2012 A guide on how to select an ITSM Software Solution...

A guide on how to select an ITSM Software Solution in 2012
The IT Service Management software industry is one of the fastest growing sectors in the computer software
industry. As companies of all sizes across the globe continue to realize the importance of cultivating longlasting relationships with their clients through increasingly technical media, this industry is poised to grow
well beyond the hundreds of service desk software solutions that are already in existence.
For small and large enterprise companies alike, choosing the right software solution is the key to providing
outstanding customer service and support. In many cases, service desk software also provides internal team
members with an effective way to communicate with one another about internal and external issues, while
also allowing them to measure their effectiveness when responding to various types of client issues.
For many companies, the process of selecting service desk software is a major cause of stress and the final
decision often comes after many months of deliberation. Usually, this is due to the wide variations in
available features across products and the lack of a clear understanding of which features will best suit the
company’s needs. However, this process can be made much easier by gaining an understanding of the service
desk industry and how each solution approaches the task of creating a transparent flow of information
between both staff members and clients.
Top IT Service Management Publishers for 2012
A guide on how to select an ITSM Software Solution in 2012
When to invest in service desk software
There is no general rule that can be applied to a company in order to figure out when the right time to invest
in service desk software is, though all mid-sized to large companies are usually advised to do so in order to
provide high quality and speedy support to their growing customer base. Typically, if any of the following
statements can be used to describe a company, it should seriously consider investing in a service desk
software solution:
The number of our clients and available products is quite large or is continuously growing.
We do not have a central database containing product information that both customers and support
agents can easily access from any location at any time.
Support agents do not have a simple means of locating the contact details for our customers.
Our support representatives are finding it hard to locate the necessary answers to our clients’
questions in a timely manner.
Support representative must consult with a number of different resources that are located in
separate locations (Excel spreadsheets and written manuals, for example) in order to offer a
Our clients do not have any method that allows them to solve their own problems outside of
contacting us or reading our product manuals.
Support agents do not have a database of responses to pull from when answering client questions.
Agents do not have a simple way to communicate new knowledge with one another.
Support representatives often work on the same issue simultaneously because they are unaware
that another agent is already handling the issue.
Resolution times typically exceed 24 hours, even for minor issues that have been dealt with in the
Tracking customer satisfaction and agent performance is difficult or impossible.
We have no means of tracking how many support requests we receive on a regular basis.
Our current methods do not allow us to track which types of support requests we receive most
Our customer satisfaction rates are declining or are poor.
Clients are leaving us because we are unable to provide the level of support that they require in
order to use our products or services properly.
We frequently have to refer our clients to multiple departments in order for them to receive an
Clients are increasingly expressing frustration when requesting support.
Support representatives sometimes or frequently miss important calls or emails because they are
unable to monitor each point of contact effectively.
Clients do not know that their issues or requests have been received by a support agent within a day
of contacting us.
Customers are frequently contacting us multiple times in order to receive a resolution to their issues.
Support agents have trouble tracking the issues that they are working on.
Each service desk solution will contain its own set of unique features and add-ons. The following list is a
summary of the most popular features that are typically included with service desk software applications:
Top IT Service Management Publishers for 2012
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A guide on how to select an ITSM Software Solution in 2012
Web-based Interface - This graphical user interface is accessible via all or most Internet browsers for both
clients and support team members. It provides users with a direct line to product information and support
Single Sign On Authentication (SSO) - SSO gives users the ability to log into the service desk using the same
login ID and password that is used for logging into the protected areas of a company’s website. When a user
logs into the company site, they will automatically be logged into the service desk.
Branding - Many service desk solutions allow companies to create their own branded interface and URL for
the support portal. Branding is available on multiple levels, including the ability to add the company’s logo to
each page, customize each page to mimic the look and feel of the company’s website, specify the exact URL
that is to be used for the portal, and create branded email templates. Some knowledge of HTML, CSS, and
JavaScript coding is usually required.
Customization - Import third party widgets and custom code to add new service desk functions that better
meet the needs of an organization and its customers.
Multiple Languages - Configure the service desk to display in any language. Some software solutions also
allow the service desk to choose which language is displayed to which customers based upon their location or
user settings.
Knowledge Base - This powerful self-service feature allows users to independently find answers to their
questions without contacting a support representative. The knowledge base can be used to store instruction
manuals, webinars, frequently asked questions, and popular news items that may affect users as they
continue to use a company’s products and services.
WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) Editor - The WYSIWYG allows support representatives to easily
create knowledge base articles and news items without any HTML coding knowledge.
