Information Technology Service Management (“ITSM”) is a catch-all term for all the systems, people, and resources needed to build, manage, and deliver IT services. No matter what kind of business you’re in, ITSM is key to your success.
Whether your HR department struggles to onboard new hires efficiently, the facilities team needs a better way to make frequent and recurring low-cost purchases, or the folks in customer service need to get their wait times down, ITSM can help.
Think about it like this: If your business was a home, ITSM would be the plumbing. It can keep everything moving, or, if it’s outdated, one clogged drain could lead to a flooded basement. And nobody wants that!
That’s why we’re breaking down the ITSM meaning — why it’s important, ITSM processes, ITSM software and solutions, and what to do next — so that your organization reaches and maintains “all systems go.”
To learn more on this topic, check out the Jira ITSM Best Practices Guide.
What is the importance of ITSM?
ITSM is all about using technology to address customers’ system issues with time-, energy-, and money-saving solutions. A “customer” could be any department within your organization, an outside vendor, a sales lead, a consumer — anyone engaging with your business internally or externally.
A “system issue,” or “incident,” is the problem your customer is experiencing. The one you need to resolve to improve service (internally or externally).
What are the benefits of ITSM?
Let’s take a look at what kind of benefits you’ll see from investing time and resources into ITSM.
- Improve communication. One of the best things about ITSM is that it enables you to build processes that benefit people. When your team members can quickly and easily get to a solution, or tasks are easier to accomplish, that’s a huge win for them. When service requests are consistently met with fast, consistently good service, that’s a win for your customers. And because ITSM operates from a space of continual improvement, you can identify bottlenecks and refine processes as you go.
- Make work interesting again. Sure, improving your ITSM processes boosts productivity. But it also gives your organization a roadmap to the processes and tools needed to make customers’ lives better — not just so your team can get more done but to open up time to provide better service, solve more sophisticated problems, and explore new ideas.
- Provide better service. Whether it’s an internal or external customer, everyone wants the same outcome: less friction, more consistency. Instead of losing messages in a sea of emails, phone calls, text messages, Slacks, chats, DMs, PMs, etc., ITSM solutions enable you to use automation and standardization to streamline service requests.
- Save money. With a solid ITSM strategy in place, your organization can better identify areas where your team isn’t taking full advantage of solutions you already have, situations where they’re not using technology correctly, or situations where you have multiple apps that do the same thing. When you identify inefficiencies and redundancies, you can address them, freeing up funds that you can reinvest back into the business.
- Increase visibility and transparency. Your team and your stakeholders should all be on the same page. Ideally, everyone knows who’s responsible for what, how you’re progressing towards organizational goals, where people are blocked on work, what solutions need to be created, etc. ITSM can help you get there.
What are ITSM processes?
If you’re new to what IT service management is, another term you’ll come across frequently is “ITSM process” or “ITSM processes.” This refers to the various types of IT solutions you can apply to different problems. But first, let’s take a look at the kinds of problems, issues, or incidents you might encounter.
A case study in frustration
Say your company provides all-in-one document automation software so that anyone can create proposals, draw up contracts, track the documents, get signatures, and more, without ever having to leave your platform. You’ve got a killer product that everyone loves and wants to use. But you’ve got some broken systems that are costing you time, money, and morale.
Enter ITSM, the broader strategy you’ll apply to all the channels you use to meet customers’ IT service needs.
Customer A is the facilities department for your brick and mortar HQ. Every time the department needs to reorder toilet paper for the restrooms, their request gets caught up in the same complicated fulfillment process as a new large, expensive, and infrequent request, like an HVAC unit or security system upgrade.
Employees feel irritated because there are a few days every month when there’s no toilet paper and someone has to make a run to the store, spend their own money, then file a request for reimbursement.
Customer B is your marketing team. They have more work than they can handle and need help from HR to get new team members onboarded as soon as possible so they can adequately support the sales team and help achieve company revenue goals.
Every day they go without new hires, they miss more deadlines and potentially cost you business.
Customer C is a business that uses your software. They’ve identified a need that your software doesn’t currently address. You don’t want to lose their business, so you need to find a solution to their problem.
To sum up the situation:
Your employees need toilet paper.
Your sales and marketing teams need help from HR.
And one of your best clients needs you to add some features to your product.
