Considerations When Shopping for ITSM Tools

The Key Drivers for Searching for a New IT Service Management (ITSM) Software Platform

So you’re shopping for ITSM software. Typically, if you’re in the market for a new IT Service Management (ITSM) platform, one of two scenarios is usually in place – either you are currently using a very rudimentary ticketing platform that doesn’t truly encompass the full scope of IT Service Management, or the opposite – the platform is very cumbersome, overly complex and requires 3-8 full time resources to administer.

When looking for the right vendor, you should strive to meet somewhere in the middle – in other words, you want to find an ITSM tool that is easy to use, own and operate, yet also offers a full array of functionality. Here’s how you can find this. Below are a few questions to consider when evaluating ITSM tools for your organization.

Does It Offer a Self-Service Portal and Knowledge Base?

Having a self-service portal that is branded to your organization will allow you to offer your end-users a central point of entry. For many organizations, this will encompass more than just IT. IT could be a service portal that allows end-users to come and search for help or request service in IT, Human Resources, Facilities or Marketing – in other words, full Enterprise Service Management (ESM). 

These are the four things to look for in an ITSM self-service portal for end-users:

  1. Can I create a portal with my own branding? Can I have multiple client portals – for instance, if the HR team wants its own portal – can that be done? Or if we have multiple sites – can each site or entity have its own portal, yet funnel into a single, centralized service management platform? How easy is it to change colors, add images, arrange the widgets? The portal should allow for branding and design without requiring HTML or technical resources to code the content. It should be easy to manage across multiple departments and entities, allowing for individualized branding.
  2. Does it interface to a knowledge base and offer automation? The self-service portal needs to offer the ability to deploy a knowledge base with that can search across articles using natural language and tagging. Finding information and having that information be relevant and accurate is key for success. If your end-users perceive the articles to be erroneous or outdated, then adoption of the self-service platform will be very difficult to promote.
  3. Can you manage the content easily? You should have the ability to manage publication dates and evaluate usage. The knowledge base also needs to accommodate a feedback loop, taking comments, or even net new content, and pushing that through an iterative review process. This is called Knowledge-Centered Service (KCS). The knowledge base must support this framework so that you can stay current. If an end-user cannot resolve their issue from the portal, there needs to be an “easy button” – a quick way to submit a ticket or a request, and to have that route directly to the appropriate technician or departmental resource.
  4. Is the portal WCAG 2.0 AA Compliant? Accessibility is a very important topic, and in order to adhere to the strict standards, it is best to deploy an end-user portal that is already WCAG 2.0 AA compliant out-of-the-box. This means that you can create new content and present services without the additional worry that your portal is not compliant or usable. WCAG 2.0 AA compliant out-of-the-box is a critical factor, particularly if you are servicing end-users in education or the public sector.

Save Time with Integrated Asset Management

For organizations that are seeking to improve overall maturity of their ITSM software, it is important to look for additional functionality beyond ticketing and a knowledge base. For instance, does it offer asset management as part of the core platform?

Think about a scenario where a technician asks, “What version of Windows are you using?” or “What is your tag ID?” and the end-user goes blank, with no response. Rather than rely on end-users for critical asset information, it’s recommended that you house it in an asset management system that’s fully integrated with your IT support or ticketing platform. When a ticket comes in for a specific end-user, it will come all of the asset details.

Does it Include Asset Discovery Services?

Asset Discovery Services uses active scanning and/or Windows-based agents to gather information about the assets in your network, then relays that information to the core asset management system. The asset manager will then be able to review the results of the scan and approve the discovery process to update assets within the Assets/CIs application.

Asset Discovery provides a simple way to integrate your asset information with ticketing, making it easy to work with assets from other areas of the system.  One platform, one view.

For more tips on evaluating ITSM vendors read: ITSM Software – What to Look for When Shopping for a New ITSM Platform

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in June 2020 and has been updated with new information.

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