Microsoft Dynamics: 10 Ways ITIL®-Backed ITSM Solutions Are Different Than Microsoft Dynamics® 365 Customer Service—Case Management
To the untrained ear, IT Service Management (ITSM) and Case Management seem a lot alike. They are both disciplines that incorporate processes to deal with customer service. They both handle incidents (called “cases” in case management). They both even tend to have processes in place for meeting Service Level Agreements. One might be led to believe that with a few tweaks to a Case Management solution, they’re practically interchangeable. Except they’re not.
Even though our ITIL®-backed ITSM products run in a Dynamics 365 environment, just like Microsoft Dynamics® 365 Customer Service—Case Management does, there’s a lot of difference between the two. In fact, no matter whether you look at our ITSM products, or other ITIL®-backed ITSM solutions, you’ll find capability differences, and therefore differences in the benefits that they produce. Understanding these differences will help you to know which solution is best for you. In this blog post, we outline 10 ways ITIL®-backed ITSM solutions are different than Microsoft Dynamics® Customer Service—Case Management.
IT Best Practices and Processes Form the Foundation of ITIL-Backed ITSM Solutions
Perhaps we’re stating the obvious here, but Microsoft Dynamics® 365 Case Management doesn’t leverage ITIL® based best practices and processes. Why does that matter? ITIL, also known as the Information Technology Infrastructure Library, has been making recommendations for decades on how to better align IT to the needs of a business.
ITIL defines processes, procedures, tasks and checklists for IT to deliver more efficient and effective services and strategy. This, of course, helps IT to do just that. When you implement an ITIL-backed ITSM solution, you can rest assured that you’re not reinventing the wheel, wasting time and energy learning from the mistakes already made by others. An ITIL-backed ITSM solution ensures your service desk is following best practices and handling standard IT action items following processes that are already known to work.
Microsoft Dynamics 365 Case Management has a much more free-form way of handling cases, leaving service desk agents to resolve cases in whichever way they see fit (of course, they likely have company policies they must comply with, but Microsoft Dynamics 365 Case Management lacks standardization and categorization (more on this later)). In some companies, this might be a better way to handle issues or complaints, but for the vast majority of IT departments, who must deliver complex IT services, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Case Management doesn’t contain a backbone of best practices and processes in which IT can and should rely upon.
ITSM Solutions Understand IT is in the Business of Providing Services
As a rule of thumb, it’s always best to go with a solution that understands your business and needs—as much as you do. ITSM solutions understand that IT has to not only deliver services, but these services can be impacted by the availability of related services. A problem or a change with a specific service can, in turn, impact the availability of other services. An example of this is where multiple incidents are reported from different customers, but all related to the same shared service or Configuration Item (CI).
This is why ITIL®-backed ITSM solutions contain best practices for problem management and change management. Managing problems or changes are very important for the smooth running of IT. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Case Management, on the other hand, is really built to deal with single issues. Sometimes these issues can be related, and so there is a way to associate cases with other cases, but the insight IT needs to recognize when an issue is actually a problem, or when that issue is already a known problem, well, that detection capability is missing. Knowing how issues impact other issues, problems, and services, helps IT to resolve issues faster and more cost-effectively.
It’s More Than Just Tickets—ITSM Solutions Recognize Incidents, Service Requests and Change Requests.
Incidents, service requests and change requests have different goals and therefore, need different processes to achieve those goals successfully and as quickly as possible. So why would you want a “one size fits all” solution? That is how you’d have to treat these ticket types within Microsoft Dynamics 365 Case Management. ITIL-backed ITSM Solutions help IT ensure they treat problems, service requests and change requests differently, because they are different. They have different needs, different approvals, and different processes for resolving or completing them. It is much more cost-effective if IT follows a proven process for treating each type of issue, rather than treating them all as a “case”. This also instills confidence in your service desk agent because they have a proven process they can rely on to do their job well.
In addition, if you have any Service Level Agreements (SLAs) in place, it’s likely, for example, that the expected response to an incident is different than the expected response to a service request. Since everything in Microsoft Dynamics 365 Case Management would have to be categorized as a case, there wouldn’t be a way to differentiate these ticket types to fulfill different SLAs terms.
ITSM Solutions Include Problem Management Because in Real Life There Are Always Problems
Imagine a scenario in which a person calls up your service desk and says, “I can’t access the internal documentation on the portal.” As the service desk agent is looking into the situation, another person emails the service desk, and writes, “I can’t get to the internal documentation, is the site down?”
If your IT department is using Microsoft Dynamics 365 Case Management, those incidents will likely be treated and handled separately as there’s no way to tell that 100 people are contacting you about the same issue. At most, one might recognize there might be a deeper problem at play here, and then you can associate a couple of cases together. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Case Management doesn’t really have problem detection capabilities. Moreover, problems tend to need multiple people or even teams involved to resolve them and Microsoft Dynamics 365 Case Management doesn’t have a natural process to track who’s involved and what’s happening, therefore impeding and likely delaying problem resolutions.
