take a brief look at an industry that has already dealt with rapid on-boarding:Construction.

A General Contractor is engaged to build a home. She works with the customer to understand their requirements, and coordinates with a wide assortment of sub-contractors for various parts of construction – foundation, framing, electrical, plumbing, heating, roofing.

The sub-contractors show up with their crews to complete their part of the project, and the General Contractor has a high degree of confidence in a quality result.

Why?

Because there is a body of how-it’s-done in the various trades, guided by:

  • Building codes (governance)
  • Tricks of the trade (best practices)
  • Customer expectations (business outcomes)

I’ll spare you the how-it’s-like-ITIL analogy.

This is the nature of the construction business. The General Contractor has to be able to bring in workers who can immediately produce value. She doesn’t have time to teach them ‘how we do it here’. Whether you’re a framer or electrician, you are expected to know how to apply your knowledge of the codes and tricks of the trade to get the job done here.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying IT is like the construction industry. But the need for immediate value from short-term workers has driven a different model that’s worth exploring.

Time To Value

For the sake of argument, let’s say it takes two years for a new IT employee to be fully contributing. If they stay for 20 years, we’ve invested roughly 10% in their long-term productivity. Not a bad investment.

But the math doesn’t pencil out for a 2-year employee. The same 10% investment means they have to hit max productivity at around 2 months. Minor on-boarding tweaks and new retention efforts won’t get us there.

The solution isn’t to change new people to fit outdated practices, but rather to change our old practices to fit the new workforce!

Tribal Knowledge

Undocumented institutional knowledge makes it difficult and time consuming for new staff to be as productive as long-term staff.  There simply isn’t enough time to transfer 30 years of knowledge to a new employee, and even if it were possible, the person to whom its transferred is likely to leave much sooner than their predecessor.

Millennials are demotivated by the idea that it will take 10 years to contribute fully and earn a respected position.

This is a major liability that can no longer be maintained.

IT Service Management as a Workforce Strategy

For the record, I’m NOT a Human Resources professional, but I am a seasoned IT Manager concerned with the implication of significant numbers of retirements and the impact it’s already having on IT’s ability to deliver consistent quality and cost effectiveness.

The next generation of IT Professionals will be of the Millennial variety, and the common practice of training new hires ‘how we do things here’ poses a significant challenge.

IT Service Management frameworks like ITIL and COBIT are global best-practices framework for Service delivery that offers a standardized approach. These standards are shared across countries, continents, and companies.

Much like the building codes and tricks of the trade I mentioned above for the construction trades, these best practices are the key to not only survive, but to thrive with the Two Year employee.

The extent to which an organization is aligned with widely-adopted external standards directly determines how effective they will be with the coming workforce. Organizations with strong alignment will have a huge advantage in workforce time-to-value.

Standardization for it’s own sake has no real purpose but, as a workforce strategy, it has enormous value. It’s a strategic investment in an organization’s ability to thrive with millennial workers and the culture they bring.

On-Boarding in a Best Practices Organization

Newly hired employees who are trained in ITSM require very little explanation of “how -things are done here”.

Training can go more like:

Hiring Manager: Cheryl Smith is the Change Manager. CAB meets on Thursday at 9:00am.

New Employee: Where do I fill out RFCs?

Hiring Manager: <myorg/ChangeManagement>

New Employee: Does CAB meet in person?

Hiring Manager: Yes, room D713

The point being – they already get it. The know what CAB and RFCs mean, and they know how it’s done. A few minor ‘where’s the restroom’ kind of questions, and they’re good to go.

Services are well documented through the Service Strategy and Service Design phases. There is clarity and consistency in roles and responsibilities. Processes are well defined and have clear owners. Very little happens through undocumented, informal processes.

Service and process knowledge is documented in Knowledge Management. Documentation is kept up to date through Change and Release processes. All staff have access to the accurate information that they need to effectively do their job.

New staff with ITSM experience require very little how-we-do-it training when you’re using standard ITSM processes. Not only do new employees onboard faster, but they also bring valuable experience that’s compatible with best practices.

Hiring in a Best Practices Organization

The hiring process must include selection of candidates who have solid ITSM training and experience. It is no longer optional. Candidates must have both the technical skills and the ITSM process experience to be a good fit.

