As technology becomes fundamental to nearly every business, organizations constantly seek new ways to incorporate IT service into their overall business needs. ITSM tools help businesses with the lifecycle of IT services – right from creation to management and upkeep.

So what exactly is ITSM?

Policies, processes and procedures that deliver and support seamless customer oriented IT services.

Unlike other IT management norms that focus on network, hardware or systems, ITSM targets to unfailingly improve IT customer service in perfect orientation with business goals. As technology flourishes throughout today’s digital businesses, IT service management has become an essential facet that serves the business. ITSM tools are aimed at supporting a company’s ITSM efforts by streamlining customer service, usually starting with the IT help desk. These product suites enable IT departments to maintain ticketing systems, derive reports and identify flaws in their products and services. IT service management (ITSM) tools regulate the delivery of IT services within a company, based on budgets, people, processes, and results.
Ultimately, the definitive goal of ITSM is to ensure that a company’s tech team goals are aligned with the business goals. Although it sounds simple, it means a lot of responsibility to keep track of all the zillion things that are involved. This is exactly what ITSM tools do - automate and track a company’s ITSM processes.

Benefits

Businesses understand that using IT service management and ITSM tools is a huge advantage alright, but what exactly are the benefits of ITSM tools? Here are five of the most important.

5. Standardization and Integration

You know that ITSM in general is supposed to help you standardize your IT procedures across departments and divisions. In a lot of ways, using ITSM tools specifically designed to support those functions is a logical extension of an ITSM framework. It’s always easier to do a job when you have the right ITSM tools at your fingertips—and ITSM tools like workflow management software help your IT staff do their jobs. Not only that, but these software solutions and ITSM tools can also work across an organization so the benefits, like streamlining processes, can be realized in other parts of your company too.

4. Enhanced ROI

A business invests a lot in IT service management frameworks; so the payback has to be real. ITSM tools can help improve a business’s ROI—that’s no secret. But one of the best ways to ensure the ROI in ITSM is to deploy ITSM tools specifically designed for the task. ITSM tools ensure that everything is consistent, standardized, and integrated. Many ITSM tools are suites of programs - each ITSM tool can help a company with different tasks, all the while, working together seamlessly.

3. Right tools make life easier

IT professionals can be good at their jobs, but why make the job harder by not offering them software that can help them manage workflows better, sift through data and reports in short order, and track incidents? ITSM tool capabilities allow teams to manage workflow processes in more detail, which in turn can point to procedures that could be simplified. Workflow management software even allows automation of some steps of a procedure—which means lesser time and effort, and a reduced margin of error.

2. Visualization

To know what a workflow process looks like, one doesn’t need to scribble it all out on paper; ITSM tools allow quick and easy visualization of workflows. The programs in ITSM tools can pinpoint where a process can be simplified—by shuffling steps around, by eliminating redundant ones, or even by automating them. ITSM tools also help run cost-benefit analyses easily, which means there is lesser time spent on guessing if the procedural changes will save time and money.

1. Perhaps most importantly, Reduce Costs

The efficient delivery of services with ITSM tools help employees save time and money. The ability of ITSM tools to help IT professionals to visually review a workflow and determine what changes make sense, allows an organization to make process adjustments that will save money. ITSM tools might seem like a huge investment up front, but the benefits far overshadow the costs.

Top features to look out for, in an ITSM tool

The right ITSM tools provide a strong service delivery framework to ensure that the solution reflects the best services delivered. The best ITSM tools may include the following solutions:

The best ITSM tool will include the following features:

Problem and incident management:

Solutions to reduce downtime and prevent incident occurrence

Ticketing: 

Track solutions and dispense work based on specialties or technical experience and take note of trends in scope of work

IT service model ready: 

Use models of best practices that already exist, to guide your processes with in-built IT service models

Asset management: 

Track and manage physical devices and add-ons all through their lifecycle

License management:

Manage license requirements and updates, and stay informed on imminent changes or renewals

Things to consider while choosing ITSM tools

Analysis of business needs:

Considering the needs of a business while choosing an ITSM tool results in improved services provided to customers. It is essential to analyze the prerequisites along with the valuation of the maturity of ITSM processes.

