IT Service Management (ITSM) is commonly defined as the set of organizational capabilities that an IT department has in order to deliver value to customers (whether internal or external to the organization) in the form of services. ITSM capabilities are achieved through different components such as people, organizational structures, tools, infrastructure, etc., but certainly the most key aspect is processes. The activities that an IT organization performs to plan, maintain, support and improve the services it provides are organized in processes, regardless of whether formal or informal.
Formal approaches to IT Service Management were introduced during the 1990s, when IT organizations realized they needed to shape and organize what they were doing to manage IT services. In general, two basic types of guidance have been introduced since then:
Despite processes being probably the most critical aspect of ITSM, by themselves they cannot deliver full value to the organization. Processes need to be supported by policies; they need to be adopted and followed by people; people’s skills need to be developed to the processes’ requirements; processes need to be compatible with organizational structures, and certainly the organization itself needs to develop a process culture in order for processes to be mature and effective. For all this to be a reality in an IT organization, there must be a focus on IT Governance, which sets direction in alignment with the business strategy and ensures that all ITSM capabilities are managed with a holistic approach. To guide organizations in this endeavor, there is COBIT, a framework which provides a lot of guidance to enable IT Governance.
Sometimes the ITSM capabilities of an IT organization are not always internal, but rather outsourced from multiple providers. In such cases, the structure of the processes and the way activities are performed can get complicated, introducing the need for Service Integration capabilities. For this purpose, SIAM (Service Integration and Management) is a framework that focuses on the capabilities that an IT organization should develop in order to effectively integrate and manage outsourced services.
No matter the size, structure or complexity of an IT organization, having solid, mature and agile ITSM capabilities is critical for IT to face the challenges of Digital Transformation, and effectively respond to changing business and market requirements. Based on this premise, ITIL 4 provides the principles, practices and activities that should be present in an IT organization to develop the ITSM capabilities required in the 4th Industrial Revolution, leading it to fulfill not only “Service Management”, but “Agile Service Management”.