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By, Dick Stark, President, CEO, and Founder of RightStar Systems

 

Not too long ago, the average person might have carried around many or all of the following in a given day: a telephone, a personal calendar/organizer, a camera, a watch, a voice recorder, an MP3 player, and a laptop computer. Today, all of those items and more can be found in a single device: the smartphone. In this one example, we can see the power of consolidation to increase efficiency and productivity, lower costs, and simplify our lives. The same is true of IT consolidation.

 

As in the private sector, public sector IT is seeking to increase efficiency and lower costs through consolidation of hardware and applications. For example, the Canadian government is transferring resources associated with the delivery of e-mail, data center, and network services from 44 departments and agencies to a new entity called Shared Services Canada. The goal is to standardize on a single e-mail system, reduce the number of data centers to 20, and streamline electronic networks within and among government departments.

 

In the United States, data center consolidation is driven by the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative (FDCCI). Consolidation is already delivering important benefits, including the following:

 

  • Reduction in energy consumption and real estate footprint
  • Reduction in spending for data center hardware, software, and operations
  • Stronger security posture
  • More efficient computing platforms and technologies

 

 

IT service management solutions are tremendously helpful in consolidation efforts. Among the most obvious areas are discovery and asset management. Determining which hardware and software components make up the infrastructure is an important first step toward consolidation. Automatic discovery tools and a central repository or configuration management database (CMDB) that capture and maintain this information, along with interdependencies, are essential to gaining visibility into the infrastructure.

 

Capacity optimization is another discipline that facilitates consolidation. Solutions in this area are rapidly maturing, allowing for sophisticated capacity management that enables IT to balance computing resources with business requirements throughout the infrastructure.

 

Key benefits of capacity management include the ability to keep services performing and available 24×7. This includes lower costs through continuous monitoring, analysis, planning, and optimization across data centers. It also reduces the risk that stems from managing capacity based on the key performance indicators of the business.

 

There are also newer tools that are particularly exciting. RightStar has worked with several agencies that are piloting a data center performance management solution that focuses on environmental factors such as air conditioning and real estate. This type of solution can, for example, help identify components that are consuming large amounts of power. IT management can then make informed decisions about decommissioning devices or replacing them with smaller, more energy-efficient versions.

 

Consolidation is just one way that public sector I.T. organizations are trying to lower costs. Other cost-cutting objectives include moving to cloud computing, pursuing a “do more with less” strategy, seeking IT transformation of the organization, and establishing IT accountability measures. Many government agencies are discovering that IT service management processes and solutions can help them achieve these objectives.

 

To learn more, read Tackle the Top Five Public Sector I.T. Objectives with I.T. Service Management.”

 

About the Author

Dick Stark is president, CEO, and founder of RightStar. He has more than 25 years of experience in leading, building, and managing technology companies. During his career, he has also led and managed technical, consulting, and finance operations. Stark is a graduate of Stanford University and a Project Management Professional (PMP).

 

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For maximum return on data, organizations connect their business systems - both on the ground and in the cloud - into a single solution. After all, no software does not mean no integration. At a recent 20-minute webcast, BMC SaaS CIO Marc Ferrentino and Solutions Marketing Director Joe Schwartz discussed ways companies could tie together information to run a more effective IT service support operation.

 

 

IDENTIFY THE PEOPLE AND PROCESSES INVOLVED

First, map out the basic people-and-processes portion of the equation. You need to understand how processes are orchestrated and defined inside of the SaaS solution and inside of your business as a whole. Then think about how the data moves — the data definitions. Ask yourself, “How is the data represented in each system along the way? How do those systems message to each other?” Because SaaS is based on more modern technologies than legacy on-premise solutions, the “plumbing” portion of the equation is generally taken care of for you, typically in the form of Web Services.

 

LOOK AT HOW YOU ARE PROCESSING AND INTEGRATING DATA
You must understand the infrastructure of your own enterprise and know what you have. The main cost of integration isn’t just about connecting into the SaaS provider; it is also about exposing your existing legacy systems. For example, some CIOs invested in enterprise service bus or service-oriented architecture several years ago and have been reaping the benefits from that investment. If you already have the key services you require, along with the service bus, and you have defined the services, then integration with SaaS can happen very quickly. With SaaS, it’s really just a matter of how fast you can get the business people to agree upon the deployment date and the processes, and less about coding and deployment itself.

