Taking Cherwell Beyond Expectations

Cherwell Service Management is a world class service management platform, with many features specifically designed to maximize configuration while minimizing the required technical knowledge to make said configuration changes. This ITSM solution is used by service desks across the world to manage their service requests and other IT-related business processes. They use the out-of-the-box concepts and designs to efficiently and effectively manage a variety of purposes. However, there are a few companies who explore the tools provided in Cherwell to perform much more than just basic IT procedures. Let’s delve into those.

As stated, Cherwell Service Management has many features to maximize configurability. It breaks down entire processes into individual components and turns those components into functions that the user can modify as they wish to accomplish a customized workflow. These functions are built into the pre-built content that comes with the demo data. Many customers take these workflows and copy them as needed, or create new workflows using the concepts they learned from studying the pre-built workflows. What is missing from this equation is ingenuity. When these customers run across something that is needed, that Cherwell does not have something pre-built for, they get stumped on how to proceed, or turn to other tools to manage that part of the process while Cherwell does everything else. By teaching people how to think outside of the Cherwell box, we can improve the quality and versatility of these systems and expand them into worlds outside of IT.

Take, for instance, an integration. On many occasions, I have seen a customer come to an impasse because, in their opinion, they cannot integrate with an application like Salesforce or Solarwinds in the way they want because each Cherwell business object can only link to a single outside data source. This causes them to create multiple business objects to track a single item, such as Network Configuration items. This can instead be handled by utilizing a staging database, a standalone database which pulls in multiple tables from the outside system, converts them into a single view, and then passes them into Cherwell when Cherwell integrates with that data source, not the outside system. Since Cherwell can reference a single table or view, then they can be pulled into a single business object to manage instead of three or four.

Another instance of using ingenuity that Cherwell does not provide out-of-the-box, but can be used from within Cherwell, is the use of XML collections. When referencing multiple layers of relationships, or even relationships that are many-to-many, one can utilize the Stored Values and Stored Variables within Cherwell to build an internal XML collection that Cherwell can parse to perform actions. This makes a noticeable difference on performance as well. Imagine that you need to step through all the Configuration Items related to a Change Request and create a Task to do something on each one. You could easily step through each of the related Configuration Items, use a Go To Record step, and run a Create Task step, passing in information from the Configuration Item. However, all the database calls for information bouncing back and forth across relationships can be very time-consuming. Instead, you can create an XML collection, step through each of the Configuration Items to gather the necessary information into the XML collection attributes, and then step through the collection to create all the tasks in one fell swoop. This would be much less time-consuming and, if modifications are needed later, much easier to maintain.

One final example is the ability to pass information about a problem computer into an Incident or Specifics form without the need for a customer to manually input it, information that is not available in a monitoring tool. Some current state information about a system is not tracked in a monitoring tool. Once again, situations have arisen where I have heard customers give up on collecting this much needed information because they can’t store it in a Configuration Item record because it’s not in the outside source tables. The answer, while not so simple, is still doable. The information can be stored at regular intervals using a batch file. Then, once the information is gathered, the batch file saves it to a server which can be reached by Cherwell. When the Incident record is created, the file is read from the server and added to the Incident record. Then the Service Desk team has access to the last recorded information from the previous interval.

These are just a few of the numerous examples I have encountered as a Cherwell consultant. I have created systems that use absolutely none of the standard ITSM business objects. I have created entirely customized workflows because the included workflows were not what a customer needed. Cherwell Service Management is an incredibly powerful tool that provides valuable data. It has the potential to provide invaluable data. If you need the latter and can not get to it now, add a little ingenuity.

About The Author
Thomas Scheel is a consultant with over three years of Cherwell configuration experience. He has implemented Cherwell across multiple industries and continued with many clients on specialized customizations. He was a speaker at the 2017 Cherwell Global Conference and a Cherwell Certified Instructor.