Content Restrictions - Control what clients see to ensure that they are given access to the information that is
relevant to their needs. This feature also allows support agents to create restricted areas that are only
accessible to other agents, which is useful for storing private information.
Community Forums - Forums allow customers to openly communicate with one another about product
issues, requests, and any other general comments they may have. In some cases, forums give customers the
ability to answer each other’s questions, which can increase the support team’s productivity by reducing the
amount of time spent answering customer questions. Additionally, forums provide companies with the ability
to monitor new product requests and assess the popularity of each of those requests, servicing a company’s
products and services move forward and better meet client needs.
Forum Moderation - Support agents can moderate topics and decide when a topic should be closed off from
further discussion. They may also have the ability to remove offensive comments and flag hot topics.
Voting - Customers can express exactly what they think about the level of service support agents provide and
how well published service topics meet their needs. Voting results are usually displayed in an averaged
numerical format and are typically used to rate each support agent’s performance.
Advanced Search Tools - These tools allow users to search across multiple sections of the service desk at
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A guide on how to select an ITSM Software Solution in 2012
once in order to service them find the right answers right when they need them. For example, by typing in a
question or keyword into the search tool, a user can quickly be connected to answers that have been pulled
from the knowledge base, user forums, and their previous support requests.
Tagging - Tags allow yet another level of organization for support tickets and service desk topics. Assigning
appropriate tags to topics allows users to quickly search for and locate the relevant answers to their
Electronic Communication Tools - Most, if not all, systems allow users to leave text-based messages for
support agents. However, some systems go further by adding instant messaging, video chat, and integration
with Twitter.
Multi-channel Request Support - For companies that utilize multiple points of contact, such as email and
Twitter, all communications can be routed through the service desk first, allowing tickets to automatically be
created without the need to monitor multiple channels.
Customized Ticket Fields - Getting the right information from users is essential to providing a timely
resolution to an issue. Customized ticket fields allow agents to specify what information must be provided by
the user upfront in order to service solve their requests quickly and effectively.
Automated Responses - As soon as a support request is received, the service desk will send the requester
and support staff members an automated response that has been predefined by support staff. These
responses allow clients to know that their requests have been received and provide support agents with an
up-to-date window into current support issues. Additionally, automated responses can be set to recur on
daily, weekly, or monthly intervals, allowing agents to be continuously reminded of hot issues and clients to
be aware that an agent is awaiting their response.
Issue/Ticket Tracking - Customers and support agents can track the evolution of any and every support ticket
from its creation to its resolution. Every communication is logged, and both open and closed tickets can be
viewed by the support team and clients for an unlimited or specified period of time.
Views - Many software solutions come packed with default views which allow support representatives to
organize and view the tickets in the service desk according to predefined criteria. For example, tickets can be
viewed according their priority, status (open or closed), assigned agent, or the requester. Additional views
can also be created by support agents to streamline the support process.
Ticket Merging - Clients often submit the same request multiple times or very similar requests within a short
space of time. Ticket merging gives agents the ability to merge similar requests into a single ticket which
allows agents to focus on unique issues more efficiently.
Grouping - Members of an organization as well as its clients can be organized according to logical groups.
This is especially useful for larger organization with complex support teams that allocate requests based upon
the type of request that has been received.
Workflows - Workflows can be set up on both the organizational and individual levels to assign, route, and
manage support tickets. Tickets can automatically be assigned to agents based upon their content or the
requester. Additionally, certain issues can automatically or manually be escalated to superiors based on
customer and support agent feedback.
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A guide on how to select an ITSM Software Solution in 2012
Spam Management - Any messages that appear to be spam, such as automated out of office replies, will
automatically be routed to a quarantine area within the system. Some service desk software also allows the
organization to specify whether messages from unknown users are automatically quarantined.
Web-based Remote Support - Support staff can quickly and easily access, view, and repair remote devices
without requiring the end-user to install any software on their machines. Additionally, remote devices can be
accessed with the user’s permission even if the user is not available to participate in the support call. This
service can greatly reduce the amount of time necessary for resolving an issue.
Analytics - Real-time reporting can be used to assess the support team’s performance by displaying their
overall resolution times, customer satisfaction levels, and their response times. Reports can also be
customized to display data on a number of other tracked items including group performance and ticket type.
Sandbox Environment - Test the service desk and any newly added features prior to pushing them live for
end-users. Experiment with message and ticket assignment rules as well as other workflows without affecting
the client-facing production area.