 

UNDERSTAND HOW SAAS FACILITATES EFFICIENT DELIVERY
Service delivery is really about focusing on the software and the service. Many parts of the stack are being handled for you by the vendor. One of the ways the vendor does that is by abstracting data services and other applications and services that you can link into, so you no longer have to focus on those services. It’s almost like imagining an integration project where one side of the integration is already very well defined, using the latest and greatest standards. At that point, all you have to worry about is whether the customer’s infrastructure works like yours. If so, the only key concern is to identify what objects you are passing back and forth between the two systems.

 

OVERCOME KEY CHALLENGES
With IT service management (ITSM) integration, you can expect to encounter the same integration challenges as you did with on-premise initiatives. With SaaS and on-premise models, you must deal with data definitions and processes. In the on-premise world, if some of the software is older, it may not have sufficiently defined interfaces. This creates challenges in terms of development and maintenance. Therefore, in the on-premise world, you would expect to do more of the heavy lifting yourself because you need to — in some cases, coding all the way down into challenging application programming interfaces (APIs). With SaaS, however, the providers offer a well-defined set of APIs, instead of interfaces, and a well-defined data dictionary. In the cloud, though, the challenges change. Outbound communications are straightforward because you are initiating the connection to the outbound of the enterprise into the SaaS solution. This can be achieved by setting up an https site for this connection to occur.  In the case of inbound communications from the SaaS solution calling into your enterprise, you basically have two choices: You can either create a polling service that is out periodically to the SaaS solution, or you can call into the enterprise from the SaaS solution, leveraging the client-side certification for authentication.

 

MAKE THE INTEGRATION STRATEGY CORPORATE-WIDE
It is important to have a corporate-wide integration strategy and support for integration built into your ITSM solutions. If you don’t have a good integration strategy and are not sure how integration is supported by the solution, the end result will be a lot of point-to-point, one-off implementations and one-off integrations. Over time, these one-offs turn into what looks like pure “spaghetti” thrown together. That haphazard approach to integration is difficult to maintain and update — and can cause you to lose some of the agility, efficiencies, and integration aspects of a SaaS solution.

 

Visit the BMC Remedy OnDemand portal for the latest product information.

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The adoption of SaaS-based service desks continues to skyrocket. But how do you know if this platform for IT service management (ITSM) is right for you?

 

Check out the new 20-minute webinar, "SaaS and Your IT Help Desk: The Perfect Partnership"

featuring BMC experts. Joe Schwartz, Director, Service Support Solutions, BMC Software,  and Marc Ferrentino, CTO of SaaS, BMC Software to learn about the realities of moving to SaaS.  

 

Find out how you can:

  • Improve your IT help desk with built-in best practices
  • Say goodbye to upgrades, hardware costs, and ongoing maintenance
  • Get instant access to new innovations and efficiencies

 

Discover why the core ITSM processes are the perfect fit for SaaS. Learn More... .

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There are many vendors today offering SaaS applications for IT management. That makes for a lot of product announcements, market noise, and confusion — and misconceptions.

 

Here are three common misconceptions and some advice on what to look for as you navigate the many choices.

1. All SaaS applications are created equal.

Not true.

Just as with traditional software, there are important considerations beyond basic capabilities and price. Important considerations include availability (which may be more critical in some industries than others), privacy, and security. Privacy and security may be critically important for businesses that are in regulated industries or that conduct business in Europe, where privacy regulations may require that data be housed in the country in which it is generated. In these two cases, larger, more established SaaS providers may be able to meet these requirements more cost-effectively.

2. SaaS applications are inherently less secure than on-premise solutions.

Again, not true.

Data that resides on an on-premise server may actually be less secure than data stored in a cloud application. Data on a local server can be hacked or can walk out the door on a thumb drive or a mobile phone. Data in SaaS applications typically is housed in off-premise data centers that are protected by high-grade firewalls, secure transport protocols, multitenancy technology, and enterprise-grade security. SaaS providers are in the business of providing service assurance, not just renting software capabilities; thus, they can usually provide better security and privacy than you could for yourself.

