What is IT Service Management (ITSM)?

What is IT Service Management (ITSM)?

IT service management, or ITSM, refers to all activities carried out, planned, delivered, operated and controlled by an organization to provide IT services to stakeholders. Under the ITSM model, the IT department is often thought of as a service desk. In short, ITSM delivers value to the customer in the form of IT services that align with the business objectives of the company.

The Goals of ITSM

IT service management aims for the right mix of people, processes and technologies to create value. ITSM ensures that IT services are implemented, managed and delivered in ways that meet an organization’s needs while still providing added value to employees, clients, consultants and other interested parties. As such, ITSM is focused on the following goals:

  • Service over systems: Unlike other IT management practices that focus on hardware, networks and systems, ITSM aims to improve IT customer service in line with business objectives. The focus is on how services, not systems, can be delivered to meet stakeholder needs. Companies use ITSM to provide value to customers or to the departments that manage the technology. IT service management provides management standards to ensure a high value of service.
  • Alignment with business objectives:  ITSM improves the IT services an organization offers to its end users by aligning IT processes and services with business objectives. In other words, ITSM provides a structured approach to service management, allowing organizations to standardize the delivery of services based on budget, resources and results.
  • The end-user experience: The customer experience can be a crucial differentiator for brands and organizations, and an effective ITSM strategy should aim to deliver the most significant benefit to all stakeholders involved.

Today, organizations in healthcare, government, technology and other sectors use IT service management to standardize IT services and create value for end-users according to their different industry-specific IT needs. IT service management has also led to the development of several IT management frameworks that can apply to both centralized and decentralized systems, the most comprehensive and widely used being the ITIL framework.

The ITIL Framework

ITIL stands for Information Technology Infrastructure Library and refers to a specific framework for ITSM. ITIL is a set of specific methods, practices and processes for managing the organization’s IT operations and services.

With ITIL, the focus is on ensuring that IT services can keep pace with business needs. The ITIL framework covers all aspects of IT infrastructure, from the foundation itself to its management and services.

Like ITSM in general, ITIL implementation helps organizations of all sizes around the world to maximize and optimize enterprise value using information technology for the benefit of their customers.

ITIL is based on principles that focus on value creation and continuous improvement, which can take a variety of forms. In fact, several iterations of the ITIL framework have been released since its inception in the 1980s, each one improving on the previous to describe a balanced and holistic approach to service management.

No One-Size-Fits-All Approach

The ITSM landscape is always changing, and emerging trends continue to shape the discussion around IT service management.

When it comes to IT service management, there is no single-size-fit–all approach. An ITSM or ITIL approach does not have to represent an administrative burden but instead should be used flexibly to meet the unique needs of a given organization. Again, the goal of ITSM is to apply service management principles in a way that improves the entire organization.

No matter your approach, implementing ITSM best practices enables organizations to standardize and optimize the way they respond to the ever-increasing demand while keeping operational costs low and customer satisfaction high.

Dusty Borchardt, Business Systems Manager for Oklahoma City, says that they adopted the ITIL framework more than 15 years ago. He explains that they’d had effective processes in place for a while, but they “haven’t had a decent toolset to manage them” until they utilized TeamDynamix’s ITSM platform.

“TeamDynamix has brought simplicity to our operations,” Borchardt says. “This is the first IT Service Management platform we’ve implemented that everyone loves to use.”

ITSM vs. ESM

It’s easy to confuse the term IT service management with enterprise service management, or ESM. ESM is simply an extension of the ITSM principles to entire organizations, beyond the IT department and its services.

In fact, enterprise service management is the most widely used and clearly defined framework for IT management. Think of it this way: when a non-IT department uses a traditional ITSM process to provide a service or solve a problem, it is a reuse of an existing process that has just been reinvented.

Inspired by ITIL-4, ESM is now at the heart of the IT management approach to the provision and management of IT services. It goes beyond an ITSM strategy and brings it to bear on the various teams and departments within IT.

As ITIL becomes more popular, more and more people will realize that ESM and ITSM best practices can and should be used in the business functions of the organization that provides services.

The Power of IT Service Management Tools

IT service management has changed the way IT departments behave – IT departments no longer operate as just system integrators but as service providers working to ensure that the remainder of the company can satisfy customer needs as effectively as possible.

Reliable IT management tools should deliver powerful reports that can help identify trends, eliminate bottlenecks, and improve the quality of services provided.

Specifically, organizations should look for a fast, intuitive ITSM tool that integrates with third-party platforms and facilitates:

6 ITSM Software Features You Need

When evaluating ITSM software for your organization, here’s a list of features and functionalities that are non-negotiable:

  1. End-user Self Service – Make sure your ITSM tool has an intuitive and configurable portal with WCAG 2.0 AA compliance.
  2. Knowledge Management – You’ll want your ITSM tool to have a knowledge base that’s integrated with ticketing so you can share information with techs and end-users.
  3. Multi-site & Multi-Department Capabilities– The ability to have one platform that can be used across multiple locations and departments is critical to achieving Enterprise Service Management (ESM); the solution should allow for the codeless creation of new applications without the need for additional service hours.
  4. Service Catalog – For the best user experience, make sure users can request products and services through a catalog that integrates with ticketing.
  5. ITSM/ESM + PPM + Automation on One Platform – When you have an ITSM/ESM platform that includes PPM (Project Portfolio Management) and enterprise automation and integration (iPaaS), you get a view of all work going on in your entire organization, from ticketing to change management and projects.
  6. Codeless Integration and Workflow – With a no-code platform you can supercharge your organization. Take advantage of codeless configuration, workflow building and automation with integration to other enterprise systems.

