Projects are the critical vehicles through which businesses grow. As businesses grow to handle a wider diversity and range of activities, their projects will also reflect that diversity. With the growing importance of IT in our everyday lives, it is no surprise that IT projects are becoming more prominent. But unlike the traditional linear-based projects of the past, IT projects are often iterative and open-ended in nature.
IT Service Management or ITSM emerged as a way to address the unique challenges and needs of IT projects to give businesses the proper tools and frameworks to make sure their IT projects succeed. With this introduction, we aim to help you understand how important and powerful this tool can be for your organisation.
What is ITSM?
IT Service Management, also known as ITSM, is the all-encompassing end-to-end management of IT teams and projects with the critical goal of making sure all IT endeavours meet the business’s key objectives. It involves activities such as the planning, designing, implementation, deployment and improvement of an IT product or service with a focus on actively addressing both internal and external stakeholders’ requirements throughout the entire product or service lifecycle.
The reason it is called IT service management instead of project management is that the ITSM approach strongly believes that IT should be delivered as an ongoing service rather than a time-bound project. It aims to bridge different IT and general management approaches as well as pull from information security management and software engineering practices. By applying this approach, ITSM can have the flexibility to ensure the right people, processes and technology can accommodate the changing needs and objectives of an organisation in a fast-paced and ever-changing environment.
Some of the core processes of ITSM include change management, asset management, incident management and much more. We will go into further detail regarding the specifics of how it works further down below.
Functions of ITSM
Though not limited to these factors alone, some of the key functions of ITSM include:
- Defining IT services and service levels
- Delivering and deploying the IT service itself
- Managing the IT service lifecycle
- Reviewing and refining the IT service throughout its lifecycle
- Decommissioning the IT service
Benefits of ITSM
IT Service Management has the critical benefit of aligning and unifying the whole spectrum of IT processes and activities into a single holistic program. It is from this consolidation of processes that the other benefits of ITSM flow, some of the most common include:
- Improving strategic business and IT coordination and alignment
- Streamlining IT project management activities that improve overall productivity and efficiency.
- Encouraging greater knowledge sharing amongst different teams and departments within an organisation.
- Facilitating better cross-departmental collaboration by allowing all parties to speak the same language and stay on the same page.
- Helping organisations offer better IT service to customers by efficiently addressing issues quickly and adapting to changing needs.
- Supporting the continuous and sustained improvement of the IT service gives organisations the agility to respond to changing environments.
Core Processes/Practices of ITSM
One of the most informative publications in regards to ITSM is ITIL (we will go into more detail about ITIL later), and its most recent update, ITIL version 4, has recently shifted away from applying ITSM processes in favour of ITSM practices. The updated approach is a response to the shifting realities of modern organisations that need to account for elements such as culture and data management that must be considered holistically, rather than limited into distinct processes.
As an introductory piece, we will not go into all 34 practices listed out in ITIL version 4. However, we will dive into several of the most prominent process/practices of ITSM that differentiates it from other management approaches. These include incident management, change management, problem management, service management, asset management and knowledge management.
Incident management involves the governing practices that manage the restorative responses and actions to any interruption in service due to issues such as outages or performance limitations. It is most commonly facilitated through an incident ticketing system that allows customers to flag incidents and for IT teams to actively track, address and communicate actions to the necessary stakeholders.
Change management ensures that all changes to IT infrastructure, from deploying new services to managing pre-existing services and resolving ongoing issues, are handled with a standardised procedure. Proper change management is critical to preventing bottlenecks and minimising risks. In ITSM, change management is also often grouped with release management.
In ITSM, a problem is an underlying root behind a series of incidents. Problem management is thus the process of efficiently identifying, managing and mitigating problems that cause incidents and impact customer satisfaction. Some critical practices include the streamlining of incident investigations throughout problem control, error control and problem analysis activities.
Service management, also known as service request management, are the defined procedures that track service-level requests and commitments with customers and vendors. From tracking new software enhancements to requesting access and deploying hardware updates, service management makes sure that recurring requests are streamlined and service is maintained consistently.
IT asset management is the process of deploying, maintaining, upgrading and decommissioning an organisation’s assets in the most effective and timely manner. It ensures that both tangible and intangible items related to IT products and services are actively tracked and utilised to their full capacity. In ITSM, asset management is often closely grouped with capacity and configuration management.
Knowledge management is the structured process of recording, sharing, utilising and managing knowledge and information relating to IT products and/or services within the organisation to achieve greater efficiency, accuracy and productivity within IT services. Proper IT acknowledgement management aims to reduce duplicated work and allows for teams to seamlessly hand over tasks without spending excessive time relearning the project context and activities.
Like any project management approach or methodology, there is no one size fits all approach to ITSM. Instead, multiple ITSM frameworks pull from the general practices of ITSM and define and structure their own IT management practices. Some of the most prominent ITSM frameworks include ITIL, COBIT, and MOF.
