Avoid the double whammy of high costs and ineffective implementation in ITSM

IT efficiency remains a major objective for enterprises in every sector, all too-frequently undermined by costly or ineffectual implementation of ITSM solutions

Yet ITSM is critical to the future. Despite the pandemic, research and advisory company Technavio says growth in the IT service management software (ITSM) market will be nearly eight per cent this year (2020), climbing to nine per cent overall up to 2024.

The deployment of ITSM should turbo-charge IT efficiency, reducing the hours spent on routine processes, eliminating a layer of costs and providing a faster, more resilient, productive network. Unfortunately, many enterprises find themselves being hit from two sides once they have selected their software and signed off the business case. On the one hand they pay for unnecessary licences and on the other they have to foot the bill for unnecessarily costly implementation services which fail to deliver the gains promised.

The drawbacks of vendor-specific implementers

The reasons for this frequently lie in the choice of implementer, which in many cases will either be the software vendor itself, or far more likely, one of its implementation partners. This is a market that tends to undermine the interests of the customer. Pressures on margin from the vendor mean the partner sells licences that are not needed or prolongs implementation in order to maximise fees.

This is not to underplay the importance of expertise in a vendor’s products. Expertise is always worth paying for and organisations with specialist skills should be remunerated accordingly. Being a Gold or Platinum partner of a vendor, however, is more often than not a badge of sales-excellence rather than product or industry expertise.

Let’s not forget that ITSM software, though highly beneficial, is potentially very costly, with long commitments of at least four or five years and implementation periods of 12 months in some cases. For sales people the rewards can be substantial, with licences based on users, servers, or the number of automations. Getting the balance right between the various types of licence can have a major impact on cost. It is not unknown for “true-ups” to reveal an organisation has been using far more licences than originally scoped, a situation to the financial benefit of the implementer.

Engage an independent implementer focused on outcomes, not licence sales

Any organisation facing this set of challenges needs to work out how it can get the value out of its ITSM investment faster. It needs a partner that is customer-focused rather than vendor-focused, and preferably not trying to sell licences.

Independence in ITSM implementation has long been underestimated. Having access to truly objective but expert recommendations provides a far better outcome, drawing on the best solutions for each task, irrespective of vendor or number of licences sold.

For many complex enterprises, multi-vendor ITSM solutions are frequently required, as part of a best-of-breed approach. Multiple orchestration or automation tools may be required, plugging into supplier systems. In any case, many existing infrastructures already have multiple management systems, with the main ITSM software from one vendor, but the most suitable reporting or analysis tool from another. 

Achieving the best outcome when multiple solutions are required is difficult when implementation is undertaken by a partner tied to a specific vendor. Vendors or implementers are ready with answers that tick boxes in RFQs but which are not necessarily the right solution. When value-realisation begins, the process proves to be far more difficult than customers ever imagined.

Indeed there is often friction between the vendor and their implementation partner, who may even have scoped out a project that is very different. There is often no roadmap detailing how to extract best value from the new software over time. As organisations’ needs change, software and its licences should be tailored to what they require, rather than continuing as before to optimise partners’ fees.

Independent implementers, by contrast, will understand an enterprise’s existing or newly-acquired software tools and be ready to use them in a more integrated manner, delivering the outcome required without having to spend money on more licences.

And as they go about their work, a form of knowledge-transfer takes place. Customers understand more about what they need and have greater insight into what the market offers, ensuring they have not just the best solution for their needs, but also the most suitable version.

Breadth of solution knowledge is a great advantage

Enterprises can avoid most of these ITSM pitfalls if they are prepared to opt for an independent implementation partner. A partner that is not tied to any vendor but has the necessary breadth of software knowledge and implementation experience to focus on the customer’s own requirements and business aims. An independent implementation partner that is not selling licences to claw back lost margin.

Breadth of software knowledge and genuine agnosticism bring real benefits for enterprises in ITSM implementation. If they want to avoid being hit by a double or triple-whammy of high implementation costs, unnecessary licences and misconceived or poorly-functioning ITSM solutions, they should think hard before opting for a vendor-partner. Opting instead for independence is the most reliable way to ensure they benefit from objective expertise that focuses on their needs and provides them with the optimum set of solutions.

About the Author

Mark Twomey, CEO, Xcession. Xcession specialise in helping organisations improve service performance, quality and efficiency by providing, consultancy, professional services, managed services and support and maintenance around ITSM products. Our passion is supporting businesses with planning, implementing and managing their ITSM solutions, whilst ensuring they can evolve with new technology and innovations.

Featured image: ©Arjuna Kodisinghe