Most Important Features for ITIL Software Tools in 2019

Posted by on June 14, 2019

ITIL software tools

ITIL software tools represent a significant investment for IT organizations that wish to increase productivity while reducing costs and driving value creation from within the IT organization. While adoption of the ITIL best practices framework has proved successful for many IT organizations, the selection of an adequate IT service management (ITSM) software tool is still a major stumbling block. The major mistake that many IT managers make is focusing their search on the vendors instead of determining their own required/desired features.

The best ITSM solutions include support for both the immediate and long-term value-driving processes within ITIL, along with the versatility to scale and grow effectively with your organization. As your company grows in size, budget, number of users, and number of endpoints, the best ITSM tools should grow with you, saving you even more time and money through economies of scale.

In this piece, we highlight the most important features to look for when choosing a software ITSM solution. These are the most important features for ITIL software tools that IT organizations should focus on in 2019.

ITIL Software Tools: Key Features for 2019

Service Desk Capabilities

Every organization that adopts ITSM software tools will require Incident Management, Problem Management, and Request Fulfillment as core features. Support for the Incident Management process ensures that IT organizations are responsive to issues users have minimizing downtime or unproductive time. They must make it simple for users to report incidents, communicate clearly with users on status, and facilitate rapid resolution.

A service desk acts as a single point of contact between the IT organizations and the business units within a company. ITIL software tools with strong service desk capabilities streamline the incident management and request fulfillment processes by reducing the number of ad hoc requests and introducing incident logging, ticket identification, and other sub-processes that promote efficiency and quality of service.

READ MORE: What Are the Primary ITIL Service Desk Responsibilities?

Configuration Management

As an IT organization increases in size and complexity, the effective management of IT assets through a configuration management database (CMDB) becomes necessary to ensure that IT services are delivered in accordance with service level agreements. The best ITSM software tools feature a robust configuration management functionality that enables the IT organization to maintain an accurate picture of configuration across all elements of the IT infrastructure.

The CMDB module of your ITSM platform should include asset discovery and inventory capabilities as core features. Items in the CMDB can be linked to tickets, problems, and changes that are reported through the service desk, making it easier for IT operators to connect incidents and reducing time-to-resolution. IT organizations can also use the CMDB to track the relationships and inter-dependencies of IT assets, ensuring that infrastructure changes do not have unintended consequences.

Data Integration Capabilities

Organizations that have not adopted ITIL software tools have probably devised their own systems for keeping track of configuration items and inventory data. As these databases grow, the task of transitioning to an alternative solution for inventory tracking and finding a way to import this data can be increasingly unappealing.

The best ITIL software tools provide extensive data integration capabilities with a variety of sources, supporting effective IT asset management, endpoint management, server monitoring, and other capabilities.

Software Asset Discovery and License Management

For IT organizations in the medium- or high-maturity categories, a proactive approach to software license management is essential for minimizing software audit risks and ensuring good value-for-money from software license spending. The most important features to look for include:

  • Software asset discovery - Your ITSM tool should be able to detect installation of software on any endpoint in the network, creating the visibility and transparency you need to manage licenses effectively.

  • License management - The capability to manage software licenses as a configuration item, view key contract clauses as attributes, and track software installations on the network to verify compliance in real-time.

  • Waste detection - Automated assessment of license usage, identifying opportunities to reduce costs by purchasing fewer licenses for under-used software or by negotiating discounts for bulk license renewals (integrating data from across departments and business units).

READ MORE: How to Make the Software License Management Process Less Overwhelming in 2019

Knowledge-Centered Support

ITIL's knowledge management process is essential for IT organizations that wish to avoid individual or departmental knowledge silos and reduce or eliminate the need to create more than one solution to known errors and common problems. There is a constant need for IT operators to produce and maintain knowledge articles, yet this activity is frequently given low priority.

Leading ITSM software platforms offer a feature called knowledge-centered support (KCS) that integrates the creation of knowledge articles into support and service interactions. IT organizations with a strong knowledge base are more effective at resolving user issues, achieve faster times-to-resolution, and are more capable of providing cost-saving self-service support alternatives for their customers. KCS has been shown to reduce time-to-proficiency for new hires in the IT operator role and leads to higher rates of employee satisfaction, as IT operators can perform their roles more effectively.

Real-Time Dashboards and Reporting

IT analytics play a critical role in the modern IT organization where IT managers and other leaders in IT are under constant pressure to demonstrate the business value of IT activities. Gartner's 2017 CIO agenda highlighted analytics as the number one area of technology investment for IT.

IT managers should implement and ITIL software tool that includes real-time dashboards and reports that reflect purposeful measurement and monitoring of critical KPIs associated with the most important IT activities. Performance metrics are a great way to demonstrate the value of IT to the organization, but data needs to be current and accessible. Cherwell's ITSM software platform offers more than 100 pre-configured reports that make it easy for IT organizations to monitor and present their activities and results in real-time.

Strong Process Automation Capabilities

ITIL software tools are meant to streamline processes, reduce costs, and save time, especially through the use of automation features. The automation of common or repetitive tasks frees up resources and time for IT operators to respond to more tickets, fulfill more requests, contribute the the knowledge base, or focus on more value-added tasks. As additional benefits, automating a task reduces the risk of errors and ensures that the task is always completed on time.

Things like incident status emails and basic user requests like password resets should be automated to save time, along with smaller parts of more complex tasks when appropriate.

