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More flexibility, agility, and collaboration: Why wouldn’t you move to HP Service Manager 9.31 ?

Since the release of HP SM 9.31, I have been meeting a lot of customers on various versions of HP Service Managers, some having made the move and some still looking at it in light of the need to execute on a number of agendas to boost the efficiency of their service desk operations, so I thought I would share with you my observations.

 

First thing first: What is SM 9.31 about?

When we introduced SM 9.30, we wanted to lay the foundation for a number of key improvements in HP SM in areas with major impact to the productivity or experience of the users of SM. 9.31 is an improvement of 9.30 in a few areas but is fundamentally an extension in the same directions.

 

Process agility and Process Designer

Perhaps the most important evolution in HP SM is the move towards having a codeless system, not requiring any development work but only using graphical and metadata-driven tools. This is what Process Designer allows, and I have articulated in many occasions our roadmap to deliver the entire process content of HP SM on Process Designer and we are well on our way, as the next block of processes (Helpdesk, or more precisely Interaction, Incident, Problem) is currently in beta testing (and, as a reader, you might be one of those beta users).

 

figure1.png

Figure 1: simple incident process

 

The benefits of Process Designer are multiple:

  • Codeless configuration removes the need to access specialized development profile every time you want to tune a process. Adding a step in Incident Management to take into account a particular type of incidents (e.g. Major incidents) used to take several days, it is now a matter of several minutes.
  • Graphical tools to define processes make the internal communication and training on the internal IT processes much simpler. What you need is just to take a snapshot of the process diagram.
  • Upgrade becomes much simpler: the way Process Designer content is structured makes it very simple to upgrade, segregating the content coming in the product form any extension of customization done by customers.

 

Ease of use and revamped self-service portal

Another important thing we did in SM 9.31 is to rewrite the end user self-service portal (a.k.a. SRC) to make it easier to use and more flexible to customize.

 

 figure2.jpg

Figure 2: Service Request Catalog

 

The key functions of the self-service portal are available from the new interface: service request, support request, subscription management, and knowledge search.

Oh, and did I mention that it is now available on tablets ?

 

Productivity and embedded collaboration

Another important enhancement brought in SM 9.31 is a collaboration tool directly integrated in the key processes of SM: Incident, problem and change management.

The topic of collaboration has been the subject of a lot of buzz and has been implemented by a number of service desk vendors in the form of a group chat-like tool. While this is of interest, our view is that this approach does not bring much added value compared to the classical scenario of opening in the morning a big chat session with all the members of the assignment group. Instead, our belief is that the collaboration should be made possible in a contextual way (in the context of an incident or change) and stored in that way. This is what we introduced in SM 9.31.

 

Improved performance and reliability

SM 9.31 has been the subject of some important test harnessing and subsequent rewrite of a number of areas of the product, leading to very substantial improvements in performance and reliability of the product. On load tests of 2,500 concurrent users, we have been able to measure improvement of the response time between 20% and 48% between SM 9.20 and 9.30, and with the continued efforts in SM 9.31, we measured about 20% improvement between SM 9.30 and SM 9.31.

As we see the number of users increasing in our customers, we conducted some very substantial load tests and now have a very detailed benchmark and associated sizing guide for 10,000 concurrent users (!).

 

What do customers say about it?

A constant theme I have heard from customers is that SM 9.30 (and even more 9.31) is dramatically changing the experience in a number of areas that had become pain points over the years:

  • For those customers who are making extensive use of the customization of the Change Management process, I heard from one of those in a customer roundtable that the move from Process Designer was “similar to the move from candlelight to electricity” considering the quantum leap in terms of productivity in the definition and modification of IT processes, in particular for Change Management which tends to be the most customized process unlike, say, incident management.
  • With 9.31, although we continue to make improvements in it, it is now very clear from the strong adoption of the 9.31 version of SRC that we are now triggering the move from the Employee Self-Service (ESS) to SRC and that the experience is very positive. Maybe one of the coolest pieces of feedback I received on SRC 9.31 is that one referring to the end user experience of an employee using the new SRC:

“without phoning a friend or taking any shortcuts, I went to Google search and quickly found the IT Services portal. From there it was easy to find and request all I wanted. Was I just lucky? Because it looked good and easy to me.”

 

  • Lastly, in addition to all the tests and qualification we did internally in terms of performance and reliability, it is always better to hear that from customers. And this is where we are now getting some strong feedback as well, not only by means of reduced support calls, but also in terms of performance and reliability:

“I have downloaded and installed the web client 9.31 and have noticed that the performance with this version is better than 9.21. Moreover, the web client in 9.31 is faster than the Eclipse client. I was nicely surprised.”

 

Finally, should you upgrade?

I hope that the list of improvements listed above is a great motivation to upgrade to the latest version of SM. However, I am also sensitive to the upgrade process. This is something for which we have brought major enhancements and have now upgrade assessment tools and upgrade tools to take customers in SM 7.11 or SM 9.21 versions and upgrade them to SM 9.31 is a much simpler way than was ever possible before.

We also delivered the entire content of Process Designer in a way that is completely modular and backwards compatible, hence giving the possibility to upgrade without having to touch the customized processes and move those processes to Process Designer at a later stage.

 

So hopefully, the answer will be a resounding ‘yes!’.

 

The best way to start the process is to run an upgrade assessment, using a tool we created especially for that purpose, who analyzes your HP SM installation and identifies the upgrade work to move to HP SM 9.31. You can do it by yourself, but it’s probably a good idea to get some help from HP SM deployment experts such as HP Professional Services Organization or some accredited HP partners.

In any case, you would most certainly get benefits from starting by visiting the HP Service Manager page.

 

Whether you have already upgraded or are considering it, I would be happy to read your comments on those improvements.

 

Jacques Conand

HP SPM Product Management Director

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About the Author
Jacques Conand is the Director of ITSM Product Line, having responsibility for the product roadmap of several products such as HP Service Ma...
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