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ITSM News Roundup: What You Need to Know About Software as a Service

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“Cloud will increasingly be the default option for software deployment,” according to research firm Gartner. As more and more software companies—including startups and established businesses—shift to a Software as a Service (SaaS) model, there are many benefits for IT departments. SaaS can make it easier to handle users’ multiple devices, and can also help companies scale. Learn more about SaaS in this week’s ITSM news roundup.

What you need to know about software as a service

At Beta News, Barclay Ballard breaks down the many benefits—including affordability, time savings, and scalability—to SaaS, which allows businesses and consumers to lease software from third-party distributors. 

Tweet this: Affordability, time and savings are just three benefits of implementing a SaaS model

Why the next great SaaS company will look nothing like Salesforce

Aaref Hilaly writes for TechCrunch about how newer software offerings, such as Slack, thrive by becoming the “apps that employees actually use to get their work done.” These systems of engagement—or SoE—don’t seek to become deeply embedded in business processes, but rather thrive through their strong integration and design. 

Tweet this: What can IT professionals expect from the next great SaaS company? 

Benefits of Licensing Software as a Service in the Cloud

SaaS is only growing, says Kim Kuhlmann at CloudTweaks. Expect companies to embrace cloud-based SaaS, which helps companies scale as projects grow and shrink, and makes it easier to manage software across multiple devices. 

Cloud computing’s next gambit: Data as a service

David Linthicum discusses how the cloud can go beyond being a storage place for data to being a vehicle to share and explore data from other organizations, and muses on the opportunities available for businesses providing both data and platform to users.  

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



How to Use Customer Service Management to Keep Complaints from Going Viral

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In 2013 an Australian teenager noticed that his foot-long wasn’t—a foot long, that is. He posted a photo on Facebook showing that his sandwich only measured out to 11 of the advertised 12 inches—a full bite short!

With lighting speed, that single photo was viewed by hundreds of thousands of people, igniting a world-wide epidemic of concerned sandwich consumers measuring their subs before taking that first bite. The impact of the negative publicity was incalculable, with some customers even filing lawsuits against the sandwich chain, seeking recompense for their one-bite-short sandwiches.

Welcome to the social media age.

Customer Service Management More Important Than Ever

Customer service management has always been important in the retail business. A couple of decades ago, a dropped customer service ball would likely result in your brand’s reputation taking a hit in the eyes of a single customer. The damage might spread to a small group of people after the angry customer spread the word to friends, family, and acquaintances.

But today, an incident of bungled customer service can do far more harm than it might have just 20 years ago.

Now the angry customer might let the entire world know what she thinks of your brand. And thanks to social media, the entire world is listening, and reacting. Just one disgruntled customer can light a global conflagration that torches your brand before your very eyes—exactly the way it happened to Subway.

Tweet this: Why customer service management is more important now than it ever has been

The Social Media Explosion

Though it may seem like forever that we’ve been Tweeting and Facebooking and Instagraming and Snapchatting, social media is a relatively recent phenomenon. The first true social media site is widely regarded to have been ICQ, which launched in 1996.

Since then the use of social media has snowballed. According to the Pew Research Center, the vast majority of Americans now use one or more social media outlets on a regular basis. Nearly 80 percent of Americans with internet access use Facebook regularly—3 of every 4 Americans check the site on a daily basis. Quite simply, social media has become a part of the daily lives of most people.

What are the topics of interest on social media? Just about anything that impacts peoples’ lives, and that certainly includes experiences—good and bad—with products and retail brands.

Firecrackers Can Spark Wildfires

Forbes recently reported that social media has become a major driver of retail sales. According to a recent survey, nearly half of all social media users have purchased a product that has been favored (Liked, Favorited, Pinned, Retweeted, etc.) by other social media users. Somewhat surprisingly, social media is now driving in-store sales almost as much as online sales.

