What is ITSM? Managing IT to serve business needs

Sarah K. White


ITSM frameworks

ITIL might be the most commonly used ITSM framework, but there are plenty of other ITSM frameworks businesses can use. Some of these frameworks are targeted at specific industries or business needs — such as healthcare, government and telecommunications. If your business has technology needs that are unique to your industry, you might find other frameworks address challenges other companies aren’t worried about.

Some of these frameworks include:

  • IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL): a framework of best practices for delivering IT services 
  • Business Process Framework (eTOM): a framework designed for telecommunications service providers
  • COBIT (Control Objectives for information and Related Technologies): an IT governance framework
  • FitSM: a simplified, streamlined service management framework typically aligned with ISO/IEC 20000
  • ISO/IEC 20000: considered the international standard for IT service management and delivery
  • Six Sigma: developed by Motorola with a focus on using data analysis to minimize product and service flaws
  • MOF (Microsoft Operations Framework): a compilation of 23 documents that guide businesses through the entire life cycle of an IT service, including creation, implementation and cost-effective management with an emphasis on Microsoft technologies
  • TOGAF (The Open Group Architecture Framwork): created and managed by The Open Group as a way to provide businesses with structure when implementing technology, with a focus on software

ITSM processes

IT has always had processes that were specific to technology, but to integrate IT objectives with business objectives, ITSM shifts the language used to describe these IT processes. Using language that isn’t IT-specific helps to reinforce the idea that service-IT is at the heart of the business.

Processes include:

  • Process Focus: shifting IT from focusing on technology to thinking about processes on a business-level
  • Prevention: viewed as “firefighting” in IT, but addressed as preventative on the business side
  • Proactive: shifting IT practices to a proactive, rather than reactive, strategy
  • Customers: viewing users as customers
  • Distributed, sourced: changing from traditional centralized IT with everything completed in-house
  • Integrated, enterprise-wide: shifting from a siloed IT department to a department with less isolation
  • Repeatable, accountable: creating structure instead of “ad hoc” practices by standardizing processes
  • Formal best practices: establishing processes rather than working off informal policies so everyone is on the same page
  • Business perspective: moving away from thinking about IT-specific needs to full-scale business needs
  • Service orientation: shifting from traditional “operational specific” IT initiatives to a focus on customer and client service

ITSM tools

You’ll find plenty of software suites that are aimed at supporting entire ITSM processes to handle ticketing, service, incidents and any upgrades, changes or problems. Typically, these suites are marketed as either ITSM or ITIL solutions and focus on supporting IT workflow management. These software suites contain everything businesses need to work within the framework of their choice, and offer flexibility for businesses to deploy all the features they need.

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