Cherwell is a mature, complete ITSM solution ... that can do WAY more than just ITSM
October 02, 2019

Cherwell is a mature, complete ITSM solution ... that can do WAY more than just ITSM

Jane Updegraff | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 9 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User

Overall Satisfaction with Cherwell Service Management

Cherwell Service Management is our ITSM solution for the entire enterprise. We don't use the user-facing portal but we make use of the rest of the product as our primary IT help desk management and service management tool. We needed a help desk product that could be hosted outside, that could create tickets from emails and that could automate work flows for common IT support tasks and routine operations. We had tried using a home-grown solution and trialed a couple other solutions and ended up with Cherwell mostly due to my attraction to its "middleware" architecture and the way that architecture makes it easier for me to manage. When Cherwell applies version updates on their hosted server, things don't break because its only the underlying middleware layer that updates such that all of our customizations are unaffected.
  • Cherwell's email handling automation works flawlessly. The only time that I have ever needed to reset the automation service that drives it is when my own server that houses the small connecting agent has some kind of problem and disconnects us from our hosted Cherwell instance. It just works. Emails to a certain address always result in a new ticket or update to an existing ticket.
  • Cherwell is literally 100% customization in so many ways that it would be pointless to try to enumerate them. There is a very sizable list of already-created customizations (called "mApps") that you can download and apply to your instance. If you don't like them you can roll them back in seconds. But you can add and configure entire modules using one of these pre-defined, completely free, add-on packages. It's so easy to add features this way that I check the list of available mApps every month or so just to see what functionality I can add.
  • Cherwell's sales staff could use some improvement in the "paying attention to the little guy" area. It's true that sales people are focused on their larger potential commissions, and that is understandable, but as a small business, we were treated less than well by our Cherwell salesman. I would go so far as to say that he neglected us after we made the purchase and had a very serious complaint about what he sold us. We were sold a product without any implementation plan or package. I found out that we were probably the only customer that had this happen, but I wanted to mention t because it was huge headache to implement the product without any implementation help from the vendor.
  • I think Cherwell could do a better job of keeping their USA-based hosted server farm in better working order. Their infrastructure maintenance is improving and it doesn't affect Cherwell customers that host their own on-prem Cherwell servers, but for a long while they had a lot of failures at their on-demand server farm in Denver where they host instance for the US market. We would show up in the morning and our help desk technicians couldn't login for a couple of hours. They got these issues resolved quickly enough I suppose, within a few hours. And they did upgrade their Denver datacenter about a year ago and done better at maintaining it. But we literally can't do our jobs without Cherwell working as it s our primary help desk and end-user management tool.
  • Cherwell is more expensive (of course) compared to the home-grown ITSM solution that we previously used, so it has cost us more in capital outlay and it will continue to do so. But it has drastically reduced the number of end-user issues that have "fallen through the cracks". It makes assistance triage easy because you can customize the prioritizing of tickets by both urgency and priority of your tickets as well as by VIP status of the user.
  • Our internal end-user satisfaction with the IT department has drastically improved since implementation of CSM. Our technicians don't forget to finish up a task with many tiny details and that's because Cherwell's workflows provide the technician with a list of the steps needed to finish up the task. We've become a much more popular IT department and leadership has noticed. I can't put an ROI number on that but it's priceless to me.
  • Technician errors in user onboarding and offboarding have virtually disappeared, saving us hours and hours of technician time. Again, I haven't calculated the ROI but it's probably a good 20% or more of our tier 1 technicians' time that has been saved. Higher-tier technicians are obviously not as affected since they weren't usually the ones who were neglecting the details, but even they have enjoyed more efficiency and better prioritization of their time.
When I did the shopping for an ITSM solution, I found that ITSM solutions seemed to (at the time, anyway) fall into two rough categories and a small third category. In the first larger category, there were a group of the "out of the box", quick to implement but immature and feature-poor solutions that were just not very complete in scope but which were also not very expensive. In the case of one or two of them, they were completely free if all you need is a very basic ticket tracking system. In the second of the two larger categories, there were much more complete, full-featured, mature and extremely versatile solutions that are generally much, much more expensive. There were a few in a small, third category of those which were not really designed for ITSM and instead which had been "shoehorned" into being an ITSM tool, having been converted from something else that served a different need and was originally invented for some other purpose.

