Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Encrypted Data At Rest

LockThe production environment of the ITRP service was recently migrated to an entirely new infrastructure. The QA environment has already been running on an identical infrastructure for several months to proof the quality of its architecture.

Apart from many other security enhancements, this new infrastructure ensures that all customer data (including all attachments) is encrypted before it gets stored. Even though the data centers where this data is stored are extremely well protected both physically and digitally, at rest encryption provides an additional layer of protection. It ensures that, if someone would somehow manage to get access to the devices on which ITRP customer data is stored, this data cannot be read.

The extra security that this offers organizations against the potential loss of sensitive data is now a standard feature of the ITRP service. It is provided at no extra charge.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Improved Change Management Interface

Resource PlanningThe interface that change managers use to manage their changes has drastically improved. With this new interface, change managers can plan a change using a graphically representation (a Gantt chart) of the implementation plan.

The change templates and project templates also offer this Gantt chart interface to make it easier for change managers and project managers to template workflows.

This usability enhancement is currently available in the QA environment for all customers. It is scheduled to become available in production next week. The online Change Manager training module has already been updated so that it is aligned with the demo instances that customers use to train their ITRP users.

Please let your organization's change managers know about this new interface so that they are prepared when this becomes available in production.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Introducing Automation Rules

SearchA major new capability called 'Automation Rules' has been added to the ITRP service. It allows change and project managers to automatically cause records in ITRP to be updated when certain contains have been met as people are working on the tasks of their changes and project. Right now, this functionality is available in QA accounts and demo instances only to allow organizations to get comfortable with it before it becomes available in production.

Any person who has the Change Manager or Project Manager role can add automation rules to the tasks of the changes or projects they manage. What's probably more important is that they can also add automation rules to the workflows defined in the change templates and project templates. That ensures that these automation rules are included whenever the templates are used to register a new change, or to add some standard phases to a project.

To add automation rules to, for example, one of the task templates that is part of a specific change template, open the Gantt Chart of the change template's workflow. When you hover your mouse cursor over one of the task templates, the Automation Rules icon appears. Clicking on this icon allows you to add one or more automation rules for this task template. Keep in mind that the automation rules you add to a task template are limited only to the change template in which you do this. So other change templates to which the same task template is linked will not be affected.

Adding an automation rule in the Gantt chart of a change template
Let's use the above change template as an example to explain more about the Automation Rules functionality. This change template is used to prepare everything that is needed when a new employee joins the organization. Its workflow looks as follows:

Change template workflow with automation rules in Gantt chart
Note that the little Automation Rules icon indicates that the first task includes one or more automation rules. When you click on this icon you can review these rules. In this example four rules have been defined:

Example of automation rules defined for a task template
In the screen above, the order in which the rules are executed can be adjusted by dragging them up or down. When you click on one of the four rules, you are able to see what this rule does. And if you have the Change Manager role, you can update or delete this rule. The first rule uses information from a UI extension:

Automation rule example 1
The second rule also uses data from this UI extension. It uses this data to determine whether a task is needed for a specific change:

Automation rule example 2
When these rules are triggered for an actual change that was created based on this template, you can see which rules were executed in the task:

Rule executions are visible in a task
Clicking on one of these rule executions opens a graphical representation of the automation trace which shows the actions that were executed. The blue one is the rule execution that was selected from the task.

Graphical representation of the automation trace that shows the rule executions
In the automation trace it is possible to click on an automation rule to see how it was processed:

Automation trace rule execution details
Some useful automation rule examples have been documented in ITRP's online help.

There are a few things to keep in mind when creating automation rules. First, automation rules are executed after all the standard logic of the ITRP service has been processed. This means, for example, that if a rule is to trigger after a task has been set to the status ‘Completed’, ITRP first updates the status of the task’s successors to ‘Assigned’, before executing the automation rule.

