What is IT service management?

Our quick guide to ITSM and how it can benefit your business

Lightbulbs with the words 'service', 'solution', 'help', 'innovation', and 'quality in them

Traditionally, businesses have viewed IT as simply a department within the wider organisation that troubleshoots any issues with hardware and software it needs to function, and without a doubt, this is an essential job.

But treating IT as a service can reap far greater rewards as it helps businesses support their goals and their customers. Rather than putting out fires ad hoc, IT departments can serve a more innovative role by offering services and technologies intended to increase value.

ITaaS is usually conducted through a third party, but you can follow the same principles internally through IT service management.

What is IT service management and how does it work?

IT service management (ITSM) at its simplest refers to all IT-related activities in a business, with a focus on getting the maximum business value from IT.

Highly customer-focussed, ITSM revolves around the designing, delivering, managing, and improving IT services for end-users. Businesses that follow this set of practices see IT services as a way to deliver business value and reach goals. Rather than just fixing problems as they arise, under ITSM, IT teams are meant to be constantly learning and improving processes and supporting the business’ digital transformation.

This strategy should be supported by software that helps your IT team support the organisation. It should automate mundane processes to empower your workers and give them more time back for strategic projects, which will ultimately drive the business’ goals.

What benefits can ITSM give your business?

ITSM improves the overall function of your business in a number of ways.

By following an ITSM framework, you can streamline the management of incidents, service requests, and IT assets, as well as lower costs and the number of service outages. You can also achieve better insights into processes and services to analyse any issues and make them more efficient.

The approach also makes cross-department collaboration far easier, bringing IT and development teams together and encouraging them to share knowledge to drive optimisations.

With greater efficiency, an organisation will also deliver better value to customers, which is the main focus of ITSM, and which will boost your reputation, customer retention, and revenue in the long run.

ITIL vs. ITSM: What’s the difference?

So you like the sound of streamlined processes and better customer service, but how do you get started?

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Software company Atlassian warns against copying and pasting another business’ set of standards, no matter how successful they appear to be. Every business has a unique environment with unique needs, and since the entire point of ITSM is to drive your business’ goals and improve its processes, it doesn’t make sense to copy the processes of another business with different goals and ways of working.

Instead, you’ll want to build upon one of the many frameworks that provide guidance for optimising ITSM.

ITIL, or the IT Infrastructure Library, is the most widely recognised. Created in the mid-1980s and updated since, ITIL focuses on end-to-end value delivery through service relationships, or a Service Value System (SVS). The aim is to improve the effectiveness, scalability, and stability of your services and manage risk.

The latest iteration of ITIL, ITIL 4, was released in 2019 with the aim to provide more flexibility for supporting businesses undergoing digital transformation projects. For a run-down of ITIL 4, read this guide.

There are also frameworks specific to different industries or business requirements, like Business Process Framework (eTOM), which is designed for telecommunications service providers.

However, successful IT teams will not take any of these frameworks as a rule book they must follow, but rather guidelines that they can adapt to their business and customers.

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