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by Craig Borowski,
Market Research Associate
Last Updated: January 16, 2017


The term IT, short for “information technology,” is nearly sixty years old. It first appeared in a 1958 edition of the Harvard Business Review. Technology has evolved considerably since then, and today, both the term and the technology it describes are central to the operations of nearly all businesses.

Businesses use IT services management software, or ITSM software, to manage all of their IT devices along with the networks and services those devices need. As you may already know, this is a widely inclusive term. We created this Buyer’s Guide to more narrowly define ITSM software as it pertains to your business. We address the following questions and points:

What Is ITSM Software?
Common Features of ITSM Software
The ITSM Vendor Landscape

What Is ITSM Software?

Many of us think of IT as the physical computing devices we use for work, such as computers, telephones and servers. But, these devices must be connected to function at full capacity. That’s where the “services” part of ITSM enters the picture. ITSM includes not only the IT devices themselves, but also the networks, applications and services that connect and empower them.

A challenge when selecting ITSM software is that not all buyers use the same technology, and they don’t all take the same approach to managing IT applications and services. As a result, ITSM software vendors face the challenge of describing their products accurately and specifically, without excluding potential buyers. This creates an ITSM product landscape with some complex selection difficulties.

As with most complex challenges, ITSM software selection is easier when it’s broken down into parts. In the next section, we break down the most common applications and features of ITSM.

Common Features of ITSM Software

ITSM is a large category of software. So large, in fact, that it encompasses other software categories, some of which you may have thought existed on their own. The help desk and service desk categories are one example of this. While they both provide ITSM functionality and are considered ITSM applications, they don’t typically contain all of the functionality of full-fledged ITSM platforms.

Help desk/service desk The core ticket management application at the center of many ITSM platforms. Depending on how comprehensive the solution is, it might contain some of the additional features listed below, such as network and knowledge management.
IT asset management Tracks and accounts for all physical IT hardware owned or used by a business.
Configuration management Assists in managing the settings and permissions configured on individual devices. Lets administrators apply configuration or settings changes to multiple devices at once.
Service catalog management Larger organizations offer IT services to employees through a service catalog. Service catalog management functions help administrators create and maintain these catalogs.
License management Software licenses sometimes come with limitations on the number of times it may be installed or the number of user logins. License management applications help companies track and make the best use of their licenses.
Network management These tools help administrators control and configure networks and network access.
Knowledge management A system for organizing the information, or knowledge, used by IT department employees which can organize information into a self-service resource for employees.

Context is an important consideration for ITSM software buyers—it helps set expectations and goals for a new system. Context also matters when businesses consider whether potential systems will scale with company expansion and changing IT needs.

For example, at the present moment, your company might only need a basic help desk application. But, if you have plans to eventually offer a service catalog, then service catalog functionality should factor into the purchase decision, even if it’s not an immediate need.

The ITSM Vendor Landscape

ITSM software is used to manage IT—that sounds simple. The complications arise from the facts that:

  • Businesses rely on IT—and creative new uses of it—to establish competitive advantage and,
  • IT devices, networks and implementation strategies are themselves constantly evolving.

As a result, managing IT can feel like taking aim at a quickly moving target. In addition, ITSM buyers make purchase decisions based on a wide variety of priorities and expectations. (To learn more about trends in help desk buyer behavior, read our 2015 Help Desk User Report.)

Given this, it should be no surprise to learn that the market for ITSM software is itself very dynamic. From startups with clever new applications to the stalwart blue chips of software, ITSM software buyers have no shortage of options.

As a starting point for your purchase decision, you might consider which of the two following general categories best fits your current and expected situation:

For smaller businesses or those with limited ITSM needs, there is a wide variety of mid-market ITSM solutions. These are often cloud-based services and, as such, are easier for smaller IT teams to deploy and manage. Options in this category include:

Freshservice admin console
Admin console in Freshservice showing a variety of ITSM applications

 

Larger companies with IT networks spanning multiple locations and more complex ITSM requirements may begin their selection process by looking at the big names in the software world. These solutions often have on-premise deployment options and more robust functionality, but can require more advanced technical know-how to implement, integrate (with other software) and manage. A few examples of these include:

The ultimate goal of the ITSM software selection process should be to find the solution that will allow an IT department—regardless of size—to manage a company’s critical IT resources and infrastructure efficiently. It should align with a company’s chosen IT strategy, compliment the workflow of support staff and be able to scale and adapt to the company’s growth trajectory and targets.

For many businesses, selection of an ITSM platform is the most important software decision they can make: IT is at the heart of most modern businesses, and without a system to efficiently manage it, many day-to-day operations can suffer. 

 

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