The ITSM Lens Awards and Year in Review

The year is coming to an end and it's time to reflect on this past year. Back in April we started this blog to share our knowledge of IT service management with everyone. Considering our steady increase in page views each month, we feel that we are providing useful content. Instead of boring you with the intro, lets jump into the IT stuff and hand out some ITSM Lens Awards.

Hottest Addition to the IT Department this Year: The Service Catalog

By far SunView Software’s biggest release of the year was the Service Catalog module. Not only was it our biggest release, but it may have been the most buzzed feature in the industry. A largely manual function before, required that users create entire websites dedicated to IT services. More and more companies are looking to automate the process with a product like ChangeGear in which you can fill all the necessary information out on the back end and have it neatly organized automatically.

Most Requested Feature We Delivered: The iPhone App

Our customers kept on asking us when we would have a mobile app and this year we finally came through. We chose to develop ChangeGear Mobile for the iPhone. Many IT professionals aren’t glued to a desk all day, it was necessary to provide a better way for users to access ChangeGear from a smartphone.

BYOD Item of the Year: Kindle Fire

With this being the second Holiday season for the iPad, it will probably be a big seller, but not likely as much as the Kindle Fire which is shiny, new, and has a low sticker price. Most employees will be back in the office this week and that means a ton of people are going to try and setup their Fire (or iPad) with their network. By now you probably have prepared with a Service Catalog item to setup Internet access on an iOS device but it is now time for the Kindle Fire service item. With five million projected to be sold by the end-of-the-year, you can bet some people will be calling the help desk, if they can’t figure out how to set it up alone.

Here at the ITSM Lens, we constantly monitor articles to see which are the most popular, so we know what topics our readers enjoy. While we have our "popular posts" section on the right column of the front page, we thought it would be nice to share the most read article of the year.

To close, we want to promise to continue providing relevant and useful articles for IT Service Management. We are always looking for writing ideas so if you would like to hear more about a particular topic please send any suggestions to We look forward to our first full year of content.

Happy New Year!

Three Ways to Evolve Your Help Desk

IT, and more specifically the Help / Service Desk, has been around for a long time. However, while many still feel as though it is in the stages of infancy, it might more accurately be closer to death (obsolescence in business speak). In fact, a recent article over at the ITSM Portal speaks to this very argument. Essentially, they put forth the thought that that the Help Desk model, existing for several decades now, is obsolete. Even the more modern, remodeled offspring (Service Desk) doesn’t escape unscathed, as it’s viewed as simply a Help Desk with a fresh coat of paint. When you think about it though, are they wrong?

Tenets of ITIL: Prevention vs. Reaction and the 99% Uptime

Often in the winter months, sometime between dreaming of permanent beach vacations and the lack of cold weather the southwestern edge of the US seems to enjoy, I like to wonder about a world where all IT organizations followed at least the core set of of best practices such as those found in ITIL. Now while that may sound strange, it’s much more about the existence of a consumer in a world dominated by IT that seems to be entrenched in the principle of reacting to issues versus preventing them.

Thinking About a Service Catalog: Five Questions to Ask

Even though holiday shopping seems to be off to a great start in the US, uncertainty with regard to the global economy is still getting top billing at most media outlets. Given that ambiguity, it’s more than likely a number of you are facing continued budget and workforce reduction. At the same time, there doesn’t seem to be a parallel process for reducing incidents or requests. In short, your help desk is stressed, and you need a strategy to navigate a 2012 that will likely look very similar to 2011.

Understanding the Help Desk: Five Inaccurate Perceptions of Customers

Some of the most popular topics we cover here on the ITSM Lens relate to the Help Desk. From discussions about the Help Desk’s place in an organization, to tips on how to better understand and improve customer interactions

In many cases the place we’ve most often seen vast improvement, and even made strides ourselves, is changing the typical perception of the Help Desk. Today, we see this as the management of relationships between customers and service providers. Taking that even a step further, we should view these customers as clients - individuals that have a direct affect on the profitability of our business.

Of course, talking theory and establishing benchmarks for interactions are steps in the process to improving any part of an organization. That said, before we head that direction, let’s look at what really shapes the moment-to-moment interactions at any desk - be it Help, Service, and / or Support.

Listed below (after the break) are five, preconceived perceptions technical staff will often have when interacting with their users clients. In most cases these are incorrect, and even when they are correct, it is still the primary function of the Help Desk to understand and resolve the issue. Think about these, as well as some your team tends to have, and let us know.

Where does Microsoft’s Answer Desk fit into your Help Desk?

Just this week I heard a conversation to the effect of, “What did we do before Google?” Of course, that conversation goes off in a near infinite direction as we piece together the way modern people have found answers to issues - be they technical or not. However, while Google is great, and it has personally gotten me through some past IT assignments with flying colors, it doesn’t really provide answers, at least not yet. Perhaps then, this is the aim of Microsoft’s new Answer Desk - a one stop shop of sorts for sorting out PC and software issues, specifically those related to Microsoft's suite of products.

If you haven’t heard of the Answer Desk just yet, it’s not surprising – there isn’t even a press release or front page fan fare at Instead, if you head over to, you’ll learn a little more about the services that are offered. Plus, PC World did a fairly investigative piece on how the free and “pay-as-you-go” options work. It sounds great, especially for offsetting what many Help Desks see taking significant portion of their day – training issues disguised as incidents. The reality may not be quite as clear.