Specification of requirements:

Arriving at specifications required before choosing an ITSM tool can help identify products that can enable business processes as per the needs and expectations. The ITSM program should be implementable by designing or redesigning the deliverables of the process.

Research:

Nothing can match a thorough research about ITSM tools that can help in making well-informed decisions for the improvement of a business process. 
It pays to find a way in a chaotic marketplace filled with several tools that can dodge an organization’s decision making – research pays, and it pays well. The best way to research ITSM tools is to take a free trial.

 

ITSM processes

The more organized, the better is an IT department of a business. This is one of primary reasons why enterprises apply ITSM processes. Why else do enterprises do that and what actually are these ITSM processes?

What ITSM processes actually are

ITSM processes are the elements of a framework, which support its major concepts and describes the way of IT service management. ITSM processes are divided into five stages:

Service Strategy (SS) is the first and foremost stage. This stage helps determine what exactly customers need and verify whether the service is financially viable. Service Strategy contributes to the overall understanding of a company’s services with respect to the Service Portfolio, Financial Management, Business Relationship Management, etc.

Service Description (SD) is the ‘wingman’ of Service Strategy. It complements strategic identifications with a detailed description of a company’s services. SD ensures that the IT service delivery meets the requirements, that a company has enough capacity to deliver the services, and that these services will be available, secure, etc.

Service Transition (ST) is responsible for the auctioning of the company’s services. ST maintains stability of the services, while allowing them to be dynamic by introducing changes judiciously. The processes at this stage, for instance, are Change Management, Release Management, Knowledge Management, etc.

Service Operation (SO) makes sure that the services work, and any disruptions are warded off promptly. There are 6 main processes that help SO do that:

  • Event management - Monitors and provides notifications on how services run
  • Incident management - Aims at restoring the normal flow of IT processes as soon as possible, in case of disruptions
  • Problem management - Deals with the underlying cause of incidents
  • Request fulfillment – Helps Change Management in ST and deals with low-risk, repeated and pre-defined situations
  • Access management - Deals with accounts and passwords Continual Service Improvement (CSI) - Constant perfection of the services delivered

What ITSM processes can bring

Being a very structured approach to IT services, ITSM processes can bring lots of benefits along with a lot of clarity and transparency to a company’s IT structure.

 

How to introduce ITSM processes

Step 1: Assess the situation as-is
Step 2: Work out a strategy
Step 3: Chart a detailed plan
Step 4: Introduce ST and SO processes gradually (incident – problem – configuration – change – SLA).
Step 5: Check for implementation issues 
Step 6: Improve IT service management and move to the next level of ITSM maturity, when it’s time

ITSM Frameworks

The terms “ITSM” and “ITIL” are often mixed up and thought to be transposable, although they are actually not the same. ITIL is the most commonly used ITSM framework, but it’s just one of the ways of doing ITSM.

"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." 

Different types of frameworks and processes

There are numerous ITSM frameworks, like ITIL, that offer best practices on what to do when a company implements ITSM. An enterprise might be using ITSM but not using ITIL. They might be using no recognized ITSM framework or standard; or they might be using one of the following:
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.
Although there are several frameworks that can organize ITSM, The most famous ITSM framework is the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL). 
With organizations having several different subsidiaries, divisions, and locations globally, it’s easy to see how a business could integrate several different frameworks, processes, and standards into their ITSM stages to meet different needs.

The most popular frameworks and processes

*Source - Forbes Insights chart

The other frameworks, processes, and standards all have their users, but these were the big four that Forbes Insights respondents mentioned the most.
Knowing the most popular frameworks and processes used by other organizations helps businesses understand that there are choices available to meet IT service delivery needs.
 

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