Thursday, November 26, 2015

Time to Say Goodbye to IE8

Internet ExplorerAfter January 12, 2016, Microsoft will no longer provide security updates or technical support for Internet Explorer 8. That is also the day on which the ITRP service will stop supporting IE8.

Microsoft Internet Explorer 7This does not mean that IE8 users will suddenly no longer have access to the ITRP service. New releases will, however, no longer be tested on IE8.

New features may therefore not become available to IE8 users. Not having to support an old browser like IE8 makes it possible to add more advanced features to the ITRP service, without having to find complex workarounds for all the things that IE8 does not support.

If some of your users are still on IE8, you may find the tips in Microsoft's end of support announcement useful.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Instant SLA Expiration

SLATo expire an SLA, service level managers have always specified the end date in the Expiry date field. The ITRP service subsequently ensures that the status of the SLA gets set to 'Expired' at midnight on the specified date (taking into account the time zone specified in the service offering on which the SLA is based).

What's new is that service level managers are now also able to instantly expire an SLA by manually updating its status to 'Expired'.

Set Status of SLA to Expired
This feature will be especially useful when testing different scenarios in sandbox accounts, but may also prove useful when an SLA is to be terminated with immediate effect. The same logic has been applied to contracts and first line support agreements.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Download the Users of Your Account

DownloadIf you are the owner of your organization's ITRP account, you have always been able to see the number of users of the account. This number is important because it dictates how much your organization is charged for the use of the ITRP service.

To provide more control over this number, we have now made it possible to download the list of people who have been counted as a user. You can do this from the Billing Information section of the Settings console.

Billable Users
You can also use the API to automatically download this data in JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) or CSV (Comma-Separated Values) format. See the developer documentation for details.

Note that a person is counted as a user for a specific month only when he or she is registered in the account, was enabled, and had a role (other than the End User or Key Contact roles) at any time during that month.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Hierarchical SLA Coverage

SLAThere are different ways to specify who is covered by an SLA. The coverage of most SLAs is defined by selecting the organizations which employees are to be covered.

SLA Coverage for Organizations
Enterprises with large organizational hierarchies asked for an extra coverage option for situations where all people of a company, including all of its departments, need to be covered. This option is now available for service level managers. It is called 'People of the Following Organization and Its Descendants'.

SLA Coverage for Organizations
When this option is used, the SLA covers all people of the selected organization, its child organizations, the children of the child organizations, etc. Using this option should further reduce the administrative effort needed to register and maintain SLAs.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Why Global ITSM Initiatives Fail

GlobeHDI is the association for technical support professionals here in the United States. In the November issue of their SupportWorld publication they take some time to look at the reasons why a global service management rollout is not as simple as just giving all support specialists around the world access to the ITSM tool that is used at the corporate headquarters.

Visit the HDI websiteThe article "Three Simple Reasons Why Global ITSM Initiatives Fail" explains why today's multinationals are still struggling to get all their employees, regardless of the country in which they work, on the same service management application.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Extra Webhooks Events

WebhookWebhooks are a way to tell ITRP to call a script on a web server whenever a given event occurs in ITRP. The following four event types have been added:

  • request.status-changed
  • problem.status-changed
  • change.status-changed
  • task.status-changed

These status-changed events can be used instead of the more general updated events for scripts that should be triggered only on status updates. Using these events can save developers the trouble of having to figure out what has changed when they are specifically looking for status updates.

Webhook event status-changed
The payload information that the webhook sends out when the status of a request, problem, change or task has been updated already contains the new status, so scripts can pass the new status directly to an external application (e.g. to the ITSM application of an external service provider).

Friday, October 23, 2015

Bitium Adds Support for ITRP

AccessBitium, a provider of cloud-based identity and access management solutions, has added ITRP to its app catalog.

Visit the Bitium websiteBitium helps companies organize, analyze, manage and secure access to all their web-based applications. The inclusion of ITRP in Bitium's app catalog gives Bitium customers the ability to provide their employees single sign-on access to ITRP without any integration effort.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Export Your System Logs

ExportThe system logs tell you who logged in to your organization's ITRP account, who imported data, and also who exported it.

Each system log entry includes information like the date and time when the action occurred, from which IP address it was initiated, which data was exported, etc.

System Logs
Export option in Actions menuNow you can export these log entries. This makes it possible to analyze the log data to find out, for example, which data gets exported and how often this happens.

An export of the system logs can be performed just like any other export. Provided that you have the Account Administrator role, you can do this using the 'Export...' option of the Actions menu when you are looking at the System Logs view. Or you can schedule exports to automate the periodic import of the system logs into, for example, the corporate data warehouse. The Export API has also been extended to ensure that it can be used to export the system logs.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Impressions from the 2015 CAB

TrustEarlier this week, the members of our customer advisory board converged on Dubrovnik. This ancient city at the Adriatic Sea formed the backdrop of the 2105 ITRP CAB.

City tour
The objective of this meeting was to agree on the themes for the ITRP Institute's development efforts in 2016. We started by looking back at the achievements of the past 12 months. Last year, the major themes were: Beyond IT, Mobile and Real Time.

Boat trip
The experience that was shared by the participants was so interesting that they all agreed to skip some of the entertainment that was on the agenda. Toward the end of this CAB meeting, the customers decided that we should focus our development efforts for the next 12 months primarily on Knowledge Management and Resource Planning.

These are now the themes that will guide the expansion of the ITRP service until the next CAB meeting. In addition, you can expect some state-of-the-art security features to be added to the ITRP service.

Lunch discussions
So keep an eye on this blog. Each time a new feature has become available, it will be announced here.

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.