In this article, I would like to take the conversation one layer deeper to explore the single most important question that you should ask yourself when evaluating SaaS ITSM software vendors. This one question can be considered the "sun" in a "solar system" of Cloud ITSM SaaS vendor questions: How does this Cloud ITSM SaaS vendor lower my overall risk?
When it comes to cloud solutions, mitigating risk is of the utmost importance and can be the single defining factor on whether or not a solution makes it onto your short list. It’s the central theme in which all your other evaluation questions revolve, and connect to in some way. Let's break this question down into multiple criteria areas that will assist you in evaluating SaaS ITSM software vendors:
In his aforementioned article, Stephen Mann asks that you test the vendor's knowledge of things like the ITSM market, competitive landscape, and best practices. This speaks to the vendor's market experience and can tell you a lot about the length of time they have been in the Cloud ITSM space. Amount of experience can be a key indicator of the level of risk. Think about it this way: If you had to go into surgery, and you were trying to select the best surgeon to do the job, wouldn't his or her level of experience be the first criteria for their qualification to perform the surgery?
The amount of time the "vendor" has been in their profession has a direct effect on the level of risk you take on when selecting to work with them. It is by learning lessons over time, investing in sound solutions to discovered problems, and not repeating past mistakes that makes experience so valuable. It's no different with an ITSM SaaS vendor. Make sure they have the "scars" from years of experience to prove they truly are one of the best in their field and can provide the lowest risk option for you.
Mr. Mann also touches on the vendor's "motivation" for offering a SaaS or Cloud solution. He recommends asking what prompted the vendor to originally release its SaaS or Cloud offering, and their motivation for continuing to sell it. Basically, did they release it as a reaction to other vendors releasing their offerings? Or to be a leader in this market? Are they continuing to invest in it and, if so, how do these investments improve the customer experience and reduce overall risk?
You should be considering what level of investment the vendor is making in cloud management staff and technology, as well as continuous security and compliance improvements. Understanding the vendor's commitment, and the commitment made by the vendor's service providers or 3rd party partners, is significant. Investing in FTEs and a higher standard of compliance within the vendor organization itself should supplement any staff and policy investments their service providers or partners (such as Microsoft or Amazon) are making in the same areas. Staff expertise, technology investment, and dedication to a higher level of security and internal policies are key concepts when trying to limit the risk of security breaches, outages, and weak service.
Lastly, Stephen Mann brings up the vendor's focus on consumerization, simplicity, and ease of use. You want your ITSM SaaS software vendor to develop their product for the cloud and to keep up with advances in technology and user experience. But, developing for the cloud doesn't just include product code. It also deals with building a product around principles like consistency and availability, as the vendor is also hosting and supporting this product 24/7. A customer's ability to view system availability data and access support when needed is a part of the product offering and should be managed as such.
Once again, this is important when looking for a low-risk solution. Just because your Cloud ITSM vendor is responsible for the availability, security, and performance of your system does not mean you should remain in the dark. You must be sure that you can trust the vendor to provide you with access to this vital information in real-time, as opposed to basic recurring reports. You also want to know that you can trust vendor support to do what they can to limit your exposure to harmful system issues and communication bottlenecks.
It all boils down to risk
When evaluating ITSM SaaS vendors, you must select a provider that you trust to deliver on vital selection criteria. But, all selection criteria can ultimately roll-up to risk. Modern user experience, datacenter security, overall platform power, etc. are extremely important and, in some way, can all tie back to – you guessed it – risk!
So, when evaluating your current or prospective Cloud ITSM vendors, be sure to ask yourself throughout the process, what's our risk? Not unlike how risk is evaluated in change management, tie a risk score to all evaluation criteria and vendor questions to put a weight to them. You may just sleep better at night knowing that in addition to all the feature demos, customer references, and vendor meetings you’ve attended and vetted through, you’ve also done your due diligence when it comes to evaluating for the lowest-risk choice.
Justin has over 10 years of experience in the IT industry including roles in IT support, IT operations and technology sales and marketing. He has spent the last several years in the ITSM field developing expertise in Service and Asset Management, among other passion subjects such as Agile Methodology and Software Integrations. Outside of work, Justin spends all of his time with his family, improving his golf game and rooting for his favorite college and professional sports teams.
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