What is ITSM?

ITSM (or IT Service Management) refers to all the activities involved in designing, creating, delivering, supporting, and managing the lifecycle of IT services.

Think of any piece of technology you use at your workplace – your laptop, the apps installed on it, the printers, or the option to reset your password even after the first 15 times. They’re all services provided by your IT team. In other words – IT services.

Although the most common perception of ITSM among IT users (employees) is just “IT support”, ITSM goes way beyond resolving day-to-day issues. Your IT team is responsible for the end-to-end management of these services.

Learn more about ITSM here!

What is incident management?

Learn the definition of incident management, understand the process flow, set up a checklist to implement incident management & implement the best practices. Know more about incident management.

What is Knowledge Management?

We teach you the best practices to create knowledge articles, control sensitive data, share knowledge with 3rd parties and also manage your knowledge lifecycle. Know more about knowledge management.

What is an IT Service Catalog?

Here you will learn the basics of a service catalog, understand the difference between a service portfolio and a service catalog and know what key metrics to track. Know more about IT Service Catalog.

What is SLA Management?

Understand what SLA means and the benefits of having one in your organization. Learn how you can enable monitoring and reporting when it comes to SLA management. Know more about SLA Management.

What is Enterprise Service Management?

This is your go-to guide on Enterprise Service Management. Learn the definition, growth and the benefits of ESM. Also, understand the critical differences between ITSM & ESM. Know more about Enterprise Service Management.

What is an IT self-service portal?

Understand the business benefits of a self-service portal, learn how to automate mundane tasks and how to create a good self-service portal experience. Know more about IT self-service portal.

Why is ITSM important?

ITSM is important for a variety of reasons. Implementing ITSM can help regularize processes through structured delivery and documentation. ITSM implementation also helps in saving costs by building a predictable IT org. Implementing ITSM for business benefits by bringing actionable IT insights to the business that help in decision making.

Benefits of ITSM Processes

Benefits of implementing ITSM processes range from IT-specific to Business-level benefits. These are illustrated below:

IT-specific ITSM benefits Business level ITSM benefits
Increased IT efficiency and productivity through defined roles and responsibilities Better understanding of business needs
Process implementation based on best practices Higher IT service availability levels for higher business productivity
Increased support to counter regulatory and compliance challenges Increased value and cost efficiency
Increased visibility and understanding of IT services Manage expectations better
Reduced incident lifecycles Reduced impact of incidents on the business
Read more about the Benefits of ITSM.


Why does your business need ITSM?

If your business has more than a handful of employees, and if even one of you is the designated “IT guy”, you’re already doing ITSM in a small way. But as your business grows, you might need to bring in more mature processes to get the most benefits out of your ITSM investment.

Here are the most common benefits of ITSM. Watch the video for a detailed walkthrough:

  • Reduce IT costs

  • Improve the quality of service

  • Improve customer satisfaction

  • Improve governance and reduce risk

  • Increase competitive advantage

  • Improve flexibility

  • Increase agility for new IT services


Using ITSM to reduce costs

Let’s talk about a key benefit we discussed above – cutting costs. IT service management can help do this by:

  • Increasing IT efficiency

  • Increasing business efficiency

  • Reducing IT wastage

Let’s dive a little deeper into each of these.

In order to increase IT efficiency, IT service management can help with:

Process workflow

Offer technology-enabled process workflow and eliminate manual process, thereby improving collaboration between all teams.

Efficient use of scarce IT human resources

Reduce admin workload, waiting times, and even eliminate internal firefighting to make time for more strategic work.

Service-based incident management

Prioritize and customize the resolution time based on the business impact caused by IT issues.

Save time and money

Effective problem management and knowledge management help reduce recurring issues, resolution times, and impact on end users and the business as a whole.

Insightful reports

Automate the report-generating process and reduce reporting costs.

To increase business efficiency, IT service management can:

Reduce downtime

With the help of incident, problem, and availability management.

Prevent issues before they occur

Prevent serious, business-affecting issues through problem management and capacity management.

Help businesses to quickly bounce back from critical IT issues

The adverse effect of severe issues can be mitigated through major incident management and IT service continuity.

Finally, to reduce wastage, IT service management can:

Improve Efficiency

Save time, efforts and unnecessary costs by reducing wastage and avoiding duplication of work.

Optimize spending

Ensure that any new IT spend is essential through asset, configuration, and capacity management.

Remove the costs of duplicate or obsolete assets

Effective asset management can help avoid duplicity of applications, hardware, hosting, and their support.

Facilitate the redeployment of underutilized assets

PCs, other devices, and installed personal productivity software need to be effectively tracked to prevent underutilization.

Prevent change-related or inconsistency-based wastage

Avoid the costs of “reworking” mistakes that is ultimately the duplication, or even triplication, of effort.

