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What is IT Service Management (ITSM)?

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OpenText IT Service Management (ITSM) products encompasses all elements of managing information technology services, including planning, designing, building, implementing, deployment, improvement and support for both internal and external stakeholders with a goal to consistently improve services to best meet business objectives.

ITSM ensures the right technology, processes, and people are in place for the organization to realize its long term objectives. ITSM improves the quality and speed of service delivery and maximizes customer satisfaction. Some businesses leverage ITSM software not just for the management and support of their IT systems but also to broker and manage a wide range of processes and services across the enterprise.

IT Service Management

ITSM processes and services

ITSM uses a process based approach, with many ITSM implementations leveraging the ITIL best practice framework to manage IT services along their lifecycle. For this purpose, ITIL 3 defines 26 processes in 5 lifecycle stages.

Service strategy

Assesses their customer needs and determines which services the IT organization will offer, and what capabilities may need to be developed.

  • Strategy management: Evaluates provider's offerings, capabilities, competitors in order to develop a strategy to serve their customers.
  • Financial management: Establishes the right mix of services to meet required business outcomes with an appropriate level of investment.
  • Service portfolio management: Manages budgeting, accounting and charging requirements.
  • Demand management: Makes sure the service provider has sufficient capacity to meet the required demand.

Service design

Identifies service requirements and devises new service offerings as well as changes and improvements to existing ones.

  • Design coordination: Provides consistent and effective design of new or changed IT services, service management information systems, architectures, technology, processes, information and metrics.
  • Service catalogue management: Provides essential service details, current status, and interdependencies.
  • Service level management: Negotiates Service Level Agreements.
  • Capacity management: Ensures the IT infrastructure is able to deliver the agreed service level targets in a cost effective and timely manner.
  • Availability management: Makes sure that all IT infrastructure, processes, tools, roles etc. are proper for the agreed availability targets.
  • IT service continuity management: ITSCM ensures that the IT service provider can always provide minimum agreed Service Levels, by reducing the risk from disaster events to an acceptable level and planning for the recovery of IT services.
  • Information security management: Ensures the confidentiality, integrity and availability of an organization's information, data and IT services.
  • Supplier management: Confirms that all contracts with suppliers support the needs of the business, and that they meet their contractual commitments.

Service transition

Coordinates the build and deployment of IT services.

  • Transition planning and support: Plans and coordinates the resources to deploy a major Release within the predicted cost, time and quality estimates.
  • Change management: Implements beneficial Changes with minimum disruption to IT services.
  • Service asset and configuration management: Maintains information about Configuration Items required to deliver an IT service, including their relationships.
  • Release and deployment management: Ensures that the integrity of the live environment is protected and that the correct components are released.
  • Service validation and testing: Verifies that deployed Releases and the resulting services meet customer expectations, and to verifies IT operations is able to support the new service.
  • Evaluation: Evaluates major Changes before those they are allowed to proceed to the next phase.
  • Knowledge management: Gathers, analyzes, stores and shares knowledge and information within an organization to improve efficiency.

Service operation

Authenticates that IT services are delivered effectively and efficiently, including the fulfilling of user requests, resolving service failures, fixing problems, and carrying out routine operational tasks.

  • Event management: Checks CIs and services are constantly monitored, and filters and classifies Events in order to decide on appropriate actions.
  • Incident management: Manages the lifecycle of all Incidents in an effort to return the IT service to users as quickly as possible.
  • Request fulfillment: Fulfills Service Requests.
  • Access management: Grants authorized users the right to use a service, while preventing access to non-authorized users.
  • Problem management: Analyzes Incident Records, and uses data collected by other IT Service Management processes to identify trends or significant Problems.

Continual service improvement

(CSI) process uses methods from quality management in order to learn from past successes and failures. The ITIL CSI lifecycle stage aims to continually improve the effectiveness and efficiency of IT processes and services

  • 7-step improvement: A process plan which is critical of itself and other stages of the ITIL lifecycle.
    • Identify the approach for improvement.
    • State what will you measure.
    • Collect the data.
    • Process the data.
    • Analyze the data and information.
    • Present and use the information.
    • Implement corrective or remedial activities.

In ITIL 4, these 26 processes have been replaced by 34 practices, divided into general, service management and technical management practices. Many of these practices are the processes known from ITIL 3, for example, knowledge, incident, and change management.

What is an ITSM framework?

Frameworks provide practical guidance to ITSM through a formalized structure of pre-defined standards, processes, or best practices. Frameworks also provide the opportunity to monitor for continual improvement of services offered, delivered and supported.

An ITSM framework supports the entire spectrum of IT services ranging from networks and applications, to databases and non-IT business functions. It defines standard operations, techniques, and supporting services while delivering efficiency and value gain for IT operations. Frameworks support organizations to define their ITSM strategy and the implementation of that strategy.


