10 top enterprise service management systems—and how to choose

10 top enterprise service management systems—and how to choose

Enterprise service management (ESM) is the practice of applying IT service management (ITSM) principles and capabilities to improve service delivery in non-IT parts of an organizations, including human resources, legal, marketing, facilities, and sales. ESM aims to make it easier and more efficient for companies to deliver and support employee services.

ITSM was designed to automate the delivery of IT services a company provides to its end users and handle large amounts of IT requests quickly and efficiently—for example, when workers use their organizations’ portals to request new laptops or have their passwords reset. This is the same capability ESM applies to non-IT services.

An enterprise service management system enables any business unit to efficiently provide its own services. Examples of ESM include employees using portals and apps to request time off, ask for copies of their pay stubs, or apply for new positions in their companies.

Automating various aspects of service delivery allows companies to support customer and employee needs more quickly and more consistently, according to Susan Salgy, owner of consultancy WebWise Solutions LLC.

“The main benefits from a business point of view are that you can get more work out of your current workforce because [ESM] automates and simplifies manual processes,” Salgy says. “Sometimes [ESM] uses AI and machine learning to super speed up processes. And it also keeps your customer requests and employee requests for service from falling between the cracks.”

Additionally, ESM breaks down the barriers between services that are siloed in various business units since all employees have access to the information and the tools they need to be productive, Salgy says.

Take onboarding a new employee for example, HR and IT have to work together closely to complete a number of steps—steps that can be manual and error-prone.

With ESM, there’s a coordinated approach between the departments that details a consistent workflow to bring the new worker into the system, Salgy says. Then the facilities department receives an alert that it needs to set up a new workspace, and IT is notified that it needs to ensure the worker has a new laptop and access to the network. Since all these steps are automated, there is a consistent sequence in place that ensures nothing slips through the cracks.

“This also leads to better communication and improved collaboration, which is especially beneficial for remote or hybrid workforces,” she says.

In addition, having these standard procedures and consistent rules across the business can result in a better experience for individual employees and teams. Workers who use a self-service portal along with a knowledge management database and an ESM system will spend less time searching for information and more time doing more productive work.

Companies that want to adopt enterprise service management should look for tools that offer portals and workflows for HR, finance, legal, facilities, and many other functions. In addition, ESM tools should enable organizations to standardize service delivery across the business, enhance service delivery outside of IT, improve the user experience outside of IT, as well as increase service and support performance.

When companies select enterprise service management systems, they should look for advanced features as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and predictive analytics. However, the capabilities one organization needs may be different from those another company may need, says Eveline Oehrlich, research director, Research in Action GmbH.

“It really depends on the maturity of these organizations and where they are,” she says. “Some organizations have different priorities in enterprise service management, meaning some are already very far along in the employee workflows they’re doing,” she said.

Some are looking at HR, legal, and facilities, which means the integration into existing processes is essential for them. Others might just be at the edge and come from IT service management into enterprise service management, and they will have different needs.

“So for them, the capabilities necessary might be security, compliance and governance, regulations,” Oehrlich says. “So it’s really difficult to say what the key capabilities are.”

But they all have to have some way to centralize, integrate, optimize, and enable the innovation of these enterprise services across the organization and the business functions, she adds.

“There needs to be some kind of a digitalization happening, meaning paperwork needs to be replaced through automation,” Oehrlich says. “And there should be some capability around standardization of processes and workflows, meaning almost like a create once, use multiple times.”

In general, organizations should look for tools that include the following capabilities:

Intelligent automation: simplifies complex processes and modernizes workflows throughout the enterprise.

Smart search: to help workers find answers quickly and easily.

Custom workflows and approval processes: toenable teams from across the enterprise to create standardized, scalable, and repeatable service delivery practices, ensuring that stakeholders stay informed and can offer feedback.

