What is ITSM?
IT Service Management (ITSM) traditionally refers to the processes and procedures implemented by IT service providers to meet a customer’s specific IT needs. These needs can vary in nature, from individual specific requests to complicated sets of tasks designed to achieve a wider goal. Often, the “customer” is internal, whereby the IT department is provisioning services to fulfil business needs within the organisation. ITSM can be broken-down into two main categories of service – Incident Management and Request Management.
An example of a “request” would be if a company needs to implement a new application to provide a new service to its customers. The department responsible for this new application would engage the IT department in order to establish the exact requirements. The IT department would then be tasked with planning and provisioning the IT related elements to facilitate the new application.
An example of an “incident” is if a company provides an application to its customers, but the underlying IT service develops a fault. The responsible department would, again, engage the IT department, this time to troubleshoot and resolve the issue to restore the service. Scenarios such as this would carry differing levels of urgency, especially if the incident in question has cost implications or impacts external revenue generating opportunities. It’s for this reason that ITSM Incident Management is closely related to SLAs, or Service Level Agreements with external customers. These are targets set by customers and/or the business and agreed by the IT department for resolving incidents within a given duration.
The provisioning and management of ITSM services is normally facilitated via a software platform. The platform normally captures all pertinent details (contacts, description of work, etc.) and allows incidents and requests to be time-stamped, categorised and allocated to the responsible teams. A good ITSM platform will:
- ensure each and every action is fully auditable in order to strive for constant improvement
- allow for in depth analysis to determine which services or products are resilient and which are costly to support
- play a vital role in collaborative team work, since an underlying IT issue may be caused or may have an effect on numerous links in the IT chain. So the platform should allow the incident to be assigned, worked-on, and reassigned for further work as many times as is needed in order to resolve the issue, and finally
- facilitate analysis of how quickly and efficiently your staff are providing services or resolving issues for performance management, SLA monitoring and staffing planning.
So, at its core, ITSM facilitates the provision of IT services in a structured, collaborative, auditable and timely manner.
Why is this specific to IT?
When you consider the principles, they can and should be applied to any company or department that aims to provide any type of service, especially if you have an IT solution to facilitate your operations. Think of it this way, if an ITSM software solution can help to facilitate and manage the installation of a new server into a datacentre, why can’t the same process be applied to install a new air-conditioner into a customer’s office or home? Or perhaps to install a new security system? Or a sprinkler system for that matter! Likewise, if ITSM can manage and facilitate the repair of a faulty IT component, why can’t the same process apply to fixing a faulty stove? Or a faulty car? The key to accessing this type of work-flow lies in the Service Management Solution you choose.
How to choose a good Service Management Solution?
– Easy to understand and easy to use
Off the shelf ITSM solutions can be very complicated since they are intended to cater for huge organisations as well SMEs and micro businesses. Specific to SME and micro businesses, many of the fields in forms are not required and only serve to over complicate the user-experience. If you are an SME or a micro business, try to find a solution that covers the basic and most important elements, rather that every possible feature.
– Mobile ready
Any good Service Management solution must allow for mobile interaction. In today’s world, it is imperative that service personnel are able to accept, create, update, assign and reassign tasks and incidents using any device (i.e. smartphones) and from any location. This is particularly important when multiple, yet dispersed, teams are required to work together towards a common goal. The flow of information in a timely fashion is vital. This is where cloud based SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) providers can help.
– Reporting and analysis
Your Service Management solution must allow for good reporting and analysis. A main aim of implementing a Service Management solution is to improve your services and to identify factors that are costing your business money. Effective reporting, when it comes to service delivery, can help to identify bottlenecks in your service delivery times and to root out failing services or products. Conversely, it can also help to identify your strongest engineers or service personnel.
– Cost effective
Cost is always a factor when considering a new solution. You need to be sure that your investment is worth-while. The cost of your solution should be directly proportionate to the value of the service you provide. Consider this, if your Service Management costs you $100 per month but it ultimately enables you to quickly resolve a major problem that would otherwise have cost your top customer $100,000 – you’ve made the correct choice.
– Knowledge Base
When it comes to incident management, any good solution should encompass some kind of knowledge base. A knowledge base is basically a repository of previous problems relating to specific services or products, along with some detail on what was done to resolve the issue. This mechanism allows for the sharing of vital field experience which can save a lot of time and money. The next time the problem is encountered by a colleague who may be in another location or team, they will have an immediate head start on finding a solution.
Again, relating to incident management, it’s important that your Service Management tool allows you to specify a suitable SLA based on the customer and the situation. SLA’s will vary from service-to-service so being able to add and customise your own specific SLAs is important.
– Requests and Tasks
A request can be a one-off single action, or it might be a series of single actions that, combined, fulfil the service requirement. Any good service management solution should allow for both. You should be able to create a request to manage any type of service, no matter how many steps are involved. A request that comprises numerous tasks, where each task can be assigned to a different team, allows for great collaboration. When this type of complex request is required on a frequent basis, you may need to consider a Project Management solution (which we’ll cover in our next blog article).
Consider a scenario whereby all of the engineers in a specific team are working in the field and you receive a new and extremely urgent request from a customer for a repair. You might consider phoning each member of the team to find out who may or may not be available to assist – but this activity will itself cause unnecessary delays. Your Service Management solution should have the capability to broadcast some kind of communication, be it email, app notification or SMS, to make the relevant team members aware.
Ultimately, using a good Service Management solution can help you to manage and deliver any type of service, ideally from any location, to improve efficiency and customer satisfaction. Most importantly, when your service personnel are out in the field, it should arm them with the means to share and access vital information when they need it most.
Consider cnx.cloud for your Service Management solution.