But disgruntled retail consumers are also likely to use social media to trash your brand. In fact, nearly 1 in 5 consumers will voice their displeasure on social media first, before even giving the offending company a chance to respond. And when just a single customer turns to social media to complain, all kinds of bad things can happen.

Consider Subway’s most un-excellent adventure. Twenty years ago, that lone customer complaint would have been no worse than a firecracker: annoying, but not particularly damaging. But social media provided the fuel that morphed the damage into a raging, global wildfire.

For CIOs and IT execs, the lesson is clear: Using ITSM in eliminating communication breakdowns and quickly nipping complaints in the bud can prevent firecrackers from morphing into something far more damaging.

Mobile + Mad = B-A-D

In the early days of the social media age, at least there was a bit of a buffer between your angry customer and the social media masses: Your customer needed access to a computer to share her disdain of your brand. In those days, most people didn’t carry a computer around with them, so angry customers often had a chance to cool down before accessing a computer and logging-in to their favorite social media site. Perhaps their fury would even abate enough so that they wouldn’t bother with posting.

But that buffer is long gone.

Now, virtually every one of your customers has instant access to social media through mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. They can post at any time, and from any place. They can share their low opinion of your brand while their fury is still white-hot. And when your boiling-mad customer hits send on that scathing post, potentially millions around the world will receive it instantaneously on their mobile devices.

Tweet this: The growing amount of customers with instant access to social media is changing customer service all around

Don’t Fumble That Customer Service Management Ball!

Though it certainly isn’t possible to please all the people all the time, there’s always room for improvement in the business/customer relationship. And the massive-and-growing impact of social media makes it more important than ever for retail businesses to keep customers happy. Deploying a customer service management tool that streamlines and strengthens the business/customer relationship can help prevent those social media bonfires from ever getting lit.

After all, it’s one thing to make a single customer angry. It’s quite another thing to make an entire planet of customers and prospective customers angry with your brand — even if that seething surge begins with just one disgruntled voice on social media.

Looking for examples of how an ITSM tool can improve customer satisfaction? Read how a new ITSM tool helped an award-winning deli chain boost customer satisfaction metrics and improve communications company-wide.


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4 Ways to End the ITSM Software Love/Hate Cycle

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“I really hate seeing relationships filled with promise in the beginning go bad in the end.” I wrote that line in 2012, in a blog post for Gartner about the love/hate cycle between companies and ITSM software solution vendors. The relationships start strong, but ends sour and frustrated. Sadly, that very same problem still exists four years later: It’s easy to fall in love during presentations and demos, and place a new software solution firmly on a pedestal. That’s the “wow” moment, when anything seems possible—it’s easy to imagine workflows easing, problems being solved, and just about everything besides world hunger being fixed by this new, shiny solution. 

After implementation, when some time passes—maybe just a few weeks, or even a year—the shine wears off, and the tarnish sets in. That’s when the breakup process begins, accompanied by frustration with the tool and vendor. Here’s my take on why breakups are so common: 

The reality of the situation is that there are some organizations and some vendors who just don’t belong together. While they make a cute couple, that doesn’t mean that they are soul mates. The irony is that the breakups are not a result of a lack of features or functions, but because someone’s expectations were not met. Those expectations should be verbalized at the onset, but rarely ever are. 

Tweet this: Are you in a love/hate relationship with your ITSM software? Get out of the rut with these 4 steps

My message now is the same as my message in my original post: Don’t let infatuation overtake reality. When you consider a new solution, ask yourself why you want it, and what it will help you do that you can’t already do with your existing suite of tools. Here’s the thing: Some software solutions may not be as stunning as they first appear, and vendors can be challenging, but if your expectations aren’t clear, then the vendor-company relationship is doomed to fail. 