Self-service tools: Self-service portals help automate cross-functional business processes, such as onboarding employees. A self-service knowledge base offers publicly accessible answers and services through tailored views and allows access by all employees. When a user begins to submit a ticket, the knowledge base should recommend articles with pertinent information. Organizations can also give their customers self-service tools so they can keep tabs on the status of their orders or requests. These improve the transparency of the processes and increase operational efficiency.

Ability to access the ESM portal 24/7/365: Every employee and customer should be able to access the information they need in the ESM portal from any device and at any time.

There are numerous enterprise service management systems on the market. To help you begin your research, here are some of the top products, listed alphabetically, based on independent research and discussions with analysts.

Organizations can use Jira Service Management for a variety of departments, such as legal, human resources, finance, marketing, and sales. Built on Jira, this tool allows users to manage requests across teams, all on a single platform. Jira Service Management provides a self-service portal to enable customers and employees to quickly get the help they need. This tool offers an integrated service management platform that allows operations, development, and business teams to better collaborate, track work across the enterprise, and quickly respond to business changes.

Who it’s for: Jira is well suited for enterprises that want an integrated service management platform for operations, development, and business teams.

Pricing: Jira Service Management has four pricing editions: Free for three users; Standard, $20 per user per month; Premium, $45 per user per month; and Enterprise for 201 or more users, pricing is available on request.

A cloud-based tool, Freshworks’ IT service management tool Freshservice, is not just for IT departments but for non-IT teams as well, including finance, HR, facilities, travel, legal, and more. Freshservice eliminates manual processes and repetitive tasks, enhancing service efficiency using no-code workflows and automations. Freshservice allows organizations to streamline service management across all lines of business by offering service experiences over a unified platform for enhanced visibility and efficiency.

Who it’s for: Freshservice is well suited for small and midsize companies looking to build or improve their ESM practices.

Pricing: Freshworks offers four pricing plans: Starter (for those just starting out with ESM), $19 per user per month, billed annually; Growth (for growing businesses), $49 per user per month, billed annually; Pro ITSM + ITOM + project management for large organizations, $89 per user per month, billed annually; and Enterprise (service management solution for enterprises), $109 per user per month, billed annually.

IFS Assyst expands the scope of ITSM by automating routine processes to make it easier for service owners in every team across the enterprise, including facilities management, finance, HR, sales, marketing, travel, and admin, to create new digital services. Assyst enables every employee in the enterprise to collaborate, research new tools, and find information to help them with their work. With Assyst, employees can use a low-code method to develop service management workflows for each business function, including sales, marketing, HR, and IT.

Who it’s for: Organizations using IFS enterprise resource planning or customer relationship management products or that want to connect their ERP processes with service management would benefit from Assyst.

Ivanti ESM is an automated, software-as-a-service-based platform that offers organizations a full suite of service management tools. Powered by Ivanti Neurons, Ivanti ESM leverages machine learning and artificial intelligence to enhance support and deliver improved employee experiences. Ivanti ESM lets companies resolve issues before users report them—issues self-heal before users notice them. It also helps departments across the enterprise operate more efficiently by automating and streamlining repetitive tasks. Ivanti ESM improves employee satisfaction by providing more self-service opportunities via multiple channels. Ivanti Neurons for HR streamlines the employee onboarding process, which is managed through a single point of contact, by automating employee hardware, software, and application requests. This saves time for HR, facilities, and IT, in addition to providing an organized, accurate picture of resources in real time.

Available on-premises or in the cloud, ManageEngine Service Desk Plus enables companies to manage service delivery across various business functions, including HR, administration, finance, and facilities, from a single platform. Service Desk Plus standardizes service delivery for business teams within minutes and enables companies to customize common portals so users can access different service desks. Enterprises can manage all their service desks and users from a central console. And they can configure business rules and visual workflows for each business function to standardize service delivery.

Who it’s for: ManageEngine Service Desk Plus is well suited to small to midsize businesses that want a comprehensive IT management ecosystem.

Pricing: Pricing for the on-premises version (billed annually): Standard, IT help desk, starts from $120 per user; Professional, IT help desk + asset, starts from $248 per user; Enterprise, IT help desk + asset + change + projects, starts from $548 per user. Pricing for the cloud version: Standard, starts from $10 per user per month; Professional, starts from $21 per user per month; Enterprise, starts from $50 per user per month.

