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Found 23 results

  1. Hi All, Just looking for some advice regarding the Service Catalogue. Does anyone use the Service Catalogue as their ISO 20000 compliant catalogue of services? The reason I'm asking is because we are often creating a Hornbill Service to make logging tickets via the service portal a cleaner solution. As an example, to make things clear to the customer, we have a service called "Security Incident" this is obviously not a "real" service, but it allows us to send the customer down a relevant progressive capture and means we cannot use the service catalogue successfully as an ISO 20000 compliant platform. Wondering weather I should simply create an official the catalogue of services document and ignore the Hornbill definition.. It would be nice if there was a catalogue of services, and a separate solution for the start of progressive captures with the ability to automatically assign services to specific progressive captures if applicable. Best Regards Adam
  2. Hi All, Wondering if any of you kind individuals could help. We have been utilising Hornbill service manager now for 7 months and although I believe its a great ITSM service desk tool, the reporting is down right appalling and the advanced analytics cost is extortionate for a small team. Could anyone share their standard reporting definitions for a few basic reports, the front end is massively clunky to get used to and its proving very time consuming. I'm looking for the following but ANY would be most welcome. 1. SLA reporting by month. 2. Tickets Logged / Resolved by month. (Ticket Volume) 3. AVG Resolution times 4. Incidents caused due to change. (&How do we flag incidents as caused due to change?) 5. Individuals Performance 6. Unplanned Changes by month 7. Incident Report For Incident/problem management Best Regards Adam
  3. Spotlight - Toyota Motorsport GmbH Toyota Motorsport GmbH is a unique high-performance testing and development facility located in the centre of Europe; in Cologne, Germany, specialising in high technology. TMG is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Toyota Motor Corporation and offers its services to external clients as well as members of the Toyota family. Toyota Motorsport first implemented Hornbill’s on-premise Supportworks ITSM solution in 2008, and in June 2018, TMG decided to migrate to Hornbill Service Manager. I asked Per Nordqvist to share his thoughts on how things have gone since the migration and this is what he had to say. Can you give me a brief background of who you are and what your role is at Toyota Motorsport GmbH? Which Service Desk tool was in place at TMG before you deployed Hornbill Service Manager? What were the business drivers and reasons for implementing a new solution? What was your first impression of Hornbill Service Manager? What other solutions did you consider/shortlist before choosing Hornbill Service Manager? What was your impression of Hornbill during the selection process? What would you consider your biggest personal success coming out of the project? Since you went live with Hornbill Service Manager, how has it gone? Can you highlight three things that you love about Hornbill?  If you had a magic wand, what is the one thing you would change about Hornbill right now? Thanks Per. We’re delighted that the migration went so smoothly and look forward to providing a great service to TMG for many more years.
  4. GOSH – Improving IT to help clinicians provide better care to children Service improvement is important to every organization, but it is critical to Great Ormond Street Hospital IT teams, as they support the fantastic people who look after poorly children. Our last blog post described how the IT teams at Great Ormond Street Hospital are setting up a digital workplace to deliver a better service to clinicians, patients and their families. Although the GOSH IT teams had already implemented their ITSM processes, adopting Hornbill Service Manager meant that they were able take a service-centric approach. Leading with services is more effective, as Greg Fellowes explains, “When you understand your services, it’s so much easier to see how your processes support them.  The whole thing flows and works together, so your ITSM becomes simpler and far more effective.” In this short video, Hayley Gordon describes how Hornbill Service Manager has helped to bring IT teams together, created capacity for more valuable work, revolutionized change management and improved the perception of IT across the Trust. The GOSH IT team has achieved amazing results in such a short time and we’re delighted to have played a small part in supporting such a noble cause. Click here to find out more about Hornbill Service Manager, request a demo, or dive in a have a play.
  5. Searching for Requests in Service Manager Hornbill's Service Manager offers a number of search features for locating requests held within Service Manger.  These include options from using simple filters to creating complex search conditions. The Global Search located at the top of the browser is always available no matter which Hornbill app you are working in.  A combination of a text search, search tools, and advanced operations provides the flexibility needed for fast results. The Request List in itself contains a number of easily accessible options such as the Quick Filter located on the Request List tool bar.  As this works within your request list, options such as sorting and exporting your results are also available. There may also be a need for a more complex search to find something very particular whether it be a single request or a group of requests.  For this we have the Advanced Search.  A wide range of criteria can be selected to build different conditions for your search.  Now you may find yourself searching the same criteria over and over again.  If this is the case you are able to save your Advanced  Search as a View.  This will then be available in your list of Views to be used when ever needed. One additional feature for searching requests can be accessed from the keyboard using the Shift+Ctrl+F key combination.  No matter where you are in Hornbill you can access this search where you can can enter a full reference number and open the request.
  6. Hornbill Service Manager improves IT performance at the Victoria & Albert Museum I visited the Victoria & Albert Museum recently to record a short video with Grant Fettis (Change Manager) and Chris Nutt (IT Service Desk Manager) about their experiences of implementing Hornbill Service Manager. It was clearly a smooth experience, as Grant said, “I don’t think I’ve been through a simpler process of changing from one tool to another.” Because the tool is so easy to use, it is now being adopted by other business units within the museum. Progressive Capture has simplified the way that data is collected from customers, so teams can respond faster and process more work. IT management is making extensive use of Dashboards to focus on areas for improvement and to support better decision making. The collaborative features of Hornbill Service Manager have greatly improved the flow of work and communication between teams. The V&A IT teams are reaping the benefits of a native-Cloud solution and Hornbill’s continuous deployment approach, as new features arrive frequently, without any of the pains (backups, tests, broken customizations, etc.) typically associated with software upgrades. I was delighted to hear Grant explain the difference that Hornbill Service Manager has made to his role as Change Manager. Grant uses the Boards feature within Hornbill Service Manager to run their CAB meetings. With full visibility and transparency of the change backlog, activities can be programmed tightly, so change management is more agile, and more work gets done. At the end of the video, Grant says, “I can talk about how much easier it has made my life…it’s significant…I love it.” Thank you, Grant and Chris, it’s fantastic to hear that we’ve been able to make such a difference to how people and teams work together to deliver more value for the V&A museum.
  7. SPOTLIGHT: Northumberland County Council In June 2016, Lee Mcdermott visited the SITS event in London to look at the latest versions of ITSM solutions in the market. After reviewing several ITSM tools, the team at Northumberland County Council selected Hornbill Service Manager, and started their 30-day switch-on in March 2017, with a targeted go-live in mid-April.  I asked Lee to share his experiences on Hornbill Service Manager and their tight window for go-live, and this is what he had to say. Can you give me a brief background of who you are and what your role is at Northumberland County Council? Which Service Desk tool was in place at Northumberland County Council before you deployed  Hornbill Service Manager? What were the business drivers and reasons for implementing a new solution? What was your first impression of Hornbill Service Manager? What other solutions did you consider/shortlist before choosing Hornbill Service Manager?   What was your impression of Hornbill during the selection process? What would you consider your biggest personal success coming out of the project?  Since you went live with Hornbill Service Manager, how has it gone? Can you highlight three things that you love about Hornbill?  If you had a magic wand, what is the one thing you would change about Hornbill right now? Is there anything else you would like to mention in relation to Hornbill?  Nine weeks from the start of a trial, to going live in production was a tight deadline, and we worked together to make it happen. It’s great to hear that Lee is already looking at expanding the use of Hornbill Service Manager to deliver more value for Northumberland County Council. It’s also refreshing to hear customers talking about deploying new features immediately, and never again having to worry about being stuck with an old software version. Thanks Lee for sharing your thoughts.
  8. Impact Assessments Capturing the impact of a change, an incident, or any other type of request can be crucial to determining how it is managed.  But how do you decide which impact level to select?   Service Manager provides a great way of automatically determining the impact level to be applied.  Taking the guessing out of the hands of the user, they can be walked through a number of questions where each answer has a weighted value that contributes to the automatic selection of the impact level.  The results of the assessment are captured in the request along with the automatic application of the impact level. At any point after the assessment, if things change or a mistake is found, a reassessment of the impact can be completed. The assessments are managed as part of a Business Process which allows them to be presented to a user at any given point within the workflow.  When defining your workflow, you can easily select from any number of available assessments that you wish to present.
  9. Creating Request Sub-statuses While working on an Incident Record you may want to provide a way to describe different scenarios that occur while this incident is open.   This might be to describe what is currently being done to progress the incident, or possibly to display who needs to action the incident next. Hornbill Service Manager allows you to create and manage sub-statuses not only provide this type of description, but also to set if the incident should be on-hold during that time. Automation can be set up to change the sub-status based on when a customer either update the incident on Self Service or if the customer sends an update by email to the Service Desk.
