ITSM: More Important Than Ever in a Volatile World

ITSM: More Important Than Ever in a Volatile World
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We live in an ever-changing world that requires both people and businesses to be agile to succeed. As more people are forced to work from home, IT departments scramble to meet the need. These challenges make IT Service Management (ITSM) more relevant today than ever. 

“As technology becomes integral to nearly every business, companies are looking for ways to incorporate IT service into overall business needs,” says CIO.com’s Sarah K. White. “ITSM helps businesses build structure around the lifecycle of IT services, from creation to management and upkeep.”

While there are many different approaches to ITSM, they all fall under the umbrella of offering a documented, repeatable strategy that can help IT leaders obtain consistent results. More importantly, the predictability ITSM systems and procedures offer can minimize the impact of business disruptions.

What is ITSM?

ITSM is a blanket term used to describe how IT departments design, create, deliver and support their IT services. In this way, ITSM is not just a general concept but also a set of systems and practices tailored to the individual needs of each organization. 

There are many ITSM approaches, but they share the purpose of orchestrating activities and guiding decisions towards optimal outcomes. The central role of ITSM, as a concept, is for IT leaders to know that, “We have an organized, strategic approach, and it is documented.” 

Without such assurances, many IT practices can be governed piecemeal by different departments, stakeholders, or situation-dependent guidelines. Some IT processes may be controlled entirely by the workflow of software like BMC Remedy or ServiceNow – and others may be entirely left up in the air.

Modern enterprises have too much at stake to disregard the importance of having consistent, documented guidance across a broad variety of IT scenarios. While ITSM can take nearly any form, going through the act of documenting each relevant process, setting guidelines for decision-making, and assessing situations from an objective standpoint can benefit organizations regardless of what ITSM approach they choose.

Multiple ITSM Frameworks

ITSM can use principles from any workflows or business frameworks. Agile, ITIL, DevOps, and Control Objectives for Information and Related Technologies (COBIT) are among the most common. 

Most large-scale enterprises use the best practices found in the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) as the basis of their ITSM guidelines and processes. The purpose of ITIL is to help companies achieve their objectives using a proven knowledge of IT systems, so ITIL can introduce stability across a broad range of IT disciplines, even as adaptable elements from frameworks like Agile are preserved.

While there are several ITSM frameworks, here are a few of the most popular, based on a Forbes Insights survey:

  • 47% of organizations surveyed use ITIL for ITSM. This framework aligns IT Services with the goals of the business.
  • 36% of organizations surveyed use COBIT, which was first used by the financial audit community and is now often utilized as an IT governance framework.
  • 36% of organizations surveyed use Business Process Framework (aka eTOM), frequently used by telecom service providers. It can improve the elements between an organization and its service providers.
  • 34% of organizations surveyed use the Microsoft Operations Framework. This framework comprises 23 documents designed to take an organization through the IT services lifecycle. 

Benefits of ITSM

There are numerous benefits of having a documented ITSM strategy. Those that have the greatest business impact include:

Improve efficiency

ITSM systems reduce waste and duplicated work. They allow organizations to get better availability and performance from existing IT resources. Documented ITSM processes can improve workflows and eliminate the need for cumbersome ad-hoc processes, which enhances team collaboration. 

ITSM helps companies make better use of their existing IT resources. This can include reducing wait times and admin workload while helping IT address recurring problems before they have a chance to impact the business’s value production.

Greater visibility

ITSM offers greater visibility into the operations and performance of an organization. Mapping the whole of IT work allows both management and employees to understand expectations. It also allows them to rapidly define and quantify completed vs. uncompleted tasks. Many ITSM systems improve reporting efficiency by automating the reporting process and reducing the cost of correcting reports.

Reduce downtime

A strategic ITSM approach can help businesses resolve critical IT issues faster using proven incident management techniques. It can prevent problems before they happen, which reduces downtime.

An analytics-based approach to ITSM can also improve self-service and self-help capabilities, optimizing workflows, alerting, automation, and processes. Improving self-service reduces the workload of IT staff by enabling them to solve problems proactively instead of waiting for guidance from higher ups.  

Having an established ITSM system allows employees to get a faster solution to their problems. Being able to log their issues and request help also means fewer service technicians are required to answer phones. This provides potential labor savings.

Lower costs

ITSM can set the conditions for the optimization of service management processes. With an analytics-based approach to ITSM processes, IT departments improve monitoring and reduce management costs using real-time analysis. 

A proper ITSM strategy improves business alignment while saving time and money. It can improve knowledge management, problem management, and make IT more efficient. For instance, a strategic approach to identifying root cause with every IT service ticket can decrease resolution times and help reduce recurring issues.

Through the use of a Configuration Management Database (CMDB) and procedures that require it to be revised with each significant change, organizations employing ITSM can use analytics to identify and decommission obsolete or unneeded IT assets. This ITSM best practice reduces the number of duplicate assets and shows ones that are underutilized or need to be redeployed.

What ITIL 4 Means for ITSM 

There were many reasons why ITIL v3 from 2011 needed to be updated. ITIL v3 had the following limitations:

  • Didn’t have enough focus on cost, risk, and outcomes 
  • Didn’t have support for digital transformation  
  • Had a siloed implementation with too much emphasis on prescriptive processes
  • Needed better compatibility with DevOps and Agile

ITIL 4 allows IT professionals to better support a company while it makes a digital transformation. Guidelines established by ITIL 4 can inform ITSM best practices while helping companies keep up with the constantly advancing digital world. Using ITIL 4 principles alongside ITSM strategy and documented processes gives the entire organization better visibility into IT-enabled service delivery. 

ITIL 4 contains all the elements from earlier versions of ITIL. These elements are critical to ITSM. ITIL 4 also helps technology align with business and includes best practices of ITIL with DevOps, Agile, and digital transformation. ITIL 4 uses ITSM, operations, development, business relations, and governance to give it a holistic view of service management. In this way, ITIL 4 acts as a guiding force for ITSM strategy while still allowing organizations the freedom to create or modify their own idiomatic systems and procedures.

ITSM Can Drive Productivity and Predictability in a Volatile Business Climate 

As large groups of people work from home and rely on technology, a strategic approach to ITSM is becoming more critical than ever. 

Understanding ITSM offers many benefits for the enterprise. A documented ITSM strategy enhances the best practices of DevOps, Agile, and digital transformation. Using an ITSM approach that’s chosen based on the strengths and needs of the company helps service managers better align with the organization’s goals while improving efficiency and reducing both downtime and cost. 

With ITIL 4 guidelines available, ITSM can offer more governance and sustainability in the midst of digital transformation efforts, which are becoming increasingly necessary in a world that’s relying on digital technologies to keep it connected. 

Learn more about how you can guide your strategic ITSM decisions with an eye on the future and proven systems of the past in our upcoming webinar: “DevOps & AI: Do we still need ITIL Change Management?

Register now to view the webinar as it’s hosted live!

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