4 Ways to Ensure Your Next Software Solution Is Right for You Long-Term 

You can break free of the love/hate cycle, and get into a better relationship—a long-term, satisfied, and productive one—if you put in the legwork during the dating phase with a vendor. Try these four strategies: 

1. Know what you want. This goes back to the “e” word: Expectations. Before you shop around for a solution, you should have a clear sense of what you want to accomplish with a new solution. What can’t your old solution do, that you wish your new one could tackle? And have some self-knowledge, too, as I wrote in my original post: “Know who you are and what you bring to the table, and have an honest discussion about what process maturity gaps exist in your organization.” And then make sure to communicate what you can do currently, and what you hope to do in the future, in your conversations with vendors

2. Look for the right features. Having a sense of clarity and purpose for what you want in a solution can help you make a solid match. Don’t just fall for surface looks—dive under the hood of a solution, and check if it has the essential features and functionality that’ll help your team and your company over the long haul. 

3. Put in the time. Oh, if only relationships were as easy a single date, with a single person. Sadly, it’s rarely that simple, so you’ll want to invest some time in researching solutions and getting feedback from friends and colleagues. Here’s my still-true take on the options out there: 

There are over 100 ITSM solutions available, almost over half of which are offered in a SaaS licensing model. The key to understanding how to leverage SaaS after a break up is to think beyond a licensing and financial model and more around SaaS as a delivery model. SaaS isn’t just the way something is paid for; it’s a means to reduce the cost of innovation. That’s why we are seeing customers extend the value of their ITSM solutions and create business solutions that affect the bottom line. SaaS licensing can be the means to let you date around, but can also be something you end up forging a lasting relationship with.

Tweet this: When considering a new ITSM solution, make sure you are getting what you need from your vendor first

Always make sure to do research, and see which solutions have high retention rates—that signals happy customers. 

4. Think big picture. Don’t just focus on a solution that will be helpful this year, with your existing situation. Think about where your company is going and what it might need from a solution in the future. Keep in mind the tool’s ease of customization, too: 

New selections should be based on how well the tool matches your requirements with as little customization as possible, and rarely should requirements change to conform to a tool’s inability to do something. Customizations require costs, time, resources and sometimes services, so in vendor evaluations build better requirements and re-evaluate whether or not customization is still required.

If you really want to put on a ring on it, and have your next vendor and tool be your last one, follow these strategies to ensure long-term satisfaction.

Are you in a good relationship with your ITSM tool? We want to show you a refreshing approach to ITSM. Take the Cherwell Challenge today and see the possibilities for yourself. 



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5 Tips for Mobile Banking Security

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Not so very long ago, attending to your personal banking business was typically quite a pain in the assets. Routine banking chores—deposits, withdrawals, etc.—meant that you had to go to the bank, stand in line, and wait patiently (or not!) for the services of a bank teller—yes, a real human being that would assist you with whatever banking chores you needed to get done.

Things improved a little when Automated Teller Machines came along. You still had to drive or walk to an ATM, and more likely than not, still stand in line to complete your banking business. But there were far more ATMs than banks, so it was quite probable that an ATM was located conveniently close to your home.

Next came the drive-thru ATM. You could complete your banking business without even getting out of your car! But, it wasn’t really an improvement; you still had to drive to the ATM; and you probably still had to wait in line—though at least you could do so from the comfort of your car, with your air conditioning and radio blasting.

Tweet this: Is your mobile banking application as secure as you think? 5 tips to a more secure experience

The Bank in Your Pocket

Things have certainly changed. Banking customers no longer must go to a bank, or even to an ATM (unless they need cold, hard cash). Most banking customers now carry their accounts in their pocket, purses, briefcases, or backpacks.

These days, all you need to complete most banking chores is a mobile phone or tablet. Pull up the mobile banking app on your device and deposit checks, transfer funds, make payments, open or close accounts—just about everything you once had to stand in line to do.

It’s a seemingly miraculous byproduct of modern technology. It makes a once onerous, time-consuming chore astoundingly fast and easy. And that’s why a recent survey by the U.S. Federal Reserve revealed that more than half of mobile phone owners accomplish at least some of their banking using a smartphone app.

