Cherwell IT Service Management Blog
Resources, Best Practices, and Solutions for ITSM Pros

The Patience of Gnat: ITSM Vendor Management

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Guess what? Since my last blog, I still struggle with being as patient as a gnat. Change doesn’t happen quickly does it — especially for impatient people? Many of your IT staff and/or constituents couldn’t agree more with my last post that you need to make the data relevant and get the information out there to be consumed. All right you say, let’s do this!

Suddenly your huge initiative to be more transparent in IT comes to a screeching halt. The problem? Vendors have historically made it difficult to get the information out of the system or at least without extracting a high price (i.e. licenses fees).  As I spend time with organizations I hear repeatedly:

  • “We can run canned reports in our software, but we have no idea where the data is coming from.”
  • “If we want to make reports or dashboards available it consumes a license.”
  • “Our CIO has one person take up to three days to get the metrics out of all the systems and compile a report that makes sense in the C-level meeting.”
  • “Our constituents (employees/customers) can only see and interact with their issues.”

Gathering the data is not the issue; any ITSM tool out there will do that for you. Getting the data out, getting it in a way that makes sense to anyone else than the vendor’s development team — that’s a different story. Vendors often charge for the right for you to access YOUR data (i.e. by consuming a license) when that is one of your core requirements. It says so in your title — INFORMATION.  With very few exceptions, even if you can get the data and do so without consuming a license, good luck making it accessible to your end users. At best, they can see their personal data and nothing else.

Now before we can go blaming the ITSM vendors and storm their corporate headquarters in protest, you have to admit you carry part of the blame. How many of you reading this can honestly say that a big part of your buying decision was around the consumption and distribution of information? Be honest, how much of the shiny bling is what enticed you to buy the tool? It’s like buying a plane that looks super cool, but the cockpit has no gauges or dials.  (Have you seen a cockpit lately? It’s mind-blowing the amount of information that’s displayed.)

As ITSM vendors, we (yes, I include our company) have to admit we have made it difficult for the information technology team (namely you) to do their job effectively. Perhaps that needs to change. What if IT could get back to using their skills to do what is most needed — resolving incidents, fulfilling requests, managing and implementing changes? How do we do that? I don’t have all the answers (or I wouldn’t be sitting on a plane writing a blog), but I think there are some ways you as IT and we as vendors can collaborate together:

  • You decide the information that is most needed for your constituents, and we enable you to post it in the self-service portal, for EVERYONE (with proper security rights) to see — without consuming a license.
  • You develop dashboards with the metrics your C-Level and V-Level need to manage their environments, and we make it possible for you to display those dashboards on a mobile device.
  • You determine how you will measure yourself against your peers, and we make it possible for you to do benchmarking from within the software solution.
  • You distribute dashboards to all your users in IT, and we agree not to make you consume a license.
  • You demonstrate your value to the company, and we make it possible for you to get the data in such a manner that it is readily available without your CIO having to consume three days of effort to get it.

Deal? Information is not going to lessen; it is only going to increase. Unless IT and vendors can figure out how to collaborate together and make the ability to continually improve the quality of IT and ultimately create customer success, the tide of impatience will only increase. As it does, the gnats will be way at the back of the line! Let’s not let that happen.

What do you think? Fair, not fair, statements? I would like to hear.