ITSM Software—To ITIL or Not? The Dilemma!


In my experience most customers, while being aware of ITIL as a concept, do not have ITIL processes in place within their environment. When customers buy an ITIL compliant solution for the benefits without developing the environment with ITIL processes already in place first, the solution takes much longer to implement. Many companies are moving from a Help Desk solution to a Service Desk solution. The older model of a Help Desk rarely has anything ITIL based within it. Therefore, you must start from scratch on the ITIL processes to correctly configure and develop the ITSM software solution for the customer.

Some of the fundamental areas that ITSM software tools need data are Service Categorization and Prioritization because older tools do not use these items in the same way. Most customers cannot use existing data and simply duplicate it in a newer tool; they must work on these concepts from the ground up. This wastes valuable time during engagements when staff may not have the time to work with a consultant in a timely manner.

It would be best if customers have an evaluation done prior to moving into a new ITSM software product to verify ITIL compliance and process readiness. If this was done prior to each engagement, setting up a new ITSM software tool would give the customer the biggest ‘bang for their buck’ right out of the gate.

Because costs are high for these tools, most organizations either do not have the budget in place or have not thought of it as a prerequisite for moving to a new tool.

ITIL process experts do exist. Using one would add a huge advantage, not only to the customer but to the consultant as well so that processes can be properly addressed in an ITSM software tool correctly and not fully depend on the ‘out of the box’ solution. However, getting customers to see the value of this option upfront can be a challenge. ROI (Return on Investment) should always be reviewed with a customer. Not only during the initial Presales/Sales call(s) but even by the consultant working on the project.

As a consultant, knowing what the customer is really after in upgrading or changing products is very important. Too often sales may not know the level of effort in meeting customers need(s) via a certain product or if a tool can do what the customer wants it to do. It is easy to say, “Sure, X product will absolutely do everything you need!” But in reality, that is not always the case. Having a better understanding of a customer’s level of ITIL knowledge or compliance early in the process will help weed out products that cannot do what they need completely.

Knowing what a customer believes are the make or breakpoints of a tool matter as well. Most of the time it has nothing to do with ITIL. Carryover from ‘other’ tool experiences usually drive this type of conversation. At the end of the day, helping customers understand the value of ITIL concepts that they can leverage within a toolset is more important than some of the “bells and whistle” items that they might deem important.

ITIL as a concept; a set of principles, is not going to help a customer if the only place they are using it is ‘within’ the tool itself. They must have the surround processes and procedures ‘outside’ the tool as well. An example of this would be a customer that wants Change Management as an ITIL process set up with a new or existing ITSM software tool. You go through the design phase and gather all the needed information to properly configure the Change Management component with your ITSM software tool. But during this discovery process, you find out that the customer really does not have a CAB (Change Advisory Board). It is just one person that ‘approves’ or ‘denies’ requests for change.

How is a Change Management process going to fully benefit the customer without first creating a CAB and then actually having CAB meetings on a regular basis so that RFC’s cannot be properly vetted and decided on? Getting customers from Theory to Practical application AFTER you go live with the new/upgraded ITSM software tool seems to be the real challenge.


About the Author
Michael Yarros is experienced in problem-solving, operations analysis, and process improvement with each of his job experiences. He strives for customer satisfaction with who he supports and his coworkers as well. Before coming to Flycast Partners Mike was a technical analyst for 8 years.


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