For organizations and businesses to provide technology services to their clients, many elements need to function together effectively. From identifying and designing the service that will be delivered, building the technology and delivering the outcome, IT teams must manage an extensive array of tasks and ensure each area of the service delivery workflow is performed successfully. Information technology service management can help.
SEE: Explore our ultimate buyer’s guide for ITSM software.
What is ITSM?
ITSM is an approach for carrying out IT management and delivery that specifies the roles and tasks necessary for each step of the IT service’s design, delivery and improvement. This approach can improve processes for providing IT services to customers and provides a repeatable framework that can standardize service delivery and reduce delays and cost overruns.
IT service management tools come with features that can standardize procedures, simplify process orchestration and facilitate communication between tech pros and end users.
ITSM vs. ITIL
People often mix up ITSM and the information technology infrastructure library because both relate to IT service management concepts. However, ITSM describes the entire approach toward managing IT services in an organization, including all policies and processes in managing IT operations and service functions.
ITIL is one specific framework of best practices for IT service management. The ITIL framework includes a group of documents that inform readers of recommended processes for developing an ITSM solution that will reduce costs and increase efficiency.
Key concepts of ITSM
While different ITSM structures can have unique approaches to the IT management process, many of them follow formats that involve similar elements. The most important ITSM concepts involve improving IT management processes with an emphasis on customer satisfaction and establishing performance-based objectives.
ITSM seeks to avoid one of the most common “soft dangers” of implementing technology-based services: delivering an outcome that either doesn’t meet its business objective or that no one uses.
Maintaining a customer-centric approach
Successful ITSM structures should consider the customer in all parts of the IT service management processes; this requires improving the customer experience while resourcefully and cost-effectively organizing service delivery. Therefore, an ITSM method should function as a framework with the primary objective of delivering enhanced customer service.
Critical to this objective is understanding who the customer is. While a seemingly simple task, just because an application is being funded by a particular department or requires particular domain knowledge doesn’t necessarily mean that group is the end customer. Taking the time to understand who the end customers are and what their unique needs are is central to successfully implementing ITSM or any technology service delivery model.
Tracking key performance indicators can help organizations determine where their business stands in performance and progress and where it can improve. KPIs such as customer reviews and sales can also help to determine an organization’s overall customer satisfaction.
It’s essential to track only a handful of meaningful KPIs that impact the process that needs improvement. Less is often more versus dashboards with dozens of metrics that do little to monitor performance.
Developing attainable business objectives
While an overarching goal of any good ITSM model is to provide excellent customer service, organizations must develop smaller objectives based on quality, performance and other business metrics. Cost and time are always important metrics and should serve as considerations in every scoping and service discussion.
ITSM structures are composed of various tasks and different professionals, so coordination between internal departments is crucial for supporting IT service management initiatives. In addition, ITSM structures should involve collaboration between IT and development teams and include customers’ feedback for consideration when devising tactics for process improvement. Customers should be involved early and often in the process to help guide and “sanity check” service delivery.
Enabling customer self-service functions
In a society driven by the desire for instant gratification, the time it takes to respond to customer requests is crucial. Providing customers with self-service functions can enable an organization to meet customer needs quickly through automation. ITSM tools can be helpful for this purpose, as many of these software solutions include automated self-service features for customers.
Too often, self-service is regarded as a cost-cutting measure, but done well, self-service options are increasingly preferred by end customers. This is an area where costs can be reduced, quality can be improved and customer satisfaction can be increased through thoughtful service design.
Benefits of using ITSM
ITSM solutions and processes can provide many advantages for organizations that adopt them. ITSM tools and procedures frequently contain similar technologies or features that improve IT service structures and offer more significant organizational benefits.
Better service request management
A critical factor in delivering good IT service management is appropriately handling service requests. Effective service request management ensures each request is addressed on time by assigning tickets that include relevant information about the situation and its resolution workflow, so no tickets slip under the radar.
Organizations should be cognizant of matching the right metrics to their service request process. If the focus is on time for initial response or time to close, the service goal may shift to closing tickets versus resolving the issue.
Ability to address problems and manage incidents
Incident management practices help users address IT problems that occur and mitigate their impact. Problem management features in ITSM tools can help IT teams to document the error resolution process and develop solutions; many solutions are even capable of identifying future risks, taking a proactive approach to resolve them and minimizing the severity of their effects.
Faster end-user satisfaction
ITSM technology can lead to faster end-user satisfaction. Customers can quickly perform many incident resolution actions through various channels, including the use of self-service portals, submitting service requests, chatting with IT professionals and accessing knowledge bases for information on common IT issues.
End users may even prefer an “always on” self-service tool versus contacting a live person, so organizations might want to look for frequently accessed services that can be automated and performed through intuitive self-service tools.
Insights from data analytics and reporting
Users can develop reports on detected and predicted critical factors relating to performance and customer satisfaction. Creating these reports can help organizations reach data-driven insights and enable them to form actionable decisions.
The data and insights derived from that data are a key driver for investing in ITSM. Organizations often implement ITSM tools and consider the work complete, underutilizing the true value of a thoughtful ITSM implementation in terms of guiding future investments and decision-making.
Defined roles and workflow management
Workflow management through defined roles and procedures can help to determine the sequence of tasks necessary throughout the service processes and allocate tasks to ensure smooth operations and keep individual users on track.
Straightforward asset management
Asset management helps IT teams keep track of each device and add-on involved in the ITSM environment. Equipment and devices can easily get lost if organizations fail to track them, which could cause a data security breach if that tech falls into the wrong hands.
Better license management
IT departments handle many software tools that enable them to fulfill their duties, and keeping track of software licenses is essential. License management describes processes for managing this information by tracking software usage and checking software license certificates to ensure their compliance and that no licenses are expired.
During this process, businesses may also find duplicate license agreements or redundant software purchases that can be consolidated for better vendor pricing agreements.
SEE: Use this software procurement policy from TechRepublic Premium.
Implementing ITSM processes within an organization can be significantly simplified by using ITSM tools, which support IT teams and end users with processes involved in strategizing IT service operations.
ITSM software can provide many capabilities that support IT teams. For example, workflow management capabilities in ITSM solutions use automation to organize and deliver service processes through defined roles and procedures. Another popular feature is service request management, also called ticketing, which helps to organize, document and assign service requests. For instance, Zendesk provides a customer service solution that enables internal and external teams to collaborate on challenging tickets.
These ITSM solutions help users perform tasks necessary for security and compliance processes like asset management and license management. Incident management features can make it easier for users to resolve IT problems, detect risks and mitigate their impact. For example, ClickUp offers an ITSM template with features to help IT teams with incident management, problem management, change management, simple asset management and even knowledge management.
In addition, ITSM tools support users in satisfying customer concerns. For example, ITSM systems with data analytics and reporting technology use key performance indicators to reach insights and help IT teams improve their operations.
Features such as self-service portals also enable users to quickly address their IT service concerns and take control into their own hands, improving their overall satisfaction. ServiceNow’s ITSM tool provides automatic service to customers through a chatbot tool that they can use to address common questions and get an immediate resolution.