Every time someone asks us this question, we scour the internet to find the perfect answer for someone who’s completely new to ITSM. After looking through numerous pages, we noticed that they miss the point that the visitor is likely to be new to the concept, and inadvertently resort to jargons that are hard to wrap your head around. So, we thought – “Screw it. If no one else wants to break it down, we will.”

If you’re completely new to the concept of ITSM, you’ve come to the right place.

Simplifying ITSM

ITSM (or IT Service Management) refers to all the activities involved in designing, creating, delivering, supporting and managing the lifecycle of IT services.

Well, of course it does, but what are IT services? Think of any piece of technology you use at your workplace – your laptop, the apps installed on it, the printer that your entire team uses, or the option to reset your password even after the first 15 times. They’re all services provided by your IT team. In other words – IT services.

Although the most common perception of ITSM among IT users (employees) is just “IT support”, ITSM goes way beyond resolving day-to-day issues. Your IT team is responsible for end-to-end management of these services. They might use an ITSM software like Freshservice to effectively manage these services.

With that basic introduction out of the way, check out this video where Stephen Mann sums up ITSM and its relationship with the business.

 
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Why your business needs ITSM

If your business has more than a handful of employees, and if even one of you is the designated “IT guy”, you’re already doing ITSM in a small way. But as your business grows, you might need to bring in more mature processes to get the most benefits out of your ITSM investment.

Here are the most common benefits of ITSM. Watch the video for a detailed walkthrough:

  • Reduce IT costs
  • Improve quality of service
  • Improve customer satisfaction
  • Improve governance and reduce risk
  • Increase competitive advantage
  • Improve flexibility
  • Increase agility for new IT services
 

The way to choose the right ITSM processes is to look at what your business specifically needs. For instance, if you have a small IT support team that’s constantly firefighting similar issues, it makes more sense to find the root cause and resolve it once and for all. A simple example of it would be a storage space issue – you can keep deleting files and applications every time the hard drive maxes out. But simply installing a bigger hard drive is a better longer-term solution.

In ITSM terms, it translates to going from mere Incident Management to Problem Management. In the example above, the computer running out of storage space is the incident and the hard drive capacity being inadequate is the underlying problem. Of course, IT support teams in larger organizations typically handle incidents that are much more complex and send problems over to dedicated problem management teams.

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Using ITSM to reduce costs

Let’s talk about a key benefit we discussed above – cutting costs. IT service management can help do this by:

  • Increasing IT efficiency
  • Increasing business efficiency
  • Reducing IT wastage

Let’s dive a little deeper into each of these.

 


In order to increase IT efficiency, IT service management can help with:

Process workflow

Offer technology-enabled process workflow and eliminate manual process, thereby improving collaboration between all teams.

Efficient use of scarce IT people resources

Reduce admin, waiting, and even firefighting to make time for more strategic work.

Service-based incident management

Prioritize and customize the resolution time based on the business impact caused by IT issues.

Save time and money

Effective problem management and knowledge management help reduce recurring issues, resolution times, and impact on end users and the business as a whole.

Insightful reports

Automate the reports generating process and reduce reporting costs.

To increase business efficiency, IT service management can:

Reduce downtime

With the help of incident, problem, and availability management.

Prevent issues before they occur

Prevent serious, business-affecting issues through problem management and capacity management.

Help businesses to quickly bounce back from critical IT issues

The adverse effect of severe issues can be mitigated through major incident management and IT service continuity.

Finally, to reduce wastage, IT service management can:

Reduce wastage

Save time, efforts and unnecessary costs by reducing wastage and avoiding duplication of work.

Optimize spending

Ensure that any new IT spend is essential through asset, configuration, and capacity management.

Remove the costs of duplicate or obsolete assets

Effective asset management can help avoid duplicity of applications, hardware, hosting, and their support.

Facilitate the redeployment of underutilized assets

PCs, other devices, and installed personal productivity software need to be effectively tracked to prevent underutilization.

Prevent change-related or inconsistency-based wastage

Avoid the costs of “reworking” mistakes that is ultimately the duplication, or even triplication, of effort.

Of course, setting up ITSM processes and procuring an IT service management software involves a one-time capital expense (CAPEX). The benefits mentioned here and others that come from having more data and information at hand more than make up for these expenses.

Investing time to research about cost efficient ITSM software can even provide a higher return on investment (ROI) by helping you save on operating expenses (OPEX) on a recurring basis.

The key to choosing the right ITSM software is to find one that fits your specific business requirements. Resist the temptation to build a checklist of features that will never be worth your IT efforts, just because other IT organizations are doing so.

Find out how much Freshservice can help you save. Use this handy ROI calculator

ITSM Processes in ITIL

ITIL – the most popular ITSM best practice framework – is split across 5 core books. Each of these books relates to a different part of what ITIL calls the “service lifecycle”:

  • Service strategy – as the name suggests, it’s the planning and getting ready that the service provider must do to deliver services that meet business needs.
  • Service design – it’s the design of everything required to deliver a service, from the service through to management.
  • Service transition – this covers introducing, changing, and retiring services.
  • Service operation – it’s where the service desk, and its activities, sits.
  • Continual service improvement – which is all about improvement, whether that be keeping up with changing business needs or optimizing operational activities.


The process of managing IT issues (or incident management in ITIL terms) is just one of the processes in one of these stages – Service Operation.

Some of the other common ITIL processes are:

ITSM vs ITIL

Understanding the difference between ITSM and ITIL is important. ITIL is the most commonly used ITSM framework, but it’s just one of the ways of doing ITSM.

As Stephen puts it – "The easiest way to describe the difference is to think of goldfish and fish per se: a goldfish is a fish but not all fish are goldfish. So ITIL is ITSM but not all ITSM is ITIL."

Thus a company might be using ITSM but not using ITIL. They might be using no recognized ITSM framework or standard; or they might be using:

  • COBIT – a framework for the governance and management of enterprise IT
  • ISO 20000 – the international standard for service management
  • MOF – Microsoft Operations Framework is a series of guides for creating, implementing, and managing efficient and cost-effective IT services
  • USMBOK – the Universal Service Management Body of Knowledge is a “companion piece” that supplements existing ITSM resources such as ITIL on both strategic and operational levels

Of course they could be using multiple frameworks or standards such as COBIT plus ITIL.

We hope we answered most questions you had about ITSM and ITIL. Here are some resources to help you learn more.

Other ITSM Resources