Consumerization trends hit IT service management

Shops incorporating mobile, collaboration tech into process management

NEW ORLEANS -- Attendees at ServiceNow's Knowledge12 user conference here this week were abuzz about the promise of social collaboration and mobile enablement within their service-management tools. But many organizations are still grappling with very basic IT service management (ITSM) process issues.

ITSM is about automating, as much as possible, routine IT services, including incident, asset and change management, project management, discovery and related areas. At many companies, the problem is that the processes behind these areas are immature or even chaotic, so throwing automation at a bug-ridden process will only yield more of the same.

ServiceNow, the vendor whose user conference is taking place this week, sells a SaaS-only offering that integrates multiple ITSM processes into a single console. The company claims around 1,200 customers; around 2,000 people are attending this week's confab.

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Frank Wander, former CIO at The Guardian Life Insurance Co. (Wander recently left the firm and is now an independent IT management consultant), says his company adopted ServiceNow precisely because it needed to improve its own service processes. He says IT tends to do a good job with process automation for the rest of the business, but when it comes to its own operations, the cobbler has no shoes.

Not only were internal IT service management processes not as robust as he wanted during his tenure, but the ITSM tools in use were too complex. He began looking for an ITIL-compliant service management offering that was more simplified over what the business had done in previous attempts. ServiceNow met the requirements.

"What ServiceNow did was take the ITIL service model and automate it," Wander says. "They have a very simple user interface that allows you to configure services."

Tool integration, process evolution

Wende Wiles, director of IT project management for the office of the CIO at the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE), just signed on as a ServiceNow customer. (Wende will be speaking here today.)

"We are in the same situation as Guardian," she says. "The maturity of our processes could use improvement."

The DoE chose ServiceNow because it projected that using the cloud-based ITSM service would save 40% over what it cost to run its existing BMC Remedy ITSM software. Another attraction: ServiceNow offers an integrated project management module and a fully integrated suite of other services that have been developed from the ground up for its SaaS model. It plays together without a lot of integration work and consulting time, she says.

In contrast, some other vendors have adapted traditional software to cloud duty or acquired pieces and parts of their ITSM software offerings and stitched those together rather than engineering them from the git-go to be part of a holistic, well-integrated, cloud-based service.

That was the problem for Adam Mason, the manager of client service at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. Before moving to ServiceNow a year ago, the university was an Altiris customer. Mason planned to upgrade to the new version of Altiris and had hired consultants to work on two ITIL service catalog workflow processes. But after realizing that the process would take 18 months, he had second thoughts.

"We stopped because the cost was going to be insane," he says. The fact that ServiceNow was a SaaS platform gave it a clear advantage in this regard, he says. "Instead of the 18 months I had scheduled for the two Altiris projects, in four months we implemented incident, problem, change and service request management and we started our knowledge management database."

The incident management processes used in Altiris were mature and transferred over to ServiceNow, but change management procedures, developed for SharePoint Server, were not working well. "We rebuilt that in ServiceNow and it's going better," he says.

Michael Porco, manager of application development at Pacific Life Insurance Co., says the insurer migrated from BMC Remedy to ServiceNow for incident, change and configuration management in August 2011.

"We took what we had and moved it over. But we didn't just take incident management from Remedy and slap it into ServiceNow. We reviewed the processes before migrating them, and we didn't take on additional modules or processes," he says.

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