Saturday, October 3, 2015

Mobile for Specialists

SmartphoneAn important capability has been added to ITRP Mobile. If you are a support specialists, you are now able to manage your ITRP inbox from your smartphone.

ITRP Mobile Menu with Inbox OptionsThis makes it possible for you to look up all requests, problems and tasks that are assigned to you or your team. You can also update them when you are going to work on them, forward them to others when necessary, and complete them when you are done.

ITRP Mobile for Specialists
A 3G connection is fast enough to allow you to work comfortably with ITRP on your smartphone. So, as long as your phone can connect to a mobile or wireless network, you are able to stay in control of your ITRP inbox.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Even More Variables

VariablesYes, we did it again. A few more variables have been made available for inclusion in the templates that are used to generate email notifications for end users, approvers, and specialists.

The following variables were added to provide organizations more flexibility in the information that they send out in the emails that are generated on their behalf by the ITRP service:

  • request_service_instance_name
    The name of the service instance that is linked to the request
  • request_service_name
    The name of the service to which the service instance belongs that is linked to the request
  • problem_service_name
    The name of the service that is linked to the problem
  • change_service_name
    The name of the service that is linked to the change

That last variable is also available for email templates that are used to generate email notifications when tasks are assigned or updated. In those notifications, the variable is substituted by the name of the service that is linked to the change that the task is a part of.

The complete list of variables can be found in the online help.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Webhook Failures

WebhookA nice feature has been added for administrators who maintain the near real-time integrations between ITRP and other applications using webhooks.

Webhooks are essentially listeners that can detect specific events when they occur in ITRP (e.g. a new request being registered). When such an event occurs, a webhook can be set up to deliver a push notification to a script that is hosted on a server of the organization for which the webhook works.

When a push notification from a webhook is not correctly received by the script that is supposed to receive it (e.g. because the script has been moved, or because the server on which it is hosted can no longer be reached), ITRP sends out an exception email to every person who has the Account Administrator role of the ITRP account in which the webhook was set up.

Email address for Webhook exception notifications
The new feature that was recently added, allows the account administrators to enter a specific email address to which such exception messages should be sent instead. This makes it possible, for example, to get such emails sent to a mailbox that is monitored by the organization's operators.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Custom Product Categories

Product CategoryAs part of our 'Beyond IT' initiative, we are pleased to announce a new feature that will be especially useful for organizations that use the ITRP service to manage their facilities, lease cars, vending machines, etc. This new feature makes it possible to add product categories as needed. It also offers the ability to disable any default product categories that are not needed.

To maintain the product categories for an ITRP account, the account administrators can go to the Settings console where the 'Product Categories' option has been added. Each product category has a name, a rule set and a reference. The rule set dictates which fields are available in the products and configuration items that are linked to the category (see online help for details). The reference is the unique identifier that can be used by the API to select the product category.

Product Category in View mode
The Group field is optional. It can be used to create groups of product categories, e.g. for different types of software, office furniture or company vehicles.

An icon can be uploaded for each product category. This automatically becomes the default picture for the products that are linked to the product category. Giving each category its own avatar makes it easier for users to find the right option when they are making a selection.

Product Category selection in new product
The selection of a product category for a product has also been improved. Rather than offering a long list of options, it is now possible to enter a few characters to quickly find the category that you are looking for.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

States Available in API for Related Records

APIThe REST API of the ITRP service has an advanced feature called States. This feature is used for filtering out the records that are to be retrieved.

For example, you may need to obtain data from internal organizations within your company. In such cases, you can use the following cURL call:

curl -k -u "token:x" -X ""

Or even simpler:

curl -k -u "token:x" -X ""

As of today, you can also use states when you are looking up related records. For example, you may need to look up the tasks of change #1234, but you are only interested in the ones that still need to be finished. To accomplish this, the following call can be made:

curl -k -u "token:x" -X ""

Another example is a lookup of the notes that are related to request #1010 where you only want the internal ones:

curl -k -u "token:x" -X ""

For those of you who are developing ITRP integrations, this new capability may very well prove useful.

Note that in the above examples, token represents your ITRP API token. You can find your API token in the "Personal Information" section of the Settings console.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Desired Completion

Affected SLALet's say a user submits a request. In this request the user explains that his laptop's battery is no longer charging. He also explains that he will not be in the office until Tuesday.

The specialist to whom this request is assigned sets its status to 'Waiting for...' and sets the Waiting until field to Tuesday 9am. This ensures that the specialist receives a reminder on Tuesday morning so that she does not forget to drop by the user's office with a new battery.

