What is IT Service management (ITSM)?
IT Service Management (ITSM) is the thriving industry built around the quality of which IT is delivered across an organisation. What once started out several decades ago as IT teams forming help desks to support the growing number of IT users in the workplace, has now become the heartbeat of every competitive business. Great ITSM frameworks allow businesses to lead with digital solutions and to put customer service at the centre of every improvement they make.
At ONEiO, we are fortunate to have a team of IT professionals who have worked in the ITSM space for many years and have been a part of all the major trends and breakthroughs, which have led it to have such a prominent position in the world of modern work. The introduction and fast paced growth of service integration has been a game changing development. One which we have been able to create some exciting and highly valuable solutions around.
What does high performing ITSM and ITIL look like?
Great ITSM is driven by a passion for and commitment to continual service improvement (CSI). There are a wide range of best practices and frameworks available to ITSM teams, which provide guidance on how to create consistency and efficiency around the respected processes required to manage and operate high performing IT processes. An ITIL framework, being the most widely adopted (Learn more about the latest ITIL 4 guidance); ITIL® has been traditionally seen as a life-cycle, with CSI appearing at the end of that life-cycle.
However, the most successful organisations are the ones who have been able to move away from that misconception and place CSI - or any conscious approach to improvement - at the beginning stages of every ITSM process, change or project.
In practical terms, this looks like IT teams having a keen understanding of how both the rest of the business and the customers they serve use technology and consume services. When there is a well shared set of appreciations around those concepts, IT can then focus its resources on seeing how they can make agile, on-going and iterative changes to the way they work, which best support the success of real business goals.
Why does ITSM require best practice frameworks?
ITSM is made up of processes, which allow IT leaders to focus their use of tools, people, projects and services towards certain needs of the business. For example, the need for people working in the business to have reliable access to data, applications and communications would be covered by an Availability Management process. Further to that, ensuring those members of staff have a quick and easy to engage with process for reporting issues and faults in those areas of technology, may then be covered by Incident Management and Service Request processes.
The design, adoption and management of these processes can be as big and broad as you like. The language and words you use to describe and discuss these processes can also be as eclectic and wild as the IT leaders deem them to be! Having industry frameworks such as ITIL® close the gap on how we define each process and also provide a common language for everyone to use, so when I say Change Management, both you and I know what I am (and what I am not) talking about.
Service Integration and Management (SIAM) has fallen foul of not having these types of definitions and parameters in place for a long time, which made it difficult for businesses to globally leverage service integration in consistent ways. But fortunately, the ITSM sector has been working with Service Integration for a period of time now, where they have been able to learn the common mistakes and wrap up ‘what good looks like’ for the interest of the wider industry. Although there is no ‘ITIL® for SIAM’, there are now a wide range of training offerings. The latest iterations of ITIL content have also incorporated a lot of the lessons learned from other areas of IT such as SIAM, DevOps and Agile.
Why has Service Integration become so popular in ITSM?
IT has become increasingly complex. The software solutions themselves may look and feel simpler than ever before. However; the ecosystems they fit into, the supplier networks required to make great IT happen and the reach of IT have all extended massively.
When the reach and complexity of services grow such as this, the connections between each service become more important to the end-to-end delivery of absolutely everything. This is because each function becomes more and more specialist as it grows, thus making the need for them to focus on what makes them successful more-narrow.
For example, what used to be a couple of System Administrators receiving support tickets by email, then became a small team of agents receiving requests via ticketing software. Then today, this has now become a set of specialist teams, working across multiple touch points such as self-service, desktop support, vendor management and so on. As the teams grow and the specialisms expand, the need to provide the right tools processes and skills to each function also matures with them.
But with more functions, tools and people, comes the need for them to better collaborate. Service Integration provides the technical solutions and the approaches needed to make that happen seamlessly. And so, what we have seen is, the more the specialisms in business and IT grow and mature, the higher the demand for a single point of contact via well-adopted Service Integration increases.
Which ITSM processes benefit most from Service Integration?
This is an important question to ask, but at the risk of sounding too consultative… there is no right answer! We have talked about CSI (Continual Service Improvement) and the significant part that has to play in high-performing ITSM. And, the processes that underpin the success of CSI tend to orbit around Change Management and Release Management.
The reason Service Integration fits in neatly here is because the most effective integration projects are those that use the iterative CSI approach, making higher volumes of smaller changes and improvements to the way systems talk to each other. As opposed to building one multi-faceted integration solution and releasing it all in one go. Mature and well-managed Change and Release processes handle this really well.
Supplier management is also an important process to take seriously in Service Integration, as many of the high-value software and service desk integrations will be with third parties and partners. For example; connecting your internally used instance of ServiceNow to your MSP’s so that tickets and data can easily flow between them brings a lot of value to your ability to collaborate over the resolving of escalated issues. Well implemented Service Integration for supplier management enables easier communication, greater visibility of service requests and reduces the reliance on email and telephone communication. Read more: Integrating multiple service desks? threat or opportunity?
