Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Changes by Change Manager

ChangeIf you want to take a look at the changes that are currently progressing through the change management process, you can go to the Records console and open the "All Changes" view. This view can now be filtered and sorted by change manager, which can be useful for balancing their workload.

All Changes view
Changes Managed by Me viewThe view "Changes Managed By Me" is still available for changes mangers when they want to track the progress of their changes.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Improved Request KPIs for ESPs

AnalyticsThanks to a recent improvement in the Analytics console, external service providers (ESPs) get a lot more value out of their request and incident management KPIs.

This is best explained with an example. Let's say that yesterday an end-user submitted a request. This request was initially assigned to a support team within the IT department of the end-user's organizations. Today, this support team passed the request on to the ESP.

In this example, the request will show up in the "New Requests" KPI graph of the end-user's IT department on yesterday's date. When the ESP looks at the "New Requests" KPI graph, however, they will find that same request when they click on today's date. So, even though the request was registered yesterday, it was not considered 'new' for the ESP until the external customer assigned it to them.

New Requests KPI
The same logic now gets applied to determine the number of completed and reopened requests for the ESP. So when the ESP sets the status of our example request to "Completed", the request will appear in the ESP's "Completed Requests" KPI graph. But when the ESP's customer looks at that same graph, the request will not yet be there. That's because the request was returned to the support team of the customer so that its solution can be verified.

Request Backlog Growth KPI view optionsIf this support team determines that the solution does not work, they can pass the request back to the ESP. That would cause the request to show up as 'reopened' in the ESP's "Request Backlog Growth" KPI graph.

This gives ESPs the means to track their KPIs when they work together with customers that have their own ITRP account. This is also valuable for the regional data centers and shared services organizations of large enterprises. These organizations typically have their own ITRP account that is linked to the ITRP account of each IT departments that they support.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Directing Customers to the Right Form or FAQ

Request TemplateMany support organizations have an intranet or internet site where they describe the services they offer. Now they can include hyperlinks in these descriptions that point their customers to the appropriate request template in Self Service.

Such request templates can contain a UI Extension (which is essentially a custom form) that may need to be filled out to, for example, request an additional email account. These hyperlinks may also point to request templates that answer frequently asked questions (FAQs) so that end-users can help themselves.

Either way, these hyperlinks have the following structure:

In this example 'my_account' is the ID of your organizaton's ITRP account. The number '12345' at the end refers to the ID of the request template.

It is also possible to direct users to their list of services from your support organization's webpage. That way, they do not need to click on the "Submit New Request" link when Self Service opens. This hyperlink looks as follows:

A message will be displayed when the user does not have access to the request template. This can happen when the request template has not been made available in Self Service, or when the user is not covered by an active SLA for the service that is linked to the request template. This also happens when the request template is linked as a standard service request to a service offering which is not linked to the SLA that covers the user.

So, providing a link directly to a specific request template does not make the form or FAQ available when it shouldn't be.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Outage Review by Problem Management

ProblemProblem managers have access to a special requests view in the Records console. This is the "Requests for Problem Identification" view. If you are a problem manager and you open this view, you get a list of completed requests that are related to a service for which you are the problem manager and which may need your attention.

Requests for Problem Identification view
This view excludes requests with the completion reason "Solved - Root Cause Analysis Not Required". This makes perfect sense, but feedback from problem managers has convinced us that an exception had to be made for top-impact requests.

A top-impact request represents a service outage. Service outages should be rare occurrences. It is understandable that a problem manager would want to review each outage, regardless of the value that was selected in the Completion reason field. So from now on, problem managers can review each service outage in the "Requests for Problem Identification" view to make absolutely sure it will not recur.

Request with Reviewed button
Relate to New Problem actionIf the problem manager sees that the root cause was removed when the outage was resolved, then the Reviewed button can be pressed to remove the request from the "Requests for Problem Identification" view. On the other hand, if the problem manager wants more to be done to prevent recurrence, the "Relate to New Problem..." option can be selected from the Actions menu. This opens a new problem, fills out most of the fields and links the request to it.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The History of Service Instances

Service InstanceThe reason why ITRP is capable of measuring SLAs accurately up and down the service hierarchy and across organizational boundaries has a lot to do with the Service Instance record type.

