Do the words, “software upgrade,” cause you to tremble with terror? Do you shake as you weigh the risks of new features and functions against the potential productivity loss associated with the software change, configuration, and release management processes? And, if you do upgrade, what happens when the words, “Your upgrade is now complete,” display across the terminal? Do you nervously click through the system, only to discover the home pages have reverted back to their original settings? Even worse, is the system moving slower in the development environment than it was prior to the upgrade?
The nightmare is just beginning. Your spouse calls, angry to learn you’ll be working all weekend. The $300/hour consultant taps your shoulder to point out the customized LDAP integrations need to be rebuilt. Not to worry, though! He’s happy to perform the work when he’s free – in six weeks. Just when you think things can’t get worse, your CIO appears and demands to know why the upgrade is taking so long, why it costs so much money, and why it has caused so much frustration across the organization.
“Noooooooooooooooooooooooooo,” you scream, and suddenly wake up in a cold sweat.
Tweet this: Does the thought of upgrading your ITSM solution give you nightmares?
ITSM Customization and Hidden Costs
Yes, the upgrade nightmare is real and many IT organizations take rather interesting approaches to avoid it. I’ve found there are two common strategies of avoidance, although both are ultimately ineffective:
- They avoid customization at all costs. These organizations are all too familiar with the way customizations challenge upgrades and manageability. They don’t want to repeat the same mistakes with the new tool so, they choose a tool that meets only 80 percent of their requirements, do light configuration to close the gap, and struggle with the inability to meet unique and new IT or business requirements.
- They customize everything and hemorrhage money. These organizations spend a large amount of time and resources learning how to configure and customize their solution to meet all requirements. Although costs of acquiring and retaining the necessary skills are high, the benefits of a solution that fully meets the needs of IT and the business is high as well. However, this strategy only works until it’s time to upgrade. Existing configurations and customizations break. And, because so much of what the IT and the business relies on is tied to the solution, the organization is forced to throw more money at the problem, just to get the solution back to its pre-upgrade state.
While your IT organization may fall somewhere in between these two scenarios, it is likely you will have this discussion anytime you search for a new ITSM tool. The “customize nothing” mantra is both extreme and unrealistic, but a common sentiment given the customization trap IT organizations have fallen in for decades. The “customize everything” mantra is also extreme, but is more popular as many legacy ITSM vendors overstate their abilities to provide an unbreakable environment.
Tweet this: Discover the hidden costs of ITSM customization that could be costing your business valuable time and money
How to avoid an ITSM upgrade nightmare
Regardless of where you fall and which ITSM solution you use, here are three tips to avoid an upgrade nightmare:
- Know your requirements. As you identify ITSM solutions, develop tight requirements and ensure functions are present in terms of what your organization must have out of the box. All too often, IT organizations trade off requirements for cost purposes, but end up spending more money than anticipated in post-implementation costs associated with training, configuration, customization, integration, and upgrades. The closer your requirements are met out of the box, the less likely you will need to customize your solution to fill the gap.
- Create a customization strategy. Each customization will carry varying levels of complexity. Customization is going to require a resource (or multiple resources), so perform a TCO analysis of the customization to weigh the cost against the benefit. Rarely are customizations a one-time effort as they will require testing prior to version upgrades. This work can increase exponentially when these customizations come from 3rd party software integrations, as there is version control to account for with two solutions, not just one.
- Monitor your customizations. Develop a customization governance committee comprised of various stakeholders throughout the IT organizations and the business. Use the TCO analysis of customizations to determine the benefits and risks; explore alternatives to customization that might prove to be a better alternative. Again, just because a customization can be performed to meet a unique IT or business need doesn’t mean it should be built. This committee should also consider your ITSM vendor’s roadmap when making decisions – it may not make sense to build something your vendor plans to build in the future. Of course, this advice depends on an understanding of how well your vendor adheres to their roadmap and your organization’s ease of upgrade abilities with respect to adopting new features and functions.
Curious about how your IT department can increase the overall value of your ITSM investment? Check out this case study from Parkview Health and learn how they overhauled a legacy ITSM vendor in less than three months.