Sign in

IT service management (ITSM) is a concept that enables an organization to maximize business value from the use of information technology. 

ITSM positions IT services as the key means of delivering and obtaining value, where an internal or external IT service provider works with business customers, at the same time taking responsibility for the associated costs and risks. ITSM works across the whole lifecycle of a service, from the original strategy, through design, transition and into live operation. To ensure sustainable quality of IT services, 

ITSM establishes a set of practices, or processes, constituting a service management system. There are industrial, national and international standards for IT service management, setting up requirements and good practices for the management system. 

ITSM is based on a set of principles, such as focusing on value and continual improvement. It is not just a set of processes – it is a cultural mindset to ensure that the desired outcome for the business is achieved. It incorporates principles and practices from various management approaches, such as lean manufacturing, organizational change management, system analysis and risk management.


ITIL is the most adopted and recognized body of knowledge for ITSM. ITIL defines IT service management as: 

“The implementation and management of quality IT services that meet the needs of the business. IT service management is performed by IT service providers through an appropriate mix of people, process and information technology.” 

ITIL is a best practice framework that gives guidance on how ITSM can be delivered. Although there are several frameworks and standards that describe IT service management, ITIL is by far the most widely adopted and recognized globally.

Service value system

ITIL has evolved beyond the delivery of services to providing end-to-end value delivery. The focus is now on the co-creation of value through service relationships.

The updated framework will focus on facilitating value co-creation via a Service Value System (SVS). The SVS represents how different components and activities can work together, in any type of organization, to facilitate value creation through IT-enabled services.

In ITIL 4, customers are an essential element in the process of creating value.

Service value chain

Incorporated within the SVS is the service value chain (SVC). The service value chain is the set of interconnected activities that when sequenced in the right way provides an operating model for the creation, delivery, and continual improvement of services. 

The service value chain allows an organization to define a number of variants of these sequences known as value streams, of which the v3 service lifecycle is one such example. The service value chain is flexible and can be adapted to multiple approaches, including product-focused delivery teams, DevOps, and centralized IT. 

The adaptability of the value chain enables organizations to react to changing demands from their stakeholders in the most effective and efficient ways. 

ITIL as a body of knowledge is continually evolving, the core publications being amended with case studies, guidance and discussion papers and other supplementary content. It helps to address emerging practices and methods, such as DevOps, and to help practitioners combine ITIL with other sources of good practice, such as IT4IT or COBIT.

ITSM roles

Within ITIL, there are generic roles, such as Service owner, as well as specific roles, such as Service Desk analyst, that are required within a particular lifecycle stage. Among these roles are:

Service owner, Service manager – responsible for establishing responsibilities for the lifecycle of specific services;

Process owner, Process manager, Process practitioner – helping to identify responsibilities in the ITSM processes management and execution;

Process practitioner: e.g. Configuration manager, Capacity manager, Service Desk specialist – describing specific responsibilities within certain processes and functions.

IT service manager skills

IT service managers need good business analysis skills and awareness of the business priorities. They need to apply logical thinking and make both day-to-day and longer term strategic plans to ensure that the business solution aligns with the organization and user needs.

They also need strong customer service, negotiation and stakeholder and relationship management capabilities to make sure that supplier and customer needs are met by the service. IT service managers need to be good communicators and able to work well with people as well having as strong motivational and organizational skills and the ability to multi-task.

Becoming an ITSM professional

Axelos has a range of resources focused on IT service management, including templates, case studies and white papers describing the principles and use of ITIL and other complementary frameworks. You can also learn more about ITSM training with our ITIL certifications and use our sample papers to test your IT service management knowledge.