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ITSM stands for Information Technology Service Management, which ultimately is the discipline of managing IT services. When we talk about IT management most people picture managing the technology. And whilst IT system management and similar more technical IT management approaches are crucial for your IT to work, IT Service Management is no less important. Its main focus is on the business value IT delivers to its users and the company as a whole. IT services are the means for delivering value.
ITSM as a discipline has developed a set of best practices over the years. These practices ensure the overall quality of service delivery. The main benefit of ITSM software is that it is designed to enable the exact processes you need to manage your IT effectively. This includes organizing conversations with users into tickets, keeping track of asset history, providing a single point of contact for all requests, enabling request management with advanced approval workflows, CMDB (Configuration Management Database) for better root cause analysis and incident resolution.
Different modules in ITSM software aim to provide the right mix of processes and technology to optimize the employee and customer service experience. The modules are usually named after ITIL practices. The following modules are usually available within mature ITSM software: Incident Management, Request Management, Problem Management, Change Management. Configuration Management DataBase (CMDB), Knowledge base, Self-service Employee portal, Service Catalog(ue), and Asset Management.
ITSM software can be integrated with a multitude of apps by deploying standardized APIs (Application Program Interfaces) such as REST API. APIs help connect up to your existing applications to establish seamless and consistent service delivery. The most common ITSM integrations are with ERPs (Enterprise Resource Planning), CRMs (Customer Relationship Management), HCMs (Human Capital Management), Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Teams, and other security and finance systems.
To choose the best ITSM software for your company you need to have a clear understanding of your needs. Given the wide variety of solutions in today’s market, it can be confusing to select an appropriate ITSM tool. To narrow down the criteria for a new tool you should first understand the maturity of your IT and your ITSM needs and goals. Make sure your solution integrates well with your existing infrastructure. In order to ensure quality, select certified tools from reliable vendors. Since you want your ITSM tool to be adopted by all employees in the company, choose a tool that puts excellent user experience (satisfaction) in the forefront.
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Having a ticketing system and an Asset Management solution in one place allows you to better anticipate users’ needs and address them in an effective way. IT Asset Management and ticketing are usually closely connected, since most of the incidents have something to do with existing assets. The data gathered from the one, complements the other, which dramatically improves efficiency, clarity of the IT structure, alignment of IT costs with business needs, better use of resources, and less time and money spent on unnecessary purchases. Asset management looks into the ‘what’ while the service desk solves the ‘how’. The combination of these two gives you more context around all the asset data that goes with each ticket. For instance, you can see all requests related to the device and its comprehensive history which helps you quickly understand the root cause and potential remedies of the incident and to improve resolution times as well as overall user experience.
The Single Point of Contact (SPOC) is an interface to simplify communication between end-users and IT staff or other internal departments. You can think of it as an employee portal where the employee can report any issue or request any service from the catalogue. The employee has no difficulty finding out whom to contact when they need help. Whatever their query is, they can address it via the SPOC. The concept of SPOC is closely related to a service desk. Modern service desks usually offer web-based employee self-service portals. This way the recording of requests is linked to a system where issues are tracked and resolved. This streamlines communication and ensures excellent user experience.
Incident Management (IM) is a set of processes to identify and correct incidents that hinder business services. The nature of the incident is considered in terms of its potential threat to the organization’s assets and operations, that consequently trigger end-users being frustrated, isolated and unproductive, and ultimately resentful towards IT. IM facilitates resolving those unplanned events and disruptions faster by detecting and recording incident details and prioritizing them in terms of urgency and impact in order to restore the business to operational normalcy as quickly as possible. Thus, IM functionality is both critical and highly efficacious for improving end-user experience and avoiding losses, minimizing adverse impact.
Problem Management (PM) is closely linked with incident management. Unlike the latter, the purpose of problem management is to identify the root cause of the issues and help to correct them to avoid similar problems in the future. In other words, the main goal is to reduce the likelihood of repetitive errors by finding potential causes of incidents. In this case, problems represent the causes of incidents requiring investigation and analysis, while incidents affect users or business processes to be further resolved. Implementation of PM functionality enhances overall service quality, cuts downtime in issue resolution, helps find permanent solutions to incidents, and increases end-user productivity as well as business satisfaction.
Service Request Management (SRM) is a key module for every organization, not only related to the IT sector but also in other business areas, regardless of industry. Having all kinds of different requests without any suitable system can cause chaos and disorganization. RM functionality provides a clear path for service requests consisting of software installations and hardware requirements. Besides, there are also the tools and processes included that enable users to submit requests, assign responsibility, track the actual request’s status, and communicate with stakeholders while collecting valuable feedback. All the above aids to save time, maintain team efficiency, streamline the automation of repetitive tasks, and improve communication with stakeholders which all contribute to business success.
Change Enablement also called Change Management is a standardized set of procedures outlining how to make a change seamlessly from the existing state of affairs to a new one without interfering with the workflow and causing potential harm and trouble. These changes can include releasing new services and solutions or updating those that already exist. The foundation stone of change management is balancing between the inherent risks of the change and the need for speed. The major aim is to handle the impact of change by balancing the foregoing factors, so that the rollout is secured with seamless continuity, efficiently meeting business needs.