But what if the SLA by which the user is covered dictates that this incident needs to have already been resolved on Monday? The new Desired completion field has been introduced for just such situations.

Request with desired completion and waiting until fields filled out
In this example, the specialist can set the desired completion of the request to Tuesday 5pm. Because the manually entered desired completion is later than the automatically calculated resolution target, the desired completion will be used for SLA reporting. This can be seen in the Affected SLA record that is linked to the request. Its resolution target has been crossed out to indicate that it will be ignored.

Affected SLA with resolution target crossed out
To ensure that this feature does not get abused, the requester receives an automated email notification.

Desired completion set email notification
If a desired completion is more stringent than the calculated resolution target, then it is still used to prioritize the request in, for example, the Inbox console, but it is ignored when the SLA reports are generated.

Affected SLA with desired resolution crossed out
The Desired resolution field can also be used to specify a target for requests that do not have an automatically calculated SLA target. This allows providers to prioritize, for example, the requests for new features that users submit for the provider's application services.

For such requests, which do not have an automatically calculated resolution target, the SLA reports will not show a target violation when the manually entered desired completion is violated.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Global Support for Traveling Users

Service DeskLarge global enterprises typically have multiple IT service desks, where each service desk supports the business in a different part of the world. In such environments, all employees of the enterprise can be registered in a directory account. This gives each service desk that provides first line support for a specific region access to all employees registered in the directory account.

The advantage is that users can contact the local service desk wherever their business trips take them. That's because the local service desk analysts can look up any employee of the enterprise and register a new request for this person.

And when the enterprise wants to, for example, extend the opening hours of its service desks, they can authorize service desk analysts in different time zones to work together as virtual service desk teams. The analysts who are part of multiple service desk teams get the option to register requests for each of the support domains for which these service desks provide first line support.

Support Domains in Service Desk console

User is supportedThe coverage information of the SLAs tells the service desk analysts which support domain a user is normally supported by. This domain is presented as the first option and is marked with a green dot.

Even though a user may not have SLA coverage for any services at the site that she is visiting, the service desk analyst can still select the domain that provides support at this site. So if the user is struggling to get a WiFi connection in London, the request can be registered for the correct support domain. If needed, this allows the request to be assigned to the local network specialists.

User is supported by multiple domainsMaking it possible for service desk analysts to work for multiple (virtual) service desks, provides enormous flexibility in terms of their deployability. This new feature can also be used, for example, when a service desk analyst works for the IT service desk as well as the Facilities Management service desk.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Simplified Completion Reasons

RequestWhen the work on a request has been completed, its status is set to 'Completed'. The support specialist is then asked to select an option in the Completion reason field. The value that is selected is used primarily by the Problem Management process, which allows support organizations to systematically reduce the number times their users need to ask for help.

The Problem Management process also works perfectly for organizations that are using ITRP to provide support for their human resources and facilities management services (i.e. beyond the IT department). The description of three of the completion reasons, however, were perceived to be a little too technical. That's why these three descriptions have been adjusted.

The old completion reasons were:
  • Solved – Root Cause Analysis Not Required
  • Workaround – Root Cause Not Removed
  • Gone – Unable to Reproduce

The new ones are:
  • Solved – Review Not Required
  • Workaround – Review Required
  • Gone – Issue Can No Longer Be Found

Selection of people who need to be covered by an SLA.The complete list of completion reasons should now be intuitive for everyone.

Because only the descriptions have changed (i.e. the part after the hyphen), this should not affect any of your organization's ITRP integrations, exports or imports.

Monday, August 17, 2015

New Record Icons

RecordsEach record type in the ITRP service has its own icon (or avatar). These small graphics help users to identify the type of record that they have opened more quickly. Images are processed faster than text because the human brain deciphers them simultaneously, while language is decoded in a linear, sequential manner.

These record icons have recently been redesigned to make them a little easier to recognize. The new version of these icons are similar to their previous version, but considerably more crisp. The example below shows the old and the new icon for request.

Old and new request icon
Some icons are a little different, though. The most significant change has been made to the symbol for 'template'. This has become the more widely used paint roller. Below you see the old and the new version of the request template icon.

Old and new request templates icon

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Enhanced People Selection

PersonWhen you are relating the service owner to a service, you are creating a link with a Person record. When there are lots of people to choose from, it can be difficult to find the right person by entering just a first or last name. That's especially true when you are not really sure how this person's name is spelled.