What are the most common Service Integrations for ITSM teams?
ServiceNow is one of the most widely used ITSM tools for medium-large businesses. This is because it has a wealth of features, and a great reputation for reliability and scalability. Jira is the most commonly used platform for developer teams to plan and manage projects. Integrating the two is a very staple requirement for IT teams who work closely with both internal and external dev teams, as it allows them to quickly and easily submit, view and update feature requests and bugs that come to IT via the business. It also comes with the added benefit of creating a more service-focused point of entry for the business into the application development process.
ServiceNow - Salesforce
Salesforce and ServiceNow are very common integrations as they are both market leading agent-based platforms. What Salesforce can do for allowing the business to interact and managing the customer experience, ServiceNow can do for IT’s capabilities in managing internal service experiences. Integrating the two solutions allows your business to have a far more joined up and customer centric approach to ITSM. Amongst other things, it means customers with issues related to IT managed applications can get helped much more effectively.
ServiceNow – ServiceNow
As mentioned in the supplier management example above, a common ITSM integration is connecting one instance of ServiceNow with another. This is not as easily done (by hand) as you may think, as ServiceNow – like many other ITSM tools – is highly customisable; meaning that what one business is using as the ‘service category field’ might be called and labelled as something totally different in the suppliers instance. Beyond this, SLAs, escalations, customer data fields and so on… will all be setup differently. So thoughtful and well-designed integrations like this are an increasingly common requirement within multi-vendor ITSM.
Jira – ZenDesk
Jira and Zendesk are the popular tools of fast growing startups, SaaS providers and digital product-led companies. As mentioned, Jira is used by development teams (big and small) and Zendesk tends to be the ITSM tool of choice for small, customer centric businesses, as it has really easy-to-use interfaces and lots of integrations into other commonly used SME tools. This integration helps fast moving businesses very quickly translate customer conversations into actionable tasks for product managers and developers, so that customer needs can be more quickly met through the development lifecycle.
Implementing and managing ITSM integrations
This used to be a slow, manual and fragile task. Many ITSM integrations were hand-coded, undocumented and took an age to complete. They would also not be very well included in project plans, particularly when being built into a bid or tender from a supplier or MSP. This is because it has not always been the most glamorous or respected task and behind the scenes, would often be outsourced to a cheap offshore development house (not something MSPs like to share with their customers). So, there’s been a lot around service integration that’s been pushed into the shadows, thus making it even more annoying when it goes wrong or takes too long to do. Great tips for MPS's: Integrate with your customers' ITSM software
But times have moved on, and although there are too many businesses still suffering from the difficulties described above, there is another way! Modern ITSM integrations are ran through integration hubs, which use pre-built integrations to create connections such as ServiceNow to Jira, and Jira to Zendesk… and Zendesk to Salesforce (…and the list goes on!) so that businesses can get these setup in just a few days.
Global integrations Hubs (or the next generation iPaaS) such as ONEiO, are how the world’s fastest moving businesses now gain all the value of high-performing ITSM within complex service ecosystems. Getting new tools connected up into your established ways of working, without having to disrupt existing tools or processes and without having to create long-winded projects for each new software solution you add to your integration network.
ITSM and SIAM are certainly widely accepted and adopted ways of working, but there are consistently evolving solutions you can be leveraging to improve performance and increase the speed of which changes and improvements are made and delivered to customers
The real value and ingenuity comes from seeing how integration can enable specialist teams (both inside and outside of IT) to use all their preferred tools, own all their own processes and manage their own data.
These are things that are often undermined or compromised in large integration projects and lead to people disengaging from a change. So, using more effective and flexible integration hubs can also quickly support the people and adoption objectives of software integration projects too.
How do you get started?
Every business has challenges around how teams collaborate and share information. Whether it’s coming from a place of tools; data, processes or service, there are always opportunities to improve and cut out stressful waste. One of the biggest barriers to acting on these challenges, is accepting that it doesn’t have to be this way! Because integration-led ITSM improvements at this level have been quite newly presented to the industry, so many IT leaders are stuck thinking that slow and manually managed integrations are ‘just how it has to be’. But this is now far from the truth.
Read more: This is enterprise integration
If you would like to learn more about our approach to maturing and improving IT Service Management and Service Integration, our expert team would be very happy to talk to you about your ideas and goals.
We are highly experienced in solving complex ITSM and Service Integration challenges and have developed a SaaS based cutting edge solution for Service Integration, including a wide range of pre-built integrations for the most commonly used software platforms.
To begin your journey with ONEiO contact us for a free assessment.
Want to learn more? Request a copy of our e-guide: A business leaders introduction to next generation enterprise integration