What is ITSM?

IT service management (ITSM) relates to all of the activities surrounding planning, building, implementing, supporting, and managing IT services. Simply, this means that all of the information, assets, processes, practices, policies, and the actual services created by or surrounding IT falls under ITSM.

At its best, the role of ITSM is to simplify, support, and manage all of your IT department’s services and data to create value for the entire organization. This is the primary reason for the creation of ITSM solutions or platforms designed to help IT departments manage this vast amount of information and resources. 

The ideal ITSM solution takes into account the organization, people, information, technology, partners, suppliers, practice, and processes to help the IT department manage these resources and information. ITSM solutions are not new, but developments such as cloud, Agile, DevOps, and AI are forcing many organizations to review their IT systems and how they can properly address this rapidly changing IT environment.

What is ITSM-process

Figure: Simplified illustration of one of the typical use cases of an ITSM tool, managing incidents

See the fundamentals of what ITSM is and what areas it impacts.

What are the 3 greatest benefits of ITSM?

Improve your Efficiency

A well-functioning ITSM and the right ITSM system make it easy for organizations to centralize any IT service within a single location and improve efficiencies with automation. An agile ITSM tool will allow you to:
 

Provide Effortless End-to-End Experiences

When done right, ITSM is designed and built with every level of user in mind. It can provide effortless end-to-end experiences from admins to end-users through pre-configured elements, customizable reporting tools, and a modern, user friendly self-service portal. With the right ITSM system, your organization will have:
  • Pre-configured templates, roles, workflows, and reports allowing an easy implementation of new processes and services, processes should be ideally based on ITIL 4 best practices
  • a flexible user interface allowing custom reports, dashboards and personalized offerings/services to ensure the best possible usability for end-users
  • Endless integration possibilities to connect to complimentary discovery, unified endpoint management, knowledge base, and other service management solutions, making it easy to leverage several tools together
  • An easy-to-use self-service portal for your end users which centralizes information and services and supports the company-wide acceptance and use of the ITSM tool 

Create Transparency, control and Improve Auditability

ITSM enables organizations to gain complete insight into their services and operations with flexible reporting tools. Advanced solutions give reports that can be expanded or customized to include additional business-specific information by any user. With comprehensive ITSM software, all members of the organization can:
  • Create their personal reports, views, and dashboards they need
  • Create new or modify existing templates, roles, views and more to meet your exact needs
  • Easily export graphs, views, and data for reports, presentations or further analysis

How are organizations benefiting from ITSM?
Read ITSM use cases

Ticketing Systems vs. ITSM Solutions

Choosing the right solution to meet the needs of your organization is crucial. When considering how to reduce emails, phone calls, and face-to-face interactions when issues occur (or when something is needed, or a user has questions) two distinct options come to mind - Ticketing systems and ITSM Solutions. These two systems have some similar aspects but are different in a lot of keyways.

Ticketing systems

Ticketing systems allow IT support to be better organize and categorize incidents and possibly questions or requests. These are lighter systems that are more interested in streamlining the process of:
  • A user has an issue 
  • The user informs the service desk (or help desk)
  • The issue is assigned
  • The issue is resolved
The primary goal of a ticketing system is to improve productivity and reduce the possibility of an incident getting overlooked.
 
 

ITSM Solutions

ITSM Solutions are systems built to better serve the needs of the IT department and everyone who has an interaction with the service desk. 
ITSM solutions will include some form of a ticketing system to allow users to make requests, report incidents, and ask questions, but they also contain much more. Some of the basic practices included in ITSM systems are:
  • Change management - Used to create standards to allow for smooth upgrades, developments, and releases.
  • Incident management - Used to identified, reported, categorize and remedy IT issues in an organization.
  • IT Asset management - Used to record and track IT equipment and infrastructure to manage the lifecycles and total costs.
  • Knowledge management - Used to collect and manage effective and useful information or knowledge across the organization.
  • Problem Management - Used to reduce the impact of incidents through better categorization and management of workarounds and know errors.
  • Project Management - Used to report and manage all of the organization's projects to ensure their succesful delivery
  • Service Desk - The point of interaction where tickets are sent, categorized, and resolved.
These practices could be considered the bare minimum for ITSM solutions, but they often incorporate many more areas based on the ITIL framework.

 

Planning to implement ITSM Ticketing in your organization?

