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

CLICK TO ENLARGE
CLICK TO ENLARGE
CLICK TO ENLARGE
CLICK TO ENLARGE
CLICK TO ENLARGE
CLICK TO ENLARGE

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.

Image Credit

Day 2 Review: itSMF UK Conference

reg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DevOps – Shattering the Barriers by Kaimar Karu, itSMF Estonia

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

In summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2012 Request Fulfilment Group Test – The Results

In a previous article I looked at what ITIL 2011 had added to the Request Fulfilment process and some of the pitfalls we may have seen with implementation in the past.

This technology review looks at what this means, in practical terms, when approaching Request Fulfilment – what should we be looking for?

Our goal is to highlight the key strengths, competitive differentiators and innovation in the industry. The assessment criteria we used to steer the review process can be found here: REQUEST FULFILMENT ASSESSMENT CRITERIA.

Tools Reviewed:


INTRODUCTION

There is a particular challenge when it comes to assessing ITSM tools in some depth.

You want to see more than just a glossy demo – you want to understand how it can help you tackle some of the key processes at its core.

I decided the best way to showcase how ITSM tools and suites could help potential customers meet their process AND tool needs was to split up the processes and throw the doors open to vendors one by one.

The best place to start was the End User – how they come into contact with the ITSM beast in as seamless a way as possible to their experience.

Although the guts of the process involves pushing records from group to group before closure, the ways in which our participating vendors get you to the finish line was at times quite varied.

Do end users care about all the steps along the way regarding their requests? Or do they just want to see an end date by when they can expect a shiny new smartphone to land at their desk.

All of these elements can be tracked and configured to within an inch of their lives, if required.

One thing that was refreshing in this round of reviews was gaining an understanding of more than just the tool/module.

Quite often, the lifecycle of a record for any of the processes is going to be similar, creation, assignment, some decision trees and then done (in a perfect world!).

But it is the journey, and more importantly the interpretation by our featured vendors, that made this review as interesting as it was.


MARKET POSITIONING

Unlike many single-function tools out there, ITSM tools tend to have their fingers in many pies, and will offer integration to all kinds of other tools. All the vendors who participated were classified as Specialists – i.e. Vendors whose sole focus is ITSM.

Vendor

Mid-Market

Enterprise

BMC FootPrints

Cherwell

Marval

PMG

ServiceNow


COMPETITIVE OVERVIEW

The next table provides a high level overview of competitive differences between the tools.

  • In a nutshell – A brief description of each technology
  • Primary Purpose – Each technology may be used in different ways but this is the main purpose of the technology.
  • Strengths – key positive points highlighted during the review
  • Weaknesses – key negative points highlighted during the review

Vendor

Elevator Pitch Strengths

Weaknesses

BMC FootPrints Entry-level, flexible ITSM solution, offering customisable services Nice tough in incorporating screen-prompts to start to mould end-user behaviour Text driven workflow is comprehensive but lacks the visual effect of graphical workflows
Cherwell Cherwell offer an holistic approach by providing customers with a comprehensive out-of-the-box offering for fast deployment, and ease of use Predefined forms based on their years of experience of what details are required, for a number of standard requests Although not programming outright, some of the depth of customisation lends itself to administrators with string process knowledge, business logic and data structures.
Marval Marval bring their “ITIL: Common sense written down” approach to their tool, which takes you to the root of the task to get the job done. Simplicity and flexibility which does the job smartly. It would have been good to see what the supplied services and examples were Out of the Box.
PMG A “rescue remedy” for replacing inadequate Service Catalogue/Request Fulfilment modules of ITSM Suites A dedicated approach to providing enterprise delivery specifically around Service Catalogue & Request Fulfilment Although they have a few standalone ITSM customers, their Ticketing system for other ITSM processes is very basic when standing up against other
ServiceNow A solid integrated platform, with the focus on improving the user’s experience of Request Fulfilment, and also focussing on the equally important business view. They boast a unique approach of focussing on an end-user’s experience in engaging with IT through the Request Fulfilment process Although there are administration courses, all too often the responses relied on finding answers to configuration questions “in the wiki”.As comprehensive as it is, when others promote that element of “handover” to the system’s custodians, ServiceNow seem to want to default to detachment.