  10. SPOTLIGHT: Great Ormond Street Hospital - IT Services supporting The Child First and Always Last week I visited Greg Fellowes, Service Support Manager, and Hayley Gordon, Senior Service Desk Systems Administrator at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) to chat about their progress with Hornbill Service Manager. It was incredibly refreshing to hear them express a deep understanding of the needs of different business units, and the specific requirements of the IT teams that support them.  My next blog will explain how GOSH IT teams’ service-centric approach has delivered vast improvements since the service desk function was taken back in-house, less than a year ago.  For now, I asked Greg to answer a few questions about the part Hornbill Service Manager had to play in this transition, and this is what he told me. Can you give me a brief background of who you are and what your role is at GOSH? Which Service Desk tool was in place at GOSH before you deployed Hornbill Service Manager?  What were the business drivers and reasons for implementing a new solution? What was your first impression of Hornbill Service Manager? What other solutions did you consider/shortlist before choosing Hornbill Service Manager? What was your impression of Hornbill during the selection process? What would you consider your biggest personal success coming out of the project? Since you went live with Hornbill Service Manager, how has it gone? Can you highlight three things that you love about Hornbill?  If you had a magic wand, what is the one thing you would change about Hornbill right now? Is there anything else you would like to mention in relation to Hornbill? Thanks Greg for sharing your thoughts. The GOSH IT organization understands its' purpose. Teams focused on delivery and improvement of IT services, so that the hospital can ensure that “The Child is First and Always”. And it’s great to know, that in some small way, we can help support that. Click here, if you’d like to dive in and take a closer look a Hornbill Service Manager
  11. Crown Packaging - Modernizing Enterprise IT Crown Packaging is the leader in metal packaging technology and the number one producer of food cans and metal vacuum closures in the world. In 2017, the company celebrated its 125th anniversary and now operates in 36 countries, employing over 24,000 people and has net sales of $8.3 billion. At Crown, a focus on innovation is not reserved for individuals with “innovation” or “product development" in their titles. By making innovation everyone’s job, Crown fosters a spirit of continuous improvement every day. IT Service Management Challenges Crown Europe’s IT Group had implemented multiple ITSM tools in the last 15 years, but none of these solutions met their requirements.  In 2010, Crown partnered with ITC InfoTech, a specialized global full-service technology solutions provider, who were using HP Service Manager.  To simplify integration with its outsourcing partner, Crown made the decision to also use HP Service Manager. The implementation focussed on deploying Crown’s ITSM processes, but this process-centric approach gave rise to several issues, and delivered a solution that was not easy to navigate or use, making it difficult for Crown IT staff to handle requests efficiently. Getting metrics from HP Service Manager was quite tough, so Crown initially relied upon the canned reports provided within the tool.  To generate specific KPI’s, Crown used Business Objects to connect and extract data from the HP Service Manager database.  This approach was cumbersome and the lack of useful KPI’s was a significant challenge.  In March 2016, Crown and ITC InfoTech determined that the challenges of usability and metrics in HP Service Manager needed to be addressed, and in April 2016, Crown began to investigate the ITSM tools market. The partners agreed to a deadline of two months to evaluate a number of ITSM tools, and make a decision to select a new tool by the end of May 2016. The new tool needed to be intuitive, simple to configure, and at the same time, powerful. Having been burned by the complexity of reporting in HP Service Manager, Crown wanted to carefully explore the metrics capabilities of each tool to ensure that the new solution would be able to meet their KPI needs, and enable ITC InfoTech to demonstrate conformance with contractual SLA’s. ITC InfoTech provides support for Crown’s infrastructure services, covering network, desktop, laptop, server, software deployment, management of user accounts, as well as support for over 50 different software applications. All incidents and service requests are logged directly by Crown users with ITC InfoTech’s multi-lingual service desk. The service desk needed a platform that was contemporary and intuitive. The solution needed to provide a digital experience to all users and analysts, while enabling the required metrics to be generated and presented in a simplified manner. Last chance to get ITSM right Having implemented multiple enterprise ITSM tools over the last 15 years, Terry Dobb, Crown’s VP CIO made it clear that the team should choose very carefully, and select a solution that was both contemporary and would work for years into the future. During April 2016, Frederic Beugin, Director of Operations and Supports, and the Crown Europe team looked at several ITSM tools, including the latest version of HP Service Manager, HP Service Anywhere, Samanage, ServiceNow and Hornbill Service Manager.  The team produced a matrix of all the key features they needed within the tool and asked each vendor to provide an evaluation system, so the team could use the tools and ascertain whether they met their criteria.  All vendors were invited to attend site to demonstrate their solutions, and answer any questions from Crown.  After the demonstrations, Crown and ITC InfoTech staff ran intensive testing for a period of three weeks, and all solutions were marked and ranked to produce a shortlist.  At the end of this process, ServiceNow and Hornbill Service Manager were the final two vendors in the shortlist. Frederic explains that although ServiceNow is a market leader, with a powerful and complete solution, Crown recognized that implementing ServiceNow would have been a major project.  The vendor had initially quoted 90 days to get the basic processes up-and-running.  However, after further clarification of requirements, Crown realized that this estimate was likely to double. Although the vendor offered significant discounts on software subscriptions, the cost and complexity of implementing ServiceNow was excessive.  Cost aside, the team leaders running the evaluation process had leaned towards Hornbill Service Manager, mainly due to the intuitive nature of the tool, ease of configuration, and their interactions with Hornbill staff. Frederic explains, “Although we finally negotiated a great deal on subscription pricing with ServiceNow, it only extended to the first two years, and after that the price would increase year after year.  Many enterprise IT organizations will ‘select the market-leader’ because it’s perceived to be the safest option.  However, our team was very impressed with the ease of use and intuitiveness of Hornbill Service Manager. Functionality-wise, it ticked all the boxes, and commercially, Hornbill’s service offering is radically different to other enterprise ITSM vendors.”  The Hornbill difference Frederic explains, “Hornbill’s ‘priced for life’ policy guarantees that the price we pay when we subscribe will never increase for as long as we remain a customer.  We didn’t have to sign up to 3 or 5-year contract, we could subscribe and terminate at any point, and if our product champions get promoted, or leave the company, Hornbill will train their replacements free of charge. This speaks volumes about the company, their commitment to delivering great service, and their attitude to customer retention and loyalty. But in the end, what really stood out was the intuitiveness and power of the tool.  During the evaluation, one team leader said “With Hornbill, you can really feel the experience of the designer. All the tools are pragmatic, and it’s easy to make all the changes we need to make life easier for our end users and analysts.” In June 2016, the decision was made to select Hornbill Service Manager. To allow sufficient time for Crown’s procurement and planning processes, implementation was scheduled for August 2016. Big-bang implementation to minimize disruption The scope of the implementation was broad. Crown already used ITIL, but previous efforts to adopt the framework were ‘by-the-book’ and focussed entirely on processes.  Implementing Hornbill Service Manager provided a fantastic opportunity to revisit ITIL, but this time, from a Services perspective. Crown decided that a big-bang approach would minimize the period of disruption.  During the implementation, Hornbill Product Specialists were supported by an exceptional team, led by Crown’s Technical Support Team Leader, Lyonel Remond. The implementation commenced in mid-August 2016 and a tight two-month deadline was set for go-live in October. It was a huge challenge, as Lyonel explains, “Revisiting our ITIL adoption meant that we had to stop talking about applications, systems and servers, and move towards Services and the design of our Service Catalog.  It was a massive challenge for Crown IT, as it would completely change the way we worked.  That’s where Hornbill’s 30-day implementation and free switch-on was invaluable.  Hornbill’s Product Specialist was very patient and took time to explain how we could structure the Service Catalog.  Once that structure was in place, we could design our ITIL processes from a Services perspective, which made sense, and made our processes more effective. We needed to look at all our SLA’s and redesign those, and Hornbill’s Product Specialist helped set these up and do some tweaking to the processes we designed, to improve the flow of work.  Working with the Hornbill Team, we managed to get all the technical elements out-of-the-way in a couple of weeks. By the time we went live, we had over 300 items in the Service Catalog, and now, nine months later, it’s over 400. These catalog items are grouped under Service Categories, and our users are only presented with services they are entitled to subscribed to via the Service Portal, and it works brilliantly.” A smooth go-live experience Hornbill Service Manager is intuitive, so service desk analysts don’t need much training.  Prior to go-live, Crown’s service desk analysts had only two training sessions. Hornbill delivered a one-hour session on how to use the tool, and after this session analysts were encouraged to log on and familiarize themselves with the solution. Two weeks later, Crown staff delivered an internal training session, which explained how the service management processes worked.  