IT service management (ITSM) is a set of practices that encompasses everything related to creating, deploying, managing, and refining your IT services. Despite what some may think, ITSM goes far beyond your average service desk or ticketing system.
Jump to the main takeaways:
Having a strong ITSM system in place can help you reduce diagnosis and resolution time for IT issues, decrease costs, improve your business decision-making, and enhance your customer experience.
In this blog post, I’ll take you through a detailed explanation of what ITSM means and why it’s important for your organization. I’ll also cover the difference between ITSM and ITIL, as well as the ITSM best practices that everyone should know.
Let’s dive right in!
What ITSM Means (And Why It’s Important)
ITSM processes exist to help your staff manage every aspect of implementing, supporting, and improving customer-centric IT services. In other words, ITSM isn’t focused on purely technical aspects of your IT infrastructure, such as hardware, software, networks, licensing, and so on.
Instead, ITSM is all about delivering excellent IT services to customers. This means managing the respective lifecycles of various IT assets, some of which will be specific to your business’ industry or your preferred ITSM framework. Most importantly, organizations using ITSM treat IT as a continually evolving organism rather than a static set of assets.
For many companies, ITSM success is measured using metrics that are focused internally, such as the number of incidents, service level agreements (SLAs) impacted by those incidents, and more. However, purely technical insights only reveal a small portion of what ITSM can do for your company.
The true value of your ITSM practices lies in how it positively impacts your business value. As Richard Josey notes on the AXELOS blog, this means “thinking about it from the perspective of your customer.” Essentially, we’re talking about how ITSM supports business metrics, such as the number of products made or services delivered.
Here are just some of the ways that your ITSM processes can positively impact how your organization operates:
1. More Time Spent on Service Innovation
Every time you resolve an IT incident, it allows your employees to spend less time “firefighting” and more time on tasks related to service optimization and innovation.
2. Increased Profitability
Fewer technical issues, combined with an excellent customer experience, greatly reduce operational costs and, over time, can drastically boost your profitability through continued investment in your IT services.
3. Enhanced Industry Competitiveness
Using IT service management frameworks to get the most out of budgets and resources will help your organization stay competitive in the marketplace–something 75% of executives feel they’re failing at.
4. Quicker Onboarding
Streamlined ITSM practices also help new employees hit the ground running with less lead time needed for training. This, in turn, means greater overall productivity, allowing for far more agility during project execution.
5. Improved Employee Engagement
Studies have shown that staff members who are engaged not only perform at a higher level in the workplace but are also better team players who closely align themselves with company values and goals.
ITSM also influences how well your business can implement necessary organizational change. Whether it’s a stronger focus on cloud computing technology or launching new big data projects, more than half of executives categorized ITSM as “extremely important” to the success of these initiatives.
For more on how to develop the best ITSM strategy for your business, check out our blog!
Important ITSM Terms You Should Know
ITSM is a complex topic, one that is made up of several different components and concepts. To best understand how ITSM works, especially in relationships to IT service platforms like Jira Service Desk, here’s a glossary of important ITSM terms that you should know:
IT Help Desk/Service Desk
Most ITSM conversations center around a company’s service desk. Broadly speaking, it includes both the infrastructure and support agents that process user-based IT issues, routes tickets for diagnosis and/or resolution, ensures a positive customer service ticket experience, and manage key workflows that help achieve those goals.
Self-Service Portal/Knowledge Center
These automated online spaces are where end users can go to either resolve basic-level issues autonomously (such as setting up a new device) or browse through an information center containing tutorials, documentation, IT-related policies, and more. While many companies operate with both, the knowledge contained in either one isn’t always interchangeable.
In the context of ITSM, configuration is a very general term that refers to any component that makes up part of a corporate IT ecosystem. Servers, hardware, software, data centers, mobile devices, licenses–they all fall under the same umbrella, just as long as the component is a piece of technology.
Configuration Management Database (CMDB)
If an IT configuration is all about relevant technology pieces, then a CMDB is, logically, the location where detailed information about those items is stored. IT services and related assets (configuration items) can be organized in a CMDB to map dependencies, establish automation triggers or custom service ticket form fields, and much more. For more on how to build a CMDB, visit our site.
IT Asset Management (ITAM)
ITAM is a subsection of ITSM that focuses on IT assets. ITAM is governed by a collection of business practices that encompass areas like inventory, financial, documentation, and lifecycle management. ITAM can also be further broken down into Hardware Asset Management (HAM) and Software Asset Management (SAM) categories.
Incident Management is a subsection of practices that outlines activities and events related to IT services in order to pinpoint, study, and prevent the reoccurrence of any issues.
Problem Management is a more base-level ITSM function that identifies the root cause of repeat IT issues, as well as suggests steps to take to avoid them occurring again.
Change Management, as it relates to ITSM, ensures a controlled process and environment where a planned organizational change can be put into practice without negative repercussions afflicting either existing systems or the customer experience. This is typically carried out in the face of rapidly changing technological circumstances. For more on how to set up a change management plan, click here.
License Management leverages various digital tools to monitor, document, and control the usage of different software licenses within an organization. This is done for both managerial, cost-related, and compliance reasons.
Release Management focuses on how organizations streamline the introduction of new apps, tools, or services into their configuration. This is normally done using automation triggers and means for cross-department collaboration.
Service Request Management
Service Request Management uses analysis tools to scan and process service ticket contents before they reach support agents. This is done not only to prevent widespread ticket misrouting but also provide additional value for the customer(s) looking for a resolution.
The above terms all represent practical components of ITSM and how they translate to the technical side of business operations. However, there is one term I haven’t covered yet–the overarching framework that holds all of those parts together.
I’m talking, of course, about ITIL.