It is also important to know that automation rules do not have more access rights than the person for whom the rules are executed. This means that when automation rules are executed for the manager of a change, these rules are only allowed to execute actions which the change manager is allowed to perform manually.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Just-in-Time End User Access Provisioning

MainframeThe new Just-in-Time (JIT) End User Access Provisioning functionality offers support organizations another way to automate the registration and maintenance of the organization’s end users in ITRP. This functionality essentially allows organizations to offload this responsibility to their identity provider (IdP).

By configuring the IdP to pass a user's information to ITRP when he/she attempts to access ITRP, the JIT End User Access Provisioning functionality is triggered to automatically register a new person record if this user could not be found in ITRP. If the person is already known in ITRP, the trusted information from the IdP is used to update this person’s record.

A detailed description of this new Single Sign-On feature can be found in the ITRP Developer documentation.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Open a New Request for an Asset

MainframeWhen a specialist is reviewing a Configuration Item (CI) record in ITRP, there is now a quick way to open a new request for this CI. By clicking on the Actions button in the toolbar and selecting the ‘Relate to New Request’ option, a new request is opened.

Relating a CI to a new requestThe new request is already linked to the CI, as well as the service instance that the CI is a part of. This feature can be useful, for example, when a specialist is reviewing the information of a CI and discovers that its information is out of date.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Sort Search Result by Creation Date

SearchAn advanced search option has been added that makes it possible to sort the records in your search results by their creation date.

The advanced search option Created
By selecting the 'Created' option, the record that was registered most recently will be listed at the top of the search results after you press the Search button. When you move your mouse cursor over one of the records in the search results, its creation date is displayed.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Add Fields to Person, Site and Contract Forms

Time EntrySupport organizations are now able to extend the Person, Site and Contract forms in ITRP. A recent upgrade of the UI Extension functionality makes it possible to add fields to these forms. Using the Snippets feature makes it possible to add fields to a UI extension without having to write any code.

UI extension HTML snippet
For very specific requirements, it is possible to manually adjust the HTML that these snippets generate. It is even possible to add JavaScript to add business logic and CSS to adjust the styling of the UI extension.

In most cases, though, the snippets already provide sufficient flexibility to add the necessary fields to ITRP forms. Below is a simple example of a UI extension that was added to the Person form:

UI extension example on the Person form

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Upload a Picture in Self Service

PersonEnd users are now able to upload a picture of themselves in ITRP Self Service or ITRP Mobile.

Upload a picture in self service
They can do this by going to 'My Profile'. There they can press the square section to the left of their name to select a picture or, if they are using a smartphone, take a selfie.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Registered Requests by Source

Bar ChartYet another report has been added to the 'Reports' section of the Analytics console. This one is a bar chart called 'Registered Requests by Source'.

By default, requests come into ITRP from 3 different sources. Some are registered by service desk analysts and support specialists in ITRP's user interface for the support organization (i.e. the full UI). Others are registered using the self service or mobile interface by end users. And then there are the requests submitted by email.

The number of requests that were created in ITRP using one of these sources is displayed in this new report, provided that there are any.

Registered Requests by Source Report
But support organizations may get requests coming in from other sources as well. For example, they may have integrated one of their monitoring tools (e.g. Nagios, SCOM, New Relic, etc.) with ITRP to ensure that a request is automatically generated for each actionable event. In such cases, these custom sources also show up in the bar chart.

Clicking on one of the bars opens a view that lists all the requests that are included in this bar. That is the drill-down capability that makes it possible to analyze the data in more detail.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Drag and Drop Resource Planning

Resource PlanningThe Resource Planning view for projects has been improved. This is the view project managers use to ensure that the project team members do not have too much work assigned to them.

Now, when a project manager sees that someone would need to work overtime to complete all of his or her project work, the project manager can expand this person's row in the Resource Planning view to see all the project tasks that are planned for this person. The project manager can then drag a project task from this person and drop it onto the row of another project team member to redistribute the work. The short video below shows how this is done.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Self-Learning Search Optimization

Resource PlanningThe 'Search Phrases' section has been added to ITRP's Analytics console. When you open it, you will see two graphs on the right side of the screen. The first graph shows the total number of searches that were performed and the percentage of those that resulted in a conversion (a conversion happens whenever a user selects an item from the search results).