Two days later, Hornbill Service Manager went live. Frederic explains, “Go-live was a very smooth experience. All that we had to do was send a couple of notifications, reminding staff how to use certain aspects of the tool.  We sent a member of staff to India to support go-live for our partner, and this also went very smoothly.”   Saurabh Saket, General Manager IT Services, ITC InfoTech said, “We had excellent communication from Crown before go-live, so on-boarding of our service desk staff took no time at all.  One of the main reasons that the tool has been so successful in our environment is the preparation that went into process design and trainings conducted with the team. The Heads-Up Display is a massive hit with the analysts.  Analysts can immediately see where they are in the process, what’s coming next, and what should be done with tasks and automation. Progressive Capture is also a big benefit, as it ensures that you get the right information, first time, so analysts can immediately start work on resolution, and this really helps with our SLA performance. Hornbill Service Manager – a big hit with users, analysts and management “Communication within the tool has been well thought out”, said Lyonel. “It’s the simple things, like responding to customer emails from within the tool, and being easily able to assign tasks to colleagues that make a significant difference. Mentions allow us to request help from subject matter experts, by simply using the @ symbol and a colleague’s name.  They get an instant notification and can easily jump in to provide help.” Frederic said, “The Service Portal was an instant hit, both with users and analysts.  Previously, we had forty support mailboxes receiving users ‘requests or system alerts, and we reduced this to two.  Thanks to the metrics in Hornbill Service Manager, we now know that around 40% of our users have already accessed the Service Portal.  Thanks to Progressive Capture, end users can create incidents and requests themselves, which are then immediately routed to the correct resolver group.  Since go-live, in October 2016, around 9% of all incidents and requests have been created by end users. This may not sound like a huge number, but end users in the manufacturing industry don’t typically use Self-Service at all. But the best news is that 20% of these Self-Service requests have been resolved by users themselves.” “The Service Portal, and particularly the FAQ’s and Service Bulletins are clearly a big hit.  Previously, with HP Service Manager, our feedback on resolved incidents was around 6%, but with the simple feedback facility in Hornbill Service Manager, we’ve managed to raise our feedback rates to 17%.  With HP Service Manager, users were bombarded with emails, but now, they get the right communication at the right time, and several people have commented on the simplicity and clarity of these updates. In some manufacturing plants, we’re still using older browsers, and once these have been updated to the latest versions, I anticipate even greater adoption of Self-Service.”   Sharing improvements with KPI’s and metrics “The KPI’s we’ve created have made a real impression with Senior management, especially our CIO. Our key metrics run as a slideshow in our primary office in Wantage, so everyone can see how we’re performing.  These metrics do a fantastic job explaining how much we’ve improved.  Our backlog has dropped significantly.  Our CIO is very happy with our performance, especially with the feedback he’s received from our customers, our service desk analysts, and our partner, ITC InfoTech.” Hornbill Service Manager enables the digital workplace Saurabh Saket, General Manager IT Services, ITC InfoTech said, “Hornbill is a digital workplace tool, with a rich and intuitive user experience. This is a new age, where people want to use software that is as familiar as the tools they use in their personal and consumer lives, and Hornbill Service Manager provides that kind of experience.  It’s a digital workplace platform that stands out from a crowd of cumbersome ITSM tools. It presents the right information, at the right time, which makes it much easier for our people to do their work.” Collaboration creates potential for further improvements Lyonel explains that although Crown is using some of the collaborative features of Hornbill Service Manager, a recent trip to a Hornbill Customer event made him realize that Crown could achieve so much more through collaboration.  Lyonel said, “I was at Hornbill event in London recently, and one of my colleagues needed my input for an important job.  Previously this would have been buried in a long list of emails, and I would probably have missed it. Fortunately, I had the Hornbill app on my mobile and was instantly able to provide the information they needed, so the work could be completed. After the Hornbill Insights event, I went back to my team and told them that if they wanted to ask me a question, they should use the @mention facility in Hornbill, rather than sending me an email.  Now, if I get a question by email, I copy the email into a Workspace and reply using @mention.  It takes time to change people’s behaviour, but now it’s beginning to take off, and pay off within my team.  We’re currently producing some guidelines on the use of Workspaces, then I’ll be pushing hard to make more effective use of collaboration across every team within the IT organization.” No more upgrade pains According to Lyonel, one of the most impressive things about Hornbill Service Manager is the automatic upgrades. Hornbill’s continual deployment approach means that around 4 or 5 releases are made available each month. Lyonel said, “Most SaaS vendors claim that upgrades are seamless.  However, when you dig a bit deeper, typically it means a project, with cloning, upgrading, testing, and often reapplying the changes you previously made to the application. With Hornbill, it’s a simple update, much like you’d update an app on your mobile phone.  We’ve deployed numerous updates, with no disruption to service. With Hornbill, all it takes is a single click and thirty seconds later the update is done, all our customizations carry on working, and we never have to deal with upgrade pains again.” Major benefits Frederic says, “From a management perspective, the visibility into the workload of different teams is a major benefit. More importantly, we can share these metrics right across the business, so we’re now working transparently, and our improvements are there for all to see. I’ve had so many positive comments about the metrics slideshows.” “However, for me, the biggest benefit is that Hornbill Service Manager truly considers everyone within the Service Lifecycle; from our end users and customers using the Service Catalog, the simplicity and effectiveness of the analyst interface, through to the richness of metrics available to management…it’s incredibly well thought-out and very well integrated. With HP Service Manager, and with many of the tools we looked at during our selection process, we would have required a team of developers to customize and maintain the solution. With Hornbill Service Manager, setting up our business processes and workflow is a simple point and click operation.  It’s incredibly easy to administer, requires no technical skills, and there’s little or no maintenance overhead.  Compared to where we were with our previous solution…it’s night and day.” Sharing his final thoughts on selecting Hornbill Service Manager, Frederic says, “At the start of our selection process, our CIO made it clear that this was our last chance to select the right tool.  It would have been easy to choose the market leader, but Hornbill’s approach, and the tool itself, was clearly a more innovative solution. I’m happy to say that since Hornbill Service Manager was implemented, not a day has gone by when I have questioned our decision.”    
  12. Exactly Why do ITSM Vendors Lead with ITIL? I was inspired to write this article on the back of a question asked on the Back2ITSM community by William Goddard which was... I think the answer to the question is obvious, but we can explore it by looking at the role of a vendor in a niche industry.  Firstly, and most obviously I think, vendors do not choose to lead with ITIL, Pink Verify or anything else. The buying public chooses, and vendors simply make and sell what they are asked for.  The problem with niche markets like the ITSM space is there are different parties, with different agendas, and for the most part they are in conflict with each other. The Customer Organisation – needs improved efficiency and better ROI on its investments. They don’t care how it is done, and often don’t know what they need to do either. The command from above is ‘get it done’ and they want demonstrable results, measured essentially in reduced costs/increased business value. The Buying Customer – for the sake of this example, is the IT department and/or the people directly responsible for running IT Service within the organisation.  They are under pressure to succeed by showing business value, with a backdrop of serious completion from consumerisation of IT, BYOD and cloud providers.  They’re following an IT strategy, which often doesn’t dovetail with a business strategy. They don’t really know what to do and things move so quickly they are looking for help and guidance, so often tune into the next ‘silver bullet’ that has traction and early success. The ITSM Influencers – the people who guide the industry; experts, authors, pundits, bloggers, consultants, analysts, training and certification organisations…independent trusted advisors. The Vendors – the people who have deliver the tools that balance the needs and wants of the customer with ever-changing requirements, to deliver efficiency and lasting value that justifies the significant expense of their ITSM investments. With the definitions out of the way, let me explain some of the behaviours I’ve witnessed, and forgive me if I hit a nerve or two along the way.  Let’s start with the Organisations.  They are absolutely right - IT is expensive, often inefficient, and more often than not, struggles to demonstrate business value. Over the last 15 years, whilst ITIL has enjoyed prime-time, technology has changed radically, and the security that surrounds it is placing a larger burden on IT. Don’t get me wrong, security and privacy concerns should be taking centre stage, but there’s a cost, and the greater the demand for better protection, the higher that cost will be.   Security teams now carry more weight than any other IT group, and that’s the biggest change that I’ve observed in the last 20 years.   Once you are past the organisational governance and procurement, let us talk about The Buying Customer. Customers ask for ITIL, so vendors create solutions around it, and many lead with it.  Vendors are in the business of selling products, so market forces of supply and demand are what apply here, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  If customers consistently asked for a service desk tool that included a IoT coffee maker, trust me, vendors will start to provide it.  