ITSM vs. ITIL: What’s the Difference?
If ITSM represents the various ways in which you can optimize the IT side of a business, then ITIL is the conceptual framework that strives to boost IT service reliability and efficiency.
Think of ITIL as the theoretical best practices that inform how you can best manage your IT services. ITSM, as well as the subterms I discussed in the previous section, are the practical manifestations of those ideologies that carry out the framework’s vision. There is definitely some overlap, in terms of one influencing the other, but they are far from the same thing.
In fact, the best way to think about ITIL and ITSM is how they can work together to help any organization achieve its short and long-term business goals. Like Riggs and Murtaugh, or any number of the best buddy cop duos to hit the big or small screens, the value they bring as a package deal far outweighs what they bring to the table separately.
That said, many in the IT and startup communities view ITIL and ITSM as warring factions instead of brothers in arms. This Atlassian article, for example, paints ITIL, ITSM, and DevOps as competing labels that fuel tribalistic notions of loyalty. Sometimes within a single IT department. Some have even declared ITIL the “most hated” ITSM framework out there.
Those broad statements don’t really do ITIL justice, however.. However, Recent statistics indicate that 47% of sites still use ITIL for ITSM, giving it a double-digit lead over next most popular framework. Gene Kim (among others) have also come to ITIL’s defense online, calling it “the best codifications of the business processes that underpin IT Operations.”
Throughout ITIL’s history, there’s been a consistent shift away from a strict, process-based library of knowledge towards best practices that are rooted in how consumers interact with IT services. As AXELOS has stated, IT’s business value isn’t created in a vacuum:
“[Service management] value is co-created, not delivered [...] the activities that a service provider undertakes do not create value by themselves. Value is realized only when the consumer engages with the service provider through the means of a service relationship.”
With the release of ITIL 4, IT practitioners have a new version of the framework that can help them evolve their ITSM and DevOps processes to match the breakneck pace of modern technological innovation. Both sets of practices have a great deal of value to bring to the global business community.
For more on how ITIL can influence the change management side of ITSM, click through to our blog post on the topic.
You can also check out practical tips that will ensure you’re getting the most out of ITIL in Jira Service Desk.
ITSM Best Practices: Understanding the Basics
Finally, we come to the foundational pieces that make up ITSM best practices. From clear interdepartmental communication to agile development processes to a collaborative execution and feedback environment, here are the major pillars that predict ITSM success:
1. Prioritize End-Users Over Internal Processes
The most successful ITSM approaches are customer-centric at their core. As such, organizations who put their customers’ IT service needs and wants before their internal processes (and any resistance to change) maximize their capacity for digital innovation while also minimizing related business risk.
2. Use Clear CMDB Database Modeling
When it comes to shaping ITSM practices that benefit external and internal stakeholders, the conversation starts (and potentially ends) with flexible data modeling that translates into a CMDB. While potentially easier said than done (85% of companies fail to create a usable CMDB), it’s one of the hallmarks of efficient ITSM and ITAM processes.
3. Rethink Your Service Desk to Shrink Resolution Time
Permanently slashing your Median Time to Resolution (MTTR) for IT incidents means thinking beyond industry norms and streamlining your ticket workflow for both end-users and agents. Whether that means increased transparency, automation tactics or even splitting your IT department into more specialized sectors, service desk innovation is absolutely crucial to ITSM success.
4. Learn From (Don’t Just Copy) DevOps
From a philosophical point of view, there’s no doubt that DevOps has revolutionized the way in which many organizations think about their IT resources and and approach the communication and collaboration aspects of ITSM. However, it’s important to use the DevOps as a springboard for your ITSM optimization tactics, instead of simply copying them over and hoping they translate. Like ITIL, DevOps is only part of the puzzle.
5. Don’t Needlessly Delay Implementation
If your business is waiting for the right time to make a change to their ITSM processes, don’t. The truth of the matter is that there is no right time. In fact, with change management timelines getting shorter with each passing year, the time to act and potentially save your organization from falling too far behind the technological curve is now.
6. Tailor Your ITSM Strategy to Your Needs
When it comes to building that perfect plan for your company’s future, make sure you’re actually tailoring it to your specific needs and goals. Rome wasn’t built in a day, so don’t rush into a generic blueprint that doesn’t take your future into consideration. You may not even get everything right the first time, but frankly, that hardly matters. Continuous improvement and bold, precise execution will get you there faster than you think.
Hit up our blog for our full-length breakdown of all ITSM best practice pillars you see above, plus additional tips not covered in this article!
While you’re at it, check out this in-depth look at how Domino’s used ITSM to beat Silicon Valley’s giants at their own game.
As this blog article demonstrates, ITSM is more than just a set of stuffy IT service practices that only apply to “tech nerds.” It actually touches every part of a thriving digital business and is one of the major factors that help the growth and scaling processes over time.
By implementing lean, robust ITSM practices, you’ll be getting the most out of your resources, reducing costs, improving the logic behind key business decisions and, best of all, creating the kind of IT-centric customer experience that will wow your consumers.
Service desk ecosystems like Jira are rife with ITSM tools and options for your business. However, if you’re looking for one that gives you incredible bang for your buck, I’d recommend giving Insight a try today. From data modeling to asset management to establishing that all-important single source of truth, it’s one of the world’s most trusted ITSM apps.
Find out more about what Insight can do for your business by clicking below!
Originally published Sep 4, 2019 7:59:00 AM
Late 2019, we did a brand split. Mindville is the company behind the Insight products. Riada provides expert consultancy services on all things Atlassian. Riada can be found at riada.se. Mindville is an Atlassian Platinum Top Vendor and Riada is an Atlassian Platinum Solution Partner.