Colleges are starting to include course work in ITIL and organizations large and small are using ITSM to great success. Qualified millennial candidates with working knowledge of ITSM from college or a prior employer are increasingly common.

Hiring managers must consider the ROI of candidates, and shorter time-to-value is key for the Two Year Employee.

Embrace the Two Year Employee

Ready or not, welcome to the future.

If we can’t change Millennials, and I submit you cannot, then we must change our organizations to maximize value through them. We need to embrace the Two Year Employee as a strategic advantage.

IT Service Management is the key.

ITSM not only helps IT be more customer-aligned and effective, it also greatly reduces time-to-value of new employees.

If the thought of retiring Boomers, brain drain, and Two Year Employees scares you, think ITSM.  IT Service Management is an effective IT workforce strategy!

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Service Management at the speed of light

ServiceNow recently held a three-city European forum. The event was a compact version of the larger ‘Knowledge’ event held in the US and a chance for customers to share experiences and hear from ServiceNow bigwigs.

I found the most fascinating session of the day was from Reinoud Martens, Service Manager at CERN, the home of particle accelerators and clever physicists searching for the origins of the universe.

“At CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, physicists and engineers are probing the fundamental structure of the universe. They use the world’s largest and most complex scientific instruments to study the basic constituents of matter – the fundamental particles. The particles are made to collide together at close to the speed of light. The process gives the physicists clues about how the particles interact, and provides insights into the fundamental laws of nature.” About CERN

Reinoud’s session was entitled ‘ITSM also works outside its comfort zone’ and explored how CERN implemented IT Service Management best practice across IT and many other business functions. Reinoud kindly answered some follow up questions via email below.

Service Management beyond IT

Reinoud is Service Manager for a group called ‘General Services’ at CERN.

General Services serves IT services but also a myriad of other business services at CERN such as Civil Engineering, Facility Management, Medical and Fire Protection.

A user at CERN can log a password reset or seek help with a faulty laptop – but they can also rent a car, alert facilities to a blocked drain, book a hotel room, have an old filing cabinet towed away or log an expense claim – all from the same Service Management destination; the CERN Service Portal. In total CERN supports 282 active services across 494 operational functions.

Service Management Singularity

The goal at CERN, as Reinoud eloquently described is to:

 1. Make life simple for users and supporters by providing:

  • ONE point of contact (One #, One URL, ONE place)
  • ONE behaviour; Unified processes for all services
  • ONE tool shared by all service providers (sharing information and knowledge)
  • ONE service description in a business service catalogue

2. Improve efficiency and effectiveness

  • Alignment with good practice (ITILV3 and ISO20K)
  • High level of automation
  • Framework for continuous improvement

And do this for ALL SERVICES (not just IT).

Interview with Reinoud

Q. What drove the initiative for one Service Portal across all these disciplines? Could you describe what existed before?

Aerial View of the CERN taken in 2008
Aerial View of the CERN taken in 2008

Before there were many numbers to call or people to know to get your needs fulfilled or to report a problem. There was an IT helpdesk, and a facilities management number to call, but their respective scopes were not 100% clear and there was a lot not covered by either of these numbers.

The most common way to find the right help was a Google search on the cern.ch domain that would return a lot of obsolete or wrong information (Every service published it’s own pages which were not removed after reorganizations or updated after changes).

Many people published their own service catalogues with numbers to call. So there was a lot of confusion and chaos, although there might have been some islands of excellence hidden here and there.

IT used a ticketing system with which they had difficulty upgrading; this system was also partly used outside IT for example Application Support. Even within IT some groups had their own systems. Outside IT there was no real ticketing system in place.

Some requests that have to follow strict authorization rules were and are supported in a custom workflow system developed at CERN where people fill out request forms by themselves (e.g. for taking leave, or for ordering equipment).

The initiative was driven by:

  1. The realization that CERN needed to become more customer/user focused, also as we moved from a project phase (building LHC) to an operational phase (running LHC).
  2. The need to support an exploding user population with less or at best constant resource levels.

Q. Did you face any political resistance when IT joined General Services (I’m thinking that certain departments might not want to relinquish control)?