If we accept this notion, then we have the answer to the question “Why Does a Vendor Lead with ITIL”.  Perhaps a more interesting question is “Why DO Vendors Lead with ITIL?” The ITSM Influencers – If buying customers need help, and if influencers in the ITSM community say, “you need to be doing ITIL”, then customers will ask vendors for ITIL?  It’s somewhat ironic then, when influencers berate vendors for leading with this.  It should be remembered that Influencers have a commercial agenda too.  It amuses me when industry pundits say “Vendors should sell solutions to problems and not sell product features.” The implication being “vendors just want to sell products, so shouldn’t be trusted. Instead, you should listen to us, and buy some consulting, education, certification, or get our help during your product selection process, because we’re independent and can be trusted.” If I sound cynical, perhaps I am, but I’m just pointing out that it’s not only vendors that have products and services to sell. Influencers work with vendors too, because vendors have sustainable revenue sources and are often “less good” at talking the talk. Just pick your favourite expert or industry pundit and google them - the odds are good you will find a video, blog or white paper content written by them for a vendor. On to the Vendors then – it is true, vendors are in the business of selling products/licenses/subscriptions.  I make no bones about it, because that’s what vendors do. It’s usually honest and transparent – money for software that delivers productivity.  But the assertion that a vendor is not interested in helping customers succeed, is nonsense. With a SaaS, pay-as-you-go business model, that viewpoint is ridiculous.   I can’t speak for other vendors, but our motivation is to help customers be successful. Our efforts are often hampered by complex procurement, regulatory controls and 200 page RFI/RFP documents that make it as difficult as possible for vendors to comply, meet requirements, and also deliver real value. Isn’t it time for influencers and the community at large to stop referring to vendors as the “Dark Side” to justify “independent” services prior to vendor selection. To simply trade and exist, vendors have to: Make products to meet requirements that customers cannot fully quantify Navigate regulatory and governance requirements in a landscape that’s constantly changing  Deliver consulting, training and education to customers - free of charge - during sales cycles, pre-sales, pilot projects Keep up with the latest “shiny things” because customers continuously ask for them. Answer the same questions, in the same RFPs – yes that happens…often – and submit a response that’s contractually binding. Differentiate with products/features against ‘unknown’ competition.  As a side note, in almost all cases, when a vendor is in a competitive situation, and the customer will not disclose who we are competing against, we can generally guess. By the second round of demos, we’re asked for the “shiny thing” that was in another product – so we usually know who we’re up against Take the blame.  Despite the buying process, independent consultants, implementation process or the day-to-day management of the solution, if it fails, the product is blamed. Everyone else washes their hands of it and moves on to the next project. Long after the ITIL foundation training is done, when the consultant is gone, and the people who implemented your solution have moved on, as a vendor, we will still be there, supporting you, and doing what we can to help you succeed. I rarely see an RFP that spells out the business problems that need to be solved. More often than not, it’s a shopping list of features/functionality, often derived from the bits people liked about their existing solution, topped with generic ITSM requirements based on a commonly used template. If customers would just explain the business problems they’re trying to solve, vendors would be in a better position to help.      Vendors sell what customers ask for. Customers ask for the latest silver bullets that the industry pundits are promoting. Customers are told that vendors have an agenda and only want to sell their products, you need independent advice…and round and round we go… The Hornbill Promotion Bit: I am proud to say as a vendor we do not lead with ITIL. We have to fit within the ITIL box, but we will never allow innovation to be stifled by ITIL dogma.  We lead with technology innovations that improve the way our customers work. We listen to concepts and blue sky thinking, but we base our products on practical, tangible things you can touch, see and use every day. With pay-as-you-go, no contractual tie-in arrangements, the balance of power has shifted to the customer.  Vendors want customers to succeed, quite simply because their revenue and long-term sustainability depends on your continued success. In the age of on-premise software, with large up-front costs and long term contracts, the vendor had the edge, and customers had to “sweat the asset” and “justify the spend”. Today, if the vendor doesn’t deliver value, customers can walk away.  If you’re a SaaS customer, and you need help, just reach out to your vendor, I guarantee they’ll be highly motivated to do everything they can to support you.
  13. SPOTLIGHT: To Microsoft System Center Service Manager and Back Again People will tell you “there is no such thing as a free lunch" and this story is such a great example of that.  Paul and the team at Vinci PLC have been on a bit of a Service Management journey over the last three or so years, having previously used our Supportworks on-premise solution and then moving to Microsoft System Centre Service Manager, and all for the right reasons of course, I remember them being very gracious and having good business reasons for doing so. I am delighted to say that we are lucky enough to once again have the custom of Vinci PLC and Paul has been kind enough to allow me to share their story.  VINCI companies in the UK turn over in the region of £2 billion per annum and employ circa 9000 employees. This represents 6% of VINCI’s €38.7 billion turnover and 30% of VINCI’s European turnover outside France. VINCI employs around 185,000 people in 100 countries around the world. Like many other organisations Vinci are on a fairly aggressive Digital Transformation Program where Hornbill's Platform is helping VINCI realise an overall Enterprise Service Management strategy. I asked Paul some questions and this is what he told me.  Can you give me a brief background of who you are and what your role is at Vinci? What Service Desk tool was in place at Vinci before you deployed Hornbill Service Manager? and what were your reasons to change? What other service desk tools have you used in the past? How does Hornbill Service Manager compare in your opinion? What other solutions did you consider/shortlist before choosing Hornbill Service Manager?  What was your first impression of Hornbill Service Manager? What was your impression of Hornbill as a company during the selection, procurement and implementation process? Since rolling out Hornbill Service Manager, how has it gone since you went live? Can you pick out three things that you love about Hornbill? If you had a magic wand, what is the one thing you would change about Hornbill right now? Is there anything else you would like to mention in relation to Hornbill? In my own opinion, Microsoft System Center Service Manager is not a bad product, its quite comprehensive but it does come at a cost, and up until recently the costs were primarily just the invisible cost of ownership.  The big problem though is the strategic reason for its existence. Microsoft are a great company and much of their success beyond their desktop application portfolio is built on a broad partner eco-system. Microsoft are not in the niche player business, but they offer niche products essentially through their partner network.  If such a product just worked out of the box there would be no "skin in the game" for the partner eco system, so you can think of SCSM as a toolkit rather than a finished product, and as a toolkit, its specifically designed to create a revenue stream opportunity for Microsofts partner ecosystem either through implementation/customization services or providing add-ons that round the solution out.  Of course the marketing of the product would not make that immediately apparent which is a trap very easily fallen into. As a niche player, Hornbill offers something quite different; our solution is complete out of the box. It's not a product. It's a service we provide, and as a result our partner ecosystem works differently too. Our partners' revenue opportunities come from adding value, by delivering support and services that focus on helping you get your processes, reporting and strategy all going in the right direction. Thanks again to Paul for sharing your service management story with us.  
  14. SPOTLIGHT: London Borough of Brent Embraces a Shared Service Culture We have worked with the team over at London Borough of Brent for a good number of years now.  Back in 2016 they transitioned from an on-premise Supportworks deployment to Hornbill Service Manager in the cloud as their service management solution. I was talking to Nasim about their journey, and he was kind enough to share his story with me; here is what he had to say.  Can you give me a brief background of who you are and what your role is at London Borough of Brent? What Service Desk tool(s) were in place at London Borough of Brent before you deployed Hornbill Service Manager? What other service desk tools have you used in the past? How does Hornbill Service Manager compare in your opinion? What was your first impression of Hornbill Service Manager? What other solutions/tools did you consider/shortlist before choosing Hornbill Service Manager?  What was your impression of Hornbill as a company during the selection and implementation process? What would you consider your biggest personal success coming out of the project?  Since rolling our Hornbill Service Manager, how has it gone since you went live?  Can you pick out three things that you love about Hornbill? If you had a magic wand, what is the one thing you would change about Hornbill right now? Is there anything else you would like to mention in relation to Hornbill? Nasim and the team at London Borough of Brent are doing some really interesting things, their continued expansion of their shared service is testament to their ability to generate cost savings for their service partners and ultimately their citizens yet continue to improve the service they deliver to their end users. Few public-sector organisations have managed to move towards a portal only service experience, this is where London Borough of Brent are truly bucking the trend. 