How to implement ITSM processes?

The way to choose the right ITSM processes is to look at what your business needs, specifically. For instance, if you have a small IT support team that’s constantly firefighting similar issues, it makes more sense to find the root cause and resolve it once and for all. A simple example of it would be a storage space issue – you can keep deleting files and applications every time the hard drive maxes out. But simply installing a bigger hard drive is a better longer-term solution.

In ITSM terms, it translates to going from mere Incident Management to Problem Management. In the example above, the computer running out of storage space is the incident and the hard drive capacity being inadequate is the underlying problem. Of course, IT support teams in larger organizations typically handle incidents that are much more complex and send problems over to dedicated problem management teams. 

ITSM processes require not just an ITSM tool to implement but a cultural change. The customers (end users) need to see IT as a service provider and not just as another department in their organization.

ITSM processes should be implemented keeping the following in mind:

Check out our deep-dive into ITSM Frameworks.  

ITSM Best Practices

ITSM processes are grouped in various main categories under ITIL, although the same processes can be found under different names in other frameworks as well. The categories are, broadly:

There are best practices governing the different processes of each category. You can find these best practices in our Ultimate Guide to ITSM Best Practices

Top ITSM Metrics you should measure

“You can’t manage what you don’t measure”. While it’s great to be able to measure everything, you need to measure the right ITSM metrics in order to manage your IT support org. Measuring the wrong ITSM metrics will lead to bad management of your IT org as well as unnecessary spending of your resources. Some of the top ITSM metrics to measure are:

What is an ITSM Tool?

An ITSM tool is a software used to deliver IT Services. It can be a standalone software or a suite of applications, consisting of multiple apps to perform various functions. An ITSM tool can perform multiple functions, like, incident management, handling service requests, problem management, and change management, to name a few. An ITSM tool will often consist of a CMDB as well.

Under ITIL, a service desk is a primary function in ITSM. A service desk, as an ITSM tool, acts as the Single Point Of Contact (SPOC) between the customers (whether internal or external) and the service provider. A service desk is responsible for constant monitoring of services and providing support in case of downtime. A service desk typically handles incidents, service requests, 3rd party contracts, and software licensing among other things.

How to select an ITSM tool?

Selecting an ITSM tool is not just an IT decision, it affects the entire organization. Since there are multiple stakeholders in the selection of an ITSM tool, it is important that the right ITSM tool is chosen for your organization.

When selecting a new ITSM tool, keep your existing ITSM processes in mind to decide what features and capabilities you’d need. This will help you select an ITSM tool based on its actual value to your organization rather than its price alone.

Before selecting an ITSM tool, ask yourself these questions:

After you’ve answered these questions, you’ll have narrowed your search enough to select an ITSM tool. You can read more about selecting an ITSM tool on our blog.


Understanding the difference between ITSM and ITIL is important. ITIL is the most commonly used ITSM framework, but it’s just one of the ways of doing ITSM. 

As Stephen puts it – "The easiest way to describe the difference is to think of goldfish and fish per se: a goldfish is a fish but not all fish are goldfish. So ITIL is ITSM but not all ITSM is ITIL." 

Thus a company might be using ITSM but not using ITIL. They might be using no recognized ITSM framework or standard; or they might be using:

Of course they could be using multiple frameworks or standards such as COBIT plus ITIL.

ITSM Processes in ITIL

ITIL – the most popular ITSM best practice framework – is split across 5 core books. Each of these books relates to a different part of what ITIL calls the “service lifecycle”:

The process of managing IT issues (or incident management in ITIL terms) is just one of the processes in one of these stages – Service Operation.

Some of the other common ITIL processes are:

What is an ITSM Certification?

While there is no “ITSM certification”, there are certifications for popular ITSM frameworks like ITIL or COBIT. With ITIL being the most popular ITSM framework, an ITIL certification is considered widely accepted as an ITSM certification. An ITIL certification has various certification levels. ITIL v3 has 5 certification levels, which are:

ITIL 4 has four certification levels, namely:

You can find an ITIL certification center near you on the Axelos website.

What is the future of ITSM?

The future of ITSM, as with most technologies, lies with AI. Gartner reports that IT organizations spend 66 percent of their resources on day-to-day operations, in “keeping the lights on” activities. AI in ITSM would bring about automation of mundane work with changes like auto ticket resolution, workload optimization, predictive maintenance, to name a few. The future of ITSM will be heavily influenced by AI with effects reaching across departments, from the management to the agents to the customers.


AI in ITSM can help deflect L1 tickets, assist agents, provide 24x7 support, among other things. Implementation of AI in ITSM can take place in many forms like,

Read more about the role of AI in ITSM.

Frequently Asked Questions

ITSM Resources you can use

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