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7 min read

How to integrate Vivantio with Azure DevOps

By Melissa Faletra on 7/13/20 2:33 PM

Azure DevOps–formerly named Visual Studio Team Foundation Server (TFS)–is a Microsoft product that allows developers to plan work, collaborate on code development and build and deploy applications. If your development teams are using Azure DevOps, integrating it with your service desk software can provide the following benefits:

  • Create bugs directly from Incidents or Tickets
  • Create Product Backlog Items from Service Requests or Change Requests

Vivantio includes an out-of-the-box, two-way integration with Azure DevOps, making it simple to have open communication and visibility between your support and development teams.

Our Azure DevOps integration helps you streamline your processes and keep everyone informed of what is going on, regardless of which tool they work in day-to-day, so there's no need for your developers to log into Vivantio, and no more phone calls to the development team to check on the status of bugs!

This tutorial will show you how to configure the integration and provides an example of creating a Work Item in Azure DevOps directly from Vivantio.

To connect Vivantio to Azure DevOps, you’ll need:

  1. Vivantio ITSM
  2. Admin access to your Vivantio Instance
  3. Credentials to a user account for Vivantio in Azure DevOps

 

CONFIGURATION IN VIVANTIO

Step 1:

Log into Vivantio, open the Admin Area. Navigate to:

Integration & API >> TFS

Fill in your Azure DevOps login credentials:

  • Version: Azure DevOps
  • Organization Name: Enter your organization name. This will be used in your API URL, for example: https://dev.azure.com/OrganizationName/
  • Username: The username for the Vivantio user account in Azure DevOps
  • Password: The Personal Access Token for the Vivantio user account in Azure DevOps. For details on creating a Personal Access Token, see the Microsoft Documentation here.

DevOps CredentialsThe bottom of the screen will update to show a couple of different URLs: the Work Item Alert URL and the Service Hook URL. You will use the Service Hook URL to set up Azure DevOps to send information back into Vivantio.

work item alerts

Step 2:

Select IP Range in the top left corner of the screen and configure the IP Range for Vivantio to accept requests from.

Azure DevOps Credentials

Step 3:

Configure your ticket to Work Item Mapping settings. This allows you to control which types of Vivantio Tickets can be mapped to which types of Azure DevOps Work Items so that the correct type of information can be transferred to the correct type of records. Any number of necessary ticket-to-work item mappings can be configured.

Navigate to the Ticket to Work Item Mapping tab and select Add.

On the Basic Details tab, give the mapping a name and fill in the following information:

  • Project Collection: The Project in Azure DevOps (If you’re using the hosted version of Azure DevOps, there will normally only be one option available here)
  • Project: The Project in Azure DevOps
  • Work Item Type: The Work Item Type in Azure DevOps
  • Ticket Type: The type of ticket within Vivantio that you want to create the Work Item from

basic details tab

Step 4:

Navigate to the Sync Options tab. Here you can configure the settings relating to the sync of data from Vivantio to Azure DevOps. (Note that this option does not force Azure DevOps to update Vivantio–that is configured within Azure DevOps itself). You have the option to fill in the following fields:

  • Link Work Item to Ticket: Checking this box will create a link to the Vivantio ticket from within the Azure DevOps ticket
  • Action Sync: Selecting “All” or “Non Private” will automatically sync all (or only non-private) actions made in Vivantio to the “Discussion” section within the Work Item in Azure DevOps
  • Attachment Sync: Selecting “All” or “Non Private” will automatically sync all (or only non-private) attachments added in the Vivantio ticket to the “Attachments” section within the Work Item in Azure DevOps

sync options

Step 5:

Select the Field Mappings tab and configure any additional field mappings. As standard, Vivantio will populate the Work Item Title and Description. If you want to add additional mappings, e.g., for custom fields, you can do so here. You can also choose to override the default mappings for Title and Description.

In the example below, we chose to map several custom fields from Vivantio to Azure DevOps.

field mappings

After choosing the appropriate options, hit Save, and you’re ready to start creating Azure DevOps Work Items directly from Vivantio.

 

CREATING A NEW WORK ITEM FROM VIVANTIO

When viewing a Ticket in Vivantio, under the Actions menu item, you’ll see the option to “Create New TSF Work Item.”

 

create work item

Selecting Create New TFS Work Item will open a pop-up window where you can select the Work Item Type. Any mappings created for the ticket type, using steps 3 through 5, will appear as options.create work item pop upSelecting OK will cause a TFSForm to appear in the Vivantio Ticket Window and a Work Item to be created in Azure DevOps.

DevOps form in ticket windowThe TFS form provides a direct link to the Work Item in Azure DevOps and provides the technician with the options to unlink the Vivantio ticket from the DevOps Work Item and to send ad-hoc comments and attachments to DevOps, which can be useful if you didn’t choose to automatically sync actions.

Clicking on the link to the Work Item in DevOps, we can see that the Work Item was created and the mapped fields were passed from the Vivantio Ticket to the Work Item.

DevOps ticket example

 

CONFIGURATION IN AZURE DEVOPS

Getting Information Back From Azure DevOps

Configurations can be made in Azure DevOps to automatically send information from DevOps into Vivantio. This is done using the Service Hook that was create in Step 1.

Step 6:

To configure the Service Hook in Azure DevOps, navigate to Service Hooks within Project Settings in Azure DevOps (Microsoft’s documentation on Service Hooks can be found here). On the first page of the Create Service Hook wizard, you’ll choose the Webhooks option and select Next:

new service hooks subscription

On the next page of the wizard, you’ll choose the type of event the Service Hook triggers on. Vivantio currently supports “Work Item Commented On” and “Work Item Updated.” Enter any filters you want for the area or work item type.

new service hooks triggerSelect and configure the action to perform with the service hook. Under URL,” paste your service hook from Step 1. Scroll to the bottom of the page and select [Latest]for Resource Version.

service hook subscription actionNow when we comment on Work Items in Azure DevOps...

comment in devops

...the comment is automatically added to the linked Ticket’s history in Vivantio:

comment in vivantio from devopsAdditional configurations can be made in Azure DevOps using Webhooks to automatically update fields in Vivantio based on updates in Azure DevOps.

If you’re using Vivantio and Azure DevOps and you don’t have them integrated yet, give it a try and see how it helps improve communications between your service desk and your development team.

Topics: Service Management Vivantio Customer Center System Integration Methods Types of Service Integrations API Integration Tools
4 min read

Separate Fact from Myth to Master Self Service

By Andrew Stevens on 6/3/20 9:00 AM

THE USE OF SELF SERVICE

Self Service is the most cost effective, efficient way for your end users to get help.

Still, recent data shows that it’s not being used nearly as often as it should be across service teams in nearly all industries.

In a recent post, we uncovered that given recent widespread, drastic changes to the way most organizations work on a day-to-day basis, Self Service use is at an all time low among organizations that count Self Service as a part of their overall strategy. The number of tickets opened via Self Service in Vivantio dropped more than 17% from March to April.

Further analysis from Vivantio’s Product Management team finds that 30% of Vivantio customers forgo the use of Self Service altogether.

And for 50% of Vivantio customers, self service is only a small part of their strategy, with fewer than 1 in 4 tickets being created via self service at those organizations.

self service myths and facts pie chart

Granted, it’s fair to say that self service isn’t the right choice for everyone – no two organizations or service teams are alike, and there are many factors that come into play when deciding not only how much focus you put on Self Service, but whether it should be a part of your strategy at all.

But if you’re part of the 75 percent of customers who aren’t using self service extensively, when was the last time you asked yourself why? To help answer that question, we’re going to look at some facts and myths about self service.

THE FACTS

FACT #1: SELF SERVICE IS MORE COST-EFFECTIVE

We surveyed some of our customers who have a balanced mix of tickets – email, Self Service and “walk ups” – to understand the impact of channel on the cost of resolving a ticket. And as you’d expect, Self Service wins. On average, Self-service tickets are resolved faster and with fewer touches than tickets logged via email.

FACT #2: SELF SERVICE SCALES

The same research showed – unsurprisingly – that the fastest way to get a ticket resolved was a walk-up. If you’re a technician and someone is in your office, on the phone or on Slack asking you questions, then you typically answer that person then and there. That’s how you provide great service, right?

Wrong. What about the five other customers who called, but received your “all staff are busy” message? Maybe one of those was a VIP customer. Maybe their next phone call isn’t to your tech support team, it’s to one of your competitors.

So how do you prioritize a walk-in over your current workload? Should that walk-in have jumped the queue to get your undivided attention? Have they stopped you working on something that’s far more important to the business? Self service is scalable and helps prevent this from happening.

On average, self-service tickets are resolved faster and with fewer touches than tickets logged via email.

FACT #3: SELF SERVICE IS EMPOWERING

We’ve all been there: we’ve run into a problem and we want to fix it. And we want to fix it now. Not when the support desk opens at 9am on Monday, nor when we reach our turn in a seemingly never-ending queue. If you have the resources to fix it yourself, you are going to try to do so. And what’s more is that next time, your first thought isn’t, “I need to call for help,” it will be, “I can probably take care of this myself.”

THE MYTHS

MYTH #1: CUSTOMERS DON’T WANT SELF SERVICE

You might think your customers don’t want Self Service. Maybe you’re right. If you ask your customers if they’d prefer Self Service versus a human on the line, some of them (maybe most of them) will pick a human.

Are you asking the right question, though? What if you ask, “Do you want the same end result, but sooner?” How about asking, “Do you want the issue resolved immediately or tomorrow?”

Of course, there is a time and a place for human contact, but with limited resources, you need to save it for where it counts.

MYTH #2: SELF SERVICE IS IMPERSONAL

OK, so this one is partially true. Bad Self Service is impersonal. Good Self Service isn’t.

Your Self-Service portal is the equivalent to your shop window, and like any shop window, it can put people off or it can welcome–even entice–them in. To entice customers to use Self Service, show them resources that are relevant to them. Give them easy access to their open tickets and service requests. Provide links to articles about the products and services they’ve purchased. Give them news about your business and your people. If you do, they’ll find your Self-Service portal incredibly valuable.

MYTH #3: SELF SERVICE ISN’T WORTH THE EFFORT

We won’t sugar coat it: getting Self Service right isn’t always easy. But if you take the time to do it right, it’ll pay for itself many times over. You don’t need a massive knowledge base, rigorously designed workflows or a huge team to make self service work for you. The only things you need to get started are a commitment to understanding your customers needs, and a desire to improve your service levels.

CONCLUSION

Self Service can be a critical part of your service management strategy, and it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of implementing it. Of course, there are huge benefits to Self Service when it’s done well, and hopefully we’ve given you some insight into those benefits as well as dispelled a couple of common myths. To learn more about the ins and outs of Self Service, check out our self service resource page.

Topics: Service Management Customer Service Customer Self-Service
2 min read

Work-from-Home is Impacting Self Service in an Unexpected Way

By Andrew Stevens on 5/27/20 1:58 PM

Delivering good service is more challenging now than ever before: there are more questions being asked and fewer people available to answer them. Technology has risen to the challenge: Zoom stock has soared, Microsoft has been announcing new features in Teams, and yes, Netflix has been there to snatch us up when we step away from our desks.

Vivantio’s own account management / customer success team have been busy reaching out to customers to see how best we can help. A common theme among the responses has been, “How can we get more out of self service?” either from customers who aren’t using a Self Service Portal yet, or who are using it but not as much as they’d like to.

It made sense to us. With resources at an all-time low, we expected our customers to turn toward Self Service to help keep their service levels up. Wanting to find out more, we dove into our analytics, and the results weren’t quite what we expected.

The Results

Use of Self Service is at an all-time low among Vivantio customers.

Throughout 2019, the percentage of tickets opened via Self Service across the Vivantio SaaS platform stayed pretty constant – around 27% of tickets were opened via Self Service. Email accounted for 33-37% of tickets, with the remainder being opened manually via the Vivantio technician portal.

self service portal data chart dark mode

In March 2020, that dropped down to 23% – not a huge difference on paper, but to the customers impacted the most, that translates to over 5,000 extra phone calls, total. In one month! It looks like the trend may now be reversing – April rose about half a point on March – but it’s still early to tell.
You might have had an internal chat system in place already – Teams, Slack, something else – but it’s probably being used more than ever before. So now, you don’t even have to leave your desk to get hold of IT.
When we sat back and thought about this, we decided maybe it shouldn’t have been that surprising. We all know how easy it has historically been to walk over to your IT team and ask a question instead of logging a ticket. Your first thought might be, “Well, you can’t walk over to IT now, so they’ll have to use the ticketing system.”

Turns out, that’s not the case. You might have had an internal chat system in place already – Teams, Slack, something else – but it’s probably being used more than ever before. Now, employees don’t even have to leave your desk to get hold of IT.

So, what do you do? How do you get people back on to Self Service? Do you even want to get people back on to Self Service? Answering those questions is going to be the focus of our blog posts the next few weeks, with information on new/existing features, best practices, and tips and tricks.

In the meantime, how has this “new normal” impacted your service team’s day-to-day? Have you seen an uptick or a downturn in the use of self-service, or even other channels that weren’t at play pre-work-from-home? Drop us a line at info@vivantio.com or tweet us @Vivantio.

 

Topics: Self-Service

Video: How Self-Service Portals Improve the Customer Service Experience

By Staff Writer on 3/20/20 9:00 AM


 

In this video, we explain how self-service portals play a key role in the customer service experience. They represent a company’s professionalism, brand, and its desire to help customers find answers to their questions, solve their own technical issues or find resources. The Vivantio service management platform enables service teams to build codeless, custom self-service portals tailored to business needs and customers.

 

Topics: Service Management ITSM Customer Service Customer Self-Service Video
5 min read

4 Things to Adjust in Your Service Strategy During the Coronavirus Crisis

By Staff Writer on 3/20/20 9:00 AM

SHIFTING YOUR SERVICE MANAGEMENT STRATEGY

No matter how strong your service strategy is, it most likely won’t hold up to the challenges your service teams are facing with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.

This pandemic has severely impacted businesses and customers alike. If you’re ahead of the curve and have already developed a contingency plan, great! Keep in mind that this crisis poses different challenges every day, so you’ll need to continuously assess and adapt your strategic plan.

If your organization has only started to review its service structure or has only recently been affected by the dire situation at hand, read on to discover the four most important things to assess and adjust in your service management strategy. First, consider the big picture by asking yourself: How is my service strategy going to be impacted? What components of my strategy must change, and how do I prioritize these changes?

Now, take a step back and review your current strategy before making adjustments. Here are the challenges that may possibly arise, what will be impacted most and what to focus on first.

 

1. REVIEW YOUR CONTRACTS

The most important question to ask when reviewing your service strategy in a crisis is: What’s the contractual impact going to be during (and immediately following) this situation?

As a service provider, your service level agreements (SLAs) to customers, regardless if they are internal or external to your organization, are likely to be impacted. Now is the time to evaluate your most important contracts to ensure you can meet your obligations, and if not, re-prioritize them and address what may need to change and include business stakeholders where necessary. If your service level agreements are internal, then try to determine what the impact might be if there is a fundamental change in the way your entire business operates. With all of your internal staff working remotely, what is the impact on your ability to deliver service within your internal SLA’s?

For example, your service teams may experience an overload of requests from panicked customers that lead to higher volumes of work, which means that your team’s target close time for a particular type of non-urgent request may get lower priority and thus, an uncommon increase in resolution turnaround time.

If this is the case, you’ll need to determine whether you have provisions in place in your contracts for SLA changes. If you do, you may need to implement them for the remainder of the crisis to mitigate disruption to your service as much as possible and reset customer expectations. If you don’t have provisions in place, you’ll need to figure out what SLAs can and can’t change and address how to deal with SLA adjustments as soon as you can.

The key to making any adjustments to your contractual obligations is ensuring you communicate them to the right people, so that they know why and how your business services are changing.

 

2. CONSIDER THE TECHNICAL IMPACT

The next important piece of your service strategy to review is the technical impact this crisis will have on your organization. Is it “business as usual” for you? This is doubtful. Even if your business continues to thrive, how you continue to do so will shift.

Now you’ll need to ask yourself and your department the following: is your staff capable of working remotely, and are your networks ready for a higher volume of remote workers? Do you have collaboration and communication tools in place to support people across the organization effectively, especially if they need to work remotely?

The situation may require the need to acquire, provision and support new hardware and software if your staff needs to work from home. You must also think about whether your company is required to provide better working environments for your staff (not everyone will have access to a comfortable office chair and desk) and if your workers are insured. It’s crucial to consider what parts of the business need altered supplies and processes and what the protocol will be for implementing and monitoring these changes.

Ultimately, the technical impact will result in financial implications. How much will the changes in processes and tools cost your company, and what budget shifts need to be made for those changes to happen? Keep this at the forefront of your strategy as you navigate each day of the crisis.


Are you breaching any contractual obligations like HIPPA by allowing staff to work remotely? Does it introduce data security risks? Are others not in your organization going to overhear/see things they should not? These are all important considerations to keep in mind as you review and implement your service strategy.


 

3. DON'T FORGET THE HUMAN EXPERIENCE

Because service management is about serving people, you’ll also need to determine what the human impact is going to be, not just for your customers, but also for your employees.

It’s time to take a close look at your service team structure. Is it still applicable if your service teams need to work remotely in case of a building shutdown? There may be essential and non-essential employees within your organization, so some employees may still be required to come into the office. How do you plan to support each group of individuals?

Working remotely can also be isolating, so consider how your organization plans to keep teams in communication with one another (both for business brainstorms and for social interaction) to keep morale high.

Keep in mind that everyone—customers, employees and leadership included—will likely experience some stress and anxiety both at work and personally during the situation. To minimize confusion and fear, be as responsive and upfront as possible in your communications regarding the new status quo. If your employees and customers have clarity into what is occurring and how you as a leader are dealing with it, the less concerned and more cooperative they will be.

 

4. VERIFY THE STATUS OF YOUR VENDORS

Now it’s time to assess your vendors. After all, how they modify their strategies might affect yours. With that in mind, have you assessed how prepared your vendors are for daily shifts in crisis management? If they’re not ready, how does your company need to respond?

First, evaluate your company’s most critical applications that your organization needs in order to stay operational and reach out to those vendors. If your vendors can no longer meet your business needs, consider an alternative vendor that may have solutions geared toward your altered requirements or certain product and supplies in stock that your current vendor doesn’t.

Before choosing this route, inquire how easy it is to switch vendors during and after the crisis to make sure the switch is worth your effort, time and money.

 

CONCLUSION

When it comes to providing service and having service management strategies in place, the primary goal of providing excellent service doesn’t change, even during a crisis. And while having a strategic plan in place is crucial to your department—and your company’s—success, it’s important to be flexible enough to alter your strategic plans to maintain business procedures and prevent widespread concern among your teams and customers should an unexpected situation arise.

In a crisis, you must first take a step back and review your current strategies and focus on the following components:
  • Contractual Obligations
  • Technical Impact
  • Impact on Humans
  • Status of Vendors

By prioritizing these four pieces first, you’ll be as prepared as possible for a crisis and be able to monitor and adjust your company goals and plans accordingly.

Topics: Service Management SLA Blog Service Strategy
2 min read

Vivantio Named High Performer in G2 Winter 2020 Report

By Staff Writer on 3/17/20 9:00 AM

G2 CROWD RECOGNIZES VIVANTIO AS HIGH PERFORMER

Vivantio, an industry-leading IT service management software solution that empowers companies to achieve unparalleled service excellence, was recognized as a Higher Performer in G2 Crowd’s 2020 Winter Report. G2 Crowd is a product review platform where verified users review, rank and share experiences and feedback on various services and software products.

As a top performer on G2 Crowd, Vivantio ranks highly in customer satisfaction and averages 4.1 out of 5 stars, with customers rating Vivantio most highly for ease-of-use, quality of support and ease of set-up. Vivantio centralizes service management operations within companies and enables users to reduce operational costs, improve response times, meet performance objectives and maintain customer service excellence.


"The application is logical and efficient, promoting effective use. We are often surprised by additional features that provide well though-out functionality. The workflow functionality was significantly better than we expected. It adds a lot of value!”

– G2 Crowd Reviewer, Executive Sponsor in Cosmetics; A Mid-Market Company


Vivantio’s success over the past 17 years is due to its focus on creating a platform that consistently provides best value with flexible licensing, prioritizes customer satisfaction and support, and is a feature-rich, configurable platform that can be customized to business needs.

To see how Vivantio can help your company achieve service excellence, book a demo today.

Abi is giving a demonstration on the features of Vivantio

About Vivantio

In 2003, inspired by the desire to empower customers to solve complex problems with simple solutions, we created and deployed the world’s very first SaaS service management platform. Today, Vivantio’s multi-tenant platform is reliable, customizable, secure and trusted by leading service teams across the globe.

About G2 Crowd

G2 is the world’s largest tech marketplace where businesses can discover, review and manage the technology they need to reach their potential. Rankings are based on how likely users are to recommend the product to others, how satisfied they are and the popularity of the platform.

Topics: Service Desk Software News & Awards ITSM Vivantio Customer Service ITSM Solution ITSM Tools
5 min read

Why Operational Level Agreements Matter & How to Use Them in Vivantio

By Andrew Stevens on 2/28/20 9:00 AM

WHAT ARE OPERATIONAL LEVEL AGREEMENTS?

In order to provide excellent customer service, you need to meet your service level agreements (SLAs): the agreements you have with your customers about the level of service you’ll provide. But how do you make sure you’re doing that? And if you’re not doing it, how do you understand why? The first step is making sure you hit your internal goals: your operational level agreements (OLAs).

Whereas SLAs are focused on the customer, OLAs are in place to describe the level of service your internal teams can expect from each other. These might include relationships between your front line service desk and the teams who support them: network support, operations management, application management, desktop engineers, etc..

They can–and should!–be used as a key metric in service management because they allow teams to understand where bottlenecks are, and why they’re not hitting those all-important SLAs. OLAs should also be transparent so that everyone knows what their own targets are, and the impact it has on the rest of the business.

However, sometimes service teams bite off more they can chew when attempting to measure SLAs and ultimately fail to meet them. Instead of setting goals for the sake of having them, start small by clarifying or setting up OLAs within your ITSM software tool. From there, you can begin building out SLAs.

Here’s how you can use task management in Vivantio to ensure your OLAs are being met.

TASK MANAGEMENT IN VIVANTIO

Task management in Vivantio can help companies meet OLAs and, in turn, meet target SLAs. Task management can be enabled in all ticket types in the Vivantio service management platform.

In Vivantio Pro, you can assign tasks to licensed technicians. Vivantio ITSM goes a step further and allows you to assign tasks to both licensed technicians and non-licensed end-users.

With task management enabled, technicians can create tasks for the different work required to complete the ticket. The list of tasks can be viewed easily from the ticket. Tasks have the same core capabilities as tickets, including their own set of configurations (categories, status, etc.) and of course a full history of the work done.

There are three ways that tasks are created in Vivantio: Ad hoc as needed, via trigger rules, and through Vivantio’s workflows. Regardless of the way tasks are created, you can easily view them from the ticket to track progress. Here are examples of creating a task using each way.

