IT Service Management (ITSM)

In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about IT Service Management, or ITSM for short – from the definition to the comprehensive benefits for your company and the various processes you can implement and use with it, to a look into the future of ITSM.

Definition: ITSM

IT Service Management (ITSM for short) is the provision of IT as a service – for employees and customers. This includes all processes and activities related to the planning, compilation, delivery and support of IT services.

The aim of ITSM systems is to link people, business processes and IT within the company in the best possible way, to save time and costs and thus to increase productivity and profitability within the company.

In short, ITSM is designed to help achieve business goals and expectations and simplify processes. In addition, ITSM systems help to manage the increasingly complex IT landscapes, IT services and processes more easily and to automate them where possible.

Today, ITSM goes even one step further. Rather than wait for new application areas and uses, many ITSM tools are already taking advantage of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to predict such requirements as accurately as possible, even before they are received. More on this below.

IT teams are responsible for all IT operations – from newly needed or damaged laptops and faulty servers to business-critical software applications and forgotten passwords, as well as managing and monitoring all relevant enterprise assets, which may well include none-IT assets.

And ITSM offers the best solution for this. That’s because it dictates exactly how IT teams must manage and organize the delivery of those services to customers as well as employees, so that everyone in the business can work without disruption.

Conversely, thanks to ITSM, employees and customers can communicate easily with the IT team and thus convey problems and requests with pinpoint accuracy. In contrast to traditional IT support, which merely provides technical tools, ITSM solutions strive to provide a comprehensive and, above all, simple service that effectively supports the internal customer. This enables the IT team to make a measurable value contribution to the company’s success.

Why is IT Service Management important?

Digitalization, hybrid work models and the increasing networking of departments in modern companies today demand efficient IT Service Management. Efficient management of IT services – ideally in real time – is expected by both employees and customers.

In other words, as soon as you offer any IT service or product and aim for positive process efficiency, you should look at ITSM. ITSM is the only way for IT to respond precisely to the requirements of a company and its customers and employees.

ITSM frameworks, norms and standards

What is an ITSM framework? To ensure that you don’t lose your overview in the dynamic IT environment between constantly changing requirements, technologies and participants, there are so-called frameworks that provide a structure in ITSM. There are also certifications and standards such as ISO/IEC 20000, which contain the minimum requirements for IT Service Management.

IT teams use a variety of frameworks to guide their work. Among the most commonly used are ITSM and DevOps. However, there are numerous other concepts such as COBIT, SIAM, IT4IT, ITIL, and Lean, to name a few. We list the two most important ones here.

ITIL

The terms ITSM and the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL for short) are often used interchangeably, although they are not the same thing. ITIL is a framework that can be found within ITSM. ITIL has as its main focus the improvement of efficiency and predictability and is basically a guideline that helps companies to implement ITSM, among other things.

ITIL, in short, is a generally accepted set of best practices designed to help an organization get the most value from IT by aligning IT services with business strategy. For this purpose, methods such as checklists, tasks and processes are used, which any company can easily implement.

In summary, ITIL processes can be part of ITSM, but not every ITSM uses or follows all standards defined in ITIL.

DevOps

DevOps and ITIL are often mentioned in competition with each other, but this is not quite true: DevOps is a method for bridging the gap between development and operations.

The core principles are open communication, collaboration and shared goals. DevOps and ITIL are therefore not mutually exclusive, but can complement each other. The main difference is that DevOps does not provide process guidelines as ITIL does. There are countless use cases for DevOps and ITIL, such as:

  • the acceleration of new releases
  • the prevention of incidents
  • the analysis of incidents
  • Recommendations for the system structure of ticketing, change and problem management
  • Predictive Maintenance
  • Ensuring that systems are up to date
  • and much more

Advantages of ITSM

Now you know what ITSM is, what it does, and what frameworks can go along with it. But what are the concrete benefits of implementing IT Service Management for your company?

The most important task of ITSM software is to improve the efficiency and productivity of a company. This is because the ITSM system reduces costs and mitigates risks, while at the same time making all processes in the company more predictable and easier to plan. And this improved service ultimately leads to better customer experiences, which in turn has a positive impact on business figures.

