Why Everyone Should Invest In An ITSM Tool

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We’ve all heard the question before: “Should we invest in an IT Service Management Tool?”
The simple answer is yes. There’s really no counterpoint. Small, midmarket and enterprise organizations will benefit greatly from purchasing and then leveraging an IT Service Management Tool (ITSM) tool.
What Is IT Service Management (ITSM)?
At a high level, ITSM is the backbone of your IT organization. It’s the teams, groups and departments that handle the front-facing communication and support of your IT organization. They’re the ones that receive support requests and provide them to your backend teams, developers, etc. Think about them as the face of your IT organization. They need a management tool to do their jobs effectively.
What An ITSM Tool Can Do For You
There are many ITSM tools out there such as HP Service Manager, Remedy, Service Now, IBM Control Desk, C2 Atom and many more. Each offers its own user interface and reporting structure. Some have additional add-on tools and features or different levels of packages to support your unique needs. No matter the tool you select, the majority will at minimum come with a configuration management database (CMDB) as the backend database for your tool, as well as a basic ticketing system. Both of those tools are critical to the business, so you’re already winning, because your requests and your assets are being tracked in one tool. You can easily escalate and assign tickets for support or enhancements and do some basic reporting as well as track your assets. At a minimum you’ve just saved time and resources by streamlining your ticketing process.
Is that enough to write a use case and convince your company to look at investing in an ITSM tool. Maybe not. But it’s doesn’t stop there. We all know that IT changes, software changes and upgrades need to be put in, and service managers need to track these changes and/or obtain approval. We also need to make sure we’ve properly documented backout plans to ensure there are no conflicting changes happening during the same window. An ITSM Tool can do this for you. The change-management system in most ITSM Tools can automate your change-request process with enhanced questions that can assess the risk of the change and send automatic approval notifications to impacted parties utilizing your flashy new CMDB to get information on who owns the system or utilizes the system and who may be impacted by the change.
What’s so great is that it saves your change information and backout plans for future reference and knowledge sharing. Some even have an integrated change calendar that will show you any overlapping changes or maintenance windows that may impact your change. You’ll also be able to relate a change record to an incident ticket if additional support is needed during the change or if the change causes an outage. This is a more effective way to track any trending or knowledge needed for future changes.
Most ITSM tools also offer a knowledge base as on out-of-the-box option, because knowledge sharing and transfer is key to successful service management. The ability for a developer or network engineer to provide relevant information back to the service desk in a searchable format can increase your first-call resolutions (FCRs), or the time it takes to identify how to escalate an issue. The knowledge base can also be utilized to share knowledge to your user community with basic troubleshooting or automated support for frequently asked questions, issues or known issues with workarounds. This will in turn reduce the numbers or reoccurring calls to your service desk for issues that can be easily resolved by the user, and will free up your service desk analysts to handle more technical requests.
The above-mentioned features – CMDB, ticketing tool and knowledge base – are your basic features of an ITSM Tool. But there are other out-of-the-box functions, plus additional add-ons you can purchase to serve other business needs. These can include trending analysis, reporting/metrics, software-asset management, hardware-asset management, project-portfolio management, event-management integration, self-service portal, automated workflows, SMS escalations or phone-calling tree automation, and application-programming interfaces (APIs) that integrate with other systems to read from or write to the ITSM tool.
Why Do We Need An ITSM Tool?
Look at your IT organization and think for a moment of the services you provide. You most likely have some sort of request process for the service desk via email, phone, instant message or even web requests.
How do the service agents handle these requests? How do they document and resolve these requests? What happens if the request needs to be escalated?
The process you have in place probably works as requests are handled, problems get resolved and that guy on the 3rd floor who wanted a new laptop eventually got one. So why would you need an ITSM tool if everything is great and it works? Don’t fix it unless it’s broken, right? Wrong.
Even if your process seems like it’s working, is it really? Are you tracking changes? Can you easily provide trending analysis on common issues? Do you have a CMDB that stores your people, processes, assets and the lifecycle for them? Are your requests being escalated and turned around in an acceptable service level agreement (SLA)? How are work efforts prioritized? What happens when an outage occurs? Are teams notified? Is the outage documented and follow up on? How many different systems/applications are you utilizing to ensure these efforts happen? How much time, effort, support and money are you spending on these systems/applications to provide the basic functionality of requesting IT services?
Investing in an ITSM Tool will almost pay for itself simply by reducing the cost associated with support, time, resources and reoccurring outages. It’ll enable you to streamline your support process and even automate some of your manual tasks, like tracking, metrics reporting, and communicating about the services you provide to the organization.
Purchasing An ITSM Tool Vs. Building An In-House Tool
Let’s say you decide that an ITSM tool will absolutely help your organization. The purchasing cost is now under review, but you have a team of developers on the payroll that might have some availability to take on a project and produce an in-house ITSM solution. Here are some of the pros and cons to consider before building the tool in-house.

