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ITSM News: Service Desk KB goes live, upcoming IT Customer Portal, Your Unit Reps

NOW LIVE! IT Service Desk internal knowledge base

As of April 11, 2019, all ITS staff will now be able to view the internal Service Desk KB articles, and play a role in maintaining knowledge within ServiceNow.

The internal IT Service Desk KB contains close to 300 articles, which are used by the Service Desk agents to resolve incidents and triage tickets. They will be reviewing the draft articles (migrated to ServiceNow from Moxie) and publishing them gradually over the next few weeks.

Find out what ITS staff outside the IT Service Desk can do with this  knowledge:

The Knowledge Base Managers for the internal IT Service Desk KB are:
Golam Chowdhary, Rachel Hall and Alex Bechalani.

Coming soon… IT Customer Portal

Later this spring, the IT customer-facing portal will be launched to ITS staff members only, in preparation for McGill-wide availability. It will introduce a new IT Service Catalog structure, based on focus group feedback.

You will be able to:

  • Browse the service catalog
  • Submit incidents and requests
  • View the status and follow up on your submitted tickets, incidents and requests.

Once it is available, we encourage you to use the portal features and share your experience with the project team.

We also plan to deploy the IT Customer Portal to a small set of pilot users (“early-adopters”) outside of ITS in advance of the McGill-wide launch. Further details will be coming soon.

Learn more about ITSM from your Unit Reps

Representatives for each unit will be meeting with the project team to learn first-hand about the latest ITSM progress. They will share with you any changes affecting your work processes, as well as opportunities to collaborate across ITS in preparation for the deployment to the McGill community. If you have any questions, bring them to your unit rep or your manager and they will find the answers.

Alex Bechalani (ICS)
Benoit Garceau (APMG)
Christopher Newman (AS)
Lai Yard Lee (ITCOM and Office of the CIO)
Michael Havas (NCS)
Daniel Trotto (SPDS)

See the ITS Organization Chart for new unit acronyms

ITSM 2.1 Kicks Off – January 2019

The official kick-off meeting for ITSM 2.1 was held this week, with about 50 attendees — Directors, members of the Project Team, and Service Managers across all ITS units.

You can find out all the details about this phase of the project by viewing the PowerPoint presentation: ITSM-2.1-Kickoff-Jan2019


Note that over the coming months you can expect to receive email newsletters containing information about ongoing maintenance releases for ITSM 2.0 functionality, as well as news about the ITSM project.

Release notes and tips for September 24 post-golive release

Changes included in this release


  • Customers will now receive an automated email, acknowledging receipt, when they send an email to IT Support (this was disabled temporarily, during the stabilization phase).
  • When a customer clicks the Close Now link in a closing email, it will no longer create a new Ticket.
  • CI contacts will no longer receive Alerts twice.

Miscellaneous form changes

  • Incident Category and Subcategory will only be mandatory for WMS and Desktop Support services.
  • The Major Incident Manager field has been moved to the Incident form.
  • Ticket number has been added to a tab within the Request Item.

Tip: Creating a Request on behalf of someone else


When creating a request on behalf of someone else, your name is put into the Requested For field of the REQ and RITM records. It should be changed to the real customer, but if you try to do it on the RITM record you will see that the Requested For field is locked.


Go back to the REQ record and change it there. The new name then flows through to the RITM record and the real customer will receive all subsequent notifications through ServiceNow.

Note: Since the customer doesn’t receive the initial notification that the Request has been created, you should forward it to them and explain that you created it on their behalf.

ITSM 2.0 Celebration

The ITSM 2.0 release was celebrated last Thursday, Sept.13, at Thomson House. Daniel Letendre and Carla D’Alessandro thanked all contributors for their hard work and dedication to the project. Stuart Forman spoke about the good spirit he observed among the team and said we need to value that comradery and keep it going.

We ate, drank and even played a game — everyone seemed to enjoy the evening.

View the fun-facts slideshow presentation (PDF)

Here are some pics…

Release notes and tips for August 29 release

This post-Golive release was deployed yesterday evening, Wednesday, August 29.

Please find the release highlights below, as well as some process tips, and a reminder about upcoming training.

Highlights of August 29 Release

Here are the most notable of the 11 changes made to ServiceNow; for full release notes, please see the ITSM Release Notes article in ServiceNow.