Search phrase conversion rate
The second graph shows the average position of the selected item in the search results. The record that is presented at the top of the list of search results is at position '1'.

Average conversion position of search phrases
The left side of the screen shows the top 100 search phrases. By default the searches that were performed in the Service Desk console are listed. The buttons at the top of this view can be used to switch to the top 100 search phrases used in Self Service (which includes Mobile).

Analysis of Self Service search phrases
When you select a search phrase from this view, you can see details like its conversion rate, average position in the list of search results, as well as the knowledge articles, request templates and/or services that users selected from the search results.

Search phrase statistics analysis
Being able to review this information allows support organizations to optimize the phrases that they use in their knowledge article, request template and service records.

The best thing about this data, however, is that ITRP now uses it to optimize the search results. From this data ITRP learns which records get selected for specific search phrases. Over time, these records get positioned higher up in the search results.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Andrew Smith Joins the ITRP Institute

PersonToday, Andrew Smith joins the team as Business Development Directory for the U.K. and Ireland. This role gives Andrew the responsibility for growing ITRP's customer and partner base in the region off the north-western coast of continental Europe.

Andrew SmithAndrew could not have joined at a better time. Large organizations are actively looking for solutions that can help them stay in control of the services they outsource. SIAM is rapidly gaining traction, especially in the U.K. Because ITRP is the only enterprise service management solution capable of linking up both internal and external service providers, Andrew will find much interest from organizations dealing with this management challenge.

With many years of experience in the service management space working for companies like EasyVista, BMC Software and Hornbill, Andrew has the experience to help organizations understand the unique benefits that ITRP provides. His sales and marketing skills, combined with his wonderful personality and energy, make Andrew a critical asset in this period of rapid growth.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Increased Attachment File Size Limit

Resource PlanningThe file size limit for attachments has been increased from 10 MB to 20 MB. This makes it possible to include a short video of an issue or a solution in a request.

Maximum ITRP attachment file size limit exceeded
For longer videos, it is best to first upload these to a video sharing site. The link to the video can then be included in the Note field. That ensures that your organization's network bandwidth is used more efficiently.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Resource Planning for Project Managers

Resource PlanningProject managers are now able to switch from a project's Gantt Chart to the Resource Planning view. The Resource Planning view allows them to ensure that the members of the project team do not have too much project work assigned to them.

A box is presented for each day on which at least one project task is planned for a member of the project. It does not matter if the project task belongs to the project that the manager is reviewing; the view looks through all planned tasks of all projects.

A red box means that, on that day, there is too much project work assigned to the project member. The gray bar at the top of the box indicates how much project work has been assigned to the person. The dark gray portion of this bar is the percentage of planned project work that is part of the project that is currently being reviewed.

A project manager can update the assignees, the planned effort and/or the planned duration of a task to make sure that the project members do not need to work overtime. The short video below shows how this is done.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Knowledge Management KPIs

KPIMost users of ITRP already know that they can go to the Analytics console to access the 'KPIs' section. There they can select a process to review a set of KPIs that can be used to track the process' success.

KPIs grouped by processYou may have noticed that the option 'Knowledge Management' was added recently. When you select this option, you will see that several useful charts are already available to help you keep an eye on the adoption of the Knowledge Management process.

Knowledge Management KPI
Go ahead and take a look. The graphs may provide useful insights, especially when the 'filter' and the 'drill-down' capabilities are used.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Changing the Name of an ITRP Account

AccountWhen an organization changes its name as part of a rebranding exercise, this typically affects the name of its ITRP account. Fortunately, the owner of the account is able update the account's name simply by opening the 'Account Settings' section of the Settings console.

Knowledge Article Self Service Usage report
But that leaves the URL of the account. Let's suppose the URL that the employees of the enterprise are using is https://widget.itrp.com and this needs to be updated to https://newcorp.itrp.com. The account owner can request this update to be performed on a specific date and time by submitting an ITRP request.

