ITSM Customer viewing performance chart

What is ITSM?

ITSM (IT Service Management) includes the processes and technology used to plan, deliver, and support IT services.

IT Service Management (ITSM) focuses on customer needs and IT services for customers rather than on IT systems. ITSM stresses continual improvement.

The main idea behind ITSM is the delivery of IT as a service. This goes beyond traditional IT support. Instead, ITSM is more inclusive. It describes the processes and tools IT teams use to manage IT services, end to end, and covers all information technologies within an organization.

ITSM aligns an IT team’s goals with the broader objectives of the business, and that their actions support the overall mission.

Go live fast with ServiceNow ITSM

Go Live Fast with ITSM

Accelerate your ITSM implementation. This eBook can help you get up and running with details on guided setup, portal design tools, and automated rules.

The right IT framework begets effective collaboration and oversight. As such, many organizations find themselves championing either ITSM/ITIL or DevOps. But committing completely to one approach or the other can be problematic.

ITSM/ITIL and DevOps are not mutually exclusive; each have their own goals and functions. Here, we provide high-level definitions of each, as well as a look into how they relate to one another:


ITSM is a strategic approach to IT management, with a focus on delivering value to customers. ITSM clearly defines the roles and responsibilities of every individual and department with regard to IT services. It allows for increased productivity, lower costs, and improved end-user satisfaction.


ITIL is a framework for IT service management that provides detailed best practices for IT functions to align with an organization’s business outcomes. ITIL stands for IT infrastructure library.

ITIL is one of several best-practices frameworks for ITSM, providing the necessary tools and techniques to deliver IT services effectively. The ITIL framework has been through several iterations, with the latest referred to as ITIL 4.


Similar to ITIL, DevOps is an IT framework. But where ITIL helps streamline service management with a heavy focus on customer satisfaction, DevOps is a philosophy for IT development and delivery. It unites development and operations teams, with the goal of improving communication and collaboration within an organization.

DevOps allows for continuous application delivery, reduced expenses, shorter development cycles, and improved cooperation between departments. DevOps often incorporates SRE (site reliability engineering), which further supports DevOps goals by allowing engineers to automate operational tasks and address incident management.

Information technologies now encompass and incorporate tasks and responsibilities from across the entire organization. Managing these services is an ongoing challenge, and customers expect businesses to be up to the task. Businesses depend on ITSM to effectively coordinate these nearly countless tasks and processes, while ensuring that they are providing real value to the customer.

Because IT service management (ITSM) is a collection of policies and processes for the management and support of IT services—throughout their entire lifecycle—ITSM helps improve an enterprise’s efficiency and increase employee productivity.

ITSM Value Creation

ITSM is the bridge that connects IT professionals within an organization to the end users who need IT services. In so doing, it provides a number of benefits. Here are several advantages to using ITSM:

Benefits for business

  • Increased agility
    Quickly adapt to changes and innovation.

  • Reduced costs
    Easily visualize workflows, leading to improved efficiency and cost savings.

  • Fewer IT problems and improved response
    Decrease IT problems and respond to incidents quickly, reducing the associated cost and disruption.

  • Easy compliance
    Ensure compliance with regulatory requirements.

  • Better service
    Improve satisfaction rates for end users.

Benefits for IT

  • Improved productivity
    Aligned goals backed by reliable services ensure that more gets done with fewer problems.

  • Increased user satisfaction
    IT is delivered as a service with the needs of the user as the primary focus.

  • Better process scaling
    Processes are more efficient, allowing organizations to handle more IT development without reducing quality.

  • Faster incident detection and response
    Organizations enjoy improved IT visibility, identifying incidents and responding quickly before they can become an issue.

Benefits for Employees

  • Improved IT support
    24/7 IT support to perform better and do more. They also enjoy a clearer understanding of available IT services and how to use them correctly.

  • Omni-channel experience
    Access relevant information and make support requests from any device, at any time, from anywhere in the world.

  • Clearer roles and responsibilities
    Teams can understand who is responsible for what tasks and are more accountable and informed.

  • Improved business alignment
    Visibility to what the business and the end users need, and why.

A major benefit of ITSM is its ability to improve IT efficiency. ITSM does this in the following ways:

  • Efficient use of scarce IT resources

The ITSM umbrella encompasses the entire range of IT services, for a more efficient approach.

  • Process workflow

Automated process workflow improves collaboration and eliminates many manual tasks. ITSM reduces and streamlines many employee tasks, giving them more time to focus on strategy and customers.

  • Save time and money

ITSM identifies and eliminates recurring problems and promotes faster issue resolution. This reduces costs, both in terms of time and money investments.

  • Reduce downtime

Faster IT response and improved availability management means that your resources will always be working to improve your business.

  • Prevent issues before they occur

Create effective, customized responses to specific IT issues.

  • Insightful reports

Reporting automation makes the reporting process more cost effective and accurate.

  • Service-based incident management

ITSM allows you to identify potential issues and respond to them before they can cause serious problems. Increasing incident visibility and response

  • Quickly bounce back from critical IT issues

ITSM provides the strategies and resources to weather even the most difficult IT storms, and then bounce back quickly.