A Service Configuration Management Database guarantees your IT infrastructure gets a perfectly mapped framework in order to have greater visibility and control over the IT assets and their distribution. This framework helps to have up-to-date information on IT components and their relationships that consequently influence services. The scope of configuration management covers every component that demands management to deliver an IT service. The benefit of the CMDB approach is to avoid issues that may occur when software and hardware systems are not properly configured. Configuration management is all about prevention, investing today can save very costly issues tomorrow.
Service Catalogue Management (SCM) can be described as a structured document that contains all available IT services, including those which are planned to be deployed. Among these belong not only supporting services that are visible to the business, but also so-called supporting services that are required for delivering customer-facing services. The scope of SCM is to ensure adequate development and maintenance as well as accurate service catalogue interfaces, dependencies, and consistency between the catalogue and the entire service portfolio.
A Knowledge Base (KB) is one single point of an organized collection of data. Unlike a database which traditionally represents a scheme with data and numbers in tables, a knowledge database has been shaped into a more naturally organized collection of data and information that is closer to how the human brain organizes information in general. In a KB information is not only data as such, but also its web of categories, subcategories, and their interrelations. A good knowledge base is a self-serviced library acting like an encyclopedia containing different formats of information such as articles, tutorials, videos, manuals, or FAQs which are organized into related categories and folders. By doing so, end users have easy access to valuable knowledge 24/7 without having to contact anybody. KB functionality encourages users to solve issues independently and more efficiently which also has saved costs, avoiding hiring extra staff for this kind of support.
Enterprise Service Management (ESM) refers to applying the benefits of IT Service Management (ITSM) to departments outside of IT. The adoption of ITSM in other business teams such as Human Resources or Facility Management can tremendously improve operations, services, and cooperation among teams. ESM serves as a true single point of contact for all employees. Let’s use the onboarding process as an example of how ESM can be used in practice. When you hire an employee, you need to contact the Human Resources, IT department, your boss, and many other people, in order to to get a new laptop, gain access to buildings, etc. In this case, ESM helps you to make sure all tasks are executed by each right team on time. The process can be automated, which allows you to focus on what you need to do, rather than who you need to contact and why. Therefore, ESM improves customer satisfaction, eliminates frustration and stress, and reduces cost and time spent with the onboarding process.
ITIL stands for Information Technology Infrastructure Library. The origins of ITIL go back to the 1980s when IT started becoming more and more prevalent in both business and state organizations. In contrast to more established fields, there was no set of best practices for IT management and there was no common language among IT professionals. These were the true early days of IT management. The UK Government understood the need for a more systemic approach and tasked The Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency (CCTA) to create a methodology for IT management. The team involved with the task soon realized that they don’t want to create just a method but rather a collection of books with best practices. And since a set of books is usually called a “library” they named it Information Technology Infrastructure Library. ITIL is currently owned by AXELOS.
The difference between ITSM and ITIL is that ITSM is an IT management discipline focused on IT delivering business value, whereas ITIL is the best practices framework for ITSM owned by Axelos. So, if you want to step up your ITSM game, ITIL is where you can go for inspiration. The word framework is important here as ITIL is not a standard. You adopt the things you find useful from it and you adapt them to your needs.
Since ITIL is generally recognized as a go-to set of best practices for ITSM, IT managers expect their toolset to be aligned with ITIL. Why would you even consider a tool that doesn’t support your processes? For these reasons, there are several authorities that examine existing ITSM tools and provide them with certification when they meet criteria for specific ITIL practices/processes. PinkVerify, Axelos, and Serview are the most notable ones.
IT Asset Management abbreviated as ITAM is an integrated approach to procure, manage, upgrade and dispose of IT assets to be sure they are being utilized efficiently. ITAM brings a unified view of property items, along with detailed records of asset history including associated costs. Having this complete overview of assets strongly contributes to the company’s ability to continuously grow, expand and keep the business on track. The AM model is not ground-breaking and can often be wrongly overlooked, yet it is powerful and a critically important approach for businesses to potentially resolve the most pressing concerns the company faces. ITAM is usually a built-in feature of ITSM software, yet there are numerous standalone products specialized around ITAM.
Broadly speaking, an asset is defined as something useful or valuable that benefits an organization and its stakeholders. IT assets comprise any company-owned software or hardware components within an IT environment that support business activities. These may include IT hardware (laptops, mobiles, and other devices), cloud services, software (programs), software as a service abbreviated as SaaS (Google Apps, Salesforce, Slack, etc), and many more.
ITAM stands for IT Asset Management, discussed further below. The difference between ITSM and ITAM is that ITSM covers a range of practices whilst ITAM is a practice within ITSM. This at least is the view held by ITIL. Some people might view ITAM as a practice distinct from ITSM but that really depends on how you define them both. Either way, ITSM and ITAM are closely related and should work together. Whilst IT Service Management makes sure that IT delivers business value, ITAM’s purpose is to manage the full life cycle of assets included in the process. Simply put, ITAM helps you to maximize the value you get out of your laptops, servers, networking, and all the software you own or have subscribed to. At the same time, it helps you to keep costs in check, manage risks and get an accurate baseline for decision making about the purchase of new hardware or software.