Review: Matrix42 for Service Catalogue

This independent review is part of our 2013 Service Catalogue Group Test.

Executive Summary – Matrix42

Overview
  • Strong request and Catalogue functionality – technical focus
  • Good option for Tech-only implementations (e.g. MSPs)
Strengths
  • Good Request and Catalogue functionality
  • Speed of implementation – doesn’t need other ITSM processes
  • ServiceNow integration
Weaknesses
  • Lack of US/UK coverage
  • Approach – little strategic implementation focus
  • Functionality gaps
Primary Market Focus “Mid Market – Suite describes Matrix42 market focus. From 500 to 10,000 users/devices is our sweet spot, although we have several customers with 10,000+ users”

Commercial Summary

Vendor Matrix42
Product Workplace Management 2013
Version reviewed v6.0
Date of version release May 2013
Year founded 1992
Customers Over 2,500 customers in total; approximately 350 with Service Catalogue / Service Desk
Pricing Structure Per Managed Device:  Service Desk and Service Catalogue are included free: Can be Cloud hosted (Monthly Rental) or on Premise (License + Annual Maintenance)
Competitive Differentiators Matrix42 state:

  1. We offer our Service Catalogue AND Service Desk unlimited for FREE with any of our other products
  2. We offer an integrated Suite of award winning Products for Managing Physical, Mobile and Virtual Devices and Users Interaction with IT as recognised by Gartner Magic Quadrant.
  3. We seamlessly integrate out-of-the-box with Products where they are already in place (e.g. SCCM, ServiceNow, Citrix).
Additional features “Free of Charge out-of-the-box integration with Airwatch, Microsoft SCCM 2007 / 2012, ServiceNow, Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop. Other Products (e.g. BMC Remedy) can also be integrated using consulting services to download service and request templates and adapters.”

MATRIX42 LOGOIndependent Review

Matrix42 is relatively new player in the UK and US markets, although established in Germany and other European markets.

The Service Catalogue product provides an effective and full set of request management, portal and catalogue functionality. This is based on the technical ‘bottom up’ approach and includes some effective discovery and asset management functionality. Demand Management has some useful outputs although this, SLAs and Service Desk integration still needs to be developed to meet the full criteria.

The vendor has technical capability and experience of interaction with other products and vendors – there is also a partnership with ServiceNow for wider ITSM functionality. The vendor’s approach is focussed on the technical and discovery aspects rather than strategic and high level services – so e.g., the system can’t easily show graphical representation of service structure and hierarchy.

The customer interface looks professional and similar to a retail experience. Implementation can be quick and doesn’t depend on other ITSM functionality – so this can be an effective and fast way to get started with a catalogue and portal. The vendor primarily works with medium sized enterprises although also has some good large client references.

This product is a good option for medium sized organisations to get started quickly and automate request and fulfilment processes. Buyers would need to have a clear view on how to roll up low-level services into business services using this product – this system may suit managed services providers who may not need to use ‘business’ systems and supply components only – or ‘bundles which are mostly comprised of hardware or commodity systems.

A longer term route to wider and more strategic ITSM integration is available via the ServiceNow integration.

Overview

  • Specific Service Catalogue/Request Management Vendor
  • Established in Germany and other territories – now making sales and marketing incursion into established ITSM markets
  • Excellent Customer and User Interface for IT hardware and software request and lifecycle management
  • Meets most stated requirements – full request management – gaps in strategic approach
  • Vendor not well known in ITSM market
  • Little focus or capability in strategic implementation approach from vendor
  • Gaps in stated requirements – SLAs with Service Desk integration, Demand Management, Dashboards and Reporting
  • Function rich product for technical/bottom up functionality

Strengths

  • Excellent customer and user interface for hardware and software request and lifecycle management
  • Strong and intuitive portal and user request functionality
  • iPhone/iPad integrations looks impressive
  • Good integration with discovery and asset systems to build service bundles and ‘discover’ services
  • Vendor offers clear understanding of technical integration and request management/portal processes
  • Simple and effective structure and levels of service criteria
  • Some excellent enterprise client implementations
  • Strategic Partnership and integration with ServiceNow – opportunity for wide pool of product expertise
  • Some nice views and outputs for Demand management tracking
  • Can be quickly implemented without need to develop ITSM processes

Weaknesses

  • Vendor approach set up for request management and technical / bottom up approach only
  • Matrix42 are passionate technologists, a strategic ‘top down’ view of ITSM services is not currently a key focus
  • Vendor not widely known or established in ITSM community outside of Germany
  • Service Desk and Service Catalogue modules not intrinsically integrated – SLAs not delivered OOTB for Requests in Service Catalogue module, although this is in Service Desk
  • Lack of full function-rich SLA capability without customisation
  • Service hierarchy not fully available in graphical format
  • Demand Management – lacks full requirement without bespoke consulting
  • Gaps in Dashboard and reporting features OOTB – requires specific consulting or in-house SQL skills
  • Basic Help desk/Incident Management functionality

Workplace Management 2013 Service Catalogue Customers

In Their Own Words:

“Integrate or Replace? – Your Choice

What makes Matrix42 unique is our vision to be an aggregator of technology that interacts with end users. If you believe in putting your users first, our solutions help to achieve a great user experience, whilst the Service Desk team maintains control and reaps the benefits of automation. We provide best of breed software that interacts with the user’s Workplace, but we also integrate out-of-the-box with products like ServiceNow, Microsoft SCCM and Citrix, as well as providing an integration layer for other vendors.

