The importance of service management in IT increases with every technological advancement. In fact, the introduction of the Gartner ITSM magic quadrant 2020 report explicitly recognized the importance of ITSM tools saying, “IT service management tools are vital for infrastructure and operations organizations to deliver business value in the services they provide.”
As IT teams’ plates fill up with new tasks, systems, and processes to consider they need all the help they can get. IT service management (ITSM) helps take some of the pressure off of IT by streamlining processes and procedures associated with various areas of IT service. From incident resolution to the daily implementation, operations, and management of IT processes, ITSM helps with it all. But how does ITSM work? And how do you know which ITSM tools to use?
In this article we’ll answer these questions and more—we’ll even throw in an example or two. Read on to discover how ITSM can help you.
What Is Service Management for IT?
Before we jump into the examples, here’s a brief overview of the IT service management framework, explaining how it all works, and why it’s needed. IT service management (ITSM) is centered around the comprehensive management of supporting and delivering IT services. When a business elects to enable ITSM services, a portion of their day-to-day IT functionalities are transferred to an outside ITSM vendor.
An ITSM vendor creates tools needed to make IT teams’ lives easier. From beginning to end, ITSM manages all of the processes related to structuring and supporting IT services. At its core, ITSM is an all-encompassing process driven by efficiency and designed to streamline how IT services are run.
For greater clarity, let’s review the main IT service management roles and responsibilities:
- Auditing the existing IT infrastructure
- Creating and implementing the right technology
- Identifying and applying the right procedures
- Training people to learn new technology and utilize new processes
- Formulating a plan of action to optimize the value of IT services
- Constantly improving the customer’s IT experience
- Preparing future-facing IT management practices
What Is the Service Management Process For IT?
Although this all may sound extremely complex at first glance, the ITSM process is fairly straightforward. Here’s a brief breakdown:
- Who interacts with whom? Throughout the ITSM process, both business leadership and IT service providers interact with the ITSM vendor’s tech desk. An IT service provider could be a third party IT service or an internal IT department.
- What role does the IT service provider play? As part of the ITSM process, the IT service provider interacts with the ITSM vendor to select, deploy, and operate the ITSM tool.
- What role does the customer play? Technically, the customer is the end user who these efforts are designed for, IE: the employees of the organization that has purchased the ITSM solution. Therefore, the IT service provider and ITSM vendor work together to devise a solution that best benefits the end user and improves IT processes overall.
Best practices for the ITSM process are structured using the Technology Infrastructure Library or ITIL framework. The ITIL best practices act as a set of guidelines designed to create ITSM strategies that deliver optimal value to the customer. This includes focusing on:
- Adapting digital infrastructure
- Developing processes that deliver operational and service excellence
- Improving the overall IT experience for customers
What Are ITSM Tools? Why Are There So Many?
So, we’ve discussed ITSM itself, but what about the tools that run the show? The ITSM tools distributed by vendors are software solutions that enable IT service providers to manage various aspects of IT services. There are different kinds of tools made for each type of IT service management:
- Project Management
- Change Management
- Problem Management
- Financial Controls Management
- Time and Expense Management
Oftentimes, IT service providers have multiple subscriptions to ITSM solutions, all running at once. Although there’s nothing wrong with the tools on an individual level, having multiple subscriptions to ITSM softwares often leads to frustration. From project management to time tracking, managing all of these different subscriptions can quickly become inefficient and time-consuming, while integrations come with their own headaches as well. Additionally, some of the more antiquated ITSM solutions on the market can be cumbersome to use and complex to integrate.
Recognizing these problems gave us a bright idea—why not make an all-in-one solution? Thus, Startly was born. The Startly platform is a multi-purpose, single platform solution designed to meet all of your ITSM needs. When it comes to ITSM solutions, we recognize that flexibility is key. Each Startly module can be used independently or work together. Either way, you can size the Startly platform so it’s just right for whatever your needs are, even as those needs change from month to month.
