Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Another Brilliant Addition to the Team

PersonMost of you already know that the ITRP Institute is more than a little selective about the people who get to work on the ITRP service. We spend a lot of time selecting people who are not only brilliant individuals, but who are also great colleagues to work with.

Robbert BrakEarlier this month, Robbert Brak joined the ITRP Institute as Senior Software Engineer. The fact that he is very smart was already known. In 2004, for example, he won the Jim Howe Prize for best student in MSc Artificial Intelligence. But Robbert also brings more than 15 years of relevant experience to our team.

His wide range of development knowledge is going to be of great value to the evolution of the ITRP service. We are proud to have him on board.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Reports for Key Contacts

ReportPeople who have been given the Key Contact role in ITRP can see all requests from every person of their organization. They can find these requests when they go to 'All Requests' in ITRP Self Service or ITRP Mobile.

Some service providers, especially the ones with external customers, have asked for the possibility to give their key contacts more insight into the support that their organizations receive. This is now possible thanks to a new set of reports that has been prepared specifically for key contacts.

To give key contacts access to one or more of the new reports, account administrators (or directory administrators in case of a directory account) can go to the 'Mobile Settings' section of the Settings console.

Report activation for key contacts in Settings console
Reports option for key contacts in ITRP MobileWhen at least one report is checked, the 'Reports' option becomes available to key contacts in the menu of ITRP Mobile. In ITRP Self Service the 'Reports' tab is added automatically.

Here are a few screenshots to give you an idea of what the reports looks like:

Report - Registered and completed requests

Report - Open requests by impact

Report - Applied requests templates

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Approaching Agreement Dates

Email templateWhen notice needs to be provided before a certain date to terminate an SLA or contract, it would be nice if the responsible person could be warned in advance. It would also be nice to warn the right people when an agreement is about to expire. To make this happen automatically, two more email templates have been added.

The first is called 'Upcoming Notice Date for Agreement'. This template is used to inform the customer representative when the notice date of an SLA, first line support agreement (FLSA) or contract is approaching. This email is sent out 28 days, 7 days, 3 days and 1 day before the notice date to ensure that the customer representative does not forget to terminate the agreement when this is needed.

The second email template that was added is called 'Upcoming Expiry Date for Agreement'.

Email notification about SLA about to expire
This template is used to send an email to the customer representative and the service level manager (in case of an SLA), the service desk manager (in case of an FLSA), and the supplier contact (in case of a contract) when the expiry date is near. The email is sent out 28 days, 7 days, 3 days and 1 day before the expiry date.

More information about email templates can be found in the online help.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Mobile Settings

MobileAccount administrators are now able to configure the features that are available to end users. They can do this in the new 'Mobile Settings' section of the Settings console.

Mobile Settings section in Settings console=
Requester selection in ITRP MobileWhen the first option is switched off, end users will not be able to submit requests for others. This can be useful for HR departments that want to restrict access to the requests they handle as much as possible due to the sensitive nature of the information that these requests may contain.

None of the Above button in ITRP MobileWhen the second box is checked, the end users will not see the None of the Above button at the bottom of the list of service categories and services when they are submiting a new request. They are therefore required to select a service. In some cases, this can remove the need for a service desk. That's because the submitted requests will be assigned automatically to the correct support team for each service.

By checking the third box, it is possible to require end users to select a request template. This option should only be used by support organizations that have prepared a complete set of request templates for each of their services. Each set could include a generic template for when something is not working properly (to report an incident), for suggesting an enhancement (i.e. an RFC) and for asking a question (i.e. an RFI).

When you are the administrator of a support domain account (i.e. when your organization has a directory account) then the options that you select only affect the end users when they submit a request for your support domain. This allows each support domain to have different settings, even though all end users go to the directory account to access ITRP Mobile regardless of the type of support they need. Allowing each support domain to have its own setup is important because an IT department may have different requirements than an HR department.

The settings that are specified for ITRP Mobile also dictate the configuration of ITRP Self Service.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Email for Contract Activation and Expiration

Email templateThe email templates 'Contract Set to Active' and 'Contract Set to Expired' have been added. They make it possible to automatically notify the customer representative and the supplier contact (if specified) when a support, maintenance or lease contract has been activated and when it has expired.

Do not start information notification
These two new email templates are similar to the email templates that already existed for SLAs and first line support agreements. They can be customized by account administrators in the 'Email Templates' section of the Settings console.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Don't Start Just Yet

TaskSometimes it is important that a change does not get implemented before a certain date. Change managers can use the 'Start no earlier than' field of implementation tasks to specify the moment at which the implementation is allowed to start.

Task with do not start warning
To make sure that the team member to whom the task is assigned does not accidentally overlook the value in the 'Start no earlier than' field, a warning is now displayed at the top of the task.

Do not start warning
This message is only displayed when the moment specified in the 'Start no earlier than' field is still in the future. When the specialist accepts the task, or sets the status to 'Waiting for...', the warning changes into an information notification.

Do not start information notification

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

99.998%

AvailabilityThe past year has been amazing for ITRP. Several more large multinationals have started to use the service, many features were added, and the overall availability for 2015 was 99.998%.

The outages were limited to two 5-minutes periods (source: Pingdom), thanks to the resilience of ITRP's infrastructure. The small number of outages, despite the fact that 37 new releases were transferred to production in 2015, demonstrates the quality of the release management procedure with its extreme test requirements.

