What is IT Service Management (ITSM)?
IT Service Management (ITSM) is a thriving industry, built around the pursuit of delivering high-quality IT services to and across organizations.
ITSM appeared decades ago, as IT teams formed help desks to support the growing number of IT users in the workplace. Now, ITSM has become the heartbeat of every competitive business. Effective ITSM frameworks allow businesses to lead with digital solutions and put customer service at the center of every improvement they make.
At ONEiO, we are fortunate enough to have a team of IT professionals who've worked in the ITSM space for many years. Being part of all the major trends and breakthroughs has led us to command 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 in which we have been able to create some exciting and highly-valuable solutions around.
What do high-performing ITSM and ITIL look like?
Great ITSM is driven by a passion for and commitment to continual service improvement (CSI).
There is a wide range of best practices and frameworks available to ITSM teams, which provide guidance on how to create consistency and efficiency around the respective processes required to manage and operate high-performing IT processes.
The ITIL framework is the most widely adopted in the industry. ITIL® is traditionally thought of as a lifecycle, with CSI appearing at the end of that lifecycle.
However, the most successful organizations 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 practice, this would mean IT teams demonstrating a keen understanding of how the business and customers they serve use technology and consume services. When teams show a common appreciation of those concepts, IT can then focus its resources on seeing how they can make agile, continuous, 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, allowing IT leaders to focus their application of tools, people, projects, and services toward the specific 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 sophisticated or 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® closes the gap on how we define each process and also provides a common language for everyone to use, meaning when I say Change Management, everyone knows what is and isn't being discussed.
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 is 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.
Read more: Ultimate guide to SIAM
Why is Service Integration so popular in ITSM?
The IT industry has become increasingly complex. The software solutions themselves may look and feel simpler than ever before, however, the ecosystems they power, 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 like this, the connections between each service become more important to the end-to-end delivery of absolutely everything. This is because each function specializes more as it grows, thus making the need for them to focus on what makes them successful more narrow.
For example, a few system administrators receiving support tickets by email have become a small team of agents receiving requests via ticketing software. Today, this has become a set of specialist teams, working across multiple touch points such as self-service, desktop support, vendor management, and so on. As teams grow and specializations expand, the need to provide the right tools, processes, and skills to each function 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 see 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've 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 Incident Management, Change Management, and Release Management.
The reason Service Integration fits in neatly here is that 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 service provider's so that tickets and data can easily flow between them brings a lot of value to your ability to collaborate over the resolution of escalated issues. Well-implemented Service Integration for supplier management enables easier communication, and greater visibility of service requests and reduces the reliance on email and telephone communication.
What are the most common Service Integrations for ITSM teams?
ServiceNow – Jira integration
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 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 integration
Salesforce and ServiceNow are common integrations as they are both market-leading agent-based platforms.
What Salesforce can do for allowing the business to interact and manage 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 more connected 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 integration
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 manually as you may think, as ServiceNow — like many other ITSM tools — is highly customizable, meaning that what one business is using as the ‘service category field’ might be labeled as something totally different in the supplier's instance. Beyond this, SLAs, escalations, customer data fields, and so on… will all be set up differently. So thoughtful and well-designed integrations like this are an increasingly common requirement within multi-vendor ITSM.
Jira – ZenDesk integration
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 to 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 promptly met throughout the development lifecycle.
Implementing and managing ITSM integrations
This was once a slow, manual, and fragile task. Many ITSM integrations were hand-coded, undocumented, and took an age to complete. They would also not be well considered 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, in the past service integration has been pushed into the shadows, making it even more cumbersome when things go wrong or take too long to do. But times have moved on and we're happy to report that there is another way!
Modern ITSM integrations are run through integration hubs (And integration automation platforms), which use pre-built integrations to create connections such as ServiceNow to Jira, Jira to Zendesk… and Zendesk to Salesforce (…and the list goes on!) so that businesses can get these up and running as soon as possible.
Integration service providers like ONEiO help the world’s fastest-moving businesses gain all the value of high-performing ITSM within complex service ecosystems. ONEiO connects new tools to your established infrastructure, 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 at which changes and improvements are made and delivered to customers
The real value and ingenuity come 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 integration automation platforms 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 services, there are always opportunities to improve.
One of the biggest barriers to acting on these challenges is accepting that it doesn’t have to be this way! Integration-led ITSM improvements at this level are a new way of thinking in this industry, so many IT leaders still think that slow and manual integrations are ‘just how it is’. But this is far from the truth.
Read more: The Now and Future of Service Integrations
If you'd like to learn more about our approach to improving IT Service Management through integrations, our expert team would be 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 integration automation solution for Service Integration, including a wide range of pre-built integrations for the most commonly used software platforms.
A list of supported platforms (endpoints) can be found here.
To begin your journey toward an integrated ITSM ecosystem, get started with a 15-minute assessment call with one of our integration experts.