An event showing characteristics expected from the decay of the SM Higgs boson to a pair of photons (dashed yellow lines and green towers).
“Approximately 600 million times per second, particles collide within the Large Hadron Collider(LHC). Each collision generates particles that often decay in complex ways into even more particles. Electronic circuits record the passage of each particle through a detector as a series of electronic signals, and send the data to the CERN Data Centre (DC) for digital reconstruction. The digitized summary is recorded as a “collision event”. Physicists must sift through the 15 petabytes or so of data produced annually to determine if the collisions have thrown up any interesting physics.” Computing at CERN

It happened the other way around, as the ‘chaos’ was probably bigger outside the IT area. The initiative started in general services during first half of 2009. In 2010 IT joined forces to propose a potentially CERN wide (for infrastructure services) solution. HR and Finance were to join later.

Obviously we encountered a lot of resistance, scepticism and ‘other attitudes’. Many predicted this project would fail, so they adopted a very passive attitude, but after one year of ‘production’ these people also realized the benefits invested effort to make things work. It’s not something you can do overnight.

Q. From your presentation it was very clear that you have taken best practices from ITSM (ITIL and ISO20000) and applied them to other business disciplines. Can you cite any examples of where IT can learn from these other disciplines? Do such best practices exist in other areas?

There are no examples where the standard needs to be ‘extended’ for IT based on our experience for non IT. There are ‘small implementation detail examples’ where IT could ‘profit’ from the ‘culture’ in other areas. For example business services that are person facing will like to hide the fact that there is an automated process and tickets behind requests and incidents as much as possible; so they wish to make the system ‘more human’ with special notifications, or service dependent ‘signatures’.

We have been looking at other standards but really found no alternative … including external consultants. There may be standards for libraries for instance; but we can’t support a standard per service (with over 280 services), and in the end these alternative standards for very specific domains contain the same ‘common sense’ that can be found in ITIL and ISO20k.

Q. Can you elaborate on the section of your presentation regarding ‘Cultural Change’? In particular I recall how you used a combination of Knowledge Management (this is how things work around here) and Service Catalogue (and this is how things get done). What led to this approach?

The culture change has to do with technicians that are focused on solving technical problems (say fix a water tap) but really don’t caring about the ‘caller’ at all. They will close a ticket not when the work is done, but when they want to bill their work; this can be much later. As a result the caller gets out-dated feedback and thinks the system does not work.

It gets worse if they need a spare part; they will not inform the caller or update a ticket; they will maybe note in a piece of paper they have to get a spare part and the user thinks nothing is happening. It’s this customer/user awareness and what it means in the day-to-day life of workmen that are ‘supporters’ for the infrastructure services that is the problem. The sharing of knowledge between supporters and with users (FAQ’s) is something that came ‘automatically’. We had many local FAQ’s and wiki’s but now we provide a global infrastructure.

Service Catalogue is what is available to the users, not how things get done. The focus is on the what (scope, when available quality) then obviously there is a link to support teams. So it orchestrates how things get done as an additional benefit.

Note: Sample of CERN Service Portal users:

  • Engineers
  • Physicists
  • Technicians
  • Administrators
  • Computer scientists
  • Craftspeople
  • Mechanics

But also:

  • Computer illiterate support staff
  • Candidates for job opportunities from around the world
  • Suppliers

Q. What does ‘Coaching’ look like for non-IT supporters? I remember you mentioned taking supporters through the equivalent of ITIL foundation for business services, but not using ITIL foundation – can you elaborate on this point?

We organized awareness training for non-IT people, a sort of shortened ITIL foundation course not referring to IT situations. E.g. configuration management for a medical service is understanding who your ‘patients’ are, what their ‘status’ is in terms of health parameters etc. If a medical service has not a good register of this they are bad in configuration management.

Explaining the ITIL concepts, naming conventions, processes and ideas but staying away from IT examples… this is not always easy in areas as release and deployment management for a cleaning service or a materials management service…so you must be ‘creative’ and maybe skip some very specific areas in certain cases. Most areas however are relevant to most services (if you take a step back and ‘reinterpret’ the concepts).

This is not enough, you also need to explain again and again what the underlying ideas of the processes are, and how they should use the system (e.g. impact and urgency priority; not closing a ticket that is wrongly assigned, but assign it to the right function, or return to service desk, etc..). This is more laborious for non-IT people than for IT ‘supporters’.