But, the big question today is this: Is mobile banking safe?

A Cloud to that Silver Lining

The Federal Reserve survey referenced above indicates more than half of all mobile banking customers fear mobile banking is not secure. Those concerns are not ill-founded. According to American Banker, approximately 25,000 Trojans (malware disguised as legitimate software) were on the prowl for mobile banking customers/victims in 2015.

Though many consumers are worried about the security of mobile banking, those same risks provide plenty of cause for concern among banking management. Each customer compromised through a mobile banking security glitch represents the potential loss of a customer, loss of goodwill, and a PR black eye.

Additionally, banking customers aren’t the only targets of cybercriminals; banks themselves are frequently the targets of fraud attempts. A recent study found that nearly three of every four banks were victims of fraudulent mobile app check deposits—and fraudulent deposits cost the industry nearly $2 billion in losses in 2014, according to the American Bankers Association.

Tweet this: Mobile banking may be convenient, but how safe is it for the end user?  

5 Tips for Fighting Mobile Banking Fraud

Banks deploy a number of techniques designed to diminish the threat of mobile banking fraud. Some of the most effective defenses include the following:

  1. Multi-Factor Authentication: Requiring the submission of a single password before granting access to a customer’s account is a defense methodology that’s easily foiled. Multi-factor authentication adds a layer of defense by requiring that the user submit something in addition to the login password. A few examples include:
    • Specially generated one-time passwords
    • Biometric IDs such as a fingerprint
    • Facial recognition scanning
  1. Email and Text Alerts: Real-time notification of account activity can alert customers to fraudulent actions committed against their account.
  1. Behavioral Analysis: Software that monitors and analyzes logins and online account activity can flag behavioral anomalies for further investigation.
  1. Secure Access: Securing connections through technologies such as HTTPS can help to protect against both fraudulent logins and data theft.
  1. Fraud Awareness Education: Educating customers to the risks of mobile banking fraud can help to reduce carelessness that exposes both the bank and the customer to risk.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Many financial institutions find themselves between the proverbial rock and a hard place these days. On the one hand, customers crave the convenience of mobile banking, and banks that don’t offer that convenience are likely to find their customers looking elsewhere. But on the other hand, the convenience of mobile banking comes with an inherent increase in risk to both banks and customers.

The challenge, of course, is to stay a step of ahead of cybercriminals in offering a secure and convenient customer experience through the technological marvel of mobile banking. After all, nobody wants to return to the days of patiently standing in line just to deposit a check.

The move toward banking mobility is a recent innovation, but many financial institutions are struggling with problems such as outdated legacy systems — and find themselves falling behind the competition in their ability to offer quality, cutting-edge services to their customers. Read how the largest credit union in Colorado modernized their IT infrastructure in just eight weeks.  



ITSM News Roundup: Why Business Relationship Management Matters

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A successful IT department is not an island, isolated within the company, but rather is fully integrated. That’s why Business Relationship Management (BRM) is so essential—it allows other departments to have a firm understanding of the services and functions IT can perform for them, while also providing IT with insight into the company’s needs. Find out more about how BRM can help IT departments build strong partnerships throughout the company, and work toward broad business-wide goals, in this week’s ITSM news roundup.

Tweet this: In this week’s ITSM News Roundup: What BRM IS and what it’s NOT


Looking for a definition of business relationship management? Instrumental BRM Consultants discusses BRM allows IT and business partners (sales, marketing, production, etc.) to build strong relationships, implement strategic leadership, ensure business needs are met, and allow partners to understand what IT can deliver.

Review what BRM is—and is not.

Relationships That Matter to the BRM

Over at the BRM Institute, Vaughan Merlyn of The Merlyn Group defines the four relationships that lead to successful BRM: relationships with business partners, external relationships, purpose-based relationship networks, and relationships with other BRMs.

Find out more about the four relationships that matter to the BRM.

