Nov 24 2020

The Benefits of ITSM in Government

IT service management tools can help agencies more efficiently manage their IT operations.

For more than half a decade, IT leaders at federal agencies have been taking advantage of IT service management (ITSM) tools to better plan and support IT services across their organizations.

IT service management is still going strong in the government, and many agencies are seeing the benefits of ITSM in their day-to-day IT operations. ITSM assists IT teams and help desks by helping them prioritize projects so that they can create the best operating conditions for agency mission staff.

There are a wide range of services that fall under the rubric of ITSM, including service or help desks, IT asset management tools, incident management and change and release management. ITSM gives IT staff a greater level of insight into their environments so that they can more efficiently address IT issues that crop up.

What Is ITSM?

ITSM is “the planning, delivery, and support of IT services via a mix of people, processes, and technology,” according to ServiceNow, a leading ITSM provider.

As ServiceNow notes on its website, ITSM is “a framework for using a process approach toward management” that “focuses on customer needs and IT services for customers rather than on IT systems.”

Typically, ITSM is based on ITIL, or the Information Technology Infrastructure Library, “a framework designed to standardize the selection, planning, delivery, maintenance, and overall lifecycle” of IT services, as TechTarget reports.

Jeff Shilling, CIO of the National Cancer Institutetells FedTech that ITSM creates a menu of the tools, capabilities and data that a federal agency’s IT department can put to use.

In addition to automated IT help desk tools, ServiceNow notes, ITSM implementations include the use of predictive intelligence and machine learning to respond to requests, “performance analytics to create data visualizations, anticipate trends, prioritize resources, and improve performance,” as well as “incident management and problem management to restore services quickly after an unplanned interruption or a major incident.” Another ITSM approach includes asset management for IT environments.

As BMC, another ITSM provider, notes on its website, other functions that fall under the ITSM heading include knowledge management, or the “the practice of capturing, organizing, and making available a body of knowledge within the service management organization to solve problems faster.” Another is the configuration management database, which “provides a complete, accurate, and up-to-date view of the people, processes, and technologies that make up your business and IT environments.”

MORE FROM FEDTECH: How can a ServiceNow approach help your agency?

The Benefits of ITSM

At NCI, the institute works with ServiceNow to generate data out of every IT activity and then gain visibility into those activities across the enterprise for the IT team. The data is then used to cut down on the number of incident reports and improve efficiency, Shilling tells FedTech.

“It allows me to change my business, because we’re now measuring ­everything we’re doing,” he says.

ITSM also allows IT teams to visualize their workflows. Greg Rankin, director of the service management office for the Department of Veterans Affairs, says ITSM provides actionable intelligence for his department’s IT staff. “It turns data into information, information into knowledge and knowledge into action,” he tells FedTech.

Jeff Shilling, CIO, National Cancer Institute
It allows me to change my business, because we’re now measuring ­everything we’re doing.”

Jeff Shilling CIO, National Cancer Institute

By providing measurements and analysis, IT experts can be deployed most effectively.
“The fix for that problem still comes back to the human, the smart person,” Kris Torgerson, CIO and director of the information technology services division for Oak Ridge National Laboratory, tells FedTech.

“Throughout government agencies, public servants use integrated service management tools for streamlined reporting, optimized ticket management and organized service catalogs in IT and business operations,” Eric Lazerson, who leads Acuity’s business service management practice, says in a BMC blog post. “However, these end users often only utilize about ten percent of the tool’s capabilities. If they can increase the utilization of the tools, IT leaders are then able to turn their attention to improving operational processes and expanding capabilities.”

ServiceNow adds that other key benefits of ITSM include the ability to standardize IT procedures across departments and divisions and higher efficacy through the ability to better manage workflows, efficiently search data and reports, and track incidents.

LEARN MORE: Get advice on using ServiceNow for business continuity on the CDW Solutions Blog.

Is ITSM Cost Effective?

ITSM is cost effective for several reasons. ServiceNow notes that ITSM software can help organizations reduce costs, saving time and money “through efficient service delivery” and reviewing workflows “to discover process improvements.”

Indeed, at the VA, ITSM led to a 72 percent increase in the number of incidents solved upon first contact with a technician, according to the department. VA IT staff can concentrate on higher-value activities, such as reducing the “tech debt” that has accumulated over the years — “the tradeoffs that we make for the sake of speed to market,” Rankin tells FedTech.

ITSM also reduces costs by helping agencies avoid duplication of efforts. Before ITSM, the VA’s IT staff was often siloed and did not have a way to get a big-picture view of the IT environment or requests, Rankin tells FedTech.

“A lot of people had to do it themselves and go it alone,” he says, “so you end up with a lot of duplicated efforts and duplication of tools.”

Additionally, ITSM helps agencies remain agile. “Beyond simple cost savings and efficiency improvements, modern IT service management allows government agencies of all sizes to respond to changing needs, regulations, and mandates quickly,” Jessica Tavasti Davis, director of government programs and initiatives at Microsoft, says in a company blog post. “By having visibility into assets and contracts through a single source of truth, agencies can accurately anticipate and respond to changes without fussing with code or getting bogged down with confusing administrative processes.”

DISCOVER: Find out how to innovate while overcoming budget challenges.

Recommended ITSM Certifications for IT Staff

As BMC notes, there are a there are a wide variety of ITSM certifications available, including those from ITIL, CompTIA, HDI, KCS Academy and COBIT.

ITIL certifications are quite common. “Recognized as vendor neutral, ITIL certifications provide a modular approach to the ITIL framework itself, made up of a series of qualifications that are focused on different aspects of ITIL best practice to various degrees of depth and detail,” BMC says.

IT staffers can get certified at various levels related to “their specific focus of discipline as well as key areas of interest,” including Foundation, ITIL 4 Managing Professional, ITIL 4 Strategic Leader and Master.

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