  15. A Bird's eye view of Global IT Bird & Bird LLP is an international law firm, with over 1200 lawyers in 28 offices across Europe, the Middle East and Asia-Pacific, helping clients based in over 120 countries across the globe. The firm aims to be the number one law firm in the world for organisations being changed by technology or the digital world. This global ambition requires a global IT approach. Therefore, Bird & Bird’s IT department has a specific way of working: as each office supports fee-earning lawyers, IT support must be present locally to ensure they can provide a swift and effective response to requests.  Experienced staff are required, as at each location, IT analysts must have significant insight and knowledge of local applications, server settings and communications.  Although local IT groups were highly effective at resolving issues, when the same issues impacted services in different countries, there was significant duplication of effort. When Nard Van Breemen joined the firm as Global IT Support Manager, Bird & Bird was using different service management products in each country.  It was clear to Nard that Bird & Bird needed an integrated Service Management solution to provide insight into IT workload at each location, so that Central IT could spot trends sooner, respond faster and manage demand more effectively.  Therefore, the new tool had to enable the flow of information, communication and collaboration between local offices and Central IT. Selecting the new tool was a team decision Before starting his search, Nard and his teams compiled a list of requirements, using MoSCoW (Must have, Should have, Could have and Won’t have this time) to prioritise the functionality they needed.  Nard wanted to draw on the experiences of the teams in each country and get their feedback about their existing tools and impression of the different vendors bidding for the work.  Remote demonstrations were arranged with three vendors, attended by IT support leads from every country. Secondary sessions we arranged to provide even greater exposure and address questions that arose from the first round of demonstrations. Nard was aware that adoption of a new tool would be heavily dependent on the preferences of each team, so he decided not to influence the selection process and instead turned the decision over and asked his teams to reach consensus. Nard explains that Hornbill Service Manager “ticked every single box, functionality-wise, but was not over-priced. There wasn’t a dramatic difference between any of the products in terms of licensing/subscription costs, but implementation was a different matter. We didn’t want to pay for months of consulting just to get the basic processes set up. Although price was one of the deciding parameters, the teams decided that Hornbill would be a better fit, both from a product and partner perspective.” Bringing Hornbill Service Manager to life within the organisation At the end of the selection process, you hope that you’ve selected the right tool, but you don’t know for sure until the tool has been implemented. Hornbill’s 30-day switch-on approach proved to be unique and insightful. Nard explains, “Typically, you incur subscription costs up-front, followed by implementation, and only when the tool is up and running, can you be certain that you’ve made the right choice. Hornbill’s 30-day switch-on was different.  Their Product Specialists did a fantastic job in understanding our complexity, especially around email and local support needs.  As we went through the switch-on process, we gained the first solid insights into the product, how it worked, and more importantly, how it worked in our environment, with our data and processes.  At the end of the process, not only did we have a working tool, we also had all the knowledge we needed to get more from the tool, and truly bring it alive within the organisation. Hornbill certainly delivered on its promise to enable us to make an informed decision at the end, and more importantly, delivered everything that they promised.” Visual Management - a holistic view of IT Services By the end of April 2017, the switch-on process was complete, but Nard and his team spent a further three weeks ‘polishing’ Hornbill Service Manager to ensure a successful go-live at their offices in The Hague, Netherlands. Over the last few months, Hornbill Service Manager has been rolled out to teams in other countries and Central IT now has a holistic view of Global IT Services. Nard explains, “Our structure and the need for specialised local IT support, meant that there was significant duplication of effort. Getting a complete picture of the status of Global IT Services was a real challenge. Implementing Hornbill Service Manager has changed that.  I particularly like the visual management capabilities within the tool, especially the heads-up display, as it instantly communicates the status of requests, and keeps everyone informed, so progress is much easier. Hornbill Service Manager is an incredibly powerful tool and we’ve only scratched the surface. The collaborative features are particularly exciting, as they will enable information and communication to flow freely between teams in different offices and countries.  Collaboration will change the way we work, and take Global IT Services to the next level. The underlying ambition for me is to be in a better position to serve our lawyers who are serving our clients.”  
  16. INTEGRATION: Hornbill Open Integration Approach When I first conceived our Hornbill Platform I knew that the key to being successful was the ease in which it could be made to interoperate with other systems.  In theory, the Hornbill Platform could be used to implement pretty much any business application with its many capabilities. However, for now at least, we have chosen to focus our go-to-market efforts on Collaboration, Service Management and Customer Management application areas.  Any business system needs to be able to “play nice” with other systems, and not only should it work well but it should be easy to achieve comprehensive levels of integration without complexity.  First of all, a little integration history.  All systems have some form of API, everyone knows that, but APIs are generally not interoperable. In the enterprise world for example, an attempt by a working group sponsored by Microsoft to create a standard for exchanging information was created called SOAP, using XML technologies, specifically XML Schema to describe the information structure being exchanged.  SOAP was adopted by Microsoft and Java SDKs and so the dream of seamless interoperability was being sold to the enterprise developers.  Truth is though, the standard was too flexible, and too verbose in its representation, a classic outcome of a committee driven approach to standardise something.  With the flexibility came interoperability issues as different systems took different approaches to represent data within the confines of the standard and it became clear that SOAP actually was not going to deliver on the promise of solving interoperability issues, it was actually going to create just as many.  Since then, web technologies have really taken hold while browsers have never natively supported XML, instead a simple data representation scheme known as JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) which, along with REST has become the defacto standard for implementing API’s simply because its compact, easier to read and browsers support it natively.  There are many variations of these schemes as well as some obscure schemes that use things like ASN.1 or other serializations so the integration landscape is not without its challenges. Now while we wanted to do as much of the heavy lifting as possible in terms of integrations so our customers don’t have to (see our iBridge for example), we also recognise that there will always be that one thing that we did not think of, integrating two systems always requires what I call “glue code” which is simple code that transforms a message from one format to another. So early on we adopted a strategy of providing a fully open and documented API for the Hornbill Platform and an open source integration approach.   Every integration we build outside of our “everything is done for you” schemes are built and published as open-source projects under the Hornbill Community License, all projects we create are made available to our customers on GitHub, we fully support and maintain these projects, although our customers are also free to fork these projects and make them their own too. Here are some of the projects we have published with a brief description of their purpose dotNetApiLib – a library that makes integrating any .NET application with Hornbill simple and intuitive goApiLib – a library that makes talking to the Hornbill Platform easy from the Go Programming Language pythonApiLib – a library to use the Hornbill Platform API’s with Python phpApiLib – a library to enable you to integrate with the Hornbill Platform API from PHP goSWRequestImport - Supportworks Request Import Tool for Hornbill Service Manager written in Go goServiceNowRequestImporter – Import requests from a Servicenow instance into Hornbill Service Manager goDbAssetImport – A tool written in Go to import assets from a database source into Hornbill Service Manager CMDB goDb2HContactImport – A tool written in Go to import contacts from a database source into Hornbill goDb2HUserImport – A tool written in Go to import user accounts from a database into Hornbill goAzure2UserImport – A tool written in Go to import user accounts from Azure AD to Hornbill goLDAPUserImport – A tool written in Go to import user accounts from an LDAP source rPowerBIHornbillDataSources -  Data Source scripts written in “R” that enable Power BI to use the Hornbill Reporting and Trend Engine APIs as data sources SCOrchHornbillIntegration – Runbooks that allows Microsoft System Center Orchestrator to integrate with Hornbill goApiScheduler – A simple tool written in Go that can be used to schedule the invocation of Hornbill APIs goHornbillCleaner – A tool to clear down test data in a Hornbill instance powershellHornbillAPIModule – A module that enables you to easily interact with your Hornbill Instance We are committed to providing a rich and diverse set of tools and integrations to enable our customers to gain the maximum value from using Hornbill in their organisations.  All systems should be built to be interoperable but not all systems are built by people that understand this – I am pleased to say that at Hornbill we truly do understand this and embrace the idea of integrating with anything.
  17. INTEGRATION: Integrating with Microsoft Power BI Although we provide powerful analytics, dashboards and reporting capabilities built into the Hornbill Platform, that capability only caters for reporting on data held within Hornbill.  We know that customers often need to report across data sets from multiple systems which is where Business Intelligence tools come in.   Many of our customers have requested integration with Microsoft Power BI Data Visualisation Tool, it’s a simple yet powerful tool that allows you to manipulate and visualize data sets, linking and cross-referencing multiple data sets, even data sets from different systems creating dashboards with drilldown capabilities.  Microsoft has set a new benchmark in the BI space because not only is this tool powerful, there is a free edition and Pro subscriptions start at a mere $9.99/user/month which is not very expensive considering what you get for your money. We have created an integration between Hornbills Analytics Engine and Power BI which is essentially a data source provider to Power BI. The integration its self is developed in “R” and we have made this available as an open source project under the Hornbill Community License (HCL), the integration is provided completely free of charge, and we can even help you set it up if you need us to.  The integration can be downloaded from our GitHub here You can find out more about this integration by watching the video attached to this post or by viewing our documentation here or searching our community forums If you have suggestions for other integrations with Hornbill please let us know, we are on a mission to be the most well connected Service Management and Business Collaboration platform on the planet!