Support Maturity Growth Path

Choosing an ITIL service management software that meets your needs depends on the specific ITIL processes that you wish to implement, which in turn depends on the size of your company and maturity of your IT organization. Low maturity organizations should prioritize core ITIL processes like incident management and configuration management that drive short-term value creation, while later-stage IT organizations may want to adopt additional processes like information security management and continual service improvement that drive value over time.

IT organizations should start by evaluating their maturity and needs before looking at ITSM vendors and tools that can support their most-desired ITIL process implementations.

Self-Service Portal and Service Catalog

The service catalog is typically presented to users as an IT self-service portal, where customers of the IT organization can discover new services, initiate service requests, and engage in self-service for selected request types. On the IT side, a service catalog is used to create and maintain records of the organization's current and past service offerings. Data includes service level agreements, service categories, service owners, who can request the service, and what configuration items are required to deliver the service.

IT organizations that wish to pursue a self-service model should ensure that their chosen ITIL software tool offers a service catalog function that is easily accessed and navigated by their customers, with support for self-service and automated request fulfillment.

Exceptional Employee and Customer Experience

IT organizations need to focus on implement ITIL processes in a way that creates value for the business and provides an exceptional experience for employees, yet many IT organizations fail to consider the viewpoint of employees and the customers when selecting an ITIL software tool. Users benefit significantly from features such as:

  • Self-service capabilities - Self-service options for the resolution of routine tickets or service requests drives down the cost of resolution per-contact and empowers users to resolve their own issues without waiting for assistance from an IT operator. When combined with automation, self-service can offer the fastest resolution times for many types of requests.

  • Omni-channel support - Omni-channel support offers the customer choice in how they choose to interact with IT support staff, whether by laptop or mobile device. A true omni-channel experience integrates data from all sources to provide a unified experience to the customer regardless of how they choose to engage. A user might start a request on live chat, conduct follow-up by phone, and receive a confirmation by email or SMS.

IT managers should recognize that employee experience and journey are paramount in designing a service catalog and self-service portal. All aspects of the ITSM solution are important and IT managers should think carefully about whether the features, processes and work flows associated with their chosen ITSM tool are leading to positive experiences with their customers and user base.

Codeless Design Architecture

Many of the best ITSM tools offer excellent out-of-the-box features, but IT organizations have a genuine need to customize and configure their ITSM software to match their specific processes, preferences, and requirements, especially when it comes to third-party integrations and service catalog management. IT managers should look for vendors that streamline this configuration processes with ease-of-use features like codeless design architecture.

Codeless design essentially means that the ITSM platform allows for extensive customization and even new workflows including full automation without having to write code or script. It allows a broader and less expensive set of IT staff to own customization without relying on development resources. It significantly improves productivity, making it easier for IT operators to configure third-party integrations or customize self-service experiences.

Inclusive Licensing Model

Software license agreements are becoming increasingly complex, to the point that many companies bring in external legal consultants just to understand their rights under the contract. The need to manage and comply with these contracts has become one of the core drivers of adoption for ITSM software, especially as major software companies ramp up their audits and litigation efforts against non-compliant organizations.

To avoid any compliance issues, IT managers should search for an ITSM vendor partner with an all-inclusive licensing model that covers all deployments of the application and eliminates hidden fees.

Deployment Flexibility/Versatility

Most IT organizations have an idea of how they would like to deploy their chosen ITIL software solution—whether they wish to run it from on-premise servers, follow the cloud-based SaaS model and pay the vendor to host the application on its own servers, or contract a managed service provider (MSP) to host the service.

Whatever their initial requirements, IT organizations benefit from the flexibility to scale their deployment at any time, including switching between on-premise and SaaS-based deployments and vice versa when required. This versatility means that the ITIL software can effectively scale with the organization and adapt to its changing needs over the long term.

Verified ITIL Process Compliance

ITIL software tools are reviewed by third-party auditors to determine whether they comply with the ITIL framework. IT organizations that wish to take advantage of the accumulated wisdom of ITIL should ensure that their chosen ITSM vendor has been assessed by a reputable auditor for compliance with ITIL.

Cherwell's ITSM software platform holds a PinkVERIFY certification from Pink Elephant for 11 ITIL processes: incident management, problem management, change management, request management, event management, release and deployment management, service asset and configuration management, service level management/service level agreement, service catalog management, service portfolio management, and knowledge management.

Strong and Reputable Vendor Partner

IT organizations sometimes need to look beyond software specifications and build a relationship with a strong and reputable vendor whose track record exemplifies success in ITSM. Support and training from a reliable vendor partner with extensive ITIL experience drives successful implementation of ITSM software and positions IT organizations to succeed in their adoption of ITIL processes. Cherwell's excellent track record in ITSM includes:

  • Rated Top ITSM software by Trust Radius

  • Ranked on Deloitte's list of fastest growing tech companies in North America

  • Gold Medalist in Info Tech's 2018 & 2019 ITSM Report

  • Pink Elephant 2009 & 2015 "Innovation of the Year" Awards


IT organizations should choose ITIL software tools that support the most important core functions of ITIL, including service desk, service catalog management, configuration management through CMDB, software asset discovery and license management, data integration, and KCS. IT organizations should focus their procurement processes on identifying the most important ITIL processes for their maturity level. Process automation capabilities offer significant time savings and real-time dashboards increase visibility and transparency of activities and data.

Features like codeless design, flexible deployment and inclusive licensing make it easy for IT organizations to license, deploy and configure their chosen solution at the lowest cost.

Cherwell's ITSM software platform delivers the features and benefits that IT organizations need to succeed in 2019, including out-of-the-box certification with key ITIL processes and an excellent customer experience track record. Schedule a software demonstration with us and find out how Cherwell can help your organization achieve ITIL implementation success.

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