IT service management providers have a lot on their plate—from dealing with customer problems to figuring out the best way to deliver their services, there are many aspects to running a successful service business. How do you ensure that your services are topnotch and provide a positive experience for your customers? What’s the best way to put in place efficient and effective processes and workflows? The answer is simple: by using a service management framework to guide your business and align everyone to the same goal. We’ve compiled a short guide to help you understand exactly what a service management framework is. 

What Is IT Service Management?

IT services management (ITSM) encompasses all of the processes and technology that IT service providers use to plan, deliver, and support their services. Essentially, ITSM is the “how” of the IT team, with practices like building and implementing the right technology, applying and using effective processes, and educating people on said tech and processes when they are put into place. Another part of ITSM is that it is a strategic and intentional approach to IT management. 

What Is the Purpose of IT Service Management?

The main purpose of IT service management is to provide consistent, efficient, and effective rendering of IT services. Choosing and implementing the right technology, processes, and education strategically keeps the overall IT approach aligned with your business goals.

What Are the Four Perspectives of IT Service Management?

Often referred to as “the four P’s” (people, process, product, and partners), these perspectives or attributes are an important part of ITSM. When providing IT services, it is important to take each attribute into consideration and cater to their unique needs. 

  • People – Do your people have the right training, knowledge, and skills to perform their jobs to the best of their ability? 
  • Process – Are your processes being continually reviewed and improved? Are your process flows providing end-to-end delivery of service? 
  • Product – What technology or products are needed to meet business objectives and goals? What products are currently in place? 
  • Partners – How are your external partners involved in the delivery and support of your services?

What Is an IT Service Management Framework?

A framework gives IT service management best practices and standards for IT service providers to work within. Rather than creating these practices from scratch, there are several different frameworks that can be adopted to help IT service providers with articulating processes, procedures, tasks, and checklists. One popular service management framework, ITIL, is a set of detailed practices that provides the necessary tools and techniques to deliver IT services. ITIL stands for “IT Infrastructure Library” and is a commonly used framework. 

Other IT service management framework examples include: 

  • Business Process Framework (eTOM) – This framework was designed for telecommunications service providers but can be adapted to service-focused businesses. 
  • COBIT (Control Objectives for Information and Related Technologies) – Created for information technology management and IT governance, this business focused framework defines a set of generic processes.
  • ISO/IEC 20000 – The International Organization for Standardization set the ISO 20000 as the international standard for IT service management and delivery. This framework can be used in combination with other frameworks like ITIL, COBIT, and MOF. 
  • FitSM – This streamlined service management framework is used for small to medium scale IT service management. 
  • Six Sigma – A familiar business practice, Six Sigma’s techniques and tools for process improvement can be applied to ITSM to provide a framework. 
  • MOF (Microsoft Operations Framework) – Focused around Microsoft technologies, this framework is a library of 23 documents that lay out the entire lifecycle of IT services, from creation to implementation and beyond.
  • TOGAF (The Open Group Architecture Framework) – The TOGAF provides a framework for implementing technology with a focus on software. This framework can be used as a part of ITSM to guide technology implementation processes. 

What Are IT Service Management Standards?

IT service management standards are the guidelines set out in each framework. Standards are an important part of an IT service management framework, aligning all of the building blocks and components and ensuring they will operate smoothly together. Let’s take a closer look at three of the frameworks listed above and their standards. 

  • ITIL

Although you can think of ITIL as guidelines, this framework does not provide exact “standards,” but rather lays out best practices for ITSM. In other words, ITIL lists recommendations—not specifications. ITIL has five distinct volumes: ITIL Service Strategy, ITIL Service Design, ITIL Service Transition, ITIL Service Operation, and ITIL Continual Service Improvement. Each of these volumes sets out guidelines for these specific areas. The ISO 20000 standard actually evolved out of the ITIL. 

  • ISO 20000

ISO 20000 is more in line with what most people think of when they see the word “standard.” Laying out clear specifications for a service management system, ISO 20000 can be used in tandem with ITIL. ISO 20000 standards are focused around aligning service delivery and requirements as well as efficiency and control of services. Another complementary standard to the ISO 20000 is the ISO 27001, a risk management-based standard that addresses security concerns in information management systems. 

  • Six Sigma

Six Sigma uses two guidelines, one for improving an existing process (DMAIC) and another for designing a new process (DMADV). DMAIC is an acronym that stands for “Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control.” Each of these five steps is fleshed out with twelve additional steps to improve the existing process. DMADV stands for “Define, Measure, Analyze, Design, Verify.” DMADV focuses on creating a new product or process that is suited for the consumers’ needs. Although not directly related to IT, Six Sigma guidelines and methodologies can be applied to ITSM with great success. 

What Are IT Service Management Framework Principles?

