There are a large number of different articles on this topic, but they are often limited to the naming of process models and instructions for action. In this article, we discuss the criteria mentioned by the IT Service Management Forum, which should be taken into account when making a choice. (see Landis, M. (2016): ITSM Tool Selection, in: it Service Management, No. 35, p. 15 ff.)
The maintenance of a currently deployed tool, the expiration of license agreements, new technical requirements and cost issues can be reasons to change an ITSM tool or to consider rethinking dusty business processes and introducing such a tool.
ITSM tools should improve the quality of the service offered, reduce costs and thus ultimately increase the satisfaction of the customer – but also of the service provider.
There is a wide range of products on the market. A large number of them are suitable for the various requirements of companies in terms of functionality, user interface and integration options with third-party systems.
The pain of choosing the right ITSM solution
For the selection process, you can start by looking at the functionality of a tool. The question arises whether all relevant ITIL processes are supported and whether an ITIL certification is available. Does it offer the possibility for customers and employees to use a self-service portal to independently perform routine tasks? Or, make service requests without having to speak to a contact person in the company? It should also be considered whether the tool is suitable for collaboration in the form of chat or communities, or whether additional modules can be purchased at a later date if required. To test the scope of functionalities, it is also necessary to consider to what extent the tool can also be used outside of IT, for example in HR or customer service.
Keep your eyes open at the UI
The graphical user interface is also a criterion that should be included in the choice. Here it is important to pay attention to intuitive and target group-specific operation. The user interface should be simplified for end-users, but allow for extensive operating options performed by the IT staff. The support of mobile devices is also an advantage.
Faster through an intuitive integration process
In addition, attention must be paid to the integration capability of third-party systems through web services and ensure that integration to all required third-party systems are available if required. Processes, user interfaces, data fields, authorizations and roles should be customizable, if possible. In the same way, many tools offer the possibility of graphical process modeling in standard notation and customization without programming. It is also advantageous if the customer can carry out customization independently and has the necessary technical know-how within the company.
Password resets and software distribution should be available out-of-the-box. An extension for modeling customer-specific automation processes should also be possible by including external systems.
In the area of reporting, many tools offer the possibility to create graphical reports also out-of-the-box. This includes business intelligence analyses, i.e. the collection, evaluation and presentation of data, which should be created independently by the end-user.
In the details, it comes down to the technical requirements
A more in-depth technical approach can distinguish between whether the ITSM tool is run as Software as a Service (SaaS), i.e. the software and IT infrastructure is operated by an external IT service provider and used by the customer as a service, or on-premise, i.e. on the customer’s own premises, on-site or locally. This raises the question of whether data should be stored in the customer’s own country and whether the outflow of information to foreign security authorities can be ruled out by operating it at a domestic provider. In this context, it is necessary to check whether the computer center is ISO 27001 certified. The compatibility of the own infrastructure and the possibility of mapping several clients in one installation should also be available if desired.
Service and support as important components
Concerning support, services and the performance of the ITSM provider, the first question to ask is whether the documentation is available in English or the local language in case it is different, the customer support and the tool language setting should be available in the language required.
There should be a sufficient number of consultants with ITIL® certifications and project management certifications at the vendor side, such as Prince2. Training programs for users and customizers, user forums for the exchange of information, consultants and support & services in the local area are also criteria to be considered when selecting the right ITSM tool. You need to analyze whether the vendor has already carried out projects of a similar size and the availability of case studies from customers of a similar size.
For the further development of the tool, it would be in your interest if there is direct contact to the product manager, this is to exchange information or to have the opportunity to influence the further development of it, which in some cases it can be done through discussions in user forums.
Pay attention to the risks caused by the provider. The financial situation and stable ownership structure must be included in the analysis. It is also an advantage if the ITSM tool has already been on the market for several years and has therefore proven itself, and whether it is a strategic and profitable product from the provider and is, therefore, proof of safety in the long run.
The points discussed above can be optional or mandatory depending on each particular case as not every point is relevant for every company. The criteria mentioned make no claim to completeness and can, therefore, be extended individually or disregarded.
This list can be very useful when looking for potential providers of ITSM tools, it gives you an evaluation guideline.
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