  18. INTEGRATION: Hornbill iBridge - Connecting the Cloud Following on from my previous post Not All Integrations/Automations Are Made Equal I want to share with you how we tackled the problem of esoteric and unmaintainable integrations for our customers.  I felt very strongly that non-technical business process users could easily use these integrations without the need to have a deep technical understanding of APIs, coding and authentication schemes. Hornbill has the ideal canvas in its business process tool, its an intuitive, graphical canvas that allows you to draw diagrams of your business process so Hornbill can orchestrate the flow for automated and human tasks. Expanding this capability to also be able to orchestrate automated tasks on other systems seemed like the next logical step for us to take.  Now as a general rule there are real technical challenges when trying to integrate with other systems. I am not going to go into too much detail here but I would like to highlight the key points. Most API’s now days on modern systems use HTTP as a transport for their API’s, this is a good thing.  However, this is also a very flexible, so while some use JSON as a payload, others use XML, some XML implementations are relatively simple and others are just ridiculously over-complicated for no good reason. (Yes Microsoft, you should be better than this).   Modern software systems like to call their APIs RESTFul which is supposed to be a simple alternative to things like XML-RPC and SOAP.  But every implementation is different, some use custom HTTP Verbs, others try to fit their business logic into some pre-defined standard verbs.  The bottom line is, every RESTful API is created with slightly different philosophical design approach. Interoperability is where things go very wrong.  Yes, XML, HTTP, SOAP, JSON are all “standards” but they are foundational standards, none of them tell you how to represent data for a given system, primarily because every system is different so these things have to be “glued together” Stateless or Stateful, yes this is yet another layer of complexity.  Some consider it to be more secure to establish and maintain a state (log in, keep session and log out when done) while others advocate stateless, for example using tokens or API keys. Authentication is probably the single biggest headache when building integrations, its security so by nature its complicated. There are many competing standards, which are also complicated, some examples are OAuth1, OAuth2, SAML, WS-Security, API Keys, Basic, Digest and a whole range of product-specific schemes too. Even worse, things like OAuth and SAML often require three phase authentication processes which need you to interact with the services own UI when trying to connect and authenticate. If you have ever tried to integrate with something yourself you will recognise some of these difficulties for sure. In order to solve these problems for our customers, we started by trying to understand what problems our customers have when trying to do this. We looked at the use cases for integration and we looked at many systems that have API’s to enable integration, we looked at tools that can integrate with other things and we looked at tools in the cloud that are specifically designed to integrate one thing with another thing.  In almost all cases there was a common theme, things get VERY technical VERY quickly, and almost exclusively there was the “get out of jail free” coding environment that one would need to use a lot!  There is no escaping the need for “glue code” when connecting systems together, when transforming messages and data from one system or another, the only real practical way is to use code, which left us with a dilemma, we either relax our “No Code in the BPM” policy and make our customers responsible for creating the glue code, or we take on the responsibility of creating the glue code ourselves so our customers don’t have to….  Care to guess which path we took...? Enter “Hornbill iBridge” (meaning Hornbill Integration Bridge), and it does pretty much what it says on the tin, it’s the bridge between our very powerful BPM tool and a large (and ever growing) number of pre-canned integrations ready to use.  The iBridge is a containing execution environment that hosts and runs our glue code, each and every integration has been built and tested by us.  Under the hood there is an integration development environment that allows us to rapidly build and test integrations.  The iBridge requires that integrations are exposed to the BPM in a business-friendly and non-technical way, and finally, the iBridge solves the problem of authentication. KeySafe is a new security feature of the Hornbill Platform that allows a complete de-coupling of security credentials and business process design. Imaginatively named based on the fact it’s a “Safe” place to store digital “Keys”. In essence, you can setup your credentials to the various systems you want to integrate with in KeySafe, giving each credential a name, within this environment you can do whatever two-phase or three phase authentication process is required by the service you are connected to, and once authenticated the credentials are safely locked away, encrypted, secure and safe. These keys can later be used within the BPM environment without ever exposing the details of the credentials.  KeySafe+iBrdige even handles the complications of refresh tokens completely automatically, logging every security even for full audit purposes. The Hornbill iBridge was introduced at our recent customer event Hornbill Insights 17 and because of our “Priced for Life” policy and commitment to customer loyalty, all existing customers get full access to the iBridge for free for as long as they remain a subscribing customer.  We have also opened up a community forum to take requests for new integrations which we have committed to build as we are keen to expand our integration portfolio.  As of right now we have over 400 built and tested integrations with 30 of the most common authentication scheme variations fully implemented and tested ready to use by our customers.  Here is our sticker portfolio of systems we have pre-built integrations for. You might have noticed from the above stickers, we have also committed to integrate with any system without commercial or competitive prejudice so we have even built integrations with competitive products including Jira, Servicenow, BMC, Freshservice, ZenDesk and Salesforce.  We have even built an integration with Hornbill so one Hornbill Customer can easily integrate with another Hornbill Customer instance if required.  One of the more exciting things our customers have reported is our integration into infrastructure and Tier 1 cloud solutions like Office365, Azure and Amazon Cloud making it possible for organisations using these services to automate provisioning of users, accounts and servers. Now these are big claims and I can understand why you might think that too, we have all heard this before, its never that easy right - well the best way I can think of convincing you is to show you some short videos so you can see for yourself how easy we have made this very complicated task, you can integrate with things in a few minutes without any technical expertise - watch and see for yourself... Integrate with Twitter Integrate with Slack Integrate with Trello Integrate with Servicenow Integrate with Microsoft Azure, Salesforce and Hornbill Integrate with Twillo SMS and Microsoft Azure We have only just got started with integration, we have a lot more to come so watch this space.  In my next article, I will be talking about our integration with Microsoft System Center Orchestrator for behind the firewall IT automation.    
  19. INTEGRATION: Avoiding the IT Automation Trap An important part of creating a technology solution is to be able to recognise the business problem you are trying to solve. The first thing to ask is why do you want to automate? there are some compelling answers to this question. You can save money, you can consistently repeat the task without needing someone to be present and you can drive efficiencies. But when it comes to automating systems, “Integration” often muddled up with automation, but you should think of integration as a distinct function that enables automation, they are most definitely not one in the same.  Integration is generally very technical and involves code that calls an API, transforms the request and response data from each system so they can understand each other, and because systems are often so diverse, and even with alleged “standards” the only really practical way to do this is with what I call “Glue Code”.  Implementing integrations does generally require a high level of technical expertise, and in the world of IT automation that invariably means a business manager will ask IT people to implement the automation of the IT tasks that need to be automated. But that is a fundamental problem because unless you are technically proficient yourself, technical people rarely view a high level requirement in the same way you will, and as a result you will almost certainly fail to achieve your objective.  The best way I can explain this is through a story I told recently at a customer event.  I have borrowed my actors from the TV Sitcom “The IT Crowd” to help illustrate the problem as I see it. A Hypothetical Situation You are Jen, the head of IT, your organisation has a high turnover of contract staff, you are a smart business manager and you realise your team is spending an average of 20 minutes of time each and every time you create a new user on your systems, you are doing this about 25 times a week on average.  You have some complex systems, and without any automation, the only way you can be 100% sure it gets done right each and every time is to ask “Maurice” to do it – “Maurice” is the go-to guy for creating user accounts in your IT team. And of course, like any manual process there are problems… No one values Maurice’s work, creating user accounts seems like a trivial task and does not really add business value. Maurice often feels undervalued and wishes he could be doing something more interesting but he is the expert and has to do it because no one else can do it right. Things are difficult when Maurice is on leave or unavailable, no one else knows how to do this properly… not even Maurice’s closest college Roy gets it right all the time. You realise that if you can automate this one task you can not only mitigate the above problems, but a simple calculation would tell you in this situation, if you can automate the process of creating new users on your systems you will free up around 8 Hours a week of Maurice’s time. So, what is the next logical step?  It is obvious, right? you sit down with Maurice and the following dialect ensues…. Jen: Is it possible to automate the new user task? Maurice: “of course” he replies, that would be easy, I can do that, it will take me about a day.  Jen: Perfect, let’s get it done… (a day passes…) Maurice: I have done that automation you asked for, it was a really good idea you had… Jen: Excellent, can you show me… (bated with high expectations) I can’t wait to see this in action. Maurice: Yeah of course, let me show you how simple it is… https://youtu.be/_eUxpCG2n7o The truth is, it was a mistake on Jen's part to give Maurice the freedom to automate this task, because while Jen was trying to automate a business activity, Maurice was actually automating the work he does by writing a script that only he knows how to use! This is “Maurice Automaton”, not “Business Automation” Maurice has done nothing wrong here, he has done exactly what was asked of him, but Jen has failed because she did not ask for the right thing, and as a result she has not achieved her desired goal of automating a business task – Jen still needs Maurice to run the script each time it needs to be run, and the odds are good that the script is so esoteric that not even his team mate Roy will be able to use the script (eh hem, I mean automation) properly. Viable automation needs to deliver a number of things First and foremost, demonstrable and repeatable ROI to the business Esoteric technical tasks MUST be exposed and expressed in a business language that anyone can understand. Must free up time so you can deliver “Higher Value” work for your organization Must remove dependencies on individual know-how Must be usable in practice by non-technical users What Jen was really looking for was something presented in a format that’s expressed in a language that Jen, or any other business manager with a modicum of common sense would completely understand and could make use of. Something more like this... In truth, there are a lot of tools out there that don’t recognise this problem but yield a great “get out of jail free card for sales”, which is just answer “yes” to the question can you integrate with XYZ. How? the response will be along the lines of “yes, we provide API’s and some form of web call mechanism, you can script pretty much anything, and we provide you a mechanism to do that”.  