In ITIL-backed ITSM solutions, problem management is its own process, making it easy to turn incidents into problems when necessary, to track the who, what and where, and recognize when an incident is not just an incident, but is part of a much larger problem. Once that occurs, you can generally employ tactics to deflect new tickets being created, create knowledgebase articles or work arounds for known issues, and perform much better root-cause analysis—speeding up a resolution and implementing preventative measures—all of which helps to reduce the workload on IT, ensuring your precious IT resources aren’t wasting time trying to organize and understand that there is a problem, rather than just resolving them.
ITSM Solutions Leverage Standardization, Categorization and Repetitive Processes
Implementing standardization, categorization and repetitive processes whenever possible makes the delivery of IT services more cost-effective. Within most ITIL-backed ITSM solutions, these concepts are employed. For our own ITSM solutions, every ticket type has a business process flow that guides the agents through a series of steps to complete. There is some level of flexibility allowed, but overall, the business process flows standardize the information collected, categorize the tickets so the right info is collected for the right ticket type, and no matter what agent works on the ticket or no matter when the ticket is received, the process is repetitive, and so tickets are handled more efficiently.
Ticket Templates & Service Catalogs are other features that most ITIL-backed ITSM solutions have for standardization and categorization. Ticket templates ensure certain information is gathered from the end-user before the ticket is submitted and the process of resolution is kicked off. Same goes for Service Catalogs, with users having to choose the services from those that are available.
In addition, standardization and categorization lends itself to measurement and accountability. Once everything is being done in a way that’s quantifiable, you get a better picture of what’s happening in order to optimize processes and hold people accountable.
On the other hand, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Case Management has more of a free-form for opening and closing cases. Although one can employ some standardization and categorization, for example categorizing a case as a product or problem, it’s far more limited and less able to associate cases to other issues or services, leading to tunnel vision for IT.
Built-In Automation Makes ITSM Solutions Soar Above the Rest
Great IT service teams know that automating frequent, repetitive and simple tasks is the way to go for greater productivity, reliability, availability, increased performance and cost-effectiveness. Which is why most ITIL-backed ITSM solutions have some built in automation capabilities. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Case Management also lets you leverage automation through Power Automate, The only draw back is that you have to implement all the automations and create them from scratch.
Our ITSM solutions have built-in automation capabilities, including Automation Streams (which lets you automate long running workflows). Many of our customers also deploy Power Automate to connect and automate items between Microsoft and non-Microsoft solutions. We believe so much in the power of the Microsoft Power Platform, that we engineered ServiceTeam ITSM to let our customers easily leverage Power Automate even within long-running Automation Streams. As a rule of thumb, it’s always better to buy then to build (read our post on 7 reasons it’s better), and the same holds true for automations. If you can leverage pre-built ones that will make your delivery of IT services run more efficiently and effectively, why start from scratch?
ITSM Solutions Help IT Manage Software Releases and There Are Always Lots of Software Releases
Whether you are an MSP, or an ISV, SI or CSP, or a Microsoft Customer, you want to be able to track software and/or service updates and releases, including what interrelates with what, what bug fixes are needed to be worked on, or even what new features you’re going to implement.
Microsoft Dynamics 365 Case Management doesn’t have the capability to allow you to manage software releases. Our ITSM solutions include Release Management, which lets IT facilitate internal and external communications as well as stay organized with regard to software updates and deployments throughout the various stages and environments. Our ITSM solutions also integrate with Microsoft Azure DevOps and Jira, which helps break down the silos between development and service teams.
ITSM Solutions Understand In-Depth Metrics Important to IT
As we mentioned earlier, it’s usually better to go with a software solution that understands your business as much as you do. ITSM solutions understand the in-depth metrics important to IT such as who’s working on what ticket, how long has the ticket been open or on hold, has the SLA been breached, or even did we successfully meet the SLA and so on. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Case Management also includes some good measurement capabilities, but ITSM solutions tend to not just let you measure success and failure, but all the important stuff in between, which can help you optimize how your service desk is running. Our ServiceTeam ITSM solution includes numerous out-of-the-box Power BI reports that give insight and answer common questions for service desk managers and other stakeholders. You can also create your own customized Power BI reports for your particular business needs.
Simplicity Seizes the Day with Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Service—Case Management
There’s no question that Microsoft Dynamics 365 Case Management is much more simple to use, since it really has only one way of doing things (even if it’s a free-form style) and limited capabilities—which may actually be all that you need. If, for example, you are clothing retail store and you have a call center to deal with customer complaints, there’s only so many issues that a customer could perhaps call you with and so it’s more efficient to use a solution such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 Case Management to deal with these customer issues. But for IT, their world is far more complex. And rather than trying to customize Microsoft Dynamics 365 Case Management to work for IT, we believe it will likely be easier to find an ITIL-backed ITSM solution that will fit your needs.
Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Service—Case Management is One Part of a Platform Solution
One of the greatest benefits of Microsoft Dynamics 365 Case Management is that it’s part of the Microsoft Power Platform. It integrates easily with other Microsoft business and management solutions. Most ITL-backed ITSM solutions, of course, are not part of the Microsoft Power Platform. Which is where our ITSM solutions come in. Many of the organizations that we work with are looking to consolidate their apps to find efficiencies, reduce costs, reduce data and effort duplication, and generate more revenue. Our flagship ITSM solution, ServiceTeam ITSM, is a Power App that runs in either Dynamics 365 or Power Apps environments, and lets our customers leverage Microsoft technology for ITSM, so they get the benefits of both worlds.
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