  • Notifications: SLA breach notifications (75% or 100% of SLA) will now indicate if the breach is for the “Resolution” or “Response” SLA.
  • Tickets: The Save button has been removed from Tickets where the Call Type is “Incident”. This will prevent us from mistakenly saving Incident Records without an Assignment group defined. It is also consistent with the current behavior in Request.
  • Alerts: The “ICS Notify” group will no longer be the default recipient for Alerts. This will fix the issue of getting the same alert twice, which some people were experiencing.

Process tips and best practices

Viewing alerts on iPhone

When you view a Major Incident (or other) alert on a mobile device, you have to scroll through several screens of email addresses before viewing the body of the alert. There is a solution…

On an iPhone you can select Hide, at the top of the message, to collapse the list of recipients to a single line. Selecting Hide once will keep the recipients list collapsed for all future emails, so you don’t need to do it again.

To view the full list again, select Details.



Receiving too many notifications?

You can select which notifications to receive or not from the ServiceNow settings gear, at the top of the screen. Note that each category may contain many different notification types, which need to be turned on/off independently. See Knowledge article: Disabling / re-enabling notification emails from ServiceNow.

Major Incidents

  • Sending alerts for a major incident
    If you are responsible for managing a major incident, but you are not able to send the alert quickly because your PC, network or ServiceNow is not accessible, you can ask the IT Service Desk to send the Alert on your behalf.
    Ultimately, the MIM is responsible for sending alerts, but if they can’t send an alert quickly enough, the Service Desk is able to step in and fulfill this critical function. We are all on the same ITS team, and your teammates are available to help out when needed.
  • Describing the Business Impact from a user perspective
    When filling out a Major Incident Alert, the section called “What is the Business Impact?” should describe what users will be unable to do, or how their tasks will differ as a result of the major incident. It can also include aspects of the service are not affected by the incident.
    It should be written in non-technical terms, from the user’s point of view, so that a public announcement could be written based on this description. Good examples of Business Impact can be found in the Knowledge article: Alerts and Outages for Major Incidents

Transferring Tickets to Incidents or Requests

Keep in mind that it is important to transfer tickets properly to Incidents or Requests to ensure that our ITSM reporting is accurate.

Reminder: Upcoming training sessions

There is still time to register for one of the following sessions. Sign up in Minerva.

ITM 322 – Request Fulfillment and Incident Management

ITM 328 – Dashboards & Reports

In preparation for Dashboards & Reports training, please watch these two ServiceNow videos:

ITSM 2.0 Post-Golive August 15 Release Notes, Process Tips/Best Practices, and Training

The latest post-Golive release was deployed on Wednesday, August 15.
Please find the Release highlights below, as well as some Process Tips and Best Practices and a reminder about upcoming training.

Highlights of August 15 Release

Below are just a few of the changes to ServiceNow; for full release notes, please see the ITSM Release Notes article in ServiceNow.

  • Automated group notifications for Major Incidents will now begin with the words “Major Incident”.
  • Additional Comments will now be sent to Caller and Alternate email. Previously, only the Affected User would receive Additional Comments.
  • 3rd party and 3rd party ticket # fields have been added to the Requested Item (RITM) record – this will enable you to record related tickets from other systems, such as Jira, Heat, Xerox, FX Innovation and Brocade.
  • You can now create templates using the Requested Item When creating a template from within an RITM record, remove the pre-selected fields and choose Additional Comments or Work Notes. The contents of all other fields will be erased when a template is applied. Tip: Templates are useful for providing consistent instructions to customers for next steps, once a Requested Item has been fulfilled.
  • The previous release removed tickets transferred to Requests, Incidents, or BNS from My Work and My Group’s Work This change also inadvertently removed Ticket Types (Status Call, Supervisor Escalation, Compliments, and Complaint) from those lists. This has now been fixed. If you are using these lists in your Favorites, you must delete them and replace them with the updated version. If you have created your own lists by modifying a copy of My Work or My Groups’ Work, you will need to recreate these lists.
  • Email replies to internal notifications will go to noreply@mcgill.ca. Therefore, if you reply to an internal notification email, your email will not go into a ServiceNow record. This will prevent unintentional emails to the Customer. If you want to communicate with the Customer or add internal notes, you should continue to do so directly in the record.


Process tips and best practices 

Add a profile photo in ServiceNow

You can now add a profile photo of yourself in ServiceNow. This will help us get acquainted with one another and make it easier to tell who else may be working on a record at the same time – the user’s initials and photo will appear at the top of the page.

To add your photo, select Profile from the dropdown beside your name and then Click to add… beside the Photo field.