To provide a little extra help in such cases, you are now able to enter (part of) the name of the person's organization when you are doing such a lookup. For example, when you are looking for Bill in the Manufacturing department, you can enter bil man. This will find anyone whose name, combined with his or her organization name, contains a word that starts with bil and another that starts with man.

One other viewer notification

Selection of people who need to be covered by an SLA.This feature has been added to all fields that allow you to search for a person. It can also be useful when you need to link multiple people to, for example, an SLA when this SLA covers only some people who work for a specific (type of) department.

While we were at it, we also improved the performance of such lookups. This ensures that even large enterprises with more than 100,000 employees, still experience lightning-fast response times when they are looking for specific people.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Waiting Until

ClockSometimes you are not able to continue your work on a request, for example, because you are waiting for spare parts. In such cases, you set the status of the request to 'Waiting for...' and add a note to indicate what you are waiting for. What's new is that, as soon as you have selected the status 'Waiting for...', the Waiting until field appears. You can use this field to enter the date and time at which you plan to follow up on the request.

One other viewer notification
At the date and time you specify, the status of the request will be set to 'Assigned' and you will be notified of this via email. This is how you can tell ITRP to remind you when you need to start on the request again.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Add Custom Fields to the Organization Form

UI ExtensionYou could already use UI extensions to add fields to requests, changes and configuration items. Now you can use the same functionality to add fields to your organizations.

One other viewer notification
By making fields dynamically available depending on the options that have been selected or the boxes that have been checked, it is possible to show the correct fields for each type of organization.

One other viewer notification

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

A New CTI Capability

HeadsetMany larger service desks or call centers use an automatic call distributor (ACD) that collects some information from callers before assigning their call to an available service desk analyst. A caller could, for example, be asked to enter his/her account, customer or employee number.

When the Support ID field of the Person records is populated with this number, the ACD can pass the value that the caller said or entered, to the computer telephony integration (CTI).                     

By placing the number that the caller provided, rather than the caller’s telephone number, at the end of the URL, the Person record of the caller gets selected automatically in the User field of the Service Desk console. That's because, before looking for a match with a telephone number, ITRP first checks for a Support ID match.

Service Desk console launched by CTI
When the same customer number is entered in the Support ID field of each contact person of the corresponding customer organization, these people get listed as options for the User field when the Service Desk console is launched.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Extended Collision Detection

WarningCollision detection, which was introduced a few weeks ago for the Inbox views, has just been extended to all consoles of the ITRP service. Apart from making collision detection available for all record types, we also extended its capabilities.

Now it does not only warn you when someone else has updated the record that you are working on; it already notifies you when someone starts to look at this record.

One other viewer notification
And when other people subsequently open this record as well, the message at the bottom of the screen gets updated to reflect this.

Multiple other viewers notification
When one of these people places the request in edit mode, the message becomes a warning.

One other editor warning
If this person then saves an update of this record while you still have it in Edit mode, the warning becomes yellow to emphasize its importance.

Record updated by someone else warning
Pressing the Cancel link in the warning has the same result as pressing the Cancel button next to the Save button at the bottom of the record.

But when you are only looking at a record (i.e. not editing) and someone else saves an update of this record, the record is automatically refreshed in your browser to ensure that you see the latest information.

The Collision Detection feature should help avoid accidental duplication of effort and promote even more effective real-time collaboration.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

ITRP in Italy

ItalyIt is our pleasure to announce our partnership with C.H. Ostfeld, which brings the ITRP Partner Network to Italy!

C.H. Ostfeld logoC.H. Ostfeld has a long history in delivering ITSM applications and advice to organizations all over Italy and Malta. They also have experience implementing service management in other countries for their multinational customers.

In their search for a true SaaS offering with a great user interface, lightning performance and full ITIL support, they quickly recognized ITRP as the best option. After going through extensive training, C.H. Ostfeld’s consultants are now ready to deliver the ITRP service to all organizations looking for a service management solution that brings true value.

We are very happy to welcome C.H. Ostfeld to the rapidly growing ITRP community!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Extending the Power of Custom Links

PeopleWith the Custom Links functionality, it is possible to add hyperlinks to the Actions menu. Parameters can be used in these hyperlinks to dynamically include data from the record that you are working on.

We just added a few more parameters that make it easy to build even more useful integrations. The added parameters are:

  • request.subject
  • problem.subject
  • task.subject

The ID parameters were added to allow the record number to be passed to, for example, a chat application. Knowing the ID of the request you were working on when you started a chat session, allows the chat application to add a note to this request after the chat session has ended. The note could contain a link that points to a complete transcript of the chat session.