  • Everything’s done in-house
  • You don’t need to spend any money up front to acquire a product
  • There’s no licensing
  • Your dev team knows how to support it
  • It’s customized to your specific needs


  • Your developers are being paid to work on this project when they could be doing other production development
  • As your environment changes, your in-house solution will need to be updated, which will eat up more development time
  • If your solution is web-based and browsers, scripts and other plugins are updated, it may not work as intended and require more development
  • Knowledge transfer of the tool and how it was developed needs to be documented. If your developer leaves, the next developer must be able to support or upgrade the app
  • You may need to write code to integrate other applications such as email or phone into your app. As those systems are upgraded, the code may need to be revised
  • Requirements for the app may change as the organization matures or grows, which will consume additional development time
  • If and when the app reaches the end of its lifecycle, there’s no support or upgrade options readily available
  • There’s no CMDB, unless your team plans on developing one
  • The system of record will not be easily transferrable to another system of record if needed in the future

These are high-level pros and cons, but each organization will have more specific and customized lists depending on the functionality and requirements needed. Given all the cons, why not let someone else who’s already invested time and resources do the work for you? The tools out there are robust, and some are open for additional customization or in-house development to fit your specific needs. There are also additional support options for these tools to assist your organization when issues arise or during implementation.
Don’t waste your resources or time trying to reinvent the wheel when someone’s already invented one and enhanced it.
Original image by Max Max

How Do You Support Your Software?

Software/OS services & support not your core competencies? We support more than just WebSphere.

In today’s reality of constantly evolving technology, managing software support is critically important. There are never-ending changes to core products, changes to deployment options (on-premises, cloud, hybrid), and a new generation of changes is most certainly lurking around the corner. Especially in IBM’s Systems Middleware world.

The effort to support this endless hodgepodge has grown increasingly complicated. In point of fact, most companies run multiple versions of software on different operating systems, which makes support options even more confusing. That’s why more and more companies are facing hard decisions about whether to continue their vendor-support agreements for software and OS, and why more and more companies are running unsupported software and OS, even if it’s occasionally side-by-side with a newer, supported version of the same.

That’s why more and more companies are partnering with TxMQ for support of their IBM environments, WebSphere systems and far more.

TxMQ is uniquely able to design and deploy support solutions across almost any software/OS environment. And we’ll design a solution that fits right – whether it’s short-term support until the patch/upgrade is finished, or long-term permanent outsource options and partnerships. All options are available 24/7/365.
In addition, we’re one of the few firms that supports legacy mainframe, systems I and P (aix), alongside Linux (all major flavors), Solaris, Windows and other variants. So yes, we’re a lot more than just pure IBM.
A few other notes about our capabilities…

Additional Offerings
TxMQ support customers can also take advantage of reduced rates for TxMQ services, discounted purchasing of IBM software and hardware, and related services like software asset management (ILMT, SUA, SCCD), patch management and other managed services.

Implementation Support
TxMQ’s deeply technical talent can also help with planning for upgrades, replatforming, license optimization and integration services. In select cases, we can also work with in-house development teams to offer support for custom home-built applications.

Custom Solutions
TxMQ engineers and developers can work for you, or with your teams, for custom-application development needs. As with the above services, customers under support agreements with TxMQ are entitled to these services at a discount.
Let’s start a conversation on the advantages of getting back to basics and focusing on your core competencies, then letting TxMQ worry about your support.
Email [email protected] or [email protected] for more information, or call 716-636-0070 x222.