Those solutions falling into the no-frills, inexpensive camp were ManageEngine (Zoho) Desktop, Spiceworks and to some extent JIRA and Samanage (which was separate from Solawinds at the time). Those falling into the mature but expensive category were ServiceNow, BMC, and Cherwell, which was less expensive than these others but not by much.

I was looking for something in-between the two of the larger categories because I was OK with not having every possible feature or capability, certainly not right after implementation, and I didn't want to spend a fortune or a great deal of time setting it up. After a lot of demos and fiddling with examples, Cherwell was the decision. It cost a little less than the other mature solutions, it had a huge amount of future-proofing built right into it's seriously versatile middleware architecture, and best of all, I could start small with just the OOTB features and expand into other capabilities over time as resources and needs changed. It's just right for a small, understaffed shop like mine because it bring improved efficiency without taking a lot of documentation time from my technicians.
Cherwell technical support is superior. Even when they don't know the answer to something they will find out how to help you.

We had a disappointing experience just after purchase because our salesman failed to include an implementation package into our purchase. This was in violation of Cherwell's own policy so we never found out why he did this. If it would have been a self-hosted instance, it probably would have been OK, because I just would have set it up myself using their (surprisingly good) self-help implementation documentation. But it was NOT self-hosted, it was hosted at Cherwell-on-Demand. So I didn't have access to their server where it needed to be implemented.

I was waiting for someone at Cherwell-on-Demand to contact us to get us rolling, and no one ever did, because our salesman did not hand us off to the implementation team. So I called technical support. They were very confused at first because they kept asking me who were were working with on the implementation team. Once I finally got them to the point of understanding that we had no implementation help whatsoever, they were amazing. They went way past their normal role and even the manager of the entire Cherwell support team in Denver got involved. They got me the help that I needed (which really wasn't much help, just turning on the hosted server and setting up a connector) quickly and apologized to me for the salesman's failure.

This implementation help is just a first example, however. I've opened about three or four tickets (for regular operational issues and routine maintenance) since we've been using Cherwell over the last 3 years and in every case, I got the answer I needed quickly and all of my questions were answered.

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Cisco Unified Communications Manager (Call Manager), Cisco Meraki Wireless Access Point, Cisco Nexus
Cherwell is a good choice for any sized enterprise that needs an extremely customizable IT help desk solution that triggers (again, entirely customizable) automated actions, spawns workflows (and auto-spawns tasks and sub-tasks for them) for multiple IT technicians and multiple tiers of technicians. It can do project management, change management, asset management, all the same things that the others can do and far, far more. If you do NOT need a highly customized help desk solution and if you don't need automated workflow creation and task tracking, then you could buy a less expensive solution that you can use out of the box without any of the frills. But as I said, Cherwell can do a lot more than just IT help desk, and it has a huge array of "plug-in" / "add-on" features, most of which are free, that make every Cherwell implementation completely unique to the enterprise that uses it. Cherwell is just right for a company that wants to manage and customize the help desk application with a PTE resource. I manage it myself at my company, and I spend very little time maintaining it now that it's solidly established ... although it's so much fun to customize that I wish I had more time to add new features and play with it. I do strongly advise some training for the admins ... your Cherwell admins MUST take the online, instructor-led introductory admin class to kick you off, and you MUST have implementation help from Cherwell to setup your instance, especially their hosted offering, over which you don't have database admin control (you can't even turn it on to get it working without their help). But after that, there is very little support needed from your own in-house Cherwell admin resource, unless, of course, you are constantly growing the solution to make it do more. I can see how that could happen because Cherwell can do almost anything. I can imagine some departments wanting to make it into the swiss-army-knife of IT .. and HR .. and facilities .... and physical security ... and you could spend many hours down the rabbit hole doing that if you wanted to.

Cherwell Service Management Feature Ratings

Organize and prioritize service tickets
Expert directory
Self-service tools
Subscription-based notifications
ITSM collaboration and documentation
ITSM reports and dashboards
Configuration mangement
Asset management dashboard
Policy and contract enforcement
Change requests repository
Change calendar
Service-level management