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ITSM Software and Tools

Choosing the right ITSM software and tool is a tedious task requiring a lot of analysis from different angles. Building a solid, needs-driven foundation for your IT Service Management will ensure that you choose the right tools and systems to underpin the central goals of all business functions - even beyond IT. A good starting point is looking at:
 
1. User experience - The modern IT user expects their services to be available when, where, and how they want them. However, this isn't just about indulging fussy users - it's about making everybody more productive. With a flexible, always-on service platform with plenty of self-service capabilities you can run a smoother operation while allowing IT service staff to focus less on mundane tasks and more on strategic planning and direction.
 
2. Operational efficiency - Efficient IT service delivery is more than just fast response times. Do you know what your current service costs are, and how much you could save by improving your systems? Take some time to consider what the ideal processes for support requests and issue resolution would look like, and how those would enable your teams to be more efficient.
 
3. Total cost of ownership - When looking at the total cost of ownership for our ITSM systems, we often become overly focused on the infrastructure costs, sunk costs on installation, and ongoing costs for maintaining and delivering current services. We don't always consider the time, effort and money required for dealing with changes in processes or technology. If the business can't easily innovate and deliver enhanced solutions, there can be substantial financial implications. 
 
Take some time to also map out the requirements of HR, Legal, Finance, Customer Services, and any other central business functions. This will guide you towards the type of vendor you want to collaborate with, as you will be able to align their skills and abilities with your cultural and regional needs.
itsm-software-tools

Need help to make the right ITSM vendor choice?
Download our ITSM Buyer's Guide

Cloud ITSM

Software as a service, or SaaS, is a business model where customers pay to use software hosted on a remote computer. SaaS is often used interchangeably with “cloud computing”. Today, thanks to the internet and global communications technologies, Cloud and service-based software are quickly becoming the norm.

Cloud ITSM means ITSM software or tools running on cloud servers. Compared to many traditional on-premises (on-prem) deployments they provide a number of key benefits.  

The benefits of cloud ITSM include:
  • Reduced and more predictable IT costs – instead of purchasing expensive systems and paying the salaries of people operating them, you get the application on a monthly subscription basis and you only pay for the number of users you really need. The solution also scales up quickly when your business grows. Using cloud ITSM frees up your and your team’s time so you can concentrate on running your business.
  • Simplified upgrade and maintenance - the use of cloud technologies has also helped simplify integrations and security reporting. Cloud technology and software-as -a-service solutions have further reduced the initial adoption costs making these technologies accessible to a much wider range of customer. 

ITSM Best Practices - The ITIL Framework

IT Infrastructure Library, ITIL is a best practice framework for ITSM. ITIL is a set of best practices and universally accepted terms for ITSM providers, customers, and potential buyers. It is used to help ensure easy implementation, integration and ultimately the greatest value.
 
A white paper of everything you ever wanted to know about ITIL can be downloaded from Axelos’ home page here. ITIL’s best practices evolve around processes. Read more about the ITIL processes and their practical implementation in an ITSM solution here.
 
The newest version of the framework, ITIL 4 Foundation level was launched in 2019. It has brought a lot of welcomed updates to the best practices of IT service management.
 

The Benefits of Implementing ITIL 4 in your ITSM Operations

 Four interesting updates that the newest version of ITIL introduces are:

Holistic view on the value of IT services 

ITIL 4 focuses on the value creation of services. Traditionally, the focus has been on the costs of a service. Instead of looking only at the costs of having a service, ITIL 4 also looks at the costs being removed by a service. But is it practical to make a business case for each service and measure how much money it hypothetically saves? Especially as the financial value of a service is only one of its potential benefits. ITIL 4 suggests that you look at the value of each service more holistically. The value of a service, according to ITIL 4, consists of the revenue generated and the cost cut minus the cost of providing a service.  

It is easy to make such a calculation once one has all the right numbers. But how can one accurately estimate the money saved, without creating a lot of overhead? How can non-financial benefits such as a dramatically improved customer experience be measured? Hence ITIL 4 suggests that an ITSM tool’s service’s template should look at value instead of costs only.  

Defining the risks of IT services

There is also a conscious effort in ITIL 4 to define the risks involved in a service, and how those risks might affect its value. There are many risks that can affect the value of a service, but there is also a risk in not running a service at all. And often that one risk is greater than all other risks that the service brings with it. The risk of not running a service is often forgotten or undocumented. Either way, risks should be understood and recorded, especially those impacting the availability of a service.

