What Is IT Service Management Software?

IT service management software is an IT industry term used to cover the wide range of supporting software products that the modern organization needs to facilitate their IT service management (ITSM) efforts. It includes IT service management software products that have a singular purpose such as configuration management databases (CMDBs), through help desk products with ticketing functionality, to IT service management software “suites” that provide support for multiple ITSM processes or activities. It can also include IT service management software products that provide support or capabilities that are at the periphery of ITSM, such remote control/remote support or IT asset management (ITSM) capabilities (for instance, network discovery and asset inventory control and tracking).

It is also worth noting that ITSM is a subset of IT management and, as such, IT service management software is a subset of IT management software. IT service management software is also sometimes seen as part of the IT operations management (ITOM) software category in the same way that ITSM can be viewed as part of IT operations.

The ITIL®, an ITSM best practice framework, definition for IT service management tells us that ITSM is “the implementation and management of quality IT services that meet the needs of the business.” Although encapsulated in a few words, this is clearly a large and complex body of work activities. And since nowadays just about every organization relies heavily on IT to deliver its business commitments, this means that ITSM is a vital task as well as a complex one.

ITIL also tells us, in that same definition, that ITSM is “performed … through an appropriate mix of people, process and information technology” – with that technology made up of IT service management software as well as other IT management software products. Additionally, IT service management software is often viewed as a subset of IT management software, along with things like network monitoring, hardware monitoring or application performance management tools.

The “implementing and managing” of the ITIL definition covers a range of ITSM activities – from setting service strategy, through releasing, testing, changing, improving, and monitoring services, to dealing with any unexpected or unwelcome feature or issue that each and every step might deliver.

Once this is realized, it soon becomes clear that most organizations need a wide range of people along with detailed, and comprehensive, processes to do ITSM properly. To support all this, you need a complex set of IT service management software products to coordinate, support, manage, and document the people and the processes.

Because the range of processes within ITSM is large, so is the range of the IT service management software capabilities required to support it. ITIL lists 26 processes within ITSM; COBIT gives 34 control objectives; ISO20000 around 17. Most organizations will see a need for software support at every part of their ITSM spectrum and some are driven towards a “best of breed” approach, looking for the best possible IT service management software tool for each process and then hoping to solve any integration issues when they realize that just about every part of ITSM (i.e. every process) requires shared data with the other processes.

Other organizations might seek a single integrated approach, looking for IT service management software that supports all aspects of ITSM. In reality, most seek some middle ground with an integrated IT service management software product that supplies the foundation for their ITSM processes – supporting and facilitating the key ITSM processes, and then seeking to integrate specialist IT service management software products, for less core processes, into their favored foundation IT service management software product. Wherever possible it’s important to minimize the amount of time and cost needed for implementation and future updates – whether this be a single IT service management software suite or the use of multiple IT service management products used together.

Organizations need that solid base of an IT service management software product, or suite, that integrates the key ITSM processes of configuration, incident management , problem management, change management and release management. Once that solid base is proven and accepted in a single IT service management software product – providing a direction for the organization and shared data set – it becomes easier to expand IT service management software support to address other ITSM processes, potentially with other products. Just about every ITSM process uses data that is captured and maintained by the core set of processes.

Upon this firm base, organizations can then look to add in more features within their IT service management software suite. Processes that expand and build upon the core IT service management software capabilities include:

  • Service level management – documenting, monitoring, and reporting on the agreed service levels for support and IT services
  • Availability management – establishing and measuring potential and actual availability levels, and reporting on trends and recommending actions to maintain availability levels as required
  • IT service continuity management – supporting techniques to ensure services can be delivered, perhaps to a degrade level, when major incidents affect the organization

IT service management software support for these processes relies heavily on access to accurate and up-to-date information about the services and the infrastructure via which they are delivered.

So IT service management software, ideally an integrated IT service management software suite, is an integral piece of your service delivery and IT support capability both now and in the future. It is the only way to deliver against agreed business targets and end-user expectations through better access to data and fit-for-purpose workflow and automation.

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