Q. Why ServiceNow?

We looked at the market second half of 2010 once we knew what we wanted to deploy (Single point of contact, unified processes and single web based tool shared by all with in the heart this business service catalogue driving the automation and a service portal); we started with a long list of around 40 tools, quickly shortened down to 6 which we evaluated in more detail based on a long questionnaire; ended up with two for which we did a POC at CERN and some reference visits.

We took into account lots of criteria covering: functionality, configurability/flexibility, architecture, interface, future evolution, etc. The fact that ServiceNow was a SaaS solution played a role (this was an ‘experiment’ for CERN’s IT department and they were ready to test it; it certainly helped dramatically reduce the time between the choice and being operational).

Obviously total cost of ownership also played a key role. Anyway things may have evolved in the last 3 years, so although we don’t regret this choice a second, the outcome could be different today. I have no idea of what is going on in this area on the market today (I am no IT guy anymore and have other things on my mind lately).

Q. Finally, your advice to organizations looking to embark on a similar journey?

Top Three Takeaways from Reinoud’s presentation:

1. ITSM is RELEVANT beyond IT and it WORKS

2. Essential for success are:

  • A comprehensive Business Service Catalogue
  • To know what you are supposed to be doing
  • To understand how these services are provided (by whom)
  • To drive automation and smooth assignment & escalation
  • A Service Portal to hide the complexity of all of this
  • A good tool  (that lets you be ‘agile’)
  • Extra coaching for non IT supporters

3. You can do this in your own organization

CERN Service Portal

Images of the CERN ‘Service Portal’ below:

Service Portal Features:

  • User access to all services
  • Search function
  • Browse the catalogue
  • Report issues
  • Follow-up issues
  • Access knowledge base
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

About CERN in 3 Minutes

Accelerator Event Image Credit, Aerial View Image Credit

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: ITinvolve for Knowledge Management [BEST IN CLASS]

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

Executive Summary – ITinvolve

Overview
  • 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
Primary Market Focus Base on the information supplied ITinvolve typically target customers in the upper end of the Medium segment and higher (500+ employees). They have customers in the medium, large, and very large segment.

Commercial Summary

Vendor ITinvolve
Product ITinvolve Knowledge Collaborator
Version reviewed Summer ’13
Date of version release June 2013
Year founded May 2011
Customers 13
Pricing Structure SaaS-Based – Includes annual Platform cost of $50K, then licensed per user with annual list price of $1,600 per full user with lower price points for business/casual users. Typical net sales price is $65,000 per one year term with some deals exceeding $500,000 over multi-year term.
Competitive Differentiators
  1. “Architected from ground up to facilitate knowledge capture, sharing, and collaboration between IT professionals as well as business constituents. (ITinvolve leverages all relevant systems-based IT data and information sources and uses familiar social media techniques – e.g. crowd sourcing, peer review, following – to provide an always current and trusted source of an IT organization’s collective knowledge. All knowledge is represented through visually insightful objects and relationships. Objects may be technology elements – e.g. servers, databases, applications, policies, knowledge – e.g. articles, best practice documents, FAQs, automations, process activities – e.g. incidents, changes, requests, problems, as well as custom defined objects – e.g. manufacturing shop floor equipment, medical devices, even HR, Legal, Finance knowledge)
  2. Active Knowledge Delivery provides the right knowledge at the right time to the right people.  (Our solution proactively identifies and presents only the relevant knowledge in the context of the objects the user is viewing. Our product is designed to visually represent knowledge and relationships for quick analysis, and provides the ability to create personalized Perspectives on objects and their knowledge. Further, we use advanced techniques, such as tagging and relationship-based search, to provide quick easy and fast access to knowledge overcoming the limitations of traditional indexing and Google-like search approaches that generate dozens or more results that must be individually reviewed)
  3. ITinvolve provides the only solution that enables a user to create a decision scenario and evaluate the potential upstream and downstream impacts of the decision being considered, involving all relevant stakeholders in the process”

Independent Review

logoThis product is an innovative and interesting option for those wanting to really develop their Service Management using knowledge in an intuitive and new way, based on ‘social’ interaction.

There are lots of good functions and capabilities, plus the product has/can be used with other ITSM tools. The concepts are good and well thought through, and this is an excellent use of innovation, albeit that the system may look initially complex, without some explanation of the approach.

