20 Benefits of IT Service Management
In today’s business environment, companies are increasingly dependent on their internal IT organizations to deliver business-critical services and functions. As IT functions become increasingly embedded into the day-to-day operations of businesses, more IT organizations are choosing to adopt IT Service Management (ITSM) best practices, including the ITIL® framework, to meet the rapidly changing needs of the businesses they serve.
Below are 20 benefits that IT organizations can realize through the adoption of IT service management processes, policies, and procedures. This list encompasses the main reasons IT organizations adopt ITSM as their guiding light for IT operations.
1. Improve Efficiency
Efficiency simply means getting the most out of the resources that you have available. IT service management has many components that help organizations maximize their resources. One component is IT asset management, the set of processes that are used to optimize life cycle management of IT assets and seek out the most cost-effective strategies for asset procurement and disposition.
For organizations working within the ITIL® framework, processes for continual service improvement are a critical component of the life cycle of each service that results in ongoing efficiency gains as service functions are optimized over time.
2. Reduce Operational Costs
IT infrastructure and operations (I&O) spending represents approximately 60 percent (Jay E. Pultz, Gartner) of total IT spending globally, with I&O staff making up around half of total IT staffing requirements. As they increase in size and maturity, these IT organizations must hire even more I&O staff, or otherwise risk become excessively burdened by tactical operational processes. Adoption of IT service management can help IT organizations scale their operations more easily without the need for excessive hiring, thanks to automated features that reduce manual workload for IT operators.
3. Risk-Free Implementation of IT Changes
When changes are poorly planned, tested, and communicated to the business, there is significant risk that a newly implemented change could cause a significant business or service interruption. ITIL’s Change Management process describes a system for ensuring that your IT organization can implement new changes to the IT environment in ways that limit or remove the risk of damaging your business with a change.
Formalized roles, processes, and policies work together to create and support a change management process that communicates clearly with customers, approves changes through the appropriate channel based on their potential impact, and identifies possible issues with changes in the design stage—well before they manifest in deployment.
4. Improve Accountability Through Standardization
The creation of accountability through the standardization of services is a defining feature of IT service management, and one that helps IT organizations improve compliance with IT policies and procedures for delivering services. One of the core objectives of ITSM is to standardize service delivery within the business by implementing functions like the IT service desk along with formal documented processes for delivering each type of IT service.
IT service management software also enables IT managers to track the actions of operators and how incidents or service requests are addressed. These features create a high level of visibility into how the IT organization delivers services. IT managers can review incident records to verify that services are delivered consistently across the business and in compliance with policies and procedures.
5. Improve Accountability within Business Functions
Business functions are the activities carried out by an enterprise. They can be divided into core functions, which are the activities designed to yield income, and support functions, which serve to support and streamline the core functions. IT itself is a critical support function in most businesses, especially those where the IT organization has adopted ITSM to more closely align its activities with the business.
IT service management includes the implementation of processes for monitoring activity on the organization’s network and IT infrastructure and detecting breaches of company security policies.
6. Improve Effectiveness
How do you measure the overall effectiveness of an IT organization? If you’re an IT manager, it’s up to you to choose the most important key performance indicators (KPIs) that will be used to measure the performance of your team. You’ll also need to track those KPIs over time to determine whether your company is improving its effectiveness across those metrics.
Organizations that adopt ITSM structures and processes benefit from formalized systems that drive improvement over time when executed effectively. Adoption of a structured incident response can decrease your average response time and mean time to resolution, while a focus on crisis management will help reduce your mean time to recover (MTTR) when a service interruption occurs. ITSM offers a framework for increasing the effectiveness of any aspect of your IT service delivery through the process of continual service improvement.
7. Improve Visibility into Operations
Visibility describes the extent to which managers, executives, and staff in different areas of the business can see what is happening in other areas of the business. A lack of visibility into IT operations is a common problem for organizations that have not yet adopted IT service management.
In the ITSM paradigm, there is a need to align IT and business strategy, a process that ensures that the business knows exactly what activities are being prioritized in IT operations at any time.
8. Improve Visibility into Performance
IT service management introduces a set of formalized processes and rules that IT organizations can follow to standardize and optimize their service delivery. In this way, ITSM advances process maturity within the IT organization along the Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) scale. As an IT organization matures its processes, it gains increased visibility into performance as follows:
- Level 1 (Initial) – Unpredictable, poorly controlled process. Cannot measure performance due to inconsistency.
- Level 2 (Managed) – Process may be characterized for some projects but is often reactive. Lack of standardization.
- Level 3 (Defined) – ITSM helps organizations clearly define their processes.
- Level 4 (Measured) – Once a process has been standardized, ITSM software can be used to capture data from the process and measure its performance. The ability to capture this data creates true visibility into performance that helps organizations advance to stage five.
- Level 5 (Optimizing) – Organizations leverage performance visibility into insights that drive performance improvement over time.
9. Increase Self-Service Productivity
Organizations use ITSM best practices to drive improvements in self-service productivity. Self-service is a convenient alternative to the traditional help desk model that can help tech savvy users resolve incidents or fulfill service requests without the help of IT operators, leading to reduced ticket resolution costs and increased customer satisfaction.
