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Information Technology Service Management (ITSM) Primer

What is ITSM?

ITSM is a discipline for managing information technology products (hardware and software), processes (management and technical) and resources (people and organization).  It is based on a service centered philosophy of IT department's contribution to the business rather than the traditional product centered philosophy managed by very technically minded resources. 

ITSM enables quality services that provides the outcomes that the business wants to achieve.   It enables regulatory compliance, for example SOX (COSO), HIPAA, etc by establishing tangible deliverables, quality management and control systems for IT governance

The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is a public domain ITSM framework that is a globally recognized set of best practices for ITSM.  ISO/IEC 20000 is the international standard for ITSM.  Click here for an Executive Overview of ITSM

Why is ITSM important?

The rationale for ITSM is due many IT challenges and the need to correct typical issues such as:

  • Low customer confidence/perception of IT

  • IT is unaware of changes in the business

  • Same recurring incidents that frustrate users

  • Uncontrolled changes take place that disrupt services

  • Unclear staff resource/cost requirements

  • Over dependency on key staff

  • Out of date customer support system

  • Under managed support resources

  • Continual fire-fighting and break-fix

  • Limited information - based on 'I think' rather than 'I know'

  • Interrupt-driven resources

  • Lack of communication between resources

  • Lack of cooperation between IT departments

  • Lack of direction and focus

Business needs, First!

IT service providers must provide value to the business by providing capabilities and resources to manage services as well as manage the technology and products that support these services.  ITSM creates a quality management system that assures alignment of IT services to business needs. 

The business uses IT "services" and not just "technology products".  IT must focus on Services and ensure alignment with the business needs, however, IT organizations have traditionally focused on technology products.  IT's focus on technology and products has lead to the many challenges.

For Continual Service Improvement

ITSM promotes a service oriented approach that addresses these challenges and improves the delivery of services that align with business objectives.  In contrast, the method for delivering ITSM in the past has traditionally been applied by major vendors using their proprietary frameworks such as Microsoft Operations Framework (MOF), HP ITSM Reference Model, IBM IT Process Model (ITPM), Deloitte CIO Framework, and many others that do not interoperate.

The terms ITSM and "IT Service Management" are generic.  No one author, organization, or vendor owns these terms. 

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