IT language can seem like an alphabet soup of acronyms to the customers it’s trying to serve. Some commonly confused, basic terms in our world include ITSM, ITIL, and service desk. So what’s the difference between these three, and why does it matter? Let’s take a look.
ITSM Is What IT Does for Users
IT service management (ITSM) is the way in which your organization delivers IT services to its customers, or end users. It’s not just the technology used to manage your services, it’s the people and processes, in addition to the technology, that helps users execute business-related tasks.
Most organizations gave up using paper checklists and binders for ITSM long ago, but now even spreadsheets of IT services are in the past. Comprehensive ITSM software is now used to handle a range of ITSM services, including:
- Asset management
- Availability management
- Capacity management
- Change management
- Event management
- Financial management
- Incident management
- IT service continuity management
- Knowledge management
- Problem management
- Release and deployment management
- Request management
- Service asset and configuration management
- Service catalog management
- Service level management
- Service portfolio management
ITIL is a framework of “best practices” for ITSM
Good ITSM software typically manages services in alignment with a methodology like IT Infrastructure Library, or ITIL. ITIL isn’t the only ITSM framework out there – COBIT and Microsoft Operations Framework (MOF) are other ITSM methods.
ITIL aligns ITSM services with the objectives of any business. It’s a set of guidelines focused on continual improvement of services for business users, and its typically divided into five stages:
- Service strategy is about positioning your IT team as the best available ITSM service provider for your customers. It’s how you assess cyclical service demand, govern what you spend throughout the service lifecycle and align your service portfolio to the actual needs of your organization, needs you learn to understand by building relationships with customers.
- Service design creates and improves services in accordance with your service strategy. It ensures that sufficient infrastructure is in place to support the service catalog, adjusting capacity according to demand in a cost-effective way and continuously managing risk.
- Service transition is about managing changes in service delivery, from the authorization to build, test and deploy new services to retiring old ways of delivering a service. It’s about managing the processes associated with change and predicting what will happen during a change and also about helping people adapt to changes in service delivery.
- Service operation involves the day-to-day management of IT services, delivering them in a way that provides the best possible experience for the customer.
- Continual service improvement measures service delivery according to critical success factors. It defines whether services are delivered in alignment with strategy – and whether IT’s perception of strategy aligns with business objectives.
Service Desk Is One Component of ITIL Service Operation
A service desk is the point of contact through which customers interact with IT and the hub through which technicians manage incidents. It’s one component of ITIL service operation, but it’s also present in other ITIL processes to ensure that customer requests end in the customer’s satisfaction.
Instead of having to contact the network team and then the development team for an issue, customers ask for assistance, and service technicians connect them with the right people and solutions. Service desks may exist locally, such as a service desk in an industrial facility, or they may exist centrally as an ITSM hub within geographically dispersed businesses.
Why These Terms Matter
When you ask the right questions, and you’re comfortable with IT terminology, you can demand clear answers about whether an ITSM software solution can do what you need it to do. You should be confident that software gives you the ability to perform critical ITSM tasks like asset management, problem management and more. If you’re an ITIL organization or want to become one, you should make sure it’s easy to align with ITIL processes.
You should also ensure that your software empowers you to run an efficient service desk committed to customer satisfaction. Download our white paper: Smart Questions for Your SaaS Vendor.