To ensure this, IT Service Management acts as a link between end users of IT services and IT professionals. The focus is therefore less on the systems themselves and more on the practical, company-side requirements. Fundamental benefits that result from the implementation of ITSM are the following:

  • Align IT teams with business priorities tracked against success metrics
  • Enabling cross-departmental collaboration
  • Bringing together IT and development teams using optimized project management approaches
  • Improve request coordination for more efficient service.
  • Better customer orientation with self-service offerings and optimized processes
  • Short response time to incidents and better handling of future problems
  • Provide resources for IT teams to share knowledge and continuously optimize collaboration

ITSM puts the main focus on planning and managing the IT services of a customer or employees within an organization. This happens through continuous analysis and improvement of existing processes, IT services and infrastructure.

This includes all processes and activities related to the planning, compilation, delivery and support of IT services. ITSM is therefore service-oriented. The central concept stems from the conviction that IT should be provided as a service in order to be able to operate economically.

In addition to these general benefits, ITSM has other benefits to offer the company and the IT department itself, which we list below:

Advantages for the company

Setting up ITSM processes and acquiring IT service management software naturally involves a one-time capital expenditure (CAPEX). However, you will quickly realize a higher return on investment (ROI) due to the many benefits mentioned here as you save on recurring operating expenses (OPEX). Specifically, companies can benefit from ITSM as follows:

  • Increase agility
  • Increasing the quality of service
  • Strengthening the standardization and optimization of processes
  • Cost reduction
  • Reduction of unforeseen downtimes
  • Reduction of response times
  • Better understanding of requirements from the business and daily operations

Advantages for IT

But an ITSM system not only has positive effects for the company, IT itself also benefits from the introduction.

  • Improved productivity through clear roles and responsibilities
  • Improved user satisfaction
  • Improved monitoring
  • Improve scalability of all processes
  • Errors are detected earlier and downtimes are minimized
  • Response times are reduced
  • Improved collaboration across departmental boundaries

In order to really make use of these benefits, IT Service Management offers a wide range of processes, which we will now discuss. It should be noted at the outset that not all processes need to be established in the company, but only those that meet the company’s specific requirements.

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Typical ITSM processes

Hardly any business can do without technology these days: From the laptop, to the applications installed on it, to the server you hang on to, to the printer your team uses. All these devices are indispensable for daily work, and when they don’t work, entire departments often grind to a halt.

Avoiding long downtimes in the process is often the responsibility of IT, to which most requests of this type are transmitted via a so-called service desk and later handled. In addition to the management of service requests, ITSM activities such as Incident Management, Knowledge Management, self-service, reporting and many more are being handled. Now you can find out which processes can generally be triggered by means of ITSM.

Incident Management

Incident Management encompasses the entire organizational and technical process of responding to detected or suspected incidents or malfunctions in IT areas and devices. The purpose of Incident Management is to minimize the negative impact of incidents by restoring normal service operations as quickly as possible. Incident Management is the most widely used ITIL process. As already mentioned, it runs via the service desk. There, inquiries are forwarded to IT, which issues a ticket is created for each incident. Concrete examples may look like the following:

  • the business cell phone breaks down
  • an employee or a customer needs to reset a password
  • the internet connection in a department is on strike
  • a new laptop is needed

The tickets created are assigned and processed according to a defined workflow in order to resolve all incidents as quickly as possible.

Change Management

As technologies evolve, markets change and companies grow, the IT infrastructure must change and adapt to meet the new requirements – this is where Change Management comes in. A change is defined as theprocess of change in day-to-day operations itself, and it doesn’t matter whether the change relates to a new office printer or the implementation of a brand new technology across the enterprise. Examples of a change look like the following:

  • A company wants to expand and the internal processes have to be adapted to this expansion.
  • A new manager is hired and dependencies need to be redefined.
  • However, a change can also refer only to a change in a software (new release, new functions, bug fixed) or a change of a setting in central components (network switch).

This means that changes are not only processes of change, but also adaptations of software or approaches in a company. They are defined when changes requiring approval have to be made that affect several employees, processes or the entire company. The aim is to avoid disruptions and errors by fundamentally changing the entire company. In addition, Change Management should play a key role in helping employees and customers alike gain a positive attitude toward change.

Problem Management

Multiple incidents that are due to the same cause are defined as a problem. Problem Management is the process of identifying and managing the causes of incidents in an IT service.

However, problem management is not just about finding and fixing incidents, but also about identifying and understanding the underlying causes of an incident and finding the best way to eliminate those causes – even for the future. It is closely related to Change Management, because you can predefine standard problems so that they can be solved automatically. In addition to incident and change management, problem management is a core component of an ITSM system.