Technology is an integral part of IT processes, but it should not necessarily be the primary focus. ITSM is more encompassing, expanding to include business objectives in addition to traditional IT objectives. As a result, IT service management improves efficiencies across the board. ITSM does this in the following ways:

  • Incident management
    Manage and track incidents (a disruption to normal operations), as well as service requests for new services, software, or hardware. ITSM incident-management handles the entire incident-management process to restore service to customers as quickly as possible.

    The ability to prioritize incidents and service requests according to business impact allows staff to focus their efforts where they can be most effective.

  • Problem management
    Streamline incident investigations, from detection to eradication, through the ITIL subprocesses of problem control, error control, and proactive problem analysis.

    Problem-management processes remove defects from the IT infrastructure, eliminate recurring incidents, and stabilize the environment.

  • Change and release management
    ITSM tracks scheduled and planned infrastructure changes, including process management and planning capabilities. Change implementation is quicker and more consistent, with risks and errors minimized.

    This application includes a built-in approval process for change and release management. The change module is completely integrated with incident, problem, and service-level management applications.

  • Service-level management
    Track service-level commitments with customers and from vendors, so management can pinpoint weaknesses and take corrective action.

  • Request management
    Manage and follow up on service requests, including requests to reset passwords, install new workstations, update personal data, or access information. Request management helps ensure that important requests are always moving forward.

  • Configuration management
    Track all configuration items in your IT system. Identify, verify, and maintain critical configuration information for hardware, software, personnel, and documentation.

    Configuration management gives your IT teams a reliable repository for IT component information and establishes clear relationships between IT infrastructure components and services.

  • Continual improvement management
    Request improvement opportunities and implement phases and tasks to track performance goals and measure success. Connect improvement to your overall business strategy and improve service efficiency.

  • Workflow and talent management
    Place the right people with the right skills and knowledge into the roles that best suit them. Support your business objectives by correctly positioning the most talented employees to provide the best possible service.

What frameworks are ITSM systems based on?

Typically, IT service management systems are based on ITIL (a registered trademark of AXELOS Limited). IT organizations use this integrated, process-based framework to track, deliver, and manage technical services for an enterprise.

Incident, problem, and change management are the most commonly adopted ITIL practices. Organizations also frequently implement self-service and a service catalog.

High-performing ITSM services mapped to ITIL processes help keep employees happy and productive. ITSM ensures alignment in the needs of the business and IT infrastructure.

CMMI stands for capability maturity model integration (administered by the CMMI Institute, a subsidiary of ISACA). CMMI is a framework designed to provide best practices for product development and maintenance.

CMMI is designed for ease of use, flexibility, accessibility, and integration across methodologies.

Six Sigma
The overall goal of the Six Sigma framework is to completely eliminate errors. It does by quickly identifying defects, determining their root cause, and optimizing processes for accuracy and repeatability.

A common example of ITSM services in action is an IT service desk or help desk. Using a virtual agent (a.k.a. chatbot), an online help desk can answer questions about common topics. For example:

  • “How do I reset my password?”

  • “Why is the network slow?”

  • “How do I connect to a VPN remotely?”

  • “How can I get a new laptop?” 

Additional ITSM use cases

Other examples of ITSM services, include:

  • Predictive intelligence, which uses machine learning to respond to requests

  • Performance analytics to create data visualizations, anticipate trends, prioritize resources, and improve performance

  • Incident management and problem management to restore services quickly after an unplanned interruption or a major incident

  • Asset management to get a complete, connected view of all assets

When considering an ITSM solution, here’s what you should look for:

  • Simplified setup and activation
    A complex, confusing setup process is a major barrier to adoption. Your ITSM software and tools should include intuitive activation instructions, backed by self-service portals and knowledgeable support agents.

  • Ease of use
    ITSM is designed to provide IT services across your entire organization. It needs to be user friendly and intuitive to promote complete adoption throughout your various departments. It should include a self-service portal where users can find solutions and reliable information, and track progress on any issues that may arise.

  • Flexibility and adaptability
    Your ITSM software exists to support you and your business. As such, it needs to be able to grow and change with your business, scaling to accommodate new growth, adapting to changing resolutions and processes, and providing consistent value even as your IT teams evolve.

  • Powerful collaboration
    Effective collaboration across departments promotes increased efficiency and faster issue resolution. Your ITSM solution should facilitate inter-departmental coordination by providing a single, intuitive platform for them to work through.

ServiceNow ITSM is a cloud-based platform designed to improve IT services, increase user satisfaction, and boost IT flexibility and agility. With ServiceNow IT Service Management, you can consolidate your legacy on-premise systems and IT tools into our single data model to transform the service experience, automate workflows, gain real-time visibility, and improve IT productivity. And it enables you to switch your operational IT costs to strategic investments.

ServiceNow accelerates your digital transformation and elevates your user experience with machine learning and AI-powered chatbots. It also improves your IT productivity with structured machine learning that automates routine tasks.

Advantages of deploying ServiceNow ITSM

  • Effective integration

  • Higher efficiency and productivity

  • Better visualization

  • Reduced costs

  • Increased ROI

  • Unified cloud access

  • Simplified data acquisition

  • Increased employee satisfaction

Dive deeper into ServiceNow ITSM

Unchain your innovation with a modern, cloud-based, silo-busting ITSM solution.

Loading spinner