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What is ITSM? Managing IT to serve business needs

Sarah K. White | Sept. 28, 2017
As technology becomes integral to nearly every business, companies are looking for ways to incorporate IT service into overall business needs. ITSM helps businesses build structure around the lifecycle of IT services, from creation to management and upkeep.

ITSM
Photo via CIO Australia

IT service management (ITSM) is a set of policies, processes and procedures for managing the implementation, improvement and support of customer-oriented IT services. Unlike other IT management practices that focus on hardware, network or systems, ITSM aims to consistently improve IT customer service in alignment with business goals.

ITSM encompasses multiple IT management frameworks that can apply to centralized and de-centralized systems. There are multiple frameworks that fall under the ITSM discipline, and some address unique industry-specific IT needs, including those in healthcare, government or technology. Businesses using ITSM consider IT as a service, with a focus on delivering valuable services to customers, rather than a department that manages technology.

 

What does ITSM do for your business?

ITSM offers various frameworks for businesses to create management standards around IT services and customer service practices. It encompasses quality management, software engineering, information security management as well as popular management framework standards like ISO 9000, ITIL and ISO/IEC.

It isn’t so much what ITSM can do, but what businesses can do with the frameworks that live within the ITSM discipline. They are designed to bring organization and structure to service-oriented IT departments, aligning IT goals with business needs and goals. It’s used as a guide to help businesses effectively align IT goals and business goals, especially for companies that are customer-focused.

 

ITSM vs. ITIL

Although they are sometimes used interchangeably, ITSM and ITIL aren’t the same thing — ITIL is one of the most popular frameworks within the ITSM discipline, and it has helped inform and inspire other ITSM frameworks.

The ITIL framework is relatively flexible, so it can adapt to a variety of business goals. Businesses can pick and choose operational processes that are the most relevant to their goals. IT as a service is heavily emphasized in the ITIL framework, and as such, it’s tightly woven into the foundation of ITSM.

 

ITSM service desk

One primary discipline that falls under ITSM is the service desk, which is defined in the ITIL manual. ITIL views service desks as a Single Point of Contact (SPOC), which can streamline communication within an organization or business unit. Service desks act as a hub for users and customers to contact well-trained staff to manage issues in an organized and coordinated manner.

The service desk is viewed as a primary IT function in ITSM to provide a SPOC to accommodate and manage users, IT staff, customers and IT objectives. An IT service desk, call center or help desk is the central hub for incident tickets, service requests, questions, internal issues, client and customer service and more. As such, it’s importance is heavily emphasized in the ITSM discipline as well as the ITIL framework.

 

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