AD HOC TASK CREATION

Within Vivantio, users can create ad-hoc tickets as needed in order to request internal or external help to meet an OLA. Perhaps a technician is working on a P4 support request that came in with a corresponding SLA of 16 hours. While working on the request, they discover they’re not trained in a specific area of the required work and will need to ask their colleague for help.

To do this, they can manually assign out an ad-hoc task from within the ticket to their colleague – or if they don’t know who specifically to ask, an assignment group – describing what they need help with.

At this time, four hours have already passed on the SLA and only 12 hours remain. When assigning out the task, the technician gives the task an appropriate OLA to ensure that their colleague knows when they need to have the work completed in order to meet the ticket’s SLA.

Screenshot of ad-hoc tasks outlines

This is a simple way to get started with OLAs. You might wonder why you don’t just re-assign the ticket, but there’s a few advantages in using task management. First up, you get to track each different piece of work separately; one ticket might need work to be completed by four different teams.

Vivantio will let you track the time each team/user owned the ticket, but it’s a lot easier to understand the timeline of a ticket when you’re using task management. Second, and we’ll talk more about the importance of this in a later blog, you improve the customer experience by ensuring the customer has a single named point of contact for their ticket so they don’t end up feeling like the buck is being passed.

Third, you make it very clear to other teams exactly what they do and don’t need to do so there’s no digging through the ticket history to find out their role in resolving this issue.

TASK CREATION VIA TRIGGER RULES

You can automate task creation within Vivantio using trigger rules. For example, when a request is logged reporting that a computer is lost or stolen, there are tasks that always need to be completed by both the IT team and the security team. Due to compliance reasons, it is required that this kind of request needs to be closed out within an eight-hour SLA.

Trigger rules can be created to automatically assign out the required tasks to the IT team and security team any time a lost or stolen computer request is logged. The tasks can have their own associated OLAs so that the teams know how long they have to complete the work in order to meet the request’s SLA.

The below screenshot shows two tasks that were automatically created via trigger rule due to the type of ticket that was logged.

Screenshot of trigger rule tasks outline

Clicking into one of the tasks, we can see the SLA for the task, providing the target time to complete the work by.

Screenshot security task outline

This is a simple way to get your team started using tasks for repetitive work requests. Sometimes though, this isn’t quite enough. You need to ensure tasks are completed in a certain order, or tasks are only worked on after approval has been given. If that’s the case, then you need workflows.

WORKFLOWS

Automated workflows within Vivantio can also help you and your team manage your OLAs. For instance, say a customer of a software company submits a support request, which requires a specific process involving multiple people to complete. The request falls into a P2 priority request with a close SLA of 40 hours on a 9-to-5 working time plan, or five business days from the customer’s view.

Based on the category of the request, four different support teams will need to work on the request in a sequential order. In Vivantio, a specific workflow which automates the assignment of the process tasks is automatically kicked off using Vivantio’s trigger business rules.

Tasks are automatically assigned out to each team when it is their time to complete their portion of the work. In order to meet the SLA agreed upon with the customer, the total time in the SLA is broken down into OLAs, or smaller chunks of time which are allocated to each team.

Screenshot of OLA workflow diagram

There are several tasks that need to be completed by different teams and technicians during the workflow. In order to make sure to meet the target SLA, you can use operational level agreements for each task that is assigned out in the workflow.

This allows each person who is assigned a task to be aware of how much time they have in order to complete the task. The target OLAs for each task are set up to leave time for the transition between tasks and to complete the tasks themselves.

CONCLUSION

If you’re wondering why you aren’t meeting your SLAs, then implementing OLAs is a good first step in understanding why. Whichever approach you use for Task Management in Vivantio, you can use the reporting tools you’re already familiar with to review your performance, understand which teams are creating bottlenecks, and fix the issues at the source.

Topics: Service Management SLA ITSM Customer Center Customer Service Automation IT Service Automation OLA
6 min read

Tips on How to Successfully Implement Your New ITSM Software Solution

By Staff Writer on 2/12/20 9:00 AM

PREPPING FOR IMPLEMENTATION

Investing in ITSM software can be a time-consuming and expensive process, beginning with researching platforms that meet your service team’s criteria through testing various IT software tools.

Once you’ve decided on the best ITSM software solution for your team, you’ll need to prepare for implementation. Based on our customer’s experience at Vivantio, following our recommendations for having a successful implementation has resulted in long-term success with our service desk software and a greater return on their investment. Here’s how to ensure your implementation process is smooth.

LAYING THE GROUNDWORK

From the get-go, you should set expectations and have clear communication with both your service team and the ITSM software vendor, which means you’ll need to front-load the planning phase of your implementation. But, without a robust plan in place and a way to measure success, the transition to your new IT software solution will be rocky. To start, clearly define and document the following:

Abi providing a demonstration of vivantio features

1. Document the current resources you have available – include employees, teams and departments that will use the service management software, and how you will communicate to them throughout implementation.

It’s important to identify your internal implementation team. Make a list of who needs to be involved in the implementation process and how much time you estimate they will need to reserve for the process, start to finish. You can work backward from your key roll-out date and document milestones that need to be reached in order to have a successful implementation.

Vivantio’s implementation manager, Abi Welsh, recommends mapping your plan early on. “Find out what your key dates are with the resources you have. Do you need to replace an existing solution before the contract expires? What departments are involved and who will implementation affect? Think about what functions need to be live to replace the legacy system or current process,” Abi says.

You should also ensure you have a good communications plan that includes all stakeholders: IT technicians, callers, systems administrators, management, etc. Communicating with everyone throughout the process will keep them engaged and help prevent unforeseen issues that may arise.

TIP: Identify which individuals should have a hands-on approach during implementation, then appoint a few super users who can provide support and be champions for change. Also recognize that some employees might need more support, so listen to their needs and engage them early on.

2. Create a step-by-step timeline of what needs to be done by who and when.

Remember that while having an all-encompassing, detailed implementation plan is crucial to success, you don’t have to tackle implementing your service management software all at once. For example, perhaps the incident management process needs to be up and running immediately, the technicians need to be trained and the historic ticket data from the legacy system needs to be migrated in, but you don’t need the self-service portal or reporting functionality until later in the implementation process.

These are the pieces to consider and outline in your roadmap as you prioritize moving parts of your software implementation, suggests Abi. “Different business areas or functionalities may have their own deadlines. Once you have these dates set, you can continue building out the project plan,” she says.

THE IMPLEMENTATION PROCESS

Now that you’ve laid out your plan, it’s time to begin implementation. Every IT software implementation project has three core phases: the foundation, framework, and custom finishes. Breaking up the process allows others to get a handle on the basics of the software first, then mold it to fit your service team’s specific needs.

Foundation: During the foundation phase, you will begin implementing basic functionalities that replace previous service software and procedures. In this case, you might focus solely on rolling out IT ticketing software first to the service desk before other departments.

Framework: The framework phase typically consists of added functionality and/or new features and processes your company wasn’t using previously but are critical to your improved business processes, such as workflows and automation.

Configuration: Once you have determined the core functionalities of your platform, you can implement your must-haves and tweak customized features specific to your company’s needs. This could consist of setting up specific integrations, or creating ticket categories, custom forms and fields, your asset area or SLAs.

ADJUSTING THE ROADMAP

To stay on track, communicate regularly with your ITSM software vendor and your stakeholders throughout implementation. Continuously review the milestones you’ve outlined in your project plan so you can quickly see if the project is progressing as expected.

You should also be flexible enough to adjust your project roadmap because unforeseen issues—or even great opportunities you hadn’t originally considered—might pop up. If they do, discuss any necessary changes in the project to the relevant people.

KEYS TO SUCCESS BEYOND IMPLEMENTATION

Remember that implementation doesn’t stop once your service management system is up and running. Your ITSM software will need to be configured and will have ongoing troubleshooting, feature revisions, additional training and maintenance. It’s likely your team will require training on these new or improved processes to make your systems and staff more efficient.

Because it takes time to fully train a staff to use new software, you will need to spend time supporting your team post-implementation. Don’t think of this as an expense or waste of time, but rather as an investment in your employees and the organization.

man leaning over his desk writing in a journal next to a laptop

“It’s a good idea to have an enhanced period of support for all users as the new system beds in and to make sure there are clear lines of communication,” Abi says.

As you become familiar with your software, you should begin measuring its effectiveness to ensure you meet your performance goals and desired KPIs. You might also learn about additional features you can add that you didn’t originally plan on using, so keep in touch with your ITSM software provider.

Abi suggests thinking about how you can measure the effectiveness of the solution and how to address issues you encounter. “Schedule a final project review after implementation to think about how to improve future projects. Finally, once you start collecting some data, you should review and update your system reports and dashboards,” she says.

CONCLUSION

Choosing the best ITSM software that meets your key business requirements takes a great deal of time, which is why it’s important to have a smooth implementation process. Remember to follow these recommendations:

  • Make sure you set clear expectations and have clear communication with both your service team and the ITSM software vendor from the start.
  • Develop an implementation plan that includes resources, time allocation and milestones.
  • Break up the process to allow users to get a handle on the basics of the software first, then mold it to fit your service team’s specific needs.
  • Spend time supporting your service teams post-implementation for continued success.

Once your new tech is in place, your data is tracked and positive feedback given, you’ll be glad you invested in a new service management system.

Topics: Service Management ITSM Software Implementation Software Trial ITSM Solution Automation
5 min read

4 Tips to Convince Leadership you Need New Service Management Software

By Staff Writer on 1/29/20 9:00 AM

MAKING THE CASE FOR NEW ITSM SOFTWARE

No matter what industry you work in, you’ve probably lived this story before: your current software tool is outdated, sluggish, or both, and you need to upgrade it in order to increase productivity, it’s going end-of-life, or it can’t scale to meet your business process or company needs.

The challenge? Convincing your manager or the leadership team to spend time, money and resources on new software. So how do you go about making a case for a much-needed upgrade? Here are four tips on convincing leadership to invest in a new service management tool.

1. PRESENT YOUR CASE AS A KNOWLEDGEABLE AND TRUSTED EXPERT

Many employees attempt to educate leadership by explaining the specific features of what their IT tools do and how much they cost without focusing on how these tools solve business problems and how replacing a current system can have a significant impact on the company as a whole.

To avoid falling on deaf ears, approach your spending discussion by coming across as a trusted expert, suggests Okta CIO Mark Settle in his book, Truth from the Trenches. Be able to discuss both current pain points and possible solutions to them when you present your case.

You should also ask ITSM software vendors thorough questions when you approach them about their service desk solution to ensure you have all the information you need. When speaking with your manager, break down total cost and costs per unit of each current and projected future resource—software tools, employees, contractors, protocols, etc., —and how it impacts the department and business operations.

Another tip is to provide industry cost-comparison charts to paint a clear picture of standard industry statistics and best practices. For example, articulate how implementing a self-service portal can increase service efficiency, reduce inbound call volumes, and assist in routing requests to those best equipped to deal with them--all of which lead to improved service level agreements.

man working on his laptop with coworkers in background

Next, use a scorecard to discuss KPIs, expected ROI and revenue goals for your short list of the best ITSM software solutions that will not only impact your department, but others as well, such as HR, facilities management or finance. Numbers matter, so deliver concise, goal-oriented reports that reflect your current workload situation and show the benefits of investing in new or updated service desk software. (We partnered with SDI to learn how teams can measure their service management success in this webinar.)

The key to using data is to be able to connect it to the big picture and associate IT costs with business operations that demonstrate efficiencies, profitability, reduced costs, service improvement or whatever your business is focused on achieving. The more leaders view you as a competent industry expert who’s also clued into the organization’s needs, the more seriously they’ll take your recommendation.

2. GARNER SUPPORT FOR YOUR PROPOSAL

Two—or in this case, many—is better than one. If you’re frustrated with your current service management solution, it’s likely others are, too. Consider soliciting meaningful feedback and experiences from your colleagues to help quantify pain points and convince leadership that a change is needed.

You can even enlist support from managers and VPs by discussing potential benefits of new ITSM software specific to their roles and by developing efficiency strategies.

Another way to express the need to upgrade your service management tool is to gather analysis and suggestions from independent third-party consultants, either generally related to the IT industry or, if possible, specific to your company.

Also look for and consider solutions that add capabilities beyond what you have now and that can scale (either through editions or modules) so that they grow as your company grows. It's important to consider efficiencies in licensing models or multi-department use that can help drive the cost down and increase ROI. Can the solution be used in other areas of the business to replace other legacy tools or to support new processes?

Taking all of these steps and combining them with your presented data and research will help bolster your case.

3. BUILD A ROADMAP

Now that you’ve presented yourself as a leader by highlighting the reasons you need a new service desk tool, researching viable options using data, and gathering support from colleagues, you should build out a roadmap, starting with product trials and continuing on through to post-implementation.

Investing in new software requires time and money, and managers want to know what you can do to justify using resources and reduce risk of failure. Identify possible risks and provide suggestions on how to mitigate them, keeping in mind that you may need to adapt along the way.

Introducing ITSM software will also require training. In your plan, highlight any team, department or company changes that need to occur to ensure a successful transition and how you anticipate executing each change. Also consider long-term costs as your organization scales. Can you or your team manage complex changes to configuration easily, or will you be forever dependent on outside resource or consultancy?

It’s just as important to remain flexible and prepare to adjust your roadmap as necessary, as well as build in time to review, measure and refine your goals continuously throughout (and after!) the implementation process.

4. START LEAN (AND SMART)

Although some service management solutions are geared mostly for IT service teams, solutions like Vivantio ITSM can help streamline business processes because it can expand across multiple departments. Even if you are looking to upgrade to an ITSM or enterprise-level service management platform to employ company-wide, test out your roadmap on a smaller scale.

Assemble a small team of ideal users (be sure to include a variety of roles, from IT technicians to IT managers) that can test out proposed new technology focusing on a small number of key processes. Collect data, analyze the results and compare them to your current solution to see if you’ve reached your goals, then present the information to leadership.

If you show your ability to manage a software implementation on a small scale successfully while also hitting desired KPIs and ROI, chances are you will receive management buy-in. Once you do, you can roll out your IT system overhaul in chunks throughout the company.

laptop shows the vivantio home dashboard against a blurred background of coworkers


CONCLUSION

Adjusting to and eventually mastering new technologies is a continuous and necessary process, and companies must do so in order to survive. Convincing leadership to invest in your particular department can be challenging, but with a thorough plan backed by data, research, and your team in place, your boss is more likely to feel confident in your suggestions and invest in service management software that will improve business processes company-wide.

Topics: Service Management ITSM ITSM Solution
4 min read

One IT Service Management Software Tool for Multiple Departments

By Staff Writer on 1/16/20 9:00 AM

One ITSM Software Tool, Many Departments

During conversations with our customers, we discovered that various service teams outside of the IT department are using our ITSM software, thanks to its scalability and flexibility. Why? Because they are focused on a common goal: using one tool to streamline their business processes. After all, using one IT service management tool can reduce operational costs, help you meet performance goals and maintain customer service excellence.

a-centralized-hub-hero-image-5-1200x300

Flexible. Scalable.

Sharing one software tool across different service teams for business processes that require action from multiple departments allows everyone to work toward a common goal while keeping sensitive information secure.

Consider the process of onboarding a new employee.

Between submitting the job requisition form and preparing the new hire’s work environment, at least three different departments are accountable for moving this process forward successfully: Human Resources, Facilities and IT.

If you’ve been on the side of hiring before, you probably know how much time and how many resources it takes to not only find the right person for the job, but to also prepare them for the first day on-the-job training.

Here’s the good news: using ITSM software, such as Vivantio, that new hire checklist can be streamlined and automated, and, as a result, your new employee (i.e., your internal customer) will be happy from day one.

Screenshot of workflow sample


  • Bring All Your Service Operations Under One Roof
  • Streamline Interdepartmental Workflow and Communication
  • Meet the Unique Demands of All Your Service Teams

Using employee onboarding as the example, let’s take a closer look at the steps each department can tackle using one ITSM software tool while keeping each department’s data secure.

Human Resources

  • Streamline the onboarding process by reducing paperwork, receiving status alerts on important contract updates and monitoring the overall progress of onboarding
  • Eliminate redundant data such as salary, contact, and personal information by integrating your ITSM platform with your current data tools and by using dashboards and reports accessible among your HR team
  • Use self-service portals to automate e-signing new hire documents and eliminate back-and-forth requests between the department and new hire
  • Improve interdepartmental communication and coordinate timelines via trigger rules and workflows for new hire training

office-settingwith a diverse group of coworkers collaborating


Facilities

  • Send notifications alerting IT support staff to configure a new hire’s laptop
  • With automation, reduce the amount of time it takes to get approvals so the new hire can get up and running faster
  • Trigger multi-departmental events like setting up access to important business tools and company intranet for the new hire
  • Track and manage the process of setting up the new hire’s workspace, ranging from hardware installation to moving desk furniture

two laptops and coworkers reviewing documents


Technical Support

  • Asset management helps teams manage the new hire’s assets like computers and software with efficiency and accuracy
  • With integration capabilities, IT can seamlessly integrate a new employee’s technology into the company’s network
  • Manage and track the status of employee’s email account creation and necessary software installations
  • Enable new employees to find the IT information they need in a searchable online knowledge base

two male coworkers discussing technology support options over their laptops


Conclusion

These examples from our customers aren’t the only way you can maximize the use of ITSM platforms. Overall, service management software can reduce operational costs, streamline processes and allows you to maintain customer service excellence across the entire organization. When you’re ready to jump on the ITSM platform bandwagon, make sure you consider the type of service desk you plan to operate and take a holistic approach to serving the needs of multiple departments, ensuring your business is running as efficiently as possible. Your customers will thank you for it.

Topics: Service Management ITIL ITSM Reporting ITSM Vivantio

Video: Roles & Permissions Provide Data Control for Service Management Teams

By Staff Writer on 12/16/19 9:00 AM


 

Vivantio offers a flexible ITSM software solution that can be used by service teams across multiple departments within the same company while keeping data secure. When Roles and Permissions are enabled in our ITSM platform, you can determine who and what departments can perform certain operations and access particular (e.g., confidential) data within the system. This video provides an overview of the roles and permissions capabilities within the Vivantio platform.

Topics: Service Management Video
3 min read

The Differences Between Help Desk and Service Desk and Why it Matters

By Staff Writer on 10/30/19 9:00 AM

HELP DESK VS. SERVICE DESK

The debate on the definition of a service desk versus a help desk has been ongoing, and companies find themselves asking questions around IT desk nomenclature, strategies and scalability. Although determining the difference between terms “help desk” and “service desk” seems like a crucial first step, what might be even more important is considering the type of service desk you want to be.

graphic with itsm at top service desk in the middle and help desk at the bottom

Before we explain why this is important, let’s clear up some of the confusion surrounding the terms “help desk” and “service desk.” In short, think of the service desk as an ecosystem and the help desk as a piece of that ecosystem (a square is a rhombus, right?). A help desk may consist of a smaller team with a primary objective to resolve specific incidents (a broken printer, for example), software and hardware glitches, and ticket management–all of which service desks do, too. Help desks are point solutions and typically reactive.

A service desk, however, is more business-centric and built on core ITIL principles and the five stages of the service lifecycle, which are:

  1. Service Strategy: design, develop, and implement strategy and business goals of ITSM
  2. Service Design: create design and develop processes that support service strategies
  3. Service Transition: transition services from development to operation
  4. Service Operation: review and deliver services
  5. Continual Service Improvement: review, assess and improve strategies to provide better service

This means service desks often tackle strategic business needs, provide service request solutions and a knowledge base to end users, and oversee incident and change management and IT processes and functions.

Some features commonly found within a Help Desk software typically include:

  • Ticket Routing and Management
  • Limited Automation
  • Asset Management

Some features commonly found within a Service Desk software typically include:

  • Change and Release Management
  • Self-Service Portals
  • Knowledge Base


WHY IT MATTERS

The reason it’s important to determine the kind of service desk you want to be is because you should invest in a system you can grow into, not out of.

Some smaller companies implement a help desk SaaS solution that focuses only on being IT-centric instead of IT service-centric, which may be all they need.

But other companies often outgrow the platform’s limitations and soon after look to upgrade, which can be time-consuming, expensive and require additional resources and training than originally planned for. And, given that service management solutions aren’t just for IT departments anymore, the need to expand your ITSM solution is common.


THE (IT) SOLUTION

To avoid outgrowing your software solution, consider the capabilities of the platform from the start. Does it offer typical help desk features as well as service desk management, such as a self-service portal, a knowledge base and automation? Does it follow ITIL processes? Be diligent in your research of your future service platform to ensure it–and your business–can succeed.

Topics: Service Desk Software Service Management ITIL ITSM Vivantio ITSM Solution ITSM Tools

Video: Learn How To Create Tickets In Vivantio

By Staff Writer on 10/18/19 9:00 AM

 

In this video, Patrick, one of our solutions consultants, demonstrates the multiple options for creating a ticket within the Vivantio platform: manually through the Vivantio platform, through email automation, and through a custom self-service portal.

Topics: Service Management Automation Video
7 min read

How to Integrate Vivantio with Slack

By Melissa Faletra on 9/12/19 9:00 AM

INTRODUCTION

In every company, it’s crucial to have effective, efficient communication, such as the ability to alert your team about new urgent issues, or let a customer know you’ve responded to their request. Thanks to API integration and webhooks, Vivantio makes sending messages to applications such as Slack from your department easy.

This tutorial will show you how to configure this in Slack and provides two examples of using notifications in the Vivantio platform. If your company is using Microsoft Teams, you can find the tutorial here.

To connect Vivantio to Slack, you’ll need:

  1. Vivantio ITSM
  2. Admin access to your Vivantio Instance


CONFIGURATION IN SLACK

Step 1:

Begin by logging into Slack. You will then go to:

api.slack.com/apps » Create New App

  • Fill in the App Name. This is the username that notifications from Vivantio will be posted in Slack from.
  • Choose a Development Slack Workspace, which is where you will manage your app. If you don’t already have a Development Slack Workspace, you can create one at slack.com/create#email
  • Select Create App

Screenshot of creating a Slack app

Step 2:

Your new app will appear under Your Apps on the api.slack.com/apps page. Select your app. This will bring you to a new page. Navigate to:

Add features and functionality » Incoming Webhooks » Activate Incoming Webhooks: On » Add New Webhook to Workspace

Screenshot for Adding New Webhook to Workspace

Step 3:

Choose the channel you want to post to in Slack. Select Allow.

Screenshot Selecting Slack Channel

Step 4:

Next, copy the webhook URL that is created, circled in red below. This will later be used to set up the webhook in Vivantio.

Screenshot of sample webhook url


CONFIGURATION IN VIVANTIO

Step 5:

Log into Vivantio, open the Admin Area. Navigate to:

Integration & API » Webhooks » Add Webhooks

Then select the ticket type you want the webhook to be available for.

Screenshot to add webhook in Vivantio

Step 6:

Enter a name for your webhook.

Step 7:

Next, navigate to the Basic Details tab and enter the following information:

  • Request URL: Paste here the URL produced when you configured the incoming webhook in Slack.
  • HTTP Method: POST
  • Response Content Type: application/json

Step 8:

This next step, filling out the parameters tab, is optional. Set up parameters for the webhook by selecting Add. These are either values the technician will be prompted to complete, or populated automatically from the ticket. In this example, we have created a multi-line text field for a technician to enter the message that they wish to send into Slack.

