IT Service Management (ITSM) enables organisations to improve service delivery and increase customer satisfaction. In a world where the customer has become more demanding and discriminating than ever before, ITSM is increasingly being acknowledged as an integral part of successful business operations. In addition, ITSM principles, tools and processes can be used to good effect in other areas of business. However, while the value of ITSM may no longer be in dispute, choosing the right delivery model for your business can be a confusing task.
Selecting between outright ownership and Software as a Service (SaaS) is only half of the battle, as SaaS can be delivered as an on-premise or an on-demand solution. Each delivery model has its own pros and cons, and there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to ITSM tool selection. Understanding the differences between each model, the needs and requirements of the business, and partnering with an expert service provider are critical to selecting the most appropriate ITSM model for your business
ITSM tools today offer a number of features, including process automation, flexibility and scalability. This helps organisations to standardise and optimise service delivery, increase IT efficiency and effectiveness, minimise risk, keep customers better informed and satisfied, and improve control and accountability of IT infrastructure. In turn, it drives continuous service improvement within an organisation. In essence, ITSM helps businesses to perpetually improve the quality of IT support services. However, Service Management (SM) is not limited to the IT department alone, and often these same solutions can deliver a totally integrated SM solution that can be used by the entire organisation. ITSM is effectively a framework of standardised, repeatable processes and procedures that enables organisations to demonstrate good corporate governance, comply with legislation and more.
The benefits of ITSM are known. However, with various delivery models now available, making the decision as to which model to implement is a difficult task. Outright ownership is the traditional model of ITSM delivery, where the organisation owns all of the infrastructure and software. The major benefit of this model is the control it gives the organisation. However, it requires capital expenditure and is not highly flexible – scaling the solution to meet increased demand means purchasing more hardware, additional licenses and so on. Maintenance of the solution necessitates the necessary in-house skills within the organisation. For these reasons, SaaS has been steadily gaining popularity as a delivery model.
SaaS removes most of the initial outlay with outright ownership, as licensing is typically done on a monthly basis. This also makes SaaS a more flexible and scalable solution, enabling organisations to easily add extra users when necessary. ITSM software can be delivered through two SaaS models: on-premise and on-demand. An on-premise solution makes use of an organisation’s own infrastructure for ITSM software, which is then managed and maintained by a service provider and licensed as a monthly fee. Infrastructure remains in the control of the organisation, which makes integration simpler, but the upfront investment and maintaining the infrastructure is still required.
An on-demand solution on the other hand is a full cloud solution that removes the requirement for owning hardware and infrastructure. A service provider hosts the solution and delivers a full service to the organisation on a pay-per-use basis. Organisations can simply access services as and when they need them without upfront hardware and software investments.
However, despite the obvious benefits, ITSM solutions in the cloud (or on demand SaaS) is not a solution that is universally applicable. Organisations that require integration between tools such as service desks and system monitoring may find a cloud solution cumbersome, as integration could prove difficult to achieve. The cloud also introduces additional points of failure in terms of performance, specifically related to bandwidth availability – without stable, available bandwidth, users will not be able to access the system. In addition, heavily regulated industries may have legislative challenges with cloud-based ITSM solutions, since data may be stored anywhere and the organisation has no control over this. Furthermore, security may also be a problem, because the organisation does not know where the servers storing their information are, and who has access to these.
Organisations need to understand their own needs and requirements and match the best option. Ultimately the decision comes down to two things – resource capability (both human and financial) and availability. Partnering with an expert service provider can help organisations to assess their resources, capability and requirements and select the right ITSM service delivery model to meet all of their needs.
Edward Carbutt, Executive Director at Marval South Africa