The Most Important ITSM Features

Whether you’re just getting into ITIL and looking for an IT Service Management platform that fits your needs or operating at a high level of IT maturity with an existing ITSM platform, there are a few features you need to have. By prioritizing these important ITSM features you can set your organization up for service delivery success.

Comprehensive ITIL Support

Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is a specific framework for IT Service Management that was developed in the 1980s. The framework bases itself on the five phases of the service life cycle. Those phases are:

  • Service Strategy – This is the start of the ITIL life cycle, and it sits at the center because a stable and precise service strategy is necessary for better service management. This stage determines what capabilities will need to be developed or implemented, including the definition of markets, development of assets or the necessary preparations for deployment.
  • Service Design – Ideas become plans in the second ITIL life cycle stage. It’s here that services and processes bear out the primary goal of providing a better service management environment.
  • Service Transition – The third stage of the ITIL life cycle is where the preparation of services and strategies that will be implemented in the live environment take place. It is here that organizations test and implement new designs.
  • Service Operation – Following the launch of services and processes to customers and peers, the operation stage of the life cycle begins. Service owners must be prepared and available to report any issues as they arise, and make sure that customers are satisfied with the services and process.
  • Continual Service Improvement – This last stage of the ITIL framework directs organizations to search for potential improvements in all the previous steps. By looking at what is measurable versus what is not, and by processing and sorting data into quantifiable findings, the cycle starts all over again.

Organizations who adopt ITIL tend to have a more mature ITSM and use ITIL to help mitigate ongoing service gaps. Any ITSM platform you use should support the ITIL framework.

Easy-to-Use, Functional Self-Service Portal and Knowledge Base

Your ITSM platform should offer an out-of-the-box self-service portal with a knowledge base (KB) that’s easily configurable and can be personalized with your organization’s branding WITHOUT any coding or scripting. In addition, the portal should be WCAG 2.0 AA compliant and fully accessible. Here are four questions you can ask about portal and KB capabilities when evaluating ITSM vendors:

  1. Can I create a portal with my own branding? 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 that can search across articles using natural language and tagging. Being able to find 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 suffer.
  3. Can you manage the knowledge base 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. Also, if customers or employees can’t resolve their issues using information found on the portal or knowledge base, there needs to be a button they can click to quickly submit a ticket or a request. That ticket/request should 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’s 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 accessible. 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.

Your ITSM platform should offer an out-of-the-box self-service portal with a knowledge base (KB) that’s easily configurable WITHOUT any coding or scripting.

Integrated Asset Management and Asset Discovery Service

As you continue to mature your ITSM, you’ll want to make sure the platform you’re using for service delivery has additional functionality – beyond ticketing and a knowledge base – to help you better service your customers. Both asset management and asset discovery services are great features that should be part of your core platform.

What is asset management? Asset management is a system that’s fully integrated with your IT support or ticketing platform and has all of the data for the assets in use at your organization. Why is this useful? When a ticket comes in, the asset details related to the user can be pulled into the ticket automatically, so technicians don’t need to look it up, and users don’t need to try to find information like the version of iOS they’re using or their computer ID in order to get help.

Asset Discovery Service 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. This provides a simple way to integrate your asset information with ticketing and makes it easy to have one platform, one view.

Other ITSM Features to Consider

If you have a portal, knowledge base, ITIL support, asset management and asset discovery you’ll be in good shape, but there are a few other features you want to consider, including:

  • Incident and problem tracking – when you run a service desk you need to have fast routing and the ability to group tickets for both incidents and problems. Doing so will allow you to properly communicate and be transparent throughout your organization. 
  • Workflow automation – Your teams should be focusing their efforts on your organization’s highest priorities. By setting up automations for mundane, manual or error-prone activities they can do just that. 
  • Dashboards and reports – Great ITSM dashboards and reports give you the key metrics needed to make confident decisions, helping you to identify issues before they become problems, support key meetings, profile trends and communicate the value IT provides to your entire organization.
  • Change management – The majority (nearly 80 percent!) of issues reported to IT are the result of poor change and release management. Make sure your tool allows you to properly organize and manage plans, execution and communication for new functionality, and maintaining the continuity of existing services. 

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