The vendor has a tough sales pitch to make to win new enterprise clients given the need for fairly radical cultural change, although the tool should appeal in particular to organisations aiming to achieve more value and results from knowledge-sharing.

The vendor is new and the product and positioning are developing. This looks to be a very good option for those looking to exploit ‘social’ and organic ways of working – also with an open and innovative approach to making processes work effectively.

Overview

  • New vendor with innovative product and approach
  • Not traditional knowledge management approach – overcoming traditional indexing and keyword searching problems.
  • Associating knowledge objects with users ‘following’ objects – creates viral/organic knowledge approach
  • Lots of good features and well thought-out functionality
  • A lot of new terminology
  • Product requires a big shift in approach from client
  • Vendor still developing pitch and positioning

Strengths

  • Architected based on knowledge-sharing approach, with ‘social’ approach
  • Uses ‘Social’ crowdsourcing as an intuitive and familiar approach, rather than traditional authoring and review
  • Users ‘follow’ objects, creating knowledge and understanding of who are real experts and stakeholders. This creates wider net of interested parties, and therefore facilitates a ‘crowdsourcing’ approach.
  • Can be used in conjunction with other ITSM products – using social and knowledge areas
  • Positive approach to using social and knowledge, based on actual usage and practice rather than theoretical processes. Uses Social-Media type ‘following’ of objects, services etc, as opposed to CMDB based assignment, to establish relationships and shared accountability.
  • Service desk or other support staff would see all the followers of an ‘object’ (application, server, database, incident, etc.). Then assign and track as appropriate
  • Nice status bar on each knowledge page – number of views, metrics etc.
  • Good visual representations of relationships – showing how many users involved in incidents and knowledge stakeholders, relationships between objects  etc.
  • Stakeholders crowdsource knowledge  and change – based on ‘objects’ they are following
  • Good overall approach to try and manage ‘real life’ way of working – ie involving relevant stakeholders in CAB type decisions.
  • Can also use more traditional approach of approval and review as needed
  • Some interesting new and ‘social’ terminology and verbs/actions – more intuitive and user-friendly version of RACI concepts
  • Vendor offers Proof of Concept and trial – (based on requirements – usually 30 – 60 days). Implementation approach aims to support client self-sufficiency with product where possible
  • Some good examples of focussed customer successes using KM – 70% reduction in change failures, 50% reduction in new start productivity, 50% reduction in mean time to restore services
  • Good understanding of varying SME/Enterprise implementation issues
  • Implementation based around successful customer adoption of KM processes

Weaknesses

  • Requires a major client shift in approach, with new terminology (verbs, actions) used – could be off-putting for some
  • Looks complex in places and requires clients with open or new approach to implementation
  • Sales pitch is good (based on solution selling and use cases) although needs to be developed and simplified to grab attention and quickly show route to value
  • New and small vendor with limited market track record as company

ITinvolve’s Knowledge Management Customers

In Their Own Words:

“ITinvolve Knowledge Collaborator provides a federated, comprehensive, and peer reviewed source of all your IT knowledge, and combines this with personalized visualization, in-context collaboration, and proactive delivery of relevant information to those who need it when they need it.

Easily capture and share your collective knowledge – configuration data, policies, best practices, tribal knowledge, lessons learned, and more – in one easy to use place. Gain unprecedented visibility into your complex IT environment configurations, dependencies, and relationships.

Leveraging modern social collaboration techniques, ITinvolve is always up-to-date and accurate so you can make operational decisions with confidence and without the fear of unintended consequences.”

Screenshots

Further Information:

Knowledge Management Review Index

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

Review: EasyVista for Knowledge Management

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

Executive Summary – EasyVista

Overview
  • 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
Primary Market Focus Base on the information supplied, EasyVista typically market to medium and large size customers.