CUSTOMERS

Approximate number of customers for each vendor:

  • BMC Footprints – Europe: 1000+ ; Worldwide: 5000+
  • Cherwell – 400+
  • Marval – 400+
  • PMG – Not disclosed
  • ServiceNow – 1200+

BEST IN CLASS

Of the five vendors reviewed I was particularly impressed with the following vendors:

  • Best in Class Mid-Market: Marval – Their ethos of keeping it simple just made it stand out.
  • Best in Class Enterprise: ServiceNow – I had a managed service view of this product and thought I knew what I would see.  I was pleasantly surprised, and although I can completely appreciate PMG’s position and can absolutely understand why they are called in to replace some ITSM suites.
  • Best in Class All Tools: Cherwell – I was an IT Architect, specialising in ITSM, and the Pareto 80/20 rule was my mantra in my former life. Cherwell’s approach to (re)use their expertise and develop a depth of standard requests covering pretty much most details that are required makes them the most comprehensive offering in this review.

Deep Dive

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


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.

Winners and Losers in the ITSM Premier League

Six leading ITSM vendors went head to head this week at the itSMF UK Tools forum. The free event was held at the Etihad stadium in Manchester, home of the 2012 premier league winners Manchester City.

This was openly promoted as a tool focused event. A perfect opportunity for some of the leading lights of the industry to showcase their technology and highlight their competitive differentiators.

An opportunity to shine?

It’s a tough, competitive market out there. Differentiate or die.

I was eager to find out which vendors could articulate their unique qualities, who could position themselves in the market? Could they inspire confidence in buyers? Would buyers be safe in their hands?

The result? In my opinion – Delegates experienced the full spectrum from cutting edge to dull as dishwater:


Roy IllsleyOvum (6/10)

Roy gave us an interesting, thought provoking presentation. The content seemed to be a bit out of place for the theme of the day but otherwise it was great talk and I look forward to delving into the slide deck when it becomes available (Applying Lean principles to IT Strategy).

Patrick BolgerHornbill (9/10)

You can tell why Patrick has ‘Evangelist’ in his job title. Patrick gave us an inspirational pitch for not only his company but also the industry as a whole. If all Hornbill customers have the same software installed and the same ITIL training – how is it that they experience vastly different results? Patrick argued that it is because of the people. Hornbill believes in putting their successful customers on a pedestal when positioning their solution. Nice job Patrick.

Tony Bambury, FrontRange (1/10)

Tony provided us a live demo of their SaaS solution and ran through a user ordering an iPhone. I struggled to see how FrontRange differed from the rest of the pack. An opportunity missed.

Kevin Parker, Tom Burnell and James Warriner from Serena (8/10)

Serena have some closet amateur dramatics buffs in their midst. Serena declared an end to dull PowerPoint pitches and provided a refreshingly different demonstration of their technology. We were entertained by means of a reenactment of one of their ‘Doug Serena’ episodes.  For me, it would have been the presentation of the day – but unfortunately it was difficult to hear their presentation and the ‘actors’ were not always visible, so we lost the thread at times. Otherwise – an excellent slot by Serena and they should be congratulated for their effort, preparation and originality (the product looked good too!).

Dave D’Agostino from ServiceNow (5/10)

Dave gave a safe and steady presentation on ‘SaaS driving forces’ and positioned ServiceNow as a cloud platform rather than pure ITSM focused tool. I’m personally not convinced that the market needs telling the advantages of cloud anymore and I would welcome some more pragmatic advice about shifting services to the cloud. E.g. if you are in this particular industry facing abc market forces and xyz legislation this is what similar customers achieved. Perhaps it’s time to move the conversation on from ‘You don’t need to buy servers!’.

I also thought Dave’s ROI model of on premise versus cloud looked a bit shaky, given the likely implementation / customization costs of ServiceNow over a 3 year period – I would welcome some independent industry statistics on this.

Don Page, Marval (4/10)

I tuned out for Don’s session. It was entertaining but a bit of a rant. If I were a prospect for a new ITSM tool provider I would be left with the impression that Don is a great guy and unique personality, but I would be a bit lost if you asked me to remember the redeeming features of his solution, apart from ‘Buy British’.

Tony Probert, Cherwell (7/10)

Tony set out the stall for Cherwell in his no-nonsense forthright style. Tony urged us to think about business services over support and that if we were doing break-fix for a living we were ripe for outsourcing.

He openly stated that most of Cherwell’s features were ‘just like everyone else’ but then managed to clearly articulate their competitive differentiators:

  1. Code-less configuration
  2. Autonomy from Cherwell (not dependent on consultancy and feature lock down)
  3. and seamless upgrades despite customization.

Three bullets to separate Cherwell from the competition and an attractive proposition for those migrating from on-premise tools. That one slide was a refreshing change to the others of the day who struggled to articulate their competitive differentiators.


Same again next year?

Like the SDI tools day, this is a great format by the itSMF and I hope they repeat it again soon. As with regionals – perhaps some real life user feedback could be shoehorned into the day. Further upcoming itSMF events can be found here.

Great seminar location: The view from the 'Legends' lounge at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester.