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A Panic-Free Guide for When Your ITSM Vendor Gets Acquired

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It’s been several years since the go-live date of your ITSM solution, but you remember it like it was yesterday.

After months of building the business case, outlining the project, gathering requirements, securing funding, assigning owners, establishing the success criteria, and soliciting proposals, you finally selected the solution that was going to allow you to automate your service management processes, reduce the total costs of IT, and improve customer satisfaction. I’m sure there are fond memories about how the vendor you ultimately chose was there to support you every step of the way, from demo to technical review to final proposal.

Tweet this: What should you do if your ITSM vendor gets acquired? 

So what happens when the ITSM vendor you’ve partnered with is acquired by another vendor?

When Your ITSM Vendor Is Acquired

Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) happen as part of the world of business, but it can still feel like a shock when your long-term vendor gets acquired. There are a lot of ways to respond to this news, some of them more productive than others:  

Panic? No.

It is not as if your current solution will cease to work the day after an acquisition. In fact, there may be no short-term consequences at all, as the leadership of both companies have usually been in long talks about what immediate steps to take upon announcing the deal.

Get an understanding of why the merger or acquisition happened? Yes.

Often the drivers for the acquisition are easy to understand. Whether it’s to create synergy based on complementary strengths, accelerate growth and increase market share, or simply eliminate a competitor, the fact is that there tend to be few short-term consequences of M&A—meaning that for the foreseeable future, the business and services run as per usual. That said, you do need to develop a firm understanding of the vendor’s long-term plans, which will vary depending on the reason for the acquisition.

One of the unfortunate realities of M&A is that there are redundancies that need to be accounted for, and changes, whether favorable or not, are inevitable. For example, will account management and customer experience resources remain intact? Will pricing or maintenance costs change? Will current offers and programs in flight be honored, and subsequently executed? Is the product roadmap still set to deliver the features and capabilities as communicated at the most recent global conference? What you need to essentially understand at the end of the day is this: will this acquisition help, or hurt  your organization—and nothing in the initial press release or new CEO announcement letter will provide this information in depth.

Investigate migration programs? It depends…

In the case where product redundancies are at play, migration programs with financial incentives may be attractive, particularly if your organization was already considering making a switch for a variety of reasons. Still, this requires an analysis of the capabilities of an alternative solution. The reality is you’re very likely dealing with separate products, written on separate languages and/or platforms, with different features and capabilities that will cause “migration” to feel just like “rip and replace.” Carefully evaluate a migration program based on its ability to migrate data, as well as processes and workflows—as opposed to a standard implementation project.

Tweet this: Getting a firm understanding of the details of your ITSM vendor’s acquisition can help ease transition pain points

Pragmatically evaluate alternatives in the ITSM market? Yes.

Remember all the work a few years back to get your current solution up and running? If you decide to make a switch, you’re going to have to do it again, and no levels of synergy will make the evaluation any easier. The market may have changed significantly or slightly, depending on when you last looked at the ITSM market landscape. There are well over 400 solutions that offer a wide range of capabilities—ranging from basic ticketing to virtualization-enabled continuous automation and delivery—that offer ITIL-based best practices, IT self-service portals, slick dashboards, and alternative licensing and deployment models. Finding an alternative solution won’t be a challenge, but finding the most appropriate ITSM solution for your IT organization and your business will be.

Keen observers of the ITSM market will note that M&A was inevitable in a market this large, and savvy buyers always have their eyes on alternative solutions—if nothing else than to have leverage in tense support and maintenance or subscription renewal discussions. There is no shortage of research and tools that provide an overview of the ITSM market and provide guidance surrounding features and capabilities of the leading solutions. In addition to using those resources to identify alternatives, also discuss options with your peers and broader ITSM communities, to understand the experiences other IT organizations are having with alternative tools.

While you might not be in a position to make a change in the near term, arming yourself with knowledge and information about alternatives never hurts, and plenty of ITSM vendors will be happy to tell you how they differentiate from the competition.

 

eBook: Implementing a New ITSM Tool

There are so many ITSM tools available—how can you choose the right one? Download this must-read guide for guidance from five industry experts.

One Easy Way to Keep Your IT Team Motivated in 2017—Say Thank You

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A hefty amount of scientific research reveals that gratitude is good for you and your health: Not only does practicing gratitude lead to greater levels of happiness, but it also boosts your immune system, helps you get a good night’s rest, and leads to stronger relationships.

And the benefits to expressing thankfulness aren’t just personal. As a recent article in Fast Company points out, gratitude has a significant, and positive, impact on the workplace. In the article, gratitude researcher Robert Emmons, PhD, comments that “Most of our waking hours are spent on the job, and gratitude, in all its forms, is a basic human requirement….it is essential to both give and receive thanks at work.”

Tweet this: Your IT department can benefit by expressing gratitude not only personally but professionally. 

3 Ways Your IT Department Can Benefit from Gratitude

Fast Company outlines three major benefits expressing gratitude brings to the workplace: giving and receiving thanks from coworkers helps improve the corporate culture (goodbye to toxic gossip and negativity), strengthens teams, and also acts a powerful motivation (stronger, even, than financial incentives).

“Gratitude is the ultimate performance-enhancing substance at work,” says Emmons. ‘Gratitude heals, energizes, and transforms lives in a myriad of ways consistent with the notion that virtue is both its own reward and produces other rewards.”

If you’re an IT leader reading this, you’re probably eager to deliver this performance-enhancing magic to your team. After all, your IT staffers are beset with both top-priority projects on tight timelines and tasked with the relentless, but essential, maintenance of day-to-day systems. And there’s no real hope for a slowdown in either the volume or urgency of your IT shop’s work in 2017—nor is it likely that budgets will expand.

Under these circumstances, keeping your staff motivated and tamping down on the negative chatter that can be so destructive to a productive work environment, can be a real challenge. So as you look ahead to 2017, consider making your New Year’s resolution gratitude-based. After all, if something as simple as acknowledging efforts, expressing appreciation, and saying thank you can generate these benefits, it’s worth a try.

Tweet this: Like any good habit, expressing gratitude takes practice. How to adopt gratitude into your work life.

How to Put Gratitude into Practice: A Little Goes a Long Way

Here’s the good, and possibly surprising, news about practicing gratitude in the workplace: pricey rewards or elaborately planned programs, while certainly appreciated, aren’t necessarily the most effective motivators. For your IT staffers, it’s nice to be publicly recognized as “employee of the month” or receive a bonus, but it can feel just as meaningful to get a sincere thank you over email or while passing in the hallway.

But like all good habits—flossing nightly, say, or visiting the gym—it can be easier to intend to practice gratitude than to actually go through with it. And without regular practice, all those incredible benefits wear off. A survey from the Greater Good Science Center, based out of the University of California, Berkeley, reveals that despite craving recognition and thanks from coworkers, people only rarely share appreciation in the workplace. Less than 15 percent of those surveyed expressed gratitude to their colleagues on a daily basis (and pity the bosses: 35 percent of respondents never, ever express any gratitude to them).

This 2017, resolve to do better than those survey respondents: Adopt a gratitude habit, and express appreciation to your colleagues regularly, and encourage everyone on your team to do the same.


Science tells us gratitude is good for us, but personal experience reveals that sticking to habits can be hard. Let technology come to the rescue. 

Cherwell Gratitude Board

With the Cherwell Gratitude Board mApp, it’s easy to send private thank you notes to colleagues and get reminders to share gratitude daily.

ITSM & ITIL 101

ITSM and ITIL: Definitions, Frameworks, and Best Practices

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Table of Contents

ITIL and ITSM: Which Came First, and Why Does it Matter?

Understanding the ITIL Service Lifecycle

8 Rock-Solid Steps to Elevate ITSM Success

 

JarodGreene200x200In the following article, Jarod Greene, VP of Product Marketing at Cherwell Software and former Gartner IT service management (ITSM) industry analyst, discusses eight steps to achieve IT service management excellence. With more than 12 years of ITSM industry experience, Jarod understands the market from the vendor, end-user, customer, and analyst perspectives. His proficiency in IT service support management processes, organizational structures, and technology is sought after for speaking engagements, customer consultations, and product development. He has published numerous white papers, research articles, and blogs, and delivers innovative IT-focused presentations at events around the world.

 

ITIL and ITSM: Which Came First, and Why Does it Matter?

To remain relevant in our fast paced, ever changing technological world, modern day business has had to adopt and perfect modern, agile methods to efficiently manage the delivery of IT services to its business customers. To solve this information dissemination and management dilemma, two acronyms are often used when discussing how to meet customer’s exponentially increasing demands, ITSM (IT service management) and ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library).

Similar to the “which came first, the chicken or the egg” question, some people believe that ITIL was the original driver to ITSM. In actuality, ITSM was the precursor. In fact, the concept of service management originated in industries such as manufacturing supply chain management well before IT began thinking about ITSM in this way. Traditional IT was designed to service early mainframe environments – they were siloed, reactive, and without formal processes. ITSM is the result of various technology vendors and product suppliers needing a better way to help their customers implement and utilize the technology they purchased. The solution is modernized ITSM that encompasses proactive processes and procedures used to plan, design, deliver, and control IT service delivery to business users.

The British government is to thank for the origins of ITIL. Not satisfied with the quality of IT services being provided in the early 80’s, the Office of Government Commerce was given the responsibility of developing a new framework for efficiently managing the use of IT resources within both the private sector and the Government. Originally called “GITIM” (Government Information Technology Infrastructure Management), more current versions bear little resemblance to the original framework. Today, ITIL is a world-renowned, best practice framework, adopted by both the public and private sector to align IT services with their on-going business goals.

When ITIL’s version 2 was released in 2001, it became an instant success, the most popular IT best practice framework in the world. It wasn’t until 2007 that a second version, ITIL V3 followed, emphasizing IT and business alignment. The most recent version, in 2011, was referred to as a “tune up” of ITIL V3.

 

Understanding the ITIL Service Lifecycle

Comprised of five (5) basic publications, each of the below IT Service Lifecycle stages is an integral part of the overall framework of best practices. The ITIL Service Lifecycle publications and processes include:

Service Strategy

This aspect of the ITIL Service Lifecycle outlines business goals and requirements needed to service customers and includes the following ITIL processes:

  • Service Portfolio Management
  • IT Services Financial Management
  • Demand Management
  • Business Relationship Management

Service Design

This stage offers guidance for designing, changing, and improving services (Definition of a service: A measurable service, governed by a Service Level Agreement (SLA), and consumed by business end-users in order to perform their jobs). This stage encompasses:

  • Service Catalog Management (the service catalog is a published list of services available to end-customers)
  • Service-Level Management
  • Availability Management
  • Capacity Management
  • IT Service Continuity Management
  • Security Management
  • Supplier Management

Service Transition

The Service Transition processes guide the activities necessary for building and deploying IT services, including:

  • Change Management
  • Service Asset and Configuration Management
  • Release and Deployment Management
  • Knowledge Management
  • Service Validation and Testing
  • Transition Planning and Support
  • Change Evaluation

Service Operation

The Service Operation stage identifies and defines key processes related to the service desk (interestingly, “Service Desk” is also an ITIL term, signifying an evolved and more strategic version of the Help Desk), technical management, application management, and IT operations teams effectively delivering services. This stage involves:

Continual Service Improvement (CSI)

This stage of the ITIL Service Lifecycle guides the plan for IT service improvements using a metrics-driven approach. In order to reap the benefits of Continual Service Improvement (CSI), it is important to define the key performance indicators (KPIs) for each service or process. The four primary processes relating to CSI are:

  • Service Review
  • Process Evaluation
  • Definition of CSI Initiatives
  • Monitoring of CSI Initiatives

 

8 Rock-Solid Steps to Elevate ITSM Success

ITSM and ITIL have a symbiotic relationship and are inextricably intertwined. ITIL provides guidance on how to work more effectively, while ITSM is the way IT manages the delivery of services to business users. In the next section, which features a visual eBook, we will discuss eight steps to help you leverage ITSM and ITIL to deliver exceptional IT services.

 

1. Evaluate Your Current ITSM Maturity Level

Change can be disruptive. Before changing your current people, processes, or business technology, it is important to assess your present situation.

  • In your zeal to implement change, don’t overlook the most important aspect that will ultimately drive and implement those changes: your personnel. Are the right people in place? Will any be resistant to change? If there are any “round pegs in square holes,” now is the time to deal with those employment issues.
  • What processes do you have in place to manage the services you deliver? Are they standardized and repeatable?
  • Consider the technology you currently rely on to deliver your IT services. Does it support the culture and needs of your organization? Or are you forced to change your business to fit the technology?
  • Have you completed the service definition process, clearly defining all of the services that your customers expect? Also, are you offering too many or non-essential services that over-complicate things or consume valuable resources?
  • Are your Service Level Agreements (SLA – the agreement between IT and the end-customer that describes the expectations for the service provided) and Operational Level Agreements (OLA – agreement between IT and other internal departments who provide services in order to achieve the SLA) meeting the needs of your customers?

All of these are valid questions that should be asked and answered before proceeding. In other words, before you make any changes, find out what needs to be changed. Change for change’s sake alone is counterproductive to the efficiency of your business. Document these gaps before you move on to step two.

To learn more about evaluating your ITSM maturity level, check out Jarod Greene’s Periscope broadcast here

Tweet this: 5 things to consider when evaluating your current ITSM Maturity Level 

2. Define (and Communicate) Your ITSM Goals

Understanding the inherent value of setting achievable short and long-term goals that align with the needs of your business is essential. Think about where you see your business in a month, in a year, in five years, and so on. Your goals comprise the road map that defines the future of your business. 

One of the main goals of ITSM is to implement people, process, and technology in order to deliver valuable, business aligned services to your customers. In order to achieve this goal, you may, for example, make incremental improvements to staffing or technology. Or you may take on major process overhauls. Start by defining your long-term goals, and then pave the way to achieving those goals by setting short-term objectives. Using the SMART model (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, and Time-Bound) will help you achieve quick and quality wins along the way. 

SMART goals are:

  • Specific – Clearly define your goal.
  • Measurable – Establish tangible metrics to measure progress.
  • Actionable – Ensure the goal is attainable given your resources and capabilities.
  • Relevant – Set goals that you are prepared and able to achieve using your and your team’s skills and resources
  • Time-Bound – Ensure you have enough time to achieve the goal, and set deadlines that will prompt urgency and motivation

With all goals and objectives, it is important to identify the measurements and key performance indicators (KPIs) that will be used to demonstrate progress and success. Clearly defined and well-communicated goals help employees and leaders understand IT’s intentions and forestall resistance to pending change.

3. Obtain Management Buy-in

Don’t overlook the role and importance of upper management to help you gain momentum from the top, secure time and resource commitments, and encourage support from peers. A clear, concise explanation of the value service management will bring to your business, including how it impacts the bottom-line, well-defined goals, and an implementation timeline will help gain management support for your endeavors.  Without their buy-in, your project will be “dead in the water.”

It’s a simple truism, if the CIO and management approves and supports your endeavors, so will the rest of business. In order to maintain on-going support, be sure to communicate successes, even small wins, to the leadership team and your peers.

4. Develop Your Plan of Attack

  • Before implementing any IT change, take the time to gain a better understanding of ITSM best practices and methodologies. One size doesn’t necessarily fit all. Although ITIL is a widely accepted IT framework, there are many other alternatives that may better suit your industry and the needs of your particular business. Some of those options include Six Sigma, COBIT, Lean, Agile, ISO, and DevOps, each a viable business solution.
  • Consider training and certifications in ITIL or the methodology of your choice prior to undertaking the implementation of ITSM processes. The rewards will be quantifiable. If you and your team utilize the ITIL framework, understanding the intricacies and benefits (reduce business risk, improve customer satisfaction, cut costs, maintain service during change) will help you better integrate your people, processes, and technology, while aligning both IT and business goals to help grow business and revenue.
  • Evaluating your business goals, departmental budgets, resource constraints, and organization culture can help you determine which processes work for you. The ITIL guidelines are just that, guidelines. It is not necessary to follow them exactly as presented. It is up to you to adopt processes that meet your individual company needs.

Unfortunately, poorly defined and unenforced processes can create disagreement between IT organizations and business leaders. There is no simple solution or “silver bullet” to define and implement IT service management processes, but you can lessen the discomfort by carefully selecting processes based on their fit for your business needs.

Tweet this: Defining your ITSM goals is one of the most crucial steps to a successful ITSM strategy

5. Assemble a Winning Team

Behind every successful organization is a group of talented people who directly or indirectly contribute to the effective delivery of a product or service. Having the right people in the right positions is imperative to success. Some of the steps you can take to ensure you are effectively using your people resources include:

  • Identify the people you already have on board and their skill sets
  • Document what roles your business needs to succeed
  • Align the people you already have and the roles they can fill
  • Identify gaps
  • Remove or reassign people who do not fit your needs
  • Add people with skill sets that can fill in the gaps

Having the right people is essential to achieving your goals. Be sure that your people are not only committed, but also qualified and comfortable with your business culture. Ask yourself if they are the right people for the job, and don’t forget to define their roles and responsibilities. People need to know what they are supposed to do, including your service managers, IT service management team members, service sponsors, and associated process owners.

6. Automate Sensibly, and Automate Often

In today’s fast-paced business environment, it is impossible to improve service management without automation. Once the I’s are dotted and the T’s crossed with the right processes identified and the right people in place, automation is the next logical step, with one word of caution: Don’t automate so much that you lose sight of your primary goals: your customer’s needs for personalized service. Consider the advantages of data-driven automation’s ability to generate an action based on intelligence:

  • Manual human error is significantly decreased
  • Any number of repeatable processes can be implemented and easily maintained
  • Both productivity and predictability will increase dramatically
  • Overall improvement in customer experience
  • Cost reduction, a direct benefit to the bottom line

7. Select the Right ITSM Software

In order to automate the delivery of services to your end-customer and provide the most modern user experience, you will want to implement an ITSM software solution that incorporates service desk, IT asset management, and IT self-service functionality. There are several elements to consider when choosing the best solution to fit your business needs. Regardless of your industry vertical, organization size, and specialized needs, the solution should:

  • Be intuitive and user-friendly
  • Consolidate ITSM functionality into a single system
  • Automate ITSM processes
  • Support integrations

With the right ITSM solution you can:

  • Boost productivity
  • Minimize the impact of issues
  • Reduce overall operating costs
  • Adhere to compliance and industry regulations
  • Increase team accountability and productivity

Tweet this: Selecting the right ITSM software is key to providing the most modern user experience

8. Implement Continual Improvement (CSI)

Matrices should be developed to measure both the successes and the failures of each process. After defining the parameters, manage all of the measurements in a single place so that you can use the information to define trends and make changes to continuously improve your processes.

IT success is not an accident. It is the considered, deliberate implementation of IT service delivery excellence. This is not achieved overnight, but rather as a series of coordinated transitional steps to achieve a desired improvement. With proper planning, communications, and implementation, ITIL or a similar framework and ITSM can position your company for both present and future growth and profitability.


For a deeper dive into ITIL processes, and how to implement an effective ITIL-based approach to IT service delivery, don’t miss the following white paper: ITIL Made Easy – ITSM Processes and Best Practices.

ITIL White Paper

5 Ways Your ITSM Tool Is Slowing You Down

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Your IT service management tool does a lot of things well. It helps you stay organized, document your work and fix problems. The question is: How well does your tool do all of these things, and could they be accomplished more efficiently? And more importantly, is it slowing down your IT organization? There are five ways, in particular, that ITSM tools cause slowdowns that frustrate IT teams, hinder productivity and hurt companies’ bottom lines. IT teams need to embrace the latest generation ITSM software that offers flexibility and enables agility, rather than the following roadblocks:

Tweet this: How to remove ITSM tool roadblocks to keep pace with business today  

1. Your ITSM Tool is Difficult to Upgrade

Does the following situation sound familiar? You buy version 5 of a piece of software, you configure it so it works well for your team, then version 6 comes out. Do you upgrade to version 6 and lose your changes to version 5? Or, worse, maybe you don’t upgrade because you know you’ll lose all of the customizations that are working well for you right now. Either way, you’re not taking advantage of the latest features and functions because your software isn’t flexible enough to seamlessly upgrade from one version to the next. If you are looking for a new ITSM solution, be sure to find one that provides the flexibility to configure and customize without compromise without an impact on forward compatibility. There is no value in building a solution for today that won’t work tomorrow.

2. Your ITSM Software is Not Current (or Flexible) on Industry Best Practices

Industry best practices matter to top performing IT teams. But many ITSM tools don’t ship with out-of-the-box best practices for ITIL, the most widely-adopted set of standards that govern the service desk. You have to design those within the tool itself. Or, maybe your tool came with best practices installed. Great! But, what if those best practices aren’t “best” for your organization and need modification? What if your new CIO wants to follow a more agile framework?” How flexible is your tool? Can you easily make adjustments? Once again, if you’re struggling with inflexible software, you are taking time away from higher value activities. Your ITSM solution should allow you to modify the industry best practices that ship out of the box, as it’s very likely your organization has unique requirements in specific areas. For example, if you would like to add additional mandatory approvers to emergency changes, you shouldn’t need to call on professional services or a partner to make that a reality with your tool.

3. Your ITSM Tool Doesn’t Integrate with Other Software Tools

Many times your ITSM software doesn’t play nice with other tools. That’s frustrating because data you need is located somewhere else, and getting it out can be a pain. For example, the service desk team has an ITSM tool and the desktop team has a tool that manages the PCs and client devices that the business customers use to consume those services. Sure, your ITSM tool can track the life cycle of incidents and service requests, but wouldn’t it be great to have the PC hardware specs handy when you open that incident record? Knowing the OS build, warranty information and configuration helps the service desk provide better support. Plus, bi-directional integration means that the desktop group can get a sense of which devices are causing the most trouble. You need ITSM software that easily integrates with other tools so your team doesn’t get slowed down by unnecessary information gaps. Look for a tool with API capabilities or out-of-the-box integrations with key products you have running in your IT environment such as remote control, endpoint management, asset management or business intelligence tools.

4. Your ITSM Solution Won’t Extend into Other Business Departments

The point of software is to make people’s lives easier by automating repetitive tasks, organizing information and generally getting work done better and faster. Which department at your company wouldn’t benefit from all of that help? A few IT service management tools lend themselves well to business areas beyond IT. Beginning with a self-service portal and forms to provide inputs, these ITSM tools can capture the basic nature of a request and direct it to the proper individuals within the organization who can fulfill it, automating workflows that are frequently managed using email and spreadsheets. Using this model, HR departments track candidates more thoroughly. Facilities departments can be alerted to issues and address them more quickly. Legal departments can build responsive and dynamic queues for contract reviews. Processes that used to be managed with spreadsheets and email can now be managed via workflow automation. Your ITSM tool should do this without requiring skilled resources and additional fixed licenses, and provide reassurance that what is built won’t be wiped away in the next upgrade.

5. Your ITSM Tool Vendor Isn’t Innovating Fast Enough

You should be able to build extensions and improvements to a tool without disturbing the core software. Just like the Google Play store is full of apps that Android users can download to their phones, IT professionals should be able to build useful apps on top of their ITSM platform. Imagine a world where the apps they build could be shared in a marketplace like iTunes, for example, so that all IT teams could benefit from new solutions built by their peers. Having that level of flexibility and the opportunity for creativity can transform the efficiency of IT teams.

Tweet this: How to determine if your ITSM tool vendor isn’t innovating fast enough

As you evaluate ITSM solutions, seek to understand how the vendors plan to add new capabilities, as well as their track records of adhering to their product roadmaps. Vendor roadmaps and customer requirements aren’t always aligned, which means customer are often at the mercy of a vendor’s vision versus their ability to execute.

The Need for Flexible ITSM Software

Based upon the list above, the inability for ITSM tools to support changes or upgrades creates the greatest inefficiencies. But a new era has emerged where ITSM software can serve as a platform for a marketplace of extensions, apps, and user-generated improvements that can be shared to optimize efficiency among IT teams of all sizes. Flexibility is the essential ingredient for speed, flexibility and cost control.


To get a solid understanding of the competitive landscape of ITSM software vendors, and evaluate their individual strengths and weaknesses, be sure to download Gartner’s 2016 Magic Quadrant for IT Service Support Management tools.

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How to Keep Your Higher Education IT Department Engaged and Motivated

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If you are an IT leader at a college or university, you know the work of your department is critical for the successful function of the entire campus. Your team provides day-to-day IT support for students, professors, and staff, while also completing long-term projects and solutions to enable your school’s growth and future. Within the IT department, though, the immense value of routine daily tasks isn’t always clear—staffers can fall prey to ennui, causing engagement and morale to wither. It’s hard, after all, for your IT staff to appreciate the indispensable nature of their work when they’re closing out the hundredth ticket of the week explaining a simple connectivity issue. 

As an IT leader, how can you keep all your staffers—including work study, student staffers, interns, new hires, and long-term core staff—motivated and aware of their work’s value? Fortunately, no rousing, coach-at-halftime oratory is required—instead, implement these strategies to draw a clear connection between your staff’s work and the success of the university or school employing them.

Tweet this: How IT leaders at colleges and universities can support students, faculty and functionality of the entire campus

Expect more from your staffers, even the newbies   

In their position at the bottom of the experience ladder, interns, student staffers, and entry-level staffers can get stuck tackling routine tickets. The training is relatively easy for this work, but so too is leaving the position. Some amount of staff turnover, particularly with students and interns, is to be expected. But it’s best avoided: Even when it’s easy, training takes time and effort, and the interview process for new staffers is also burdensome and time consuming. In order for the IT department to function smoothly, and offer customers the support they require, IT staffers need to be reliable, knowledgeable, and strong communicators. Finding people who possess all these qualifications is hard—if you find strong candidates, it’s to your advantage to hold on to them over the long term.  

If you’re eager to keep staffers engaged, tedious, repetitive work isn’t the answer. Provide all employees—students and full-time alike—with tools that allow them to make changes locally, and encourage them to think beyond resolving tickets to resolving underlying issues. Instead of responding to endless queries from a support frequent flyer one ticket at a time, for instance, staffers can set up a brief one-on-one training session. Or, they can respond to repeated tickets about a tricky but routine set-up issue by updating the workflow or writing an explanation on the self-service portal. When it comes to student staffers, for a potentially budget-friendly option, create a track that allows them to work full-time after graduation.

All IT staffers will be more engaged when they’re empowered to go beyond tickets to long-term solutions. For students in particular, the encouragement to brainstorm and execute long-term solutions paints a better picture of your department’s work and the opportunities available to staffers for creative, meaningful work than simply tackling tickets would. Bigger projects and higher-level tasks also provide students with on-the-job training that has a value as significant as students’ hourly wages. If students get good job placements after graduation, it reflects well on the college, and could also lead to better quality applications from students in the future. And, of course, customers will benefit as well from this responsive care.  

Tweet this: Higher education IT can be challenging. Creating a feedback loop between IT and school goals is critical 

Create a feedback loop between school goals and IT work

Your IT department’s work is often behind the scenes, obscuring its merits. If IT implements a new workflow that helps the recruitment team assess and select stronger candidates, who gets the recognition? And when IT helps the science department recover a corrupted file required for a grant application, who gets the acknowledgement when the grant is awarded? IT support in these examples may not be splashy—but in both cases, it helps deliver something meaningful. IT department leaders need to make sure that their staff is aware of how their work connects with larger college and university goals—and also showcase the department’s value to other campus leaders. Here are some ideas for how IT leaders can establish a feedback loop using ITSM to ensure that staffers are aware of their work’s value, and are receiving recognition:

  • Set goals and make it a game. Before the world was occupied catching Pokémon, we were flinging angry birds or swiping our screens to combine numbered tiles. Games exert a powerful motivational force, and you can harness that force and boost engagement when you implement gamificiation tactics in the office. Consider your department’s goals: Whether it’s closing tickets rapidly, completing a project, or increasing customer satisfaction, it’s easy to determine monthly targets for each of these needs. Measure performance weekly (to avoid unpleasant end-of-the-month surprises), and use rankings, badges, and other game-derived reward systems to inform staff of their status. If you’re not sure how to gamify department goals, ask your staff to help—requesting their involvement boosts engagement, and helps people feel valued and connected to the process.
  • Don’t dismiss the power of the customer survey. Here’s an easy way to show IT staffers their work is valued: Issue a survey for every resolved ticket. This mechanism boosts motivation by providing tangible proof of the effect IT staffers’ work has on people with problems. (It can also help you know which staffers might need additional attention or training.) To increase responses, make the survey easy to complete—skip complicated questions in favor of asking people to choose between happy- or sad-face emoji to evaluate service.
  • Broadcast achievements within and outside of the department: Use internal communications to showcase your staff’s work—whether it’s a saved file or a whole new system, make sure that IT’s influence is known to other departments and university leaders. Within your own department, share the school’s yearly goals, and when staffers further these goals, offer public praise and acknowledgement of their efforts.

University and college IT leaders are fortunate: staff turnover is typically low. Motivation and engagement, however, can dip when the impact of their work isn’t clear or when there’s a lack of acknowledgement and praise. To maintain morale, IT leaders must make it clear to all IT employees—interns and students, entry level and experienced—that their work has value, connects with school goals, and is vital for the school’s long-term success and ranking.

Learn more about how the smartest higher education institutions run their IT departments and build self-service portals. Check out our webinar today. 

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ITSM News Roundup: Is Your Team Agile?

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IT is all about order and process. How can we serve our business faster and more efficiently? How can we help our organization move forward to better meet its goals? One of the most well known and widely adopted processes is the Agile methodology. In this week’s ITSM news roundup, we’re asking, “Is your team Agile?” From DevOps to design, let’s explore what it means to be truly Agile.

Tweet this: Why it’s important for all IT organizations to maximize their teams agility to better serve the business

4 Characteristics of Agile, Software-Minded Organizations

What are the key traits of an organization committed to the Agile philosophy? In this article from Alex Camino for Nearshore, we learn the four major characteristics of an Agile organization. From their approach to software to how they treat customers, Camino explores how an organization can be more nimble. Read 4 Characteristics of Agile, Software-Minded Organizations today.

Myths of Agile: “there’s no documentation in Agile”

This article from Leon Tranter for Extreme Uncertainty examines the common myths of Agile methodology. Many people assume there’s no documentation in Agile, but as this article points out, that’s just not true. So, how does Agile approach documentation? Read Myths of Agile to find out

What Is Bimodal IT?

We’ve been hearing a lot lately about Bimodal IT as the latest trend in DevOps. But, what is it? This article by Courtney Glymph from the DevOps Summit Journal answers that question. “Gartner’s concept of Bimodal IT argues that for successful digital transformation, IT needs to split into two parts: mode 1 for maintaining and modernizing traditional back-end IT services and mode 2 for agility in building front-end, digital apps.” To learn more, read What Is Bimodal IT today.  

Making design core to the Agile process

We’re closing out this week’s ITSM news roundup with a case study from Salesforce about how they made deisgn core to their Agile process in order to scale. Read on to find out about what went right, what went wrong, and what the team learned throughout the process. Check out Making Design Core to the Agile Process.

Don’t miss out on the latest news in IT service management. Check out each installment of Cherwell’s ITSM News Roundup. 

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ITSM News Roundup: Women in Tech

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There is an unfortunate trend in the tech world of gender inequality and unconscious bias. These habits are formed long before any of us enter our first jobs in the tech industry. In this week’s ITSM news roundup, we’re exploring the complicated world of how women in tech navigate their companies, career paths, and more. What pressures do they face? Where are the double standards? Read on to find out. 

Tweet this: The tech world has traditionally been dominated by the male gender, So where do women fit in overall? 

Too geeky for girls? Tech industry stereotypes are hindering equality

In this article from The Guardian, author Carrie Anne Philbin discusses the goals of teaching things like computer science to girls. We don’t teach literacy to kids expecting them all to become authors, she argues. So why then would we expect to create a workforce of engineers simply because we want to prioritize teaching kids computer science? On the contrary, tech subjects should be taught because our children are growing up in an increasingly technological world and we should set them up for success in navigating that world. But, what stereotypes already exist in the minds of these kids? Philbin says, “…the negative stereotypes most often put forward by the girls always outweighed the positive, such as being friendless, isolated and nerdy.” To learn more about how schools should address this topic, read Too Geeky For Girls.

Women In Tech Must Continually Challenge The Status Quo, Says This CEO

Once we get girls into tech, how can we ensure they are on a fair path to leadership? According to Jennifer Steffans, CEO of IOActive, confidence is key. ““Confidence is a tool that will always prove invaluable to female executives and confidence is based in knowledge,” she tells Leo King, author of the article for Forbes. “Tech is constantly changing so we must be continuously learning and adapting.” To find out what else she suggests, check out Challenge the Status Quo.

Tweet this: Once women get into the technology industry how do we ensure they are receiving a fair chance at leadership roles? 

If you think women in tech is just a pipeline problem, you haven’t been paying attention

Of course, in order to see women in leadership roles in tech, we must first ensure women aren’t leaving the tech industry. According to the Harvard Business Review, 41 percent of women working in tech wind up leaving the field, verses 17 percent of men who do the same. Why is this? Rachel Thomas has a theory. In this article for Medium.com, Thomas discusses her recommendations based on her experience as a programmer in a male-dominated field. “Women are perceived negatively for being too assertive. If tech culture is going to change, everyone needs to change, especially men and most especially leaders.” Read her recommendations and the research behind them in the article. 

Is There A Double Standard When Female CEOs In Tech Stumble?

How do we handle it when women in tech experience failure? How are they treated in comparison with their male colleagues? Laura Sydell explores this topic for NPR. Sydell tells the stories of Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo, and others who have faced conflict or failure in the industry. How was it handled? How were they treated? Read Is There a Double Standard to find out

Don’t miss out on the latest news in IT service management. Check out each installment of Cherwell’s ITSM News Roundup. 

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3 Advantages of a Codeless ITSM Solution for Higher Education IT Departments  

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For IT organizations, the programming effort required to customize software solutions to meet the unique needs of the organization can hamper agility while requiring a generous budget. In contrast, a codeless solution, which allows you to configure your IT solution without actually writing code, gives your IT department the freedom to customize solutions in house, without the need to budget for software developers and consultants. Codeless design architecture also gives your IT department greater flexibility for project development.

Perhaps nowhere can codeless software have a greater impact than in the area of IT service management (ITSM), which is arguably IT’s greatest workload in the world of higher education. In the higher education setting, where departments are often strapped for resources and budget, opportunities for homegrown solutions are welcomed. TJ Martinez, Director of Customer Support for the University of New Mexico’s Core Information Technologies Department, appreciates the DIY element codeless architecture brings to their ITSM initiatives. “You don’t need highly skilled developers and resources to make changes to the system,” explains Martinez.

Tweet this: An ITSM solution that is codeless frees up valuable IT staff, to make changes they need without prior code knowledge

Implementing an ITSM solution with a codeless architecture means that there’s no step of the ITSM process—from initial setup and configuration to all the maintenance, modifications, integrations, and enhancements—that requires knowledge of a programming language. Only a foundational knowledge of a codeless ITSM product is required for your IT department to accomplish major tasks. Take a look at three major advantages of a codeless ITSM solution for college and university IT departments:  

1. Greater Independence, Agility, and a DIY Philosophy

The refrain from your fellow higher education IT leaders is consistent and clear: Being beholden to developers is an impediment, not an advantage. Joshua Tooley, an Associate Director of IT Support at Texas Christian University, praises the codeless aspect of their ITSM solution for giving the service desk freedom “to build everything we need to do our jobs without expert developers.”

IT departments at colleges and universities are asked to do a lot: Maintain the systems used by students and professors, and also offer technology support for multiple departments, from facilities to research to recruitment. Expectations are high, but timelines and budgets are often quite limited. Campus IT departments have learned to adapt to these constraints, and develop a DIY spirit. Codeless architecture allows your IT department the freedom to easily come up with solutions on your own—without the need for developers—and implement them quickly.

2. Lower Labor Costs, and a Broader Candidate Pool

Recruiting for an engineer with a skill set in a specific programming language narrows the applicant field, while increasing candidates’ salary requirements. Especially for remote campuses, far from the coasts or major cities, recruiting for these specialized skills bears a particularly high level of difficulty.

The market for staff who can work with a codeless ITSM solution, in contrast, is wider and more budget-friendly. This means hiring to support your ITSM program is easier, as is handling turnover among staff.

Tweet this: Having a codeless ITSM solution can allow organizations to recruit from broader candidate pools

3. Ability to Innovate and Offer Value Beyond ITSM

While delivering IT services and support is at the core of any IT department’s higher education mandate, what if IT were capable of building solutions that could help other departments deliver their own specialized services? Imagine having a single tool that helps campus security to better manage its staffing requirements, the admissions office to score and track applications, the registrar’s office to administer the course approval process, and library services to automate notifications for overdue books. What if you were able to build anything with your ITSM tool that you are able to draw on a whiteboard?

This is the where the real magic happens with the codeless approach. With an ITSM tool that’s built on a codeless platform, you aren’t limited to the ITSM functionality built into the tool; you can build countless solutions that enable other departments to better execute upon their own unique initiatives. In fact, by offering value that goes far beyond that which you are expected to deliver, you make your team truly indispensable to your institution of higher learning.

Find New Freedom with Codeless Architecture

It can seem like a smart, sophisticated choice to build your ITSM solution on a specific programming language. This decision, however, locks you into a propriety solution, limits your staffers’ ability to be nimble and responsive, restricts your recruitment pool, and hampers your team’s ability to innovate. In contrast, codeless technology allows you to rapidly develop low-cost, specialized solutions that support not only your team and the services they deliver, but also the broader mission of higher education.