ITIL, the abbreviated short form of the IT Infrastructure Library, was founded by the UK Government in the late 1980s and has since become the most popular ITSM framework. The key emphasis of ITIL is the alignment of IT services with business needs and objectives. It aims to provide a holistic framework that bridges both business and customer-value frames to facilitate a more flexible workflow that adapts to teams rather than processes.
ITIL can be understood as an ITSM best practice framework as it consolidates the different values, practices, and strategies of implementing ITSM. Since its inception, ITIL has gone through four different updates with the most recent placing a strong emphasis on collaboration, simplicity and feedback.
Have a full look at ITIL’s defined framework, processes and practices here.
COBIT, abbreviated from the Control Objective for Information and Related Technologies is predominantly an IT Governance framework outlining the different processes required to develop, implement, monitor and improve IT governance and management activities. It looks at specifying control objectives, metrics and maturity models within IT services. In recent years, COBIT updates have aligned their naming conventions with the pre-establish ITSM process names such as
MOF, the abbreviation for Microsoft Operations Framework, is a guiding framework consisting of best practices, principles and activities that guides the entire IT lifecycle, particularly in conjunction with Microsoft technologies. It applies a question-based approach to allow organisations to self-determine their needs across the entirety of the IT lifecycle – from conception, development, operation, maintenance and, eventually, retirement.
ITSM Tools and Software
As we have established, ITSM has its unique practices and approaches that not all solutions or software may be able to accommodate. When looking for the best ITSM solution software for your organisation, these are the few things to look out for:
Features and tools geared for ITSM
ITSM-specific tasks can be hard to manage in outdated software that cannot accommodate the unique needs of an IT Team. For example, managing incidents for your IT services can be significantly limited and time consuming without a proper ticketing system or digital service desk. The necessary features and tools may vary from team to team, so make sure to spend time evaluating what tools your team needs most. Some handy features or tools to look out for include automated approval and notification processes, task prioritisation tools, a comprehensive ticketing system and streamlined knowledge management processes.
Solution set up and implementation
There is no use in having a great tool if no one knows how to use it. When applied well and properly adopted, ITSM tools can improve productivity, efficiency and transparency significantly. However, an overly complex and confusing setup process combined with a steep learning curve can act as a critical barrier to proper adoption. Look for ITSM solutions that your teams can easily activate and start utilising, either through the availability of service information portals, additional support services or making sure the processes are similar to your pre-existing processes.
Ease of use
The key function of ITSM is to improve collaboration and cooperation across an entire organisation. For it to be properly adopted, an ITSM solution needs to be user friendly and intuitive while offering users clear pathways to solve their problems be it through self-service portals or progress tracking features.
Integration and collaboration capabilities
Similar to the above, a key part of improving adoption is by making sure pre-existing tools and software can be easily integrated with the ITSM solution to allow seamless information sharing and collaboration. From resource management tools to ERP tools, an effective ITSM solution can connect with all the critical tools your team or organisation uses to ensure greater alignment, transparency and ultimately, help achieve greater success.
Solution flexibility and adaptability
Another key function of ITSM is its ability to give teams the flexibility and agility to adapt to changing environments. Traditional project management solutions can often be restrictive, rooted in more linear-based methodologies and outdated software. To fully support your business as it grows and evolves, your ITSM solutions must also be flexible and adaptable enough to accommodate changes in scale, processes, features, requirements and more.
How can pmo365 take your ITSM activities to the next level?
pmo365 is a cloud-based all-in-one project portfolio management software that adapts to your organisation’s unique needs by creating bespoke solutions that are fit for purpose, particularly for IT projects. With the power of Microsoft’s Power Platform and a highly qualified team of developers, we not only apply ITSM in our own teams but are also experts at creating ITSM solutions that have the features, flexibility and adaptability you need in an effective ITSM solution.
But pmo365 does so much more than just facilitate your ITSM needs. Other ways we can elevate your organisation’s practices and processes include:
- Facilitating Agile-based practices through Azure DevOps and customised workflows
- Building solutions on your tenancy so you are always in control of your IP
- Integrating your solution with virtually any external database with Power Automate. Check out the full list of connectors here.
- Consolidating all your project management activities onto a single platform to give you a single-source-of-truth.
- A transparent, stress-free and no lock-in pricing strategy that gives you the most flexibility and control over your solution.
- Hands-on team of PPM experts who are always ready to troubleshoot any of the problems your face.
What is ITSM?
Benefits of ITSM
Improving strategic business and IT coordination and alignment
Streamlining IT project management activities that improve overall productivity and efficiency.
Encouraging greater knowledge sharing amongst different teams and departments within an organisation.
Facilitating better cross-departmental collaboration by allowing all parties to speak the same language and stay on the same page.
Helping organisations offer better IT service to customers by efficiently addressing issues quickly and adapting to changing needs.
Supporting the continuous and sustained improvement of the IT service gives organisations the agility to respond to changing environments.
Functions of ITSM
Delivering and deploying the IT service itself
Managing the IT service lifecycle
Reviewing and refining the IT service throughout its lifecycle
Decommissioning the IT service