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The time has come. The wheels are in motion. Your company is changing ITSM tooling and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. You’ve been a loyal user of ‘X’ software for a number of years but enough is enough! It’s time for a change.

It’s an all too common scenario taking place, on average, every three to five years. Like a herd of giraffes seeking a new watering hole, businesses migrate their ITSM tooling to an alternative vendor. But there are risks associated with this change. While migrating giraffes risk exposure to predators and exhaustion, companies transitioning to a new ITSM solution risk the adverse effects of tool churn.

Tool Churn

ITSM tool churn results in decreased productivity during the interim period of a new tool’s implementation. Staff must be trained to use the new tool effectively, the time to resolve problems is reduced, creating a backlog and the whole team may suffer from a number of inevitable teething problems or glitches.

So why go through this process? What possible reasons are worth months of decreased efficiency? We asked Thebes’ IT Service Management specialist, Richard Josey, for the main reasons why companies change tooling.

Reason 1: Internal politics

Consider this scenario: your company is in the process of a merger. Your parent company and the other business use different ITSM software. What tooling will the merged company use?

There are three main options:

One: The merged company settles on one of the tools currently used (perhaps the small company in the merger will adopt the larger’s ITSM solution.)

Two: Both companies continue using their separate tools.

Three: The newly merged company adopts a neutral solution (i.e. one not previously used by either company.)

The first and third option will both invoke the negative effects of tool churn as the newly merged company (or section of the company) is forced to adapt to the use of a new tool.

Only the second option manages to negate the tool churn entirely, though this leaves two separate areas of the same company doing an identical job. Through such mergers we can see the drastic effect internal politics can have on ITSM tool selection.

Reason 2: Unjustified bias

Dissatisfaction for the current ITSM tool is the main push factor causing companies to seek alternatives. A recent survey on ITSM.tools confirmed that 18% of those surveyed voted “Tool Dissatisfaction” for their biggest factor behind changing tool, the most popular response.

But what fuels this dissatisfaction? Are most ITSM tools not fit for purpose?

Commonly, this dissatisfaction has no root in the tool itself, and is created through the accumulation of unjustified bias against the existing tool. This can be the result of a number of factors.

Lack of training/ skills

Inadequate training results in users not understanding the full potential, or even the basic operations of the tool.

With improper training, users of the tool can be prone to disillusionment, perceiving the tool as difficult to use or misunderstanding its function in key areas.

This issue can be compounded by a company’s reluctance to hire a specialist in the tool, leaving the organisation lacking in the necessary skill-sets to utilise the tool effectively and embed the tool within sound internal processes.

Strategic ITSM resourcing can be a strong solution to this problem, allowing the hire of a tool specialist able to train employees in effective tool use and map out an ITIL informed process with appropriate ITSM integrations.

Poor Implementation

A poorly implemented IT service management tool leaves a bad taste in the mouth of the buyer and prevents the tool from functioning effectively, despite its potential.

Successful implementations are key to the longevity of a tool. Implementations projects that go awry encourage knee-jerk reactions as senior management look for a quick fix. Paradoxically this may involve the implementation of yet another tool; leading to more tool churn and potentially the same implementation difficulties repeating themselves.

Reason 3: Outgrowing tool

Another common reason pushing businesses towards a change of tool is a company outgrowing their tool.

The circumstances of your company have changed; rapid expansion has enlarged your company to the point where new ITSM software is needed to properly accommodate this larger workforce.

On the other hand, perhaps your company has downsized and a tool implemented for a vast IT service desk is no longer needed.

Conclusion

Of the three reasons for ITSM tool change covered, one and three are, to a large extent, unavoidable.

A company’s growth can’t be halted for the sake of retaining an ITSM tool and mergers aren’t often scuppered in favour of tooling consistency.

So is tool churn inevitable? Not by a long shot.

Reason two is the most common reason companies discard their old ITSM tooling, a result of tool dissatisfaction and unjustified bias.

In this scenario, consider how your tool can be utilised better.

Does your team need better training on using the tool? Perhaps a specialist could be hired to offer tailored ITSM consulting, aid proper usage of the tool, and even heal wounds left by a poor implementation.

In some cases, ITSM tool churn is unavoidable, but if an existing tool can be utilised more effectively it saves companies and their customers from the grim, unproductive reality of tool churn.

Author Bio

Richard is the Lead Service Management Consultant for Thebes Group.

Richard has over 15 years’ experience in Service Management, is an ITIL Expert, and has helped drive many organisations in their efforts to implement and embed mature service management processes. This has comprised of numerous Incident, Request, Problem, Change, Configuration and Release Management processes, in a variety of environments.

His approach is always to look for pragmatic solutions, which provide clear benefit and help achieve valuable business goals.

Richard is also the chair of the BCS Configuration Management Specialist Group (CMSG), and a committee member of the BCS Service Management Specialist Group (SMSG).

Richard speaks publicly, at a number of industry events including BCS, itSMF and Gartner conferences, as well as a number of webcast and webinars.

Follow him on Twitter @Richard_Josey.

Cherwell Partner