What is IT Service Management (ITSM)
Delivers high quality response service across the enterprise
Delivers high quality response service across the enterprise
IT service management – commonly abbreviated to ITSM – is an organizational capability designed for the delivery and support of IT services and the business services that rely on them. It includes all the activities involved in designing, creating, delivering, managing, supporting, and improving the services.
ITSM – with the clue in the name – is about managing IT services but, more importantly, it’s also about managing IT “as a service.” Which means that rather than delivering and managing IT across the common separate IT domains – network, compute, storage, and third-party services –ITSM involves the delivery and management of end-to-end IT services. For example, the provision of a managed desktop service rather than treating it as separate IT components – say a PC, network connectivity, Internet access, personal productivity applications, antivirus, peripherals, etc. These IT services are ultimately what areused or consumed by employees (or customers) – who will care very little about how the corporate IT organization constructs and provides them.
Importantly, ITSM is so much more than just IT support and the IT service desk or IT help desk – which is sadly a common misconception, especially when propagated by articles written by people who don’t really know enough about ITSM.However, it might be that an organization only ever takes their ITSM best practice adoption as far as the IT service desk. But this doesn’t mean that ITSM only equates to IT support.
Another common piece of ITSM “misdirection” is when people automatically think – probably due to process-based training – of ITSM as the commonly-adopted ITIL® processes. Such as incident, problem, and change management. There’s more on what ITIL is shortly. However, ITSM is so much more than just the processes, with ITSM “thinking” an important part of designing and delivering IT services and support that meet business needs. It’s why the updated version of ITIL has replaced processes with “management practices.” There’s more on this here.<<link to the ITIL 4 page>>.
Ultimately, when understanding what ITSM truly is, it’s important to rise above the collective processes – or the mechanics of ITSM – to realize that ITSM is really about making your organization’s IT, and business operations and outcomes, better.
There are also many other phrases, and formal approaches (in addition to ITIL), associated with ITSM that are worth knowing– these are covered later.
ITIL 4® – the most adopted ITSM best practice framework – describes ITSM, or more specifically “service management” as:
“A set of specialized organizational capabilities for enabling value for customers in the form of services.”
Source: AXELOS, “ITIL Foundation, ITIL 4 Edition” (2019)
Where a service is defined as:
“A means of enabling value co-creation by facilitating outcomes that customers want to achieve, without the customer having to manage specific costs and risks.”
For an ITIL definition of ITSM, this is what was included inthe previous version of ITIL, ITIL v3 (2011 Edition):
“The implementation and management of quality IT services that meet the needs of the business. IT service management is performed by IT service providers through an appropriate mix of people, process and information technology.”
Source: AXELOS, “ITIL Glossary, ITIL v3 2011 Edition” (2011)
You can hopefully see how much ITSM, or servicemanagement, has been refocused between 2011 and 2019 with an emphasis on the delivery of value to stakeholders in ITIL 4.
Firstly, an organization might be “doing ITSM” but not realize it. It might have purchased a ticketing, IT help desk, or ITSM tool and has unknowingly bought into the tool’s built-in ITSM best practice. Or an organization might be operating age-old support practices, where no one knows (or is concerned about) their origin.
Then there are various other phrases and approaches that are associated with ITSM and related best practice. These include the aforementioned ITIL and its framework of ITSM best practices. Depending on the geographical regions concerned, it’s thought that circa 60% of IT organizations have adopted some elements of ITIL (or at least state that they have).
Examples of similar phrases:
Examples of formal approaches:
It should be noted that these approaches aren’t mutually exclusive – with an organization able to pick and choose what best suits their business needs from one or more of the above (and other) approaches.
Example Benefits of ITSM
There are many benefits available from ITSM that relate to: the approach as a whole, specific ITSM capabilities (such as incident management), ITSM tool use, and the continual improvement of operations and services. For example:
Some Key ITSM Capabilities (or Processes or Practices) Explained(better as a table?)
Definitions source: AXELOS, “ITIL Foundation, ITIL 4 Edition” (2019)
What ITSM Means in Reality (In Terms of ITIL Process Adoption)
While ITIL v3 (2011 Edition) is comprised of 26 ITSM processes and four functions (and 2019’s ITIL 4 has a total of 34 management practices), manyorganizations have adopted only a handful of the ITIL v3 processes. With this in line with the ITIL philosophy of “adopt and adapt” – whereby organizations should employ only what they need and tailor it to their specific business needs.
Five of the top ITIL/ITSM process adoption levels, for those organizations that employ ITIL, can be approximated as follows:
It’s presently too early to see how these approximated adoption levels will change with the release of ITIL 4.
Some Example ITSM Roles
Generic ITSM roles
This is normally guided by ITIL which has traditionally offered up four generic ITSM roles:
How ITIL 4’s move from process focus to Practice focus will impact these generic roles, but for now most IT organizations that have adopted ITIL will reflect them – at least in some way – in their definition of ITSM roles.
These generic roles are not necessarily related to specific job titles, with the ITIL-adopting organization selecting suitable job titlesbased on their existing employee management policies. Plus, roles don’t necessarily map directly to employee headcount, and a single employee can hold more than one role.
Specific examples of the above are:
There are more examples provided in the table below.
Examples of Process/Practice Specific ITSM roles
Each ITSM capability (or process or practice) has its own specific role:
|ITIL v3 Process
|ITIL 4 Practice||Example ITSM Roles (taken from ITIL v3)|
|IT Service Desk (function)||Service desk||Service Desk Manager
Service Desk Supervisor
Service Desk Analyst
|Problem management||Problem management||Problem Manager
Problem Management Team Member (varying titles)
|Change management||Change control||Change Manager|
|Availability management||Availability management||Availability Manager|
|Capacity management||Capacity and performance management||Capacity Manager|
|Service level management||Service level management||Service Level Manager|
|Service asset and configuration management||Service configuration management||Configuration Manager
|Financial management for IT||Service financial management||Financial Manager
Commonly Available ITSM Tool Capabilities
ITSM tools vary in terms of which capabilities they include for customers, with it too early for such tools to have incorporated the new ITIL practice name changes and additions. Thus, using ITIL v3 process nomenclature, the commonly available ITSM tool capabilities include (from an ITIL process/practice perspective):
With other important non-process-based capabilities such as:
Reporting and analytics