The Need to Link Incident Categorization and BRM

It’s not enough to have a single incident category, argues Ivor MacFaralane in ITSM.Tools. Instead, help desk analysts should be able to link tickets to a business process. Integrating business relationship management this way provides a window into business goals are disrupted by incidents.

Learn more about the need to link incident categorization and BRM.

Tweet this: In this week’s ITSM News Roundup: Is it enough to have a single incident category? 

How to Develop Business Acumen in the IT Workforce

At Gartner, Kasey Panetta writes about the need for CIOs to shift away from a top-down management style, and adopt a conversational style instead. Doing this improves performance, and connects the IT department to larger, company-wide goals.

Find out why it’s important to develop business acumen in the IT workforce.

Convergence, Alignment…Are They Really That Different?

Starla Borges of the BRM Institute offers up sports analogies to pinpoint the difference between convergence and alignment: a hockey team, where players work in sync, is similar to convergence, whereas roller derby, where players move in the same direction, without insight into other players’ activities, is similar to alignment. For businesses, convergence—which eliminates chaos—can be the better choice.

Get the lowdown on the differences between convergence and alignment.


Cherwell is proud to partner with Sollertis to further improve BRM, both technically and strategically. The Sollertis Business Relationship Management (BRM) mApp solution delivers strategic BRM capabilities to senior professionals of service provider business units and organizations (IT, HR, Facilities etc). The mApp contains primary capabilities covering business strategy, business outcome, business unit and business initiative lifecycle management through to business processes and kpi’s, complaints, improvement register, risk register and business engagements.

Visit Sollertis and learn more today.

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 Ways to Measure Success with ITSM Tools

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To achieve real improvement, you have to set measurable goals. Think of the show The Biggest Loser. One of the most important moments is when a contestant steps up on the scale for the first time in order to set a baseline for what they hope to accomplish by the end. Throughout the competition, that contestant is weighed and measured multiple time, enabling them to set benchmarks for their own improvement.

Whether you are the director of your IT organization or a service desk technician, you know the importance of goal setting. You’ve probably talked about setting S.M.A.R.T. goals within your own organization. For this post, I’d like to focus on the M in S.M.A.R.T., which stands for Measurable. If you want to meet your goals, you must ensure you’re measuring the right benchmarks. But, how do you know which metrics matter most?

Tweet this: Goal setting in IT is crucial. Here are 3 ways to measure success with ITSM tools

This is where your IT service management tool can really come in handy, provided you have a tool that lets you measure what matters to you. See, there are thousands of metrics and many legacy solutions boast an extraordinary ability to measure each and every one of them. Here’s the secret, though: There is no definitive guide to what metrics your organization should measure, because every IT organization will have a different strategy when it comes to supporting their business. 

Most IT organizations don’t understand what to measure. You might look at best practice research (i.e. HDI) and measure what they recommend. Sure, these metrics might be easy to capture and easy to benchmark performance against other organizations. The problem is those metrics don’t properly demonstrate IT’s value to the business. This gap requires IT to translate their statistics to the business leaders, who could care less about them. 

Let’s look at an example. Say you’re the IT director for Starbucks and you want to measure First Contact Resolution (FCR), as it is often a key performance indicator. How does high FCR help Starbucks sell more coffee? How does low FCR inhibit Starbucks from selling more coffee? Do we have any data that correlates FCR to corporate performance? 

The answer is no. That type of report won’t be built into your ITSM tool. Still, this is vital information you need to help improve business performance, so you’re stuck. You’ll either try to build it yourself or you’ll say your ITSM tool can’t give you the reports you really need. 

Tweet this: Does your ITSM tool give you the reporting you need to measure your success?

I have good news for you, IT Director for Starbucks, and I won’t even make you give me free coffee for life in exchange for the solution. Here’s my advice on the metrics that matter most and how to actually measure them.