ITSM processes can help you stay ahead of all these situations (and any others that crop up). Let’s take a closer look.
Enterprise Service Management
Enterprise Service Management (ESM) is like taking ITSM into every area of your business, not just IT. Any organization can implement ESM, which enables more departments or teams to create processes specific to their needs. So in the example above, Customer B could fix their onboarding issue through a process that systematizes everything HR needs to do for a new hire, like issuing an ID or signing paperwork.
Think of knowledge management as your organization’s own dedicated Wiki or dedicated search engine. By keeping knowledge in one easily accessible place, you can onboard new hires faster, decrease support requests for repeat questions or tasks, standardize responses to service requests, and encourage innovation.
Maybe Customer C’s feature request is something that’s been backburnered, but now it’s time to make it happen. With knowledge management, your development team doesn’t have to start from scratch. They can explore where the project left off, explore the initial obstacles that led them to put the project on pause, and get moving in a new direction.
IT Asset Management
IT Asset Management (ITAM) is the process that accounts for all things IT in your organization: software, hardware, licenses, subscriptions and renewals, updates and upgrades, and everything in between. If someone in the creative department requests a better camera for an upcoming photo shoot, an ITAM process could run though your hardware catalog and tell you how old the current camera is and how often it’s been checked out. Then you can use that information to determine whether a new camera actually makes sense based on need, budget, and the goals of the marketing department. ITAM improves decision making, reduces waste, and saves money.
Incident Management helps organizations manage, address, and resolve any service disruption a customer is experiencing through the use of IT. Maybe your website is down or you can’t use a product that’s hosted in the cloud. You need to have a plan to restore service ASAP. An effective incident management process gives customers a way to open an incident report quickly and easily. It also helps you get ahead of service disruptions by serving as a manual or triage guide that employees can use, so they don’t lose time searching for an answer.
Incident management and problem management may sound like the same thing, but they’re two distinct concepts. Together they represent an IT symptom and an IT disease. Remember Customer A (the one who couldn’t get a consistent supply of toilet paper for the building)? The incident is running out of toilet paper, but the problem is within the inventory request and fulfillment system.
So, you can keep making last-minute trips to the nearest store, or you can use problem management to move frequent, recurring, and low-cost orders through an abbreviated approvals system. The better your organization gets at problem management, the fewer incidents you’ll have. And the more time, money, and resources you’ll be able to reinvest into creating additional value for customers.
If your organization has a change coming up that could affect people — internal teams or external communities you serve — a change management process can help you to clearly outline what people can expect and track those changes to completion, keeping people informed along the way.
Let’s say you’re discontinuing an underperforming product. This will mean something different to each customer. Web dev needs to schedule updates to your site. Sales needs to remove the discontinued product from their pitch decks. Marketing needs to archive content relating to the product. Customer service needs scripts and directives on how to handle sunsetting the product for existing users.
Change management breaks down silos and creates a highly visible system so that you experience less (or no) downtime, manage expectations with end users, and create consistent, easy-to-follow messaging so everyone affected knows what’s going on.
What is ITSM Software or an ITSM Solution?
ITSM software enables you to consolidate your many ITSM processes into one efficient workflow so that internal and external customers get what they need when they need it with as little friction as possible.
When choosing new ITSM software or upgrading to a better ITSM solution, ask yourself a few questions:
- Is it easy to set up and use? Bring internal stakeholders into this conversation early. Give them access to the software’s sales team so they can get their questions answered. Make sure they have an opportunity to test drive the software before you commit.
- Is the service desk intuitive to IT and non-IT people alike? ITSM software powers more than just service desks. Internal customers across all departments and end users should be able to perform common tasks, like submitting help desk tickets and tracking the progress of an incident.
- Is the software dynamic enough to deliver on future needs and wish lists? You don’t know what you don’t know (until you know it). You can’t anticipate everything you’ll ever need or want, but your IT software should be flexible enough to evolve with your organization.
Whether you need a simple way to automate service desk workflows, want to get a leg up on your service level agreement (SLA) management, or improve cross-team collaboration and service delivery, Appfire has you covered with a best-in-class ITSM solution.
Want expert tips and tricks to help you supercharge your service desk? Download your copy of Appfire’s Jira ITSM Best Practices Guide.
Last updated: 2023-03-23