How (NOT) To Buy Enterprise Software

Whether you’re in IT, or in a line of business (LOB), at some point in your career you’ll likely be given a budget with authority to acquire enterprise software or an integrated solution for your company.
You and your team will do an analysis, possibly have a “bakeoff” of some sort to eliminate a vendor or two, and ultimately make a selection of what you believe to be the right enterprise solution.
Maybe it’s a cloud-based black-box type of solution like Workday or Salesforce. Maybe it’s a platform product, like WebSphere Application Server or SharePoint, used to support other solutions. Maybe it’s none of the above. Regardless, the proposal will inevitably include a component to stand up and install supporting services, plus after-support.
Do yourself a favor: Spend the time during your internal evaluation to ask your team and your leadership if you truly have budget to extend beyond the basic enterprise software acquisition cost.
Here at TxMQ, we’ve noticed a trend the past few years, and it’s a challenging one. We see more and more companies slash budgets for services other than the bare license cost of the software. That usually means the company’s left with acquired software products they’re not necessarily able to stand up themselves, let alone support and integrate.
In many cases this isn’t so problematic. After all, some solutions are certainly straightforward enough. Yet even cloud-based tools like Salesforce are, in fact, extremely complex systems that require extensive pre-planning, integration and ongoing support. This role can be tough to manage internally, and is oftentimes better suited to a solutions provider like TxMQ.
TxMQ has helped countless companies fix bad or poorly planned installations of enterprise software – installations that went south because budget was restricted solely to the license. We’ve seen outages, lost revenue and actual firings due to poor planning – again, only because budget was cut to the bare minimum and only covered the software-license cost. And the corrective engagements are costly – for the demands on internal staff and dollars spent on consultants. In nearly all cases, these costs could have been avoided with upfront planning for the installation and deployment of the solution.
By planning, I mean understanding internal needs, skills, integration points, storage needs, security, networking and more.
It was Abraham Lincoln who was famously quoted as stating: “If I had 6 hours to cut down a tree, I’d spend the first 4 sharpening the axe.” If you’re being asked to acquire and install a solution – whether it’s enterprise software, hardware or hybrid – don’t just grab the axe and start swinging. You’ll hurt yourself, likely break the axe and end up with a very damaged tree.
Save a tree. Email TxMQ today.

The Difference Between Software Asset Management & Software Asset Managed Services

Do you need SAM or SAMS? The distinction’s important.
SAM is Software Asset Management – a big-brush, cost-control effort that typically describes internal efforts to optimize the software investment. Every business needs SAM.
SAMS is Software Asset Managed Services – a more intensive effort that involves the hiring of outside consultants to document, manage and optimize the software investment. SAMS delivers an impartial eye to the enterprise software stack and relieves licensing and regulatory burdens from internal teams. At the same time, SAMS is built to scale so the consultants can smoothly assume a growing management responsibility for the environment. Internal teams are further unburdened from the day-to-day environment problems and are free to focus on business development, new applications, creative solutions and continuous improvement.
Is SAMS right for your business? If you struggle to implement SAM, or if the cost of maintaining your environment is spiraling out of control, then you probably need SAMS.
Assess Your Assets
You need to know what’s running on your stuff. It’s just that simple. But the quest to find the answers can be surprisingly difficult. Some software’s inactive but still deployed. Employees may have downloaded unlicensed copies to fight a vital fire. Auto-renewal payments for licenses may be festering on a former accountant’s laptop.
The effort to control and optimize your software investment starts with wanting to know what you don’t know. TxMQ utilizes the following workflow in its Software Asset Management (SAM) business line. It’s also the initial stage of its Software Asset Managed Services (SAMS) program.
Step 1: Enterprise Discovery
Your business needs to know exactly how many servers are in use. Are the servers spread out geographically? Internationally? What software is deployed? Is it active or legacy? Is it single-sourced? Mixed? Open-source? How sophisticated is security? Is there a single sign-on for the software? What’s the server-level security? How do employees access the servers? What’s the nature of the business?
Step 2: Document The Software
This step determines exactly what software is installed on the servers, the versions, at what levels, how many instances, and how many seats?
Step 3: Determine The SAM Products To Install
Is the goal to manage the assets, or simply audit them? The choice of SAM products and tools is important.
Step 4: Determine Audit Level
Does the enterprise what to perform a simple audit, or a complete audit that includes update histories, patching and software-lifecycle analysis.
Step 5: Develop Reporting Process
Are there limitations to the audit? Who prepares the report? Who sees it?
TxMQ specializes in middleware management and application integration. Licensing is a huge part of our business. We can help. Call or email now for a free, confidential consultation. Reach us before the auditors reach you!
Photo by Daniel Iversen