What’s the Difference Between ITIL and ITSM?

Many years ago, I worked as an IT support analyst helping companies with a software product that managed their documents on the network.

When customers called for help, I used a software program to open an incident that described the issue, the identity of the caller, and the date and time the incident was opened. The IT department I worked for supported our organization and our customers with all their IT needs. This included helping customers with IT issues, creating knowledge articles, and providing assets to employees so they could do their jobs.

For those supporting IT, you often hear terms such as “ITIL” and “ITSM” when discussing IT service management. So what’s the difference between ITIL and ITSM?

ITIL

In the 1980s, IT Service Management best practices emerged as most organizations were migrating or planning to migrate to digital technology.

IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) refers to a group of documents that provide a framework and best practices for building an IT Service Management (ITSM) solution. Organizations supporting an IT infrastructure can increase efficiency while reducing service management costs if they follow recommended ITIL processes.

In addition to best practices, ITIL provides common terminology, such as “Incident,” “Problem,” “Change,” “Configuration Item (CI),””Knowledge,” and “Configuration Management Database (CMDB),” all of which are examples of terms used by those who support IT. Education that focuses on ITIL best practices is available for people who wish to gain a better understanding of ITIL. Furthermore, ITIL certifications can be valuable to have on a resume.

ITSM

IT Service Management (ITSM) is sometimes mistaken as a software solution. In reality, ITSM is about process, people, and technology. Software is one component of an ITSM solution.

  • IT Service Management is a strategic approach for designing, delivering, managing, and improving the way information technology (IT) is used within an organization. The goal of IT Service Management is to ensure that the right processes, people, and technology are in place so that the organization can meet its business goals.

ITSM software tools usually come with several components such as a database, business objects (u, groups, roles, etc.), and a process engine. These software solutions that support ITSM are typically designed to align with ITIL best practice recommendations.

Organizations such as Pink Elephant provide ITIL certification services for ITSM software providers. They evaluate ITSM software solutions to verify they follow ITIL best practices. It is important to choose ITSM tools that are ITIL certified if your organization plans to implement ITIL best practices.

Summary

IT support departments that only provide Incident Management are often referred to as a Help Desk or ticketing solution. IT support organizations that follow the majority of ITIL best practices are typically referred to as a Service Desk solution. Although some ITIL recommendations might not be practical for every organization, when building an IT Service Management solution, ITIL best practices are a good place to start.

For organizations that are building or expanding their IT service management offerings, it is important to understand the difference between ITIL and ITSM. Furthermore, because ITIL and ITSM are constantly changing, it is critical to keep up with the latest technology. Be sure to subscribe to news feeds and forums that discuss ITSM technology in order to stay informed about the latest technology updates and trends regarding ITIL and ITSM.