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Simplify for maximum benefit when choosing and implementing an ITSM tool


In the ITSM world, there's quite a lot written on considerations for a replacement service management tool. There's one often vital factor though that might not get adequate attention.

If you believe in "process first", a primary focus should be that the tool is openly customisable, so any process or subprocess you design can be implemented without compromise.
Processes are usually supported by metrics, so deeply customisable Dashboard and reporting functionality should form part of this requirement.

You'll probably also want to benefit from the new world of application development - visual editors. Visual editors replace the need for code programming skills.

Many service management tools nowadays incorporate visual editors, but their offering is often limited or comes with disadvantages. Cherwell provides advice on this.

For a tool to be openly customisable, requirements for the visual editor are:

  1. The ability to easily add and modify data tables, relationships and front-end forms.

  2. The ability for any object to reference any field in the database, including custom, non-standard fields that you might add yourself.

  3. A good range of event procedure methods, powering workflow automation.

  4. A good range of functions and operators, powering database and form data manipulation through expression builders.

  5. Flexibility in working with variables.

A truly open, codeless development platform offers a massive advantage, allowing rapid application development by almost anyone in your department. With this, the tool's endless flexibility is transformed into capability that's practical for any IT department.

There aren't many tools that fit the criteria of being "openly customisable", let alone comprehensively through visual editors.

It means that approaching the market from this angle will greatly simplify your research and decision.

Tools at the top of Gartner's Magic Quadrant for ITSM fit the criteria quite well, but you should research how far. The Magic Quadrant, together with information on how it's derived, advice on the ITSM market and pointers on how to build and compile your requirements, can be downloaded from Cherwell.

Recent entrants to the market will likely be utilising current technology, so might offer adequate adaptability. Finding them might not be easy though. There's generally lots of choice. Gartner has a useful list of 34 reviewed products, amongst more than a staggering 400 in total.

It might be pointless conducting this research though.

Unless the vendor has been around for a while, if your checklist of requirements is quite large or stringent, it's more likely that some will be missing from their offering.

So, what of other considerations?

Of the 9 vendors Gartner includes in their Magic Quadrant, the 4 "Leaders" and "Challengers" certainly have plenty of Ops Management integrations available off-the-shelf.

Relevant Ops Management integrations will likely be a key determination factor.

Enterprise Service Management (ESM) might - in fact should - be another driver. This is where the tool can be extended to support business functions in other departments such as HR or Facilities. True ESM capability is found only in tools that can be extensively customised.

Enterprise Service Management is the future for internal business operations, where workflows and processes are digitised, controlled and automated where automation is possible. In some cases, there might be only one internal Service Desk, integrating all support needs.

ITIL processes of course need to be considered. PinkVERIFY is very useful for this, to see whether your shortlist of tools have the ITIL processes you've determined you need. PinkVERIFY currently verifies the ITIL processes of about 66 vendors. It's another good place to identify ITSM products, in search of those that might offer adequate adaptability.


Once you've decided on which service management tool you're to adopt, your approach to how it will be implemented should be carefully considered as well.

Not so long ago, I had the good fortune of working for an organisation that was (and I imagine still is) using Cherwell Service Management. It was a real eye-opener for me.

As I became involved in its development, I quickly realised that all the difficulties, shortcomings and constraints I'd observed over the years, could be overcome.
What's more, I was able to implement or modify process designs quickly, easily and with all intended detail.

I was an Agile developer, just like that.

Adaptable, codeless ITSM tools are perfectly suited to modern, Agile IT principles, married with ITIL.

So, once the tool is live as a "minimum viable product", utilising built-in ITIL processes, you can start to work on designing and transitioning new, efficient processes and subprocesses.

The better approach though, to make the most of the change, might be to work out your top priority, biggest impact improvements before the tool is implemented, so that when it is, the implementer can have them in place for go-live.

This more strategic, ITIL-centred approach will add credence to the change and will mean your staff can look forward to the benefits your new tool will bring.

Lean Six-Sigma would be the ideal discipline to engage with to this end. Or, you might decide that improving Incident Management and Request Fulfilment will have the greatest benefit because they're the bedrock of operations, of customer experience and perception of your department, but probably suffering inadequacies and inefficiencies.

If this is your angle, a service improvement specialist might be needed to bring forward a service improvement plan. Difficulties experienced in IT support tend to be common, so the specialist might already have a universally applicable set of processes that can be applied in a short space of time.

Bringing rapid application development to a new level, if the tool is Cherwell, a pre-configured process can be simply imported with a few clicks.


Ideally, you'll want to introduce improvements quickly and thoroughly, achieved with a modern, widely adaptable ITSM tool that has comprehensive visual editor capability and better still, the ability to simply import process solutions that already exist.

These abilities will be a game-changer for anyone, as it was for me.

A good strategy might be to initially improve how ticketed workload is handled. By starting with focus on what's usually the bedrock of a department's operations, other areas of the customer experience, for instance a self-service portal, can benefit as well.


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