The 37 releases included a few major ones that introduced important new capabilities, such as the service navigator, real-time inbox, directory account, collision detection, desired completion, custom product categories, mobile for specialists, and short URLs.

A lot more is planned for this year. So continue to keep eye on this blog for the latest enhancements. Happy 2016!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Faster Changes

ChangeThe experience has become a little different for change managers when they edit a change. When they click on one of the change's tasks, this task no longer opens inside the change form. Instead, it opens in its own screen. This makes for a more tidy experience. It also ensures that changes open noticeably more quickly in Edit mode, especially when their workflows consist of many tasks.

Also new is the extra guidance offered to change managers. For example, when a new change is being planned, it is clearly indicated when there are tasks with fields that still require a value before the change can start.

Change cannot be started yet
And the developers among you will be excited to hear that the REST API has been extended to allow the update of a task's predecessors and successors. This makes it possible to build integrations that automate the manipulation of workflows.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Self Service in Norwegian

NorwegianThanks to one of our multinational customers, ITRP Self Service and ITRP Mobile are now available to end users and key contacts in Norwegian (norsk).

Norwegian menu in ITRP MobileNorwegian is the 25th language that is supported for these interfaces. It will benefit all organizations that are using ITRP to support communities in Norway.

If your company supports people whose language is not yet supported, we can help. Also, please let us know when you see a missing translation in one of the languages that is already supported. We are always happy to process such feedback.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

QR Codes and NFC Tags

Short URLYou can share a hyperlink with your end users that they can use to quickly submit a certain type of request. Similarly, you can send people a link with which they can register a request for a specific configuration item.

The trouble with such links is that they are a little long. For example, the link for a request template looks something like this:

https://widget.itrp.com/self-service/requests/new?template_id=659

Now all specialists are able to shorten such URLs. They can do this in the Short URLs section of the Settings console.

Short URL with QR code for request template
When they create a short URL for a configuration item or request template, it looks like this:

Short URL with QR code for request template
That's much sorter, which is nice. But there's so much more that can be done with short URLs.

QR codeConfiguration managers can, for example, generate 1,000 short URLs after their organization has submitted a purchase order for 1,000 new laptops. By reserving these 1,000 short URLs, they can be exported and sent off to a print shop. The print shop can then create a QR code or NFC tag sticker for each short URL.

After one of the new laptops has been configured, one of these stickers can be placed on it. At that point the short URL can be linked to the CI record that represents the new laptop.

When the user who gets the new laptop scans the QR code or NFC tag sticker, a list of request templates related to the Personal Computing service opens. The user can then select the most appropriate template (e.g. Install Microsoft Project), after which a new request is opened with the laptop already linked to it and all the information filled out.

Short URL optionsShort URLs can also be used to create a QR code that sends an email, SMS message or tweet with a specific message to the service desk every time a user scans it. Just think of the possibilities when QR codes are attached to network printers, coffee machines and company cars.

Or how about something a little more advanced? You could create a QR code that authorized users could scan to submit a request for the building's WiFi password. A Webhook could be set up to trigger a script that sends an SMS message with today's WiFi password every time such a request is submitted.

QR codeDevelopers will find all the information they might need concerning the integration options that the Short URLs API provides in the ITRP developer documentation.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Improved Visibility of Request Templates, Known Errors and Recent Changes

Service Hierarchy Browser (SHB)The Service Hierarchy Browser (SHB) provides information that could be relevant for the request that you are working on. For example, it lists the child service instances and configuration items (CIs) that the service instance of the request relies on. It also lists the request templates that could be applicable to the request, as well as open requests, known errors and recently implemented changes for the service.

Syscom A/S logoIn the past, when the service instance of the request had many CIs, the request templates would no longer fit on the screen. And when many similar requests are still open, the known errors and recent changes would not be visible unless you scrolled down to the bottom of the SHB.

To ensure that all types of information are visible when the SHB opens, the number of items in each section is now restricted when the SHB opens. The lists of CIs, open requests and known errors are initially limited to 5 items. The request templates are limited to 10.

You can click on the more... link to see the rest of the items.

The most relevant items are immediately visible without requiring any action from the user. That's because the request templates that have been applied the most get listed on top. Similarly, the open requests and known errors with the highest impact level show up first in their respective sections.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The ITRP Partner Network Keeps Expanding
A Warm Welcome to Syscom A/S

DenmarkToday it is our pleasure to welcome Syscom A/S to the ITRP Partner Network. Syscom A/S is the most established name in Scandinavia for ITSM, as well as knowledge management.

Syscom A/S logoThe vast experience of Syscom's consultants in these areas make this partnership so valuable. Combined with ITRP's advanced capabilities, the consultants are able to help their customers reach the highest level of service management maturity, without the technical complexity.

Having worked with Syscom A/S in the past, I can't tell you how great it is to be working together again.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Pull Up the Original Event

AlertMany system management tools have already been integrated with ITRP. When they pass an event to ITRP's Events API or Mail API, a request gets generated in ITRP.

Specialists who pick up such requests may sometimes need to access the details of the original event in the system management tool. Account administrators are now able to make this easy for the specialists by adding an extra option to the Actions menu. They can do this using ITRP's Custom Links functionality. That's because two more parameters are now available for use in Custom Links. These parameters are:

  • request.source
  • request.sourceID

These parameters make it possible to dynamically add the values that a system management tool added to the (hidden) Source and Source ID fields of a request. Knowing these values, the Custom Link knows which system management tool to launch and can tell this tool which event it should pull up.

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.