No matter which framework you choose to adopt, you’ll notice that many share similar principles. We’re taking a look at ITIL and Six Sigma principles to show the similarities between these two IT service management frameworks. 

The 7 Guiding Principles of ITIL 

ITIL has seven guiding principles that can be applied to ITSM. These principles are: 

  • Focus on Value

As an ITSM provider, everything your organization does should directly or indirectly relate to value for your customers. In order to achieve this, the first step is to understand who your customers are, what their pain points are, and how you are serving them. The next step is to put yourself in your customers’ shoes (not literally!) and figure out what they consider value to be. The last step is to take a look at the entire customer journey and see where you provide value and where you have work to do. 

  • Start Where You Are

Seems easy, right? Unfortunately, we humans are great at getting in our own way. When trying to change things, scrapping everything and starting over from nothing is a tempting idea. However, a blank slate approach can actually set you back significantly. Starting with what you already have gives you the opportunity to refine, refocus, and revamp. That’s not to say that you’ll always be able to salvage previous iterations! Even if you do ultimately end up tossing out everything, it is still important to acknowledge what came first and do your due diligence so you have a better understanding of what doesn’t work and why.

  • Progress Iteratively with Feedback

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time, of course—while paying attention to your body’s feedback (when you’re getting full and need to take a break, pausing to take a drink of water, etc.) and constantly improving your technique (trying different utensils or getting an entire team of eaters on board). This is a bit of a silly example, but there’s a lot of truth in it! Organizing work into manageable sections and using improvement iterations will not only give you great insights but also lead to improved processes and completed projects. 

  • Collaborate and Promote Visibility

The best ITSM teams work collaboratively, breaking down silos and communicating effectively. Having the right people in the right roles (and encouraging an inclusive and supportive environment) will lead to creative solutions, helpful contributions, and a wide range of perspectives. Ultimately promoting collaboration and transparency both internally and externally will ensure that your team and customers will be empowered and engaged. 

  • Think and Work Holistically

ITSM providers have many moving pieces, with a plethora of processes, practices, people, and products that all have to work together. The best way to provide excellent service is by zooming out and seeing that every piece of the puzzle is important—without the small pieces, you wouldn’t be able to see the big picture.    

  • Keep It Simple and Practical

It’s easy to keep adding and adding and adding…and suddenly you look around and every workflow has 100 steps. Inflated processes lead to inefficiencies and wasted time and money. Using the minimum number of steps required and grounding everything with a practical viewpoint is important for delivering valuable results. 

  • Optimize and Automate

This principle directly ties back to value—applying automation technologies frees up human resources that can then be refocused on higher value tasks that can’t be automated. This optimization can help you maximize your human and technological assets. 

The 5 Key Six Sigma Principles

Six Sigma has five key principles that can be applied to ITSM. These principles are: 

  • Focus on the Customer

As an ITSM provider, your ultimate goal is to provide IT services to your customers. Much like the first principle of ITIL, this first principle of Six Sigma is all about figuring out what your customers want, need, and expect from you (and then you just have to deliver!). 

  • Map out the Problem

Once you start working on improving a process, it’s easy to lose track of the initial problem and start fixing things that are completely unrelated. Rather than jumping to “fix it” mode immediately, take your time and gather data to find the root issues. Create a “map” of what’s wrong to help guide the process. 

  • Eliminate Variations and Bottlenecks

Once you’ve identified the problem, you can start looking for places where you can make changes. Keep an eye out for unnecessary steps, bottlenecks, and mistakes. Remove any activities that don’t contribute to customer value.

  • Communicate Clearly 

It’s important to keep your entire team on the same page with clear and frequent communication. Make sure that everyone understands the Six Sigma methodology, is aligned with the goals of the project, and knows their role in carrying it out. 

  • Encourage a Flexible and Responsive Culture

Change can be difficult, especially if you’re tackling processes that have been in place for a long time. Six Sigma is all about change and flexibility, so it’s important to create a culture that welcomes flexibility and change. 

As you can see, while these two frameworks are different, they still share many of the same principles. You may be asking yourself, “what is the key focus around service management framework?” If you boil it all down, these principles often reduce to a simple focus: providing a positive end user experience. 

Startly: Your Superpowered Service Delivery Software

No matter what framework you choose to adopt for your IT service provider business, you will need the technology to deliver your services to your customers. As a service provider, you’re probably stuck using a plethora of programs to run payroll, keep track of help desk tickets, manage your projects… cobbling together different apps and platforms to get the functionality you need. Remember the “simple and practical” part of ITIL? Now you can apply that lesson to your tech stack. Pare down and streamline with Startly. 

As an all-in-one ITSM and professional services management solution, Startly is everything you need without the complexity. You can track all of your needs and data in one place, in an affordable and easy-to-use fully integrated platform. To learn more about Startly, check out our website or contact us today!