ITSM toolset consolidation: consolidating what?

by Stephen Brunsdon, on 24-Jul-2018 14:00:00

Consolidating multiple systems isn’t just about removing redundant technology. Each has its own ecosystem of IT people and processes (and sometimes end user communities)—many of which overlap.

Before you can rationalize your ITSM tools, you must first investigate the other elements in the ecosystem.

Organizations which fail to consider the impact on IT people, processes, data and communities find themselves firefighting issues as the go.

As a result, the timeline slips, unforeseen risks emerge and critical IT and business services are impacted. In order to save time, it is worth considering all aspects of ITSM tools consolidation.

To read the full "6 steps to consolidating ITSM tools" whitepaper, click below.

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If you have multiple help desk sites, phone numbers and portals, then you have multiple interfaces between business people and IT. To improve the IT customer experience, it is essential to consider an ITSM consolidation from the IT customer perspective. What do they see now, and what will they see after? How is the customer experience now, and how will it be improved? Having a single point of contact—one phone number to call and one web portal to visit—makes accessing support easier. This translates almost immediately into a better IT customer experience, which will be reflected in customer satisfaction ratings.

Beyond the traditional touchpoints between users and delivery teams, digital workplace solutions like peer-to-peer chat, collaboration and self-service tools, as well as physical touchpoints, like genius bars, can be rolled out in a phased approach to give IT customers more choices in the way they interact with IT and each other. It is almost impossible for IT to give end-users this choice while the landscape remains fragmented. Simplifying the IT customer experience (and the management of that experience) relies on consolidation.


When thinking about consolidating interfaces, you must also contemplate how you can merge the teams behind the scenes. Simply throwing teams together won’t work, especially if they are distributed across the globe. Effective routing—getting the customer’s issue to the right team—is a big part of the solution. If you can model which types of issues and request go where, you can put a small front-line team in place to create a single point-of-contact while you sort out your help desk teams behind the scenes. Second-line teams such as desktop and application support may be also duplicated. Although these people are not on the front-line, making changes to application, datacenter and field support teams will have an impact on service delivery, support, and the IT customer experience. Changes to teams should always be evaluated for potential impact to services and support.


Process control and process automation are critical to delivering services and support quickly and correctly. However, different groups find their own ways of delivering the same outcome because the context and constraints are different. Individual and cultural preferences, resource availability, skills and budget, governance policies and escalation paths influence the variations between different instances of the same process. As a result, no two processes are the same. Process standardization is critical to creating a more manageable and efficient process portfolio. However, people get used to doing things in a certain way, so it is not as simple as deciding on a “gold standard” process and pushing everybody to adhere to it. It is essential to understand the process landscape: which processes can be standardized, and which need to remain unique.


IT management applications often rely on connections with technical tools (hardware discovery/inventory, application discovery and dependency, license statements, barcode scanners, SDLC tools, systems monitoring, security monitoring, etc.) to get a holistic view of the IT environment and status. On top of this, ITSM applications are often integrated with other ITSM applications to enable data and processes flow between groups. With multiple IT management toolsets in place, integrations can extend to many dozens or even hundreds of individual point-to-point connections. Consolidating these integrations involves evaluation of these connections to decide which will remain and which will be unified.


Where multiple toolsets exist there will also be multiple databases, data architectures and formats. Collectively, the storage and computer infrastructure required to support these tools can add up to significant capital and operational costs, but the key challenge is aggregation. Getting accurate data relies on manual gathering and analysis or the creation of a network of integrations. Both considerable challenges and overheads. Moving to a single solution with a single data architecture solves an array of data, information and knowledge issues.


Service management doesn’t only happen inside the IT department. Typically, HR, Facilities Management, Logistics, Finance, Marketing, Admin, and Customer Service all seek to roll-out digital workplace tools to streamline their day-to-day operations, shifting focus to creating more strategic value. Some service functions may already have a ticketing system in place. Collectively there may be several individual portals; each with its own web address and end user login. These are good candidates for consolidation into a single service portal; an enterprise-wide digital hub for all services, support and information in a central location.


It is good practice to own and manage the tools outsourcers used to deliver IT services for your organization. If you choose to use their tools, be wary of the reports you get back saying everything is good and SLAs are all “green”. Our advice is that you can have your own consolidated ITSM tool and allow partners to access the system, allocating them a partitioned service department within the tool (and assigning corresponding licenses) so that privacy and security are maintained. That way, you maintain complete control of the system of record that produces the supplier performance metrics baselining against your contract. You get a detailed and truthful picture of performance across your service supply chains. This allows your organization to apply Service Integration & Management (SIAM) best practices natively, using out-of-the-box capabilities.


You will find a combination of cloud and on-premise toolsets available in your global portfolio. Some may be officially sanctioned. Others may be shadow-IT solutions, funded on a subscription basis using a team’s discretionary budget. Most organizations have more tools than they think. All should be evaluated as candidates for consolidation. As part of the evaluation, organizations will want to consider new cloud offerings that might be able to roll-up several point solutions into one pre-integrated application.




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