Finding the Right Service Desk Software
Self Service and Live e-Support (Interaction via voice, email, instant messaging) - Does the product offer various methods for user self service? For example, is there a secure online web portal for users to review the status of an incident and or service request? Can the service management system automatically log incidents or service requests via voicemail, or email? Can your service desk and or IT personnel provide live e-support? Can you communicate via instant messaging?
All of these methods allow the end user more control over getting their needs met. This removes excess burden and calls to the service desk as well as increases the customer satisfaction level across the organization.
Supporting Services Provided to the Business Can the service management product provide a service portfolio and catalog? This is the central source of all service information and is utilized to build your service level management program, which includes your service level agreements (
The catalog lists the services provided to the customer, how they are delivered, how they are used and for what purpose, as well as the quality level the customer should expect. The catalog is normally built as part of the configuration management system (CMS) by defining each service as a configuration item (CI). The catalog will provide information in building your organizations business impact analysis (BIA) as well as being a part of your IT service continuity management (ITSCM) plan.
High Competition and Vendor Experience All the vendors now tout that they have ITIL aligned service management products, but does the product have documented success? Whether in-house or vendor-installed, do they have the experience, personnel, partnerships and the references to complete the installation to your standards and timeline?
Innovation Has to Be at a Competitive Price Does the tool provide your organization too much or too little functionality for the price?
How is it licensed? Software as a service (SaaS) is a model that is growing in the market place whether hosted internally in your organization or externally. This is a factor to research based on your organizations needs.
Reporting and Metrics with Dashboards Is the service management product packaged with ITIL operational reports and metrics? This will allow your organization to evaluate and build critical success factors and key performance indicators? Does the product provide dashboards that are easily configurable?
Metrics provide the information necessary to evaluate an organization's ability to comply with the process and should make it easier to concentrate on what truly matters. CSFs and KPIs allow you to spot problem areas quickly and assist in aligning IT with the business goals.
Customization and Tailoring To make simple changes in forms, reports or fields in previous generations of help desk products was difficult. It often required programmers, vendor involvement, special scripts, etc. Does the product allow for customization and tailoring by an application analyst? Can you customize forms, reports and workflows without involving external support? Is it intuitive for staff to learn and navigate?
Self-Healing Capability - Is your organization large enough to require quick detection of enterprise management application errors? There are service management products available that automatically detect software faults and can recommend a quick course of action for faster resolution. This technology is fairly new, but selecting a product that is developing this capability is a strategic direction for large organizations with more complex needs.
The market today is vast and products have matured along with ITIL best practices, but it is a buyers market. Products have the functionality to cover all levels of maturity and complexity, whether your organization are small, medium or large. Today's service desk products allow you to pull the help desk out of the basement and become an integral part of the organization's successful delivery of business services, allowing for maximum value.
Eric Nelson is a master consultant with Forsythe specializing in BSM (business system management) Solutions and ITSM implementation. He has been providing diagnostic and system management solutions for 10 years.
Cathy Parmly-Basnett is an ITSM consultant with over 20 years of IT experience in the areas of WAN/LANs, server administration, desktop support, security, storage, communications, data center builds/upgrades, mobile solutions, interfaces, databases, disaster recovery as well as IT service management.