But enough about us. For now, let’s dive into the different types of service management for IT, and review a few examples of what this all looks like in practice.
Examples: Types of Service Management for IT
Project management (PM) is a key component to a successful IT operation. For any IT project, lackluster organization leads to serious bottlenecks and delays. Every IT team knows that all projects need to be planned, executed, and controlled without overlooking any detail, no matter how small.
ITSM project management tools help IT service providers with almost all aspects of their project cycle including:
- Defining the strategic value of a project
- Managing a constrained timeline
- Defining scope
- Setting clear objectives
- Providing and coordinating project resources
Most organizations have strict budgets and timelines for their IT projects, and using a structured ITSM project management approach enables IT teams to track project performance and value at every step of the project lifecycle. Additionally, this extra organization makes it easy for IT to translate updates to the customer. Here are a few functionalities associated with ITSM project management tools:
- Planning and design
- Construction and implementation
- Monitoring and controlling project updates
- Completion and delivery
Example: Easily Manage Your Projects From Beginning To End With Startly
Startly’s Project Management module helps keep projects on track by allowing you to proactively manage the scope, risks, timeline, resource needs, and financial implications of every change or project decision you make before your customers or bottom line begin to suffer.
Built to act as your personal project management assistant, Startly comes with a variety of PM features that make your life easier, including:
- Comprehensive 360° view of project details
- Supports a variety of pricing models
- Sophisticated task and milestone management
- Rich project configuration
- Asset management
While working on any project, you want to ensure that any changes you make are the most advantageous and that they won’t degrade the performance of the entire tech network. ITSM Change Management helps IT teams identify when their services are not aligning with business objectives, discover what changes need to be made, and create a process for implementing those necessary changes. When any change is made, IT teams first must identify how their updates will affect service deployment, how to effectively implement the change, and monitor the change’s progress to ensure that it’s living up to expectations. Change Management ensures that this is achieved by:
- Defining the purpose of each action in perspective with overall goals
- Replacing an outdated or faulty network component
- Implementing upgrades to improve performance
- Eliminating vulnerability
Although the features of ITSM Change Management tools vary, here are a few standard features that you should expect to find in most products:
- Accurate risk assessment capabilities
- Change guidelines and policies to inform how changes should occur
- Integration capabilities with agile tools to minimize the need for manual data entry
- Intelligent automation for change approvals
- Change scheduling to keep change tracking organized and better identify where problems occurred throughout the process
Example: Change Is Hard, Startly Can Help
Startly’s Change Management module allows IT teams to change with confidence. Startly gives you the ability to plan, monitor, and adapt to any transformation. With everything in one place, it’s easy to manage the full change process lifecycle, from request to implementation.
Startly’s features meet all of your Change Management needs:
- Centralized location for all change requests
- Custom Change Management lifecycle workflows
- Integrated change work instructions
- Customizable to your customers’ processes
ITSM Asset Management helps IT teams ensure that all of the tools being used deliver the best value. IT assets include hardware and software systems. Asset Management is also used to make sure that all assets are being tracked, maintained, deployed, upgraded, and disposed of effectively.
Here are common features associated with Asset Management ITSM tools:
- Manage changes
- Plan configurations
- Monitor provisioning
- Monitor deployment
- Track licensing accesses
- Analyze incidents
Basically, Asset Management gives IT teams the actionable insights they need to decide which assets are helpful, which ones are not, and what new assets should be implemented into a company’s tech stack.
Example: Want To Know Which Assets Should Stay and Which Ones Should Go? Startly Can Help.
Startly’s integrated Asset Management module brings together financial, technical, and service management functionalities to create a comprehensive Asset Management experience. Startly monitors and supports the full lifecycle of your company’s assets, from procurement to retirement.
