When it comes to ITSM toolset buying, money is being wasted and disappointment is rife. Eddie Potts of Pink Elephant UK says we must face an inconvenient truth about ITSM toolset selection to change the situation.

The decision to procure or subscribe to a new IT Service Management (ITSM) tool invariably involves a significant investment.  Such a purchasing decision should be treated like any other significant business investment, yet experience suggests that with regards to ITSM tool selection the normal rules of good practice are often unheeded. 

Although there is no consensus upon the actual frequency, industry analysts concur that on average organisations replace their IT Service Management far too readily.  Research authority, Gartner suggests the frequency is every five years with other analysts putting the number as every two years.  Whatever the actual number, the number is far too low for organisations to ensure a satisfactory Return on Investment.

Research argues that a key contributory factor for this is that organisations often lack a vision and supporting ITSM improvement road maps, which baseline the current state and outline the people, processes and technology resources required to reach the desired state. 

In the absence of a vision and roadmap, organisations typically fall into one of two traps.  They either procure tools that either

  • Possesses more capabilities and functionality than the organisation is prepared to utilise and therefore incur unnecessary costs.


  • Lack the capabilities or integration abilities needed as the organisation matures its processes. 

Our experience strongly supports this research together with the related observation that all too often solutions are selected and implemented without sufficient heed to the disparate stakeholders needs within an organisation.

Pink Elephant’s own experience supports this assertion together with related observations:

  • Solutions are selected and implemented without sufficient heed to the disparate stakeholders functional and non-functional requirements
  • The implementation of the ITSM tool is not seen as a “means to an end”, but as an “end in itself”.  ITSM tool implementations are often treated as a “tool implementation” project without due regard to the critical people and process requirements and considerations necessary for optimum ITSM.  The implementation of a new tool likely involves organisational change and as such should be recognised and treated with the appropriate consideration
  • Organisations often circumvent procurement good practice when undertaking ITSM tool selection and procurement exercises
  • Organisations lack the specialist capability and resources to enable the effective selection, procurement, design, implementation and maintenance of ITSM solutions
  • ITSM solutions are often poorly implemented.  Numerous examples exist of perfectly good ITSM tools having been poorly implemented and maintained; and having to be replaced with alternative solutions as stakeholders irreversibly lost faith with the initial solution. 

Paradoxically it is often the ITSM profession, those that “ought to know better”, that are often the living embodiment of the metaphor “a fool with a tool is still a fool”.

Industry analysts concur that on average organisations replace their IT Service Management far too readily.

The challenge is compounded as the ITSM tools market is increasingly crowded, complex and dynamic.  In 2015 the estimated value of the proprietary ITSM tool market was $2.2 billion compared with $1.8 billion in 2014. In 2014 the ITSM tool market had around 400 vendors compared to 2016 when the number grew to over 450 vendors.

In addition to vendor offerings it is recognised that there are over 85 open source and freeware solutions, which analysts increasingly recognise as viable options for organisations. 

In short, selection of an ITSM tool is a complex decision!

Guest post by:
Eddie Potts, Pink Elephant UK

Eddie Potts

Eddie Potts is principal IT service management consultant at Pink Elephant UK.

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