What is ITSM and how does it differ from ITIL?


ITSM and ITIL are a pair of terms (or acronyms) that have been around for over a dozen years in the space related to broadly understood IT industry. Often the terms are used interchangeably as if there was an alternative involved. This is a total misconception you should be aware of.

ITSM versus ITIL

ITIL set of practices is a streamlined and proven framework for IT service management, thus, a framework for … ITSM.

That’s it: ITSM is a generic term for the management of all IT services in organisations. How we will sort and organise individual services, processes and the work of IT departments in our organisations is up to us. We may be arriving at improving these elements for many years and make many mistakes along the way.

However, we choose to skip reinventing the wheel, leverage many years of experience of others and implement an efficient ITSM based on best practices, by implementing ITIL completely or in part.

Why only in part? We will try to explain it later.

What is ITSM?

ITSM stands for “Information Technology Service Management” and describes matters concerning information systems management. Such systems consist not only of computer software and hardware, data processing, consulting and implementations but also include other IT services.

When providing IT services as an IT department we cater to the needs that include:

  • maintenance and repairs of computers and peripherals
  • data recovery, particularly after breakdowns
  • data processing services
  • hardware resources and software in use management
  • analysing, designing and developing complete systems
  • documentation and software use licenses
  • systems maintenance
  • training services
  • web server administration services

ITSM refers to all activities related to IT service management but from the perspective of the customer who is at the focal point of all these activities.

The official definition of ITIL® describes ITSM as a set of specialised organisational capabilities for providing value to customers in the form of services.

The IT service management name is used in many ways, but most ITSM definitions include elements like:

  • description of processes required for IT service delivery and support to the customer,
  • definition of roles and responsibilities of people involved in service management, including IT staff, customers and others concerned by IT services,
  • delivery and support for technologies or products required by the company to achieve its key business and organisational goals,
  • managing the internal suppliers (partners) involved in delivery of and support for technologies, products and services.

The basic aspect of ITSM it to orient the complex IT infrastructure management processes so as to ensure the best fulfilment of customer needs. There are specialised systems suppliers for ITSM who supply various ITSM support solutions to the market.

The selection of these tools is the key to the management process for our ITSM to be high-performance and customer-oriented. We must stay up to date, thus improving the processes, measuring performance, delivering value to customers in the possibly shortest time and keep improving the IT services and infrastructure. All with the goal to achieve the highest effectiveness, performance and profitability.

Select the flexible ITSM tool that matches the scale and the needs of your organisation

What processes does ITSM support?

ITSM principles cover the efficient support of key IT processes. These include:

  • Incident Management
  • Problem Management
  • Change Management
  • Service Level Management
  • Asset Management
  • Service Catalogue Management
  • Service Asset & Configuration Management
  • Knowledge Management

The use of proper ITSM support tools allows for adding a new quality to the work of IT departments. Automation and centralisation of process management boost the speed of incident resolution, improves the performance, and the access to information is provided in real time.

Benefits of ITSM

Our team in the IT department becomes increasingly more aware of its role and responsibilities. We are reducing costs and maximising profits resulting from the integration of centralised service management areas.

Thanks to a correctly executed ITSM we are building the trust of our customers by supporting their key organisational goals instead of just focusing on pure technology management. However, implementing correct tools for the ITSM allows adding a new quality to the work of the IT departments.

Elements such as automation and centralisation of process management boost the speed of incident resolution, improve the performance and access to information is provided in real time.

ITSM versus DevOps

If you take the DevOps term seriously, remembering that it is a combination of “development” and “operations”, you will quickly reach the conclusion that DevOps makes a perfect fit for the ITSM model. The concepts are complementary as they assume an approach oriented at continual improvement and working in a dynamically changing environment.

DevOps is the methodology of efficient work of teams that connects the IT maintenance professionals with the software development specialists. This methodology is no competition to ITSM but one of the ways to reach the ideal ITSM model.

Use our DevOps solutions

Under ITSM we build a high-performance operational model based on the PDCA cycle, also referred to as the Deming Cycle. This cycle consists of activities that follow each other in a logical order:

  1. PLAN: plan a better way of doing things, a better method.
  2. DO: implement the plan to test it.
  3. CHECK: assess if the new way of doing things actually brings better results.
  4. ACT: if the new way of doing things brings better results, consider it a standard (binding procedure), implement it and monitor its use.


