SaaS for ITSM: Getting Past The Hype

I recently recorded a SaaS-related on-demand webinar with Patrick Bolger of Hornbill and as with my recent blog on service catalog with ServiceNow it seemed an easy opportunity to turn some of my slides into a quick-and-dirty blog (aren’t they all?).

Much has been said about the benefits of “SaaS for IT service management (ITSM)” …

For many organizations, the key benefit of SaaS is its simple, subscription-based pricing model that provides a lower and consistent level of expenditure which is Opex rather than a Capex investment – highly suited to those organizations wishing to invest limited Capex into business innovation projects rather than into IT. I deliberately haven’t stated that SaaS is cheaper as “it depends” ... Many tools have a “breakeven point” in the three to four year timeframe where SaaS becomes more expensive to customers than on-premises.

This simplicity of pricing can also be viewed from a value-for-money perspective, in that a per-seat subscription will usually cover access to capabilities across multiple ITIL (or ITSM) processes rather than the traditional need for organizations to buy multiple licenses across multiple ITSM products (or modules), giving an organization the freedom to increase its ITSM maturity without extra cost (unless additional people need access to the solution).

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Staffing For IT Service Delivery Success: Think Employee, Think Customer, Then Repeat

People-related IT service management (ITSM) blogs seem to be popular. Two based on the ABC of ICT work of Paul Wilkinson and his GamingWorks colleagues are amongst my most popular and more recently one detailing future ITSM roles (stolen from the Forrester Service Management And Automation Playbook writings of Glenn O’Donnell) is also proving to be very popular (it is also a good pre-read to this blog).

Hence I’m now stealing some people-related guidance from Eveline Oehrlich’s “Evolve Your Service Management And Automation Skills And Staffing” report to look at staffing for ITSM success, starting with career development.

Architect a service management and automation (SMA) career development plan

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What's Your IT Service Management Strategy (If You Actually Have One)?

Unfortunately I don’t often hear “strategy” and “IT service management (ITSM)” in the same sentence, unless of course someone is maligning the ITIL 2011 Service Strategy book or if an organization is justifying a significant investment in a new ITSM tool (to me this is too often the breeding ground for failed aspirations). Alternatively we often talk about (and are consumed by) tactical ITSM issues and our tactical responses. So where and what is your ITSM strategy? And where is your ITSM strategic plan?

If you have answers to these questions you probably don’t need to read this blog so feel free to choose another. If you don’t, don’t you think you should? I’ve stolen some written-word from my colleague Jean-Pierre Garbani to get you thinking.

What’s your strategy for ITSM strategy?

I’m not going to answer this – I just thought it a funny question. Better starter questions are probably: “What do I mean by strategy?” and “What is strategic planning?”

I can’t help but use the ever-useful Wikipedia for the first:

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Prepare Your People For The Future Of IT Service Delivery

At our core we are “IT people” (hopefully you are shouting at your screen, “No, I'm a business person!” but please bear with me), so it is all too easy for us to look at the future of IT service delivery purely from a technology perspective; that is, to be absorbed by the opportunities and challenges such as bring-your-own-device (BYOD), mobility, social, shiny SaaS ITSM tools, and cloud per se.

For instance, my colleague Glenn O’Donnell can often be heard saying that “the future of service management is an automated one,” and, unless you have access to the report from which I lifted this quote (and much of this blog), it is too easy to forget about how the “yellow brick road” to the future affects our people. Glenn’s report covers this in some detail, and I have politely stolen some of it to include below.

Looking at the future from an employee perspective = fear

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IT Service Management In 2012: In The Words Of Marvin Gaye, “What’s Going On?”

I bet in your head you just sang “What’s Going On” to yourself – I hope that you did, it’s a classic. Anyway, it’s that time again … my Forrester colleague Glenn O’Donnell and the itSMF USA are set to launch their annual itSMF USA/Forrester IT service management (ITSM) survey and I can’t help think that, as we are in a radically different ITSM world from when they did the last survey, the results will be significantly different – showing that we have upped our collective ITSM game.

What do I mean by “radically different ITSM world”?

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Getting A Service Catalog: So Much More Than Buying A Tool!

I’ve been meaning to write about service catalog for a year now but I’ve just not had the bandwidth. It’s a common subject for Forrester client inquiries, mainly for my colleague Eveline Oehrlich who has several formal service catalog management outputs scheduled for 2012. Undertaking a recent service catalog webinar with ServiceNow, however, made me realize that I had already created the content for a quick service catalog blog. Hopefully it’s a blog that will help many learn from the service catalog mistakes of others.

What’s the big issue with service catalogs?

Service catalogs (or more importantly service catalog management) really hit the mainstream with ITIL v3 (introduced in June 2007) based on real world use of early service catalogs. So they are nothing new. However, many organizations struggle to start (and finish) service catalog initiatives AND to realize the anticipated benefits. The answer for many lies in that last sentence – they need more than “service catalog initiatives.”

As an aside, I often ask attendees of my presentations: “who has a service catalog?”, “who is planning a service catalog?”, and “who feels they have realized the anticipated benefits from deploying a service catalog?” While the answers to the first two questions can vary, the answer to the third is pretty consistent – organizations are consistently failing to realize the expected benefits from their service catalog initiatives.