Service instance with expanded History section
We recently added the History section to the Service Instance form. This section, which is similar to the History section of the Configuration Item form, lists the requests, problems and tasks that have been related to the service instance. Together, these relations provide a useful overview of the service instance's history.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Collaboration across Accounts

RequestITRP provides special features that allow IT support organizations to work together more effectively with their external service providers (ESPs). One of these features ensures that, when an ESP completes a request, this request is automatically returned to the team that originally assigned it to the ESP.

Returning the request to this team, rather than simply notifying the requester, allows this team to first follow the instructions that were provided by the ESP, to verify the solution, and/or to translate the solution information in the preferred language of the company's end-users.

ITRP now presents the information of such requests differently depending on who looks at it. Once the ESP completed its work on the request, they will see something like this:

Completed Request
When the company that passed the request to the ESP looks at it, they will see this:

Assigned Request
So, the specialists of the ESP see that the request has been completed. They also see their completion reason, as well as when they completed it. When they look up the request in the Records console they will find it in the list of 'Completed' requests.

The specialists of the ESP's customer, on the other hand, will find the same request in the list of 'open' requests. When they also set the status to "Completed", they will see their completion reason and when they completed it.

If an ESP sets the status of a request to "Waiting for Customer", something similar happens. They will see that the clock has been stopped for their SLA. Their customer, on the other hand, will see that the request is assigned to them and that the clock for their end-to-end SLA with the business is still ticking.

Ensuring that the information that gets presented is dependent on who looks at it, makes collaborating across accounts more intuitive for specialist who work for ESPs. This new usability feature also benefits large enterprises where the regional data centers and shared services organizations provide support to the local IT departments.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Copy Notes to Change

TaskThe workflow of a change can consist of many tasks. Some of these may ask for information that is relevant for other tasks later on. For example, during the risk and impact analysis a specialist may be asked whether the implementation is going to cause downtime, which is important information for the approvers. Or during the implementation a specialist may take a specific item from stock, which the configuration manager needs to know about for the update of the CMDB.

Rather than asking people to review the notes in the individual tasks, such information can now be added to the change itself. By checking the "Copy note to change" box underneath the Note field of the task, the note will also be added to the change that the task is a part of. This includes any attachments that are part of the note.

Task Note
The specialists who work on subsequent tasks will see this note when they open the change from their tasks. Approvers also see the note. That is because all the notes of a change are included in the Change Summary PDF file that is generated for each approval task.

It gets better, though. Change managers can dictate in task templates that the "Copy note to change" box should be checked by default. This is done by checking the "Copy additional notes to change by default" box.

Task Template Note
When a specialist receives a task that is based on a template in which this option is set, the "Copy note to change" box will already be checked. That should make sure that the specialist does not accidentally forget to copy the information to the change.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Mark as Urgent

UrgentITRP automatically assigns a resolution target to requests. The SLA information is used to calculate these targets. There are situations, however, where a request needs to get resolved ASAP regardless of what has been agreed on in the SLA. Perhaps the personal assistant of a senior manager needs some assistance in a conference room to prepare for an important meeting that is about to start.

In such cases it would be great to let the team to which the request is assigned know that it has the highest priority. Fortunately, you can do this now in ITRP.

Mark as UrgentWhen you are registering a new request, or when you are working on an existing request, you can click on the Actions button in the toolbar. There you will find the "Mark as Urgent" option.

Urgent Request
After you have marked a request as urgent, a little stopwatch becomes visible in the request. Urgent requests get placed at the top of the Inbox views. They are highlighted in yellow to ensure that they can't be missed by their assignee.

Urgent Request in Inbox
In Self Service, the requester will also see the stopwatch. This tells the requester that the request has been given the highest priority.