Mobile Optimization - The ability to view the service desk via a smart phone is essential to providing quick
and effective support for many clients. Some service desk software companies are also releasing mobile apps,
which allow agents to have full access to all of the service desk’s functions right from the palms of their
The cost of service desk software varies greatly and ranges anywhere from $79 to $149+ per agent per
month, with on-premise solutions occupying the higher-priced end. When figuring out the cost of any
solution, however, it is important to also figure in deployment costs, such as the costs associated with adding
and maintaining new hardware infrastructure, and other short term costs that may be required, such as
hiring an outside agent to set up the service desk. Additionally, the final total must be adjusted by subtracting
the ongoing costs associated with hiring additional employees, including their wages, benefits, and any new
equipment that is required, to resolve support requests in the event that a software solution was not
Since most service desk software companies base their prices on the number of users who will be using the
software, larger companies will typically have to pay more than their smaller counterparts. Fortunately, many
companies offer multi-user discounts as well as promotional pricing on extended contracts.
In addition to cost per user pricing, cost structures are typically based upon the number of features the client
requires. The most affordable packages, for instance, may only include the most basic of features, such as
email functionality and a service topic database. More expensive solutions tend to be more robust, allowing
an organization to fully customize its service desk with add-ons and custom code, gather analytical data, and
receive 24-hour support from the service desk manufacturer. For larger companies, the advantages of a more
robust solution usually outweigh the higher costs.
Excluding freeware solutions, a bare-bones (basic email and service topic database) cloud-based solution
typically costs around $650 to $790 per month for ten agents, with more complete packages costing around
$800 to $6,500 per month. For organizations with very small support teams that require minimal
functionality, it is possible to find software priced at as little as $225 per month for up to three agents.
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A guide on how to select an ITSM Software Solution in 2012
An on-premise solution containing only the most basic of features typically starts at a one-time only cost of
$2,500 for an unlimited number of end-users on the low end and $12,500 for up to five users on the higher
end. For more robust solutions, an organization can expect to spend anywhere from $15,000 for an unlimited
number of end-users to well over $29,500 for up to five users on more expensive systems. However, these
prices exclude any costs associated with new equipment purchases and maintenance, software upgrades,
and ongoing technical support.
When it comes to service desk software, cost does not necessarily equate to quality. Any and all solutions
should be thoroughly researched before one is chosen and the decision should never be based upon cost
alone. Choosing the wrong system, regardless of how inexpensive it is, can end up costing a company more
than a higher priced solution due to difficulties in deployment, maintenance, and use of the system, as well
as the potential loss of clients due to poor service.
How to choose the right service desk software solution
Selecting the right software solution will take time and the decision should not be taken lightly. However,
there are several points that any company, regardless of its size or budget, should consider prior to settling
on a solution:
1. Decide whether a cloud-based or on-premise solution is right for you - For smaller organizations
and those on tight budgets which need a solution that works right out of the box, a cloud-based
system is usually the least costly to enter. Companies with dedicated IT support staff who can attend
training and assist with the implementation and management of new software and hardware will be
able to freely choose between the cloud and on-premise systems.
2. Set a budget - Set a budget and allow it to guide the purchasing decision. Be sure to pay close
attention to how each solution prices its cloud services; most services charge annual fees, while onpremise solutions typically charge a one-time fee for the software plus annual maintenance for
upgrades, patches and support. Create a 5-year cost of ownership to help determine the best path.
3. Make a list of required features - Each service desk solution offers a wide variety of features and it is
vital to a company’s success to choose a solution that offers every function that is essential to
running a successful support desk. Gather the support team and have a discussion about the current
challenges they are facing. Be sure to ask them what they need to overcome those challenges and
streamline the support process.
4. Figure out how much storage space you need - When creating a database of articles and other
support materials, it is important to choose a solution that offers more space than you think you
actually need. This will ensure that the service desk is able to grow with your company. Fortunately,
there are solutions that offer unlimited storage space to all of their customers.
5. Check for compatibility - Ensure that any solution you choose displays correctly on the Internet
browsers that are used at your company and by the majority of your clients. Also check that the
email submission system works with your current email server.
6. Choose the right ticket management features - All ticket management systems are not created
equally. While some offer automatic ticket assignments based on rules, the ability to close and
reopen tickets at will, and unlimited access to a full history of every ticket that has ever been
created, others do not. Never settle for a solution that fails to provide the level of control your
company needs.
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A guide on how to select an ITSM Software Solution in 2012
7. Always be branded - Branding your service desk is crucial to clients recognizing and trusting that
their requests are reaching your company. Find a solution that allows you to easily add your logo,
color schemes, and fonts to the service desk’s layout as well as to email templates.
8. Opt for security - Dealing with support issues often requires clients and companies to exchange
private and sensitive data with one another. Find a system that uses a secure connection, such as SSL
and other encryption forms, for all communications and data transfers.