The terms ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) and ITSM are regularly used interchangeably. The confusion is understandable because the two terms are closely related. ITIL is a set of best practices widely used for the execution of ITSM. It is a framework developed by the UK government in the 1980s in response to the rapidly growing use of information technology.

ITSM is a broader discipline that encompasses IT service delivery. ITIL details best practices for the execution of ITSM. ITSM is the ‘what’ while ITIL is the ‘how’. For example, ITSM will require IT teams tackle system incidents. ITIL on the other hand will recommend how to approach addressing the incidents including incident categorization, escalation, and resolution.

Popular ITSM frameworks and standards

An organization has the option of adopting one or more ITSM frameworks. In large corporations with multiple locations, divisions, and subsidiaries, it may be necessary to deploy more than one framework in order to fulfil diverse IT service delivery requirements. Some of the most widely used ITSM frameworks are:

  • Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) - The most popular ITSM framework. It emphasizes the alignment of IT services with business objectives.
  • Control Objectives for Information and Related Technologies (COBIT) - COBIT started in the audit space but soon expanded into IT service management. The COBIT framework and toolset is developed by ISACA. ISACA views COBIT as a counterpart framework to ITIL.
  • Business Process Framework (or eTOM) – An ITSM framework that has seen widespread adoption in the telecommunications industry.
  • Microsoft Operations Framework (MOF) – Provides a mechanism for managing the IT lifecycle. It covers everything from implementation to costs. Its focused on Microsoft technologies.
  • ISO/IEC 20000 – The first global standard for ITSM. It was developed in 2005 and revised in 2011 and 2018. Originally built to reflect the best practices in ITIL, it supports other ITSM frameworks as well. It provides clear specifications for ITSM systems.

What is ITSM software?

ITSM software are the tools that help organizations realize their ITSM strategy more efficiently. They regulate how IT services are delivered in an organization depending on people, process, vendors, budget, and outcomes.

ITSM software can automate ITSM processes, workflows and tasks. It improves the experiences for users both those consuming, or responsible for, the delivery of the services. ITSM software can include preconfigured roles, workflows, reports, and templates that simplify the implementation of processes based on the chosen framework.

In order to connect your IT services with a business the ITSM software needs to integrate with the software of other business functions to gain deep, complete insights into their operations and services.

ITSM Software vs. Helpdesk/ticketing systems

While it’s a common assumption that ITSM software is nothing more than a sophisticated help-desk or service desk tool or ticketing system, ITSM software has a much broader scope that includes the service desk function.

Help desk ticketing systems focus on organizing and categorizing incidents, requests, or questions: An IT user encounters a technology problem and raises the issue with the help desk, a ticket is then created and assigned, the issue is investigated and resolved, and the ticket is closed.

ITSM software beyond ticketing, typically includes IT service modelling, license management, incident management, knowledge management, problem management, project management, asset management tools, and built-in reporting. Effective ITSM software supports the organization, information, technology, employees, customers, partners, suppliers, and processes with giving IT the ability to better manage IT functions.

Key considerations when choosing ITSM Software

All ITSM software isn’t created equal. Choosing the one that’s most suitable for your organization requires careful evaluation. These three aspects matter most.

  • User experience – Today’s user expects IT services to be accessible when, where, and how they want them. But ITSM software shouldn’t just look at indulging users but optimizing productivity for all users and departments. With an always-on, flexible service platform boasting diverse self-service capabilities, you are likely to achieve your business objectives more efficiently and easily. This allows IT staff to devote their time to more strategic work and less on routine tasks and problem solving.
  • Operational efficiency – IT service efficiency goes beyond quick response times. It’s about understanding service costs and calculating how much you could save by making improvements to your IT service management processes. Think about the degree to which the ITSM software will make your teams more efficient.
  • Total cost of ownership (TCO) – TCO of ITSM software isn’t just about infrastructure costs, installation costs, maintenance costs, and operating costs. There’s also cost related to organizational change management. These costs can be quantified and then compared to the expected gains from deploying the ITSM software.

Enterprise service management

ITSM tools have over the years evolved into not just systems for the efficient management of IT but an avenue for enterprise-wide process and technological innovation. There’s a growing demand for enterprise service management solutions that addresses the requirements of the entire organization.

With the right ITSM software, you can automate and digitize tasks across the organization. So in addition to IT processes, enterprise-ready ITSM software could support non-IT services.

How can OpenText™ Service Management Automation X (SMAX) help you?

ITSM is about service delivery, continuous improvement and customer care. Define the goals and metrics that best measure your enterprise services’ performance and identify the areas requiring improvement.

Understanding and implementing the principles and processes of ITSM is just the beginning. For sustainable service management success, you must adopt ITSM software that can best enable the management and ongoing improvement of your IT services.

OpenText™ Service Management Automation X (SMAX) is machine learning based ITSM software to meet all your service desk and IT service management needs.

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