Urgent Request in Inbox
The "Mark as Urgent" option is also available for problems and tasks. So, when something needs to get done as quickly as possible, you can communicate this effectively by selecting the "Mark as Urgent" option.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Support for Right-To-Left Languages

Right-to-left languageEven though many IT departments in the Middle East use English as their internal language standard, their end-users need to be able to submit requests in their preferred language. Many large multinationals and governments are also faced with this requirement.

Self Service now automatically switches into full right-to-left (RTL) support for end-users who speak Arabic (العربية) or Persian (Farsi or فارسی).

ITRP Self Service with new request in Arabic
This new capability of Self Service will surely impress your Arabic and Persian customers.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

One Million Requests

Right-to-left language2013 was again a great year for ITRP. Several large organizations decided that they could use some of ITRP’s unique capabilities to improve the success of their IT departments. Thanks to them, we managed to triple our revenue last year. Even though we reinvested pretty much all of this into the service, we ended the year once more with a small profit.

2014 is off to a good start as well. Last month, the one-millionth request was resolved, which we believe is cause for celebration. Request #1000000 was resolved by an employee of PANalytical.

PANalytical is the world’s leading supplier of analytical instrumentation and software for X-ray diffraction (XRD) and X-ray fluorescence spectrometry (XRF) and operates from many locations around the world. They went live with ITRP in August, 2013.

To celebrate the completion of request #1000000 we sent PANalytical a small memento. InfraVision, the ITRP partner that assisted PANalytical with their migration, added a treat for the IT department.

Cake for PANalytical
And now, on to the 10-millionth request.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Duplicating CIs

Configuration ItemThe Duplicate feature has been extended to configuration items. When you need to register a new CI, you can start by selecting an existing CI that is similar. Once you have selected an existing CI, the "Duplicate Configuration Item" option is available in the Actions menu.

Duplicate Configuration ItemAfter selecting this option, a new Configuration Item form is opened. Its fields contain the values of the existing CI. The serial number, system ID, asset ID, PO number, purchase value, start date and warranty expiry date are not copied when the Duplicate feature is used. That is because the existing CI that was selected was probably acquired a while ago and the new CI will need to get different values in these fields.

What's also clever is the fact that, for CIs like PCs and servers, the software relations also get duplicated. That means that the links with the operating system and application software get established automatically and will probably not need to be adjusted much before the new CI is saved.

Save and Add Another buttonBut there is more good news. When you are ready to save the new CI, you will see an additional button. It is the Save & Add Another button. When you press this button, the values of the new CI get duplicated in yet another new CI form. This is similar to the Duplicate feature, except that now the PO number, purchase value, start date and warranty expiry date also get duplicated.

New Configuration Item
The combination of the Duplicate feature and the Save & Add Another button can be an especially useful time saver when your organization purchased, for example, 20 additional PCs.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Switching Products

ProductProducts are used in ITRP to group together the versions and license certificates of software products. Products are also used to group together all hardware assets of the same model. Configuration managers can open products to see, for example, how many CIs the organization has of a specific model. The product relations can also be used to figure out how many incidents have been caused by a specific type of CI.

We recently added the Product field to the Relations section of the Configuration Item form. This makes it possible to open the product to which a configuration item is linked.

Configuration item relations in View mode
What's probably more important for configuration managers is that they can now relate a CI to a different product. This can be useful when, for example, products were initially registered with too much granularity. In such cases, a configuration manager may decide to disable some products and group their CIs into just one product.

Configuration item relations in Edit mode
Naturally, it is now also possible to maintain the links between CIs and products using the Import feature. So mass updates can be performed efficiently when the product data needs to be restructured.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Support for non-IT Services

Service CategoryMore and more organizations have also started using ITRP for the efficient handling of requests for non-IT services. After all, employees are not only getting support from the IT department; the Facility Management and Human Resources departments also spend a large portion of their time dealing with questions and issues from people who make use of their services.

Thanks to the new Service Category feature, it is now much easier for users to find the type of service that they need support for.

List of service categories including HR and Facility Management
Offering a single portal where all employees can submit their requests, regardless of whether this request concerns an IT service or one from another department can make life a little easier for them.