Fig. 1. We create ITSM in a management model based on the PDCA cycle

This whole iteration is not contrary to DevOps, it is consistent with it. DevOps supports the ITSM model in a way making it effective, fast and responsive to constantly changing requirements. DevOps is a kind of teamwork culture that creates a favorable environment for frequent changes while liberating from excessive bureaucracy, thus making ITSM easier.


Fig. 2. DevOps areas

What is ITIL?

Since we have already clarified the meaning of the basic term that ITSM is, now we may move to the very popular acronym – ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) that has its roots in the late 1980s when a set of documents was produced that defined the IT service delivery for government agencies in the UK.

ITIL is an approach to IT service management based on a defined IT service lifecycle. Individual stages are assigned sets of practices and validated for dependencies and impact exerted by a change to an individual area on the whole.

What IT service lifecycle stages does ITIL define?

  • Service strategy
  • Service design
  • Service transition
  • Service operation
  • Continual service improvement

Each stage requires specific actions to be performed. Some of these actions are of strategic nature, some are operational. They concern the goals to be defined for a service, how to manage it, design it, and implement it and how to operate it for the benefit of the customer. The last phase of this cycle is the continual service improvement.

In the context of what we presented earlier on, ITIL is a proven set of practices (guidelines) aimed at the efficient, swift and relatively painless achievement of the optimal level of ITSM in our organisation. ITIL is actually an ITSM framework. It stresses the responsibility, repeatability of actions, integration of IT throughout the organisation and workflow management. In recent years, ITIL became a standard in our industry.

Nowadays, this IT service management approach is a registered trademark of AXELOS, a company that has several top solutions and respective publications and exams.

ITIL for whom?

ITIL provides a very streamlined and consistent set of IT service management best practices. ITIL includes a common vocabulary of terms and a fully described taxonomy of IT processes and relations between them. ITIL highlights the quality approach to achieving business efficiency and efficient use of the IT systems.

ITIL versus ITSM

ITIL is one of the many platforms facilitating the implementation of ITSM. ITIL includes certain recommendations for setting up the best practices in our IT departments.

Though ITIL is the oldest, and thus the most often used IT service management practice, it is not the only structure an organisation can adopt.

Other methods for ITSM

Sure, there are other methods for ITSM. Also, other IT service management frameworks were gradually developed. These include the popular Microsoft Operations Framework, COBIT, DevOps and ISO 20000.

ITSM with Soflab Technology

Thanks to implementing ITSM with the use of solutions from Soflab Technology, your department may significantly improve the quality of services delivered and thus better respond to the business needs and the requirements of customers and users.

A complete IT Service Management solution allows, among others, improving and standardising processes, effectively managing IT services catalogue and lifecycle, IT automation and self-service, SLA management and much more.

Contact our representative to discuss how to improve ITSM in your organisation


Ubiquitous access to Internet-enabled personal computers and mobile devices creates increasingly new IT solutions. As many tools emerge, computerisation of customer handling processes is progressing with respect to both the internal and the external customers.

Enough to compare today’s teleworking possibilities with those just over a dozen years ago when this form of providing services was the privilege of typically freelance professionals, like graphic designers, programmers of journalists.

At present, numerous types of professional activities may be provided as remote services, thus the number of distributed organisations where many processes take place away from the physical company locations is growing.

The scale of such services is also continually expanding, as the business environment over the recent decade or two has changed very much. The growth of information technology brought along not only new professions but also problems that until recently no business had to be concerned with.

The way information services looked in the 1990s in no way relates to the present areas that these services concern. The change affects every area related to broadly understood information technologies.

ITSM is a response to the need for efficiently providing information services in organisations and facilitates their planning, delivery, and continual quality improvement. Thanks to ITIL, a proven method of the fulfillment of all the requirements concerning information systems management, we may execute service management efficiently and using proven methods.

Thanks to modern solutions supporting the entire ITSM process and with the use of the ITIL framework we are providing our IT services at continually improving level. If this is of interest to you, please get in touch with our engineer to select the solutions best matching your organisation’s needs.