Screenshot of Webhook Parameters in Vivantio

Step 9:

Now, fill out the Request Body tab.

For the Request Content Type field, select application/json. The Body Template will contain the information you wish to send in Slack notification, such as specific text, details from the ticket or a webhook parameter. Screenshots from the Request Body tab of two example webhooks are given below.

Example 1:

A notification message sent into Slack that utilizes the webhook parameter we created in the previous step.

Screenshot of request body example

{"text": ""}

Example 2:

A notification sent into Slack that includes details from the ticket. In this case, we use fields from the ticket. The “\n\n” signifies a line break. Note that Steps 2 through 8 were followed to create another Webhook “Slack – High Priority Ticket.” Once the Request Body is filled in, click save.

Screenshot of Request Body Slack High Priority Ticket Notification

{"text": "High Priority Ticket Logged – Ticket Details: \n\n ID: {{ticket.displayid}} \n\n Subject: {{ticket.title}} \n\n Caller Name: {{ticket.callername}}"}

Step 10:

The last step before we can use our new webhook is to configure its roles. By default, there will be no roles assigned to the webhook. To update the roles, select the webhook and click Roles. Drag the roles you want the webhook available for into Current Roles.

Screenshot of Webhook Roles in Vivantio

Now let’s put the webhooks we set up into action!

You can use your webhook to send ad hoc notifications into Slack directly from a ticket window or you can execute your webhook through Trigger Rules. Two examples are given below:

Example 3:

An ad hoc message sent into Slack from a Vivantio ticket window

Actions » Slack Notification

Screenshot of Slack Notification from Ticket Window

The technician is prompted to fill in the Notification to Slack parameter we set up in the Webhook. Recall that this webhook was configured so that the text entered here will be sent into Slack.

Screenshot of Notification to Slack example

Press OK and voila! This message is sent into Slack.

Example of Notification in Slack

Example 4:

Sending a notification to an IT team’s channel in Slack any time a high priority ticket is logged.

In this case, you can set up a trigger rule to automatically execute the Webhook when a high priority ticket is logged. Go to:

Admin area » System Areas » Select the ticket type you created the Webhook for » Business Rules » Trigger Rules

To add a Trigger Rule, click “Add,” then:

    • Enter a Rule Name and select when the condition is to be executed, either when the ticket first meets the condition (for example, if you just want people to know the ticket has been created) or when the matching ticket is updated (if you want everyone to see all updates to the ticket)
    • Enter the condition(s) for the trigger. In this example, the trigger rule condition is for tickets with the priority name equal to “high.”

Trigger rule example select tickets

For the trigger rule “actions,” select Webhooks » Webhook you want to fire; in this case, we chose

Slack – High Priority Ticket » Save

Trigger rule example actions

Once the trigger rule is set up, the “Slack – High Priority Ticket” Webhook will automatically send a notification with ticket details into Slack any time a “High Priority” ticket is logged.

Example of High Priority Notification in Slack


CONCLUSION

There you have it! Now you can easily communicate to any team in Slack directly from Vivantio.

Topics: Customer Center Service Integrations Slack Types of System Integration API Integration Tools WebMethods
4 min read

5 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Free Software Trial

By Staff Writer on 9/10/19 9:00 AM

TIPS TO MAXIMIZE YOUR FREE SOFTWARE TRIAL PERIOD

So you’ve narrowed down your ITSM solution finalists and are ready to start a software trial? Many SaaS companies offer free trials for a limited time so that you can test drive the platform and ensure it meets your business needs. But how do you make the most of your free software trial before it expires?

At Vivantio, we’ve seen many companies approach service desk software trials differently but have found that the most useful and worthwhile trials are the ones where both the customer and the software vendor took full advantage of prep-time, pre-trial set-up, and thoroughly tested the system. Here are 5 tips to maximize your time with your free trial:

Computer monitor showing the vivantio self-service portal


1. DETERMINE WHAT TO TEST

Before you work with the vendor to set up your trial, compile a list of must-haves and nice-to-have technical and functional requirements you’d like to test so that the product specialist can configure the trial platform with the features you need. Doing so will allow you to focus on using the platform in a testing environment that mimics a real-use case. This is the best way to determine if the product will meet your specific business needs.

Unsure what you might want to test? Here’s what some of our customers ask about pre-trial:

  1. Functionality and ease of customizability of the self-service portal (here’s why it matters)
  2. Ways to capture information specific to the company, such as custom forms and fields
  3. Walkthrough of how to work a ticket and overall feel for the platform
  4. Automation and visual workflow options
  5. Reporting and dashboard capabilities
  6. ITIL standards and best practice (here’s more about how project management can improve ITIL practices)


2. PARTICIPATE IN A TRIAL SET-UP SESSION

At Vivantio, we’ve found that offering a trial set-up session is incredibly helpful. Don’t skip this crucial and often overlooked step in the process! During this scheduled session, a product specialist will walk you through initial steps on how to navigate the trial site, provide instruction on how to use system areas, and allow users to get a basic handle on the product.

It’s also another opportunity for the vendor to build out specific features suited to you and answer questions you may have about them. Although the trial site is created to provide an optimal experience, remember that multifaceted and fully customizable configurations might not be immediately set up in the trial phase, but will be available once the software is implemented.


3. SCHEDULE TIME FOR TESTING

Trial periods can range anywhere from 14 to 30 days, meaning you will need to carve out time to test the platform in order to determine whether it meets your business needs.

In order to make an educated decision, prioritize the trial period by deciding early on who needs to test-drive the platform, what the evaluation process of the software looks like, and what the decision timeline is.

Ensure all stakeholders have access to the platform and check in with them regularly. Then, devote the time necessary to thoroughly test the software. Logging in, asking the vendor questions, and learning the trial platform ensures that you’ll decide on a solution that works best for you.

 

4. DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP

Trials exist to make sure both the vendor and potential customer are a proper fit. The most successful trials are ones where there is open and consistent communication. Don’t hesitate to ask questions about specific features or future developments in the pipeline. Utilize any type of help button, contact page, knowledge base articles, or resources the vendor offers. Remember, your experience with the vendor during this trial period often reflects the level of service you will get once you’re a customer.

 

5. INCLUDE YOUR TEAM

Although companies typically assign only a handful of people to research possible ITSM software solutions, you might not be the only boots on the ground relying on the software daily. As you research, ask for input from your team and be sure to involve everyone—from technicians to IT managers to CIOs —in the ITSM tool selection process where necessary to avoid confusion and to reasonably manage expectations. Typically, the trial-testing team includes:

  • An IT manager who oversees the trial and sets up proper workflows to assign to the appropriate technicians
  • Technicians who receive and process service requests
  • End-users who submit tickets to stress-test the platform
  • Developers who test integrations with tools like JIRA and TFS
  • Other department managers, such as HR, facilities, and operations, who will check compatibility and workflows between departments using the platform (here’s how ITSM software can be used beyond the IT department)

After thorough testing, IT managers usually collect feedback and data, which can include discussion on processes such as ticket routing, automation capabilities, and escalation scales, from all parties to bring to the decision-maker. We’ve created a simple to use, comprehensive software evaluation tool your team can use to see how the vendors on your shortlist stack up against your criteria. You can download it here.

 

PART OF THE JOURNEY

The trial period can be an informative and relatively painless part of the software-buying journey, and by spending time with the platform, being specific with your needs, and including your team, your trial is likely to go smoothly.

Remember that you don’t have to be the solo driver—the implementation team will be able to set up and walk you through your specific software service desk configuration should you decide to move forward with the vendor.

Topics: Service Desk Software Service Management Software Trial ITSM Tools

Video: How & Why to Use Workflows in Vivantio to Automate Processes

By Melissa Faletra on 9/9/19 9:00 AM


 

In this video, Melissa, one of our product specialists, will demonstrate how users can automate business processes using workflows in Vivantio.

Topics: Service Management Automation Video

Video: Ways to Set Up and View Tickets Within Vivantio

By Melissa Faletra on 9/6/19 9:00 AM

 

Vivantio offers customizable service management software, meaning that users can mold our platform to meet their needs. Vivantio provides several ways to view tickets based upon technician preference and the type of customer service requests being fulfilled. Check out this video to learn more.

Topics: Service Management Video Service Ticket Software
7 min read

How to Integrate Vivantio with Microsoft Teams

By Melissa Faletra on 8/21/19 9:00 AM

INTRODUCTION

In every company, it is crucial to have effective, efficient communication, such as the ability to alert your team about new urgent issues, or let a customer know you’ve responded. Thanks to API integration and webhooks, Vivantio makes sending messages to applications such as Microsoft Teams from your department easy. If your organisation uses Slack instead, you can find a tutorial on sending out communication from Slack here.

This tutorial will show you how to configure this in Microsoft Teams and provides two examples of using notifications in the Vivantio platform.

To connect Vivantio to Microsoft Teams, you’ll need:

  1. Vivantio ITSM
  2. Admin access to your Vivantio Instance
  3. Permissions in MS Teams to create, update and remove connectors for the Team you wish to post to

 

CONFIGURATION IN MS TEAMS

Step 1:

Begin by logging into Microsoft Teams (MS Teams). You will then go to:

Your teams » Click on the channel within MS Teams you want to send notifications to » More options » Connectors

MS Teams Vivantio connectors detail

Step 2:

If it’s not already installed for the selected MS Teams group, add and install Incoming Webhook. Otherwise, configure Incoming Webhook.

configure webhook 1 detail

Step 3:

Enter a name for your webhook (this will be the username associated with messages sent into MS Teams), upload a custom image if desired, and select Create.

Connectors 1 detail

Step 4:

Next, copy the URL that is created, circled in red below. This will later be used to set up the webhook in Vivantio.

Copy URL 1 detail

 

CONFIGURATION IN VIVANTIO

Step 5:

Log into Vivantio, open the Admin Area. Navigate to:

Integration & API » Webhooks » Add Webhooks

Then select the ticket type you want the webhook to be available for.

add webhook 2 detail

Step 6:

Enter a name for your webhook.

Step 7:

Next, navigate to the Basic Details tab and enter the following information:

  • Request URL: Paste here the URL produced when you configured the incoming webhook in MS Teams.
  • HTTP Method: POST
  • Response Content Type: text/html

Step 8:

This next step, filling out the parameters tab, is optional. Set up parameters for the webhook by selecting Add. These are either values the technician will be prompted to complete, or populated automatically from the ticket. In this example, we have created a multi-line text field for a technician to enter the message that they wish to send into MS Teams.

Parameters tab

Step 9:

Now, fill out the Request Body tab.

For the Request Content Type field, select application/json. The Body Template will contain the information you wish to send in MS Teams notification, such as specific text, details from the ticket or a webhook parameter. Screenshots from the Request Body of two example webhooks are given below.

Example 1:

A notification message sent into Teams that utilizes the webhook Parameter we created in the previous step.

request body detail

{"text": ""}

Example 2:

A notification sent into Teams that includes details from the ticket. In this case, we use fields from the ticket. The “\n\n” signifies a line break. Note that Steps 1 through 8 were followed to create another webhook “Teams – High Priority Ticket.” Once the Request Body is filled in, click save.

Microsoft Teams request body high Priority

{"Title": "High Priority Ticket Logged",
"text": "Ticket Details: \n\n ID: {{ticket.displayid}} \n\n Subject: {{ticket.title}}
\n\n Caller Name: {{ticket.callername}}"}

Step 10:

The last step before we can use our new webhook is to configure its roles. By default, there will be no roles assigned to the webhook. To update the roles, select the webhook and click Roles. Drag the roles you want the webhook available for into Current Roles.

roles 1 details

Now let’s put the webhooks we set up into action!

You can use your webhook to send ad hoc notifications into MS Teams directly from a ticket window or you can execute your webhook through Trigger Rules. Two examples are given below:

Example 3:

An ad hoc message sent into MS Teams from a Vivantio ticket window

Actions » MS Teams Notification

notification from ticket window

The technician is prompted to fill in the “Notification to Teams” parameter we set up in the webhook. Recall that this webhook was configured so that the text entered here will be sent into MS Teams.

screenshot of notification message

Press OK and voila! This message is sent into MS Teams.

screenshot of notification message from vivantio 2

Example 4:

Sending a notification to an IT team’s channel in MS Teams any time a high priority ticket is logged.

In this case, you can set up a trigger rule to automatically execute the webhook when a high priority ticket is logged. Go to:

Admin area » System Areas » Select the ticket type you created the Webhook for
» Business Rules » Trigger Rules

To add a trigger rule, click Add, then:

• Enter a Rule Name and select when the condition is to be executed, either when the ticket first meets the condition (for example, if you just want people to know the ticket was created) or when the matching ticket is updated (if you want everyone to see all updates to the ticket).

• Enter the condition(s) for the trigger. In this example, the trigger rule condition is for tickets with the priority name equal to “high.”

screenshot of trigger rule set up

For the trigger rule “Actions” select

Webhooks » Webhook you want to fire; in this case, we chose

Teams – High Priority Ticket » Save

screenshot of trigger rule action

Once the trigger rule is set up, the “Teams – High Priority Ticket Webhook” will automatically send a notification with ticket details into MS Teams any time a “High Priority” ticket is logged.

screenshot of high priority notification in MS teams

 

CONCLUSION

There you have it! Now you can easily communicate to any team in MS Teams directly from Vivantio.

Topics: Vivantio Customer Center Types of Service Integrations API Integration Tools WebMethods Microsoft Teams Integration

Video: Learn How To Use Custom Forms & Fields

By Melissa Faletra on 7/30/19 9:00 AM

 

Vivantio offers flexible and customizable software. One of our platform’s many features is the ability to create an unlimited amount of custom forms and fields, which allow users to capture important information when logging a ticket.

In this video, product specialist Melissa demonstrates the functionality of creating custom forms and fields and provides an overview of this handy feature.

Topics: Service Management ITSM Solution ITSM Tools Video

Video: Vivantio Empowers Teams To Provide Focused Customer Service

By Staff Writer on 7/26/19 9:00 AM

 


At Vivantio, we develop, deliver and support service management software focused on improving your teams’ customer support levels because we believe that providing excellent customer service is the core of any organization, including ours.

We took some time during the Service Desk and IT Support Conference in London to explain how Vivantio’s unique business model unlocks the very best customer service possible.

Topics: Service Management Vivantio Customer Service Video
1 min read

A Service Management Software Solution for Accounting and Finance

By Staff Writer on 4/30/19 9:00 AM

IS YOUR ITSM SOFTWARE MEETING THE NEEDS OF ALL YOUR SERVICE DEPARTMENTS?

Vivantio’s service management tool is flexible for a reason – that’s what our customers need. No matter what industry you serve, our ITSM software can meet the unique demands of any department receiving internal or external requests, like Accounting and Finance, for one.

We recently spoke with our customers to learn how Vivantio has become a centralised hub for all their service departments since implementation. The answers were fascinating. We found that while many of our customers originally explored our product strictly for IT purposes, they quickly discovered just how easy it is to add service categories and customize ticket types to accommodate the needs of other business units. Vivantio’s versatile platform is being used as a service solution not only for technical support, but also for Human Resources, Sales and Marketing, Claims, Quality, Facilities Management, Corporate Services, and many more.

 

A POPULAR SOLUTION FOR ACCOUNTING & FINANCE

While it’s no surprise that Vivantio is used by technical support (IT) the most, Accounting and Finance was a close second. With Vivantio, users can gain control and insight of their department with the ability to track, prioritize, and process incoming finance-related requests. Here are more reasons why it’s a popular tool for this department:

  • Control costs by streamlining routine processes with automated workflows.
  • Reduce the time it takes to get approvals and manage purchase orders.
  • Stay informed of all requests the team is managing with custom dashboards.
  • Manage end-user requests via the self-service portal.

In addition, users appreciate the platform’s codeless, drag-and-drop design, and intuitive interface. Changes can be made to the system without the need for a programmer –a nice feature for non-technical departments.

 

Closing

Considering the wide range of fiscal responsibilities that are task-related, it’s easy to see why so many Accounting and Finance departments count on Vivantio’s service management platform to manage the requests of both internal and external clients–ranging from contractors, suppliers, and employees–so they can focus on being responsive, accurate, and compliant.

Is your ITSM software supporting the needs of all your service departments? We’d like to know.

Topics: Service Management Finance Service Solution SITS HR Human Resources
2 min read

Top 3 Takeaways at the 2019 Service Desk and IT Support Conference

By Staff Writer on 4/30/19 9:00 AM

WHAT EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT

London’s 2019 Service Desk & IT Support Show is now over and the Vivantio team has met with over 300 people to demo the latest features in FLEX. During the show, we spoke with customers and industry experts to hear the big topics on everyone’s mind this year. Here’s what we heard.

 

SELECTING THE BEST ITSM TOOL

Choosing the best ITSM software for your company can seem challenging. With several options and configurations on the market, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. What companies truly need to consider are their business goals, then assess potential costs and options such as SaaS vs on-premise delivery, the software’s hosting platform partner, security standards and certificates, and integration abilities. Attendees learned the do’s and don’ts of the ITSM selection process at the “How to avoid common pitfalls: a guide to ITSM tool election” seminar by Pink Elephant, who we’ve partnered with in the past to discuss ITSM strategies.

IT technician typing on server laptop

 

STAYING AHEAD OF THE CURVE

Is IT still relevant? We think so. But thanks to ever-evolving technology and customer demands, IT departments feel they are fighting to stay relevant, which was a hot topic in the “Fighting for relevance” seminar by Virtual Clarity. We’ve found that to provide top-of-the-line service, IT service teams will need to create strong customer connections, stay on top of technological innovation, deliver even better (and faster) service, continue to ensure quality processes, and adhere to security protocols–which leads us to the question of…

 

STREAMLINING THE PROCESS

…How to best streamline service management. Because an organization is greater than the sum of its parts, several companies search for scalable ITSM software that can serve multiple departments. By using custom-built workflows, conditional custom fields and forms, and flexible self-service portals, a company can meet the demands of both internal and external customers. Employee training is also crucial. SkillsTx covered how to identify what skills an IT team will need to keep up with customer demands in the panel discussion, “What skills do you have and what do you need?”

 

OUR SOLUTION

We provide a solution to some of these challenges. With your goal of improving service teams in mind, we’re creating software that is at the forefront of the industry. Vivantio is a centralised hub for all your service needs, enabling users to provide outstanding service management without being cost- or growth-restrictive. Let us show you.

Topics: ITSM Vivantio Service Desk Software UK SITS ITSM Trends Future of ITSM
4 min read

5 Steps to Advance Your Career in IT Service Management

By Staff Writer on 10/25/18 9:00 AM

DO YOU NEED SOME ADVICE ON HOW TO ADVANCE YOUR CAREER IN IT SERVICE MANAGEMENT? HERE ARE SOME CONCRETE STEPS TO MOVE FORWARD.

Every great figure in IT service management had to start somewhere. You could be just starting out as a technician or analyst. You could be an IT service manager looking to make the leap to CIO. Regardless of your status, there are key steps that every person takes to successfully advance their IT service career.

It can feel daunting to set a plan around career advancement, especially if you’re inexperienced. But, if you want more control over the direction of your career, you need a plan to do it.

Here are five key actions that will help you organize your IT career growth efforts:

 

1. MAP OUT YOUR CAREER PATH IN IT

IT is a massive industry. There are countless directions you can take. Do you want to be a COO at an enterprise-level MSP? Or would you rather be an IT Director at a SaaS startup? Or maybe just pivot entirely to software development?

Ask yourself these kinds of questions, get to know the different job titles and descriptions available, and create a plan for the direction you want to go. Don’t forget to review that plan after each step forward and adjust if necessary. You should have a living career plan, not a static one.

 

2. LEVEL UP THE NECESSARY TECHNICAL SKILLS AND IT KNOWLEDGE FOR ADVANCEMENT

You probably already know that technical skills and expertise are mandatory for working in IT. In fact, they are a requirement for most entry-level IT jobs. But, having the right technical skills is paramount to moving up. For example, if you want to manage a support team that primarily services AWS servers, you need to demonstrate a strong background in both cloud computing and server maintenance.

After you’ve mapped out your career path, research the necessary technical certifications and skills you need to move forward.

 

3. PROVE YOUR MASTERY OF YOUR ROLE ON THE IT SERVICE TEAM

No matter if you are currently at an entry-level role or a manager-level role, there’s more to IT than just pure technical expertise. In fact, in a recent survey, over half of CIO’s cite communication or problem-solving skills as main drivers to career growth.

Project management, people management, and change management are just a few examples of soft skills that IT professionals should master before moving into an upper-managerial role. There are professional certifications like ITIL and Agile, which can help you move forward.

With these skills in tow, you will better understand how to demonstrate maximum value to your team and prove yourself worthy of moving up.

 

4. TAKE STEPS TO DEVELOP YOUR PROFESSIONAL NETWORK

Even if you aren’t currently planning to leave your company, it’s important to stay connected with your IT peers. Having an active professional network gives you a better chance of quickly landing on your feet in the event of a layoff. A recent survey shows that the majority of people find their next job through networking.

Beyond job security, your network can help you achieve other professional goals as well. Your professional network can keep you informed on up-and-coming trends in ITSM. They can help brainstorm possible solutions to business and problems that your IT service team is struggling with.

 

5. CARVE OUT YOUR THOUGHT LEADERSHIP IN A SPECIFIC NICHE

As you are moving forward in your IT career, you will naturally start to gravitate towards an IT niche. It could be email server maintenance. It could be service automation. Whatever your niche is, it’s important to recognize and self-promote your thought leadership in that area. You can do this through a variety of means such as doing public speaking at events or publishing insightful blog articles.

The career benefits from establishing thought leadership are akin to networking. When you are recognized by your IT peers as an expert, people will start to search you out for answers. When the whole industry sees you as an expert, it’s much easier to land on a higher leadership role. You can also have a positive impact on your organization by being a thought leader.

These are only just a few steps you need to take to advance in your career. Make sure you stay informed of the latest trends and push yourself to keep learning through trusted information hubs.

Topics: Service Management ITIL ITSM IT Career Tips
4 min read

4 Types of Integration Methods with Your Service Management Software

By Staff Writer on 10/11/18 9:00 AM

yOU dON'T uSE JUST ONE TOOL FOR IT SERVICE

Many third-party services and technology can help your team provide IT service. JIRA, Active Directory, and Beyond Trust (formally Bomgar) are a few examples. Using these tools in concert with each other is vital to getting the service data your team needs. So, when considering an ITSM platform, it is critical to understand the availability of integrations.

But what are the differences between the types of integrations out there? Here are the four major types of third-party integration methods available. Let’s also highlight the pros and cons of each for your service team.

 

1. API

Application Programming Interface (API) is the most common tool for connecting different applications. There are many different types of API that are either public, partner, or private. What they all have in common is how they enable interaction between applications. An API uses a common code language to specify functionality and set protocols. This gives your applications the ability to transfer data.