 

ITSM-itil-v4

Figure 1: The 
ITSM service value system according to ITIL 4 

Measuring the continuity of IT services

Third topic that comes through more in ITIL 4 than in the previous versions, is the concept of service continuity, especially as more services are offered on SaaS-basis. The parameters of Recovery Time Objective (RTO) and Recovery Point Objective (RPO) are not new in many CMDBs. In the past, RTO and RPO have often been assigned for infrastructure elements such as servers or database centers for cloud-based services. There is no value in a cloud-based application running smoothly, if another application that is needed to sign-in to the service is not up and running at all.

Service Value System and Integrated Value Chain in ITSM

In ITIL 3, the added value was created based on the service lifecycle. However, this approach was often represented with a sequential structure, or waterfall model, and the framework lacked the flexibility to respond quickly to changes. In ITIL 4, this cycle has been replaced by a service value system which includes an integrated value chain, as depicted in Figure 1 and 2. Read more about the ITSM Service Value System in ITIL 4 here.
 
 
 
 
ITSM-ITIL-v4-value-chain
Figure 2: The service value chain according to ITIL 4  

One key advantage of ITIL 4 for service providers and service customers in the ITSM area is the immediate transparency of the entire value stream. This allows for traceability within the value stream and simultaneously forms the basis for continuous optimizations.

For example, it is possible to identify and resolve non-value adding activities quicker. Within ITIL 4, these activities constitute a form of waste for lean management and should therefore always be removed or minimized. Based on this principle, the value stream should be continuously optimized.

All activities of IT service providers should always be directly oriented toward generating traceable, added value for the stakeholders.

Value streams can be very extensive and complex, regardless of industry or market. To control and manage this complexity, all steps of the value stream are always coupled with the associated six value chain activities. These, in turn, are combined with ITIL principals, practices and governance to create the value system. This coupling allows providers to design their service management holistically and control them in a more traceable manner promoting continuous improvement.

If you want to learn more about ITIL 4, how it differs from previous versions and the value it will bring to service management organizations, please view our webinar recording.

Learn more about ITIL 4
View Webinar Recording

ITIL 4 Practices in ITSM

With a well-functioning and agile ITSM solution, your organization will be able to implement any of the ITIL 4 practices created by Axelos.

General Management Practices

Service Management Practices

Technical Management Practices

  • Deployment management
  • Infrastructure and platform management
  • Software development and management

Agile ITSM

The Next Generation of IT

The topic of agile is getting increased awareness surrounding ITSM, thanks to the fresh new version of ITIL, ITIL 4. Therefore, many managers and organizations are asking, "what does it take to make my ITSM processes more agile?" Traditionally, the focus in IT Service Management is on the Process Manager, who makes sure that operations of the process run smooth. The Incident Manager makes sure that all incidents are handled according to the predefined incident process. Similarly, the Change Manager, the Problem Manager and all the other Managers of ITIL disciplines focus on their own processes.

According to the Manifesto of Agile Software Development, agile focuses on “Responding to change over following a plan”. Thus, attention switches from managing operations to improving and adjusting the process, so that it always meets its users’ needs. That means that instead of the Process Manager, at the center is the Process Owner. The focus of your ITSM solution needs to extend from managing the process to its whole lifecycle, including the “response to change”. Dealing with change becomes a core requirement for the solution. This does not mean following the paradigm of uncontrolled and chaotic change. Instead, well-structured change process needs to be applied to all processes that the ITSM solution handles.

 To learn more, watch our webinar about Agile ITSM

View the webinar recording

Pitfalls of Agile IT Service Management

Putting agile at work in your ITSM processes and expanding to other services processes like HR, Finance or Legal includes certain practices to follow and mistakes to avoid. The following guide will help you avoid these common pitfalls when applying agile:

  • Directly applying Scrum in your Service Request Management
  • Trying to Drag and Drop your incidents on a Kanban Board
  • Starting Agile Service Management with Incident Management, only
  • Attempting to make a PinkVerify-certified configuration agile
  • Introducing SAFe Methodology before all teams really are agile
  • Approaching complex issues with a traditional 3-tier approach

