Over the past few months, we've been looking at several key components of an IT service management (ITSM) platform and what they bring to your organization as individual components. Now let’s take a look at the whole shebang and its benefits.
As your organization has grown, and the corresponding infrastructure of networks and applications has broadened and deepened, your ability to manage everything has become tenuous. Often each application, service and piece of network gear has its own suite of management tools, none of which interoperate with each other.
Deployed as designed by experienced professionals, a full-fledged ITSM environment – which properly leverages emerging tools – can bring significant efficiencies and deliver real ROI to your business.
An Integrated Set of Processes
ITSM tools are often marketed as an ITSM suite, which as we've discussed, is an apt way of describing them. They comprise many modules, but are integrated to provide the whole set of ITSM processes.
At the suite’s core is typically a workflow management system for handling incidents, service requests, problems and changes. ITSM suites also usually include tools for configuration management, database and related asset management.
The ability of these suites to enable easy linking between incident, service request, problem and change records with each other – and with records of configuration items from the configuration management database (CMDB) – can be a great advantage. Let’s revisit the capabilities of a full-fledged ITSM environment:
Incident and Problem Management – Incident ticketing and problem management are core capabilities in any ITSM product. This enables them to manage the life cycles of IT incidents and problem records from initial reporting or discovery of service interruption through to resolution.
Ideally your management application has the ability to integrate with communications platforms (such as telephony systems or chat programs) to communicate incident and problem management status. These collaboration features also help IT staff to work together to solve IT incidents and problems, and to support your customers and end users in helping their colleagues.
Change and Release Management – Intermediate and advanced ITSM tools provide integrated change and release management. This is important for ensuring that approved changes are executed in the environment in accordance with the IT organization's defined and documented procedures.
Configuration Management – Change management and incident management require configuration management. This is provided in two ways: through the CMDB and IT asset management (ITAM).
ITAM is the organizational strategy component of ITSM. It provides visibility and control of assets across their full life cycle, from procurement to disposal. This provides a current, proactively managed, authorized repository of assets. You track and control hardware asset installations, moves, additions and changes. It also manages a complete view of software entitlements
Key attributes here are an appropriate mix of people, process and technology required to effectively manage those assets and to capture, maintain and use asset information, supporting decision making across multiple functions and interfacing with all of your other IT processes.
Self-Service / Request Fulfillment – Service request provides end users with a convenient way to interact with the IT organization. Typically, an online portal is used to deliver incident reports, change requests and request tracking services or other IT services.
IT Knowledge Management – Knowledge management is a key area of differentiation across many types of IT environments. The knowledge portal enables end users to resolve simple incidents themselves. Your tools should create knowledge bases for relevant, updatable, searchable content.
Process and Workflow Design – Regardless of your IT organization’s maturity level, you need to start with out-of-the-box, preconfigured forms, fields, workflows and reports that are compatible with ITSM best practices and standards. These processes and workflows can then be configured to accommodate specific local needs and lead naturally to a high degree of automation.
Properly implemented, the returns from this component of the suite are very real. First and foremost, there are benefits in time and money savings. Automation and orchestration are effective in reducing operational costs by streamlining time-consuming, repetitive and manual tasks and workflows. Other real benefits include real-time scheduling based on external, unpredictable events and automatic restart and recovery in event of failures.
Overall, this leads to a natural reduction of errors. It is a vital step in establishing a consistent, reliable IT environment and, equally importantly, it also eliminates costly human error, which is never completely out of the picture in non-automated work.
Reporting and SLA Management – Reporting and dashboards are indispensable because they enable collaborative decision support, and also provide real-time status and availability metrics to senior management. Because of the tightly integrated nature of the ITSM suite, a variety of KPIs, both standard and specific to your business needs, can be configured to allow you to visualize complicated metrics and causal relationships.
A Common Control Center
The overall capabilities of today's tools are impressive. They allow your team to effectively deal with both the large and the small. While serious outages are certainly disruptive, intermittent issues that gnaw away at the delivery of essential business services to your end users can be just as devastating by virtue of their long-term impact.
Unified IT asset and service management software provides a common control center for managing business processes for both digital and physical assets. It enables control, governance and compliance to applications, endpoints and assets to protect critical data and prevent outages. The ITSM suite is a powerful, indispensable tool to ensure that your employees have continuous access to the business services that they need to do their jobs effectively.