In the thirty year history of Help Desk and ITSM, it has been a normal practice to replace software tools every five to seven years. But this cycle is now changing.

These days, organizations are looking to select a tool and vendor that will offer both a more strategic partnership and a solution lifecycle looking to a value horizon of 10 years and beyond. This is in recognizing these ITSM tools are a significant investment and IT organizations are increasingly committed to selecting a solution that offers a different profile of capabilities. Simply supporting IT best practices and traditional capabilities is not nearly enough in our changing world.

Given this shift in the IT mindset, let’s take a look at five key priorities for the selection of your next ITSM solution.

The thoughtful selection of a new ITSM tool is more important than ever. The business expects more of IT and a strong ITSM solution goes hand-in-hand with a stronger IT.

#1 Ease of Configuration

The rate of change in business is greater than ever, and as such, we are called to make near-constant changes to the ITSM solution. With this need, it is problematic to call on special skills or expensive consultants to make these common changes. 

This could include changing a form, changing a workflow model, updating a business rule, adding a request to the service catalog, and much more. Think of this as all the changes we need to perform our work every day and to keep pace with the business. The users of the system should be able to make many of these changes, with some types of changes requiring the time of a system administrator. What we are trying to avoid is consulting engagements or specialized and extensive training. This is too expensive, too slow, and too complicated. Simple is the only thing that stands the test of time, and is the best model to scale.

#2 Powerful Automation

Automation is more important than ever, and strong automation brings us leverage that supports the new strategic agenda of IT. Automation brings us speed, makes IT more agile, and enables IT to move to 24/7 operations. This is what our customers expect from us and not simply an IT-only agenda. 

Good examples of automation are the ability to capture business processes and business rules within the scope of the application and to then execute these sequences of logic automatically. The ability to apply time-based rules, relational and numerical calculations and other related logic embedded in the automation provides more power and more flexibility. Make this a priority and see the benefits of automation returned to IT many times over. Automation is fundamental to self service and service catalog for example, two workhorses for the future of IT.

#3 Innovative Roadmap

Business today must innovate or die, so we should demand the same from our preferred ITSM vendor. It’s important to understand both what the solution offers today and what enhancements are planned for the product over the next few years. Any vendor with a partnership mindset should be happy to share this information and with some detail. This should be an ongoing dialogue. The product continues to evolve and continues to improve as the pressure on IT continues to grow. The innovation discussion was not common in the past, but today it must be on our short list. The ITSM solution worthy of our investment over the next five to ten years must receive a strong R&D investment consistently and to some degree based on customer feedback. Take time to understand how this client feedback occurs and how investment decisions are made.

#4 Agile Self Service, Service Catalog & Mobile

The usage model for ITSM has changed dramatically over the past five years. We are now seeing a shift of the standard usage model to self service, service catalog and mobile device access as these models are a natural fit for the convenience, 24/7 access and personalized service that users today demand. These models are both very efficient and very fast which translates to a lower cost of operation. More importantly, this translates into an empowered and productive user. Everybody is happy when these access models are executed well. The days of calling the help desk and speaking with an analyst are gone forever and the numbers reflect this paradigm shift. These agile models represented usage of about 10 percent a decade ago and today we are now seeing usage in the range of 60-70 percent as increasingly common. As such, a new ITSM solution must be strong and flexible in these areas. This is increasingly how we work and that trend will only accelerate.

#5 AI and Smart Technology

AI and related smart technologies have gone from interesting but not ready for prime time just a few years ago to now being truly useful and ready to help the people of IT. This is a must-have for ITSM, for the future of IT and for the business. Examples here include chat bots, intelligent agents that can make sensible recommendations and data analysis tools. The maturity curve of AI today is accelerating and it’s important we begin to shape our thinking around these wonderful AI tools and not just for today, but in attaching our strategy and operations to the remarkable trajectory of AI that will increase one-hundred-fold in just the next five years and one-thousand-fold over the next 10 years. This is a game changer for ITSM and for IT and is not simply what AI can do for us directly but in freeing some of the precious bandwidth of our people to focus on new advisory services for the business and thinking about how we innovate and improve the precious user experience. This shift is critical.

Keep these five priorities close at hand for your next ITSM tool selection and reap the rewards of a flexible and robust solution you can grow with into the future.

Check out Kevin’s book on Amazon: The Practical Guide To World-Class IT Service Management and follow him on Twitter @kevinjsmith4IT.