Pros:

  • Highly Flexible: Because the integration uses product code, it is flexible when it comes to specific data. The only limitation is that it is dependent on developer resources.
  • App Changes Aren’t Disruptive: APIs are often limited in scope. So, service providers can offer more functionality without affecting other third-party systems.
  • Widely Available: As stated earlier, API is the most common tool for third-party integration. So, it will be unlikely that you run into a service that won’t offer API integration options.

Cons:

  • Dependent on Vendor: Vendors are responsible for creating APIs. So, you are reliant on the vendor to create APIs for the specific type of information you are trying to pull.
  • Code-Intensive: Because they are code-based, APIs need an understanding of programming languages to install.

 

2. WEBHOOKS

Webhooks or HTTP callbacks are an alternative to APIs. They are quite similar in that they are tools that link to a web application. But, they have two key differences. For webhooks, implementation is often not code-based. They often have modules that are programmable within a web application. Instead of being request-based, webhooks are event-based. They only trigger when specific events occur within a third-party service.

Pros:

  • Real-Time Data: Webhooks don’t use a request-based system. They allow your team to view data on a real-time scale.
  • Supports Automation Efforts: Because data requests are event-based, you don’t have to set up poll timings to your data centre. This can help streamline data flow and automation.

Cons:

  • Limits Data Manipulation: A webhook requires the service to trigger a data transfer based on an update. In contrast to webhooks, APIs can list, create, edit, or delete an item without triggering a transfer.

 

3. ISC

Unlike code-based integrations, an Integration Services Component (ISC) lives on a local server. The ISC creates a bridge with on-premise tools such as directories, asset management tools, and BI tools without the need for file imports.

Pros:

  • (Near) Out-of-the-Box Solution: The ISC immediately offers many data synchronization options you would likely use.
  • Wider Range of Functionality: With an ISC, you can do anything with the data you have access to. Any data that you can access on the backend with your cloud service will be available.

Cons:

  • Knowledge of Database Architecture Necessary: If you are unfamiliar with how your local database is set up, implementing an ISC will be challenging.
  • Requires Access to the Backend of Your Applications: There will be many cases where backend access isn’t there for your team, so you won’t be able to use an ISC in those situations.

 

4. ORCHESTRATION

The most automated integration option is orchestrations. If you are not familiar with orchestrations, they refer to the process of automating multiple systems and services together. Teams will often use software configuration management tools such as PowerShell to build orchestrations. Software configuration management tools offer various methods such as snap-ins or hosting APIs to connect with applications to manage the automation workflow.

Pros:

  • Full Automation: After you build out orchestrations, you can automate across all processes.
  • Manages Multiple Systems: With orchestrations, you can manage the integrations of multiple systems collectively.

Cons:

  • Code-Intensive: You need to have coding skills to manage your software configuration management tool.
  • Labour-Intensive: Because the workflows are quite complex, the setup can be a drawn-out process. Also, any asset or process changes force you to check how it will affect your orchestrations.

Make sure you check what integration options your ITSM provider offers before you commit. You can learn how Vivantio specifically links up with CRM systems, development tools, and other tools in our recent webinar, “Integration using APIs, webhooks and webmethods.”

Topics: Service Integrations System Integration Methods API Integration Tools
3 min read

4 Reasons to Have a Flexible Approach to Service Management

By Staff Writer on 9/26/18 9:00 AM

IS A ROCK-SOLID SERVICE STRUCTURE REALLY IDEAL FOR YOUR TEAM?

Within the IT industry, everyone looks to get the most out of their service team. They often look to find concrete solutions to their service management problems. “Should I be running under an ITIL framework or an Agile framework?” “How should I structure the roles and responsibilities of my team members?”

As you reach decisions around these issues, you need to remember the answers are not etched in stone. Effective change management gives your team the ability to pivot to better solutions. Staying flexible in your service management structure helps your team adapt.

Here are four reasons why operating with a flexible service management structure can help your IT service team:

 

1. TEAM MEMBERS WILL CHANGE

As you likely experience already, staff turnover is a stark reality of the IT industry. Based on a recent study by LinkedIn, technology has the highest turnover rate of all work sectors. Within technology, the IT & Services industry has the fourth highest turnover rate at 13%.

Yet, it’s not all gloom and doom. If you hire the right people, you will find leaders who stay on your team. These people will take on more responsibility and help you drive efficiency.

Can your service team handle shifts in roles and responsibilities without interruptions? A flexible service management structure enables your team to adapt to any personnel changes. You also need to make sure the system you use to manage service can adjust to these shifts in your team formation.

 

2. COMPANY STRUCTURE WILL CHANGE

No matter how long your company history, your business structure will not stay the same. You might create a new position in IT or add more members to your management team. Changes in organizational structure can have a major effect on your service team.

You need to prepare for how these changes will affect your team’s performance. If you don’t update your service, you put both your team’s and your company’s service effectiveness at risk.

With a flexible service management approach, look to track how service interacts with the larger business. Armed with this information, you can tailor your service to maximize efficiency across all departments. This will help with multi-department operational events such as new employee onboarding. It can also help you identify service gaps in the greater company landscape.

 

3. TECHNOLOGY ALWAYS CHANGES

Your assets are a key part of how you structure your service management. After all, asset management is one of your team’s core functions. But, you can always depend on technology always evolving. Technological innovations not only affect your assets but also your company’s infrastructure.

As technology iterates, your service management strategy needs to account for any asset changes. If you can’t adopt new technology and retire outdated assets, it can lead to serious problems such as critical business data loss.

Flexible service management does not mean your technology change processes should be flexible. But, you need to maintain an iterative process design for services around assets and infrastructure. Utilizing tools that can integrate with new technology will help you to avoid tech debt.

 

4. INDUSTRY BEST PRACTICE ALWAYS CHANGES

The advancement of technology goes hand in hand with the forward progress of the entire IT industry. Best practices are constantly amended and improved. An example would be the growing standard of self-service portals. With ITIL 4 nearing closer to public release, it also marks a trend to expand IT services to include areas such as DevOps.

A flexible service management approach empowers you to measure and adopt new best practices without disrupting your service. For example, do you think your team would improve under Agile practices? Try to map out your service structure under Agile. With this larger picture, you can appraise this approach and make the right decision.

 

5. BE FLEXIBLE

Change can be scary. It is natural to feel apprehensive about making changes to your service. You shouldn’t change for the sake of changing, but you don’t want to maintain an antiquated service system. What you can control is how you assess and adapt to change. A flexible approach to service management allows your team to stay effective in a constantly shifting IT landscape.

Topics: Service Management ITIL ITIL Project Management Service Strategy
3 min read

4 Takeaways from Vivantio’s 2018 UK User Group

By Staff Writer on 8/16/18 9:00 AM

In May, Vivantio held the UK Vivantio User Group at the Royal Berkshire Conference Centre, part of the Madejski Football stadium in Reading, Berkshire. It was a great day with plenty of customer interaction, discussion on how to make better use of Vivantio and the exciting first look at the upcoming release of Vivantio’s newest toolset and user interface, FLEX.

In case you missed it, here are four key takeaways from the event:

 

SELF-SERVICE REALLY DOES REDUCE CALLS AND IT OFFICE WALK-INS

Attendees of the UK Vivantio User Group were fortunate to have Alan Shrimpton, Director of Raefen Consulting, as the keynote speaker. He opened the day sharing his experience of implementing Vivantio at two large organisations.

Shrimpton presented some of the challenges he faced and how these were overcome. For one of these organisations, a key measure of success was to significantly reduce IT office walk-ins via use of the Vivantio Self Service Portal.

To overcome this challenge required end-user training for the online platform as well as company-wide communication of the change. Leading up to the launch, there were numerous company communications about the new process, with floor-walkers providing employee support on the day the Self Service Portal went live. As a result of these measures, IT office walk-ins were reduced by 30% in the first month, a significant improvement for such a short period of time.

 

MOBILE IS KEY TO SERVICE MANAGEMENT

Attendees at the UK User Group attended breakout sessions, with customers working together in groups to identify their top five priorities for development of the Vivantio Platform. This made for an interesting discussion, as different organisations have different priorities and requirements. After the new priorities were discussed and whittled down, the top two areas identified for further development were the Mobile version of the Vivantio Platform and the Vivantio Report Builder.

The upcoming release of the new FLEX will make the mobile solution a much more consistent and complete experience, allowing organisations to customise what information they want to see, including custom forms and fields. Another key point for discussion was generally around flex and how this will improve the day-to-day use of the Vivantio Platform, not only for mobile, but also through improved rendering on any device whether it be a laptop or desktop monitor.

 

REPORT BUILDER HELP VIDEOS AND OTHER IMPROVEMENTS ARE ON THEIR WAY

Vivantio will provide improved support for use of the Report Builder through a series of short videos and guides, building upon what we currently have. The Report Catalogue will continue to grow, providing additional example reports for customers to use with their own data.

Some of the User Group development suggestions, such as Impact Maps (allowing a user to easily see the relationship between Parent and Child items) and the Ticket History Filter are already in the Vivantio Product Roadmap, aligning customer need to Vivantio’s development vision.

 

IT’S FLEX TIME

For the final part of the day, Vivantio CTO Andy Walsh shared what Vivantio has done in response to the feedback from our last User Group and what we have coming up on the Product Roadmap. Andy then gave our customers a first-hand look at FLEX, which was very well received.

We are actively testing FLEX within our Support, Development and Implementation teams, and in the next few weeks we will be entering a Closed Beta period with select customers. More details to follow!

All in all, the 2018 UK User Group was a great day. Should you want to find out more about the User Group, FLEX or Product Roadmap, please get in touch with Alexis Mackie, Vivantio Customer Success Manager via email Alexis.Mackie@vivantio.com or phone +44 (0)1934 424 840.

We’re looking forward to the next User Group in 2019 and hope you will be able to join us! Details on the date and location will follow in early 2019

Topics: Customer Center User Forum
2 min read

Why Should You Care About ITSM?

By Staff Writer on 8/9/18 9:00 AM

IF YOU WORK IN IT, THEN YOUR TEAM SHOULD EMPLOY AN ITSM PROCESS.

ITSM is a key element for the service operations of all kinds of IT teams. ITSM defines how your team designs and executes your service operation. Whether your team works out of a shared mailbox or you operate with hundreds of agents across the globe, the IT department is responsible for establishing policies and events to properly align IT services with the needs of the business.

There are several popular ITSM frameworks that are designed to guide teams to most efficiently deliver their services. For example:

  • COBIT (Control Objectives for Information Technology): focuses on the continuity of delivering IT services throughout the whole enterprise
  • ITIL (IT Information Library): focuses on designing a service portfolio that best utilizes IT resources

While each ITSM framework offers different approaches to designing IT processes, they all address important details for improving the efficiency of both your service desk and the overall business.

 

HOW ITSM IMPROVES THE EFFICIENCY OF YOUR SERVICE DESK

An effective ITSM process will improve your workflows by:

  • eliminating bottlenecks in collaborative work
  • reducing error on standard requests
  • routing incoming tickets based on technician speciality and availability
  • setting prioritization standards based on the highest business impact

Your ITSM can also help you identify common requests through service reports. With this information in hand and running a root-cause analysis, your team will be able to identify and solve the underlying technical problems that are leading to ticket creation. This way you can save time by finding a lasting solution rather than addressing the same issues over and over again, which will free up your agents’ time to address other more pressing issues.

 

HOW ITSM IMPROVES THE EFFICIENCY OF THE OVERALL BUSINESS

ITSM addresses not only the efficiency of your service desk but that of your entire organization. By having the information in place to identify and solve technical problems, IT can help the overall business continue to run smoothly. Also, by analyzing potential risks and understanding demand cadences, teams will be better prepared to handle any major outage.

The most important part of a great ITSM system is being able to get a better understanding of the relationships between services and infrastructure. This will help businesses appropriately budget their IT expenditures. Through detailed reporting, service leaders can deliver relevant information to other parts of the business and built an efficient budget.

 

HOW AN ITSM SOLUTION CAN HELP

ITSM solutions help bridge the gap between your theoretical service plans and the reality of your service operation. By having the right technology in place to help service leaders manage the various aspects of ITSM, the true benefits from an effective ITSM framework can be more fully realized by service teams everywhere.

Topics: Service Management ITIL ITSM Service Strategy
2 min read

IT Service Catalog: The Intersection Between Business & Technical Services

By Staff Writer on 7/20/18 9:00 AM

DEVELOP A SELF SERVICE SUPPORT PORTAL THAT DISPLAYS ALL BUSINESS-CRITICAL SERVICES.

Regardless if support requests are assigned to IT, finance, legal or HR, employees should be confident the right agent is handling their issue. Since employees do not know the full technical scope of their available services, they need an interface that translates their technical issues into ideas they can appreciate. So, what is the best way to display easy-to-understand business services in a one-stop-shop interface?

 

TWO WORDS: SERVICE CATALOG

The service catalog serves as two facets of a service operation:

  • the operational piece of ITIL’s service portfolio
  • the public-facing interface for employees to request services

A service catalog’s interface is built to educate an end-user on service delivery items such as service description, availability, SLAs and costs. In terms of user experience, a proper service catalog should serve as the singular nexus for all types of service requests available. All expectations should be described before a ticket submission to limit confusion.

The user interface of the service catalog focuses on displaying data related to service delivery, while the internal facing documentation provides context on strategy. Additional details are maintained such as target availability, backup, service owner (funding), service representative (business representative), criticality, OLAs and expiry criteria. This data can be used to assess whether a service should exist on the catalog.

  1. When designing the catalog, the following questions may be considered:
  2. What business need does this service address?
  3. Who will pay for these services?
  4. What are the risks and impact of service outages?
  5. How should we prioritize our work?
  6. Do we have enough resources to meet the incoming demand?

Answering these questions helps determine strategy in managing workflows to fulfill all the available services.

 

BUSINESS OBJECTIVES DRIVES IT SERVICE STRATEGY

Before we can discuss the technical requirements of a service catalog, we must investigate the quality criteria for which items are included in the service catalog. It’s key to take into account overarching business objectives such as revenue generation, customer impact and marketplace visibility that drive business processes.

Business services should be designed to maintain critical processes with special consideration on availability and demand. Internal technical services are designed to address the variety of events and processes required to fullfill each business service. These services may include application services, application data and the technology and infrastructure to host this data.

 

DEFINE KPI AND BUILD IMPROVEMENT STRATEGIES

Designing a service catalog to meet the operational requirements of an organization today is only half of the battle. Businesses are dynamic, which requires service teams to constantly benchmark the performance of each service process.

KPIs should be indicated in the Service Design Package—the ITIL-prescribed document defining all aspects of an IT service—to review the continued quality of service. As quality diminishes, the service pipeline may introduce new services or process improvements to help meet your SLAs. Teams should retire CIs when a reduced service quality no longer leads to positive outcomes and document any stakeholders who may have adverse reactions to changes.

As the scope of IT services changes, the service catalog can serve well to mask the complex processes guided by ITIL.

Topics: Service Management ITIL Service Catalog Service Strategy
3 min read

Bridging the Gap Between ITIL and Project Management Best Practices

By Staff Writer on 7/10/18 9:00 AM

DOES YOUR IT TEAM HAVE THE BEST PROJECT MANAGEMENT STRATEGY?

Forecasts show that cloud-based project management tools are expected to grow around 14% in the next four years, requiring IT software to adapt to new use cases. Organizations with mature ITSM strategies can leverage project management best practices to introduce new services. As teams adapt their service operations to meet increased demands, IT departments are pressured now more than ever to implement changes quickly without posing risks to their service levels.

 

WHAT IS PROJECT MANAGEMENT?

Project management allows teams to build upon ITIL principles by defining several necessary processes when introducing new services. While less defined than incident, problem and change management, project management frameworks (such as PMBOK) can fill in the gaps when implementing new IT services.

When utilizing project management, a project is generally defined as:

a set of planned operations required to fulfil a goal within a defined timeframe

Whether it be to develop software, design new business processes, or update IT infrastructure, project teams typically require individuals across a variety of expertise and geographic locations to come together to scope, plan, implement, monitor and close projects.

 

WHERE ITIL MEETS PROJECT MANAGEMENT

As we narrow our perspective to the ITSM space, we can find definitive connections between ITIL and project management best practices. ITIL actively questions if an IT team is utilizing their resources effectively. Fortunately, ITIL already has defined several key processes required to implement a successful project:

  • Project Initiation: Define key decision-makers, human resources and deliverables, available budget, assessment resources to determine ROI, the risk and mitigation plan and the transitional triggers to move from one stage to another.
  • Project Planning and Coordination: Align the project with an organization’s internal project management guidelines and compliance rules.
  • Project Control: Monitor your total costs and resources such as human efforts and capital expenditures.
  • Project Reporting and Communication: Implement methods to determine IT resource management, business unit demands, and proper scheduling while keeping stakeholders notified of project milestones.

The ITIL guidelines provide a good base when discussing project management best practices by covering areas such as resource management, ROI, communication with stakeholders and identifying transitions.

 

INCORPORATING PROJECT MANAGEMENT BEST PRACTICES

Project management can build upon ITIL objectives. This can be achieved by identifying the right additional processes to include, such as Project Integration Management, Quality Management, Project Procurement Management, and Stakeholder Management.

In order to understand these processes in context, let’s look at how PMBOK defines them:

  • Project Integration Management builds upon resource management by identifying the processes and activities needed to coordinate project groups.
  • Quality Management emphasizes the need to document quality policies, objectives and responsibilities to ensure that the project satisfies all the requirements for which the project was launched.
  • Project Procurement Management identifies the policies necessary to purchase goods and services to complete the project within the deadline and budget.
  • Stakeholder Management identifies all people within the organization affected by the project.

Project management can improve your ITIL practices if you know where to look. Make sure you’re not missing out on the improved effectiveness your team can achieve with these techniques.

Topics: Service Management ITIL Project Management Best Practices Service Strategy
2 min read

3 Benefits of Managing Your Support Teams on a Multi-Tenant Service Management Platform

By Staff Writer on 6/19/18 9:00 AM

SERVICE MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE ISN’T EXCLUSIVELY FOR IT.

With the standardization of many IT processes, there are many services that provide management solutions to match the needs of your IT teams. But there are other teams that provide key business support. What exactly is stopping them from using the same platform to improve their workflows?

There are many practical reasons for separating your support teams and siloing operations. Many options are great at separating data, but fail to address each teams’ specific needs and workflows. IT will naturally resolve requests differently from compliance or HR.

That being said, your support teams don’t have to be siloed. They will benefit from having a centralized area to coordinate, standardize and automate work. Multi-tenant platforms can provide specific benefits to your operations. Let’s look at a few of them.

 

1. CONSOLIDATED SERVICE REPORTING

Most teams run their own reports, but analyzing a single group does not provide full insight into the overall service output. Departments often work independently of each other, which results in non-standard reporting. This places a burden on your executives when trying to make decisions from unrelated data sources. Collaborative work between departments also often goes unreported. Interdepartmental tasks are mostly handled through email with no method to analyze data associated with each action. This prevents analysis of any standard workflows that involve multiple teams.

Multi-tenant platforms simplify reporting standards to better determine team and organization KPIs. CIOs can benefit from having both a high-level view over each department’s performance and the ability to dive deeper into individual metrics.

 

2. IMPROVED SERVICE MAINTENANCE

Integrations commonly play a large part in many effective service management platforms. They are often used to connect disparate systems in order to get deeper analytics and metrics around your service operations. An example would be a development team that uses Jira integrating with their service management tool to determine which changes lead to an influx of service tickets.

When managing multiple systems for various support teams, the effort of upkeep between all these integrations can become expensive and complicated. Multi-tenant solutions eliminate that risk by offering a single avenue with which to link your various assets together.

 

3. MORE COST-SAVINGS

Many service management platforms will charge on a user-by-user basis through licenses. You might think that more users on one system would drive up costs, but, in fact, individual license costs will often decrease. Multi-tenant platforms will often offer more flexible pricing around their licensing models, especially when overall user counts increase. Effectively blending together named and concurrent licenses to fit the needs of your business will also add to your overall cost-savings.

 

CONCLUSION

In closing, multi-tenant solutions have clear advantages over separate platforms by providing enhanced visibility over organizational performance, an ease of maintainability, and a lower operating cost. These platforms provide the building blocks to design a custom solution per team, while hosting all the data in the same area.

Topics: Service Management SITS ESM Multi-Tenancy
3 min read

How Vivantio’s Visual Workflow Tool Automates Service Processes

By Staff Writer on 5/11/18 9:00 AM

BETTER AUTOMATION TOOLS FOR ALL.

At Vivantio, we constantly interact with teams who have mature service strategies but are searching for better ways to notify stakeholders of their incoming tasks, automate standard processes and define KPIs to adequately benchmark team performance.

To combat common process slowdowns, we have designed the Vivantio visual workflow process tool to streamline tasks and approvals for your standard workflow processes. Let’s discuss how the tool functions and then offer a few examples of applicable processes.

WHAT IS THE VISUAL WORKFLOW TOOL?

Vivantio’s Visual Workflow Tool is a flowchart builder that contains conditional statements to determine the order that tasks are assigned to decision-makers in your workflow process. Your processes can adapt based on previous actions. Therefore, our tool is designed to enforce different workflows depending on task decisions. An example of a conditional workflow includes a product return process that triggers separate tasks depending on the return reason.

Let’s look at how the Visual Workflow Tool address various company operation workflows.

 

EMPLOYEE ONBOARDING WORKFLOW

A disorganized and incomplete employee onboarding workflow can put an organization at risk for non-compliance or improper preparation. As with all workflows, the on-boarding process requires input between different stakeholders, requiring seamless transitions between each workflow stage.

Vivantio’s Visual Workflow Tool ensures that notifications, approvals and forms are displayed at the correct time and filled out by the proper person, so time-consuming processes such as manual emails, phone calls, and document tracking are completely automated.

Conditional task assignment in onboarding workflows may be used to eliminate unnecessary steps if an employee is a re-hire versus a new hire. If the individual is a new hire, the workflow may assign a task to them to fill out an I9 form and HR may initiate a background check based on the information filled out by the new hire. A re-hire instead may bypass this process entirely and automatically assign a task to the hiring manager to send an offer letter and schedule the starting date. Accepting the offer letter may then trigger additional processes such as assigning tasks to IT for hardware and software allocation.

 

CHANGE MANAGEMENT WORKFLOW

A successful change management workflow requires capturing details on the affected systems, measuring the risks involved, and managing approvals throughout the process.

The challenge with managing changes is efficiently planning, testing, implementing and then analyzing your KPIs to determine if the change was successful. These processes must occur without impeding normal business operations, hence the benefit of automatic approvals and conditional triggers. Triggering separate workflow processes depending on whether a change is pre-approved, normal or an emergency can help place focus on changes that have a larger impact on the organization.

Pre-approved processes, such as a planned asset upgrade, may trigger a single change manager approval. This prevents operational slow down with a lengthy review process. Scheduled reporting on KPIs associated with the change can be delivered to the change manager to determine if the change is successful.

 

CAPITAL EXPENDITURE WORKFLOW

Teams with improper evaluation and tracking protocols to process capital expenditure requests are open to budget risks. With Vivantio’s Visual Workflow Tool, you can create appropriate workflows to ensure the correct departments have input on reviewing and processing these requests.