Acknowledging Catalog Tasks:

Last week we made two changes:

  • The Acknowledge button was added to Tasks for RITMs
  • Automatically created Tasks now start in an In Progress state for new RITMs.

The changes resulted in the Acknowledge button appearing on the automatically created Tasks of previously created RITMs acknowledged after last week’s change.


Users  complained that this resulted in extra work, as they now needed to acknowledge the Task as well as the RITM. However, pressing the Acknowledge button is more efficient than the original process, which required  users to manually set the Task state to In Progress.


Note that the first Task for any new RITM will already be in the In Progress state when it is created. Acknowledging the RITM will automatically acknowledge the first Task. Any manually created Tasks will need to be acknowledged when work begins.


RITMs and Tasks on hold

When you’re ready to continue working, press the Resume Work button to put the record back into the In Progress state.

Reminder: Upcoming training sessions

There is still time to register for one of the following sessions. Sign up in Minerva.

ITM 322 – Request Fulfillment and Incident Management

ITM 328 – Dashboards & Reports

In preparation for Dashboards & Reports training, please watch these two ServiceNow videos:

ITSM 2.0 Post-Golive Release on August 8, Upcoming Training, and Process Tips

The latest post-Golive update was released on Wednesday, August 8.  

Please find the Release highlights below, as well as information on the Ticket Management process, Process Tips and Best Practices, and upcoming Training sessions.

Highlights of August 8 Release 

Below are just a few of the issues addressed; for full release notes, please see the ITSM Release Notes article in ServiceNow.

  • Updating the Configuration Item field of the Incident form will sometimes update the Affected Service. You will now receive a warning if you enter a CI that changes the Affected Service field value.
  • New manually created request catalog tasks will now start in an Open state automatically. You don’t need to change the state when you’re assigning a new task to another group. This is consistent with Incident tasks.
  • There will now be an Acknowledge button on manually created catalog and Incident tasks that have been assigned to a group. Similar to RITM and INC records, pressing the Acknowledge button will put the task into an In Progress state and populate the Assigned to field.
  • For new RITMs created after this release, the catalog task that gets automatically created when you acknowledge an RITM will automatically start in the In Progress state. You don’t have to set the state manually.
  • A database view has been created to enable easier access and reporting of CI Contact information. The view visually reformats the contact information into a structure similar to what was available in ITSM 1.0.
  • Category and Subcategory  fields are now mandatory. They have been updated within the Incident form to allow for more granular data analysis.
  • Everyone with a ServiceNow licence will now receive ALL Incident and Change Alerts by default. To opt out of some of these notifications, please see this Knowledge Base article: Disabling/re-enabling notification emails from ServiceNow.

Ticket Management Process 

 L2 and L3 Resolvers and Fulfillers are receiving more Tickets than originally anticipated. For instructions on handling Tickets, please refer to the Knowledge Base article on Ticket Management and follow the steps starting from “Select the Call Type”.

Process tips and best practices 

Responses to email notifications from ITSM are sent to customer

Please be aware that if you respond directly via email to an ITSM notification, the system will treat your response as an “Additional Comment” and send your reply to the Customer. To ensure comments are properly documented and reach their intended audience, you must log in to ITSM to respond to notifications; do not respond directly to ITSM notifications via email.

MDS (Minimal Dataset)

For Request Fulfillment, we’ll be handing MDS differently from Incident by creating complete catalog items with all the required fields. The catalog item creation will be implemented over two phases:

  • Phase 2.1: for a limited set of internal IT requests
  • Phase 2.2: for use in a customer portal

In the meantime, please provide the Service Desk with the MDS information for your requests so that they can include it in their internal KB.

Generic requests

You can now change the title of a Generic Request from “Generic Request” to a title of your choice. We recommend that you give your Generic Requests meaningful and consistent titles.

Note: The first email sent to the customer upon request creation will still be titled “Generic Request” because it is automatically generated before you can update it. This email now includes the customer’s original request.

Upcoming training sessions

ITM 322 – Request Fulfillment and Incident Management 

Resolvers and Fulfillers who have not yet attended ITM 322 – Request Fulfillment and Incident Management are strongly encouraged to do so. The following sessions are available:

  • September 6 at 13h30
  • September 7 at 9h30
  • September 14 at 9h30

Sign up for ITM 322 in Minerva.


NEW: ITM 328 –  Dashboards & Reports

Want to learn how to create reports and display information on Incidents and Requests?

