Consolidate Your ITSM Apps to Reduce Clutter and Tool Sprawl

We’re going to describe a situation that you know all too well.

As your organization has grown, the corresponding infrastructure of networks and applications has broadened and deepened, your ability to manage everything has become overwhelming. Sometimes it seems that each application, service and piece of network gear has its own suite of management tools, none of which interoperate with each other.

Your service desk and NOC have monitors with dozens of window tiles open. You can only hope that an app will be displayed in the window at the top of the stack if it encounters trouble. It’s not a situation that instills confidence that everything is working smoothly.

You are always in reactive mode. With the first hint of trouble, your end users call to report that they can’t get their work done. From that point on, your team is trying to establish what’s going on, what the actual root cause is and how to go about getting the service back up – all while fielding more calls and trying to set expectations.

To top it off, you’re never really sure if the tools and services you bought over the years in an ad-hoc manner complement each other or are redundant. Perhaps the next project you should consider is IT tool consolidation.

ITSM Tool Consolidation

If the above sounds like you, you’ve certainly earned your stripes. Now, welcome to the world of information technology service management (ITSM). ITSM refers to the entirety of activities that are performed by an organization to design, plan, deliver, operate and control IT services offered to their customers and end users.

ITSM is focused on the implementation of IT services that meet their users’ requirements. It’s delivered by the IT service provider through an appropriate mix of people, process and information technology.

Let’s look at the capabilities of a full-fledged ITSM environment and then at suggestions for consolidating and integrating your tools.

Ten Core Capabilities of ITSM

  1. Incident and Problem Management. Incident ticketing and problem management are required by all organizations that use ITSM tools. This enables them to manage the life cycles of IT incidents and problem records from recording to closing. These are core capabilities in which all ITSM tools must be competent. Ideally your management application has the ability to integrate with communications platforms, such as telephony systems or chat, to communicate incident and problem management status.
  1. Change and Release Management. Intermediate and advanced ITSM tools will provide integrated change and release management. This is important for ensuring that approved changes are executed in the environment in accordance with the IT organization’s defined and documented procedures. It’s a good idea to ensure smooth sailing.
  1. Configuration Management. Configuration management is important to maintain an overview of service assets that aid other processes (such as change management and incident management).
  1. Self-Service / Request Fulfillment. Service request provides end users with a convenient way to interact with the IT organization. Typically, an online portal is used to deliver incident reports and change requests and to request tracking services or other IT services.
  1. IT Knowledge Management. Knowledge Management is a key area of differentiation across many types of IT environments. The knowledge portal enables end users to resolve simple incidents themselves. Your tools should create knowledge bases for relevant, updatable, searchable content.
  1. Collaboration features help IT staff work together to solve IT incidents and problems, and to support your customers and end users in helping their colleagues.
  1. Process and Workflow Design. Regardless of your IT organization’s maturity level, you need out-of-the-box, preconfigured forms, fields, workflows and reports that are compatible with ITSM best practices and standards. These processes and workflows must be easily configurable to accommodate specific local needs.
  1. Reporting and SLA Management. Reporting and dashboards are indispensable because they enable collaborative decision support, both strategic and tactical, as well as communication with your IT and C-level team leaders.
  1. Key Performance Indicators. Reports, dashboards and other visualization capabilities must incorporate KPIs and common critical success factors. The best dashboards will all you to visualize complicated metrics and causal relationships. This typically requires good integration tools, which leads us to…
  1. IT Operations Management Tool Integration. The ability to integrate with other tools – and the ability of those tools to integrate with your ITSM software – is increasingly critical. It’s important for providing your service desk and NOC staffs with a coherent, cohesive view of the entire infrastructure.

How to Consolidate?

When it comes to apps that consolidate toolsets, look for the following capabilities:

  • Out-of-the box integration capabilities (via APIs or connectors) that link to tools from various IT operations management tool suites
  • Single screen, cross-platform application management
  • Availability, performance, event, fault and log management
  • Network management views
  • Support for business value metrics and end-to-end, service-level management metrics
  • Machine-learning based analytics and automated remediation to reduce alarm noise
  • The ability to build trend reports that measure and predict operational performance. This is a valuable capability for mature organizations.

A well-designed ITSM tool suite can bring all of the above to your organization. See what your vendors are able to deliver. They should be able to help you ensure that the people watching your critical infrastructure have the right view in front of them and aren’t buried underneath the clutter.

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