LiveTime 6.1 and the next generation of ITSM
Due to the effort involved in developing the new architecture platform for future versions of LiveTime (v7.0+), some of the “Look and Feel” changes have been brought forward. Version 6.1 is a point release in name only as it contains over 300 change requests, nearly 200 of which have come from end users. Now that we have officially released a beta, here is a sneak preview of the changes, both functional and visual, to help our customers plan and prepare for the rollout of the next generation of LiveTime Service Manager.
The (External) User Interface
There are several major changes to the user interface in LiveTime v6.1, which is slightly unusual for a point release. We feel it’s important to present some of these changes now to begin framing expectations of the updated styling in the v7.0+ releases. The first pages people will see after the initial installation are the all new database configuration and login pages.
Styled with a HTML5 look and feel, these pages (which may change slightly from the samples above), represent the new user interface styling being moved towards in future releases. Naturally the account creation, forgotten password & logout pages have been updated to use this new style as well.
What about my custom banners?
The headline banner can still be customized although the size (and placement) of these graphics will need to be updated to be a 250 pixel wide, 60 pixel high PNG file. For best effect it is recommended that images use transparency to maximize the effect by blending in with the new page style. It is envisaged that css over-rides will be used for customers needing to modify the color scheme. Within the user interface (pictured below) and emails, the same banners can be used, although it would be a good time to revisit them to see if they, or the css, need to change.
New Menu System
The menu system has also been significantly reworked to better reflect ITIL best practices and to frame process appropriately based on ITIL concepts (and the colors have changed here too!)
The gray background has been darkened, and the tab style changed to reflect a scheme that is easier to look at, and provides better visual cues as to what part of the application is being utilized at any given point in time (note the white highlight and border on the ‘Home’ tab, and the persistent inverted colors of the ‘My Tasks’ sub menu option.
Request Fulfillment Management, Incident Management and Problem Management have all been bundled together under the new ‘Operations’ tab, which represents the ‘Service Operations’ aspects of ITIL v3. The Change tab still exists, and now incorporates ‘Release Management’ as the 10th ITIL v3 process (certification pending). Collectively these comprise the bulk of the ‘Service Transition’ aspects, and whilst much thought was given to naming this section ‘Transition’, we felt this is a little too obscure for day to day use.
No more role changing
Much was made of the awkwardness of role changing in v6.0 (and previous releases), and whilst we thank all those people who made suggestions towards improving that interface, we instead made the decision to do away with this concept altogether. If you look at the menu image above, on the right hand side beside the user name, there are two options – [Setup] and [Customer]. These represent the other portals within LiveTime. Anyone who has access to what is referred to as the ‘User’ portal, or the ‘Tech’ portal as it’s often referred to, can now access all functions they are assigned to without the actual need to change their ‘function’ within the application.
For users that only ever had one role, or a technician role and a customer role, it means very little, other than instead of a separate screen being required to change portal, they can achieve this change with a single click. The same principle is applied to Supervisors with Administrator access – single click access to the desired portal streamlines access to the available functions, but the real difference will be noticed by users that have manager or finance roles assigned.
Manager & Finance Roles
These two types of users suffered the most under the old scheme. Take the case of a supervisor user, who is also a change manager. This person might have a request they are moving through the process, and they hit an approval state. This person can approve the request, but LiveTime forced them to change roles, to act as a ‘Manager’ to approve the request, and then to change back to their ‘Supervisor’ role, to continue what they were doing.
In this new model, the workflow has been streamlined such that users have access to ALL functions of roles they are assigned within the ‘User’ portal. So in the example above, when the manager hit the approval state, they could save the request, and then the approval options would be accessible, allowing them to progress the change request, without unnecessary role changes.
Finance users are affected in a similar way in that the Finance tab was only accessible if ‘acting’ as a ‘Finance’ user. Now, when a user logs in who has the ‘Finance’ role assigned, the Finance tab is simply presented to them, along with the CI Costs tab in Configuration Management (when applicable).
Release and Deployment Management
The 10th ITIL v3 process to be certified by Pink Elephant (pending), Release and Deployment Management completes the Service Transition component of the ITIL v3 Implementation within LiveTime. Where Change Management revolves around implementing changes in the environment, Release and Deployment is about managing and delivering those changes to end users.
Release Management is being bundled in with Change Management licenses, as typically users working in Change Management are likely to be involved in delivering those changes to end user environments, either by being part of the management of the process (Release), or hands on with delivering the change to users (Deployment).
Release Management can be quite involved, and LiveTime Service Manager has several features in place to try and ensure organizations implementing Release Management have a higher likelihood of success, such as ensuring a Release Manager is assigned to any Release Management Team that is defined. The release manager has access to information about the release, including release readiness data (Change Request Status).
The 11th ITIL v3 process to be certified by Pink Elephant (pending), the implementation of Financial Management within LiveTime adds to the rudimentary functions of previous versions by supporting extended concepts such as hierarchical cost modeling within CMDB structures, considerations of Org Units as Cost Centers, and extending functionality built into the service item costs calculator.
LiveTime’s Financial Management can be used as a forecasting tool. It provides the user with information not only about pricing a service, but also about the contributing cost factors, supports concepts such as cost splitting across services leveraging common infrastructure, and this is all stored in the LiveTime repository for organizations wanting to run their own reports. All data is broken down by cost center, and reassembled in real time for the user interface to assist with business planning and the budgeting processes.
Administration – Single Sign-On
Single-Sign on options are now available for enterprises using request header based, single sign-on technologies such as JOSSO, Shibboleth or Site Minder. Naturally these work best with directory server technologies, as this is the only way to keep the account details synchronized. Some of these technologies rely on application server redirects to be implemented, so check the documentation of your SSO provider for details on how to activate and use request header based Single Sign On.
Administration – SMS Providers
In the past, SMS has been very rigid in its configuration, in that it assumes the gateway in use will be setup to allow for an email to be sent to
@ and the subject line and/or content will just be sent. Whilst we are not deviating from this greatly, we are now allowing a subject line to be specified as there seems to be an increasing number of providers wanting to see a security token or account number in the subject line, and the body of the message gets sent. On install, the default settings will be per 6.0, but be aware this can now be customized.
Customer & Public Portals
The tab system has been updated to reflect the change in the user portal, for consistency, and the various interface sections have received treatment under the covers to improve the response time for users. Customers can optionally be shown service delivery metrics in this portal, by enabling an administration option. The administrator can also control the ability for customers to provide the subject line in the portal, along with controlling visibility of priority or urgency factors for customers.
Finally, and possibly most importantly, the upgrade to v6.1 requires the issue of new license keys in order to run the system. It is vitally important for your own service continuity that you contact your local support representative prior to undertaking this upgrade to source your new license key. If you are planning any sort of application server move/relocation/upgrade it would be greatly appreciated if you perform the upgrade to v6.1 at the time of, or after, any such move is completed.
This need to occasionally change license keys is an unfortunate consequence of the current business environment that we regrettably need to put our users through from time to time to protect both our customers’ investment in their service management solution, and the intellectual property of LiveTime Software.