IT Service Management (ITSM) is all about helping organizations align their IT services with their business needs. It is an approach to IT Management that seeks to make the delivery of IT services efficient, process-driven, and proactive.

Key ITSM concepts

Increasing Efficiency in IT organizations
The driving mission of ITSM is to increase efficiency. Management should move away from focusing on technology and, instead, focus on efficient processes. Finding innovative and unique approaches are key to breaking out of outdated and slow methods; for example, distributed and sourced work may take precedence over centralized in-house work. Instead of having individual isolated silos of knowledge, companies need to find solutions that facilitate collaboration and integration across the enterprise.

ITSM IT Service ManagementFocusing on Process and Best Practices
ITSM places a spotlight on how things are done, hence the creation of the ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) best practices. ITIL is simply an implementation of the ITSM process-centric philosophy, formalizing processes and procedures. Informal methods focused on specific technologies tend to slow down progress and create bottlenecks that interrupt or delay IT service delivery.

ITSM, through ITIL practices, takes the focus away from technology and places it squarely on finding the best way to get results — find a specific process that works for your company and then formalize it. For more info on this, see our blog on Implementing a SharePoint-based Help Desk That Meets ITIL Service Standards

Emphasizing Prevention – Proactive, not Reactive
Traditional IT environments tend to deal with issues as they come up, believing that resources spent on potential problems are wasted — this approach works fine when nothing goes wrong. The reality of the IT world, however, is obviously much different. Problems occur frequently and, more often than not, they are repetitive.

Instead of fire-fighting, ITSM proposes that companies focus on proactive and preventative measures: Identify repeating issues, find solutions, and then implement those solutions across the enterprise in order to prevent issue recurrence. ITIL best practices are specifically created to help companies formulate proactive strategies, particularly in the fields of change and deployment management.

Implementing ITSM

Generally speaking, the implementation of an ITSM structure includes the following steps:

1. The Here and Now: Identify and specify your existing IT infrastructure, services, and processes. What is your current state of affairs?
2. The Future: Define what you would like to see in the future. What kind of services do you want to provide?
3. Address the How?: How are you going to transition from your current state to your desired future state? Do you need to create new processes or modify existing ones?
4. Create a Roadmap: Determine the specific steps required to make your goals actionable. You may need to make large-scale changes to your organization or, if you’re not far off the ITSM path, minor adjustments may suffice.

Not an ‘All or None’ Philosophy

Any organization should feel free to use the core principles of ITSM/ITIL without feeling obligated to jump in 100%. ITSM is not a “take-it-or-leave-it” philosophy — there is plenty of room for customization and selective implementation based on your organization’s business requirements. This enables companies to improve areas that need formal processes without giving up existing methods that work for them.

In this vein, we published a Whitepaper on how small and medium-sized businesses can take an “ITIL-Lite” approach and gain many of the benefits of ITIL without the overhead of a full ITIL implementation.

Overall, the most important goal is aligning IT services with business needs – meaning, how can IT do its best at helping the organization run smoothly and cost-effectively? ITSM provides a strong framework, tempered by the experience of many, for doing this. At that same time, each IT organization has to decide what is most appropriate for its purposes, without losing sight of the need to be efficient, process-driven, and proactive.