How to Choose ITSM Software: The Five Cs

Posted by on December 04, 2018


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.

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