Download a guide for avoiding the pitfalls of Agile ITSM

Download the Guide

AI and ITSM

The Power of Artificial Intelligence with ITSM

Artificial Intelligence in IT Service Management will evolve over the next decade with first truly disruptive innovations. AI will impact many capabilities of ITSM tools including:

  • Bots working as virtual service agents reducing routine work
  • Machine learning algorithms providing better insight to similar issues and their corresponding actions leading to faster task completion
  • Robotic Process Automation mimicking the ITSM user’s behavior reducing freeing time for more complex challenges
  • Robotic Process Automation for routine tasks in self-service portals
  • Predictive maintenance for IT assets creating cost savings due to more accurate asset utilization
  • User profiling for advanced identity theft prevention improving enterprise data security
  • AI-based decision making in visual workflow automation for more adaptive business process automation
  • AI-based customer intent recognition in visual workflow automation moving from keyword- or category-based process automation to a more human workflow logic

Artificial Intelligence will be the 4th generation of process automation in IT. After the initial digitization of processes, the script-based automation, and the codeless visual workflow automation, machine learning is the next step in process automation.

The benefits of AI in ITSM will be cost savings through the automation of predictable, routine tasks, and a better user experience by analyzing big data of the past and making it available at a glance for smarter analysis. Due to the limited analytical skills of the first generation of AI algorithms, AI will be rather an evolution in ITSM than a revolution in the near future. 

ITSM and Artificial intelligence

  Learn more about AI & ITSM  

Download our AI in ITSM White Paper

Enterprise Service Management 

Using Your ITSM Tool to Manage Any Service

With a flexible ITSM tool, you can digitize and automate your work across the organization. From simple IT ticketing and self-service, to HR Service Delivery, Enterprise Contract Management, and company-wide process optimization, you can do it all with one system and with the same user experience. Some of the most common services managed with the help of tools originally designed for IT Service Management are:

  • HR Service Management, where efficient management and automation of routine tasks, effective division of work across teams and transparency to organizational bottle necks help HR professionals position themselves as fact-based, strategic partners for business.
  • Enterprise Contract Management, with which you can consolidate and protect your organization’s contracts in a single solution to provide faster, well-defined access, avoid last-minute panic before renewals, and improve auditability of all your enterprise contracts.
  • Serving your customers as a Service Provider through a solution that helps you grow your business, manage your customer service processes with full transparency, and delight your users with a simple and intuitive user experience.
  • Identity and Access Management, which simplifies the management of user access rights, enables automation of approval chains and provisioning, enhances compliance, and works across all your enterprise services.
  • On top of the pre-built Service Management applications, you may come up with a solution of your own and build it on top of your ITSM tool. 

 

ITSM Integration

 

Whatever ITSM tool your organization uses, you will want to maximize your investment by connecting it to other applications, services, and more. Integrations need to allow fast, two-way, and real-time data transfer between systems. To set up your integrations smoothly, here are the 3 important steps you need to follow:

Step 1: Design - Make sure to design an integration that meets your needs and document them visually using BPMN standard-based IDE.

Step 2: Build and Deploy - Use a low-code approach to configure connectors, build-in version controls to manage the different integration versions, and deploy the integration to your chosen environment once ready.

Step 3: Monitor - Monitor your integrations in real-time, ensuring the accuracy of the information and quick resolution of any errors.

integration_service

ITSM Consulting

The Help You Need for Implementing Your Next Generation ITSM

Many of the ITSM tools have a particular out-of-the-box functionality to establish a basic setup IT Service Management. However, to gain full advantage of any tool, you need to identify your customers and map the services you offer to different internal and external target groups. For this, ITSM provider’s consultants help you refresh service and process structures, consolidate corporate practices with support of the ITSM tools.

Outcome of professional consulting is a well-defined service catalogue for your organization. The service catalogue comes with processes that have customer-specific definitions like service times, priority definition rules, service request models and change request classifications.

In addition to advisory services for your processes and service catalog, you may want to get professional help on

  • project management, to make sure your implementation and development projects run smoothly
  • solution consultancy helps you implement and develop your ITSM solution according to best practices
  • ongoing support, which is timed and resourced according to your organization’s needs
  • outsourced administrator service is an alternative in case your organization does not have its own resources for administering your ITSM solution

Get in touch and let's talk about how we could help your business.

Request a demo or consultation meeting