Your 7-point checklist for better ITSM tool selection

It doesn’t have to be difficult understanding and agreeing what’s really important (to your organization) when choosing the right ITSM tool and vendor.

Here are some of the recommendations (you’ll need to download the report to get all the tips!)

ITSM process enablement: The ability to support all required aspects of current and future ITSM operations.
Self-Service: Reducing costs while speeding up service and resolutions, thereby improving the end-user experience.
Automation: Employing a spectrum of automated capabilities that will bring benefits across all three of “better, faster, cheaper.”

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Your 7-Point  
Checklist for Better  
ITSM Tool Selection  
By Stephen Mann,  
Selecting a new, better-fitting, IT service management (ITSM) tool can be  
difficult – from understanding and agreeing what’s really important (to your  
organization) in your selection criteria, through to eventually choosing the  
right tool and vendor.  
The effective use of industry research and good practice will help though.  
For instance, recognizing that two simple conclusions can be made from  
freely-available industry research on modern ITSM tool wants and needs:  
1. Traditional ITSM capabilities are still important (and it would be  
surprising if they weren’t).  
. People are now looking for key attributes (in, or with, ITSM  
tools) such as – ease of use, automation, self-service that  
employees want to use, ease of configuration and  
customization, and the ability to access the tool (and its  
capabilities) from any location and using any device.  
Plus, importantly, that it’s no longer just about the technology, i.e. the ITSM  
tool’s features and functions, it’s also about the end-user or customer  
experience – something that should be thought of as a constant theme  
running through the recommended 7-point ITSM-tool selection checklist  
that follows.  
Recommended 7-Point ITSM-Tool  
Selection Checklist  
This report covers seven recommended  
ITSM-tool selection checklist points:  
ITSM process enablement  
Business intelligence (BI) and reporting  
Configuration, customization, and integrations  
Vendor relationship and (lack of) communication  
With five key tips included for each of these  
seven points.  
I’ve included five key tips for each of these  
seven points.  
ITSM Process Enablement  
This is the tool’s ability to support all required aspects of  
current and future ITSM operations; something that will of  
course vary in breadth and depth across different  
The following 5 tips will help you to ensure that your  
chosen tool is able to meet your organization’s real  
business and operational ITSM needs:  
1. Agree on the real reason(s) for wanting to change  
your ITSM tool (and vendor).  
Understand the true root cause(s) of the need to change your  
ITSM tool. This might not necessarily be that the current tool is  
lacking capabilities, or is suboptimal in some process or  
management/governance areas. Instead, it might never have  
been the best option for the procuring organization – perhaps the  
wrong questions were asked during the previous tool-selection  
process. Your organization then received the wrong answers, and  
thus made the wrong investment decision.  
2. Know what you’re trying to achieve with ITSM (and  
the new tool).  
This is crucial because there’s a real danger that any  
organization seeking a new tool is overly-focused on ITSM or  
ITIL processes, and the features and functions that support  
them. These organizations are ultimately more focused on  
what they need to “do” – the mechanics of ITSM – than what  
they need to achieve by “doing” ITSM. Thus, as part of  
investing in a new ITSM tool (and vendor) it’s important to  
know why a new ITSM tool is needed and how it will  
ultimately benefit your organization. This understanding of  
desired business outcomes will also help to reinforce that  
ITSM and the ITSM tool are merely “the means to an end”  
rather than the “end” itself, and will help to identify the  
opportunities and pain points that your organization ultimately  
needs to address.  
. Understand your organization’s true ITSM  
tool requirements.  
Your organization will most likely follow one of two  
tool-selection routes (or use both): participating in a, usually  
30-day, free trial of various ITSM tools and/or issuing an RFP  
for a selection of ITSM tool vendors to rate themselves against  
your needs. Either way, it will hopefully help you to get a good  
understanding as to how well each ITSM tool and vendor meets  
your needs. However, organizations need to start with their  
desired business outcomes rather than the commonly-used  
features and functions available in ITSM technology. So, ensure  
that you know your organization’s true requirements –  
requirements that are based on business-outcome-based  
needs, not the art of the ITSM-tool possible.  
4. Know the common ITSM tool/vendor differentiators.  
While most ITSM tools have been created with ITIL as a  
blueprint, they’re all different in some way. These differences  
can relate to a number of things, for instance: the target  
market, such as company size and industry vertical; the  
breadth of ITSM capabilities – in terms of the ITSM processes  
supported; the depth of ITSM capabilities – for example, does  
the ITSM tool cater for a lot of ITSM processes in a “shallow”  
way or a limited number of processes in a “deeper” way?  