The establishment of a robust self-service catalog along with a knowledge base that enables users to solve more problems on their own are both critical components of IT service management that drive increases in self-service productivity.
10. Better Service and Customer Experience
For enterprise IT organizations, the customers are the users within the business that depend on IT services to support their daily activities. We can highlight two components of IT service management that help improve service delivery and customer experience.
- The service strategy process requires IT organizations to align their activities with the needs of the business. This ultimately means that the IT organization is working on services that the business wants, leading to a better customer experience.
- Another important aspect is a formalized ticketing and incident response system. The incident management process improves service by ensuring that the IT organization responds to every incident report or service request that is submitted.
11. Improve Access and Communication Channels
IT organizations that adopt ITSM can improve access to IT operators and support as well as communication between the IT organization and the business. This is achieved by establishing an IT service desk that acts as a single point of contact between the business and the IT organization and supports processes such as incident management, event management, and request fulfillment. The IT service desk ensures that every user can access support from IT by going through the appropriate channel.
12. Reduce Unnecessary Workload
Automation is a major focus of IT organizations that wish to eliminate tedious manual labor and the accompanying human error that it often brings. To use automation effectively, however, IT organizations need to start managing their IT services using ITSM software. ITSM tools enable the transition between managing a process through human activity and managing a process through automated activities, which results in decreased workloads for IT operators and more time available to spend on innovation and value-adding activities.
13. Achieve a Better ROI on the Corporate ITSM Solution Investment
Some organizations invest in ITSM software only to find that it does little to improve the performance of their IT organization. These organizations often abandon their ITSM tool before measuring ROI, which may likely negative.
The truth is that adopting and implementing ITSM goes beyond simply purchasing a software tool. IT service management is about adopting processes that reflect best practices for managing key IT services and functions, then creating policies and procedures to ensure that those processes are followed. Effective management, executive and staff buy-in, and genuine process changes are all requirements for an effective ITSM implementation.
If your organization has already invested in a corporate ITSM solution, you can enhance your ROI by focusing on the people and processes that support your ITSM initiatives.
14. Enables More Effective Planning
IT service management helps organizations engage in more effective planning activities with a variety of positive consequences. Without a structured approach to IT service management, IT organizations are more likely to make poor strategic decisions that lead to avoidable waste. Best practices of ITSM, such as establishing a service strategy with input from customer stakeholders or implementing a review and approvals process for changes, help ensure that the IT organization plans effectively before taking action.
15. Saves the Business Time
Take a look at the ITIL 2011 framework and you’ll find a number of ITSM processes geared toward increasing efficiency by helping the business save time.
The best example of a time-saving ITIL process is knowledge management, whose entire goal is to reduce or eliminate the need for the business to rediscover information it has already learned. With an effective knowledge management process, the IT organization maintains a knowledge base that supports effective information sharing between every area of the business.
The result is massive time savings as IT organizations streamline information sharing and spend less time re-discovering information and hunting down answers to known issues.
16. Saves the Business Money
IT service management saves the business money in hundreds of different ways. From the knowledge management process that saves time by supporting information sharing (time is money, after all) to the information security processes that protect the company from the negative financial and legal consequences of a data breach, ITSM best practices are designed to drive cost savings and risk mitigation.
17. Manage Change More Efficiently
ITSM offers a framework for change management that ensures resources are allocated efficiently during the change management process. Minor changes that do not involve release deployment can be quickly authorized if they are well understood and low-risk. Normal changes can be approved directly by the change manager, but they may also consult with a Change Advisory Board (CAB) before approving a large, unfamiliar, or emergency change.
The ability to right-size the approval process based on the character of the change is one way that ITSM processes help IT organizations manage change more efficiently.
18. Improve Collaboration Between Different Business Functions
If we define business functions as all activities carried out by the business, it’s easy to see how the implementation of ITSM policies and processes can help the IT department collaborate with other functions more effectively. Under the ITSM framework, the IT department works with finance to optimize the deployment of IT investments. Facility managers may collaborate with IT managers to ensure compliance with information security protocols.
ITSM also encourages users to report IT issues through the incident reporting process, helping the IT organization collect more feedback and data on the performance of applications and services.
19. Better Transparency into IT Processes and Services
An IT organization without a service catalog is like a restaurant without a menu—it might have fantastic capabilities, but it won’t be receiving many orders. Users need transparency into IT processes and services so they know what types of services they can request and how to get their requests serviced.
IT service management supports this transparency through the establishment of service catalogs that contain a comprehensive list of services that are offered to customers by the IT organization. This catalog helps to ensure that customers take full advantage of the services that IT can provide to them.
20. Higher Return on IT Investments
If you have the money, you can invest in the best servers, the ultimate network infrastructure, and the most high-end computers that money can buy. Regardless of how much you spend, you will probably fail to actualize the value of those investments without adequate processes in place to support your IT infrastructure. You might spend $1,000 on a server, but without proper scheduled maintenance and management, its performance will tend to degrade over time.
IT organizations who adopt ITSM may choose to establish a Configuration Management Database (CMDB) to better track the presence and utilization of IT assets. This database is used to ensure that IT investments are deployed in a productive capacity and to maximize up-time and availability of IT assets. A formalized process for IT asset disposition helps to ensure that organizations get the most money in return for their used IT infrastructure.