What is ITSM?

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I don’t know about you, but I’m a planner.

I’m also a cynic.

And those two qualities together make me someone who always knows what to do in any worst-case scenario.

You name it: fire, flood, lost in the woods, trapped in my best friend’s twelfth floor apartment during a zombie apocalypse in a building where all the other inhabitants have inevitably become the walking dead. Whatever it is, I’m prepared.

That’s kind of how I think of IT service management (ITSM) software. It’s a system for detail-oriented tech professionals who are afraid of zombies.

Bad joke, I know.

Just kidding.

So what is ITSM, really?

ITSM stands for IT service management.

The ultimate goal of ITSM is to make sure your tech team’s goals align with your business goals and that the actions of your IT department support and even improve your organization’s overall mission.

That means that not only do you care about how well your tech team does its own job but how well your tech team helps everyone else do their jobs and all of your customers access your product or service.

That means a lot of responsibility and keep track of a million things. To avoid being overwhelmed by all of your ITSM duties, you should use a system that automates and tracks all your processes: ITSM software.

Your tech team will make it out alive if they use ITSM software.

ITSM software is what you can use to:

  • Keep your tech team’s objectives aligned with your overall business objectives
  • Plan and track changes to any of your systems or processes
  • Keep track of issues your employees are having with technology
  • Help you fix major problems efficiently if and when they occur.

So, in short, ITSM software can help you manage your business’s IT-related processes.

Below we’ll break ITSM down into its separate parts to help you understand its range of capabilities.

The components of ITSM

As your tech team well knows, providing IT service encompasses a million things. And it always feels like they all need to get done at once.

Below are a few of the main tasks ITSM software can help you manage.

1. Your employee help desk and internal support tickets

If you already have help desk software, you and your tech team are already aware of the benefits of tracking your coworkers’ technology issues.

Why does the printer always seem to be broken?

If you don’t have a system that tracks support tickets, your tech team is probably organizing their incident-related tasks using a complicated personal Post-It note system. And that’s no good for anyone.

ITSM software might seem like a big-deal, complicated system since it encompasses serious-sounding things like “knowledge management.” But at its core it’s a basic ticketing system that can help your tech team keep track of issues both large and small.

2. Large problems with your systems that might need large, complicated solutions

But you can typically fix small issues like a frozen computer monitor or broken printer in a matter of hours or even minutes.

Larger problems like a downed server, for example, require a well-thought-out plan to repair them. And sometimes you need to fix them in steps or stages.

You can’t always track these smaller issues with a simple help desk ticket. Big problems require repair, analysis, and prevention, whereas your incident tickets stop at just repair.

For example, if that broken printer is always broken, it’s no longer an isolated incident. It’s a big-time problem that affects multiple employees. Using problem management tools, you can link all incidents related to that problem together so you can try to find a pattern, resolve all current incidents, and prevent the issue from reoccurring.

Source: FreshService – Link incidents to problems to help you figure out how everything is connected.

You can also record your problem diagnoses in your knowledge base so everyone on your tech team has a reference point if the problem ever comes up again. That way, everyone is prepared and knows what to do before a problem escalates.

What is ITSM

No problem is too big for your tech team.

Tracking everything in the same system helps you see how everything is connected, better prioritize your tech team’s workload, and ensure that nothing falls through the cracks.

3. Changes you’ve made, are making or will make to your systems

Sometimes a large problem requires an equally large, necessary change.

Whether you’re changing things up because of a recurring problem or because your company is catching up with the times, you should always map out the ways a change will affect your existing systems.

This is where the zombie apocalypse planning scenario aspect of ITSM software comes into play.

What is ITSM

You’re very protective of your technology.

Making big changes to your IT infrastructure can have a domino effect. You don’t want a seemingly small tweak to shut down your office for the entire day.

ITSM software helps your team plan changes and map out any of the consequences of those changes, good or bad.

Using workflow automation, for example, you can send a change through all the proper channels, such as request, risk analysis, and approval. This ensures that all the right people on your team see the change and consider the impact it might have on your existing IT infrastructure.

That way, if something goes wrong, your team is more prepared to jump on issues, decreasing the likelihood of downtime or glitches.

4. (Sometimes) your IT assets

Most of the issues ITSM software helps you track are software- and systems-related. But you access software and systems through hardware. So it might make sense to you and your team to track your IT assets in an ITSM tool, as well.

What is ITSM

Not all IT service management solutions offer their own IT asset management system. But according to research done by Capterra’s Software Lab for the Top 20 Most User-Friendly ITSM Software report, about half of ITSMs offer a built-in asset tracking system, while the other half integrate with third-party solutions.

I’ll let you decide whether IT asset management should be a part of your ITSM solution. But my worst-case scenario self-recommends using an ITAM solution of some sort to keep track of your hardware.

Who uses ITSM?

Aside from detail-oriented tech professionals who are afraid of zombies, detail-oriented tech professionals who are not afraid of zombies also use ITSM.

Your team should use ITSM if:

  • You track support tickets and need to plan your engineering team’s large projects, like system changes
  • You’re concerned with adhering to the principles of ITIL
  • You’re concerned with delivering a quality product, like a functioning website, to your customers or clients.

An ITSM is built to track all your IT-related tasks, so it’s likely the best choice to organize your team.

What does ITSM software cost?

ITSM software companies overwhelmingly charge on a per user, per month pricing model, with cost per user going up as you add more features.

According to research from Capterra’s Software Lab, the average ITSM costs about $70 per user, per month.

If that seems like a steep cost, let’s talk about the zombie apocalypse scenario in IT: your system goes down.

What is ITSM

System failure is not an option.

One hour of downtime can cost your company $10,000. Considered from that angle, ITSM software pays for itself when it helps you prevent and avoid that situation.

While we’ve mentioned IT asset management capabilities, when they’re offered as part of your ITSM, they’re typically an extra cost.

Some solutions only include a basic version of an ITAM system in their lower-cost solutions, scaling up to add more advanced features, like warranty management, in higher-cost versions of an ITSM. Some offer it as a completely different module that needs to be purchased separately. And some don’t offer it at all.

But remember from above that about half of ITSMs integrate with third-party ITAM solutions. If you’re looking for one that won’t add too much of an extra cost to your ITSM purchase, you can always check out free or open source ITAM systems.

Where’s ITSM heading?

We’ve discussed upcoming trends in IT service management before. And one of them should be a no-brainer: business best practices need to include and consider IT best practices.

If you’re in IT, you’re already very aware of how much hardware and software and general technological stuff your business owns or uses.

But does your CEO know how much time and money it costs to manage and maintain all of your company’s tech-related things?

As IT and digital strategies grow in importance for companies that want to grow and expand, it will become more and more important for everyone in the C-suite to have a working knowledge of what IT does.

Since ITSM software helps you keep track of and plan your IT projects and strategies, as well as keep your team in line with best practices, the business case for using it will only become stronger.

Want to know more?

If you’re not done researching ITSM software (or don’t want to just take my word for it), check out a few of these other resources.

Let us know your thoughts

And hey, I’m never done learning either. Do you have different thoughts about what the most important aspect of ITSM is? Do you know of an ITSM solution that works particularly well for your team?

Let me know in the comments!

Looking for software? Check out Capterra's list of the best software solutions.

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About the Author


Kelsie Anderson

Kelsie is a former Capterra analyst.


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