Startly is made for your company’s Asset Management needs, including:
- Asset integration with incidents and service requests
- Integrated asset configuration/build process
- Asset audit management and history
- 360° asset lifecycle management
Sadly, problems are inevitable. But IT teams can control how prepared they are for when something goes wrong. In the most basic terms, problem management is how IT teams go about permanently fixing issues to improve the performance of their service delivery. ITSM tools can help you put measures into place that allow you to quickly address any issue and make improvements to prevent that issue from recurring. When an incident occurs, it’s IT’s job to identify the problem, AKA: the cause of the incident. Here are a few features associated with Change Management ITSM tools:
- Problem detection and alerting capabilities
- Problem logging capabilities
- Investigation and diagnostic capabilities
Example: Startly’s Help Desk and Ticketing Management
When problems do occur, they need to be resolved quickly and accurately. Startly’s Help Desk/Ticketing Management helps you keep track of all your tickets when IT problems arise. Our module provides a single, fully-centralized location for managing all of your tickets and is seamlessly integrated with full lifecycle Asset Management, shipping, and more.
Startly can assist you with all of your Help Desk/Ticketing needs, including:
- All ticketed traffic in a single location
- Ticketing management and lifecycle aging
- Customizable ticketing categorization
- SLA Tracking and service catalogs
Financial Controls Management
ITSM Financial Management for IT service providers revolves around making sure accounting, budgeting, and charging processes are optimized and aligned. Let’s dive into each of these processes a bit more:
Accounting – ITSM Financial Controls Management tools help IT teams track where and how much money is being spent. This involves identifying costs per customer, and/or breaking up costs by service and activity, as well as many other accounting processes and features.
Budgeting – ITSM helps IT teams monitor costs incurred on an hourly, weekly, monthly, or yearly basis. This monitoring process helps IT teams and businesses accurately plan a budget for projects and other services. Additionally, ITSM tools will notify IT teams when measures need to be taken to keep the budget on track on an individual project scale and a holistic IT service scale.
Charging/Invoicing – The information collected from the above listed processes is used to collect payment from the client for IT services. Although this looks a little different for all IT services, the right ITSM tools will be able to adapt to any invoicing process and increase the efficiency of delivering, accepting, and tracking payments.
Example: Startly Helps You Monitor IT Spend With Ease
Startly provides a well-designed and easy-to-use Invoicing and Financial Control module to help you establish and manage financial procedures. Additionally, our module enables you to manage resources, gain operational efficiency, and easily issue and collect invoices.
Here are a few features included in our Financial Control module:
- Financial system integration
- Accounting period management
- Itemized time and expense approval
- Customized approval processes
Bonus: Time and Expense Management
Startly’s one-of-a-kind Time & Expense module enhances your IT finance controls process by offering the full flexibility and functionality needed to configure monetary requirements all the way down to the project level.
Our module is stacked with features that will satisfy all of your Time and Expense needs, including:
- Corporate-level controls for company expense management
- Project-level controls for project expense management
- Automatic aggregation of time and expense to project and forecasting models
- Security & workflow configuration
Questions to Ask Before Investing in IT Service Management Tools
Now that you know all about the different types of IT service management, you probably feel ready to invest in your own ITSM tools. But before you make any final purchasing decisions, you need to properly assess your options. Not all ITSM tools are the same, and some make big promises and fail to deliver. Therefore it’s important to ask the right questions while you consider your options. Here are just a few examples of what you should be asking any ITSM vendor:
- How does your product streamline our operations?
- What support do you offer, if any?
- How does the cost of your application compare to other solutions?
- How do your features stack up against other platforms on the market?
- What are the “future features” of your service management system? Is your software scalable and will it adapt to our future needs?
Interested in hearing our answers to these questions? Feel free to reach out.
Startly, a Simple Solution For a Complex World
After reading all of this information, can you see ITSM in your future? If so, consider Startly. Our ITSM and Professional Services Automation platform is a self-sustaining ecosystem where all processes harmonize seamlessly and work collaboratively. Want more good news? We have some. Our Startly platform is more affordable, robust, and easy to use than any other ITSM product on the market. We also offer extra intelligence features including:
- Multi-linguistic capabilities
- A mobile app for our Time and Expense module
- AI-powered project health insights
- Analytics dashboards