Plus, there’s the focus of future product improvement and  
innovation – and whether new releases are focused on  
customer wants and needs, industry trends, or both. Or even  
the relationships the vendor has with its customers and the  
wider ITSM community – there’s more on this later.  
5. Understand how business and IT strategies will  
impact tool-selection decision making.  
ITSM isn’t an island; and thus, new ITSM tool and vendor  
decisions can’t be made in isolation. Instead, an  
understanding of third-party requirements and compromise  
might be needed, for instance accommodating: a corporate  
cloud-first strategy; an enterprise service management  
strategy – this is where ITSM thinking, best practices, and  
technology are used to improve the performance and  
outcomes of other corporate service providers such as HR  
and facilities; or a service integration and management  
(SIAM) approach to IT service delivery and support – this is  
where the customer organization is using multiple service  
providers working together to meet the organization’s IT  
service delivery and support needs.  
Usability is increasingly important in the context of  
consumerization. As employees, no matter their  
business role, expect more from enterprise software.  
Ultimately, if software or services are hard to use,  
they’ll find ways of not using it in favor of  
other options.  
The following 5 tips will help you to ensure that your  
chosen tool meets the usability requirements of both  
IT staff and end users, especially in matching  
consumer-world services.  
1. Know what employees think about the current ITSM  
tool (and vendor).  
Importantly, this is both IT and end users. And this shouldn’t  
just be a list of what’s wrong with the current ITSM tool.  
Instead, it should be “the good, the bad, and the ugly.” So,  
know what works well for users. And when things are disliked,  
it’s important to understand why – i.e. go beyond the  
symptoms to understand the root cause(s).  
2. Access and consume IT industry research into ITSM  
tool satisfaction and dissatisfaction.  
This might be from Tier 1 analyst firms such as Gartner and  
Forrester. It might be from IT support industry bodies such as  
the Service Desk Institute (SDI) and HDI. Or it might be the  
current growth in crowdsourced technology-rating websites  
that look at customer feedback. Be careful with these though  
remember that this analysis and feedback might be from  
organizations that are totally different to your own.  
. Recognize the difference between the user  
interface (UI) and user experience (UX).  
Self-service is a great example of this. If end users find  
self-service capabilities intuitive and easy to use (the UX),  
then they’ll use them again. If not, they won’t. Thus,  
self-service delivery projects (in this example) need to  
understand that new self-service technology alone, even with  
a sexy UI, isn’t always the answer. What’s more important to  
success is how the end user uses and experiences the  
technology – the UX or customer experience (CX).  
4. Design and deliver capabilities with the  
“customer” at the heart.  
Hopefully you’ll agree that an important aspect of ITSM  
software, or in fact any piece of enterprise software, in 2018  
is usability. In particular, ease-of-use in light of  
consumer-world applications, where personal technology is  
now so intuitive and frictionless to use that when it isn’t it gets  
swapped for something that is. Employees now expect to  
receive a similar level of usability at work to what they get  
outside of work – it’s the aforementioned consumerization in  
action. Thus, failing to design and deliver ITSM capabilities  
around the people who use it is going to result in something  
that doesn’t get used as much as it should be.  
5. Never stop improving (and remember that demands  
and expectations will change).  
This might seem like a throwaway line, but hopefully people  
now appreciate that what was acceptable (or even great) last  
year might have already been superseded by something new  
and better. Whether you want to take a formal continual  
service improvement (CSI) approach to ITSM tool usability, or  
something less formal, it’s important not to stand still as  
employee expectations change around it.  
As IT departments continue to be under pressure to  
deliver more with less, self-service offers up the ability  
to not only reduce costs but also to speed up service  
and resolutions and to improve the end-user  
The following 5 tips will help your organization to  
ensure that your chosen tool provides a self-service  
capability that employees want to, and do, use.  
1. Recognize that IT self-service isn’t easy.  
This SDI quote supports the statement: “The increase in the  
adoption of self-service tools is undoubtedly due to the range  
of associated benefits that comes with the implementation of  
such a solution, most commonly reduced support costs,  
increased customer satisfaction, and a round-the-clock  
support channel. However, the number of organizations that  
have realized these benefits and have achieved the  
anticipated return on investment (ROI) are few, less than 12%  
according to recent SDI research.” One of the key reasons,  
demonstrated by Happy Signals data, is that IT self-service is  
failing employees when it comes to end-user experience. It’s  
currently the second least-loved of IT support access and  
communication channels, having only recently just  
surpassed email.  