Commercial Summary

Vendor EasyVista
Product EasyVista 2013
Version reviewed 2013
Date of version release April 2013
Year founded EasyVista was created as Staff & Line in 1988 and became EasyVista in 2012.
Customers 300 SaaS and 750 on premise
Pricing Structure SaaS, Named and concurrent options
Competitive Differentiators “Neo Technology: This is our ‘Codeless Framework’ that (at a high level) does two things;

  1. CONNECT – many API’s and integrations have been pre-written into ERP solutions, IT management tools, DB’s, directories, Cloud services and obviously AD / LDAP and Mail etc. all of which are increasingly used in building a service.
  2. BUILD – we believe we are significantly ahead of our competition here as we have not only build the mechanism for codeless programming (Graphical drag and drop / wizards etc — which many vendors have), but we have also developed all of the code required to build a service. (No Java or C## etc needs to be built and added into the graphical objects – which all of our competitors require. This equates to 6000 man hours of programming.”

Independent Review

EV_LOGO_RGBThis is a straightforward and standard Knowledge option with multi-level capability for EV users –  knowledge is shipped with the product and seamlessly integrated with it.

Some nice features around discussion boards, ‘crowdsourcing’ options and multi-levels KAs, plus searching and dashboard capability.

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

Overview

  • Good functionality which meets all stated requirements
  • Seamless integration across the ITSM product set
  • Vendor has established global position in mid-market – with limited presence in some markets – e.g. UK
  • User Interface is straightforward and user-friendly
  • Some good features around discussion boards, crowdsourcing options and multi-level KAs, plus searching and dashboard capability
  • A good option for EV customers or those considering this with requirements for developing standard Knowledge functionality

Strengths

  • Meets all the basic functionality required for the review, for creation, approval, maintenance, tracking of Knowledge Articles (KAs)
  • Pink Verified for Knowledge Management
  • Multi- level deployment in different – 6 languages shipped, can search in different languages Can search content of attachments, controls on records – with control over level of skill required to see and use record – ie based on specific certifications
  • Able to control who can use ‘user rating’ – for relevance of KA Actions. Can ‘publish as a news article’ – generate a record on home page
  • Nice feature to highlight regular searches that return no results – ie identify topics for articles
  • Can reference 3rd party search engines and also rate the solution
  • Search engine automatically searches, on logging an incident and on self-service portal
  • Ability to create question/answer scripts
  • Able to create Known Error with flexibility to allow changes to record during lifecycle and also check for duplicates
  • Can create (and link) technical and simplified version of same KA, then apply to profile to apply to relevant content by individual login
  • Search Statistics Dashboard  – able to see who is doing searches and volumes, types, dates, results – useful to see who is using the KM and whether they are searching for the right things
  • Discussion groups within product – nice like Facebook wall – can send KA information to all or specific groups
  • ‘Crowdsourcing’ by starting discussions on specific items and sharing or specifying viewers
  • Wiki going live – with global front end dashboard of usage across EV users. All product documentation online

Weaknesses

  • Vendor has been geared to mid-market implementation – now aiming more for enterprise market
  • Limited positioning or presence in some key markets – e.g. UK
  • Could provide more focussed, results-based information on customer success stories using KM
  • Global wiki portal relatively new

EasyVista’s Knowledge Management Customers

In Their Own Words:

“EasyVista is a leading, global provider of cloud based IT Service Management, Asset Lifecycle Management, and Organisational Service Management solutions for the large enterprise. We have the very best Pink Verify Certifications, hold a prominent position in the Gartner ITSSM magic quadrant and Gartner ITALM reports. We have one of the world’s most comprehensive cloud infrastructures for ITSM and ITALM. We run over  1.5 million platform tests a day  and support over 1000 clients worldwide. We are also not only a global company, but lead the field with our global product offering multiple languages, currencies time-zone management and administration.

What we do: We specialize in helping organisations make the transition from traditional IT Operations Management that was designed for a very different time, to ‘New IT’ Operations Management designed for now and the future. We transform your customer experience, simplify the management and constant change within of IT, provide visibility and intelligence and we help extend workflow automation services beyond IT into other functions within the enterprise, such as HR, facilities and customer service. ‘New IT’ needs new thinking. We believe the building blocks of IT have changed. Applications, compute, storage and services come from ‘everywhere’. IT is no longer exclusively in the basement. A broker of IT Service and Support is required that can connect, integrate and coordinate service and support across the ‘New hybrid IT’, and remove customer frustration, providing a familiar and logical support portal, for all IT and business services, as well as simplifying the workload on IT.”

Screenshots

Further Information:

 Knowledge Management Review Index

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