3. Moving to SaaS means sacrificing functionality and best practices.

Absolutely not true.

In fact, for many organizations, moving to SaaS may provide functionality and best practices that they could not have acquired cost-effectively any other way. With a good SaaS application for the IT help desk, businesses should not notice any difference in basic functionality. You are still getting the functionality in coded software that’s been developed, programmed, and continually improved over many years. It’s simply a different ownership model.

 

 

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From the Desk of  Marc Ferrentino, Chief Technology Officer, SaaS, BMC Software

 

IT organizations need to integrate cloud-based services with internal systems effectively in order to meet business priorities and deliver high-quality services. The best way to do this is with a corporate-wide integration strategy to help IT get the most out of the current SaaS offerings.

 

Here are some things to consider when developing your integration strategy.

 

1. Identify the People and Processes Involved

First, map out the basic people-and-processes portion of the equation. You need to understand how processes are orchestrated and defined inside of the SaaS solution and inside of your business as a whole. Then think about how the data moves — the data definitions. Ask yourself, “How is the data represented in each system along the way? How do those systems message to each other?” Because SaaS is based on more modern technologies than legacy on-premise solutions, the “plumbing” portion of the equation is generally takencare of for you, typically in the form of Web Services.

 

2. Look at How You Are Processing and Integrating Data

You must understand the infrastructure of your own enterprise and know what you have. The main cost of integration isn’t just about connecting into the SaaS provider; it is about exposing your existing legacy systems.

 

For example, some CIOs invested in enterprise service bus or service-oriented architecture several years ago and have been reaping the benefits from that investment. If you already have the key services you require, along with the service bus, and you have defined the services, then integration with SaaS can happen very quickly. With SaaS, it’s really just a matter of how fast you can get the business people to agree upon the deployment date and the processes, and less about coding and deployment itself.

 

3. Understand How SaaS FacilitatesEfficient Delivery

Service delivery is really about focusing on the software and the service. Many parts of the stack are being handled for you by the vendor. One of the ways the vendor does that is by abstracting data services and other applications and services that you can link into, so you no longer have to focus on those services.

 

It’s almost like imagining an integration project where one side of the integration is already very well defined, using the latest and greatest standards. At that point, all you have to worry about is whether the customer’s infrastructure works like yours. If so, the only key concern is to identify what objects you are passing back and forth between the two systems.

 

4. Overcome Key Challenges

With IT service management integration, you can expect to encounter the same integration challenges as you did with on-premise initiatives. With SaaS and on-premise models, you must deal with data definitions and processes. In the on-premise world, if some of the software is older, it may not have sufficiently defined interfaces. This creates challenges in terms of development and maintenance. Therefore, in the on-premise world, you would expect to do more of the heavy lifting yourself because you need to—in some cases, coding all the way down into challenging application programming interfaces (APIs).

 

With SaaS, however, the providers offer a well-defined setof APIs, instead of interfaces, and a well-defined data dictionary.

 

In the cloud, though, the challenges change. Outbound communications are straight forward because you are initiating the connection to the outbound of the enterprise into the SaaS solution. This can be achieved by setting up an https site for this connection to occur.

 

In the case of inbound communications from theSaaS solution calling into your enterprise, you basically have two  choices:

You can either create a polling service that is called out periodically to the SaaS solution, or you can call into the enterprise from the SaaS solution, leveraging the client-side certification for authentication.

 

Of course, you need to be concerned about security, as you are pushing data in and out of the enterprise into the SaaS solution. That’s why it’s important to determine whether you are comfortable opening up a firewall so that the SaaS provider can call directly into your enterprise. To address this concern, keep in mind that the firewall will accept requests only from a certain provider and a certain IP range, and you can use a cloud certification capability to handle the authentication portion. Another optionis to set up a virtual private network (VPN) connection between the SaaSprovider and your own infrastructure.

 

5. Make the Integration StrategyCorporate-wide

Cloud computing makes an enterprise-wide service integration strategy even more important than ever. Before the growth of SaaS, the need for an integration strategy was something that CIOs could put on the back burner, but the advent of cloud brings it to the forefront. As helpful as having both the enterprise service and the integration strategy can be, these can often beput on hold because of the challenge of obtaining funding. However, a focus on business priorities is important. CIOs and architects must make the case for anintegration strategy by aligning it with business initiatives.