Requirements Management

Requirements Management (RM) is a process that includes everything your project or product needs to be successfully implemented. In other words, meeting the needs of customers and the requirements of the company in equal measure. This includes gathering, understanding, improving and planning all components to make the product or project a success. Using Requirements Management, all changes to requirements can be closely tracked and communication with stakeholders can be fostered from the beginning of a project throughout the development lifecycle. Requirements Management thus helps to avoid errors.

IT Asset Management

IT Asset Management (also called ITAM) is a process that ensures an organization’s assets are documented, deployed, maintained, updated, and retired when the time is right. An asset can include a piece of hardware, a company car, a contract, a software system, and all associated data. Assets always represent value, i.e., non-movable capital goods or contracts that have a quantifiable value. In addition, there are also assets that are assigned a notional value (e.g., an in-house development of software also represents an asset, even if it is not yet defined as a product). In short, IT Asset Management ensures that tangible and intangible items of value are captured and used in your business. Asset Management ensures this by proactively managing the lifecycle of IT assets by defining individual phases and their scope. In general, this includes …

  • the planning,
  • the procurement,
  • the deployment,
  • the maintenance and
  • the decommissioning.

In this way, the total cost of ownership is comprehensibly displayed, monitored and thus the use of assets is ultimately optimized, which minimizes risks and costs for companies.

Configuration Management

Configuration Management consists of identifying and tracking the individual configuration elements (assets) or individual CIs (Configuration Items). This is done including their characteristics and functions within a company.

It is a process of maintaining computer systems, servers, and software in a desired, consistent state. This data is in turn required by all ITSM processes to function smoothly. In short, it ensures that neither minor nor major changes are applied undocumented. This includes baselines, versions, components, attributes and relationships. There is also close contact with Change Management processes. Configuration Management enables companies to ensure at all times that their systems and all assets function as expected, even in the event of changes.

Knowledge Management

Knowledge management deals with the acquisition, development, transfer, storage and use of knowledge within a company. It encompasses all procedures, methods and instruments that support the systematic handling of knowledge in all areas of the company. This improves the performance of business processes and achieves corporate goals.

Intelligent Knowledge Management is therefore also one of the most important success factors of modern companies and those who want to be. In practice, this enables relevant knowledge to be collected seamlessly in a central location, prepared in a comprehensible manner and presented clearly.

On a technical level, hardware and software can specifically support the practice of Knowledge Management. From a simple server for central access to a corporate wiki, possibilities open up here. For example, the Knowledge Base forms the basis for effective Knowledge Management. Helpful information for users and agents is stored here as articles. Users have easy access via a service portal.

Configuration Management Database (CMDB)

A Configuration Management Database (CMDB) stores information about the configuration of items within an organization, including hardware, software, systems, facilities, and sometimes employees. Thus, the CMBD forms the central interface in ITSM, because all processes in ITSM access this database.

The goal of a CMDB is therefore to provide the information an organization needs to make better business decisions and execute ITSM processes efficiently. By centralizing all configuration information, managers can better understand critical configuration items and their relationships.

Other useful ITSM processes

Here you will find more useful ITSM processes to help you optimize your business:

  • Service Portfolio Management
  • Service Level Management
  • Release Management
  • Supplier Management
  • Reporting Management
  • Application Lifecycle Management
  • Software Lifecycle Management

Finding the right ITSM system

We have listed above which advantages ITSM brings to everyday business and which processes it basically covers. In order to be able to meet your individual company requirements and to introduce an ITSM solution that is a perfect fit, the following questions also arise:

  • What problem do I want to solve?
  • What is missing from your current ITSM processes?
  • What can you do to improve your IT services?
  • At which points does the ITSM tool come into play?
  • What are the requirements of my company?
  • Is there collaboration along the central processes even across departmental boundaries?
  • Can it be adapted to new requirements as needed?
  • Can all relevant corporate assets be managed effectively and do previous processes meet their compliance requirements?
  • Do you want to launch a self-service portal?
  • What do I expect from a new ITSM tool?
  • Are assets monitored as part of a critical infrastructure and to what extent should this be taken over by the ITSM solution (Lifecycle Management, KRITIS)?

In addition, you should also think about the following 2 statements:

  • For example, if you want to continue working with different applications, the new tool should have interfaces for connecting them.
  • If you have a large number of workflows, you need a tool with workflow automation.