An example process involves an IT employee filling out a form online to request funding for a new help desk solution. An approval notification is then sent to the requester’s manager, which, when approved, sends a secondary approval request to the CFO if the project exceeds a defined price threshold. After the CFO approves the purchase, the project details are delivered to the purchasing department to place an order. The contract may then be managed within your assets database for automated notifications when nearing license renewal.

 

REPORTING WORKFLOW

While streamlining workflows can rapidly improve a team’s output and success, a powerful reporting tool is essential for tracking service trends for continual improvements. Task completion time is tracked in Vivantio, which provides a useful metric in determining your bottlenecks.

Identifying your service pain points is the first stage in reallocating resources for improved service. Large organizations often track important dates within Vivantio, so scheduled reports can be sent to inform managers of start/finish and deliverable dates for changes and projects.

 

CONCLUSION

We hope you found this article useful in getting your workflows off the ground in our Visual Workflow Tool. Vivantio’s in-house implementation and support teams consist of ITIL-trained professionals who both have extensive knowledge with optimizing workflows and using the Vivantio platform to leverage the workflow tool to automate your processes. If you need more personal help with a specific workflow, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us directly.

Topics: Service Management Vivantio Customer Center Automation
4 min read

How to Implement a Self-Service Portal for Your Support Team

By Staff Writer on 5/11/18 9:00 AM

A GREAT SELF-SERVICE PORTAL HELPS BOTH CUSTOMERS AND SERVICE TEAMS ALIKE

Not only does a great self-service portal free up a service team’s time, but users also prefer it. As customers are given the tools to solve their own technical issues, the service team can focus on more strategic work that delivers greater impact to the service desk, such as automating and streamlining workflows.

 

It’s important to remember that the premise behind a self-service portal is that it’s providing a service. The customer still needs to see the value of using a portal, which means that their answers are findable, new information is regularly updated, and service teams assist customers if they cannot solve their problems alone.

Let’s jump in and have a look at the ways you can successfully get self-service up and running for your internal support team.

 

DEFINE WHAT SERVICES ARE APPROPRIATE FOR SELF HELP

Begin by identifying which services take up most of your technician’s time and pinpoint tasks that customers can fulfill on their own.

Through examining your service reporting, you can identify trends in your service data, such as the number of requests associated with a certain issue and sorted that metric by the average time it takes to complete each action. For example, you may discover that your team receives 5 requests a week on “Installing office 365 on my local machine” and determine that it takes 20 minutes on average to close this type of request. Rather than continuing to address the same request one by one, write a comprehensive article on how a customer can do this themselves to save your team 10 days of service work per year.

At first, this may seem like a small change, but think about how much time you are going to save when it comes to other time-consuming tasks such as replacing printer ink or toner cartridges, installing software drivers, or diagnosing the reason a laptop’s internet is down. Not only have you reduced the time it takes your service team to handle simple and repetitive requests, but you have also empowered your customers by teaching them new skills.

Striking a positive experience with your customers, it is not uncommon to find a majority turning to the self-service portal first rather than coming directly to the service team to solve their issues.

 

ENABLE THROUGH EDUCATION

Your self-service portal cannot be a successful support channel if customers do not understand its benefits over sending an email or calling the service desk.

When you implement the self-service portal, take time to utilize its capabilities in order to educate new users and promote self-help. You can do this by:

  • Setting up a comprehensive knowledge base to promote user guides, help videos, and FAQs
  • Creating a service catalog to set expectations on available services
  • Setting up chat channels so customers can have immediate discussions with available technicians regarding their open tickets
  • Alerting users when assets are unavailable, such as when a file service goes down
  • Using conditional fields in your ticket submissions to capture specific information on the request type

After implementing these changes, you will find that the portal becomes the preferred method for customers to submit tickets because it saves them time.

 

USE DATA TO BENCHMARK THE SELF-SERVICE PORTAL

The most successful self-service portals incorporate scheduled reporting to analyze where continual improvements can be made. It is crucial that you use data to benchmark your self-service portal against other support channels.

For instance, how long does it take the technician to solve a request through email versus the portal? The portal provides a dynamic environment to capture specific information based on the issue type, while email only provides a subject and body. A service team technician may require additional information provided by the customer if submitted via email, which lengthens how long a ticket remains open.

As you continue to migrate your service to the self-service portal, compare the completion time, the number of exchanged emails, actions, escalations, and total ticket volume with your other support channels. There can also be other tools to help gauge success such as surveys and article rating systems, depending on what tools you are using to build your self-service portal.

 

CONCLUSION

Armed with a greater understanding of the benefits of the self-service portal, it is easy to see why offering a solution like this for your customers makes sense. Not only do self-service portals provide better customer service, but teams can also do so at reduced time and cost. Setting up a self-service portal conscientiously by properly customizing and implementing all its features can help elevate an organization’s reputation and brand and make their service teams’ lives a whole lot easier.

Jessica Barrett Halcom is a writer for TechnologyAdvice.com, with specializations in human resources, healthcare, and transportation. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay and currently lives in Nashville, TN.

Topics: Service Management Customer Self-Service Self-Service Self-Service Desk
3 min read

Ask These Questions Before You Invest in a SaaS ITSM Solution

By Staff Writer on 4/4/18 9:00 AM

SOFTWARE AS A SERVICE (SAAS) HAS TRANSFORMED HOW BUSINESSES MANAGE SOFTWARE

There are many advantages of choosing a SaaS provider for IT and other service departments. So, the question for many teams has shifted from “Should we invest in SaaS?” to “Which SaaS product is right for our unique business challenges and requirements?”

Before choosing to partner with a SaaS provider, consider exploring the following areas to decide which solution provides the lowest investment risk.

 

SOFTWARE

What are the functional differences between a company’s SaaS and on-premise versions?

A SaaS model unarguably brings many advantages over a traditional on-premise solution, which often includes lower license costs, continuous updates, and reduced maintenance fees all without the hassle and concern of maintaining in-house infrastructure. Many SaaS service management providers deliver sophisticated platforms with the same flexibility of an on-premise solution, but with the added benefit of continual improvements. This means that the system continues to grow with the business, rather than being tied down to an outdated legacy platform.

The outdated concern that SaaS platforms are less flexible and secure than on-premise solutions has long been a thing of the past. The rise of open API platforms and state-of-the-art hosting services provides the opportunity for fluid information exchange between platforms with necessary security certifications such as ISO27001, SOC1, and SOC2.

You have chosen SaaS. Great! Now how do you determine which vendor is an appropriate partner?

How many versions have been released on their SaaS platform?

SaaS products, by the nature of their continual updates, expand to add functionality over time. The key to choosing an appropriate service management platform is that you need to invest in a proven product. Established solutions provide their customers with the benefit of a secure, highly functional, and adaptable system for their service management needs. In short, choose a product that is tested and trusted throughout an industry, rather than investing in a less mature solution.

 

WHO OWNS THE DATA?

How often and what types of backups are performed?

SaaS providers have different approaches to data ownership. Some vendors do not provide an open API platform, limiting the company’s ability to collect and store data. Other providers have embraced an open platform, allowing businesses to transfer data from the cloud to their own database or other SaaS platforms.

Service management providers can also offer a multitude of integration options with their platform, so companies can move their data to any other system inside the business.

 

SECURITY

What security certifications does their data center hold and were they independently assessed?

In a SaaS model, the IT Service Management vendor is responsible for storing its data and keeping the application up-to-date. Always be sure to ask potential vendors about the security certifications they hold. SaaS vendors do not typically own their own data servers, therefore it is imperative to research their partners as well. All data centers should be SaS570, SOC, ISO27001 and PCI compliant.

 

HIDDEN COSTS

Can there be hidden costs when choosing a SaaS Provider?

We have discussed how choosing SaaS over on-premise solutions can lead to a higher return on investment, but we have not looked at how different companies handle the costs of their features. Several providers offer cut-down versions of their products, requiring you to invest in a higher cost solution as your company grows. Other providers require you to pay for additional products to add on functionality to the base ticketing platform. Sometimes upgrades are not free and require expensive consultation from the SaaS provider when the decision is made to make a change. If you are looking for a platform that continues to grow with your business, make sure you contemplate the more costly packages required to fulfil all your business requirements.

 

IN SUMMARY

According to IDC, global spending on cloud computing will jump from $67B in 2015 to $162B in 2020 and that number is expected to grow. In fact, cloud computing is growing at an even faster pace than IT as a whole. The breadth and variety of SaaS offerings today means stricter, and more time-consuming research on the part of companies considering investing in a SaaS product. Fully understanding the nuances of each SaaS tool is not to be overlooked along the journey to purchasing the perfect IT Service Management product for your business.

For a comprehensive list of even more SaaS-related tips and tidbits, check out our whitepaper, 29 Questions to Ask Before You Invest in a SaaS ITSM Solution

Topics: Service Management ITSM ITSM Solution ITSM Tools
3 min read

5 Ways Service Automation Can Transform Service Desk Operations

By Staff Writer on 3/1/18 9:00 AM

EFFECTIVE SERVICE AUTOMATION HELPS YOUR TEAM KEEP UP.

Customers expect faster and more individualized attention than ever, leaving teams struggling to keep pace with an ever-increasing influx of customer requests.

No longer can spreadsheets or other manual processes handle the constant inflow of requests. Service teams can look to one solution: automation. Let’s take a close look at five ways to use service automation to transform your service desk operations.

1. WORKFLOW MANAGEMENT

Automation in workflow management plays an important role in dealing with requests consistently and effectively. By assigning tasks to the right people at the right time, you can remove bottlenecks and inefficiencies in your standard processes.

There are a number of ways to improve on an organizations’ workflow processes through automation:

  • Intelligent technician assignments
  • SLA driven escalations
  • Conditional actions based on customer selections

If you operate with a large service team, intelligent routing can assign issues to the most knowledgeable technicians automatically, reducing the burden on your first line teams. By orienting your escalations around your SLAs, you can ensure that the right people are involved with each issue. By offering more conditional choices for customer input, your agents can get the information they need to resolve the issue more quickly.

 

2. TICKET PRIORITIZATION

SLAs are created to define service expectations between a service provider and end-users. To improve customer satisfaction, SLA response and resolution times are often set based on ticket priority, allowing your technicians to accurately identify how much time is available to respond to incoming requests. However, it’s important to recognize not all tickets are created equal. For example, a small issue might become a big problem if it’s for a VIP user. Automatic ticket prioritization helps remove uncertainty about what to work on and when by using a rules-based approach to setting the importance of work.

 

3. SERVICE NOTIFICATIONS

Making sure the right people are notified about issues at the right time and through the right channel is essential for smooth operations management. If someone logs a ticket about a service not working, then the service owner should be notified immediately–not after someone in the call center has spent a couple of hours finding out who owns the service, and how to get hold of them.

Automatic notifications get the right information, to the right person, at the right time. Set conditions around technician communications for specific issue types and priorities. Automating these communications throughout the service process saves considerable staff time, provides transparent communication and helps to provide updates constantly.

 

4. SERVICE REPORTING

Automated business intelligence tools can help you put service metrics front and center. Regardless if you utilize them, it’s important you get regular access to deep insights into your service desk performance, including:

  • Ticket generation by customer type and specific customer
  • Close rates by employee and close time averages
  • Tickets per employee by shift, day, month or other date range
  • Ticket categorization and issue frequency

Scheduling reports around these metrics can automatically inform managers about performance data so that they have oversight over their whole team. These templated reports can send on a periodic basis so that no manual work is required to keep important individuals in the loop.

 

5. KNOWLEDGE BASE

The knowledge base is a powerful addition to many service desks because it gives users the power to solve issues themselves. Why wait for a technician to get back to you to reset a password when you can do it online? Or maybe that printer ink arrived, but you don’t know how to open the printer. Do you want to wait two days for Ian to visit on site? Or watch a two minute video, do it yourself and get that report on your CEO’s desk today?

Companies can give their end-users access to frequently asked questions via company branded portals, with intelligent tools that allow them to solve issues without input from your team – leaving your technicians to focus on the things that you’re paying them to do.

The knowledge base isn’t just for your end users, though. Maybe you don’t want your users trying to replace laser toner themselves – after all, it could be dangerous! But your technicians can’t be expected to remember the specifics of how to get under the hood of that one printer you purchased in the ’80s from someone who went out of business in the ’90s. Automatic article suggestion based on keywords or categories is just as useful to get that out-of-print user guide in front of your technicians as it is to get those password reset instructions in front of your end-users.

Vivantio is a leader in service desk automation and ITSM software. With Vivantio, companies can manage incoming email, track messaging histories, route tickets to the right teams or employees, escalate critical issues, conform with scheduling, prioritize tickets and integrate with other service tools – all powerful, automated actions designed to increase efficiency across companies’ service teams.

 

CONCLUSION

These areas are only a few that can be improved with effective service automation. Make sure you fully understand all of the benefits your team can get from automation by reviewing your processes and identifying what areas can be streamlined and improved.

Topics: Service Desk Software IT Service Automation Service Automation
6 min read

6 Top ITSM Thought Leaders of 2018 and What They Can Teach Us

By Staff Writer on 2/23/18 9:00 AM

IT'S IMPORTANT THAT YOUR SERVICE DESK STAYS RELEVANT.

In the world of IT service management, as in most areas of business operations, it is more important than ever for service desks to stay on top of the latest trends and knowledge that’s being circulated.

Failing to remain “tapped in” runs service desks the risk of losing relevancy or missing opportunities to connect and interact with their customers.


Organizations looking to automate and innovate in 2018 are poised to provide better service to customers and consumers, more efficient operations, and improved service desk metrics. Whether it’s improving processes used to manage tickets or arming the team with more effective service level management tools, experts agree there are major opportunities for organizations seeking to take their operations to the next level.­­

Here is a look at some of our favorite thought leaders and what they have to say about the need for better service operations.

 

JEFF RUMBERG – METRICS OF THE MONTH: SERVICE DESK BALANCED SCORECARD

@MetricNet

Jeff Rumberg is the co-founder and CEO of MetricNet, former CEO of the Verify Group, and a leading IT service and support consultant. In his recent post, Metric of the Month: Service Desk Balanced Scorecard, Rumberg explains that despite service desks having access to copious amounts of performance data, companies still struggle to succinctly answer the question of “how is my service desk performing?” Rumberg suggests that service desks should focus not on individual service desk metrics, but combine them into a single, overall measure of service desk success.

The Balanced Scorecard methodology uses multiple metrics, such as cost per ticket, resolution rates, and customer satisfaction and combines them into a performance “grade” that can be used to track, trend, and benchmark service desk success over time. Communicating a single balanced score with stakeholders is also simpler and more digestible than presenting several metrics independently, especially to those outside the IT department who are looking to understand the performance story.

For service desks looking to create a clear, useful set of metrics that employees and leaders can use to measure performance, the Balanced Scorecard is a proven approach.

Read Jeff’s full story on how to use the service desk balanced scorecard method to effectively measure and communicate your service desk performance.

 

STUART RANCE – HOW TO DEFINE, MEASURE AND REPORT IT SERVICE AVAILABILITY

@stuartrance

“Service availability” can sound like two very different things to different audiences – in this case, we’re talking about the service desk and its customers. While a service desk is keen to report on its glowing metric of 98% service availability, customers are naturally going to recall the 2% of the time that services were not available to them and how that has negatively impacted their day-to-day. Using the current simplistic measure of IT availability that service desks use does not take into account the degree of impact it has on its customers, and there is a better way, according to Stuart Rance, owner of Optimal Service Management Ltd. and a leading IT service management and information security consultant, in the recent post, How to Define, Measure, and Report IT Service Availability.

Companies should instead have meaningful conversations with customers to understand which business functions are most critical to them, and which types of downtime would most adversely affect their work and their customers. These conversations can help to inform a more detailed definition of service availability that’s based on a weighted impact of downtime, disruptions, and related processes. Only after understanding the impact of each type of disruptions can service desks truly create measures and reports that show customers the true impact of service availability.

To read Stuart’s post on service availability, click here.

 

GREGG GREGORY – 5 BEHAVIORS OF A COHESIVE TEAM

@TeamsRock

Teamwork is often overlooked as an element of service desk efficiency, with many employees acting as sole practitioners. In 5 Behaviors of a Cohesive Team, leading team and corporate culture expert Gregg Gregory identifies key traits that strong teams exhibit.

To begin, managers need to build vulnerability-based trust amongst their teams. Great teams function best when all workers believe they can be vulnerable in front of other team members. Being able to be exposed allows workers to take risks and express contrarian ideas.

Allowing conflict around ideas can be healthy within an organization when it’s framed positively. The expression of different ideas in a safe space fosters new solutions and allows those with alternative perspectives to come forward.

Read more of Gregg’s post to learn 3 additional ways service teams can become more cohesive around a shared vision for service desk success.

 

JULIE MOHR – IT FRAMEWORKS, STANDARDS AND MODELS

@juliemohr

It’s never too late to return to the basics and Julie Mohr, author, speaker and expert in IT framework processes, help desk technology and IT governance, does just that with her post, IT Frameworks, Standards and Models.

After all, IT is a practice built on logic and structure, and frameworks are a key way to organize and structure the complex systems inherent in an IT service desk model.

Frameworks helps IT service desks bring order to the seemingly competing priorities by providing an environment where efficiency and efficacy are paramount, and performance measures can be used to improve operations.

While there are a few different frameworks with each having their own place in an organization, the standard bearer is the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL), which is frequently used as a roadmap for treating IT operations like a business. Whether it’s for ITIL incident management, ITIL change management or ITIL service strategy, these frameworks strengthen the approach an organization takes to data, processes and responses.

There are also a couple of alternatives to the ITIL framework however, like COBIT and ISO 20000, and knowing where, and in which cases, it makes sense to use each framework depends on the overall business goals and objectives. Using an IT Governance Frameworks model allows an organization to map out which frameworks it should utilize depending on the business questions in mind, as outlined in the figure below:

Learn more about how to use IT Frameworks and Standards to maximize the success of the IT organization and its impact on the business.

 

JEFF TOISTER – HOW TO GET YOUR SUPPORT TEAM OBSESSED WITH SERVICE

@toister

A company’s reputation is only as good as the customer service it provides. Teams that are focused on delivering exceptional service above all are invaluable, writes Jeff Toister, author, contact center thought leader, and president of Toister Performance Solutions, in his post, How to Get Your Support Team Obsessed With Service.

So, what does it take to get your support teams obsessed with providing exceptional service?

Start by creating a shared vision for customer service that aligns team members with a vision that employees can relate to and aspire to every day. This vision should be simple, easy to understand, and customer-centric.

Secondarily, engage with the team around the vision, reinforce its value, and talk about how to apply it to their work every day.

Learn more about Jeff’s advice on how to bolster your customer service, including how the company, Rackspace, successfully did so using the strategy above.

 

STEPHEN MANN – THE PERFECT STORM DRIVING ENTERPRISE SERVICE MANAGEMENT

@stephenmann

“Enterprise Service Management” has been around for over 10 years, but why are people talking about it as though it’s a new “trend?” Stephen Mann, principal analyst and content director for the ITSM industry analyst firm ITSM.tools, recognizes the renewed interest in enterprise service management, and it’s not only because itfinally has a universally-accepted name!

In his post, The Perfect Storm Driving Enterprise Service Management, Mann writes that the tenets of enterprise service management is that it has broad applications well beyond the IT organization. Finance, marketing, facilities, HR, legal, and operations all have a need to respond to service requests for help, or information, and it’s in this greater organizational need that drives enterprise service management. Enterprise service management tools, such as Vivantio, provides utility across a number of diverse business functions so that organizations can realize greater value from the solutions those tools provide, such as workflows, automation, and alerts.

Read on to learn more about the resurgence of enterprise service management in today’s service economy and the impact it can bring to the entire organization

Topics: Service Management ITSM ITSM Trends Service Strategy
2 min read

How to Create An Effective Self-Service Strategy

By Staff Writer on 2/23/18 9:00 AM

ARE YOUR CUSTOMERS ENGAGED?

With the levels of self-service provided by the likes of Amazon, ASOS, and Zappos, service desks are under mounting pressures to match their service levels, despite having fewer resources. In fact, The Service Desk Institute (SDI) has research that shows that a whopping 64% of service desk professionals keenly recognize this pressure and are ready to respond.

Yet, in an industry where technology is developing at a rapid pace, many service desks struggle to do self-service well. However, unlocking the potential of this technology can greatly increase service desk efficiency and customer experience.

 

LEARN FROM SELF-SERVICE EXPERTS

In partnership with SDI, Vivantio staged and recorded a webinar where you’ll hear about how self-service has been successfully used by real organizations to improve customer satisfaction as well as drive efficiency of the service desk.

In the webinar, Vivantio’s Helen Heyns will be sharing real customer stories and her industry expertise:

“The Self-Service portal (SSP) plays a key role in the customer experience; it’s the shop window and it represents your professionalism, brand and competence in dealing with your customer’s queries and issues. I would love to show you how a well-built self-service portal will improve the efficiency and performance of your teams and in turn increase organizational ROI.” – Helen Heyns, Senior Technical Consultant, Vivantio

From this webinar, you will learn:

  • What a Self Service Portal is and how it works
  • An array of Self Service Portal best practices
  • The multitude of benefits a Self Service Portal brings to the service desk, to customers, and to the overall business ROI – if it’s done right
  • Why investing in a new or improved Self Service Portal now can be a sound decision.
Topics: Service Management Customer Self-Service Self-Service Service Strategy
1 min read

Application Lifecycle Management in Vivantio

By Andrew Stevens on 9/26/17 9:00 AM

CAN VIVANTIO BE USED AS AN ALM TOOL?

The answer is yes. Vivantio is flexible enough to be configured to model your development processes, whether you’re using Agile, Scrum, Waterfall, Spiral, or some combination of these. The combination of multiple ticket areas, workflow, asset, and knowledge management gives you almost everything you need.

 

WHAT CAN’T VIVANTIO DO?

There’s still a couple of things Vivantio can’t do. Some examples are:

  • Source control
  • Software development

 

SHOULD I USE VIVANTIO FOR ALM?

Probably not, at least not just Vivantio. Using it with a combination of tools like Team Foundation Server would be a more optimal solution.

That being said, there is definitely a place for Vivantio in your ALM activities. It is very unlikely your developers will want to share their ALM software suite with the support team. However, there is a good chance that Vivantio can help a support team supplement their development team’s efforts.

Topics: Service Management Vivantio Customer Center Lifecycle Management
7 min read

How to Integrate Microsoft Team Foundation Server (TFS) with Vivantio

By Andrew Stevens on 9/26/17 9:00 AM

PREREQUISITES

In order to connect Vivantio to TFS, you’re going to need:

  • Admin access to your Vivantio instance
  • Admin access to your TFS instance
  • A user account in TFS for Vivantio
  • The IP address(es) for your TFS servers

BASIC CONFIGURATION

Step 1:

Log in to Vivantio, open the Admin Area, and select TFS under the Integration & API heading on the left menu:

TFS Credentials Empty

The first screen you’ll see will prompt you for the version of TFS you’re using, and the credentials to use.

  • If you’re using TFS 2012/13, or 2015, enter a username and password.
  • If you’re using TFS 2017 or VSTS, enter a username and a Personal Access Token. For details on creating a PAT, see the MSDN documentation here.

