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27 March 2009 | Shirley Lacy Blog
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Selecting ITSM Solutions and Tools
This week Shirley looks at standards and the vital role they play creating industry efficiency..

As the ITSM industry matures, standards play a vital role in creating industry efficiency, innovation and inter-operability. Aidan Lawes blog and Cary King’s comments on the proposed compliance framework for auditing ITSM tools, associated processes and documentation against ITIL® raise interesting points. I would prefer to see open or international standards that are subject to an independent audit. Working on international standards has helped me to appreciate the need to develop standards that can be used by countries with very different cultures and language. I would also like all standards developments to gather customer and stakeholder input on what is useful and important. After all, we are in the service management industry!

Having been involved in the selection, procurement and implementation of many application products and solutions I have been reflecting on what I have found useful – from a vendor and customer perspective. From a vendor perspective, it is useful to be able to respond to tenders that have some common base as this can save time.  A vendor can then add their special offerings and unique selling proposition. 

From a customer perspective, when selecting a supplier and ITSM solution it useful to have a starting point such as a superset of requirements to choose from and a selection of use cases. I often use at least two industry analyst reports (from different parts of the world).I also seek input from specialists in my network, colleagues in the BCS, the itSMF etc. Good references are invaluable, especially from similar organizations delivering similar services, but not necessarily ones that vendors provide themselves. Vendor user group meetings are a great source of information. A few years ago, I was involved in comparing two CMDB solutions - one implementation required 10 people to support the build process and the other required one administrator! 

The following aspects are essential in any evaluation: 

1. Defining the organisation’s objectives, requirements and constraints.
2. Expected benefits from the solution and automation.
3. Costs – I have had quote form 6 vendors ranging from £100,000 to 3 million!
4. Capability, financial stability and risk of the vendor being acquired.
5. Scope and applicability for each stakeholder e.g. processes and technologies.
6. Architecture of the solution - how does it integrate with existing and planned ITSM applications and generic tools.
7. Implementation support – an experienced consultant can make the difference between a bad and a great implementation.
8. Service Desk and support - does it work?
9. Is the solution installable on the available infrastructure and platform? Does it perform well?
10. Ease of use and cultural fit  for the users tested through use cases.

I was interested in Ken Turbitt’s comment that the Software Endorsement Scheme will measure. compliance against individual ITIL processes. It seems to provide a ‘badge’ for each part of an overall solution. I cannot quite see how this helps with the procurement of a ‘system’ that comprises a set of interrelated requirements and parts that form a complex whole - service management - but  I am sure that Ken will enlighten me! I would be looking for a clear definition of the scope of applicability, an indication of cost, the vendor organisation, potential performance improvements and value.

At the BCS and itSMF conference on 15 June on Pragmatic Configuration Management – reducing risk and cost we will gather input on the views of delegates about what they would like to see when selecting ITSM solutions –is it an auditing framework, guidance on use cases, a requirements template or all of these plus much more! Let me know if you would like to comment on this. 

Any feedback and comments are always welcome!


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