1. Understand how your IT organization adds value to the business. Determine the goals and objectives of the IT organization and work down to identify the key performance indicators and metrics that support those. If a current metric can’t be tied back to business performance, stop measuring it.

2. Report to the right people. You must understand who you are communicating what metrics to, and when. Metrics you report UP are to business leaders and executives. Metrics you report DOWN are for day-to-day operations. If you mix those up, you’re wasting time and failing to effectively demonstrate the value of IT to business leaders. Additionally, be sure to use multi-dimensional performance metrics. Looking at one metric without understanding its impact on another can lead to poor decision support. 

3. Stop reporting. Start dashboarding. Reports are static. Dashboards are dynamic and provide context of what you’re doing against what you should be doing. Plus, the best ITSM tools have dashboards that update in real time, so you always know where you stand. 

Understanding what metrics matter and how to get the right measurements could be the difference between winning the competition or ending up back at home with nothing to show for your efforts. The choice is yours. 

Does your ITSM tool allow you to measure the right metrics? What do you wish it could do for you? We want to show you a refreshing approach to ITSM. Take the Cherwell Challenge today and see the possibilities for yourself. 


Achieve ITSM Success

ITSM Essentials: How to Leverage ITIL to Deliver Extraordinary IT Service

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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.




4 Ways to Improve the IT Help Desk

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When you ask CIOs to rank their key areas of focus and investment, it is unlikely they’ll prioritize improving the IT help desk. You are much more likely to see things like big data analytics, security, cloud computing, and digitization. While IT help desk improvement is one component of infrastructure modernization, you rarely see an explicit reference to the help desk in strategic plans.

I find this interesting because as much as 50 percent of the perception of IT comes from an interaction with the IT help desk. Despite all the shiny and innovative initiatives the CIO delivers, it still boils down to what Janet Jackson asked on her album Control: “What have you done for me lately?”

Tweet this: Become your company’s hero with these 4 easy steps to improving your IT help desk

If IT services begin performing sub-optimally—or stop working entirely—and cannot be restored quickly at the help desk, business users forget about all the value those services provided in the first place. Instead, they hone in on the inability to restore services, resulting in lost productivity.

Think about a State Governor who makes it her priority to fix and modernize the Department of Motor Vehicles within her first 100 days in office. Nearly every single one of her constituents has to go to the DMV at some point, and if there’s nothing else the Governor delivers during her term, at least constituents remember the improved efficiency and effectiveness of the DMV.

If your business users think you are doing a great job, then you are doing a great job. For an IT leader, perception is reality.

The mandate for the help desk has been to provide efficient support, reduce the total cost of IT, and improve customer satisfaction. Collectively, these guidelines allow IT to demonstrate its value to the business. While there are many metrics in place to measure efficiency and effectiveness, there remains only one way to measure customer satisfaction. You have to ask your users – and the majority of IT organizations aren’t doing this effectively. If you want to improve the help desk, here are the major red flags of customer communication you need to address, and my tips for how to fix them:   

1. You don’t know why you’re doing customer satisfaction surveys.

Doing customer satisfaction surveys the right way should start with one simple question: Why are we doing this? If your answer is we’ve always done it, or everyone else is doing it, or HDI said to do it, reset your initiative to focus on outcomes. This will determine how your surveys will be designed, managed, controlled and communicated.

Begin by asking questions such as:  

  • Why are we running the survey?
  • What do we hope to find out?
  • What will we do with the results?
  • How will the results improve our help desk?

Customer feedback is vital to survival as an IT leader, because only your customers can tell you what you’re doing well, what you’re not doing well, and what they expect from you. Define the information you’d like to glean from your survey, and then make your list of questions to ensure you’re collecting the answers that will help you make an actionable plan for improving your help desk.   

