TOPdesk's ITSM glossary

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What is ITSM?

In a nutshell, ITSM refers to the set of systems, processes and procedures organizations use to design, deliver, manage and improve the way IT is used.

What this means is that ITSM is much more than just your IT department meeting its goals. Unlike traditional IT management approaches, ITSM is not about the technologies themselves. We don’t focus on developing, delivering or maintaining hardware and software. ITSM focusses on providing IT services in a well-organized manner.

Of course, making sure that all (internal) customers can enjoy a good working PC is part of ITSM. But an ITSM approach concentrates first and foremost on adding value to the business goals of the organization. And these days, this is not limited to only IT, but can be used to improve all supporting departments.

Simply put: ITSM is about helping the organization perform better.

  • How that works? Here are five concrete examples of ITSM processes:
  • Change and Release Management: Implementing changes as simple as replacing a PC, or as extensive as introducing entirely new software.
  • Asset Management: registering and keeping track of everything your customer’s needs, from object types to licenses.
  • Problem Management: pinpointing to and fixing major structural problems within your organization.
  • Incident Management: registering and processing all complaints, wishes and requests (internal) customers have.
  • Resource Management: staying on top of employees’ availability and workload.

How does ITSM relate to ITIL?

ITSM is often mentioned in the same breath as ITIL, short for Information Technology Infrastructure Library. Are you looking to improve your services? Then it’s important to realize you’re not facing a choice between either ITSM or ITIL.

ITSM is all about how your organization manages the IT services you deliver to your customers. This includes activities such as planning, designing, delivering, operating and controlling. ITIL is one of the existing frameworks that offer best practices on what to do as an organization when you implement ITSM.

In other words: ITIL is a collection of processes, lists, strategies and values for executing ITSM. Read more about ITIL.

Is Service Management just for IT?

No, it’s not. Departments like Facilities and HR offer internal services that – just like the services at the IT department – boil down to the same thing: supporting colleagues in their daily tasks. HR also handles incidents and looks for ways to manage problems and changes. The same applies to FM, where the infrastructure isn’t an IT organization, but a building.

All supporting departments can benefit from the advantages and approach ITSM offers. Matter of fact: it is far more efficient and customer centric if all supporting departments would work together and share the way they offer their services. We call this Shared Service Management and it is catching on fast.

What is the future of ITSM?

IT Service Management has undergone some major changes in the past decades. From focusing mainly on technique in the early seventies to meeting SLA’s in the nineties, ITSM today is about understanding customers and ensuring IT services deliver value to them. The development of ITSM does not stop here. Shared service management has become a contemporary industry standard in the past years. Which trends will follow? Here are three to keep an eye out for.

What is Workforce enablement?

Workforce enablement (a term introduced by Forrester) is all about improving customer satisfaction using innovative technology. It’s based on the idea that your customers’ needs are changing: they work on the go, use their own apps and devices, and want to solve their own problems. This requires a new approach to ITSM: no more focusing on SLAs and resolution times, but on making sure customers are happy and have everything they need to perform. Read more about workforce enablement.

What is DevOps?

DevOps is becoming one of the main movements in ITSM. Basically, DevOps combines the software development and IT operations discipline into one department or team. By working together, DevOps breaks down the traditional barriers and conflicting priorities between development and IT operation, like budget, functional requirements and performance. By working together, DevOps helps an organization evolve and improve products faster, in turn enabling organizations to better serve their customers and compete more effectively in the market.

What is Shift Left?

Shift left as a trend keeps on growing in the industry. The basic idea behind shift left is simple: IT brings the solutions they provide, such as answers to frequently asked questions, closer to the customer.

By shifting knowledge the IT department lowers the pressure on itself, and has more time to solve problems instead of spending hours on the phone handling password resets and software requests. But it also adds value to the customer another way. Want to learn more? Read about shift left.

How can I start with ITSM?

Simply put, ITSM is all about managing the information systems that deliver value to your customer. This is not limited to the standard servers, laptops and software packages.

ITSM also includes activities such as planning and managing changes so they disrupt the business, fixing impediments and managing contracts with suppliers, so you do not get surprised by a sudden contract renewal or termination.

Luckily, you’re not alone in managing all these various information technology aspects. A professional IT Service Management tool helps you automate your ITSM processes, increase efficiency, reduce costs and reach your goal: happy customers.