Having entered those and hit the ‘Save’ button.

Step 2:

The bottom of the screen will update to show a couple of different URLs: the Work Item Alert URL, and the Service Hook URL:

TFS Credentials Populated

You’ll use one of these URLs when you set TFS up to send information back into Vivantio. We’ll get more into that later. But, while you’re here, you should configure the IP Range for Vivantio to accept requests from, using the ‘IP Range’ button in the menu bar:

Jira IP range buttonJira IP range dialogue

Having configured those, you can move on to the next tab, Ticket to Work Item Mapping.

 

TICKET TO WORK ITEM MAPPING

You can control which types of Vivantio Ticket can be mapped to which types of TFS Work Item by setting up Ticket to Work Item Mappings. This prevents the wrong type of information being transferred or the wrong type of records being created.

Team Foundation Service Ticket To Work Item Mapping Empty

When creating a Ticket to Work Item Mapping, you’ll be prompted for a number of different things:

  • Project Collection – The Project Collection in TFS
  • Project – The Project in TFS
  • Work Item Type – The Work Item Type in TFS
  • Ticket Type – The type of Ticket within Vivantio

These control the basics of the mapping. On the next tab, Sync Options, there are settings relating to the sync of data between:

Team Foundation Server Ticket To Work Item Mapping Empty Sync Options

You can configure Vivantio to automatically send updates to TFS when the Vivantio Ticket is updated. (Note: This option does not force TFS to update Vivantio. That has to be configured within TFS itself.)

Finally, you can add additional field mappings:

Team Foundation Server Ticket To Work Item Mapping Empty Field Mappings

As standard, Vivantio will populate the Work Item Title and Description; if you want to add additional mappings, e.g. for custom fields, you can do so here.

After choosing the appropriate options, hit ‘Save’, and you’re ready to start creating TFS Work Items.

 

CREATING A NEW WORK ITEM

When viewing a Ticket in Vivantio, under the “More…” menu item, you’ll see the option to “Create New TFS Work Item”:

Jira Create New Jira Issue Menu Item 1

Clicking that button will bring up the “Create New TFS Work Item” dialog:

Team Foundation Service Create New Work Item Dialog Empty

You can optionally enter Notes for the Vivantio Ticket History, then hit ‘Save’ to create the TFS Work Item. After a short period of time, you’ll see a TFS tab appear on the Ticket Details:

Team Foundation Service Ticket Details Tfs Sub Tab

That includes a link to view the Work Item in TFS, along with options to unlink the ticket from TFS, or to add a direct comment to the TFS Work Item, which can be useful if you didn’t choose to automatically sync actions.

 

GETTING INFORMATION BACK FROM TFS

The next step in the process is getting information added to TFS sent into Vivantio. This is done using one of two mechanisms, depending on what version of TFS you’re using:

  • Work Item Alerts (TFS 2015 or earlier)
  • Service Hooks (TFS 2017 / VSTS)

The configuration is pretty similar either way.

Creating a Work Item Alert

(The Microsoft documentation on Work Item Alerts can be found here.)

Work Item Alerts are the ‘older’ of the two mechanisms that can be used for TFS to update Vivantio. If you’re using a version of TFS that supports Service Hooks, we suggest you use those instead. However, if you do want to use Work Item Alerts, you can do so easily.

You can follow the instructions in the MS documentation to configure the basics of the Work Item Alert – which work items the alert is for, and when. The main difference is that rather than having the alert delivered to an email address, you’ll select the ‘SOAP’ option, and enter in your Work Item URL:

Team Foundation Server TFS Create Work Item Alert

TFS will then send a HTTP request to Vivantio when the alert fires, and Vivantio will add the details of the update as a Note on the ticket.

Creating a Service Hook

(The Microsoft documentation on Service Hooks can be found here.)

Service Hooks are a newer feature within TFS–introduced in TFS 2015. We don’t currently have Vivantio listed within TFS as a dedicated option, so on the first page of the Create Service Hook wizard, you’ll choose the “Webhooks” option:

Team Foundation Server New Service Hook Step 1

On the next page of the wizard, you’ll choose the type of event the Service Hook triggers on:

Team Foundation Service New Service Hook Step 2

Right now, we only support Work Item Commented On and Work Item Updated, but we’re working on introducing support for other events soon. Enter any filters you want for the area or work item type, then move on to the last step:

Team Foundation Server New Service Hook Step 3

All you need to do here is add your Service Hook URL, then click Finish. TFS will then start sending updates on Work Items back in to Vivantio.

If you’re using Vivantio and TFS, and you don’t yet have them integrated, give it a try, and see how it can help you improve communications between your Service Desk and your development team!

Topics: Customer Center Service Integrations Types of System Integration Microsoft Teams TFS Integration Types of Service Integrations
6 min read

How to Integrate JIRA with Vivantio

By Andrew Stevens on 9/26/17 9:00 AM

PREREQUISITES

In order to connect Vivantio to JIRA, you’re going to need:

  • Admin access to your Vivantio instance
  • Admin access to your JIRA instance
  • A user account in JIRA for Vivantio
  • The IP address(es) for your JIRA servers

BASIC CONFIGURATION

Step 1:

Log into Vivantio, open the Admin Area, and select JIRA under the Integration & API heading on the left menu:

Screenshot of Jira Empty

The first screen you’ll see will prompt you for your JIRA credentials. Enter them and hit ‘Save’.

Step 2:

The bottom of the screen will update to show your unique Webhook URL:

Screenshot of Jira Credentials Populated

You’ll use this URL when configuring Webhooks within JIRA.

However: before you can do that, you need to configure the IP Range for Vivantio to accept requests from, using the ‘IP Range’ button in the menu bar:

Jira IP Range ButtonJira IP Range Dialogue

Having configured those options, you can move on to the next tab, Ticket to Issue Mapping.

 

TICKET TO ISSUE MAPPING

Jira Ticket to Issue Mapping Empty

You can control which types of Vivantio Ticket can be mapped to which types of JIRA Issue by setting up Ticket to Issue Mappings. This prevents the wrong type of information being transferred or the wrong type of records being created.

When creating a Ticket to Issue Mapping, you’ll be prompted for a number of different things:

  • Ticket Type – the Vivantio Ticket Type
  • Project – the Project in JIRA
  • Issue Type – the Issue Type in JIRA
  • Vivantio ID Custom Field – if you have a custom field in JIRA that you want to use to store the Vivantio Ticket ID, you can enter the (system) field name here. This will usually be in the format ‘customfield_10010’
  • Link Issue to Ticket – JIRA has a concept of ‘links’ within a ticket – checking this box will add a link to the Vivantio Ticket to the Issue in JIRA
  • Action / Attachment Sync – you can configure Vivantio to automatically send updates to JIRA when the Vivantio Ticket is updated (Note: this option does not force JIRA to update Vivantio though. That has to be configured within JIRA itself.)

After choosing the appropriate options, hit ‘Save’, and you’re ready to start creating JIRA Issues.

 

CREATING A NEW ISSUE

When viewing a Ticket in Vivantio, under the “More…” menu item, you’ll see the option to “Create New JIRA Issue”:

Jira Create New Jira Issue Menu Item 1

Clicking that button will bring up the “Create New JIRA Issue” dialog:

Jira Create New Jira Issue Dialogue

You can optionally enter Notes for the Vivantio Ticket History, then hit ‘Save’ to create the JIRA Issue. After a short period of time, you’ll see a JIRA tab appear on the Ticket Details:

Jira Ticket Details Jira Sub Tab

That includes a link to view the Issue in JIRA, along with options to unlink the ticket from JIRA, or to add a direct comment to the JIRA Issue – useful if you didn’t choose to automatically sync actions.

 

GETTING INFORMATION BACK FROM JIRA

The next step in the process is getting information added to JIRA sent into Vivantio. This is done using Webhooks in JIRA. Full documentation on Webhooks can be found here, but we’ll briefly walk you through the steps required to configure them.

Back in the Vivantio Admin Area, you’ll find your unique Webhook URL, which will look something like:

https://url-to-your-vivantio-instance/webhooks/jira/event?accesskey=xxx-yyy-zzz

Make a note of this, head in to the “System” section of the JIRA Admin Area, and find the ‘WebHooks” menu option under “Advanced” (towards the bottom left of the screen). You’ll then have the option to “Create WebHook”, which is going to give you a screen more-or-less similar to the below:

Jira New WebHook

You can enter whatever you want for the “Name”. Vivantio doesn’t use that field. Add your Unique URL in, then head down to the “Events” section, where you choose when you want the Webhook to fire, and for which Issues:

Jira-JIra-New-WebHook-Select-Events

It’s up to you exactly which events you want the Webhook to fire for. For example, you might want to just have the Webhook fire when an Issue is updated or a Comment is added. More advanced users might want to configure the Webhook to only fire for specific transitions as a post function in a Workflow. (Note: see here in the Atlassian docs for more info on that.)

Having done that, you then need to set Vivantio up to listen for that specific event, and decide what actions to take. Back in the JIRA section of the Vivantio Admin Area, select the Webhooks tab, click Add, and choose the type of Ticket you want the Webhook to run for. Completing that step will show you the Add Webhook dialog:

Jira Vivantio Add Webhook

In the name field, you’ll enter either a standard event name (such as ‘issue:updated’) or the name of a transition. For simple integrations, you can then choose to just add the JIRA Comments as Notes–then when the Webhook in JIRA fires, the comments will be added to Vivantio.

If you’re using transitions though, you might want more complicated actions to take place – for example, when an Issue is resolved in JIRA, you might want to change the status of the Vivantio ticket. You can do that using the Actions grid at the bottom of the page.

And there you have it: bi-directional integration between Vivantio and JIRA. If you’re using Vivantio and JIRA, and you don’t yet have them integrated, give it a try, and see how it can help you improve communications between your Service Desk and your development team!

Topics: Customer Center Service Integrations Types of Service Integrations JIRA
2 min read

How to Use the Vivantio Report Catalog

By Andrew Stevens on 7/27/17 9:00 AM

WHAT IS THE REPORT CATALOG?

All Vivantio customers receive the same standard out-of-the-box reports when they start out with Vivantio. However, every customer has different requirements for reporting in Vivantio, and the out-of-the-box reports are meant as a starting point, only. During your implementation, your Implementation Consultant will work with you to assess your reporting requirements and either build reports for you or empower you to build your own reports using the Vivantio Report Builder.

During the nearly 15 years our implementation team have been going through that process, we’ve seen many different reporting requirements from a lot of different customers. Some are pretty unique. Others have made us think: “Wow, we need to make this available to everyone!” While we don’t want to fill up every customer system with hundreds of reports that aren’t relevant, we did want to find a way to share these reports with all our customers.

Hence the introduction of the Vivantio Report Catalog: a “marketplace” of Reports that you can browse through. If you find a report you like, you can import it into your Vivantio instance, where you can then customize it using the Vivantio Report Builder.

 

HOW DO I USE THE REPORT CATALOG?

Once the Report Catalog is enabled in your system, you need to choose which Roles have access to it. This is done under:

Admin » Reporting » Reports » Access Control

On that screen, when editing a Role, you can grant the Role the “View Report Catalog” permission. Having enabled that for a Role, when a member of that Role is logged in, they will see the Report Catalog link under the Reports section of the left menu. Clicking that link will open the Report Catalog in a new window, allowing you to browse the selection of available reports, preview them, and then import them into your Vivantio instance. After importing a report, it’s available within Vivantio (and the Vivantio Report Builder) like any other report. So, you can customize it, add branding, change the data, whatever you need!

 

CAN I PUT MY REPORTS INTO THE REPORT CATALOG FOR OTHER VIVANTIO CUSTOMERS TO SEE?

We won’t be making this available by default. If you have a report that you’re particularly proud of or think other customers would find useful, please contact our support team and let them know. We will then review and contact you with a time to chat and see if we can include it.

Topics: Vivantio Customer Center Report Catalog Report Catalogue

Vivantio Meets ITIL & Performance Demands For Global Car Manufacturer

By Staff Writer on 1/12/17 9:00 AM

 


Alan Shrimpton, IT Strategy Manager at a global car manufacturer, weighs in on why his organization chose Vivantio and their experience using the ITSM Platform to meet their ITIL and performance requirements.

 

Topics: ITIL ITSM Solution ITIL Project Management Video
1 min read

SIAM Group Test: How It Works and How Vivantio Compares

By Staff Writer on 7/14/16 9:00 AM

LEARN HOW VIVANTIO’S INTEGRATION CAPABILITIES REALLY COMPARE.

When considering possible ITSM tools, one key element to consider is how well each product will integrate with your available resources to provide a seamless IT organization. With so many options out there, it can be difficult to determine what will work best for your team. In order to see how our product compares, Vivantio participated in a SIAM group test that was run by The ITSM Review. The ITSM Review is an IT community that focuses on sharing knowledge about various tools out there that are available to professionals. But, what is a SIAM group test exactly? Let’s explain.

 

WHAT IS A SIAM GROUP TEST?

SIAM (service integration and management) is a framework for managing multiple suppliers of IT services and integrating them to provide a single, business-facing IT organization.

In other words, SIAM is all about joining all of your IT tools – email, systems monitoring, development tracking, notification services, etc. – into one unified hub, saving your service team time and money while never losing out on important data.

 

THE RESULTS ARE IN

Vivantio took part in the Group Test and garnered some high praise.

“What really impressed me about Vivantio was their dedication to making life easier for beleaguered Ops and Supplier Managers,” wrote Vawns Murphy, senior ITSM analyst for ITSM Review parent Enterprise Opinions and author of the study. “The use of technology to not only support integration but also automate pre-defined responses to ticket event, really makes this a strong contender in the tools universe.”

“The Vivantio ethos is to deliver flexible, reliable, trusted ITSM software to empower the delivery of service excellence to the customer organisation. From the product demonstration, this ethos was clear to see as the flexibility of the product spans interfaces from everything; from Microsoft to Google,” Murphy goes on to write.

For the full results of the SIAM Group Test, visit The ITSM Review.

Topics: News & Awards Vivantio Service Integrations SIAM
1 min read

PC Magazine Notes Vivantio’s Integration Power

By Staff Writer on 5/12/16 9:00 AM

TECH EXPERTS AT PC MAG TAKE NOTE OF VIVANTIO'S INTEGRATION CAPABILITIES.

If you’re familiar with our platform, you already know that flexibility is a big theme for Vivantio. This theme ties directly into our platform’s approach to integrations. The Vivantio Platform is a workhorse in IT service management in its own right. But, the typical service team may utilize dozens of different tools in day-to-day operations, making it imperative that the Platform work in-sync with all the pieces in your service ecosystem.

 

LEARN DIRECTLY FROM THE EXPERTS AT PCMAG

PC Magazine published a great piece on taking the Vivantio Platform’s functionality to the next level by integrating with key outside tools.

Read the full story here: 4 Integrations for a More Powerful Vivantio Experience.

Topics: News Vivantio Service Integrations
1 min read

How to Set Up Asset Synchronization

By Andrew Stevens on 1/21/16 9:00 AM

ASSET SYNCHRONIZATION IN VIVANTIO

If you’re running an IT service desk or managed service provider using Vivantio, you’ve probably got some IT assets out there. When your end users log a ticket with you, there’s a good chance that it will relate to one of those assets.

If you’re using an Asset Discovery tool, then you’ve also got a database of those assets somewhere. Asset Synchronization allows your technicians to get all the information they need from that database within Vivantio.

 

WHAT YOU NEED FOR ASSET SYNCHRONIZATION

You can use the Vivantio API to build your own Asset Synchronization, but there is another way. Depending on where your data is stored, there are a couple of out-of-the-box options available via the Vivantio Integration Services Component.

 

WHAT IS THE INTEGRATION SERVICES COMPONENT?

The Integration Services Component (ISC) is an application you install on your local network. It is designed to run one of several different types of task that require access to local resources, such as your Asset Discovery database. In terms of tasks available from your ISC, there are quite a few including:

  • Asset Sync (what you will use for Asset Synchronization)
  • Active Directory Sync
  • Scheduled Export

The ISC can be downloaded via the Admin Area in Vivantio. Basic setup can be performed via the installer.

 

WHAT ASSET DISCOVERY TOOLS CAN I CONNECT TO?

The Asset Sync connects directly to the database used by your chosen Asset Discovery tool. At the time of this post, we have support for:

  • SQL Server
  • SQLite databases

It should be noted that connecting directly to the database has pros and cons, but this allows us to connect with the widest range of tools.

Topics: Customer Center Service Integrations Types of System Integration ISC
2 min read

When and How to Use the Vivantio API

By Andrew Stevens on 11/18/15 9:00 AM

WHEN SHOULD I USE THE VIVANTIO API?

We’d encourage the use of Webhooks and Web Methods wherever possible for a number of reasons such as:

  • You don’t need to write any code.
  • They’re hosted within Vivantio so don’t need to be deployed separately.

But there are a number of situations where the API is the better or only choice. Let’s explain with two most common instances: Integrating with Legacy Systems and Developing Custom Applications.


INTEGRATING WITH LEGACY SYSTEMS

In this case, you’ll be integrating Vivantio with another system that:

  • Doesn’t have an HTTP API (or doesn’t support HTTP Basic Authentication)
  • Isn’t externally accessible
  • Doesn’t support Webhooks to send data to other applications

With this situation, you’ll need to write custom middleware to push data to and pull data from the external system. Our API can help with that.

(It’s worth noting that you might find Webhooks and Web Methods are still useful in this scenario. Webhooks are still the only way to have Vivantio automatically push data out in response to another event. Web Methods can also simplify the code you have to write on your side to interact with Vivantio.)

DEVELOPING CUSTOM APPLICATIONS

In this case, you might be developing your own software and need Vivantio to communicate with it.

For example, Vivantio includes a comprehensive and flexible Self Service Portal, but maybe it doesn’t quite work for you. If you need features available that aren’t supported in the standard SSP, you might want to create your own.

In this kind of scenario or ones similar to it, utilizing our API could be more appropriate.

 

HOW DO I USE THE VIVANTIO API?

There are two key resources available to help you get started: Code Samples and Documentation and the API Reference.

CODE SAMPLES AND DOCUMENTATION

The best place to start is the API Samples repo on our GitHub page. Here you’ll find:

  • Documentation on the core concepts of the API such as API Design, Authentication and Querying
  • Code samples (Note: currently only in .Net, but we’re working on other languages.)

You can also jump straight to our live samples to see sample applications running.

API REFERENCE

Once you’ve got the basics down and are comfortable working with the API, you can find a complete list of available endpoints and methods in the API Reference.

 

WHAT CAN YOU DO WITH THE VIVANTIO API?

Quite a lot! Vivantio was developed API-first, so the majority of the functions available within Vivantio are available via the API.

We should note that administrative features are not available in the API and only available in the main GUI.

Topics: Vivantio Customer Center Service Integrations API Integration Tools
7 min read

How to Create Simple Contact Forms with Web Methods

By Andrew Stevens on 11/10/15 9:00 AM

CREATING THE WEB METHOD

To create a Web Method in Vivantio, log into the platform, open the Admin Area, and go to:

Integration & API » Web Methods

screenshot of web methods admin area

(If you don’t see Web Methods in this menu, please contact our support team.)

When you reach this screen, select the “Add” button. You’ll then get a dialog with a box for you to enter a name and a few sub tabs below to fill in. Submit a name and then move onto the first tab.

BASIC DETAILS

screenshot of add web method basic details

In this example, because we’re going for a simple form POST, we won’t be authenticating.

So, select Access Key Auth, and enter the IP range of the web server(s) that will host the form.

(Note: We’ve gone for 0.0.0.0 and 255.255.255.255 in our example. Don’t do that in practice!)

The other options on this tab are:

  • HTTP Method
  • Request Content Type

As this is a web form we’re dealing with, you will want to select ‘POST’ and ‘application/x-www-form-urlencoded’ respectively.

PARAMETERS

screenshot of vivantion add web wethod parameters

You can add as many parameters as you like, depending on how complicated you want your form to be.

In this example, we’ve kept it simple with:

  • First Name
  • Last Name
  • Email Address
  • Subject
  • Description

They are all configured in the same way.

ACTIONS

In this example, we want to create a Ticket when the Web Method is called. So, on the Action tab, choose

Add » Create Incident

(Note: You can use whichever of your Ticket Types is more appropriate for the situation.)

screenshot of vivantio add web method actions

After you’ve selected your Action, you will get a popup with two tabs: Conditions and New Record Details.

In this example, we want a Ticket to be created every time the Web Method is called. So, we will leave the Conditions tab empty and move onto New Record Details.

screenshot of vivantio add web methods 2

In this example, you can see we’re using to pass our parameter values into the Ticket Details.

You’ll also want to note though that we’ve put some literal values in for the Priority and Category. In our example, we want these set for every contact form submission, but we don’t want the user to choose them, so we’re specifying fixed values.

RESPONSE

When you’re setting up the Response, you can configure up to three options:

  • Response Type – For this field, you have the choice between Content or Redirect. Content allows you to specify content to be returned to the user as part of the Response Body. Redirect let’s you send them to a specific website with a 302 redirect.
  • Response Content Type – For this field, you have the choice between JSON, XML, or Text/HTML. This field is only available when you select the Content option for the Response Type field. It will inform the user of the Web Method which data type to expect in return.
  • Response Template – This field allows you to enter the actual response you would like to send: either the content or the redirect URL. If your Web Method contains a “Create Ticket” action, you can use to refer to properties from the created ticket within the response template such as {{ticket.displayid}} to get the ID of the inserted ticket.

For our example, we’re going to set up a Content Response using the Content Type “Text/HTML” that shows a basic “Thank You” message and refers to the Ticket ID.

screenshot of add web method response

After you hit the “Save” button, you’ll be shown the unique URL for your Web Method.

screenshot of vivantio web method URL

 

CREATING THE CONTACT FORM

When creating the form, the things you need to know are:

  • The form method should be “POST”.
  • The form action should be the Web Method URL you noted earlier.
  • When you’re setting the names of your form inputs, they should match the names of the parameters you added earlier.

Here’s a sample form below that is ready to use apart from the action URL on the form:

<!DOCTYPE html>

<html lang=”en”>

<head>

<meta charset=”utf-8″>

<meta http-equiv=”X-UA-Compatible” content=”IE=edge”>

<meta name=”viewport” content=”width=device-width, initial-scale=1″>

<title>HTML Form &raquo; Web Method Example</title>

<link href=”https://maxcdn.bootstrapcdn.com/bootstrap/3.3.5/css/bootstrap.min.css” rel=”stylesheet”>

<!–[if lt IE 9]>

<script src=”https://oss.maxcdn.com/html5shiv/3.7.2/html5shiv.min.js”></script>

<script src=”https://oss.maxcdn.com/respond/1.4.2/respond.min.js”></script>

<![endif]–>

</head>

<body>

<div class=”container”>

<div class=”row”>

<div class=”col-lg-6 col-offset-lg-3″>

<form method=”POST” action=”YOUR WEB METHOD URL HERE”>

<div class=”form-group”>

<label for=”firstname”>First Name</label>

<input type=”text” class=”form-control” id=”firstname” name=”firstname” />

</div>

<div class=”form-group”>

<label for=”lastname”>Last Name</label>

<input type=”text” class=”form-control” id=”lastname” name=”lastname” />

</div>

<div class=”form-group”>

<label for=”email”>Your Email Address</label>

<input type=”email” class=”form-control” id=”email” name=”email” />

</div>

<div class=”form-group”>

<label for=”subject”>What can we help with?</label>

<input type=”text” class=”form-control” id=”subject” name=”subject” />

</div>

<div class=”form-group”>

<label for=”description”>Any additional details?</label>

<textarea class=”form-control” id=”description” name=”description” rows=”10″>

 

(Note: You’ll note that we’ve referenced Bootstrap in this sample. You do not have to do that and can use whatever UI framework you like.)

