When you choose to partner with an outsourced IT service provider, it’s critical for your business that you get a quality service in exchange. ITSM best practices help ensure that your IT support outperforms expectations and delivers a service that provides tangible benefits for your organisation.
IT service management focuses on how an IT support team will manage the end-to-end delivery of IT services. By following the highest industry standards, they can ensure they provide the most optimised service possible.
Getting the most out of ITSM isn’t just a nice objective to aim for; it's a strategic priority that adds value to the service being supplied. Don’t settle for second-best. Make sure that ITSM best practices are at the core of what your outsourced IT providers do.
The role of ITIL 4 in ITSM best practices
ITIL 4 is a framework many ITSM teams use to guide their service delivery and help implement high standards. ITIL can be defined as a set of best-practice publications for IT service management. It’s a guide on how to optimise digital technologies and services.
ITIL stands for Information Technology Infrastructure Library and was first developed in the 1980s. It’s been updated often over the years, with the most recent iteration being ITIL 4, which reshapes the framework to help IT solutions better align with overall business objectives.
According to PeopleCert, 82.5% of Fortune 500 companies use ITIL, so it’s a ITSM framework that leading businesses adopt for success.
The ITIL framework bases itself on the 5 phases of the service lifecycle of IT. The guidelines set out the best practices for each phase, with them being:
- Service Strategy: The planning phase where teams determine what needs to be developed and implemented for a good service.
- Service Design: Where ideas are mapped out into services and processes that create a better service management stack.
- Service Transition: A testing phase where proposed processes are examined, and new designs are implemented.
- Service Operation: The phase where the IT service solution is in operation and its performance is tracked to implement solutions.
- Continual Service Improvement: The stage where continuous improvements are found and implemented to ensure the IT solution is performing well in the long term.
These ITIL guidelines should be used by outsourced IT providers to spark internal discussions and policy creation to ensure that the final service delivered is optimised for the end user.
If an outsourced IT provider is following the ITIL framework, they’re likely implementing some top-tier best practices already. However, ITIL isn’t all-encompassing and doesn’t cover all that is necessary to ensure a quality service is delivered.
In addition to close adherence to the ITIL 4 guidelines, top-quality IT service providers will add other ITSM best practices to their process for a well-rounded service.
Top 7 ITSM Best Practices
1. Adopt automation
Automation can unlock a multitude of benefits that make an IT service management team better. Implementing it into current processes is a leading ITSM practice and one that’s being widely adopted.
Automation is best achieved using Artificial Intelligence (AI) as machine learning capabilities allow AI to automate repetitive, low-level tasks. According to Hostinger, 35% of companies are using AI in their businesses as of 2023, using it to automate tasks, improve workflows, and create new services and products.
The key benefit of automation for IT support customers is that it can improve efficiency and streamline the processes within a service desk. Automating tasks frees up operatives to work on more demanding IT issues, and reduces the time required to resolve lower-tier support tickets. It can also be used to help deliver 24/7 IT support. Overall, automation enhances the capabilities of a service team, making them far more effective.
2. Build an effective team
ITSM teams should always aim to have the most effective team possible filled with operatives tailored to the requirements of the role. It’s best practice for team leaders to craft a team capable of delivering a good service and to offer training and support to ensure they remain quality throughout the entire lifetime of the IT service.
A team with knowledge gaps or an inharmonious work process will fail to perform at the best standard, negatively impacting the standard of service delivery. Making training a fundamental of the ITSM team culture is a great best practice to implement as it upskills expertise. Team builders should also assess the operatives and devise a work style that best aligns with the preferences of the team, as this can foster enhanced performance.
3. Implement an IT Service catalogue
Outsourced IT support works best when customers fully understand the scope of services they’re entitled to. This not only creates a streamlined approach but also manages expectations. Implementing a service catalogue is an effective IT service management best practice as it clearly communicates to users what they can get.
Good communication is at the core of a quality ITSM team. This best practice ensures a clear dialogue between the provider and users. A service catalogue presents the support that an outsourced IT user can access, providing clear visibility of a service desk's capabilities. An IT service catalogue allows teams to standardise service delivery and simplifies the solution, creating an ease of access that benefits productivity.
A good IT service catalogue should help customers find services, hardware, software, and general support and is an ITSM best practice all support teams should consider.
4. Defining service level agreements
Another ITSM best practice that sets clear expectations with users is defining service level agreements (SLAs). A service level agreement is a clear outline of the specific minimum requirements an IT support team will provide. For example, an SLA may stipulate that critical support tickets are resolved within 3 hours. If it takes longer, then the SLA is breached, and the outsourced IT provider is not delivering the predetermined level of quality.
The best ITSM teams will set clear SLAs for their customers, helping to provide a benchmark of good performance and customer service. This ITSM best practice is one that shouldn’t be ignored and helps ensure that users get what they’ve signed up for.
5. Establish change management processes
IT is constantly evolving, and often solutions, software, applications, or hardware need to be changed to match business demands. Common examples of change in IT include cloud migration, and without a robust change management process in place, transitioning from one solution to another runs the risk of causing downtime, outages and other disruptions that affect business.
Following a well-established change management process is a useful ITSM best practice for support teams as it ensures that traditionally challenging infrastructure changes are made effectively and smoothly. A clear process helps manage the transition, ensuring that it’s made safely.
6. Identify key metrics
Monitoring metrics is a great way for service desks to better contextualise the overall quality of their service. However, it’s impossible to gain useful insight if the correct key metrics haven’t been identified before the project implementation.
Following the ITSM best practice of identifying key metrics aids in the creation of an enhanced strategy and gives teams the scope to easily find areas in their service that need improvement.
There are many ITSM metrics and KPIs that a team can choose to track, so ITSM teams need to be tactical and identify the ones that best align with the desired outcomes of the IT service.
7. Adopt self service
Allowing IT support customers to adopt self-service is powerful for IT support providers. This ITSM best practice gives users the autonomy to remedy minor issues themselves, finding solutions quickly and with ease. According to an Aspect Survey via Hubspot, 73% of customers want the ability to solve product or service issues on their own.
With a self-service model in place, many low-level problems won’t become a support ticket, freeing up resources to make a support desk more effective. The best way ITSM teams adopt a self-service model is through the creation of a Knowledge Centred Service, where users can browse FAQs, resources, and other information to troubleshoot and remedy issues themselves.
Delivering a refined IT Support service
Businesses shouldn’t settle for IT support that’s ‘just good enough’. Organisations of all industries should seek partners that look to push the boundaries of traditional outsourced IT support services.
At ROCK, we’ve been early adopters of the leading ITSM best practices to help our support teams provide useful and efficient IT support. Closely guided by ITIL 4 frameworks and accreditation, as well as our internally developed best practices, we’re an IT support provider that offers unrivalled value. Combining an award-winning service with world-class personnel, we take great care and pride in what we do, and how we do it.
Choose us to be your strategic IT partner and see how we can propel your business to unforeseen heights.
- The world’s most widely used IT Service Management framework. PeopleCert [Accessed 31 January 2024]
- 27 AI Statistics and Trends in 2024. Hostinger 8 January 2024 [Accessed 31 January 2024]
- 14 Stats That Make the Case for Self-Service in 2022. Hubspot 1 October 2023 [Accessed 31 Jan 2024]