 

--------------------------------

Marc Ferrentino, the chief technology officer of SaaS for BMC Software, is responsible for the SaaS strategy acrossa ll of the BMC product lines. Prior to joining BMC, he held several positions with Salesforce.com, including roles in R&D, customer success, sales, and enterprise strategy. His responsibilities have ranged from early-stage product development, evangelism, and helping develop Salesforce.com’s collaboration and platform strategic direction. Prior to Salesforce.com, he served as the vicepresident of Engineering at Vettro Corp and as vice president of Development atInternetCash.com. Over the course of his career, Ferrentino has also held technology positions at Goldman Sachs and Westinghouse/Cutler-Hammer. He holds a B.S. in electrical engineering from the University of Michigan and has participated in the M.A. of Statistics program at Columbia University.

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Need to prove the business value of your SaaS-based ITSM project? You don’t have to start from scratch!

 

Based on our 20+ years of ITSM experience, our new presentation template can help you outline the goals, motivations, and benefits of moving to SaaS.

Get a head start on your presentation by using our sample template.

 

Learn how to demonstrate:

  • End-user productivity gains
  • Service desk agent productivity and satisfaction
  • ITIL-based process improvement gains
  • Cost reductions from a SaaS deployment model

The template includes both real-world examples as well as “words of wisdom” of what’s worked for other IT organizations.

 

Sign up for immediate access today.

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We recommend Gartner’s report “Vendor Rating: BMC Software” for anyone considering a new ITSM solution– or adding functionality to an existing installation.

 

The report provides an expert 3rd party rating using Gartner’s well-defined methodology for rating IT vendors including: financial, strategy, and market offerings.

 

A few initiatives you’ll be interested in:

  • Financial - You likely chose your ITSM solution anticipating a vendor with solid financials that will be around for a long time.
    • How does Gartner think we’re doing?

 

 

  • Strategy - You expect solid performance and a clear vision from a company that demonstrates leadership within a complex and changing ITSM landscape.
    • Are we delivering?

 

 

  • Market Offerings - Will everything work well together? Are we building what you will need next?

 

 

Read the report today – and compare it with reports of other vendors you may be considering.

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Security is still among the most fretted over issues in SaaS.

 

For sure, integration, scalability, and some of the other issues we have addressed in this spot rank high, too. But taking care of your business data, not to mention your customers’ business data, will always be a key issues in any SaaS discussion.

 

This is especially true for ITSM. With the help desk intact, you are assured business software, devices and services are still running. Securely managing a wide range of service management tasks, however, such as help-desk calls, requests for services, security updates and user ID changes, can be tough.  And maintaining the hardware, software and storage required to run the ITSM system is not optimal use of staff, budget or time.

 

So what does BMC Remedy OnDemand offer in way of security? This nine-page whitepaper, "BMC’s Security Strategy for ITSM in the SaaS Environment," takes you through the details on how we protects your data both at-rest and in-flight.

 

Visit the BMC Remedy OnDemand portal for the latest product information.

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By now, you’ve probably heard that BMC is acquiring Numara Software. This is no small thing: Numara is the leading ITSM provider for the mid-market with more than 13,000 customers worldwide. They’ve got advanced technology, loyal customers, and smart employees. We’re happy to welcome them to the BMC family.

 

As a Remedy user, your question is probably, “So why do I care? What does this mean to me?”

 

From the day-to-day perspective, probably not a whole lot. Numara’s products allow us to offer ITSM solutions to a broad range of organizations, but since you’ve got Remedy already, you’re probably not evaluating FootPrints and Track-It!. (Feel free to check them out, though, they’re great products.)

 

What the Numara acquisition does mean, is that BMC is stronger than ever in the ITSM space.

It gives us more resources, more brainpower, and solidifies and extends our leadership.That means that you get more innovation, more support, and more security in your investments. All good stuff.

 

And what doesn’t it mean?

 

It certainly doesn’t mean that we’ve forgotten our roots. Our commitment to our Remedy customers remains as strong as ever. ITSM at BMC is built on Remedy. Continued innovation and growth means that we can give you an even better ITSM experience.

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Need to reduce complexity and establish a seamless, integrated process for IT Support?