Our strengths are:

  1. Simple: Very simple user interface – requires no end user training. Full control over what the end user can see and request. Fully searchable. Our new graphical Workflow Designer allows easy and flexible customisation of request and delivery processes.
  2. Interactive: Users and IT can see exactly where their request is in the system, and issue reminders, WITHOUT calling the Service Desk.
  3. Intelligent: Requests can be auto authorised, one step, two step, conditional extra step if procurement required and can be dependent on factors such as requestor, cost center, service owner, items in stock, licenses available.
  4. Integrated: Out-of-the-box automation for Software Delivery & Configuration of Physical, Virtual & Mobile Devices as well as Active Directory and 3rd party systems.
  5. Holistic: Full Contract Management & automated Licensed Software recognition, enables a complete and automated out-of-the-box solution for Software Request, License Compliance, Procurement and Delivery.”

Screenshots

Further Information

Group Test Index

This independent review is part of our 2013 Service Catalogue Group Test.

How to Provide Support for VIPs

One of the outcomes of IT Service Management is the regulation, consistency and predictability in the delivery of services.

I remember working in IT before Service Management was adopted by our organisation and realising that we would over-service some customers and under-service others. Not intentionally but we didn’t have a way of regulating our work and making our output predicatable.

Our method of work delivery seemed to be somewhere between “First come first served” and “She who shouts loudest shall get the best service”. Not the best way to manage service delivery.

Chris York tweeted an interesting message recently;

It’s a great topic to talk about and one that I remember having to deal with personally in previous jobs.

I have two different views on VIP treatment – I think it’s a complex subject and I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments below.

if your names not down you're not getting support
if your names not down you're not getting support

The Purist

Firstly IT Service Management is supposed to define exactly how services will be delivered to an organisation. The service definition includes the cost, warranty and utility that is to be provided.

Secondly, there is a difference between the Customer of the service and the User of the service. The Customer is characterised as the people that pay for the service. They also define and agree the service levels.

Users are characterised as individuals that use the service.

There are loads of great analogys to reinforce this point – from local government services that are outsourced (The local Government is the customer, the local resident is the user), to restaurants and airports. The IT Skeptic has a good discussion on the subject

It’s also true to say that the Customer might not also be a user of the service, although in organisations I’ve worked in it is usually so.

This presents an interesting dilemma for both the Provider and the Customer. Should the Customer expect more from the service than they originally negotiated with the Provider? I think the most common example that this dilemma occurs is end-user services – desktop support.

The people that would “sign on the dotted line”for the IT Services we used to provide would be Finance Directors, IT Directors, CFOs or CIOs. Very senior people with responsibility for the cost of their services and making sure the company gets a good deal.

Should we be surprised when senior people that ultimately pay for the service expect preferential treatment? No – but we should remind them of the service warranty that they agreed would be supplied.

Over-servicing VIPs has to be at the cost of someone else – and by artificially raising the quality of service for a few people we risk degrading the service for everyone.

The Pragmatist

The reality is that IT Service Management is a people business and a perception business, especially end-user services.

People call the Service desk when they want something (a Request) or they need help (an Incident). Both of these are quite emotional human states.

The performance and usability of someones IT equipment is fundamental to their own productivity and their own success. It feels very personal when your equipment that you rely on stops functioning.

Although we can gather SLA and performance statistics for our stakeholder meetings we have the problem that we are often seen as being as good as our last experience with that individual person. It shouldn’t be this way – but it is.

I’ve been to meetings full of good news about the previous months service only to be ripped to pieces for a request submitted by the CEO that wasn’t actioned. I’ve been to meetings after a period of general poor service and had good reviews because the Customer had a (luckily) excellent experience with the Service desk.

Much as we don’t like it prioritising VIP support it has an overall positive effect when we do.

The middle ground (or “How I’ve seen it done before”)

If you don’t like the Pragmatist view above there are ways to come to a compromise. Stephen Mann touched on an idea I have seen before:

Deciding business criticality is obviously a challenge.

In my previous role, in the advertising world, the most important people in an agency are the Creatives.

These guys churn out graphical and video content and work on billable hours. When their equipment fails the clock is ticking to get them back up and running again.

So calculating the financial cost of individuals downtime and assigning a role is a method of designating those that can expect prioritised support.

As a Service Provider in that last role our customer base grew and our list of VIPs got longer. We eventually allocated 5% of each companies headcount to have “VIP” status in our ITSM tool.

I think there are ways to write VIP support into an IT Services contract that allows the provider to plan and scale their support to cater for it.

Lastly, we should talk about escalated Incidents. This is a more “formal” approach to Service Management (the Purist would be happy) where a higher level of service is allocated to resolving an Incident if it meets the criteria for being escalated.

When dealing with Users it is worth having a view of that persons overall experience with the Service Provider. If a user already has one escalated Incident should she expect a better service when she calls with another? Perhaps so – the Pragmatist would see that although we file each Incident separately her perception of the service is based on the overall experience. With our ITSM suite we use informational messages to guide engineers as to the overall status of a User.

Simon Morris
Simon Morris

In summary…

I think everyone would agree that VIP support is a pain.

The Purist will have to deal with the fact that although he kept his service consistent regardless of the seniority of the caller he might have to do some unnecessary justification at the next review meeting.

The Pragmatist will have to suffer unexpected drain on her resources when the CEOs laptop breaks and everything must be focussed on restoring that one users service.

Those occupying the middle ground will be controlling the number of VIPs by defining a percentage of headcount for the Customer to allocate. Hopefully the Customer will understand the business well enough to allocate them to the correct roles (and probably herself).

The Middle Ground will also be looking at a users overall experience and adjusting service to make sure that escalated issues are dealt with quickly.

No-one said IT Service Management was going to be easy!