Here’s what the sample form would look like in practice:

vivantio web method form sample

Using the code, you can publish the form to your website. After a user fills in and submits the form, a Ticket will be created via the Web Method. The user will then see the content configured on the Web Method Response.

Topics: Customer Center Service Integrations Types of System Integration API Integration Tools WebMethods
3 min read

How to Integrate BeyondTrust (Formerly Bomgar) with Vivantio

By Andrew Stevens on 11/4/15 9:00 AM

Editorial Note: In September 2018, privileged access management (PAM) provider Bomgar acquired BeyondTrust and now operates under this name. We’ve since updated this article text to reflect that change.

 

BEYONDTRUST API

You can access the BeyondTrust API documentation here.

 

BASIC CONFIGURATION

There are three main steps required to configure everything in Vivantio:

  1. Create a Custom Form to hold the BeyondTrust Session Details
  2. Create an Email Template to send the session details to customer
  3. Create the Webhook to allows the technician to create the session

CUSTOM FORM

Why do you need a Custom Form?

The “Generate Session” method in the BeyondTrust API gives us back a number of different values and we will need these to be available in Vivantio.

The main value we need is the “key_url” field, but you can also set up fields for:

  • Expiry Date
  • Queue
  • Short Key
  • Key URL

Begin by logging into Vivantio and going to the Admin Area. You will then go to:

System Areas » Incidents » Custom Forms

From there, you can start adding fields:

screenshot of beyondtrust vivantio custom forms and fields

(Note: All of the field can be created as “Read only” fields as they will be populated by the Webhook and not end users.)

Having created the fields: create a Custom Form with those fields on the following screen:

screenshot of beyondtrust vivantio custom form

EMAIL TEMPLATE

In order to create the Email Template, navigate to:

Admin » System Areas » Incidents » Templates » External Emails

From there, you can click the “Add” button and enter the email you would like to be sent to your end user. You can see our example below:

screenshot of beyondtrust vivantio email template

After saving the email, make sure that the template is available for the “Add Note” process by using the “Action Types” button on the email template list.

WEBHOOK

In order to create the Webook, navigate to:

Admin » Integration & API » Webhooks

From there, you can click the “Add Webhook” button. You will then choose “Incident” and see the Add Webhook screen. You can name this what you like, but, for our example, we will name it “Start BeyondTrust Session”. From there, you will need to fill out a number of tabbed parameters. You can see an example of what that will look like below:

screenshot of beyondtrust vivantio add webhook

Notes on Specific Fields:

Basic Details » Request URL:

This is the format it should be in:

https://instance.beyondtrust.com/api/command?username=username&password=password&action=generate_session_key&type=support&queue_id=general

The bolded and italicized values should be specific to your BeyondTrust account. You might also want to change the “type” and “queue_id” values to match your instance.

Response Fields:

This tab allows us to extract information from the BeyondTrust response and put it in a Custom Form. We recommend using XPath to get the values out. Here’s an example of what that would look like in practice:

screenshot of beyondtrust vivantio response fields

USING THE WEBHOOK

Having completed all of these steps, you should be able to see the “Start BeyondTrust Session” link on the Ticket Details page such as in the example below:

screenshot of beyondtrust vivantio webhook session

When selecting that option, an email should be sent to your customer, complete with a link to join the BeyondTrust session.

Topics: Customer Center Service Integrations Types of System Integration API Integration Tools Bomgar
3 min read

How Trigger Rules Automate Your Unique Business Processes

By Andrew Stevens on 10/19/15 9:00 AM

WHAT ARE TRIGGER RULES?

Trigger Rules is a mechanism that Vivantio users can use to automate processes. The basic concept behind Trigger Rules is:

When a certain condition is met, an action occurs.

They are useful in a wide range of scenarios, but a few common examples are:

  • Sending out surveys after a ticket is closed.
  • Automatically setting the ticket priority when a specific category of ticket is logged.
  • Taking a ticket off “Hold” when it is updated by a customer.

HOW DO THEY WORK IN PRACTICE?

We’ll use a very specific example to help explain: sending an SMS via Twilio for a CopperEgg alert.

(Note: For this example, we will assume you have already set up a CopperEgg Web Method integration and a Twilio Webhook integration.)

BUSINESS RULES

Under Admin » System Areas » Incidents, you will find a menu option for “Business Rules”:

Vivantio Business Rules 1

Within this section, there are three different types of rule available:

  • Routing – These are simple rules to assign new tickets to specific groups or users.
  • Escalation – These are time-based rules used to take action on tickets as SLA targets are approached or breached.
  • Trigger – This is the focus of our example and where you can set an action to occur when a specific condition is met.

Under the Trigger Rules tab, you will be able to click the “Add” button, which will bring you to the following screen:

Vivantio Business Rules 2

Under this screen, you will have a few elements to fill out:

  • Rule Name – This is where you can name the rule to whatever you want.
  • Execute When – You will have the choice beween “Ticket first meets condition” and “Matching Ticket updated”. “Ticket first meets condition” will only execute the action the first time a specific ticket meets the condition. “Matching Ticket updated” executes the action whenever a matching ticket is updated.

To explain each content tab, let’s run through them:

Select Tickets

This is where you will use the Vivantio Expression Builder to set the condition. For our example, we will set this for “Run this rule for tickets with the CopperEgg Alert category” as seen below:

Vivantio Business Rules 3

Timing

This is where you can set timing rules around when the action is completed. For our example, we will want to select the default option of “Immediately”, because we want the SMS to be sent out as soon as the ticket is created:

Vivantio Business Rules 4

There might be scenarios where you want to delay the action. This is where you can control that.

Actions

This is where we define the action that takes place once the condition is met. There are a number of different processes available, but, for our example, we’re only interested in “Send SMS via Twilio” under Webhooks:

Vivantio Business Rules 5

Under that option, it will bring you to a screen where you can set the recipient and text sent. You can also leave an optional note regarding the action.

After saving the rule, you have finished. With this example, the next time CopperEgg creates an alert, the SMS you created will be sent and be noted in Vivantio:

Vivantio Business Rules 11

 

Topics: Service Management Customer Center Automation
12 min read

How to Set up SMS Messaging in Vivantio’s ITSM Software Using Webhooks

By Andrew Stevens on 10/12/15 9:00 AM

LEVERAGING WEBHOOKS IN SERVICE MANAGEMENT

In this post:

  • Webhooks: what they are and why they exist.
  • Worked example: How to leverage Webhooks to send SMS messages from The Vivantio Platform using Twilio (Highly technical)

In our last Customer Center post we looked at the what and why of Web Methods and how they can be used to create lightweight endpoints to receive messages from external services such as CopperEgg. In this post, we’re going to look at what you might call the opposite of Web Methods: Webhooks.

What is a Webhook?

Webhooks are nothing new in the tech sphere. Jeff Lindsay came up with the term Webhook in 2007, and if you’re interested, you can read more about the general principle here. If you’ve been following the series, you’ll know that in the last blog post we looked at using Webhooks coming from Copper Egg to send information to Vivantio. The basic goal of a Webhook is to allow one system to connect to another via a HTTP request to carry out an action of some description – telling us an alert condition was detected in the CopperEgg example. So in this post we’re going to look at how you can use Webhooks coming from Vivantio to send information to other systems.

 

Why use Webhooks?

If you’re looking at integrating Vivantio’s ITSM software with another business tool – CRM, Bug Tracking, Billing, etc. – there’s a good chance the system you’re integrating with is going to need to know when something has happened in Vivantio, such as a new Ticket has been logged or a Ticket has been closed. Without Webhooks, you’d probably end up with a solution that polls the Vivantio API looking for new events you’re interested in and then doing something with them. There are a few downsides to that approach:

  • You’ve got a lot of code to write and maintain
  • You have to find somewhere to deploy it
  • Your IT solution is either a. very chatty or b. slow to respond to events (or both!)

Webhooks solve some or all of those problems:

  • You don’t need to write code*
  • They’re contained within the Vivantio ITSM Platform
  • Event notifications are sent in near real-time

*At least not in Vivantio’s service management tool. Depending on the system you’re integrating with, you might have to write some code to handle the request coming out of Vivantio – we can’t always help you out there! But feel free to email support@vivantio.com and we might be able to give you some pointers, examples or best practices.

 

Worked Example – SMS via Twilio

Vivantio Webhooks allow you to easily get up and running with with SMS messaging. There are a number of SMS providers out there with HTTP APIs. Our favorite of these providers is Twilio. In this example we’re going to walk you through setting up a Webhook in Vivantio that lets you easily send an SMS message via Twilio.

To follow this example, you’ll need to sign up for a Twilio account. Once you’ve done that, make a note of your Account SID and Auth Token from the “My Account” page:

Vivantio SMS 1

You’ll also need to set up a “From” phone number. You can do this in the “Numbers” section of your account:

Vivantio SMS 2

Finally, take a look at Twilio’s API documentation here. That describes the format of the HTTP request that should be sent to Twilio:

Vivantio HTTP SMS 3

The next step is to set Vivantio up to send a message to Twilio similar to the one shown above. So log in to Vivantio and head to Admin → Integration → API → Webhooks:

Vivantio SMS

If you don’t see that option there, contact us via email or our support portal and we’ll enable it for you.

Once you’re there, click “Add Webhook” and you’ll see a list of your available Ticket Types.

Vivantio SMS 5

Choose one, and you’ll see the Add Webhook dialog, starting off with the Basic Details tab.

 

Basic Details

Vivantio SMS 15

First up we’re going to give it a name – here, we’ll be using “Send SMS via Twilio.” Then you have a few other simple fields to fill out:

Request URL

This is the URL at Twilio we want to make the HTTP request to when the Webhook is run. You can get this from your Twilio account. It’ll look something like:

https://api.twilio.com/2010-04-01/Accounts/YourAccountSID/Messages.json

Add that into Vivantio:

Vivantio SMS URL

HTTP Method

This is the method the request will use. At the moment we only support GET and POST; for Twilio, we’re going to use POST:

Vivantio HTTP Method

Username / Password

Your username is your Twilio Account SID; your password is your Auth Token. If you’re following this walk-through, you’ll have noted these down earlier:

Vivantio SMS username

Response Content Type

In this example, we’re not going to do anything with the response we get from the request to Twilio, so this isn’t crucial. The response will be in JSON format though, so let’s pick that:

Vivantio SMS json

Action Description

The final box lets you enter some text to appear in the Ticket History after the Webhook has been executed. You can enter whatever you want here:

Vivantio SMS Twillio

Advanced users can use the to reference parameters so that parts of the Webhook can appear in the Ticket History. That can be left as an exercise for the reader to experiment with!

With the Basic Details complete, we move on to the next tab, Parameters.

 

Parameters

Vivantio SMS Parameters

When the Webhook executes, Vivantio is going to send some data to another system. Sometimes, that data is going to come from within the Ticket that started off the Webhook like the Ticket ID or Description, for example. Sometimes though, you might want to allow the person running the Webhook to enter a value to use in the Webhook. In our example, we want to let the user enter a) the text to be sent in the SMS, and b) the number to send it to, so we’re going to add two parameters – Recipient and Text.

Recipient

As you might have guessed, this represents who is going to receive the SMS.

Vivantio SMS Recipient

Name

The label that will appear on screen next to the input field when the user runs the Webhook – we’ve gone with “Recipient”. This is also used to reference the value within the Webhook body as we’ll see a bit later.

Read Only

Whether or not the end user can edit the field when they run the Webhook. In our example we’ll allow the user to adjust the number if needed but in the real world you might want to restrict this.

Data Type

The type of data that the field will allow. At the moment we only support alpha-numeric fields but we’ll be adding more as we continue to develop the Webhooks module. As always, if you need something that isn’t there, let us know!

Display Type

How the field will appear on screen. We only need a single line text box for the recipient phone number so we’ll choose “Freetext”.

Default Source

The “Default Source” for the parameter value, i.e. what the field will be populated with when the user runs the Webhook. You can either enter a fixed value or use the here to reference properties from the ticket. In this example we’ll use {{ticket.callerphone}} to get the phone number of the caller from the Ticket.

Text

For the second parameter, Text, we’ll use the values shown below. Although similar to the above, here we want a multi-line text box and we don’t need a Default Source specified.

Vivantio SMS Text

Now that the parameters are set up we can move on to the next tab, Request Body.

 

Request Body

Vivantio SMS Request Body

This is where we set up the actual HTTP request that will be sent to Twilio. To start, we’re going to set the Request Content Type to application/x-www-form-urlencoded – that’s the format Twilio accepts:

Next, we’re going to give it a name – here, we’ll be using “Send SMS via Twilio.” Then you have a few other simple fields to fill out:

Vivantio SMS json 2

For the Request Body, we need to go back to the Twilio API docs we saw earlier. The Twilio example given is:

Body=Jenny%20please%3F%21%20I%20love%20you%20<3&
To=%2B15558675309&
From=%2B14158141829&
MediaUrl=http://www.example.com/hearts.png

We don’t need the Media URL parameter and we’re going to take the Body and To fields from the parameters we created. Our Request Body is going to look like this:

From=YourTwilioFromNumber&To=&Body=

(Replace the italicized bit with your Twilio From Number – you did set one up earlier, right?)

That leaves us with:

Vivantio SMS Twillio

That’s all we need to send a basic SMS out. The next tabs along are “Response Fields” and “Response Actions.” We mentioned earlier that we won’t be using the response from Twilio so we’ll skip these two for now. An upcoming blog post will show you how to use Response Fields effectively. So we’ll go straight on to the final tab we’re interested in, Select Tickets.

Select Tickets

This tab lets you configure which Tickets the Webhook is available. In our example, it’s a simple restriction – where the “Caller Phone” field isn’t empty. If we haven’t got a phone number for the end user we can’t send them an SMS! Although, since we left the “Recipient” field editable by the technician, we could leave this blank so it appears for all tickets and you’d be able to enter the number when you run the Webhook.

In a more complicated scenario, you might want to restrict it so that SMS messages are only available on tickets logged by end users who have signed up to receive SMS updates. Or any of a variety of other scenarios.

Once you’ve done that, hit “Save” and you’ll see the Webhook in the list. We’re almost ready to use it:

Vivantio SMS webhooks

There’s one more step in the admin area: configuring Roles. You can restrict which Roles can execute each Webhook. By default no permissions are granted, so you’ll want to select the Webhook, hit “Roles” and drag over one of the roles you’re a member of:

Vivantio SMS viewing roles

All the configuration is done! Now, when you view a Ticket that meets the conditions set in the “Select Tickets” tab, you’ll see the Webhook appear in the “More” menu on the Ticket Details page:

Vivantio SMS incident

Clicking that option will bring up a dialog prompting you for any parameters (with defaults set, if configured):

Vivantio SMS parameters 2

Shortly after hitting “Save” your SMS will be sent.

Job done! Vivantio’s service management platform can now send SMS messages via Twilio without writing a single line of code (well…sort of…you had to write the body of a HTTP post, which is almost code – although our development team might take offense if we start calling that coding).

That wraps up this brief introduction to Webhooks. In our next blog post, we’ll be looking at using Business Rules to tie Web Methods and Webhooks together, to give you a more complete end-to-end view of the power of Web Method and Webhooks. You can get started with Webhooks now though – and if you find an interesting use case for them, let us know. We can help you set them up if required, and if what you’re doing is really cool, you might find yourself the subject of an upcoming post!

Topics: Customer Center Service Integrations API Integration Tools SMS Messaging
4 min read

How to Integrate CopperEgg with Vivantio

By Andrew Stevens on 10/5/15 9:00 AM

The primary method for integrating CopperEgg with Vivantio is through Web Methods.

WHAT ARE WEB METHODS?

Web Methods are lightweight HTTP endpoints that are configurable in Vivantio to receive HTTP requests. After receiving a request, Vivantio will then perform a series of actions using data from the request.

From the developer’s point-of-view, it’s similar to a web service, but you don’t write code for it. Web Methods are configured using a GUI.

WHY USE WEB METHODS?

Web Methods were originally developed to address when customers want to create tickets in Vivantio using an HTTP request made by other systems. We wanted to give our customers a way to create integrations without depending on the Vivantio API and development team resources or time.

 

BASIC CONFIGURATION

When creating a Notification Profile in CopperEgg, you can specify the “Destination” as a “Webhook”. This means the details of the CopperEgg alert will be sent as an HTTP post to the URL you specify. You can see an example of this below:

Vivantio Copper Egg 1

To give you an idea of the target process flow for the integration, it will look something like this:

Web Method Process Flow

After setting this up, you will need to find out what CopperEgg is going to send Vivantio as part of the notification. You can find this in the CopperEgg documentation. As an example, we will use the sample below:

{

“alertid” : 15688482,

“create_time” : “2015-03-11T16:30:52Z”,

“clear_time” : null,

“alert_text” : “V-SPICEWORKS: Lost Connectivity (Server Not Seen)”,

“tags” : [],

“kind” : “active”,

“alert_source” : “system”,

“details” :[

“description”,

“Additional Information”,

{

“inet” : “10.2.150.37”,

“Operating_System” : “Microsoft Windows Server 2012”,

“inet6” : “fe80::14da:773e:b5bf:ee20u0012”,

“hostname” : “V-SPICEWORKS”

}

] }

With this example in mind, let’s walk through how to create a Web Method in Vivantio that can respond to this type of alert.

 

WEB METHOD CONFIGURATION

(Note: In the future, we hope to have this down to a single button click for CopperEgg.)

Using the previous example, the first step for configuring your Web Method is to create a Category for CopperEgg alerts. You can find this in:

Admin » System Areas » Incidents » Configuration » Categories

From there, select “Add Root” and enter a name. For this example, we will use “Copper Egg Alert”.

Vivantio Copper Egg 3

For the next step, we will create a Custom Form to store the details of the CopperEgg alert. You can find this in:

Admin » System Areas » Incident » Custom Forms & Fields

Using the example, we are looking to store the “Alert ID”, “Alert Text”, and “Hostname”. As these will all be filled in by the Web Method, they can all be created as “Read only” for the Field Type.

CopperEgg Add Field

Once you create the three fields, we can create a Custom Form with those field and set it to appear for the “Copper Egg Alert” Category we created earlier:

Vivantio CopperEgg 5

The next step is creating the Web Method itself. You can do this under:

Admin » Integration & API » Web Methods

In this screen, select Add and it will bring up a dialog similar to this example:

Vivantio Copper Egg 7

Let’s explain what you need for each tab:

Basic Details

  • Name – This is where you can name your Web Method.
  • Access Key Auth – If you have this enabled, enter an IP address range from which requests will be accepted.
  • HTTP Method – CopperEgg uses an HTTP POST when sending webhooks, so select that option from the dropdown.
  • Request Content Type: CopperEgg data is sent in JSON, so select “application/json”.

Parameters

This is where you can set up the values you expect to receive as part of the Web Method. Using our example, we can refer to the “Alert ID” value.

After hitting “Add”:

  • Name – This is where you can specify a name for the parameter for reference.
  • Source Type – This tells the Web Method where to pull the value from. With our example, we are taking from the “Request Body”.
  • Source Path – This is where you specify where to pull the value. You can use XPath or “dot notiation” to note the path. Using our example, we would specifiy “alertid”.
  • Default Value – This is where you would specify a default value for the parameter. In this example, we would not need any default values.

Actions

This is where you can set up what the Web Method will do when invoked. You can add multiple actions for each Web Method. You can also note conditions for the action.

(Note: As of this post, we only allow two choices: Create a New Ticket or Update an Existing Ticket.)

Topics: Customer Center Service Integrations Types of System Integration CopperEgg
2 min read

5 Ways Vivantio Integrates with Your Most Important Systems

By Andrew Stevens on 9/28/15 9:00 AM

HOW TO APPROACH INTEGRATION METHODS

When looking to integrate Vivantio with other platforms, it’s important to understand the different methods available to you. We have many avenues of approach and they each offer different pros and cons.

We’ve divided your integration methods into five distinct areas:

VIVANTIO INTEGRATION SERVICES

The Vivantio Integration Services Component (ISC) provides a growing number of modules to allow your team to connect with other systems via a built-in GUI.

As of this posting, those systems include:

  • Active Directory
  • SQL

You can also schedule data exports such as reporting via the ISC.

 

DIRECT FIRST CLASS INTEGRATIONS

Over time, due to their popularity with our customers, we have developed a number of direct integrations. These will work out-of-the-box.

As of the time of this post, these include:

 

WEBHOOKS AND WEB METHODS

In order to offer our customers a method to configure interactions without code, we’ve set up Webhooks and Web Methods in Vivantio. With this method, you can set up outgoing HTTP notifications or allow systems to make simple HTTP requests within Vivantio. This offers great flexibility for use with systems that utilize this functionality.

 

THE VIVANTIO API

Vivantio is built “API first”. What this means is that we have an extensive API that your development team can use to query, update, and create data. This method offers the most possible flexibility. You can find our (work-in-progress) API documentation here.

 

BESPOKE DEVELOPMENT

It should be noted that, if none of the above options fit with your needs, we are always welcome to explore bespoke development of integrations for our customers. If you contact our support team, we are happy to arrange for a member of our professional services or product team to discuss your requirements in more detail and work out a solution that works for you.

Topics: Vivantio Customer Center Service Integrations Types of System Integration API Integration Tools
1 min read

4 Types of Integration Options in the Vivantio Platform

By Andrew Stevens on 9/21/15 9:00 AM

CONSIDERING YOUR INTEGRATION OPTIONS

When considering an ITSM platform, it’s always important to understand how it will work with your other tools. The Vivantio Platform comes with a number of different integration options to help you get data in and out of Vivantio. Let’s look at the four most common types of software that can be integrated with Vivantio.

 

CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIP MANAGEMENT / ACTIVE DIRECTORY

If you are using or considering to use Vivantio, there is a good chance you have end users who are logging support tickets with you. So, it makes sense to have key information such as what asset each ticket is associated with or how to contact your end user stored in Vivantio. We offer a number of integration options to connect to your CRM or Asset Management tools.

 

ASSET DISCOVERY

Asset management isn’t the only kind of software we work with. You might also have tools that capture and record information on your assets or network such as:

  • SCCM
  • Spiceworks

If you want it on hand for your ITSM toolset in order to track repeat issues, the impact of upcoming changes, or tracking scheduled maintenance, we can connect with those tools as well.

 

MONITORING TOOLS

You might have tools that proactively monitor your IT assets. This can help you track when servers go down or assets are failing. Vivantio can connect with your monitoring tools in order to help automate support for when these events occur.