2. You send too many surveys.

91 percent of IT organizations send a survey invitation via email after a ticket is closed. While response rates may vary, most organizations range between five and ten percent with this approach. While higher response rates would be better, IT organizations (particularly large ones) only need a valid sample size of business users to act as a representative of the entire population. The distribution of surveys at the close of every ticket can overwhelm users, particularly if they’ve responded in the past, but no explicit actions have been taken on their feedback.

To reduce survey fatigue, IT organizations should:

  • Integrate your customer survey tool and the IT service management (ITSM) tool. The ability to cross-reference customer survey data with specific IT interactions and tickets will provide data that will help the help desk improve immediately. The majority of ITSM solutions provide this capability natively.
  • Build business rules into the ITSM solution that either randomize survey delivery, or ensure that surveys are only sent on a given schedule (e.g. at the close of every tenth ticket). Business rules should also make sure users aren’t surveyed more than once in a given period (e.g., three months). Again, the more flexible ITSM solutions can do this fairly easily. Because you are limiting the scope of potential respondents, IT organizations should consider offering a small incentive for completing a survey, whether it’s a $5 coffee card or a chance to win a larger prize (such as an Amazon Echo) in a raffle.
  • Mix survey types and response capture methods. In addition to sending a transactional survey when tickets close, also run annual surveys and conduct focus groups. In addition to web-based surveys, phone surveys can be effective in capturing customer feedback.

In this context, less is more particularly if respondents are vocal and honest with their feedback. If you’re more likely to get constructive feedback, you will be better able to improve your help desk.

Tweet this: 91% of IT organizations are overusing surveys. Are you overwhelming your end user?

3. You ask too many questions.

Provided IT organizations are surveying for the right reasons, at the right frequency, they still may see low response rates because they are simple asking too many questions on their transactional survey. Upon first glance, the user, who mind you has just been unable to work for the last minutes, is going to see a 10 question survey and politely decline, regardless of how much he enjoyed and appreciated the support experience. Ultimately, transaction surveys should ask two simple questions:

  • Was the issue resolved? (Yes or No)
  • How satisfied were you with the IT help desk experience? (Scale 1-5, or 1-7)

For IT help desks that integrate customer satisfaction surveys with their ITSM solution, or have the survey capabilities within their ITSM tool, the respondent’s “demographic” information will already be captured, so understanding their name, department, and nature of their issue will have already been recorded. Furthermore, an answer of “No” on the first question should automatically prompt the ticket to be reopened, with notification to management. Also, scales need not be numerical, having users select an emoticon can be an effective (and fun) way to capture user sentiment.

4. You neglect to communicate results to your customers.

Many IT organizations fear transparency, because it allows them to be publicly scrutinized, which may have negative consequences. However, if your customers think you aren’t listening to their feedback, they will stop providing it.

If one of the reasons you are conducting surveys is to improve, the process should begin with:

  • Sharing and discussing customer satisfaction as a help desk team to better understand customer expectations and IT’s ability to meet them. Focus on the feedback. When possible, change names to protect individuals. Nobody likes to be called out in front of their peers, nor does it make sense to cast judgment on someone for the one bad week they’ve had in twenty years of stellar work.
  • Provide a real time dashboard of IT customer satisfaction on the IT self-service portal. Doing so will convey the importance of metric to the IT department and will also provide the mechanism for users to familiarize themselves with the portal.
  • Deliver a periodic report to senior IT and business leadership about trends associated with customer satisfaction. Clearly communicating customer satisfaction changes during the rollout of the hosted email platform, for example, is key context to provide, especially if specific pain points are captured and shared. This helps IT understand customer expectations.

Tweet this: Having a transparent relationship by communicating results allows for better customer satisfaction overall

When you ask for feedback on what you can do to be better, you should exert effort to apply the improvement opportunities as they are communicated. Letting your customers know you hear and appreciate their feedback goes a long way in building trust and establishing an appropriate rapport for two-way communication. If you want your help desk to be a true business partner, an enabler and a knowledge hub, surveys are paramount in helping you to achieve your goals.