Matrix42 ESM allows organizations to standardize and manage all their IT and non-IT processes and services. The Matrix42 self-service portal allows employees to access all IT and non-IT services in just a few clicks. Based on ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library) best practices, Matrix42 ESM helps facilitate organizations’ service and support processes in IT, enabling the business to quickly becomes standardized and more professional—whether it relates to application deployment, employee onboarding, hardware, or enterprise services.

Who it’s for: Matrix42 is suited for organizations looking to adopt ESM as well as endpoint management, software asset management, and IT management automation.

With Micro Focus SMAX, organizations can extend service delivery beyond IT with a single integrated self-service portal. This tool includes smart virtual agents with embedded machine learning, social collaboration options, as well as natural language search. Using insights gleaned from machine learning and analytics, SMAX resolves issues more quickly and stops incidents from recurring. SMAX also increases worker productivity by automating IT and non-IT workflows, processes, and tasks.

Who it’s for: Micro Focus SMAX works well for current Micro Focus customers as well as organizations that want to take advantage of IT service delivery enabled by machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Built on the Now platform, ServiceNow ESM is an IT and enterprise service management platform that includes products that allow organizations to automate repetitive processes in various business units, including human resources, information technology, and customer service. ServiceNow brings company-wide processes together in the cloud. This tool provides help desk tickets, onboarding processes, and self-service portals. It also allows employees to customize performance analytics, identify and resolve security threats, and more. ServiceNow enables well-defined roles and responsibilities across different business units, as well as automated workflows, and centralized support, enabling employees to provide fast, efficient, and personalized support to customers.

Who it’s for: ServiceNow is a good choice for larger enterprise looking to fully adopt enterprise service management.

TOPdesk offers ESM software for the service desks of companies of all sizes that can be used by such departments as IT, HR, and facilities. This cloud-based software lets service teams work together to process requests from a single platform. With customer support streamlined across the business, organizations can communicate better, solve problems faster, and offer more value to their customers. With its combination customer portal, service catalog, and knowledge base, TOPdesk’s users can quickly find what they need, when they need it. And the self-service portal cuts down on repeat calls to the service desk. With TOPdesk, new employees have access to the information they need to begin delivering great services immediately.

USU ESM, which is available on-premises or as a service, is based on the same technology as USU IT Service Management. USU ESM offers a standard set of methods and tools to enable companies to provide efficient services across all business units, including HR, facilities, corporate services, legal, and more. For example, USU ESM supports HR with a variety of standardized HR service processes out of the box, some of which are fully automatic, including managing employment status, and requesting job references. And with USU ESM, facility management can provide digital services with the same quality as the IT department does, including answering questions, processing requests, and resolving disruptions.

Who it’s for: This tool works well for companies that want to implement a service management and an asset management solution, including industrial organizations.

One of the important things to remember when selecting ESM software is to never believe a vendor that says, “We can do it all,” advises Oehrlich.

“Enterprise service management is a journey; it’s not a destination,” she says. “And with that journey there needs to be a strategy and that strategy has to have metrics.”

The challenge is that many organizations believe that just because they buy the tools, they automatically have enterprise service management, but that’s not the case. As Oehrlich puts it,  “If I go and buy myself a cookbook and I have a kitchen, that still doesn’t make me a chef.”

Organizations should also pay close attention to licensing costs, says Will McKeon-White, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc. “Depending on the organization, they can run up pretty hefty costs,” he says. “For example, if you’re pursuing an ESM with all of your users named, that can probably run up a very high cost. So, you have to have a business case in place beforehand.”

Implementation costs can also be pretty high because organizations often have to turn to professional services firms to get the systems online, McKeon-White adds.

“To get built out, depending on the maturity of the organization, those costs can usually run higher than expected,” he says. “One way to avoid high implementation costs is to avoid customizing the software.”

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