By measuring your ITSM options against this list, you can find a tool that can be customized to fit your needs and scale for the future.

The ITSM landscape is always changing and emerging trends continue to shape the discussion around IT service management.

Questions to Ask When Shopping for an IT Service Management (ITSM) Tool

To help find a flexible, easy-to-use ITSM tool, consider the following questions during your vendor evaluation: 

  • Are you able to create custom ticket types and workflows? 
  • Can you set up incidents and problems separately? 
  • Can you tailor the user portal to your brand and the specific data you want? 
  • Can users create a custom desktop? 
  • How easy is it to create reports and dashboards? 
  • Can you easily spin up new applications without IT resources?
  • Are you able to import and export data? 
  • Does it offer ITSM with Project Portfolio Management on one platform? 

The best out-of-the-box IT service management tool is the one that supports your desired approach and is easy to use. 

Working Better Together: ITSM/ESM + PPM

The service desk is often the frontline for capturing changing business needs and requirements. When you combine your ITSM/ESM with project portfolio management (PPM)  you can better understand your resource capabilities and engage in true resource capacity planning.

With resource capacity planning you get a big-picture view of your entire IT organization, allowing you to balance workloads across projects and support; and to see the different types of work that need to be done at any given time.

For example, if you have three IT technicians that need to cover three functional areas of business – like service, projects and operations – you can engage in resource capacity planning and optimize each technician’s workload based on their skill set and their availability.

As a result, the work can be completed more effectively and efficiently as each technician is focused on work that plays to their strengths. And because you have a full view of the work and the time it will take; you can avoid overcommitting or underutilizing your resources.

Supercharge Your IT Service Management with Integration and Automation

Adding integration and automation to your IT and Enterprise Service Management practices is a great way to free up resources and boost efficiencies. By investing in smart service management for your organization, you’re investing in service management that supercharges your entire enterprise and allows everyone to interact in real-time.

By combining ITSM, PPM and iPaaS (integration platform as a service) on a single platform you can automate tasks, both simple and complex, as well as connect disparate systems throughout your organization – all through a codeless platform, meaning anyone can use it. You no longer need to be bogged down by repetitive or mundane service requests.

Here are just a few ways iPaaS can reduce IT resource drain:

  • Facilitate enterprise integration by using a single hub with pre-built connectors to systems that you use every day as well as a connector concierge for the creation of specific connectors. (Imagine being able to automatically change a username, add someone to a distribution group, onboard an employee)
  • Expedite creation of automation and workflows with a visual flow builder (codeless) that is easy to use, own and operate; reduce IT backlog of integration and workflow requests.
  • Optimize resources across IT to allow for improved output and a higher level of service delivery to your internal and external customers by removing redundant data entry and manual processing.
  • Reduce API risk with a single connectivity platform that will offer increased oversight and control.

Relieving ITSM Ticket Volume with Automation

When contemplating the use of automation and integration as part of a broader Enterprise Service Management (ESM) strategy, it’s important to consider the different ways a tool like iPaaS (integration platform as a service) can be used to extend ESM even further.

At Winston-Salem University, they’ve done just that. Derrick Hargrove and his team in the Office of Information Technology, are using iPaaS to automate processes throughout the University that directly impact service resolution times whether in IT, the Office of the Registrar, the financial aid office or human resources. Hargrove said the university started building iPaaS workflows to address various challenges they had with both system access and access to various apps and software provided to students, employees and faculty at the university.

“By creating these workflows within iPaaS we are able to save a significant amount of time,” Hargrove said. “Previously we’ve had situations where system access has held up a ticket so having the automated approval and access granted through iPaaS has helped us avoid those issues. And when you have people who need certain access or software to do their jobs, it’s nice to be able to provide that almost instantaneous resolution. It’s been a big win for us.”

The university has flows in place to grant system access based on different groups within Active Directory. Those same groups are utilized to run flows to grant access to things like Microsoft Teams and Adobe Creative Cloud.

Reducing ITSM Toil with iPaaS

Toil is a word popularized by Google that refers to work that tends to be manual and repetitive but can be automated. And having high levels of toil throughout your organization can lead to problems including burnout, human error and employee discontent.

At Pima County, one of the goals of bringing on TeamDynamix for ITSM and iPaaS (integration platform as a service) is to reduce toil. 

“People feel so much more empowered and have so much more worth when they are doing things that are intellectually rigorous and challenging versus when they are just repeating the same mechanical actions over and over and over with very little thought,” Mark Hayes, information technology leader at Pima County, said.

“Our IT service desk is our entry point to our entire IT organization, and we want our employees to graduate out of this area into other roles within our organization – to become network technicians, client services, desktop technicians, developers and project managers,” he continued. “If all they’re doing is handling tickets and doing the same mundane, manual tasks over and over that’s not particularly great training. So investing in tools that allow our employees to engage in meaningful work is something that’s important to us as an overall IT organization.”

With TeamDynamix now in place, Pima County is looking to automate and integrate as much of the manual ITSM processes into workflows as they can.

“The drudgery of working through mundane, repetitive tasks doesn’t exist just in IT,” Hayes said. “I think the more we can reduce toil within the departments that we support, the more people are going to buy in and understand the value of what we’re trying to achieve. There’s nothing like success to breed more success, and once other departments see the benefits they’re going to want these tools too.”

If you want to see how organizations are supercharging their IT service management read our latest eBook Automate IT – A Playbook for Supercharged ITSM.

Learn more about our solutions today. 

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