Other advantages that ITRP's Self Service offers, are:
  • To ensure that all the necessary information is gathered for specific types of requests, custom forms can be prepared
  • Different workflows can automatically be initiated depending on the type of request that was submitted
  • Managers can use Self Service to review requests when their approval is required
  • Targets can be specified and tracked for each type of request
  • All information that is presented in Self Service can be translated to ensure that end-users are able to obtain support in their language

And when privacy is a concern, it is possible to set up a separate ITRP account for each department. This makes it possible to, for example, keep the HR requests hidden from the other departments.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Introducing Service Categories

Service CategoryThese days it is not uncommon for an IT department of a large organization to be responsible for the support of more than 40 services. This number has increased gradually over time, primarily because the number of client-server and cloud-based application services has continued to grow.

When an end-user starts to submit a request in Self Service, only the services for which this person is covered by an SLA are listed to ensure that the number of options does not become overwhelming. In some organizations, however, some end-users are covered for more than 20 services, making the list a bit too long.

To reduce the number of options that end-users can choose from when they submit a new request, companies can now group services into categories. The result is that end-users will first be asked to select the type of service for which they need support. Once they have made a selection from the short list of categories, they can select a specific service.

List of service categories
Not all services need to belong to a service category, though. If a user is covered for a service that does not belong to a category, then this service will be displayed in the list of categories, so that it can be selected without first having to select a category.

Similarly, when a user is only covered for one of the services in a category, then this service will be displayed in the initial list. This avoids a situation where someone selects a category only to be asked to make a selection from a list that only contains one service.

The Service categories are easy to maintain. Account administrators and service level managers can do this in the Settings console.

Service category in Edit mode
There, the categories can be created and related to services. A description can be provided for each category to help end-users select the correct one. Adding an icon can speed up the selection for end-users who frequently submit requests.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

ITRP Available in Hungarian

HungaryIT specialists in Hungary can now switch their language preference in ITRP to Hungarian (magyar).

BG-Art Informatics logoOver the past month one of the service management experts of BG-ART, has been working on the translation of ITRP's user interface. The result has just been released to production.

We are grateful to be able to work with a partner that is committed to optimizing the user experience for the IT community in Hungary.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Exact Dates in Self Service

DateITRP presents dates in the user interface in a way that can be understood quickly by humans. For example, when a request needs to have been resolved within the next 127 minutes, ITRP does not display the date, time and timezone. It would take way too much time for our brains to digest the information. Instead, the resolution target gets displayed as about 2 hours.

IT specialists already know that, in the full UI, they can move their mouse cursor over a date indication to see the exact moment in time that it represents. In the Self Service interface we have now made this same mouse-over feature available. This makes it possible for end-users and managers within the business to see the exact creation, target and completion dates for their requests and approvals.

Exact date in mouse-over tooltip
This usability feature is available everywhere in Self Service. It takes into account the user's language, time zone and time format preferences.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Task Highlighting

TaskAt the bottom of the Tasks section of each change, there's a graphical representation of the change's workflow. This workflow depicts the dependencies between the tasks.

Workflow in ITRP with highlighted task
Now, when you are reviewing the workflow and you move your mouse cursor over a box, the corresponding task gets highlighted in the list of tasks. This makes it easier to spot the task in the list where the category, impact level, status and assignment can be found.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Conflicting Changes

Change CalendarA few days ago we announced the release of the Change Calendar. What the announcement did not explain, however, is that the Change Calendar provides more than a useful overview of change implementations.

Change Calendar with conflicting changes
Assignment conflictThe really great thing about the Change Calendar is that it warns of possible conflicts between changes. For example, when two overlapping implementation tasks have been assigned to the same person, these tasks will be displayed in yellow.

Similarly, when a task is to be executed on the same service instance as another task at the same time, these tasks will show up in yellow.

Service instance conflictThe Change Calendar even checks the entire service hierarachy to warn change managers when a task is planned to be executed at the same time as another task, and these two tasks are linked to service instances that have an impact relation.

Making sure that potential scheduling conflicts are identified will help avoid unpleasant surprises when the moment comes to take a change into production.