So you see: ITSM systems are modular and can be integrated into your company individually as needed. To get the most out of your workflow, you should seek comprehensive advice. Some providers, like us, offer free trial runs. The exchange with partners, other companies or customers can also facilitate your decision.

Implementing ITSM in the enterprise: Best Practice in 6 Steps

Note: Successful implementation of ITSM requires the support of IT stakeholders AND business stakeholders. This means it is of central importance to communicate the relevance of ITSM within the company.

The introduction itself requires precise planning of the most important success factors, as well as the control of the same by means of regularly monitored key figures. One principle way of advising companies on the successful implementation of ITSM is to look at current IT processes (for example, “new employee”), track them and break them down into several steps and digitize them. The basic procedure for this is as follows:

1. Rating

The first thing to understand is the current level of IT Service Management in the organization. This includes gathering information about current IT processes, IT systems and infrastructure, and how IT services are currently delivered.

2. Define goals and requirements

The next step is to work with the company to define goals and requirements to be achieved. This includes identifying weaknesses in current processes and determining areas for improvement.

3. Develop a strategy

Based on the defined goals and requirements, a strategy should be developed to achieve them. This includes the selection of ITSM processes and tools to be implemented and the determination of roles and responsibilities. An important part of the strategy should be to start selectively (or small) and introduce process by process.

4. Implementation

Once the strategy has been developed, implementation of the ITSM processes and tools can begin. This includes training employees who will be working with the new processes and tools, as well as setting up IT Service Management systems.

5. Monitoring and optimization

Post-implementation monitoring should be performed regularly to ensure that ITSM processes and tools are successful and objectives are being met. When necessary, optimizations should be made to ensure that IT services are developed and delivered appropriately for the needs of the business.

6. Expansion of IT Service Management to other areas of the company

Other areas of the company can also benefit from IT’s ability to offer services digitally. For example, an HR department could also make processes such as salary statements, job references, etc. available to the entire company via digital IT Service Management.

It is important to emphasize that implementing ITSM is not a one-way street. Continuous adjustments and optimizations are often necessary to ensure that IT services are accepted by the workforce. Because every organization is different and there is no universal solution for implementing ITSM. The process described here is a general method, but it must be adapted to the specific needs and requirements of the business to be successful.

You wish to learn more about SmartITSM?

Perfect! Just book your free demo here or write to us.

The future of ITSM

Looking towards the future of ITSM, we can see the rise of so-called AIOps. The term AIOps is composed of Artificial Intelligence, AI, and the management of IT operations, Ops.

Artificial Intelligence is used here to report and resolve operational difficulties (e. g. system failures) or to look for ways to keep pace with and manage the increasing complexity of technologies. One of the most important jobs for AIOps is to integrate a wide variety of data silos from ITSM and IT Operations Management.

This consolidation of data makes it increasingly easier to discover the causes of many problems more quickly and efficiently, and thus to rectify them. At the same time, it also helps to enable automation in the first place, since there is now only one data pool instead of individual silos.

As with many technologies, the future of ITSM lies in AI, or Artificial Intelligence. Through the automation of numerous areas, …

  • like automated communication,
  • ticket solution,
  • automatic workload optimization and
  • preventive maintenance of systems

… a lot of time can be saved. This is because AI can permanently monitor the service desk infrastructure and detect and report incidents at an early stage.

ITSM: Profit from IT Service Management today

ITSM benefits not only your IT team, but your entire organization. Used correctly, ITSM always leads to an increase in efficiency and productivity. That’s because a structured ITSM approach enables IT alignment with business goals and standardizes service delivery based on budgets, resources and outcomes – for employees and customers. This reduces costs and minimizes risks, which ultimately has a positive impact on the entire company and its external image.

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FAQs: ITSM

IT Service Management (ITSM for short) is the provision of IT as a service – for employees and customers. This includes all processes and activities related to the planning, compilation, delivery and support of IT services.

The terms ITSM and the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL for short) are often used interchangeably, although they are not the same thing. ITIL is a framework that can be found within ITSM. It is basically a guide to help companies implement ITSM.

No. Many departments, such as Facilities and HR, can also benefit from ITSM. Basically, it helps every department deal with problems and changes. The same applies to facility departments whose infrastructure is not an IT organization but a building. This is also called Enterprise Service Management and is a trend that is becoming more and more prevalent.