ITSM Software Product
Although every IT environment that employs ITSM is different, some common characteristics of a typical IT environment interested in implementing ITSM are shown below (van Bon, 2002): Large environments. Although ITSM processes are applicable to any IT environment, they are typically found in large organizations (Fortune 1000). The IT staff for these organizations is often tasked with managing a large number of IT products and systems, and supporting and delivering a large number of IT services.
The number of servers, network equipment, software products, etc that must be managed and supported can number into the thousands (or tens of thousands), depending on the size of the company and their emphasis on IT in providing services. Highly heterogeneous. Besides being large, most IT organizations that embrace ITSM work in highly heterogeneous environments. That is, the environment is made up of a number of different technologies, products, and systems. These different technologies, products, and systems must often be able to communicate and work with one another in order to be useful, and integration challenges are common.
Large number of Customers and Users. Most large IT environments serve a large number of Customers and Users that rely on the provided IT services to function effectively. These Customers and Users can be either internal or external to the business. Properly managing issues, requests, and inquiries for a large number of Customers and Users can be very difficult to do, and is a big point of emphasis with many companies today. Multiple IT staff groups.
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For most medium and large environments, IT staff is often broken into a number of specialized groups that focus on specific aspects of the IT environment. In order to effectively implement ITSM, these staff groups must be able to access relevant information about the IT environment and issues within the environment, and must be properly managed to ensure their time and skill sets are utilized in the best way possible. These IT environments are generally very complex, and are very difficult to manage well without an effective process framework.
Besides the right processes, the right people, products, and partners are also required for success in ITSM. Once the right processes are implemented, and the right people are properly trained, finding the right software product (provided by the right partner) to support the people and processes is the next critical step. (Higday-Kalmanowitz and Simpson, 2005) Within ITSM, there are many areas that can benefit from automation or support provided by a software product.
Some of the common uses of software within ITSM include (Turner, 2004): Building and maintaining a CMDB; Dynamic service modeling and dependency mapping; Seamless service desk integration; Policy-based workflow automation capabilities; Service catalog/financial modeling and reporting; Monitoring changes within the IT infrastructure; Monitoring IT’s compliance of SLAs. ITIL recognizes the fact that software tools are often employed in the support of ITSM processes.
While ITIL does not specify a specific process for evaluating an ITSM product, it does suggest some evaluation criteria. These criteria, outlined in Service Delivery (2001) include: Meeting 80% of functional and technical requirements; Meeting all mandatory requirements; Supporting IT Service Management best practices; Ensuring product is business-driven, not technology-driven; Addressing security and integrity considerations; Ensuring training and consulting services are available; Adequate report generation capabilities.
Due to the different requirements and functions for each of the ITSM processes, the varying ways in which these processes are implemented in each company, and the variability within different IT environments, it is impossible to come up with a strict set of requirements that every ITSM software product must adhere to. (Wiegers, 1999) There are, however, some basic considerations that will likely apply to many of these products. Some of these considerations are discussed below (Higday-Kalmanowitz and Simpson, 2005):
Should be highly configurable. A critical aspect of selecting an appropriate ITSM software product is making sure it properly supports the ITSM processes already defined and implemented within the business. In order to support the established ITSM processes, the software product should provide a high level of configurability to fit within a particular environment. Common areas of configuration include user interface, data collection, event monitoring and notification, and reporting. Should provide strong integration capabilities.
Rarely (if ever) do ITSM products operate independently. In order for an ITSM software product to properly support the ITSM processes and the heterogeneous IT environment the processes manage, it must be able to integrate and interface with a number of different products and technologies. Popular communication methods between IT components, such as Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP), Extensible Markup Language (XML), and Remote Procedure Call (RPC) help in the integration of products and systems.
The use of agent software is also commonly used. Should be easily accessible. Due to the highly relational nature of the ITSM processes and the distributed nature of IT staffing, ITSM software products should be accessible by multiple IT staff groups in multiple locations. Web technology and the use of client software is a common way of making products available across the IT organization. Another related aspect of accessibility is security.
The product should provide access control capabilities that allow personnel to see information that they need to do their jobs, but nothing else. Should be easy to use. ITSM products, while often complex to implement and administer, should be easy for IT staff members to use. The IT environment (on the Service Support side in particular) can be very hectic at times; in order for IT staff to properly support this environment, these products need to be able to quickly provide staff members the information they need to do their jobs.
Therefore, the product interface should be intuitive and easy to read, certain functionality within the product should be automated whenever possible, and relevant information should be readily available. (Puka et al. , 2000) Conclusion In this paper, a framework of IT Service Management was examined. The considerations discussed above, as well as all others pertaining to selecting an appropriate ITSM software product, all stem from an underlying requirement that the product be a good “fit” for the environment (business and IT) in which it will operate.
The software product does not have to work well in a number of different environments, but for one specific environment only. Therefore, a good understanding of the specific business and IT environment is a critical step in choosing the right software product. As businesses begin to understand the value that IT can provide to their organization and as these businesses continue to embrace IT Service Management, software products that support ITSM will become critical to a business’ ability to provide quality IT and business services.
With the development and maturation of a specific evaluation framework for these products, businesses will have a way to better identify products that properly support their ITSM initiatives.
Higday-Kalmanowitz, C. , Simpson S. E. (Editor) (2005). Implementing Service and Support Management Processes. van Haren Publishing. Macfarlane, I. and Rudd, C. (2001). IT Service Management. Reading: itSMF Ltd. Office of Government Commerce. (2001). Service Delivery. UK: The Stationary Office.