Enterprise Service Management (ESM) is playing a growing role in organizations across industries. ESM extends IT service management capabilities (ITSM) and applies them company-wide. The right ESM platform enables an enterprise to see a complete picture of the enterprise’s technology ecosystem.

Forrester defines ESM as “extending IT service management capabilities beyond technology services to address business-centric use cases; managing service demand and supply through a common platform, portal, and service catalog; and speeding up innovation and workflow automation through PaaS/low-code development tooling.” Equating ESM with “technical support” in the narrow sense of the term, is the most prevalent misconception amongst those who are not fully aware of ESM’s true power and scope.

The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL4®) provides a concise definition of ITSM: ITIL4 is the most widely accepted approach to IT service management in the world. ITIL can help individuals and organizations use IT to realize business change, transformation and growth. Encompassing IT service design, transition, strategy, operation, and continual service improvement (CSI), the ITIL4 framework depicts the most widely accepted definition of Enterprise IT services among organizations today.

The most common mistake that organizations make while selecting an ESM tool/platform is starting with a list of ESM tools/platforms based on minimal knowledge and by incorrectly taking cues from the technology and functionality they are familiar with. They often scan the available tool/platforms on the market, learn how much the tool/platforms costs, determine what sort of licensing model they require, and then, based on the organization’s budget, someone will decide which ESM tool/platform to proceed with. This approach, while convenient, is counterproductive to an organization’s interests.

Below are our top tips for selecting an ESM platform.

Tip 1: Assess Your ITSM Maturity

You probably understand which capabilities your organization requires of your next ESM software – like an efficient IT service desk with a cutting edge IT self-service catalog, a detailed CMDB, hassle-free IT issue tracking and ticketing, SLA, and contracts management.

Additionally, you likely require support for vital ITIL processes:

  • Incident Management
  • Change Management
  • Problem Management
  • Release & Deployment Management
  • Service Asset & Configuration Management
  • Knowledge Management
  • Availability Management
  • Supplier Management
  • Service Level Management
  • Capacity Management

Service desk decision-makers are always advised to begin with process maturity assessment before creating a feature checklist to determine specific ESM requirements. Self-assessment maturity models are widely available in the market for this process. These self-assessment maturity models reveal details about your current IT maturity state, along with contextual advice (strategic and tactical), for improvement. In the absence of an improvement road map, you might end up investing in an ESM tool/platform that is, down the line, not entirely relevant to your business.

Tip 2: Identify the Vital ESM Tool/platform Integrations

After the maturity assessment, an IT organization must understand the ESM tool/platform’s placement so that the tool/platform fits into the existing repertoire of IT operations management tool/platforms. Most organizations have domain-centric and multiple IT management tool/platforms, whereas in organizations that are siloed, each IT domain has and manages its own tool/platforms. However, because an ESM tool/platform will come into contact with other tool/platforms, it’s important to understand the integration capabilities beforehand.

IT organizations no longer have purchase from the same vendor to ensure cross-portfolio integration. Integrating ESM tool/platforms with other products today isn’t as expensive and strenuous as years prior. IT organizations can capitalize on this development by understanding their existing portfolios of IT management tool/platforms, identifying necessary integrations, and determining ESM vendors that can deliver these integrations. Despite claims by vendors of “code-free customization” and “code-free configuration,” you should always investigate and understand the fine print. Product integrations can be executed in a modular fashion that’s not prohibitively expensive.

Data integrations with IT asset management (especially network discovery/inventory, application dependency mapping, and CMDB), server monitoring, remote control, IT infrastructure management and endpoint management can help IT service desks significantly. Mature organizations can also consider integrating solutions like business relationship management (BRM), business intelligence, and business process management solutions.

Tip 3: Understand the Vendor’s Value as a Business Partner

Always remember that when you’re choosing an ESM tool/platform, you’re actually choosing a business partner, perhaps one that’ll stick with you over several years. It’s a relationship, not a transaction. So make sure that the vendor is a fit for your needs and follows through on commitments.

First, assess the vendor’s adherence to a product road map schedule. But keep in mind that there’s an unfortunate reality of vendors prioritizing larger clients. If you happen to be working for a Fortune 500 or 1000 company, you need not worry. However, if you work for a small-to-medium-sized-enterprise (SME), chances are that you will not be able to command the attention that other, larger organizations do.

Tip 4: Assessment of ESM Licensing and Hosting Options

Understand the short-term and long-term licensing/hosting options. Determine if you need a Cloud-based or an On-premise solution. If you’re leaning towards a Cloud-based solution, will you be hosting it directly or through a third party? What will the costs amount to? Keep in mind that Cloud-based solutions might seem economic while considering SaaS vs. On-premises tool/platforms; however, the sad truth is that, while you may not be spending a lot upfront, over time, you may end up paying a lot more than you would have for an alternative model.

It’s important to complete a financial analysis across all possibilities before comparing vendors, and it should be based on cost factors. That way, you’ll get a complete picture of the total ownership cost.

Tip 5: Focus On Enhancing Customer Experience

Lastly, don’t neglect the IT business’ perception when making your ESM tool/platform selection. One of the primary goals of ESM tool/platform implementation should be to increase end-user self-sufficiency and improve the IT-business relationship. Therefore, IT organizations must understand how their service management tool/platform enables such improvements.

For example, does your potential solution provide an IT self-service portal that’s easy to customize and configure? Does the solution provide a means of gathering information and context about users, so that support analysts have relevant, timely information that can improve the end-user experience? Does it provide comprehensive, out-of-the-box reporting that shows IT’s impact on both IT and business stakeholders? These considerations matter, as the IT service desk drives the perception of the entire IT organization.

In summary, always remember to include the business perspective when selecting your ESM tool/platform. Increasing end-user self-sufficiency and enhancing the IT-business relationship must be primary goals associated with your ESM tool/platform implementation. The facilitation of such improvements, therefore, needs to be well understood by IT organizations. Some of the questions you need to be asking are: does the solution offer an IT self-service portal that renders customization and configuration easily? Does the solution provide a means to gathering context and information about users? Does the solution provide out-of-the-box, comprehensive reporting that depicts IT’s impact on both the organization and business stakeholders? As the IT service desk leads the perception of the whole IT organization, these questions are paramount and need to be addressed.

Bearing all this in mind, invest in an ESM tool/platform that enables your service desk to staff to present an enhanced, pleasant business depiction of the company to see great results.

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