Need to integrate IT with operational processes to drive resolution and customer service improvements?

 

IT Service Management covers a broad range of IT activities so it is important to clearly define your technology objectives, understand the type of environment that will best meet your needs, and develop a phased implementation approach that will ensure a successful outcome with minimal risk.

 

An IT Service Management Solution Planning Workshop helps with these goals.

 

A critical component of BMC’s prescriptive approach is the IT Service Management Solution Planning Workshop.

This one-to-three week activity will help you define and design a best-in-class IT service management architecture and roadmap for your organization.

 

Utilizing an interactive workshop format, our BMC consultants and architects will:

» Work with you to understand and refine your IT service management objectives

» Conduct a detailed review of best-in-class IT service management environments

» Review alignment with ITIL best practices

» Analyze your current tools and capabilities

» Detail requirements and model use cases for your IT servicemanagement deployment

» Define a phased roadmap with both near-term and long-termmilestones

» Perform a detailed gap analysis between your current and desired

 

At the end of the workshop you leave with a phased IT service management solution roadmap and use case design document focused on addressing the specific objectives, a project timeline, financial investment summary, and comprehensive risk and change readiness assessment. 

 

For More Information, please contact your BMC account manager.

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Marc Ferrentino, BMC's SaaS CIO, wrote in a recent whitepaper on cloud-based application integration that "with Software as a Service (SaaS), you are integrating an external service hosted by an external party with your internal systems. The SaaS integration is a matter of connecting the clouds and well articulated interfaces defining the data that is traveling back and forth. With the right integration strategy, SaaS integration can be simple, straightforward, and easy. Moreover, it can position your IT organization to effectively leverage SaaS and migrate from one SaaS solution to another to avoid vendor lock-in."

 

Marc will join Joe Schwartz of BMC solutions marketing on a 20-minute webcast Tuesday March 13 to discuss "The Truth About SaaS Help Desk Integration."

 

"When looking for a SaaS model for integrating what you already have in your enterprise," Marc wrote in the whitepaper, "focus on a proven vendor with a history of ITSM experience, one with a large customer base and development base. In the SaaS world, scale is a concern, and a vendor that has been proven with some of the world’s largest enterprises is one that will be able to scale for your business’s needs, both now and in the future. Make sure the vendor has a track record of handling large volumes of information and tickets. With ITSM, there are peaks and valleys in how a solution performs because so many human and automated systems are plugging into the API. Your vendor should be able to scale to match the volumes you require. Here are some things to consider when developing your integration strategy."

 

Register for the webcast or download the whitepaper to learn more.

 

Visit the BMC Remedy OnDemand portal for the latest product information.

Alf Abuhajleh

How to Buy SaaS

Posted by Alf Abuhajleh Mar 1, 2012
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While traditional business applications coast at single-digit growth, software-as-a-service sales are projected to expand 20% or more a year. Like most companies, you too have tried a web-based app. You get Cloud. So, what's next? To help, BMC CIO Mark Settle shares his ideas on what to consider when buying a SaaS app for your business.

 

Excerpt from You Believe in SaaS First.What’s Next?:

 

"1. Realistic Expectations

Many misunderstand SaaS as being application hosting services and feel they can customize the solutions when needed. SaaS should be treated as vendor-hosted-and-owned applications that are ready for use by users. The expectations going into a SaaS arrangement should be that the software cannot be customized. However, most SaaS solutions will allow customers to configure or brand the solution for their use.

 

2. Clear Business Objectives

It is important to have clearly articulated business objectives for acquiring SaaS services. What business requirements need to be addressed? Is reduction of expenditures the driver? Are you seeking to simplify the internal IT infrastructure? Clear business objectives will lead to better success in evaluating and selecting appropriate service providers and solutions.

 

3. Selection of First Project

Begin with a project that has clearly defined requirements and standardized processes. This first project should not involve a solution where data security and privacy are critical, and it shouldn't be a project with challenging infrastructure and support requirements.

 

4. Services Evaluation

When evaluating solutions, look beyond the hype. Ensure that the solution contains the functionality and features needed and that the solution and vendor are mature. Evaluate the scalability and flexibility of the solution for accommodating future growth. Depending on how critical the services will be to your business, assess the vendor’s operations for high availability, disaster recovery, and security. Finally, make sure the vendor’s services and fees are clear, easy to understand, and fair.

