Top 10 Tips for ITSM Tool Selection

In the previous blog “5 Tips for Service Desks Struggling with an Outdated, or Even the Wrong, ITSM Tool,” we covered the service desk frustrations with IT service management (ITSM) tools – as revealed in the Service Desk Institute’s (SDI) “Life on the Service Desk in 2016” report – and what service desks can do about them.

The last tip in that blog was to consider some of the freely available ITSM tool selection best practice that’s scattered about the industry and Internet. This blog is a follow-on, offering up ten of those best practice tips neatly pulled together into a single list.

Top 10 ITSM Tool Selection Criteria

  • Remember that “If you ask the wrong questions, then you’ll get the wrong answer.” So many companies ask for everything they could possibly do with an ITSM tool, rather than what they need to do, or even are capable of doing resource and maturity-wise. Want to hear more on this? Then a previous blog of mine might be of interest: “50 Shards of ITIL – The Bane and Pain of ITSM Tool Selection.”
  • Understand what you need to accomplish from a business outcome, not an IT operations, perspective. Importantly, look to what you need to achieve rather than what you need to do with the ITSM tool – there’s a big difference. For example, “We need to do incident management” is a different beast to “We need to ensure that IT issues don’t get in the way of business operations.” Know more about what companies expect from ITSM.
  • Don’t be distracted by the available technologies, with all their bells and whistles. Doing this is no different to bullet one, you are making decisions on, and paying for, things that you don’t need and probably won’t use. The extra bells and whistles might also bring extra complexity with the unfortunate downside of somewhat perversely reducing tool use (and benefits).
  • Focus on what your company needs, not on what the market says you need. It’s great to know what everyone else is doing, but it doesn’t mean to say that just because something is common that it’s right for your company. Again, stay focused on required outcomes not low-level features.
  • Be crystal clear about which high-level requirements are “must haves” versus merely “nice to haves.” There’s a big difference and, as with bullets one and three, not differentiating will most likely result in the wrong decision for your real needs. So ensure that you maintain focus, and decision making, on the right things until you agree upon a solution.
  • Try to remain impartial. Buying based on vendor (or vendor reputation/hype) might be as bad as buying based on bells and whistles. You are potentially ignoring your company’s real needs. Alternatively, an ITSM tool solution might be bundled in with a vendor’s IT operations management (ITOM) solutions. This might save money in licensing but how does this stack up against the costs incurred (including opportunity costs) by not having a perfect fit to your ITSM needs? Here are some tips to select the right ITSM tool vendor.
  • Leave the vendor enough room to explain how they can help rather than limiting them to only saying that they have features x and y. So don’t ask for features, ask for outcomes, i.e. how would the vendor’s solution allow you to achieve x and y?
  • Don’t forget to scope in any planned future improvements to operations. I know this sort of goes against bullet one, but there is no point selecting your ideal ITSM tool if there’s a good chance that you will have grown out of it in 12 months.
  • Don’t always take vendor responses at face value. If something is important then seek out greater detail and perhaps even proof that everything is, or will be, as needed. Why not try a proof of concept to truly understand whether a critical need will be met?
  • Consider how a dollar saved in tool licensing might cost you ten dollars in day-to-day operations. The true cost of an ITSM tool also includes implementation and upgrade costs, which include professional services and training. Then there is the hosting and management cost if on-premise. But don’t forget the cost associated with operating sub-optimally if the tool doesn’t allow you to do things in what would be the best way. So look to the bigger financial picture of new tool introduction.

Hopefully you found these tips for ITSM tool selection requirements helpful. If you did, look out for another three blogs based on the “Life on the Service Desk in 2016” report.