9. Think about using a Web interface - Some ticketing systems allow clients to create tickets via email
and a Web-based system, while others do not. Take some time to consider which submission
systems will benefit your clients and company before settling on a service desk.
10. Consider deployment - While some service desks require dedicated staff with advanced levels of
technical knowledge to create and maintain them, others can easily be maintained by nearly anyone
who knows how to use a computer and the Web. Think about who will be deploying the service desk
for your company, what equipment may be needed, and how long the deployment will take. For
quick and easy deployments, choose a system that does not require any HTML, CSS, or JavaScript
coding knowledge.
11. Take a test drive - Most, if not all, service desk software companies will allow you to take a video
tour of their software or use the software in demo mode for a limited period of time. Never spend a
penny on any software solution until you’ve tried it or seen it in action.
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A guide on how to select an ITSM Software Solution in 2012
BMC Software, Inc. | 2101 CityWest Blvd. | Houston, TX 77042-2827
BMC Cloud Service Manager
With BMC Cloud Service Manager, your IT organization is able to focus on what really matters – your IT services and the
customers who rely on them. Our on-demand service management solution liberates you to easily:
Restore service during an incident and improve resolution rates
Track, document and automate the incident resolution process
Improve communication between IT, the business and impacted users
Control how and when changes can be implemented
Streamline change and incident reporting
With BMC Cloud Service Manager, you have the power to reduce costs and gain control through an easy to implement end-toend incident & problem resolution process while automating, managing and controlling change.
Streamline Problem Resolution and Communicate Status
BMC Cloud Service Manager provides quick time-to-value while helping you to quickly resolve incidents and problems, keeping
business and IT stakeholders in the loop on resolution status. Powerful automation, leveraging ITIL best practices, empowers
you to quickly assign priority and resolution responsibility. Easily configurable escalation and notification processes help you to
keep all technicians and customers up-to-date on the issue status and expedite decision making.
About BMC Software
Business Runs on IT. IT Runs on BMC Software.
Business runs better when IT runs at its best. That’s why more than 15,000 IT organizations – from the
Global 100 to the smallest businesses – in over 120 countries rely on BMC Software to manage their
business services and applications across distributed, mainframe, virtual and cloud environments. With
the leading Business Service Management platform, Cloud Management, and the industry’s broadest
choice of IT management solutions, BMC helps customers cut costs, reduce risk, and achieve business
objectives. For the four fiscal quarters ended September 30, 2011, BMC revenue was approximately $2.2
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A guide on how to select an ITSM Software Solution in 2012
BMC Software, Inc. | 2101 CityWest Blvd. | Houston, TX 77042-2827
Experience IT freedom. The BMC FootPrints family of IT Management products
and solutions streamline, automate and improve IT operations. Now you can optimize the management
of PC’s, mobile devices, software, IT infrastructure and simplify the entire ownership experience.
Aligning IT with the needs of your business has never been easy. You know that it’s a tough job. But
simple alignment is no longer enough: IT has to add value to your business whether supporting top-line
growth or bottom-line cost reductions. Your job just got that much harder.
Fortunately there is no shortage of IT management tools to help you. But dissimilar products bring their
own headaches. How do you create a seamless user experience? How do you maximize your IT
efficiency by sharing data, applications and processes between different tools from different vendors?
One vendor. One IT management solution family.
About BMC Software
Business Runs on IT. IT Runs on BMC Software.
Business runs better when IT runs at its best. That’s why more than 15,000 IT organizations – from the
Global 100 to the smallest businesses – in over 120 countries rely on BMC Software to manage their
business services and applications across distributed, mainframe, virtual and cloud environments. With
the leading Business Service Management platform, Cloud Management, and the industry’s broadest
choice of IT management solutions, BMC helps customers cut costs, reduce risk, and achieve business
objectives. For the four fiscal quarters ended September 30, 2011, BMC revenue was approximately $2.2
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A guide on how to select an ITSM Software Solution in 2012
Cherwell Software | 12295 Oracle Boulevard | Colorado Springs, CO 80921
Out-of-the-Box ITSM Processes
Our scalable, all-inclusive solution provides for your needs now – and in the future.
Is Cherwell IT Service Management software, Helpdesk software, Customer Support software, or Technical
Support software? Quite simply - all of the above.
Whether you simply want to manage daily incidents and service requests or utilize all of the out-of-box, 11
PinkVERIFY™ ITSM processes, Cherwell Service Management software provides a platform for success. All of the
processes are fully integrated, providing a comprehensive view of the relationships between incidents,
problems, changes, etc. And the intuitive wizards and drag-and-drop functionality allow you to quickly and
easily modify the processes to match your specific business requirements. All for a fraction of the cost
compared to some vendors.
