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ITAM Is Now a Top 5 “ITSM Process” Adopted by IT Support Organizations

By | April 17, 2018 in Asset Management

ITAM Is Now a Top 5 “ITSM Process”

Ever stop to wonder what your IT-industry peers are doing/using to provide superior IT support experiences? Thankfully, if you do, support-professional membership organizations such as HDI are on hand to share aggregated views of what’s currently popular (and not) in the IT support world.

In my experience, IT pros like to benchmark. Sometimes it’s related to metrics, and how something like first contact resolution (FCR) stacks up to IT service management (ITSM)-industry averages. Sometimes it’s related to who’s doing what – either from a general interest point of view or, more importantly, when assessing where best to invest next in terms of ITSM capabilities.

So, it’s great to understand what’s happening in, and is achieved by, other IT organizations. Take for instance, the most-commonly adopted ITSM processes. This blog covers these, with some associated opinions and help, but first a quick warning…

The Dangers of Industry Benchmarks/Statistics

It’s hard to write about IT industry statistics without playing devil’s advocate a little – it seems only right to do so, such that those consuming the data/information do so with the realization that most benchmarks and statistics need to be taken as indicative rather than gospel.

For instance:

  • Surveys, benchmarks, and other statistics are usually aggregates or averages based on a variety of organization types, and will probably never entirely reflect an organization such as your own
  • The survey respondents might report what they think, or kid themselves is the situation rather than the actual situation (or, conversely, they might humbly undersell their achievements)
  • The survey terminology and options might cause confusion and/or the fudging of answers

I could continue the bullet list, but this blog isn’t about the perils of surveys, benchmarks, and other statistics. And, having warned of the potential dangers, there’s too much upside – from using such data/information (wisely) – not to seek it out and use it.

So, What Are the Top 5 ITSM Processes Adopted by IT Support Organizations?

In completing its 2017 Technical Support Practices & Salary Report, between August and September 2017, HDI surveyed 596 technical support professionals, in more than 30 vertical industries, across a wide variety of IT support topics – including the ITSM processes adopted.

The results are shown in the bar chart below, with the top 5 ITSM processes:

  1. Incident management (56%)
  2. Knowledge management (54%)
  3. Change management (48%)
  4. Problem management (46%)
  5. Asset management (44%)

With these 5 clearly ahead of the chasing pack!
Source: HDI, “2017 Technical Support Practices & Salary Report” (2017)

Source: HDI, “2017 Technical Support Practices & Salary Report” (2017)

(Please note that, due to the geographic nature of HDI membership and reach, this reflects a mostly North American view.)

Results Analysis

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that incident management is in the first place – when the 26 ITIL ITSM processes and 4 functions are considered, there’s an expectation that IT service desk activities will be among the most popular. Why? Because there’s always a need to deal with IT issues and it thus makes it easier to justify the associated people and spend. Ultimately, in the modern world, it’s about the cost of doing business.

What might surprise you though is that incident management is only at 56%, in the HDI survey, when it commonly appears at circa 90% in many ITSM industry surveys. The most logical answer for this is that North American adoption of ITIL, according to various industry surveys, is circa 55%, with the other circa 45% very likely to use the term “ticketing” for the IT service desk (or IT help desk) activities related to handling IT issues and requests.

I, therefore, refer you back to my “dangers” section and to take these (and any other) results as indicative rather than absolute.

Seeing change and problem management in the top 5 is no surprise either. They’ve commonly been the second and third-placed options in ITSM process-based surveys for the last decade; with knowledge management rapidly rising up the list as its use cases have grown from assisting service desk agents to facilitating end-user self-help (via self-service portals), and the future need for knowledge to support artificial intelligence technology use cases.

What people might find surprising though, is that IT asset management (ITAM) is up there in fifth place.

The Growing Importance of IT Asset Management

The first thing to note is that some people might not consider ITAM to be an ITSM process. After all, it’s not obvious where it should sit when one looks at a list of ITIL 2011 processes.

But this omission from ITIL ITSM best practice processes/capabilities shouldn’t be a concern, plus it makes it all the more remarkable that ITAM is in HDI’s top 5 service management processes adopted by support organizations (and maybe the new (upcoming) 2018 version of ITIL should consider including it).

ITSM and ITAM work well together – they’re like two peas in the same pod – with each reliant on the other to increase their respective success levels. It’s why SysAid, for example, gets the right data where you need it, when you need it, with a solution that automatically displays relevant information in your tickets.

From the IT service desk using up-to-date asset data for incident, problem, and change management, to ITAM activities being reliant on request fulfillment and change management activities in ensuring that asset records and accurately maintained. Plus, there’s the overlap between configuration management and ITAM – which probably needs a blog of its own to outline.

So, How Do Your ITAM Capabilities Stack Up?

Is it something that you’ve conquered as an organization or is it something that you keep wanting to start but never do? Or are you somewhere on the spectrum between these two states?

Coming back to my earlier point about terminology – “incident management” versus “ticketing” – there’s also the issue of formalization, or lack of it, to deal with. So keep that in mind when answering the above questions. What I mean by this is that many organizations are informally doing elements of ITAM best practice without necessarily knowing it.

For instance, in the case of ITAM, there might be a human resources (HR) policy of line managers collecting IT equipment from leavers and returning it to the IT department (for redistribution). In this case, IT’s role is more reactive than proactive. But it is, nonetheless, ITAM best practice.

So, what if you’re at the point of starting out with more formalized ITAM? What advice do you need?

Hopefully, the following will help:

Oded Moshe

About Oded Moshe

Oded is VP Products at SysAid, with over 15 years of experience in various product and IT management positions. Proud father of two young (iPhone/iPad-addicted) girls and one baby boy (that they're trying to keep the gadgets out of his reach). Fond of new technologies, and enjoys good conspiracy books and movies.

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