ITSM, or information technology service management, stock image.
Image: Funtap/Adobe Stock

For organizations and businesses to provide IT services to their clients, many different moving parts need to function together effectively. From designing the service, building the technology and delivering the product, IT teams must manage an extensive array of tasks and ensure that each area of the service delivery workflow is performed successfully. Information technology service management can help.

What is ITSM?

ITSM, or information technology service management, is a tactical method of carrying out IT management that specifies the roles and tasks necessary for each step of the IT service’s design, delivery and improvement. This approach can improve processes for providing IT services to customers. IT service management tools come with features that can standardize procedures, simplify process orchestration and facilitate communication between tech pros and end users.


People often mix up ITSM and ITIL because both relate to IT service management concepts. However, ITSM describes the entire approach toward managing IT services in an organization; this includes all policies and processes in managing IT operations and service functions.

ITIL, or Information Technology Infrastructure Library, and is one specific framework of best practices for IT service management. The ITIL framework includes a group of documents that inform readers of recommended processes for developing an ITSM solution that will reduce costs and increase efficiency.

Key concepts of ITSM 

While different ITSM structures can have unique approaches to the IT management process, many of them follow formats that involve similar elements. The most important ITSM concepts involve improving IT management processes with an emphasis on customer satisfaction and establishing performance-based objectives.

Maintaining a customer-centric approach

Successful ITSM structures should consider the customer in all parts of the IT service management processes; this requires improving the customer experience while resourcefully and cost-effectively organizing service delivery. Therefore, an ITSM method should function as a framework with the primary objective of delivering enhanced customer service.

Leveraging KPIs 

Tracking KPIs can help organizations determine where their business stands in performance and progress and where it can improve. KPIs like customer reviews and sales can also help to determine an organization’s overall customer satisfaction.

Developing attainable business objectives

While an overarching goal of any good ITSM model is to provide excellent customer service, organizations must develop smaller objectives based on quality, performance and other business metrics. Following business objectives for budgeting and resourcing can enable an organization to progress and reduce risks.

Promoting collaboration

ITSM structures are composed of various tasks and different professionals, so coordination between internal departments is crucial for supporting IT service management initiatives. In addition, ITSM structures should involve collaboration between IT and development teams and include customers’ feedback for consideration when devising tactics for process improvement.

Enabling customer self-service functions

In a society driven by the desire for instant gratification, the time it takes to respond to customer requests is crucial. Providing customers with self-service functions can enable an organization to meet customer needs quickly through automation. ITSM tools can be helpful for this purpose, as many of these software solutions include automated self-service features for customers.

Benefits of using ITSM

ITSM solutions and processes can provide many advantages for organizations that adopt them. ITSM tools and procedures frequently contain similar technologies or features that improve IT service structures and offer more significant organizational benefits.

Better service request management

A critical factor in delivering good IT service management is appropriately handling service requests. Effective service request management ensures that each request is addressed on time by assigning tickets that include relevant information about the situation and its resolution workflow, so no tickets slip under the radar.

Ability to address problems and manage incidents

Incident management practices help users address IT problems that occur and mitigate their impact. Problem management features in ITSM tools can help IT teams to document the error resolution process and develop solutions; many solutions are even capable of identifying future risks, taking a proactive approach to resolve them and minimizing the severity of their effects.

Faster end-user satisfaction

ITSM technology can lead to faster end-user satisfaction. Customers can quickly perform many incident resolution actions through various channels, including the use of self-service portals, including submitting service requests, chatting with IT professionals and accessing knowledge bases for information on common IT issues.

Insights from data analytics and reporting 

Users can develop reports on detected and predicted critical factors relating to performance and customer satisfaction. Creating these reports can help organizations reach data-driven insights and enable them to form actionable decisions.

Defined roles and workflow management

Workflow management through defined roles and procedures can help to determine the sequence of tasks necessary throughout the service processes and allocate tasks to ensure smooth operations and keep individual users on track.

Straightforward asset management

Asset management helps IT teams keep track of each device and add-on involved in the ITSM environment. Equipment and devices can easily get lost if organizations fail to track them, which could cause a data security breach if that tech falls into the wrong hands.

Better license management 

IT departments handle many software tools that enable them to fulfill their duties, and keeping track of software licenses is essential. License management describes processes for managing this information by tracking software usage and checking software license certificates to ensure their compliance and that no licenses are expired.

SEE: Software procurement policy (TechRepublic Premium)

ITSM software 

Implementing ITSM processes within an organization can be significantly simplified by using ITSM software tools. These ITSM tools support IT teams and end users with processes involved in strategizing IT service operations.

ITSM software can provide many capabilities that support IT teams. For example, workflow management capabilities in ITSM solutions use automation to organize and deliver service processes through refined roles and procedures. Another popular feature is service request management, also called ticketing, which helps to organize, document and assign service requests. For instance, Zendesk provides a customer service solution that enables internal and external teams to collaborate on challenging tickets.

These ITSM solutions also help users perform tasks necessary for security and compliance processes like asset management and license management. Incident management features can make it easier for users to resolve IT problems, detect risks and mitigate their impact. For example, ClickUp offers an ITSM template with features to help IT teams with incident management, problem management, change management, simple asset management and even knowledge management.

In addition, ITSM tools support users in satisfying customer concerns. For example, ITSM systems with data analytics and reporting technology use data related to key performance indicators to reach insights and help IT teams improve their operations. And, features such as self-service portals enable users to quickly address their IT service concerns and take control into their own hands, improving their overall satisfaction. ServiceNow’s ITSM tool provides automatic service to customers through a chatbot tool that they can use to address common questions and get an immediate resolution.