 

APPLICATION LIFECYCLE MANAGEMENT

If you house an internal development team, there is a good chance they use application lifecycle tools such as:

Vivantio allows your support team to connect with these tools in order to connect your teams and share key data.

These are only a few examples of the types of software Vivantio can integrate with. Please contact our support team if you have any questions about specific integrations.

Topics: Vivantio Customer Center Service Integrations API Integration Tools
2 min read

How to Benchmark Uptime for ITSM Solutions

By Staff Writer on 8/31/15 9:00 AM

HOW IMPORTANT IS UPTIME IN ITSM?

As often as we preach the importance of streamlining recurring ITSM processes and speeding up the delivery of core offerings, nothing grinds customer service to a halt quite like a platform outage.

You might recall the massive 2014 Google outage, which left 10 percent of the behemoth’s customers locked out of Gmail, Google+ and other services for nearly an hour in the middle of the US workday. This from a company that typically boasts 99.9% uptime.

While this is an extreme case and rare on Google’s part, it punches home the importance of high availability and proves that uptime percentage is more than just a figure for sales to throw around. In ITSM software, high availability is crucial.

 

WHAT AFFECTS ITSM SOFTWARE UPTIME?

One big factor that can either bolster or hamper IT service management software uptime is a vendor’s choice of hosting partner.

Tier One hosts employ significant measures at each of their massive data centers, capable of operating day-to-day with zero outages and prepared to handle more catastrophic challenges posed by natural disaster or external attack with minimal downtime.

Other issues with downtime arise from the design of certain ITSM platforms themselves. A vendor should be able to add customers and expand and alter their system without bringing it down. Platforms designed without extensibility and scalability in mind often crumble under the weight of a growing user base, and no one utilizing the tool is spared the headaches.

Anyone who regularly depends upon tools like Microsoft Azure knows this all too well.

But it’s not just unplanned outages that hamper customer service capabilities: scheduled updates to an ITSM platform can cause problems if the timing of such updates are suspect, if such updates happen far too often, if downtime during updates drags on longer than planned or, worst of all, news of upcoming update outages isn’t communicated to you, the user of the tool.

 

IS ITSM SOFTWARE DOWNTIME AVOIDABLE?

Simply put; no.

Downtime is inevitable. No matter how much money, time and effort is spent on high availability, it’s just that – high, not guaranteed.

The real key is how ITSM vendors deal with outages, what stopgaps are put in place to limit unplanned downtime and how readily they keep customers looped in to service updates.

Vivantio maintains a dashboard with live updates on both planned and unplanned outages and a log of updates and fixes. With a comprehensive log in hand, it’s impossible for ITSM vendors to hide from their own service record.

 

WHAT’S ACCEPTABLE UPTIME FOR ITSM VENDORS?

99.5% uptime, excluding planned maintenance, is an acceptable level for an ITSM platform. Any lower than that and you’re dealing with a tool that isn’t dependable enough to make up for even steep cost savings. Steer clear.

Perhaps most importantly, the uptime for your service management software should exceed your organization’s own internal requirements. If the tools you use to deliver a stellar customer experience don’t pass muster, your team’s own delays and frustration will be passed along directly to the customer.

Topics: Service Desk Software Service Management ITSM ITSM Solution ITSM Tools
2 min read

Why the Look and Feel of Your Self-Service Portal Matters

By Staff Writer on 4/20/15 9:00 AM

LOOKS CAN MATTER WHEN IT COMES TO YOUR SELF-SERVICE PORTAL.

Most companies already recognize the importance of aesthetics and user experience in their corporate websites, as they are key to winning new business. What can often get overlooked is that a self-service portal is essentially an extension of the website. A self-service portal is all about servicing and retaining business, both key factors for any company. Let’s what elements impact the look and feel of your self-service portal and how they can have serious impacts on the health of your business.

self service portal home page screen capture

 

WHAT GOES INTO A GREAT LOOKING SELF-SERVICE PORTAL?

A self-service portal is the “shop window” for any service management team’s customers. This can include internally or externally supported users. It represents your professionalism, branding and competence in dealing with your customer’s queries and issues and, as an important customer service touchpoint, is paramount to starting the process off on the right foot.

A self-service portal is meant to provide a stellar customer experience to your end-users, reduce the total number of inbound service calls and ease the load on your team so you have more time to resolve issues and close tickets.

When your portal looks and feels completely foreign to your brand, it’s unlikely to achieve any of this. At Vivantio, we work with hundreds of service desks who manage a self-service portal. From that experience, we’ve long recognized the value of self-service modules and how the design elements within have an impact on the overall service experience for an end-user. It’s important to account for organizational branding elements like photos and colorways. You also will probably need to make small visual tweaks to your portal design such as color changes in select areas or the addition of a company logo.

With the right tools in place, your service team can control your portal’s look and feel.

monitor and laptop showing the self service portal login page

 

CONCLUSION

A great self-service portal provides value not only to your business but, perhaps more importantly, to your customers. It can provide users with a central location where they can research their own problems with rich content like self-help guides, videos, and FAQs. Your users can also see the status of services, all under the umbrella of your company’s unique branding.

Topics: Service Management Customer Self-Service Self-Service Service Strategy
1 min read

How to Set Up Effective Support Ticket Categorization

By Greg Rich on 2/12/15 9:00 AM

THERE ARE MANY WAYS TO SET UP SUPPORT TICKET CATEGORIES.

After decades of experience in the service management industry and having worked with enterprise giants like Toshiba and Porsche, we’ve seen countless ticket categorization structures in practice. We’ve also seen first hand what works, what doesn’t work, and why.

As you might already know, the ITIL framework does address best practices for ticket categorization. However, ITIL doesn’t identify the elements that are crucial to getting it right. The key to establishing effective ticket categories is two-fold:

 

1. CONSULT WITH YOUR WIDER TEAM

Setting ticket categories is such a contentious process for many teams because priorities are open to interpretation by various parties. For example, CIOs will often push for categories that allow for meaningful reporting. On the other hand, service agents will want categories that drive their own individual service efficiency. The key to getting it right is involving people from all levels to make sure you address everyone’s core needs.

The result will be ticket categories that deliver on all levels, as well as maximum buy-in across your organization.

 

2. AN EVIDENCE-BASED APPROACH

Using past tickets to test the suggested category structure is the quickest way to highlight successes or glaring problems. By reviewing service performance on completed tickets, duplications, unnecessary additions, and potentially confusing hierarchy become immediately clear. To echo the previous point, the wider team should be involved here as they may interpret categories differently. Ultimately, you’ll get the feedback you need to set effective ticket categories.

 

REAL-WORLD BENEFITS

The practical benefits of defining ticket categories this way are clear and measurable, including:

  • Tickets are routed more accurately, more quickly and are resolved in less time.
  • Transformational change is driven through effective, meaningful reporting.
  • Team experts focus primarily on their specialist areas, leading to a higher service desk resolution rate.

Put simply, an effective categorization strategy will drive organizational efficiency, support service level agreements and provide insights into valuable long-term reporting.

Topics: Ticket Prioritization Service Management Ticket Categorization Ticket Best Practices Service Strategy
3 min read

Weighted Time Left: How This Concept Can Improve Support Ticket Times by 10%

By Greg Rich on 10/28/14 9:00 AM

Blog Series: A New Approach to Ticket Prioritization
  1. The Problems with ITIL’s Approach to Support Ticket Prioritization
  2. Weighted Time Left: How This Concept Can Improve Support Ticket Times by 10%

Welcome to the final installment of our A New Approach to Ticket Prioritization blog series.

This post will outline how a weighted approach to prioritizing your ticket system can be applied in practice. We will look to highlight the success of different weightings and their respective benefits and overall results.

Let’s start, however, by recapping some of the main points from our previous post. This will allow for a greater contextual picture to be built and the benefits of applying weightings to tickets to be realized more clearly.

 

THE ATTRIBUTES OF A SERVICE DESK TICKET

In our first post, we discussed the attributes of a service desk ticket and touched on the pieces of information it should contain – one of these being an associated priority. We saw how the ITIL framework stipulates that a ticket’s priority should be derived from its perceived urgency and impact.

But while the ITIL guidelines make for a simple way to derive priorities, they’re not without their faults. The most prominent being the neglect of lower priority tickets due to the dynamic nature of a service desk work queue. The guidance goes on to suggest that the use of a target resolution time can associate a time left attribute to tickets in a queue. By ordering tickets by their time left we tend to have the high priority tickets addressed first but no low priority ticket gets neglected since all tickets will ultimately approach their target resolution time if unresolved.

 

A DIFFERENT APPROACH TO TICKET PRIORITIZATION: WEIGHTED TIME LEFT

With these faults in ITIL’s ticket prioritization methodology in mind, we have found a different approach: one that takes the ITIL concept of a target resolution time but applies a weighting to the time left in order to ultimately return the best value to the business.

This subtle addition means that greater business value is afforded and lower priority tickets don’t fall by the wayside. Weighting can also be applied in relation to specific departments or individuals, such as VIPs, and also to certain ticket categories. This makes it a versatile method in which to influence the order in which tickets are addressed. In fact, the impact of applying weightings to tickets is best seen when compared against tickets that have had no weighting applied.

 

HIGH VALUE TICKETS ARE PRIORITIZED FIRST

The most important benefit realized by applying weightings to tickets is that the ones with the highest value to the business are prioritized first. By focusing on these tickets, IT service providers can ensure that they are always returning the greatest value to their customers in the first instance

Furthermore, tickets that can be prioritized based on their weighted time left allow service desk agents to benefit from more defined procedures. There are no questions raised about which tickets should be focused on next and IT managers can even manipulate weightings to ensure effective control is maintained over the service desk.

Lastly, improved SLA targets are seen across the board, even though the amount of tickets processed, when they were raised and the effort involved remain the same.

 

CHOOSING THE RIGHT WEIGHTING TO DRIVE BUSINESS VALUE

Our testing was primarily conducted using mild weightings. In reality though, specific service desks need to have weightings that complement the needs of the businesses they serve. Our research suggests that the creation of a bespoke service desk profile is crucial and ultimately dependent on the nature of the business, the type of work, effort, frequency, ticket type ratios and respective SLAs.

 

10% MORE TICKETS RESOLVED WITHIN TARGET RESOLUTION TIME

The bottom line in our findings is that almost 10% (9.7) more tickets were resolved within their target time when a weighting was used. It goes without saying that this represents a significant improvement in performance and sees the service desk not only operating more successfully but more efficiently too. To use a real-world example, in a fifty-seat service desk, it’s the equivalent of adding five new members to your team.

We have proven that by adding a simple weighting to the time left on a ticket, the ITIL framework can be taken to the next level to realize true value for the business and its users.

We believe that the weighted approach to ticket prioritization could represent the future of service management. If it can be combined with a more complex model that considers other business factors in the equation, the possibilities are very exciting, indeed. Complex algorithms can be written to customize the approach for individual service desks and the ever-evolving business needs.

Read our full research results on this new ticket prioritization strategy in our whitepaper or feel free to catch back up on the first post in this series.

Blog Series: A New Approach to Ticket Prioritization

  1. The Problems with ITIL’s Approach to Support Ticket Prioritization
  2. Weighted Time Left: How This Concept Can Improve Support Ticket Times by 10%
Topics: Ticket Prioritization Service Management ITIL Service Strategy
3 min read

How to Drive Business Growth with ITSM Reporting

By Greg Rich on 10/9/14 9:00 AM

DO YOU KNOW HOW TO LEVERAGE YOUR IT METRICS TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS?

In the past, businesses would often depend on generic benchmarks like revenue and cost to measure success. But, in order to survive long-term in today’s markets, businesses are getting smarter. They are finding that they need to be able to capitalize on the deeper business intelligence held within their individual business systems. It’s becoming more and more critical to identify the right growth metrics within your different teams in order to rise above the competition.

One key growth metric that often gets overlooked can be found in your IT support teams. With their help desks, many organizations are failing to harness valuable information at their fingertips that will lead to better working practices, improved efficiency, and ultimately a better future.

 

EFFECTIVE ITSM REPORTING REQUIRES EFFORT AND DELIVERS PRICELESS INSIGHT

The hidden answer can be found by leveraging the multitude of reporting capabilities held within your organization’s ITSM software. The trick, from the business’s perspective, is to work with the IT department to leverage the valuable information held within your own business systems, rather than accepting reporting information that is readily available ‘off the shelf’.

IT has changed. No longer is it just about ‘kit’, managing systems and ensuring business continuity. In recent years, the traditional helpdesk has transformed into a multi-faceted service desk, offering much more to the business.

IT no longer find themselves simply in demand only when a business decision has been made. In fact, IT now plays a pivotal role in the business decision-making process, driving change through innovation and instilling service management ethos throughout the entire organization.

Nowhere is this truer than the business intelligence capabilities that IT affords, which can be harnessed by business decision-makers to justify an organizational change.

 

EASY-OPTION REPORTING

Too often organizations do not make the investment in reporting and instead rely on the information that’s readily available to them in standard reports. It’s all too easy, unfortunately, to produce straightforward reports that offer little value.

Even more pertinent is that these types of reports often find themselves on the desks of C-level executives and even become the subsequent focal points of their meetings – offering discussion but delivering nothing. The bottom line being that little is achieved in the way of strategic change with limited reporting.

 

VALUABLE ITSM REPORTING DELIVERS ACTIONABLE INSIGHTS

It’s ironic, however, because there is a veritable goldmine of information available within ITSM software, specifically in terms of business intelligence, provided your organization can successfully mine and extract it. Moreover, the data itself can sometimes be of little use unless it is correctly interpreted and the right conclusions are drawn.

Whilst every organization is different, there are some key reports that offer valuable business insight:

  • SLA and OLA compliance to measure how the business is doing in meeting its contractual SLAs and underlying supporting OLAs
  • Number of incidents attributed to different business/organisational units to highlight the source of requests and potential business issues in those areas
  • The average cost per ticket to the business
  • Number of incidents per service or configuration item to pinpoint trends and underlying issues
  • Backlog and Predicated Backlog to measure whether the resourcing within the support team is sufficient
  • Benchmarking across different departments using the same ITSM tool to highlight teams adopting best practice and where efficiencies in other teams can be made
  • Benchmarking across other companies in the same sector to highlight how the business is doing compared to its peers.

 

THE RIGHT TOOLS SUPPORT EXISTING BUSINESS OBJECTIVES

It goes without saying that tools are often needed to successfully create custom reports that boost real business value and offer real-time insights. However, these tools should not be cumbersome to operate or represent too large an investment for organizations.

Valuable ITSM reporting should be the cornerstone on which all business decisions are based and, without it, organizations will find themselves making uninformed judgments. It’s their business intelligence analysts, however, that will be breathing the biggest collective sigh of relief. Their core focus is to gain knowledge and insights from meaningful data – quickly, simply and from a system with complete flexibility. How does your ITSM reporting stack up?

Topics: Service Management ITSM Reporting Service Strategy
2 min read

The Next Iteration of ITIL and Service Management

By Greg Rich on 9/22/14 9:00 AM

The historical role of ITSM within organizations is changing.

IT departments have always been seen as a necessary business cost that is only beneficial in providing support to your revenue-driving teams. With the evolution of ITSM practices, this is no longer the case. Let’s explain how ITIL has evolved to match this change and specifically how it affects both ticket prioritization practices and overall business value.

 

THE TRANSITION FROM “HELP DESK” TO SERVICE MANAGEMENT

Traditionally, a business department would identify their own IT needs and petition the IT department for the necessary equipment to achieve their desired goal. Business users would then contact their IT help desk whenever they had an issue with said pieces of hardware or software. The perception was that IT departments were there to provide ‘help’ whenever needed and little to no contact was made otherwise.

But why should IT be viewed as simply a provider of technology? The supply of specific software/hardware based solely on the petition of a business user is a disjointed process that affords little tangible business value. Today, however, the role of IT has shifted from a mere support function to a strategic service provider. No longer are help desks just reacting to issues as they arise. They are also supporting business delivery. To that end, the term “help desk” is no longer relevant when referring to a business user’s point of contact with IT.

Welcome to the era of the “service desk.” IT departments are no longer viewed as a siloed department out on a limb. In fact, the service management ethos is now spreading throughout organizations enabling more effective business solutions to be delivered. With defined business goals and desired outcomes documented, solutions can be subsequently recommended that represent the best possible return on investment. The future of service management will see businesses and IT providers working closer than ever before towards a common goal.

 

ITIL IS STILL RELEVANT BUT FAR FROM PERFECT

We believe that ITIL is still very relevant when it comes to ITSM and its framework. Although not perfect, it plays an integral role in the business. Furthermore, ITIL allows for the measurement of performance against a set of definitive benchmarks and monitors the overall effectiveness of IT providers.

With this in mind, it makes sense that other operational departments throughout a business stand to benefit from incorporating ITSM into their working practices. After all, most operational business units follow a set of guidelines and are process-driven. By adopting an ITSM framework, these processes and guidelines can be measured for effectiveness. For example, departments like HR and Finance could all adopt the ITSM ethos and use it to not just measure their performance but also to provide real value to the business.

 

ITSM PLAYS A KEY ROLE IN BUSINESS IMPROVEMENT

ITSM has fundamentally changed and now plays a key role in the areas of business improvement and business transformation. The transparency it affords and the metrics it produces can be a very powerful combination leading to visibility of performance business-wide.

A unified analytics platform can be introduced to analyze the performance of various teams across the business. This allows for the identification of top performers and can lead to specific business processes–that are providing real value–being adopted in other departments.

Likewise, under performance can also be highlighted and any potential issues can be addressed before they have a greater impact on the business. The ability to benchmark teams against each other will further underline any deviations from the norm.

 

ITSM TO SUPPORT ALL PROCESS-DRIVEN DEPARTMENTS

We suggest that any department which uses set processes can embrace service management and use it to improve their service offering. Moreover, with concurrent licensing, enough flexibility is available for certain departments to only implement a solution that fits their needs. This represents a significant cost saving to the business, as well as affording all the other benefits of ITSM?

Topics: Service Management ITIL Future of ITSM Service Strategy
4 min read

The Problems with ITIL’s Approach to Support Ticket Prioritization

By Greg Rich on 9/1/14 9:00 AM

Blog Series: A New Approach to Ticket Prioritization
  1. The Problems with ITIL’s Approach to Support Ticket Prioritization
  2. Weighted Time Left: How This Concept Can Improve Support Ticket Times by 10%

Welcome to the first in our two-part blog series A New Approach to Ticket Prioritization.

This post focuses on explaining the ITIL best practice approach when it comes to help desk ticket prioritization. We’ll explain the associated pros and cons of this approach and the reality of implementing these in a real-world business environment.

 

WHAT IS A SUPPORT TICKET?

The ITIL service management framework stipulates that every interaction between a business and its IT provider–whether internal or external–should be recorded in the form of a support ticket. This electronic record effectively serves as the point of reference for both business users and IT personnel to track the progress of the work throughout its life cycle.

Each support ticket contains a description of the required work and specific data that the IT team will use to determine the ticket’s priority–which, in ITIL terms, is derived from the urgency and impact of the ticket. The ticket’s owner is then responsible for its management right up to its resolution and subsequent closure.

However, whilst ticket prioritization based on urgency and impact adheres to ITIL best practice, it is not the only method available. In fact, when coupled with a more flexible approach, greater value can be returned to the business in a shorter amount of time.

 

WHAT ARE ITIL BEST PRACTICE GUIDELINES FOR PRIORITIZATION?

According to the ITIL framework, every ticket should be allocated an individual priority derived from its perceived urgency and impact. The higher the urgency and impact the higher the priority assigned, as depicted in the following diagram:

ITIL-ticket-prioritization-best-practices-framework-1a

THE PROS AND CONS OF ITIL BEST PRACTICE

While ITIL best practice guidelines are stringently followed by businesses and IT providers alike, they present both pros and cons.

In reality, many IT providers deal with tickets on a priority basis. This approach makes sense because the higher priority tickets are, in theory, causing the business more pain. Therefore, by focusing on the highest priority tickets first, the high-impact business issues will be picked up before the lower impact issues and can be resolved in the swiftest time possible.

Also, priority based on urgency and impact is a simple way to derive priorities for IT service providers. There is no doubt involved when it comes to prioritizing tickets and every interaction is dealt with in a systematic and predictable way.

However, in practice, urgency tends not to vary too much between tickets. Some tickets with the same business impact may vary in the how quickly they need to be addressed but this is quite uncommon. For this reason, the urgency is perhaps not as valuable a differentiating criterion as some other factors, such as the impact.

Furthermore and more significantly, by focusing on high priority tickets, there is a danger that lower priority ones get neglected.

 

THE REALITY OF ITIL BEST PRACTICE

In a dynamic queue of work, where high priority tickets take precedent, there is an issue that is sometimes overlooked. That issue is that the attention given to lesser priority tickets can sometimes be lacking.

For example, an IT service provider’s focus remains on a high priority ticket until it is resolved. Their attention then turns to the lower priority tickets in turn. But what if another high priority ticket comes into the queue and requires attention?

This is a situation where lower priority tasks sometimes get neglected and, in extreme circumstances, don’t get dealt with at all. So, while the business feels less in terms of impact from a high priority ticket, there are certain individuals who become ultimately frustrated by the lack of attention their issue is receiving.

This actuality leads to business users submitting every request as “high priority” in the knowledge that it will be dealt with more swiftly–a scenario that is less than ideal.

 

WHAT ARE ITIL BEST PRACTICES WHEN CONSIDERING TARGET RESOLUTION TIMES?

As well as guidance on assigning a priority to a ticket, the ITIL framework provides businesses and IT service providers with guidelines for target resolution times. Obviously, each service contract is governed by its respective service level agreement (SLA), but the following diagram shows typical target resolution times based on priority:

ITIL-ticket-prioritization-best-practices-resolution-times-1a

Target resolution time is a standard metric in every SLA and one that can be closely monitored by both the business and IT service provider.

Ordering work by a ticket’s priority only will likely have the following result: the high priority tickets will be resolved within their target resolution time. However, the lower priority tickets will fail to be resolved within their target time, in spite of having a longer available time in which to be resolved.

These consistent low priority ticket breaches have a negative impact on the top-line SLAs, when in reality, they may represent quick wins for IT service providers that do not detrimentally affect the resolution of higher priority tickets.

A better outcome can be achieved by ordering the tickets by the time left they have left before they breach their target time. Considering the time left is a neat way that we can be confident that all tickets will ultimately be addressed since even the low priority tickets will eventually approach their target time.

 

TICKET PRIORITIZATION SHOULD PROVIDE REAL BUSINESS VALUE

The key results for a ticket prioritizing method are that it returns the highest business value in the shortest time whilst at the same time not neglecting the lower priority tickets. The assigning of a priority to tickets, having a target resolution time associated with each priority and then ordering the tickets in an order of how much time remains before the target resolution time is met is the most sophisticated solution that exists in the ITIL guidance.

Read the next part of this blog content series to learn more or download the full whitepaper detailing our complete research into this new approach to ticket prioritization.

 

Blog Series: A New Approach to Ticket Prioritization

  1. The Problems with ITIL’s Approach to Support Ticket Prioritization
  2. Weighted Time Left: How This Concept Can Improve Support Ticket Times by 10%
Topics: Ticket Prioritization Service Management ITIL Service Strategy