So what goes wrong?

In my experience there are four key issues

  1. It’s often seen as a technology project … “let’s buy a service catalog tool” rather than introducing service catalog management and enabling technology.
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ServiceNow Finally Goes Public: Which Way Now?

It’s been a long time coming; I’ve been having conversations around ServiceNow’s IPO or their acquisition by another vendor for as long as I have been an IT analyst (and that’s late 2008). Last night its initial public offering price was set at $18 (above the previously expected $15-17 range – yes, even after what happened to Facebook) and I assume trading will have commenced by the time you are reading this blog.

But I’m not a market analyst, I’m an IT industry analyst … so bar there being a major hiccup with the valuation post-trading the real meat for me is what it all means for ServiceNow, its customers, and the IT service management tool market. And let’s not forget other software markets that it no doubt has its eyes set on. Build a platform and then exploit it – why not?

So let’s get you up to speed with ServiceNow

ServiceNow was started by Fred Luddy, the ex-CTO of Peregrine Sytems, in 2004 with the intention of making a better IT service management (ITSM) tool: "The IT industry deserves a tool that just works. We're going to give it to them." So much has happened since then: rapid growth in customer numbers and revenues (and market share), in employee numbers, and in the solution’s capabilities. In capability terms, today’s offering is a radically different beast to the initial offering – SaaS (or more specifically its PaaS) has allowed ServiceNow to grow the offering at a spectacular pace.

Where is ServiceNow now? Some quick facts and opinions

Without boring you with a ten page overview of the current ITSM tool market and ServiceNow’s capabilities, ServiceNow sits with the two previous heavyweights of the ITSM tool space (BMC and HP). BUT ServiceNow is more than just a SaaS ITSM tool:

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12 Pieces Of Advice For IT Service Desks – From A Customer!

Following the recent announcement of Forrester’s Voice of the Customer winners and while we wait for the release of a new Forrester book on Outside-In thinking, it seemed an opportune moment to look at the IT service desk from the perspective of its customers (or end users if you are still that way inclined). So the main body of this blog has been written by such a customer – they don’t work in IT they are just heavily dependent upon IT to do their job. This is how they feel …

Pre-service desk - old skool IT support seemed to work

It feels as though life was much easier before the service desk was introduced into my life. One “IT guy” supported circa 100 staff and was accessible via phone, email, IM, and by simply walking across the office floor.  Times change, businesses grow, and technology becomes more complex and so we have to move on.   The local (and friendly) “IT guy” gets replaced by a faceless IT team, usually locked-up in the basement floor, and suddenly we have to jump through a series of hoops to get our IT queries answered.  There are incidents, requests, catalogs, and tickets, and all my colleagues and I want to know is “Why can’t I log into my email?” and “Can you fix it quickly, please?” 

Thinking bigger picture

That said in reality does it really matter to a customer whether:

  • Their IT support is run by one “IT guy” or via a service desk?  
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IT Service Management AND Automation: Now That's A Double Whammy Of Business-Enabling Goodness

A recent Forrester report helps IT infrastructure and operations (I&O) leaders understand the business and IT impact of service management and automation (SMA). While both IT service management (ITSM) and automation can be used effectively in isolation, I&O organizations should be seeking to use them in tandem for an "amplified" business impact.

The General Benefits Of Service Management And Automation

The general benefits of SMA can be divided between the I&O organization and the business, though these benefits often overlap:

While SMA is much more than the adoption of IT infrastructure library (ITIL), the ITSM best practice framework, thinking and processes — ITIL's benefits are quite reflective of the general benefits of broader SMA. In a survey of 491 members of the USA chapter of the IT Service Management Forum (itSMF), Forrester found that organizations which adopted ITIL experience the following benefits:

  • Improved staff productivity that allows the business to become more competitive (85%).
  • Heightened quality of service that improves business uptime and customer experience (83%).
  • Reduced operational costs to reinvest in new and innovative initiatives (41%).
  • Improved reputation with the business (65%).
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Where IT Metrics Go Wrong: 13 Issues To Avoid

In a recent Forrester report — Develop Your Service Management And Automation Balanced Scorecard — I highlight some of the common mistakes made when designing and implementing infrastructure & operations (I&O) metrics. This metric “inappropriateness” is a common issue, but there are still many I&O organizations that don’t realize that they potentially have the wrong set of metrics. So, consider the following:

  1. When it comes to metrics, I&O is not always entirely sure what it’s doing or why. We often create metrics because we feel that we “should” rather than because we have definite reasons to capture and analyze data and consider performance against targets. Ask yourself: “Why do we want or need metrics?” Do your metrics deliver against this? You won’t be alone if they don’t.
  2. Metrics are commonly viewed as an output in their own right. Far too many I&O organizations see metrics as the final output rather than as an input into something else, such as business conversations about services or improvement activity. The metrics become a “corporate game” where all that matters is that you’ve met or exceeded your targets. Metrics reporting should see the bigger picture and drive improvement.
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