Colin Teubner Archive

Software as a Service (SaaS) has become a mainstream deployment option for an increasing number of applications. The advantages – lower costs, simpler and shorter implementation processes, service level guarantees – often outweigh IT’s traditional concerns about controlling assets by keeping critical applications in house.

Some IT organizations have been turning to SaaS for IT management applications. Reasons driving the decision are the same ones behind the sales organization adopting Besides the cost and service-level standards, IT organizations are frustrated that the continuing complexity of legacy ITSM products means many of their features are underused and rarely modified after the long initial implementation. That underuse of features makes it easier for IT to accept that SaaS products are typically not as full-featured as the legacy brands. After all, why buy the super-sized meal if you can’t eat all of the small size?

But wouldn’t it make sense not to have to make a trade-off between easy deployment and a rich feature set? Why not first select the ITSM product that meets your needs and then determine the deployment model that makes the most sense? Every ITSM vendor should be able to offer the same functionality regardless of the deployment model. And you should be able to choose not just SaaS or on-premises but also a flexible hybrid that seamlessly combines these models – with your choice of capabilities hosted by the vendor and others still deployed on premises.  In other words, the deployment model shouldn’t be an issue in the selection of the solution. Instead, you should be able to deploy the solution you want in the way that makes sense for your organization.

To learn about how Serena Service Manager can be deployed anyway you want – SaaS, on-premises or a flexible hybrid, download Top 5 Reasons for Orchestrated Service Management or join us for an October 11th webinar on Transforming IT with Process-Based ITSM, featuring insight from Forrester’s Eveline Hubbert Oehrlich.

Last week I visited a Serena Dimensions CM customer who is planning to replace or upgrade their ITSM solution. I had already reached out to them about considering Serena Service Manager. As they reviewed all options, they wanted to learn how they could make a major leap rather than an incremental upgrade. Our discussion included topics that are relevant to any organization that is exploring alternatives to the traditional big (and cumbersome) ITSM vendors.

This customer wants a solution that’s more flexible and adaptable than what they have today, that can be modified on the fly by regular help-desk staff, and that can support their goal of measurably improving service to their users. They also want to be sure they don’t lose ground on key capabilities and are able to offer a better user experience and expanded self-service. And they want to avoid the arduous implementation process and high costs they went through with their legacy solution.

Another key topic they wanted to cover was the pros and cons of SaaS. As one director said, “If SaaS meets my capabilities and cost goals without sacrificing security and adaptability, I’ll go there. But I’m not convinced that I can get that mix.” Since some of the stakeholders were advocating SaaS, this director wanted to resolve this issue before we dove into a discussion of product capabilities.

Here are the main deployment-model topics this director wanted to compare for each deployment model:

  • License cost
  • Implementation cost and time
  • Adaptation cost and time
  • Security and control
  • Service level and responsiveness guarantees
  • Integration with related applications
  • Solution features and product roadmap
  • Visibility, reporting, metrics – and can these be easily customized and adapted?

I’d like to hear from you about these concerns around deployment models. Are yours similar? Got anything to add? What’s your most important issue in weighing options for ITSM deployment? What are you concerned about losing if you go the SaaS route?

In my next post, I’ll write more about Serena’s no-trade-off approach to deployment options, including a flexible deployment model that is a hybrid of SaaS and on-premises. Later I’ll compile your responses and other customer feedback and write a follow-up blog to share what your peers are thinking about IT deployment options.

The future of Service Desks is customer request centers.  They will be designed with an outside-in approach that flips the traditional focus on technology to an emphasis on business demands and user expectations. While IT Service Management has already shifted IT to a service delivery model rather than the traditional technology availability focus, the next generation of service management technology emphasizes customer experience and business self-service.

Key attributes of this model include:

  • Process-based: Today’s Service Desk should include significant process automation – not just basic tasks like approvals, but connecting human and system tasks throughout request fulfillment, spanning IT and business areas such as Finance or HR.
  • Insight and transparency:  IT staff, line-of-business owners and users all need role-based visibility.
  • Easy to measure and adapt: You need good metrics and simple methods for adapting to change.

To achieve this vision, I recommend starting with a self-assessment. Here are some questions that can help you examine your current state.

  How we’re doing Need for improvement
  Strong yes Mostly yes 50-50 Mostly no Not at all Urgent Important
Do you have a User Request Portal that lets users find information, perform self-help processes and submit tickets?              
Did you usability-test your User Request Portal implementation before launching?              
Are most users successful in helping themselves (or do you get a lot of tickets for issues that should have been resolvable by self-help without a ticket submission)?              
Behind the scenes, have you automated processes that users are likely to use? Do you measure their successful use and adapt as needed? Can you add or change processes easily?              
Can users access a knowledge base that explains their issue?              
Can users gain visibility into the status of a request on their own?              
Can users easily respond – and get a response from IT – when they are not satisfied with the outcome of a ticket they submitted?              
Do you facilitate input from users on how to improve the site and your services?              
Do you regularly measure benchmarks for self-service and conduct surveys to assess user satisfaction?              
Do you have plans in place to continually assess and improve the User Request Portal? Are your portal and its underlying processes easy for IT staff to adapt?              


If your answers are not overwhelmingly yes, then you are ready to investigate and evaluate a new approach to ITSM. Do you have comments or additional assessment questions to add?

One of the strategic goals of IT leaders today is shifting from the traditional focus on technology to an emphasis on business demands and user expectations – from supply to demand. This change in perspective is a true paradigm shift, one that Forrester Research calls “outside-in thinking” and that reflects the ITIL focus on supporting service lifecycles. Besides conceptualizing the work IT does as service delivery rather than technology availability, this transformation also requires an emphasis on customer experience. 

One important way for IT to deliver great customer experience is to provide a satisfying environment for users to resolve problems and ask for service. Enabling powerful user self-service requires more than providing tickets and forms for users to submit to the Help Desk. To maximize user autonomy when solving issues and making requests – and to reduce costs and repetitious tasks for Service Desk staff – IT needs to offer users: 

  • An intuitive user interface that guides them through options and steps.
  • Automated, simple-to-follow procedures for common tasks that you want users to be able to perform on their own.
  • Access to knowledge needed to solve problems.
  • Transparency and updates throughout a process so expectations are set.
  • Options for requesting help when needed.
  • Ability to suggest enhancements and track the fate of the submission.

Where is your IT organization in user self-service maturity? Keep an eye on this space for a questionnaire to help you assess your user self-service capabilities.