What is ITSM? Everything you need to know about IT service management

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By Clementine Jones on

If you’ve worked in IT for a while, you’ve probably heard the phrase ITSM mentioned a few times. But what does it mean? And how can ITSM benefit your organization? Here’s everything you need to know about ITSM.

Short for IT service management, ITSM is a set of systems and processes, which organizations use to improve the way that IT is used.

What does ITSM mean?

Unlike traditional IT management approaches, ITSM isn’t about technology itself. It’s not about developing, delivering or maintaining hardware and software. It’s about providing well-organized IT services.

Every piece of technology that you use at work – your laptop, the printer, even the apps installed on your work devices – is a service provided by your IT department.

What does ITSM look like in practice?

Let’s say you’re an employee who needs a new laptop. You can submit your request as an incident via a self-service portal, kicking off a repeatable workflow. The incident lands with IT, where it is prioritized and assigned to the right person. They get you your laptop, close the incident, and voila! You can get back to work in no time. That’s ITSM at its core – it’s about providing IT as a service.

So, is ITSM the same thing as IT support?

Not quite. While a lot of end-users think of ITSM as being just “IT support”, it’s about more than just resolving day-to-day issues. The IT service desk is definitely a part of ITSM, but it’s only the tip of the iceberg. Your IT department is responsible for planning and designing IT services, not just delivering them.

And what about ITIL, or DevOps?


People often mention ITSM and ITIL in the same breath. But when you’re looking to improve your services, it’s important to realize you’re not facing a choice between the two. While ITSM is about how you organize your IT services, ITIL is a framework that offers best practices on how to implement ITSM within your organization.

Find out why you should be using ITIL as a framework – not a set of rules.


Like ITIL, DevOps is an IT framework. But where ITIL helps streamline service management with a focus on customer satisfaction, DevOps is an approach to IT development and delivery. DevOps refers to Development and Operations teams working on an entire release chain together, from concepting and design to product support.

Can DevOps and ITSM work together?

What are some examples of ITSM processes?

ITSM is made up of several processes which help you manage your IT services – here are a few practical examples.

    • Change and Release Management. This includes changes as simple as replacing a PC. Or as complex as introducing a new software package.
    • Asset Management. Here you register and keep track of everything your customers need. From object types to licenses.
    • Problem Management. With problem management, you pinpoint and fix major structural problems within your organization.
    • Incident Management. Incident management helps you register and process all complaints, wishes and requests from (internal) customers.
    • Resource Management. This helps you stay on top of employees’ availability and workload.

Digitize your service delivery with ITSM software

TOPdesk’s ITSM software brings your IT services together in one place, so it’s easy to share knowledge, answer questions and solve problems.