Improve your service levels and response times by integrating your systems from different vendors.
I wanted to start this blog with a few questions for you: Are your ITSM users getting dizzy from “Swivel Chair” syndrome? Have you come across “Swivel Chair” practices in your own organisation? Did you know you can integrate systems from different vendors to fix this problem?
According to expert Vangie Beal of Webopedia, the term “Swivel Chair” is slang for a common interface work-around that involves manually entering data into one system and then entering the same data into another system. The term is derived from the practice of the user turning from one system to another using a swivel chair.
“While it starts as a work-around, Swivel Chair practices become business-as-usual because integration is ‘just too difficult’.”
The Swivel Chair effect is, in my opinion, very inefficient. Data must be entered multiple times and is therefore prone to human error by its nature. In my experience, it’s a major cause of frustration to ITSM managers and users alike. I have often seen Swivel Chair practices being used to double-enter ticket information, CI’s, CMBD data, automation instructions, AD, SAP, SharePoint information and e-mail, as well as countless bespoke apps. While it starts as a work-around, Swivel Chair practices become business-as-usual because integration is “just too difficult”.
Unfortunately, Swivel Chair syndrome can seriously affect your service levels and response times as well as increase costs through the sheer human effort to support the double-entry of data. In addition, it is just not very elegant! It can also lead to inaccuracy of data keyed in by humans.
Eliminating the pain of Swivel Chair practices means developing effective integrations between two or more systems, usually from different vendors, using interface definitions (APIs). Now this is where it gets tricky! Passing data between software from vendors such as BMC, ServiceNow, Cherwell, SAP, Workday and Microsoft needs a thorough understanding of the underlying data models and the APIs. Remember, that these guys are in hot competition, so the documentation and support provided by them in this area is very limited! So, tackling even the simplest integration is a bit of a minefield.
“… understanding how the processes work and data flows between the systems is also vital.”
Having experienced dozens of these integrations, it is important to create a standardised approach and use specialist software to help it all run smoothly. Although it is not just about the technology, understanding how the processes work and data flows between the systems is also vital. Remember, integrations should be in place to augment an agreed business process. There must be a value for every integration and not just an attitude of “We have this system and this system, they should integrate”.
How long will it take? I believe it takes between 2 weeks and 4 months to develop an integration interface between two systems depending on complexity, but a large chunk of this is the thorough testing that needs to take place to ensure the interface error checking is working and that it is therefore robust.
The good thing is that once an integration is implemented, it is in for good and immediately gets rid of the need for that Swivel Chair syndrome! Something your dizzy user might thank you for!
Executive Chairman, Xcession