2. Understand and learn from the mistakes of other  
There are so many potential pitfalls to avoid, from solely  
focusing on cost reduction; treating self-service as a technology  
project; not involving the people who will need to use the  
self-service capabilities; failing to invest in organizational  
change management techniques (to facilitate what will be a  
change in the way of working); to underinvesting in knowledge  
management and self-help capabilities.  
. Build self-service capabilities around  
the customer” not IT.  
It’s so, so important to make self-service about service users  
not the service provider. Ultimately, if employees don’t like  
your self-service capabilities, then they won’t use them – and  
the anticipated ROI will never be achieved.  
. Exploit automation wherever possible.  
Many of the big-ticket IT self-service benefits are tied into the  
use of automation. For example, delivering a better end-user  
experience, quicker solutions, and cost reductions.  
Self-service initiatives should ideally be piggybacking any  
existing corporate automation strategies, using existing  
technologies and skills whenever possible.  
5. Still offer choice and recognize that preferences will  
change over time.  
Not only is this keeping your existing telephone, email, chat,  
and walk-up channels (if used at volume), it’s also recognizing  
that not everyone will want to access self-service capabilities  
from a PC. There’s currently the need to support access from  
mobile devices, and newer technologies, such as machine  
learning, offer up the ability to offer self-service capabilities  
via email – yes, email. There’s also newer support  
mechanisms, such as voice-based interfaces enabled by  
intelligent, or virtual, personal assistants – such Alexa and Siri  
and the technology platforms they reside on. And self-help  
doesn’t always need to be text-based – we’re seeing  
video-based support growing in popularity and the future is  
predicted to be filled with voice-based interfaces.  
BI and Reporting  
Reporting continues to be an issue for IT  
departments, with 33% of service desks still citing the  
inability to easily produce metrics and reports as a  
pain point.  
The following 5 tips will help you to ensure that your  
chosen tool is suitably assessed against your  
organization’s spectrum of ITSM analytics,  
performance management, and reporting needs.  
BI and  
1. Recognize the issues that the ITSM industry continues to  
experience relative to reporting and analytics.  
Industry bodies, such as SDI and HDI, consistently identify  
reporting capabilities as one of the most wanted areas of  
improvement within ITSM tools. Not only because of the time  
needed to collect, analyze, and distribute data and  
information each month, but also because of the current lack  
of insight available from the wealth of data trapped inside  
disparate IT management and ITSM tools.  
3. SDI, “A View from the Frontline” (2017)  
2. Understand the common pitfalls with service desk  
and ITSM metrics.  
For example: having too many metrics; placing too much  
emphasis on industry benchmarks that might not fit your  
organization; not understanding the relationships between  
metrics; measuring things because they’re easy to measure,  
not because they’re important; spending more time collecting  
data than understanding the best way to use it; or using  
metrics that drive the wrong behaviors and decisions.  
BI and  
. Tie metrics, KPIs, and CSFs to the business  
rather than IT outcomes.  
Ask yourself, how does this metric, KPI, or CSF help our  
customers and key business stakeholders? Or, more  
importantly, ask key business stakeholders what your monthly  
performance reporting is telling them, or even if they bother to  
read it. You might get a shock.  
. Appreciate the general and specific benefits of BI  
The generic BI benefits include: speeding up and improving  
the quality of decision making; optimizing business  
processes; increasing operational efficiency and effectiveness  
from individuals through to teams and cross-team  
processes; spotting business issues of various sizes and  
differing impacts; improving customer relationships;  
increasing asset use and technology ROI; reducing the risk of  
non-compliance with regulatory, legal, or contractual  
requirements; increasing revenues and identifying new  
market opportunities; and assisting the business in gaining  
competitive advantage.  
5. Use BI and reporting to drive better outcomes.  
Following on from BI tips 2 and 3, it’s important to ensure that  
metrics, KPIs, and CSFs are not just a case of beating  
arbitrary targets, justifying additional IT budget, or “bigging  
up” IT performance. Instead, these performance indicators all  
need to be about creating a better IT capability and ultimately  
a better business.  
BI and  
The exploitation of automated capabilities continues to be a  
key focus area for IT departments – with 70% of  
organizations planning to use more in 2017 and beyond.  
The following 5 tips will help you to ensure that your  
organization, in conjunction with the chosen ITSM tool, is  
able to employ a spectrum of automated capabilities that  
will bring benefits across all three of “better, faster, cheaper.”  
1. Realize that automation isn’t just about saving money.  
When one considers the available benefits, it’s important to  
look at the whole spectrum. These include: increased speed  
of execution, improved customer experience, cost reductions,  
reduced human intervention, reduced “human error,” and  
increased task or process adaptability – as it’s easier to  
change automation than people who have done the same  
thing for years.  
5. SDI, “A View from the Frontline” (2017)