If you want to learn about available dashboards and reports, how to customize your own to suit your needs, and try some hands-on examples, this  1-hour session is for you. 2 sessions are available:

  • September 4 at 10h
  • September 11 at 10h

In preparation for Dashboards & Reports training, please watch these two ServiceNow videos:

Sign up for ITM 328 in Minerva.

Post-GoLive release 20180730, IM Process Change and other Tips for Working in ServiceNow

The first post-golive update was released on, Monday, July 30. It contains over 40 fixes, many submitted by ITS staff members. The quick turnaround for this release is in large part thanks to the excellent collaboration between ITSM Change Agents and project team members.

In addition to release notes, we bring to your attention changes to the Incident Management process, and share a few Tips and Best Practices.

Highlights of Release 20180730

Below are just a few of the many issues addressed; for full release notes, please see the ITSM 20180730 Release Notes article in ServiceNow.

  • Work notes, Additional comments and Watch list fields will now be displayed on Ticket forms.
  • The My Groups’ Work and My Work lists will now exclude Tickets that were “transferred” (e.g. to Requests, Incidents or BNS). If you have already added these lists to your Favorites, you will need to delete them and re-add them.
  • Customers whose AD accounts are no longer valid, will now appear in the Caller/Affected User/Requested For lists.
  • When a customer replies to an email for a record that is closed – whether for Incident, Request Item or Ticket — it will now create a new Ticket, assigned to the IT Service Desk.
  • People outside of IT staff can now be added to the Watch list for Incidents, Request Items and Tickets.
  • Request creation, cancellation and closure notifications sent to the customer will include Submitted Title and Submitted Details of the requested item, instead of just the RITM titles from the request catalog.
  • The Standard Change template has been updated to contain “planned service outage” field.

Changes to the Incident Management Process 

With the introduction of ITSM 2.0, changes were made to the process for Incident and Major Incident management.

  • Service Desk no longer owns all incidents – Incident records can now be resolved directly by the resolver group and do not need to be assigned back to the IT Service Desk. Communication to the customer, through Additional Comments and Close Notes, should be done by the resolver group.
  • MINC role eliminated – The Major Incident Notifications Coordinator (MINC) role has been eliminated. The Major Incident Manager (MIM) is responsible for communications between the resolver and internal ITS stakeholders, throughout the incident resolution; however, they may delegate the task of sending IT Alerts to the IT Service Desk.
  • Difference between Parent <> Child and other Related Incidents
    • Updating a Parent Incident will update all Child Incidents, so we need to be very careful when we are resolving a Parent incident.
    • Updating a Related Incident will not impact the other incident.
  • Difference between Work Notes, Additional Comments and Close Notes
    • Work Notes are internal, used to send information to other members of the resolver team, or even notes to yourself.
    • Additional Comments are used to ask questions of the customer or communicate back & forth while the Incident is open.
    • Close Notes are used to communicate the final resolution to the customer. It could include steps that were taken to resolve the incident or the any additional steps the Customer needs to take to get back to normal.

Find instructions on Incident Management in the Knowledge article on ServiceNow.

If you would like to have the new Incident Management process presented to your group, contact Costa Samaras.

Process tips and best practices 

Configuration Item and Affected Service

When you choose a CI, it may automatically change the Affected Service value, depending on the relationships set up in the CMDB.

The recommended way to fill in the Affected Service and CI is to choose the Application in the CI field; this will automatically propose a Business Service for the Affected Service field. You can then select a different Business Service, but only if it is related to the chosen Application CI.

If the underlying cause of an incident is a lower-level CI, you can add that CI in the Affected CIs list, found at the bottom of the record.

Transfering Tickets to Requests

When you select Call Type “Request” from an existing Ticket be sure to click Update to transfer the Ticket and create the related Request Item. Do not move away from the Ticket record without clicking Update (in the case of a brand new Ticket you would need to click Submit).

Generic Request Items

When creating Generic Request items, on the RITM record, change the Title from “Generic Request” to something meaningful to the customer. You can remove the words “Generic Request” in the Title– there is another way to identify that type of request for reporting purposes.

Note that the initial email notification sent to the customer will still have the title “Generic Request”, but subsequent notifications will have the revised title.

Rich text formatting in Additional comments field

Currently the Additional comments field is not designed to easily support formatted text. However, there is a workaround: you need to use HTML formatting tags, and wrap the entire message in [code] … [/code] tags.


<p>Hello Joe,</p>
<p>Here are the steps you need to follow:</p>
<li>Enter your McGill Username and Password and click <strong>Login</strong>.</li>
<li>Open the <strong>My Work</strong> folder.</li>

In a future ITSM release, we will provide HTML formatting in a more seamless fashion.