The Subject parameters could be included in hyperlinks that launch an external knowledge management application. This would tell the knowledge management tool to initiate a search using the text that was entered in the Subject field of, for example, a new request that was opened in the Service Desk console.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Usage Chargeback

PeopleSeveral large organizations have numerous ITRP accounts that they manage centrally. The costs for the usage of these accounts get charged back to the local departments that use these accounts. The users of an account can be found in the Current Usage view of the Settings console.

All People with Roles view
To facilitate different chargeback models, two columns were recently added. These are the Organization and Business Unit columns. They will be especially useful for organizations that maintain their employee data in a directory account.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Directory Account

Directory AccountAs part of our 'Beyond IT' initiative, we have added a unique feature that makes it easier for large enterprises to give their employees online access to support for all kinds of services; not just the ones that their IT departments provide.

Many large companies have realized that their employees are more productive when they have instant self service access to support. Whenever an employee gets stuck for whatever reason, it should be easy to get help from the experts. That improves morale and gets the employee back to work as quickly as possible.

Historically, employees have already been able to contact a service desk when they were struggling with a computer issue. Now, the other support domains, like Human Resources, Facilities Management and Purchasing, are setting up their own online portals that make it easier for employees to obtain their support.

Because some of the information that employees share with, for example, the HR department is private, the HR self-service portal is often completely separate from IT's portal. That means that the employees are expected to know how to access each portal and they all have a different look and feel.

The new feature that we have been working on over the past several months is called the Directory Account. Large corporations can set up a directory account and maintain all their Person, Organization and Site records in it. Each department that wants to set up a self-service portal can subsequently set up a support domain account without having to populate it with any Person, Organization and Site records, because the support domain account can use the data that is maintained centrally in the directory account.

All employees, no matter where they are located in the world, can then be given the web address of the directory account. They can use this URL to get (single sign-on) access when they need any kind of support.

For example, when an employee of the Finance department in Amsterdam accesses the corporate self-service portal, she gets several support domains to choose from. When a data center specialist in Houston goes to the same portal, he will see completely different options, because there are different departments locally that support him.

Support domains for different users
ITRP only lists the support domains that provide one or more services to the employee, so only the options that are relevant for the user are offered. This is important, because large multinationals may have more than 100 support domains globally.

When an employee submits a request for one of the support domains, this request gets registered in this support domain. That means that access to this request is restricted to the support specialists who work in this domain, i.e. who have a role (or access profile) of the support domain account. This makes it possible, for example, to ensure that IT specialists are not able to see any of the HR requests.

Even though support specialists may not be authorized to see the requests from other support domains, trust relations can be established between the support domain accounts to, for example, allow the IT, HR and Facilities Management departments to work together on a change workflow for onboarding a new employee. After all, such a change may require IT to prepare a laptop, HR to set up a payroll schedule, and Facilities Management to make a desk available.

The advantages that a directory account provides can be summarized as follows:
1). a single corporate self-service portal for all employees for any type of support
2). a central repository from which the employee information is made available to all support domains
3). the support domains have control over who is authorized to access their data, without sacrificing the ability for the support domains to work together.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Who Can Access Your Organization's ITRP Data?

PeopleA view has been added that you may find useful. It is the 'All People with Roles' view. It lists every person who has one or more roles (i.e. access profiles) of your organization's account.

People are listed when they have the Key Contact role, or a higher level of access. So, someone who only has the default End User role is excluded from this view.

All People with Roles view
To see what it looks like for your organization's account, go to the Records console, select the option 'People' and open the 'All People with Roles' view. If you have access to multiple ITRP accounts, you can use the Account Switcher to see who else has access to these other accounts.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Collision Detection

WarningSince your Inbox console now provides real-time information, we were able to introduce another useful feature. This feature shows you a warning whenever you are working in the Inbox console on a request, problem or task, and someone else updates that same record.

Real-Time Inbox
The following scenario illustrates the usefulness of this feature. Let's say your team does not have a team coordinator and the service desk just assigned a new request to your team. Thanks to the real-time Inbox console, all members of your team immediately see this new request in their inbox. You open the request in Edit mode, but just after you do this, a colleague clicks on the Start button. Clicking the Start button fills out the Member field and sets the status of the request to 'In Progress'.

The Collision Detection feature immediately warns you when someone else has updated the record that you are editing. This gives you a chance to cancel your update before it overwrites the changes that your colleague has made.