IT service management
IT service management (ITSM) refers to the entirety of activities – directed by policies, organized and structured in processes and supporting procedures – that are performed by an organization to design, plan, deliver, operate and control information technology (IT) services offered to customers. It is thus concerned with the implementation of IT services that meet customers' needs, and it is performed by the IT service provider through an appropriate mix of people, process and information technology.
Differing from more technology-oriented IT management approaches like network management and IT systems management, IT service management is characterized by adopting a process approach towards management, focusing on customer needs and IT services for customers rather than IT systems, and stressing continual improvement. The CIO WaterCoolers' annual ITSM report states that business use ITSM "mostly in support of customer experience (35%) and service quality (48%)."
As a discipline, ITSM has ties and common interests with other IT and general management approaches, e.g., quality management, information security management and software engineering. Consequently, IT service management frameworks have been influenced by other standards and adopted concepts from them, e.g. CMMI, ISO 9000 or ISO/IEC 27000.
There are international, chapter-based professional associations, such as the IT Service Management Forum (itSMF), and HDI. The main goal of the these organizations is to foster the exchange of experiences and ideas between users of ITSM frameworks. To this end, national and local itSMF and HDI chapters (LIGs or local interest groups for itSMF) organize conferences and workshops. Some of them also contribute to the translations of ITSM framework documents into their respective languages or publish own ITSM guides. There are several certifications for service management like ITIL foundation 2011.
Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL)
IT service management is often equated with the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL), even though there are a variety of standards and frameworks contributing to the overall ITSM discipline. ITIL originated as an official publication of United Kingdom government agencies (first CCTA, later OGC, then the Cabinet Office). In January 2014, ownership of ITIL was transferred to Axelos, a joint venture of the UK government and Capita, an international business process outsourcing and professional services company.
The current version of the ITIL framework is the 2011 edition. The 2011 edition, published in July 2011, is a revision of the previous edition known as ITIL version 3 (published in June 2007). ITIL version 3 was a major upgrade from version 2 (2001). Whereas version 2 was process-oriented (split into two groups: service support and service delivery), version 3 is service-orientated. Since ITIL V3, the various ITIL processes are grouped into five stages of the service lifecycle: service strategy, service design, service transition, service operation and continual service improvement.
Other frameworks for ITSM and overlapping disciplines include
- Business Process Framework (eTOM) is a process framework for telecommunications service providers.
- COBIT (Control Objectives for Information and Related Technologies) is an IT Governance framework that specifies control objectives, metrics and maturity models. Recent versions have aligned the naming of select control objectives to established ITSM process names.
- FitSM is a standard for lightweight service management. It contains several parts, including e.g. auditable requirements and document templates, which are published under Creative Common licenses. Its basic process framework is in large parts aligned to that of ISO/IEC 20000.
- ISO/IEC 20000 is an international standard for managing and delivering IT services. Its process model bears many similarities to that of ITIL version 2, since BS 15000 (precursor of ISO/IEC 20000) and ITIL were mutually aligned up to version 2 of ITIL. ISO/IEC 20000 defines minimum requirements for an effective "service management system" (SMS). Conformance of the SMS to ISO/IEC can be audited and organizations can achieve an ISO/IEC 20000 certification of their SMS for a defined scope.
- MOF (Microsoft Operations Framework) includes, in addition to a general framework of service management functions, guidance on managing services based on Microsoft technologies.
Execution of ITSM processes in an organization, especially those processes that are more workflow-driven ones, can benefit significantly from being supported with specialized software tools.
ITSM tools are often marketed as ITSM suites, which support not one, but a whole set of ITSM processes. At their core is usually a workflow management system for handling incidents, service requests, problems and changes. They usually also include a tool for a configuration management database. The ability of these suites to enable easy linking between incident, service request, problem and change records with each other and with records of configuration items from the CMDB, can be a great advantage.
ITSM tools are also commonly referred to as ITIL tools. More than 100 tools are self-proclaimed ITSM or ITIL tools. Software vendors such as Axios Systems and Marval (software), whose ITSM tools fulfill defined functional requirements to support a set of ITIL processes, can obtain official approval, allowing them to use Axelos trademarks and an "ITIL process compliant" logo, under Axelos' ITIL Software Endorsement scheme.
A Service Desk is a primary IT function within the discipline of IT service management (ITSM) as defined by the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL). It is intended to provide a Single Point of Contact ("SPOC") to meet the communication needs of both users and IT staff, and also to satisfy both Customer and IT Provider objectives. "User" refers to the actual user of the service, while "Customer" refers to the entity that is paying for service.
The ITIL approach considers the service desk to be the central point of contact between service providers and users/customers on a day-to-day basis. It is also a focal point for reporting incidents (disruptions or potential disruptions in service availability or quality) and for users making service requests (routine requests for services).
ITIL regards a call centre, contact centre or a help desk as limited kinds of service desk which provide only a portion of what a service desk can offer. A service desk has a more broad and user-centered approach which is designed to provide the user with an informed single point of contact for all IT requirements. A service desk seeks to facilitate the integration of business processes into the service management infrastructure. In addition to actively monitoring and owning Incidents and user questions, and providing the communications channel for other service management disciplines with the user community, a service desk also provides an interface for other activities such as customer change requests, third parties (e.g. maintenance contracts), and software licensing.
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- ITIL Service Design (2011), p. 22.
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