About Cherwell Software
Cherwell Software is unique within the IT Service Management software industry. As a privately-held company
with no outside debt or venture capital funding, our primary objective is to create innovative software to meet the
needs of our customers.
Founded by some of the industry's most notable leaders, Cherwell Software was built upon the premise that if we
listen to our customers, care about and strive to meet their needs, and provide quality products and extraordinary
customer care, then our company will stand the test of time – all while having a little fun and building great
relationships along the way.
Cherwell Software is one of the fasted growing IT service management software providers with corporate
headquarters in Colorado Springs, CO, USA; EMEA headquarters in Wootton Bassett, UK; and a global network of
expert partners.
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A guide on how to select an ITSM Software Solution in 2012
EasyVista USA HQ | 1375 Broadway Floor 6, Suite 9 | New York, NY 10018
The Easy-ITIL approach
EasyVista’s ITIL v3-compatible solution is what makes the Easy-ITIL approach possible. Broken down in accordance
with ITIL, this approach is:
Progressive and staged
Takes into account of dependencies between processes
Why EasyVista
Aligning IT with the needs of your organization has never been easy. However alignment only is not
enough. IT has to add value to the business whether supporting top-line growth or bottom-line cost
reductions. EasyVista gives you all of the capabilities, reporting and flexibility you need in a fully
comprehensive solution that’s easy to configure, easy to use and easy to maintain, EasyVista allows you
to focus on delivering quality services, and a sustainable competitive advantage.
Key Reasons to Choose EasyVista
Increase Return on Investment by Going Codeless
Instead of wasting time and money paying developers to code, EasyVista is easy to install and highly
configurable: no coding is required by the customer. Enterprise-level codeless customization is fast and
GUI-driven, so EasyVista is rapidly deployed and simple to use.
About EasyVista
Manage the Future of IT: Simplicity and visibility
EasyVista, previously known as Staff & Line, has been a pioneer in SaaS since 2000. With more than twenty years of
experience in delivering IT Service Management (ITSM) and IT Asset Management (ITAM), EasyVista delivers a
unique, fully integrated, modular and cost-effective solution providing comprehensive, powerful solutions with
visibility across KPIs, service levels and operating costs.
Designed to simplify ITIL implementation and accelerate service management deployment time and ROI,
EasyVista’s codeless environment eliminates the need for extensive consulting, reduces administration and
enables improved service quality while reducing total cost of ownership. By "codeless," we mean that all
configurations and customizations can be done by your IT staff, even your business line owners without access to
the source code or the need for any programming skills.
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A guide on how to select an ITSM Software Solution in 2012
SUMMUS Software, Inc. | 3179 Skyway Court | Fremont, CA 94539
SUMMUS offers a comprehensive IT management solution built on a unified platform that helps enterprise IT
organizations increase the reliability of their services, enhance their relevance to the rest of the business,
dramatically simplify their operations and improve financial performance. SUMMUS’ cloud-based solutions
require no hardware, no software, no upgrades, and no installations or maintenance, allowing IT
organizations to focus on more effectively and efficiently assuring their IT operations.
Summus IT Management Suite
Summus IT Management Suite is the industry’s most comprehensive cloud-based solution for IT Service
Management (ITSM), IT Asset Management (ITAM), server monitoring, network monitoring, and project
management. Summus IT Management Suite delivers cloud-based applications in a single, comprehensive,
fully integrated solution that unifies your IT operations – enabling you to better assure your IT operations
with increased reliability, simplicity, and relevance to your business and end users.
About SUMMUS Software
SUMMUS enables enterprises and service providers to better assure the delivery and management of IT
services to their end-users and consumers. SUMMUS Software offers the IT industry’s most cost-effective and
comprehensive IT management solutions in the cloud covering IT service management (ITSM), IT asset
management (ITAM), and IT availability management.
SUMMUS provides an integrated, cost-effective, and comprehensive family of IT management products,
Summus IT Management Suite, all built on a single, unified ITIL-compliant platform, the Summit Platform.
Enterprises worldwide are using SUMMUS Software’s proven service management, asset management, and
availability management solutions to cost-effectively and flexibly assure IT operations for on-premise, cloudbased, as well as hybrid IT infrastructures.
Developed for, and to be consumed via the cloud, SUMMUS IT management products and solutions are
designed to help IT organizations to maximize profitability by reducing costs and complexity, increasing
reliability and simplicity, and assuring the relevance of IT in the face of next-generation enterprise IT service
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