IT service management (ITSM or IT services) is a discipline for managing information technology (IT) systems, philosophically centered on the customer’s perspective of IT’s contribution to the business. ITSM stands in deliberate contrast to technology-centered approaches to IT management and business interaction. The following represents a characteristic statement from the ITSM literature:
- Providers of IT services can no longer afford to focus on technology and their internal organization, they now have to consider the quality of the services they provide and focus on the relationship with customers.
No one author, organization, or vendor owns the term “IT service management” and the origins of the phrase are unclear.
ITSM is process-focused and in this sense has ties and common interests with process improvement movement (e.g., TQM, Six Sigma, Business Process Management, CMMI) frameworks and methodologies. The discipline is not concerned with the details of how to use a particular vendor’s product, or necessarily with the technical details of the systems under management. Instead, it focuses upon providing a framework to structure IT-related activities and the interactions of IT technical personnel with business customers and users.
ITSM is generally concerned with the “back office” or operational concerns of information technology management (sometimes known as operations architecture), and not with technology development. For example, the process of writing computer software for sale, or designing a microprocessor would not be the focus of the discipline, but the computer systems used by marketing and business development staff in software and hardware companies would be. Many non-technology companies, such as those in the financial, retail, and travel industries, have significant information technology systems which are not exposed to customers.
In this respect, ITSM can be seen as analogous to an enterprise resource planning (ERP) discipline for IT – although its historical roots in IT operations may limit its applicability across other major IT activities, such as IT portfolio management and software engineering.
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