IT Service Management (ITSM)
Efficient digital processes with IT Service Management
Think of any technology or technical device that you use for work – your laptop, all the programs installed on it, the office printer, and even the support team, who help you with technical glitches – they are all IT services. In other words, your IT team’s services are integral in your everyday working life.
Many people in your company probably see the IT department as simply support, but it should be viewed as an IT service provider, responsible for planning, implementing and supporting a wide range of technology. Not only within the company, but also end users who come into contact with IT services – every customer uses IT services.
Where does management come in?
To ensure that all these services run smoothly and are useful to users, IT Service Management (ITSM) is the way to go: it’s a process that helps IT teams to improve the way they work and therefore optimise their service from start to finish.
ITSM is a framework – a set of policies and processes that enable IT services to be managed and supported throughout their lifecycle. It includes quality management, software development, change management, information security management, and even popular management frameworks such as ISO 9000, ITIL and ISO/IEC.
ITSM provides a process-orientated approach to organising IT services. It focuses on the organisation and structure of self-focused IT departments and helps align IT goals with both business objectives and customer value. It also continuously strives to make these structures and processes even better.
ITSM and its components
Choosing an ITSM tool is a big decision, as it affects not only IT, but your entire organisation.
In addition to the problems and framework already specified, you should define your company’s exact requirements for the tool. Which processes are currently running well and should be retained? Which additional tools will you continue to use? What are the goals you want to achieve with ITSM?
When choosing the tool, we recommend remembering one rule: ITSM cannot be implemented with a single software.
You will soon realise that you have to combine different technology:
to name just a few of them. You will already have many of the systems actively in use. The ideal solution is a tool that can be integrated into the existing IT landscape.
The CMDB forms the common basis for this. Discovery provides an initial starting point and later ensures necessary data reconciliation. Monitoring accesses the CMDB data and returns the corresponding values. The service desk also refers to the information stored in the CMDB, in order to provide its services.
With all these considerations in mind, you should have already narrowed down the choice of possible tools and can concentrate on closely examining these tools to reach a decision. This decision ultimately has one goal: to make your customers happy.
The advantages of ITSM
- Repeatable and scalable processes.
- Higher efficiency and productivity of the IT team through carefully defined roles and responsibilities.
A better understanding from the IT department of what the business needs and why.
- Improving interdepartmental co-operation.
- shorter reaction times in case of failures and prevention of further disturbances
- Uncomplicated audits for certifications, such as ISO 27001 or ISO 20000.
- Optimised knowledge exchange and continuous improvement of processes.
- Better customer orientation through increased transparency and empowerment of customers to help themselves.
- The bottom line: IT Service Management aims to achieve increasing customer satisfaction.
What does ITIL have to do with ITSM?
One of the most widely used frameworks for implementing ITSM is the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL). The terms ITSM and ITIL are often confused, but they are two different things. ITIL is a method for implementing ITSM, but not every ITSM is based on ITIL.
Frameworks help to ensure that the appropriate procedures, people and technology are used to achieve the business objectives. They provide a collection of values, processes and strategies to implement ITSM.
These are the best-known frameworks for ITSM:
- COBIT – a framework for IT management, is designed to establish a link between IT-specific frameworks such as ITIL and models from other business areas, such as COSO for financial reporting.
- Microsoft Operations Framework (MOF) – standards and processes for the creation, implementation and management of efficient and economical IT services.
- Six Sigma – a system for process improvement and quality management, focusing on the description, measurement, analysis, improvement and monitoring of processes by statistical means.
- ISO 20000 – an international standard for service management, which defines the minimum requirements for processes that must be established, in order to provide and manage IT services to a specific quality.
- TOGAF – a structured standard for companies to organise and control software technologies.
- ITIL – a collection of predefined, field-tested standard procedures, with the aim of working economically, efficiently, quality-consciously and securely. The framework has existed since the 80s and is now available in its fourth version.
Some companies also use several frameworks, while others use ITSM without building it on a framework.
The main ITSM practices according to ITIL
In its current 2019 version, ITIL now refers to practices instead of processes. The Incident Management process is now referenced as the Incident Management Practice. ITIL 4 defines 34 ITSM practices, which are divided into general management, service management and technical management practices.
An overview of the most important practices for ITSM:
- Service Request Management – requests from users for a tool, information or advice should be organised centrally to keep approval, process and delivery times short.
- Problem Management – analysis of the possible causes of incidents to prevent them in the long-term and find workarounds.
- Change Control – the creation of standards to make upgrades, developments and releases as smooth as possible.
- Release Management – planning, audits and contingency plans to facilitate the further development and improvement of services and prevent any negative effects on business operations.
- IT Asset Management – collection of processes that simplify the management of all IT assets (software and hardware).
- Availability Management – ensures that an IT service is available as agreed with the user.
- Capacity and Performance Management – organises all necessary resources to deliver IT services on time and economically.
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What ITSM practices does my organisation need?
To successfully implement ITSM in your organisation, you should first specify what your organisation really needs. Is your IT support team constantly dealing with the same incidents? Then you should examine this more closely and address the causes. In ITIL language this means: Problem Management instead of Incident Management.
The most important thing is: ITSM adapts to your business, not the other way around. Neither an ISO standard nor ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library) specifies which processes and measures are suitable for your company. ITSM is not designed to realise everything possible, but the most sensible things.
To implement ITSM practices, you not only need the right tools and processes, but also a change in culture. As mentioned primarily, IT must be seen as a service provider within the company, and not simply as support or “another department”.
Before implementing ITSM, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is your team ready to implement ITSM practices? A company with 150 employees benefits far more from ITSM implementation than a company with 25 employees.
- What problems do you ultimately want to solve? Is it about cost reduction? This can probably be achieved through systematic processes.
- Which framework do you want to use? Here you should already be aware of the problem you want to solve. Each framework helps to build structure and predictability, but the processes are different and should fit your specific problem.