Once you know what your customers want from the help desk, it’s time to make a plan about how to deliver. You might need some help breaking bad habits and making lasting changes. We’re here to help. Check out our eBook, “Leap Out of the Service Desk Fish Bowl,” and learn innovative solutions to everyday challenges.


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Is Your ITSM Solution a Lemon?

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Under pressure to keep costs down, it’s tempting for IT leaders to maintain legacy solutions, upgrading when possible to add functionality. Staying the course with a legacy solution may seem like a smart, sensible sacrifice, but it can easily become a form of self-sabotage: Without a modern ITSM solution, your IT department will struggle to meet user needs, stay current with technology developments, and use its budget effectively.  

Tweet this: Using legacy solutions to keep IT costs down may seem like a sensible choice, but what are the risks? 

A Successful ITSM Solution Serves All Users  

Ever drive a car past its prime? You develop quirky workarounds to keep things functioning. You know that, to open the trunk, you have to tap three times on the license plate, for example, or you have to keep your speed either under 50mph or over 70mph to keep your rearview mirror from falling off. Take a ride in a newer car, though, and you’ll realize these workarounds disguise functionality flaws; newer cars aren’t just prettier—their features make them safer, more fuel efficient, and easier to drive.

Legacy solutions embody a strikingly similar parallel to a car driven beyond its life expectancy—long-term IT staffers develop strategies to work with outdated tools and reduce expectations for the solution’s capabilities. These workarounds make it easy to neglect the big picture: Your ITSM solution is forcing your IT department to compromise. Really, your solution should serve users and exceed expectations. Plus, not everyone who interacts with a legacy solution is familiar with its quirks—new IT staffers may feel frustrated by legacy solution limitations, while the people served by the legacy may expect functions and usability that it cannot deliver. Sure, you can avoid sinking money into a broken machine by telling yourself you can learn to live with a radio that only plays music every third Tuesday, or a sun visor that falls off when you go over railroad tracks. But, should you have to? And, what’s more, why would you force your staff and customers to live like that?

Upgrading Legacy Solutions Is Highly Problematic

When you realize your legacy solution is falling behind, you may think upgrades seem like the obvious solution. Not so fast. Hiring engineers or consultants to add features and functionality is ultimately an expensive stopgap. Think again of the example of the old car: At a certain point, you end up spending more money to replace broken parts and make repairs than the car is actually worth.  

By customizing your legacy solution, you build up a technical debt; the next time your software provider has a new version available, you may not be able to implement it, since doing so would destroy your customization. Spend too much on upgrades—whether they come from the software provider or hired on consultants—and the costs can swell beyond the sticker price of a modern, up-to-date ITSM solution.

Tweet this: Your ITSM solution should be flexible to adapt as technology evolves to meet modern user’s needs. 

Legacy Solutions Fail to Meet Modern User Needs

Just 10 years ago, the smartphone market did not exist—there were no app stores from Google and Apple, and phones weren’t an addictive source of information, entertainment, and communication. Nowadays, it’s a rare minority of people who do not have a smartphone—small wonder customers and staff expect phone-friendly functionality, such as the availability of a self-service site with responsive design or a mobile app to assist with questions and issues. Legacy solutions—which can predate modern apps and technology—often can’t satisfy these needs.

Ideally, your ITSM should be flexible so it can adapt to serve users even as technology changes in unpredictable ways. An ITSM solution that’s easily customized and configured without the need for developers will keep your budget reasonable even as you make tweaks, adaptations, and improvements.

Sticking with a legacy solution often means pricey upgrades and a difficult working environment. A legacy solution makes it all too easy to fall behind each year, failing to keep pace with technological updates. A modern ITSM allows your IT department to offer users the support required to flourish, while also on-boarding new users with ease.

Is your legacy ITSM solution a lemon? What do you wish it could do for you? We want to show you a refreshing approach to ITSM. Take the Cherwell Challenge today and see the possibilities for yourself.