Taking time to plan something properly up front can save untold costs later, and this is especially true for IT support & IT services. IT service management (ITSM) is a discipline for planning your IT service portfolio up front now so that you can deliver it expertly in the future.
ITSM is about more than just helpdesk technical support. It manages the entire end-to-end process for dealing with multiple IT queries, ranging from new laptop requests through to onboarding new employees with accounts and software licenses.
An effective ITSM strategy makes your IT processes consistent across the board. This improves the internal employee experience by ensuring that people get the same results every time they make a request to the IT department, and ensuring that they get those results quickly thanks to a streamlined set of actions.
Ideally, those actions will be automated. The ITSM 2021 and Beyond report from the Service Desk Institute and Freshworks found that automation of processes, tasks, and ticket handling was by far the biggest priority in service desk strategies this year, with 36% of respondents rating it as a top item on their agenda.
ITSM also makes things more secure by avoiding loopholes from inconsistent operations. That resonates with ITSM professionals, with 45% of them adding that it would be a big trend for ITSM in 2021.
The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is the go-to standard for ITSM. It covers a diverse set of IT-related processes, including how to manage and process service requests, how to manage IT assets, and how to tackle changes to your IT infrastructure consistently and responsibly. ITIL also offers structured methodologies for creating and managing knowledge within an organization, and tells you how to handle incidents like service interruptions. It's an end-to-end framework for planning your ITSM initiative.
How to do it well
Alongside what to include in your ITSM portfolio, ITIL also outlines how to implement ITSM properly. It carves the service lifecycle into five phases:
- Strategy: This is where you define what a service should deliver and what internal capabilities you need to support it.
- Design: At this stage, you create a technical plan to implement the service.
- Transition: Now, you implement the service and take it through a testing stage to ensure that it delivers on its promises. When you're ready, you take the service live for your internal employees or external customers.
- Service operation: Each service should have an owner that is responsible for its efficient operation, and ensuring that users are getting what they need. This is an ongoing process.
- Continual improvement: Services aren't fire-and-forget solutions. They require constant support and refinement. Are your users happy with the service? How can it be improved, and what process imperfections need weeding out? This search for potential improvements never stops. If you find them, you feed them back into the first step of the service lifecycle and start again.
There are other tips that you can use to help ease your ITSM journey. One of them is to ensure that you're working on the right IT services. Create the right priorities in your IT department by talking regularly with business managers to assess their needs.
Another is to ensure that you unify your project management with your ITSM system. Using a tool that lets you allocate internal IT financial and human resources to service creation and operation will ensure that you don't overstretch yourself.
IT departments often spend so much time fighting fires that they don't get time to plan how to avoid them in the first place. Devoting time to an ITSM strategy and investing in the right tools to help you implement those plans will save you time and money in the future, while making your users happier.