IT and technical people like the empowerment of these sandbox development environments but it’s a dangerous road to go down because more often than not, customizing via code means poor upgradability and an inherent dependency on the expert who implements the code…. So that’s why I say not all automation is made equal. If you are Jen, Maurice or Roy in your organization you will only be able to deliver ROI if you can automate in a way that makes sense to the business.   Now before Maurice or Roy lynch me for trying to put them out of a job… the truth is, business needs IT (and yes that means you Maurice and Roy), and more now than ever before, so if you are thinking like that then you are probably being looked upon as a dinosaur in your organisation – you need to change that perception.  Just think about it, in relation to this simple example above, you are no longer required to expend 20 minutes of your time every time a new user needs to be created, you can, and should now spend that time doing “Higher Value” work for your organisation, not only will that give you a more interesting and varied job, that will elevate your perceived value within your organisation, and on that day when that automation that you helped create goes wrong, it is you that will be called on to make it work again. I have created a simple check-list to help you validate you have achieved real business value when you automate something in your organisation. Is the purpose, function, inputs and outputs of your automation accessible and expressed in terms that is clear, concise and non-technical for you business? Can your automation be run at will, without any specialist knowledge by a non-technical person with minimal or no training within your organisation? Will the automation always work when you are not present to babysit it? Does the automation you have created save more work hours in 6 months than it takes you to implement the entire automation? If you have answered yes to all of these points AND your non-technical manager agrees with you – congratulations, you have made an automation that has real business value, you deserve a commendation. This is what I had in mind when setting down our strategy for implementing integrations and automation on the Hornbill platform.  We have a “No coding required” policy for customizations so when we came to extend our business process tool to include IT and business system integration and automation I wanted to stick with that policy, so its integration that’s flexible enough to be useful but is always accessible by, and expressed and presented in terms that our mythical Jen can use when building process automations. In the next article in this series Hornbill iBridge - Integrating in the Cloud I will present our implementation of an integration technology that delivers real business value.
  20. Collaboration is essential for modern ITSM I recently had a chat with Kaimar Karu, Head of Product Strategy and Development at AXELOS, about the importance of collaboration in ITSM. Through his engagement with IT, agile and development communities around the world, Kaimar has a deep appreciation of the need for collaboration between different teams, to ensure that the customer is getting value from service management. In this video we discuss the need for increased visibility and openness, both between IT teams, and with customers.  Collaboration underpins all agile methods, and with modern tools supporting visual management approaches e.g. Kanban boards, work no longer needs to remain locked behind the doors of separate IT teams.  These tools place work out in the open, visible to different IT groups, and to customers. As teams carry out their activities, boards make it easy to see what work has been done, and what’s still outstanding, so that everyone is kept up to date and the customer has full visibility.  Development, Operations and Infrastructure teams have very specialist skills, and they benefit from working in silos. However, when the silo mentality takes over, teams tend to focus on their own goals and targets, rather than the end-to-end flow of work and the value that’s delivered to the customer.  That’s where the power of collaboration comes in. It’s not about tearing down silos, it’s about connecting them. Collaboration enables people to do their best work with others, in an open and visible manner, which builds trust between teams. We touch on DevOps, ITIL Practitioner, and the change of mindset that is required if traditional ITSM is to keep up with the pace of business change.  Kaimar explains that AXELOS has recently announced an international research initiative to support the ongoing development of ITIL®, which aims to produce practical guidance, based on input and feedback from practitioners. At 12:40 into our discussion, we agree that Service Management is not about how well processes work together…it’s about how well people work together, to deliver value to the customer. And that’s why collaboration is essential for ITSM. Thanks to Kaimar for taking the time to chat with me. Follow Kaimar on Twitter for great insights and discussion about modern ITSM.
  21. INTEGRATION: Business Application and IT Automation At the beginning of 2017 we decided to introduce a development theme to focus on IT and Business Systems automation.  As I was investigating what we needed to do I very quickly realised there was a lot of conflicting terminology so our starting point was to establish clear terminology around which we could anchor our internal conversations. If you are involved in product creation don’t under-estimate just how important this step is to get right, you will be surprised what seems so obvious actually isn’t. It turned out pretty quickly that we could not really consider automation without also considering Integration, while completely independent concepts, neither is practically deliverable without the other.  So, let me start giving you a simple 101 on that terminology and the context within which we interpret it. INTEGRATION: To connect two separate systems together in a meaningful way that allows one system to instruct the other system to perform a task or a function.  For example, if you want your service desk tool to send an e-mail message there needs to be an “integration” between your service desk tool and an email system that can deliver the message. AUTOMATION: Using an integration to initiate a task or function on another system at any given point in time. In the above integration example, a service desk tool that can send an email message might be described as – “The service desk tool will automatically send an email to the customer when the ticket is resolved.” – the ‘automatically’ being the automation of sending the email. ORCHESTRATION: Using a workflow to co-ordinate a sequence of automations in accordance with a pre-defined, and possibly contextually dynamic sequence in order to achieve a predictable and repeatable business outcome.  An example of this might be to create new user accounts on three decoupled and separate systems, but all orchestrated from one central point of control, triggered as part of a new employee business process. I was originally thinking about writing up our journey in great detail, but that all gets rather technical so I will refrain from the for now and tell you about the main business problems we as technologists wanted to solve for our customers. Pretty much every other system we looked at requires some level of “coding” to achieve integration.  Code is what “glues” two disparate systems together in a meaningful way, and while there are some tools that claim to allow you to do this, the truth is they all require you to code in one form or another.  We offer a 100% code-free customisable environment, especially in our graphical business process tool which is designed to be used entirely by non-technical people, so adding a simple WebCall node into our BPM (which is what pretty much every other system we looked at does), while would offer a level of integration capability would require the BPM designer to be exposed to some code in order to glue XML to JSON, or transform results from strings to integers and so on.  This was not acceptable so while we did create a WebCall node, we did not like it, so our solution needed to avoid raw web calls without making the integration capability too limiting.   We wanted to allow our customers to integrate with a wide range of other systems without the need to pay for a lot of expensive consultancy. Not to save on the consultancy bill its self, although that’s a nice side effect, it was more in recognition that when you pay for expensive technical expertise you end up being enslaved to their work, not because its bad work but because they are the only one who knows how it works, so when they are not available you are left holding the unwieldy baby. We don’t think that’s a good idea.   Aside from the programming aspects, the other very difficult thing to handle when integrating systems is “authentication”, while some are as easy as an API key, others require three-phase authentication and message signatures etc. like OAuth1a, not impossible to achieve in code obviously but as a general rule, way beyond the abilities of anyone that is not a proficient programmer and expert in the field.  All too often insecure systems are built because poorly hacked implementations of authentication schemes are implemented, or even worse the tool vendor gives you basic tools (like a scripting language) and leave the customer with the problem to solve.  Our view is, if it is complicated to do, then we should be looking to implement the complicated stuff under the hood and make it insanely simple for our customers to use.   We recognise that customers have integration needs for both cloud based systems (Office365, Salesforce, Amazon, Azure, Google etc.) as well as a need to integrate with, and automate their behind-the-firewall systems and applications, so whatever we came up with had to offer a solution here too.   We recognise that our customers need to integrate with, and automate a wide range of systems and tools, even tools that are competitive to our own solution, so our strategy needed to be open to any other system and not closed or restrictive in any way.   After six months in the works, we launched our strategy and a working set of solutions to our customers in June 2017 and I think we have delivered some really exceptional capability that meets all of the above. We offer, what in my opinion, is the best business process tool in the business. It is comprehensive, insanely powerful, but really simple to use, and in expanding that to include the Orchestration of Automations, I will go as far to say that we think we have done a better job at providing easy to use, code-free integration than pretty much every other comparable system we looked at.  Why? We thought differently about the problems we were trying to solve, coming at it from the BPM users point of view.  That is of course a bold claim, but one that is so for supported by the initial feedback from our customers. I would of course welcome any feedback both positive or negative, I know how everyone claims how amazing their particular tech is, so I invite you to follow this thread and judge for yourself. Now I have a lot to cover and if you got this far you are probably quite bored by now, so I am going to bring this post to an end.  But just before I do, I have listed the follow-up articles that I am going to write to continue telling this story.  As I write each article I will update this document with a link so check back every few days if you are interested in reading more. Not All Integrations Are Made Equal Hornbill iBridge - Integrating in the Cloud Integrating with Microsoft System Center Orchestrator Integrating with HP Operations Orchestration Integrating with Microsoft PowerBI Open Integration Approach
