When Suites Aren’t Sweet: The Best ERM Tools May Not Come From Your ITSM Vendor

It’s possible to buy a tackle box pre-filled with the most popular fishing hardware, or a toolbox pre-filled with common household tools. Such “starter kits” are often just that—a great place to start.

But those who get serious about fishing or home repair will likely soon want to supplement or even replace some of the tackle or tools. They may want items that are stronger, larger,  more flexible, higher quality,  or more suited to their individual needs.

Choose the best service catalog tools for the jobIt works the same way with enterprise service catalog software and related applications that are part of an enterprise request management (ERM) implementation. ITSM software suites often include tools for some of the core functions, like building the service request portal and managing workflow tasks.

The tools included with these suites, for presenting and managing IT services, may be suitable for wider enterprise use–or not. As noted here previously, when evaluating this suitability, it’s important to ask questions about the vendor’s vision for ERM, time to value, and tools to empower non-technical business process owners to build, test and deploy their own service items.

But additionally, an ERM strategy of course involves more than just a user-friendly self-service portal. Here are five tools and capabilities it may make sense to replace or supplement applications provided by your ITSM suite vendor.

  • Request management portal: the application used to build the intuitive user interface through which employees can request any item, service or resource needed to do their jobs, as well as check on the current status of pending requests at any time. The portal should integrate to an external identity or access management system, so the services and questions displayed on the portal can be customized for the user, and “known” information (name, email address,  phone number, etc.) can be pre-filled to reduce data entry required. The portal should also use responsive design to optimize the display on any device.
  • Workflow orchestration: the task automation software that manages back-end approval, scheduling and fulfillment processes. It should be designed to connect to and leverage the capabilities of in-place enterprise and departmental management applications (ITSM, HR, facilities management, finance,  etc.). It should also provide graphical workflow process mapping tools so that business process owners outside of IT can design, test, optimize and deploy their own service offerings with minimal technical  assistance.
  • Service quality metrics and SLA compliance: the ERM tools should automatically capture elapsed completion time for each discrete task required  to fulfill a request. This helps identify and correct bottlenecks or problem areas in fulfillment. In environments where multiple departments or even outside vendors may play a role in the fulfillment process, it identifies sources of delay or SLA non-compliance in real time, enabling prompt corrective action.
  • User surveys and feedback management: in addition to the quantitative metrics noted above, ERM tools should also be able to automatically collect context-specific, rules-based qualitative feedback regarding service quality and employee/user satisfaction.
  • Fulfillment scheduling: the ERM toolset should support both automated and manual scheduling, depending on the specific needs and situation. It should identify resource scheduling conflicts and opportunities to optimize utilization of unique skillsets or equipment.

When implementing an ERM strategy, the best approach is often best-of-breed, combining applications and capabilities that are part of a core ITSM suite with supplemental or replacement tools to optimize flexibility and effectiveness.

Best practice is to avoid vendor lock-in. The service catalog (and other pieces) can come from your suite vendor, but they don’t have to. Investigate your options, and use the best tool (or tackle, or ERM software) for the job.

To learn more, download the white paper Enterprise Request Management: The Technology.



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