 

5. Integration

When considering external services, it is important to research how those services will integrate with the internal business processes and systems. Be prepared to change internal processes and technologies to enable use of SaaS.

 

6. Risk Mitigation

Risks should be identified and assessed as part of the vendor evaluations. Where services have been acquired, risks of the solutions should be identified and mitigation strategies put in place. For instance, how do you mitigate loss of connection to the vendor? Or how do you handle unauthorized disclosure of company information?

 

7. Performance Measurement

Establish key performance measurements that will be used to evaluate whether the business and IT objectives are being met. These will also be evaluated against the contracts and SLAs to determine compliance."

 

Read Mark Settle's white paper "You Believe in SaaS First.What’s Next?"

 

Visit the BMC Remedy OnDemand portal for the latest product information.

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In making a major purchase, such as for an automobile or a new home, do you make your decision impulsively, based on initial impressions and few facts, or do you thoroughly research the options first? When purchasing a car, you might consider the price, mileage per gallon (mpg), customer satisfaction surveys, professional reviews such as those published in Consumer Reports, and so on. In fact, you might spend a few days gathering information and data from across several sources. You might even crowd source the decision by asking friends on Facebook or Twitter about their experiences with various automakers.

 

Likewise, business decision making also must consider facts and data from disparate sources across the enterprise. Yet such data can be hard to gather and even harder to interpret, particularly in today’s hybrid IT environments. That’s where Business Services Management (BSM) comes in.

 

BSM in Today’s Hybrid IT Environments

The BSM platform integrates technology, processes, and people across the organization for service excellence. In cloud computing, BSM helps tie the cloud initiatives with the current legacy IT environment. As the organization matures, the legacy environment follows along seamlessly. This requires best practice adoption, as well as technology that adheres to best practices, such as solutions that enable BSM.

 

BSM also helps with decision support for cloud computing initiatives. With the growth of cloud computing, it is more important than ever to look at the organization from a holistic, collaborative perspective. The service knowledge management system (SKMS), for example, enables collaboration and business decision making across the organization. Think of SKMS as enterprise resource planning (ERP) for IT: It helps connect the pieces across process areas to provide the necessary data and tools for various business stakeholders to make decisions. It allows organizations to manage data from an integrated and collaborative perspective, translate collected data into information, transform information analytics into knowledge, and knowledge into stakeholder wisdom for decision making.

 

A System 1 and 2 Decision Making Perspective

Dashboards, monitoring tools and the resulting metrics can empower decision making from what might be called a System 2 thinking perspective, versus a System 1 thinking perspective.  Think of System 1 as based primarily on experiences and tribal knowledge: This is the way things happen. This is what I feel to be true. System 2 bases decisions on actual data and metrics. Combined with your industry experiences and the factual data available from the SKMS, you’re able to make better overall decisions as they relate to your specialized role in the organization for the services you deliver and support, as a team or as a company, rather than from an individual silo perspective.

 

Successful organizations that are efficient, have market effectiveness, and are profitable tend to be visionary, agile, and mission-driven. Success in service management enabled by BSM helps with increased organizational performance, longevity and overall organizational viability for service value. Success is riding on the critical leadership decisions made in today’s hyper-competitive business climate. Good decisions require well informed business leaders and supporting staff with access to complete pertinent information from across the enterprise. With BSM, IT can provide the business value necessary to drive even greater business success.

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Is your service desk focusing on performance or quality?

How do you know the difference?

 

Performance is all about high percentage targets including: average speed of answer, throughput and number of responses. 

 

Quality based organizations value continued improvement, accuracy, and customer satisfaction.

 

In a recent interview, Linda Butts, Senior IT Manager at BMC software reviewed the Metrics for Optimizing Service Desk Quality. Linda’s expertise comes from responsibilities over multiple BMC service centers including the Global Service Desk in Pune India, the Sales Concierge Desk in Houston, and with the Global ITIL Incident Management process.

 

So, I challenge you to answer... is your organization business oriented or success oriented?

And how does it measure up?

 

For more, I invite you to listen to the full podcast.

 

 

Comments, Questions, Feedback: bmc.com/podcasts

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