Consulting Knowledge articles while you work

For help while working in ServiceNow, you can right-click Knowledge from the navigation bar and open the Knowledge Articles page in a new window.

ITSM 2.0 Implementation Plan and Post-GoLive Support

We are fast approaching the ITSM 2.0 Go Live date: Monday, July 16 at 7am. We would like to take this time to inform you of the implementation plan and key dates. We also present the support process during the post go live stabilization period, as well as reminders about training and documentation resources.

What’s happening Thursday, July 12 to Monday, July 16

The official go live date is Monday, July 16 at 7am. New tickets, incidents, service requests and business needs will be processed in ServiceNow starting at that time.

As part of the implementation plan, ITSM 2.0 features will be put into the production instance of ServiceNow as early as 11 pm on Thursday, July 12. However, the only process affected before Monday will be Change Management. If you create a new Change Request requiring a planned service outage, a new Outage record will be created, and you will have to enter the actual Begin and End times of the service downtime on the Outage record before closing the Change record.

During the weekend (until 7am Monday morning), HEAT and ITS Motion will continue to be used for all other activities, including Major Incidents and System Status Announcements (SSAs).

Click to enlarge

Go Live Monday, July 16 @ 7:00 am: Work starts in ServiceNow https://mcgill.service-now.com

  • All new tickets, received from Friday July 13 at 5 pm and going forward, will be processed in ServiceNow.
  • All Major Incident alerts and outages will be managed in ServiceNow.
  • All maintenance alerts and outages for Changes will be created in ServiceNow.
  • ITS Motion and HEAT will be available for approximately 6 weeks, to view, update and close existing SSAs, and HEAT tickets (opened before July 13 at 5pm). After August 31, these systems will be accessible in read-only mode.
  • No new tickets or SSAs may be created in HEAT and ITS Motion.

Support for ITSM after golive

For six weeks after golive, till August 31, there will be a “stabilization” period to resolve defects and help answer questions about the new processes.

For the first two weeks there will be walk-in and phone support available. The process managers will be located in 688 Sherbrooke, room 1647, close to the Service Desk, to handle urgent questions and assess defects. See graphic below.

Click to enlarge


Process Managers: Debra Simpson (Request), Costa Samaras (Incident), Vince Ferracane  (Change), Simon Fulleringer (SACM/CMDB)

After the first two weeks, the Process Managers will remain available from their regular desks, by phone or email until the end of the stabilization period.

Conference bridge to field calls

A teleconference bridge will be set up in the Task Force room (688 Sherbrooke, room 1647). It will be open for two 1-hour periods each day: 10-11 am and 2-3 pm

All ITS employees are welcome to dial-in and ask their questions directly to the Process Managers: 514-736-8049  Conference 7118276

ITSM 2.0 Training and Support Materials

In preparation for the ITSM 2.0 GoLive, we have developed training and support materials. The resources below compliment the Incident, Request and Ticket hands-on training that many of you have already taken.

Alerts and Outages for Change
– video, article and Q&A session

To prepare you to use the Alerts and Outages features of ITSM 2.0, we have developed a video and knowledge article.

Once you have viewed the materials, you are  invited to submit any questions to the Change Process Managers and then join us for a live Q & A session on July 11th.

Step 1. Watch the video >>

Step 2View the knowledge article >>

Step 3. Submit questions by email itsm@mcgill.ca

Step 4. Sign up for Q& A session in Minerva ITM326

CMDB awareness sessions

Sign up for awareness sessions about the changes that will be implemented in the Configuration Management Database (CMDB): New Location data, Contact information and AV equipment.

Two sessions are available: July 10 and 12

Sign up in MinervaCMDB Awareness session – ITM325

Job aids and training PPT presentation

Incident Quick Reference (2 page PDF)

Request Fulfillment Quick Reference (2 page PDF)

Incident and Request Training Workshop Presentation (PDF)

Knowledge Articles

Please refer to the following Knowledge Articles to refresh your memory of various tasks in ServiceNow. They will soon be linked from the Help (?) button at the top of the relevant ServiceNow forms. Note that the contents are being revised as needed over the next few weeks. These links open in ServiceNow QA instance and will be transferred to Production before GoLive.

Your feedback on the content of these articles would be greatly appreciated. If you spot any inaccuracies or missing information, please send an email to the project team at ITSM@mcgill.ca

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