At first glance it does look like a boon for empowering customers. They’ll encounter an issue, and perhaps get a timely resolution – maybe even for free. Unfortunately, it could also create a potential nightmare for understanding the status and health of IT Assets (in the form of PCs and Software). Not to mention there is remote access software technicians at Microsoft will use to connect to a customer’s PC – something your network may not support or authorize, and when it fails that likely means an incident will be submitted.

We’re interested in seeing just how this service will take off, and we’ll keep a close eye on any new developments. However, we’d love to hear from anyone already using the service. Perhaps even you are adding it to your repertoire of available tools for your users. Let us know by commenting here.

Image: Flickr | foleymo

Can your ability to understand and respond to change affect cost?

A little over three years ago a reasonably successful political campaign in the US ran on the premise that change is good. Since we try to stay particularly neutral when it comes to political commentary, we can’t go as far as to agree, or disagree with that statement. Moreover, we’d much rather stick with the understanding that change is inevitable. In fact, we’d go as far as to openly suggest that change is much more an agent of cause with both positive and negative effects. Taking that a bit further, change can create, resolve, or even prevent issues, and is thus correlative to cost.

Of course, determining the true cost of change is hard, arguably almost impossible. Even if you recover remarkably, experience little down time, or attribute no dollar value with a change, there may still be inherent cost to your organization. In many cases the changes made, even those that reach resolution of an issue, may actually impair your ability to find the root cause.

The CMDB Checklist: 25 Essential Functions

If you recall, a few weeks ago things really started to heat up in IT, literally. With two reports of iPhones glowing red hot and then catching fire, it might just give HP a bit of time to fully address what they now say are exaggerated reports that hackers could take control of your printer and cause it to catch fire – all from a remote location. There is a larger lesson here though, and it really goes out to IT organizations, and how they keep track of their hardware. Understanding exactly what type of hardware is on, as well as coming and going from, your network is an essential part of IT Service Management.

Understanding Your Cloud Rights

The good news is that the momentum behind The Cloud has produced a number of intuitive products that businesses are now starting to implement, and then see true ROI. At the same time, as The Cloud and solutions offered via that medium start to mature, there are a few questions that still need to be answered about the security of your data.

Unfortunately, given the newness of the Cloud the extent to which companies may be responsible for your data, and your rights as a customer remain ambiguous, and in some cases undefined. To make things even more difficult, while there is a good deal of information about the features and functionality of various solutions, guidance on how to make sure you choose a high quality provider versus one that is just out to capitalize on the latest catch phrase, is lacking. That is, until recently.

As it has routinely proven to be, the Web is consistently providing a set of great resources to call upon. Case in point, a recent article at Tech Republic addresses information you should know before you commit data to a public cloud service. Head over there and read through it. Even if you have already signed your contract, there is some great advice on what to look for, and specific examples of information security contract clauses.

Moving from Help Desk to IT Service Management

Across the world, economic recovery is not moving nearly as fast as anyone would like. As has often happened before, reduction in workforce seems to have paralleled increase in scope and responsibilities for teams within the business. This could not be truer than when looking at an IT team that faces the management of operations that now entail both technical and general services.

Smart teams learn quickly that process analysis, followed by automation, is a one-two punch for empowering teams to accomplish more in less time. For teams looking to move from providing traditional Help Desk functionality, to the full range of capabilities offered by a Service Desk, these concepts are essential. The right software solution is a key point as well, meaning a Service Catalog will need to be a central piece of your IT Service Management program. However, bringing all this together can be easier said than done, leaving many teams struggling to find a way to truly identify and defines services.

While reaching out to the business is the right, first step in assisting with the challenge of defining services, this can present a new set of issues as well. In two recent posts, the ITSM professor outlines a number of strategies that should help. For more, check out part one and two of, “Why Are IT Services So Hard to Define?”

Secretly Installed, Root Kit Software Found on iPhones

If you own an iPhone, or one of the many smart phones sold by AT&T or Sprint, everything that you did or have done with your phone has been logged, tracked, and recorded. While the extent to which information is gathered and stored (or not) is disputed by Carrier IQ, the maker of the application, the scope of this is massive. With over 140 million installations of the application, it’s a safe bet that it’s running on nearly every modern smart phone.

According to a story at, Troy Eckhart of Connecticut posted a video describing the Carrier IQ application as a root kit, and demonstrating the logging capabilities. Shortly after that post, Carrier IQ contacted Eckhart with threats of legal action. Stepping in on Eckhart's behalf was the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and as the article pointed out, Carrier IQ has now backed off and apologized for their initial reaction.

Five Changes that Require CAB (Change Authorization Board) Approval

Given that most IT organizations are being driven to change and evolve at an ever quickening pace, there is a need to process more RFCs with less overhead in order to stay in front of the business demands.  As you learned in ITIL 101, the general goal of Change Management is the review, approval, and implementation of changes in a controlled manner, and that does not mean every change goes through the CAB for review. 
Already for most organizations, weekly CAB meetings don’t cut it--the pace of change is just too fast.  With a large portion of our days already spent in meetings, clearly longer or more frequent CAB meetings cannot be the answer. Instead,  with the high volume and quick pace IT faces today, the challenge is how to systematically identify those requests that necessitate formal CAB review from those that can perhaps be approved from your smart phone in between levels of Angry Birds.