5 Signs Your ITSM Tool Implementation Has Gone Wrong

ITSM tool implementations are very challenging. So challenging that there are organizations that make a business from just supplying this service to help customers implement their ITSM tool.

Projects are planned with start and end dates. Some projects are finished early, some late and some are cancelled. Although ITSM projects may be considered complete just because the project cycle has ended, it does not necessarily mean the project will be of value. Industry statistics state there is a large percentage of project failures in the industry. ITSM tool implementation projects are among these failures. Completing projects that do not deliver value should be considered a project failure. Within ITSM tool implementations, just delivering many features or capabilities does not mean the project delivered value. Tool implementation projects have to deliver the right features and capabilities, which could be much fewer features for tool value to the organization.

Project failure can be viewed from different perspectives. One key perspective related to ITIL® to consider is value creation and value realization. In value creation, customer utility and supplier warranty must be delivered for service. Utility for delivering focuses on desired customer outcomes, not just a technical solution. Warranty for delivering addresses customer needs using supplier assets in terms of security, capacity, continuity and availability. When the value is not created and designed within projects, then the value cannot be realized. Although the project can be considered complete, and maybe successfully initially just because it is complete, the ultimate value to the customer and the organization may not be realized.

One of the primary challenges of ITSM projects is the capabilities of the project’s people resource, including the vendor or supplier that is supporting the ITSM tool implementation. People are considered the most valuable resource in any project. With this in mind, it’s very important to have people with the needed capabilities to be successful with an ITSM tool implementation project. In many cases, this is very challenging.

Many organizations will not fund adequate training in best practices and tool implementation. Training is often an afterthought. Vendor services, which typically end when the project is completed, usually support tool implementation. This can leave the organization in a troubled state if it has not upgraded its people capabilities for continual improvement of the ITSM tool implementation. Organizations should invest in preparing and training their people during the project.

With all the ITSM tool implementation challenges, how do you know when your ITSM tool implementation has gone wrong? Here are 5 signs that this happened in your organization.

1: Complaints from the service desk about how to use the new tool

Has the service desk been adequately trained? A good method to solve this besides typical training is “Service Desk Visualization,” or simulation exercises. Most high-performing teams practice visualization before actually performing in the production. This helps with answering questions about process and technology and teaches the service-desk analyst how to find answers using self-help and improving communication between teams.

2: A new tool, but no performance improvements in service support

At the end of your implementation, ask yourself if there has been an improvement or is the business the same. There are many organizations that spend thousands of dollars, maybe even millions, on implementations. An organization’s leaders have said many times, “We have spent much money on the implementation of our new ITSM tool, but overall the business has not changed.” The defining measure of success is an improvement and/or the solving of a business problem. As mentioned earlier, value creation should always be top of mind. Organizations must be careful of creating too much complexity in their ITSM tool. They may find they cannot manage the ticket volume because they impacted performance at the service desk when using the tool. Think lean and streamline ticket processing for performance improvements.

 3: Customer satisfaction declines

Did customer satisfaction actually decline using the new tool? The user interface may look nicer or fresh, but be more difficult to use or the calls to the service desk take longer, because of various issues, such as service-desk analyst training or more meaningless data to collect because of tool complexity, etc. Makes sure you focus on why the service desk exists, which is to support customers; customer experience matters as much as SLA obtainment. If there are no customers, then there is no need for a service desk. When service-desk technicians use a cumbersome ITSM tool and become frustrated so can customers and your service desk with its new tool becomes the “no service desk.”

 4: Less functionality than previously

Sometimes this can be good if you did an analysis of your tool and the process and discovered you were doing too much. This situation may have occurred because you actually removed needed functionality that you previously had that your service desk and/or internal/external customers needed. This can also result in broken integration between your ITSM tool and other tools or databases and affect other parts of your organization.

 5: Too many unresolved tickets 

Decision-support capabilities matter and if you just collect incidents, but do nothing with them, then you may have a big problem. Organizations in this situation can sometimes have incident tickets that are more than a year old that has not been closed. This results in shadow IT initiatives, reputation damage and other devaluations of the service desk. 


If you have implemented a new ITSM tool, but have not seen any benefits or there is a decline in service, then your ITSM tool implementation has gone wrong. More than likely you will blame the tool first. Then, you might consider switching tools once you have budget approval. This can be a vicious cycle affecting the overall growth of the organization. 

Think and act holistically to find the actual problem, and ask these questions.

  1. Was it people issues? Are our people trained properly in process and tool disciplines? Did the vendor supply senior-level people with great experience help us with our journey? People are key to success; never discount the value of and investment in people for an ITSM tool implementation.
  2. Was it process issues? Does the tool mirror our processes and support our way of working? Did we improve the process performance using the tool? Process and tool changes go together, so you must strategize, design and develop both at the same time.
  3. Was the problem the tool’s capabilities? Did it support the integrations we needed? Was it too complicated for our level of maturity and our customer expectations? Again, process and tools are two sides of the same coin, and also consider organizational structure and behaviours.
  4. Did we have a comprehensive plan that included synergies between governance, people, process, technology and communication needs? These synergies are needed for good organization change management (OCM) plans.
  5. Was the tool positioned as a strategic initiative or just operational to help improve business outcomes? Executive support matters, because of the needed organizational changes when implementing a new tool.

The service desk and the ITSM tool are very important organizational capabilities that should not be minimized for the health of the organization itself. Support, solving incidents and responding to requests in a timely manner help with organizational agility. The faster a customer resolution is completed the faster work can continue as usual to deliver social, economic and psychological value.

Blog cover design by Saravana Kannan