To learn more about what your IT department can get out of a codeless solution, read our white paper, Transform IT with Codeless Configuration

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How to Choose ITSM Software: The Five Cs

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When it comes to choosing new IT service management (ITSM) software, your options are endless. From homegrown and open-source solutions, to Business Process Management tools and Customer Relationship Management tools. And, as more organizations experiment and implement lean and agile methodologies using Software Change and Configuration Management tools, the market is now saturated with ITSM tools.

Tweet this: With so many options available, do you find yourself asking what are the real differences between ITSM solutions? 

These solutions seemingly deliver similar capabilities, such the ability to manage any given issue over its life cycle, or self-service portals that allow users to submit and track their own issues. The tools available also boast next-generation capabilities in the areas of mobility, social collaboration, and advanced analytics. These capabilities all work in conjunction to help you – the ITSM leader – to successfully support and deliver IT services to the business.

With so many options available, you must ask yourself, “What are the real differences between ITSM solutions?” To help answer that question, I suggest you consider “The Five Cs” when evaluating ITSM solutions. Plus, I’ll give you practical advice on how to address each.

The First C: Cost                                                             

I’ve never met a software decision maker who doesn’t begin with this question, which is required for initial budgeting purposes. One of my wife’s favorite shows is Property Brothers, where two brothers work with potential homebuyers to determine what they are looking for in a new house and then tour various properties together. After each tour, the Property Brothers reveal the asking price, which is always out of the buyers’ budget, forcing them to make tradeoffs. This bait-and-switch happens often in ITSM software procurement because budget dictates requirements, and not the other way around. Understanding the price ranges of ITSM solutions early in the process can help you understand what is feasible given your budget, and will allow you to prioritize requirements accordingly.

Action Item: Use analyst firms and peer recommendations to get a sense for what the solutions that meet your requirements cost.

The Second C: Choice

You must work to understand the choices available to you, especially in terms of flexibility of the licensing and deployment models of the software you’re evaluating. For example, what if vendor A meets all of your requirements, but only offers a SaaS deployment model? What if your organization has a SaaS requirement today, but would consider bringing the solution on-premises in the future? Your answers to these questions matter, as few vendors offer a wide range of deployment model choices. Next, consider the licensing model offered by each vendor. Does Vendor A work only within a named licensing model? If so, you risk paying for licenses you never use. Learn more about why it is vital you understand how the licensing model works. .

Action Item: Although your requirements may dictate a particular model, ask vendors how flexible they can be if and when your IT or business needs change, as well as what the ramifications of change are. Are there penalties, charges, or fees associated with those changes? Find out.

Tweet this: Flexibility of licensing and deployment models are important factors to consider when choosing an ITSM vendor

The Third C: Configuration and Customization

When you evaluate your ITSM software options, don’t be short-sighted. Consider your organizational roadmap. Is the solution able to meet new and unique IT and business requirements for the foreseeable future? Many vendors promise configuration and customization as means to address those needs, but what happens when those changes impact manageability and the ability to upgrade? A solution should be flexible enough to make configurations and customizations without breaking; the notion that your IT organization will use the solution as is, out of the box, is highly unlikely. Furthermore, restricting any efforts to optimize the investment negates real business value – you shouldn’t have to compromise.

Action Item: Verify the ease of configuration and customization. Seek out customers of a given product, going beyond the vendor-provided references, to get an understanding of the effort and skill set required to change, manage, and administer the solution.

The Fourth C: Connection

Your software portfolio is as dynamic as your business model, and as you retire and replace existing solutions, the ability to integrate data, consoles, and workflows is imperative to extract optimal value from each investment. It is unlikely you will find a single vendor to meet all of your IT operations management (ITOM) requirements, so the ability of your ITSM solution to connect with your other ITOM needs is a critical selection criterion. Understand the integration model and approach of the solutions you evaluate. Does a tool only integrate well with the vendor’s own propriety solutions? Do integrations come at a soft/hard cost? How does the solution keep/maintain integrations when the solution is upgraded?

Action Item: Ensure the vendor easily integrates with the solutions you already have in your IT management solution portfolio. Be sure to verify this with reference checks, rather than simply taking the vendor on their word. Understand the different approaches and methods of application integration (i.e. SOAP vs. REST API’s) and validate accordingly.

Tweet this: How an ITSM vendor treats it’s customers is THE most important thing to consider when choosing ITSM software 

The Fifth C: Customers

Finally, you should absolutely research how the vendor treats customers. You are entering a potentially long term strategic relationship with a vendor, and you must ensure they are equally committed to helping you achieve your goals and objectives. All vendors love and appreciate their customers, but relationships sour when expectations are misunderstood and undelivered. The way you are treated as a customer is an element of the culture and character of the vendor organization. Are they easy to do business with? Have the interactions you have had with people outside the sales organization been positive? Are they transparent and forthcoming with information? How committed is the vendor to you and your organization, regardless of your license count or annual spend? These are all questions you must answer in order to determine optimal fit.

Action Item: Again – speak with your industry peers and people you trust about the interactions they have had with their existing and/or potential vendors.

Choosing the right ITSM solution is one of the most important decisions you can make. Understand your criteria, use the right resources, and always remember the Five Cs. In doing so, you are more likely to make the right decision, increasing the likelihood successfully implementing your new ITSM solution, thereby helping you meet your organizational and business goals.

To ensure you’re focusing on the features that matter when choosing an ITSM solution, check out the Gartner Research Note, “Before Purchasing an ITSM Tool, Compare Pricing and Licensing.” 

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