  22. Innovation: Why does Innovation matter? Around seven years ago I took a long hard look at our business, our products and the Service Desk tools market. I was trying to make sense of why it was progressively getting more difficult to differentiate.  This was a time when there were 100’s of helpdesk and Service Desk tools a customer could choose from, functional requirements were being defined by ITIL rather than customer needs. The infamous “PinkVerify” tools list had expanded from just a few to over 50 vendors and Gartner even retired their IT Service Desk Magic Quadrant citing “lack of innovation” in the industry – so what was happening? Well the behaviour of the customer changed considerably and to understand why we need to look back a little further. IT organisations were looking to become “ITIL Compatible” or “ITIL Certified”, IT teams were looking for new ways to succeed within their organisations.  The “industry pundits” had done a great job a convincing everyone that ITIL was the magic pill that would solve all the problems that IT were facing. The idea was by adopting ITIL, IT would become less of a reactive “fix it when it breaks” cost centre and more strategically aligned with (and therefore more valuable to) the needs of the business.  However, the reality with what was happening was quite different; Innovation in the consumer space had really taken off – for example, your average person could walk into a computer store, buy a laser printer for not much more than the cost of a weekly shop, take it home plug it in and start printing. Yet at work, the same experience would require lots of paperwork and bureaucratic cost justifications and would require a cost sign-off of ten times as much money to get the printer three weeks later.  As executives started to experience this, they were rightly starting to question the value that IT was bringing to the table.  Another great example of this happening was the initial explosion of BYOD (remember that little nugget), where execs and managers would buy their own iPad or Notebook and use it at work, simply because it was easier than trying to go through IT and the by now established security police. IT still had a value so it could not just be outsourced (although lots of organisations tried that too) but no one really knew what ITs value was and so the need for IT to prove itself was created.  It is hard for a function that has previously not had to justify itself to suddenly have to demonstrate business value, and for executives it is hard to give direction to IT when it's them who are questioning the value of IT in the first place, so something was needed to fill the void – enter ITIL… It’s a framework, its best practice, its proven and it has been around 20 years, every podcast, pundit and consultant is saying ITIL is the answer and so the direction from the execs down was “Just do ITIL” – and so they did…and the industry created ITIL consulting, training services and vendors created ITIL products to meet that demand. Of course, history now tells us that the dogma surrounding ITIL ultimately made the situation a lot worse and not better, and when it went wrong and everyone who previously was pro-ITIL was suddenly seeking to disassociate themselves with it, but that outcome is what ultimately killed innovation in the industry, that’s what led Gartner to scrap the MQ for Service Desk tools in 2011. So what really happened?  Well I am describing this from a vendor perspective; the truth is we lost the ability to innovate. In fact, innovation transformed into “how many ITIL processes can I get certified on PinkVerify." The truth is products were being defined by what the PinkVerify (and other benchmark type reports including the Gartner MQ) set out, and that was almost exclusively NOT what customers actually needed.  Customers had stopped driving innovation because instead of asking for what they actually needed,  their RFI’s and RFP’s were pushed out asking about what ITIL processes your tool supports. To compete in this landscape and win business, vendors behaviour changed too. Instead of differentiating by innovation, vendors would focus on getting more processes into their products and making them more "ITIL compatible". It stopped mattering that there was no innovation because customers stopped demanding it, they wanted ITIL and that was that.  Of course, when customers got their ITIL compatible tool and sent everyone on their ITIL foundation training they could tell their bosses that they are now “doing ITIL” and for a short time there was congratulations and jubilation for all concerned – that was until the same execs with the same consumer experience were not seeing any value improvement from IT. In fact all they were seeing was a big investment in ITIL and nothing really changed – no ROI. And to make things worse, by this time, while IT was being misled by the dogma of the industry movement that surrounded ITIL, the next wave of innovation had taken hold and was in full flow, once again threatening IT – THE CLOUD (that’s a whole other article). So back to the question “Why does innovation matter?” The truth is that as consumers, we rarely know what we need until someone has shown it to us. Who knew that we all needed smartphones? But when we see something that can change our work or personal lives for the better, we know it is what we need. Innovation is the thing that makes this happen. For me and for Hornbill, I looked at where we were and what the industry was doing, and I decided to change things and set a course to transform Hornbill to put innovation in front of everything we do, which meant taking some pretty big and uncomfortable steps.  For a start, we set out plans for a brand-new product that facilitated rapid innovation by enabling continuous deployment so we could push features daily. I changed our organisation by removing old-ways of thinking and behaviours and re-structured to underpin this new approach.  I stopped our organisation being led by the tune of industry reports and benchmarks like PinkVerify or being put into the nicely contained box that the Gartner MQ would impose on our thinking.  Instead I switched our entire focus on what the customer needs to succeed, what can we do to make things better for our customers and the innovation we could drive on behalf of our customers. Now, our product roadmap is defined only by that thinking. The truth is, to innovate you need to be prepared to do things that not everyone agrees with.  You also need to be prepared to put yourself on the line and to lead and not be led, and you absolutely should to be prepared to fail every now and then too. Of course, to lead you have to have something to say. You need to have good ideas, and in the case of a company like Hornbill, you also need to have extraordinary people to execute on those ideas.  Innovation is important because innovation is simply another manifestation of leadership, and its only leadership that takes people forwards. If leadership is important, then so is innovation.    
  23. Hornbill is launching its Global Partner Program At the beginning of 2015 Hornbill launched Hornbill Service Manager, a Collaborative Enterprise Service Management solution that brings something fresh, innovative and new to the ITSM and ITIL solution market.  Our technology is intuitive, modern and easy for customer to adopt while offering an exceptional level of very powerful functionality.  We deliver features continuously and our platform is always up to date so our customers never need to worry about upgrading or the cost and disruption that upgrade projects bring.  No code is required to customize the solution and all customizations are guaranteed to work after every update.  Our solution has proven to be very disruptive with No Contract Tie-In, scale up and down as you need and Priced for Life means once subscribed our customers never need to worry about price increases and the icing on the cake - Free Implementation! We designed our platform with the international community in mind.  Our cloud platform is global with our front end applications being served locally on all continents in 49 countries and 100 unique cities delivering local performance globally.  Our platform and our applications handles language, translations and localisation exceptionally well which makes it easy to bring global teams together seamlessly through our powerful collaboration foundation. Our initial product launch has been focused on our flagship application Hornbill Service Manager and via a direct sales channel led out of the UK; we have gained good traction with the solution now being actively used every day in many countries. The graph below (not to scale) was generated from our cloud platform user data representing all subscribed users, so gives you a sense of where in the world our solution is already being used daily. With a proven foundation of customers, a proven business model and a unique market proposition, we are now seeking to expand our footprint globally. Our strategy is to identify and work with just a small number of strategically aligned partners to represent our technology, brand, values and our open and transparent ethos.  Our partner program starts with two levels of partnership: Solution Partner is vendor agnostic/multi-vendor reseller where they typically offer a choice of competing products and have the capability of delivering services and first line support wrap arounds as well as having the expertise to advise customers on best product fit in the pre-sales phase of the customers buying cycle.  There are many of these kinds of organisations that may wish to add our offering to their product portfolio so we have designed a program that fits. Strategic Solution Partners have the same sales and services capabilities as a Solution Partner but are strategically aligned with one vendor and do not offer other competing products/solutions.  We think about SSP’s as an extension of Hornbill and as such have greater access to our internal systems and people including insight into our technology and product future roadmaps and so on and of course more generous revenue share structure. Our business model is quite unique which offers some very compelling commercial advantages to our customers. Our offering is very disruptive but when we talk about innovations like Priced for Life, No Contract Tie and Free Implementation it may be difficult to understand at first glance how a partner can make money.  Our proposition is disruptive and does not “just work the old way”, we have developed a revenue share model that enables partners to build good revenue streams while still being able to offer customers all the benefits of our unique offering. We are still in the early stages of our partner program development which we will be formally rolling out during the first half of 2017.  In the meantime, I am particularly interested in finding a small number like-minded organisations who would like to consider joining our strategic partner program and even helping us shape our partner strategy. I am particularly interested in organisations that could represent us in North America, Canada, Australia and of course the EU (especially Germany, France, Italy and Spain and the Nordics).  If you want to find out more, please get in touch Click Here  
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