The 5 Pillars of ITSM: A Guide to IT Service Management Best Practices

As you start your journey to mature your IT Service Management (ITSM) offerings at your organization, it’s important to measure how your current ITSM system and processes stack up against the recommended best practices for IT service delivery. The service management best practices are built around the 5 pillars of ITSM:

  1. Process control/ITIL adoption
  2. Self-service adoption
  3. Knowledge-Centered Service (KCS)©
  4. Change management
  5. Resource capacity planning

By centering your ITSM strategy around these pillars and using an ITSM solution that allows you to scale your service delivery as you grow and mature your organization, you can set yourself up for both short-term and long-term success.

Pillar One: Process Control and ITIL Adoption

ITIL stands for Information Technology Infrastructure Library and refers to a specific framework for ITSM that was developed in the UK in the 1980s. ITIL prescribes a set of specific methods, practices, and processes for managing the organization’s IT operations and services. Any organization wanting to mature their ITSM should start by making the move toward ITIL adoption. By using ITIL, you can mitigate ongoing service gaps.

The ITIL framework bases itself on the five phases of the service life cycle. The guidelines set out the necessary processes, associated challenges and best practices for each phase of the service life cycle, as well as the requirements for the implementation of each phase. These guidelines can, and should, be used to kick off internal discussions and policy creation within an organization to ensure service delivery is optimized appropriately for the end-user. 

The 5 stages of ITIL are: 

  1. Service Strategy – This is the start of the ITIL life cycle, and it sits at the center because a stable and precise service strategy is necessary for better service management. This stage determines what capabilities will need to be developed or implemented, including the definition of markets, development of assets or the necessary preparations for deployment. 
  2. Service Design – Ideas become plans in the second ITIL life cycle stage. It is here that services and processes bear out the primary goal of providing a better service management environment.  
  3. Service Transition – The third stage of the ITIL life cycle is where the preparation of services and strategies that will be implemented in the live environment take place. It is here that organizations test and implement new designs.  
  4. Service Operation – Following the launch of services and processes to customers and peers, the operation stage of the life cycle begins. Service owners must be prepared and available to report any issues as they arise, and make sure that customers are satisfied with the services and process.  
  5. Continual Service Improvement – This last stage of the ITIL framework directs organizations to search for potential improvements in all the previous steps. By looking at what is measurable versus what is not, and by processing and sorting of the data into quantifiable findings, the cycle starts all over again.

Using an ITSM solution that allows you to scale your service delivery as you grow and mature your organization sets you up for both short-term and long-term success.

Pillar Two: Self-Service Adoption

Did you know a support call can cost as much as $22 (according to HDI), while self-service is just $2 per incident? It’s a recommended best practice to build out a solid knowledge base and service portal so customers can resolve their own issues instead of taking up you IT help desk’s valuable time with requests like “how do I change my password.” Requests that can be handled through self-service help to reduce the train on IT resources that can happen when customers need assistance for common issues or questions. By building out a knowledge base within a portal that’s easily searchable, you can free up your IT helpdesk to work on larger, more complex problems.  A great example of how this can be done, is to take a look at the team at Cornell where they have rolled out portals for not only IT but across the campus for enterprise service management.

Pillar Three: Knowledge-Centered Service (KCS)

Knowledge-Centered Service (KCS) is the perfect complementary strategy to self-service, as it can become the mechanism for creating and curating knowledge content that is already being collected as part of you help desk’s current troubleshooting and problem-solving efforts. By taking this knowledge and creating new articles in your knowledge base, you are providing more ways for anyone experience an issue to find the appropriate article and solve their problem without needing to put in a ticket. This not only saves you valuable time, but it allows your IT help desk resources the ability to focus on larger problems or issues instead of the most common requests like password reset help, or how to access a calendar to reserve a conference room.

Here are a few reasons why Knowledge-Centered Service can be so powerful:

  • Helps to continually lower inbound call volume.
  • Increases customer satisfaction.
  • Provides customers with the answers they need now.
  • Crowdsourcing knowledge helps maintain accurate content.
  • Offers opportunities for professional development and career progression.

By adopting KCS, you can not only improve customer satisfaction, but dramatically reduce the per-incident cost incurred by IT and reduce the volume of issues and requests coming in to the help desk, allowing IT to reallocate technicians to higher priority tasks and projects.

Pillar Four: Change Management

A recent pulse study on ITSM maturity found that just 14 percent of respondents have standards and methods in a formal framework to manage change across multiple IT projects. ITIL refers to change management as the process for controlling the change lifecycle within the third stage of ITIL – the Service Transition stage. The goal with change management is to ensure there are standardized methods throughout an organization for the prompt and efficient handling of all IT infrastructure changes. With the right processes and standards in place, organization can avoid communication problems and mitigate incidents that impact service as a result of a change. Having better control through a formal change management process can deter system outages and lingering issues.

Pillar Five: Resource Capacity Planning

Organizations everywhere are facing challenges when it comes to budget constraints and limited IT resources, that’s why resource capacity planning is more important than ever. By using an IT Service Management tool that allows you to bring ITSM and Project Portfolio Management (PPM) together in a single platform, you can engage in true resource capacity planning and better utilize the resources you have available. By using the one platform approach you can improve efficiency, visibility and customer service. You can also reap the benefits of improved IT productivity, enhanced IT reporting and improved quality of service.

If you’re interested in learning more about ITSM maturity and impact it can have on an organization, check out Adopting A Mature IT Service Management Approach.

©KCS® is a service mark of the Consortium for Service Innovation™

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