However, after the update of the URL you may find that people may not all have read the communications and may initially not understand why the hyperlink they bookmarked for their Self Service portal no longer works. That is why account owners are now able to request that their account can temporarily be reached using two URLs.

In our example, the new URL (https://newcorp.itrp.com) would be activated at the moment specified by the account owner. At the same time, the old URL (https://widget.itrp.com) becomes an alias with which the account can be accessed for a few more weeks while a broadcast reminds the employees to update their bookmarks.

Knowledge Article Self Service Usage report
This new capability should provide a smooth transition whenever the need arises to rename an ITRP account.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Knowledge Article Usage in Self Service

KPIITRP now keeps track of the number of times each knowledge article is opened in ITRP Self Service and ITRP Mobile. This data is used to produce the 'Knowledge Article Self Service Usage' report, which can be found in the Analytics console.

Knowledge Article Self Service Usage report
This report makes it possible for support organizations to see how often their knowledge articles are consulted by end users. This is yet another report to help organizations track the effectiveness of their Knowledge Management process.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Automatically Provision User Access to ITRP

APIIt is now possible to use ITRP's REST API to automate the maintenance of people's access rights in ITRP. A simple script is all it takes to give a new employee at the service desk the roles she needs to do her work.

$ curl -u "api-token:x" -X POST -H "X-ITRP-Account: widget" "https://api.itrp.com/v1/people/1234/permissions/weu-it?roles=specialist,service_desk_analyst"

Or, if someone is leaving the company, all his permissions can be revoked with a simple command.

$ curl -u "api-token:x" -X DELETE -H "X-ITRP-Account: widget" "https://api.itrp.com/v1/people/1234/permissions/wdc"

The details of this new API feature can be found in the ITRP Developer documentation.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

First Call Resolutions KPI

KPIThe KPI ‘First Call Resolutions’ has been added to help monitor the efficiency of the Incident & Request Management process. This KPI tracks the percentage of requests that were completed by the service desk during registration.

First Call Resolutions KPI
Even though it looks like a simple KPI to measure, it is actually surprising complex. It calculates each value by looking up the number of requests that were created and completed at the same time by a member of the service desk team, and dividing this number by the total number of completed requests that were created by a member of the service desk team.

A request is included in the calculation only when the person selected in the Requested by field is different from the person who created the request, and the person who created the request was a member of the service desk team that is selected in the first line support agreement for the ITRP account to which the request belongs.

Do not confuse the KPI ‘First Call Resolutions’ with the ‘Service Desk Resolutions’ KPI. They are quite different.

The ‘Service Desk Resolutions’ KPI tracks the percentage of requests that were completed by the service desk. It calculates each value by looking up the number of completed requests which team is set to the service desk team that is selected in the first line support agreement for the account to which the requests belong, and dividing this number by the total number of completed requests.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Provide Feedback on Knowledge Articles

Knowledge ManagementSupport organizations that publish knowledge in ITRP are now able to give their end users the ability to provide feedback. The administrator of an organization's ITRP account can activate this new feature, by checking the 'Allow knowledge article feedback' box in the 'Mobile Settings' section of the Settings console.

Allow knowledge article feedback in ITRP
Once this setting has been activated, end users will see the options to provide positive or negative feedback below the knowledge articles. The 'thumbs up' icon can be pressed to let the support organization know that the article was helpful. End user can see how many people provided negative feedback only after they provided feedback themselves.

Positive knowledge article feedback in ITRP
When the 'thumbs down' icon has been pressed, the end user is encouraged to specify why the article was not helpful.

Negative knowledge article feedback in ITRP
As soon as feedback has been submitted, a new request is generated. Such requests make it easy for the support organization to manage the improvement suggestions. It also allows the end users to see that their input actually gets processed.

Request to improve knowledge article in ITRP
Allowing feedback from end users opens up a valuable channel for the continuous improvement of the knowledge articles.