What is IT operations management (ITOM)?
IT operations management (ITOM) is a set of processes responsible for building, managing, and maintaining an organization’s IT infrastructure and is one of the main functions of Service Operation in the ITIL framework. Its related tasks revolve around the capacity, cost, performance, security, and availability of key technological components and services.
With 74% of technology investments funded by non-IT business units, an organization’s IT infrastructure is more distributed and fragmented than ever. It’s all too easy for valuable information to slip through the cracks. Having a good ITOM strategy in place prevents this, providing IT teams complete visibility of their IT environments.
In this article, let’s explore how ITOM achieves this and what best practices you can adapt for effective ITOM implementation.
Functions of IT operations management (ITOM)
ITOM has a wide scope, covering the management of the entire IT infrastructure and ensuring everything is in working order. Here are just three of their main functions:
Server and device management
IT operations teams are responsible for the management of servers hosting key applications used within the organization, as well as IT assets such as laptops, phones, and tablets. Some of its related activities involve implementing security patches, software upgrades, or maintenance.
Network infrastructure management
Communication is crucial to any business, and IT operations ensure all external and internal comms channels are well-maintained and secure. This includes maintaining network security, setting up remote access, or managing the internal phone system.
Help desk and computing-related operations
IT operations also cover the management and updating of the IT infrastructure library, which involves communicating incidents, managing help desk services, and offering input for configuration audits.
ITOM vs ITSM vs ITAM: what’s the difference?
More often than not, you may see these terms getting confused together. It’s no wonder as some of their goals, benefits and even processes can sometimes overlap. But in fact, they have very distinguished traits in their roles and approach. Let’s look into these terms and what set them apart from each other.
ITOM (IT Operations Management)
ITOM can be considered as a subset of ITSM and is focused on the tools, environment, and processes that help deliver IT services. This involves ensuring the proper execution of routine tasks necessary to support the operations of tangible and intangible components that enable service delivery.
ITSM has a more customer-centric approach, in that service management is focused on the people/end-users. This discipline looks at the overall service experience, how services are being delivered, and what impacts it has on the end-user’s workflow.
Last but not least, ITAM looks after the lifecycle of an organization’s IT assets, from hardware to cloud-based to data assets. It focuses on maximizing the value a business can extract from the assets it has invested in.
As technology and business demands continue to evolve, implementing a combination of these different disciplines is becoming increasingly important.
Benefits of IT operations management (ITOM)
Without a proper ITOM strategy, organizations attract a lot of risks: compliance issues, wasted resources, lack of direction, and costly investments. But when done well, ITOM can provide an organization with a multitude of benefits. Here are just a few of them:
· Reduces costs
With everything working as expected, resources aren’t lost to firefighting issues in your IT environments. The full visibility you have with ITOM grants you the ability to see how you can use what you have to its fullest extent. This reduces wasteful spending on things you don’t need.
· Cuts service downtime
Proper tool maintenance through ITOM makes it easier to guarantee service uptime and unexpected issues that disrupt services are then reduced.
· Boosts employee productivity
Overall employee productivity is also positively impacted by the right ITOM strategy. Fewer service interruptions mean the likelihood of disrupting an employee’s workflow is also decreased. In addition, ITOM also helps create a more efficient service desk, so if an issue does come up, it can be quickly resolved, and employees can quickly get back on track.
· Promotes efficiency
With IT operations and related workflows optimized, you can increase process efficiency and yield the best results possible. Objectives, roles, and responsibilities are also clearly defined, reducing moments of confusion across the team.
· Ensures compliance
Continuous monitoring of your IT infrastructure makes it easier to flag up and mitigate cybersecurity risks or compliance issues. Getting both a bird’s eye and detailed view of all your IT components ensures nothing is missed.
Challenges of IT operations management (ITOM)
The complex development of technology, as well as changing business expectations, pose some interesting challenges to IT operations teams. Without careful planning, realizing the benefits mentioned above can be tricky.
· Scattered systems and applications
Top companies use an average of 37 tools or software to run day-to-day operations, with large enterprises using up to 90 tools. On top of that, there are servers, devices, and other assets to look after. And with all of them in different places, it can be overwhelming to keep track of.
· Complex cloud structures
Adding to the disparate array of systems is the growing demand for cloud-based resources. With how fast cloud environments change, your IT operations strategy that might work today can become obsolete tomorrow. Keeping up with complex cloud structures while grappling to update old legacy systems is a continuous battle IT operations teams must endure.
· Difficulty in scaling operations
To resolve the disconnect of systems, IT operations teams often resort to manual processes as a quick fix, whether that’s updating asset information with a spreadsheet or generating reports manually. This creates the difficult challenge of scaling operations. As your infrastructure and services grow, it’s much harder to adapt manual processes to match demand. The tasks will take much longer to complete and are more prone to mistakes.
· Increasing need (and cost) for specialized skills
Workforce trends such as the Great Resignation or ‘quiet quitting’ further ups the demand for much-needed specialized talent. With already tight budgets, IT teams have even more added pressure to attract, retain, and train their staff.
· Data fatigue
While data is the bread and butter for efficient IT operations, there can be such a thing as too much. IT operations teams are overwhelmed with the amount of data they’re exposed to. But with little time and resources to act on them, prioritizing which information is relevant should be second nature.
IT operations management (ITOM) best practices
With all these challenges hindering IT teams, what can they do to enhance their IT operations management? To reap all the benefits ITOM offers while minimizing the difficulties, there are some key practices you can incorporate into your processes.
· Ensure executive buy-in
Effective ITOM practices require a big commitment and can involve massive cultural changes across the organization. To remove bottlenecks along the way, you need to get the leadership team on board. Emphasize how important it is to the business in getting ITOM right, what that looks like, and how it impacts the different business units. Getting the buy-in would not only give the support you need but also can help everyone stay focused and accountable.
· Align ITOM strategy with your business goals
You’re more likely to get the backing you need for your ITOM strategy if it’s aligned with key business objectives. It’s hard to leverage IT to its full capacity when it’s isolated from the rest of the business. IT operations teams shouldn’t work in a silo as mere ‘tech support’, but instead must fully understand how IT contributes to your overarching goals.
· Perform an audit
When taking on a new approach, you need to take stock of what you already have and ensure you separate the good from the bad. What’s working that you can do more of? And what are the processes that are slowing progress down? Whether that’s implementing a new ITOM tool or looking to automate your manual workflows, it’s important to analyze the current state of your IT operations and whether they’re aligning with your strategies and goals.
· Practice automation
When it comes to those essential but mundane, repetitive tasks, automation is the way to go. Not only do manual processes take a lot of time and are difficult to scale but they’re also prone to mistakes and errors. IT operations automation enables you and your team to redirect efforts from monotonous activities to high-impact and value-adding projects or initiatives while maintaining the right steps are followed through.
· Take advantage of cloud discovery tools
With organizations more reliant on the cloud, the complexity of IT environments is growing by the day. It can be hard to get a full sense of what’s going on with your IT infrastructure, leading to a wide range of problems not limited to wasted resources, poor end-user experience, and compliance risks. You can eliminate these issues if you take advantage of automated cloud discovery, like that found in IFS assyst 11.5, helping you keep track of all your cloud-based components.
· Encourage collaboration and open communication
Don’t let important information get lost in translation due to ineffective communication and nonexistent collaboration. Changes in IT operations have a ripple effect across other parts of the business and vice versa. The old way of gatekeeping is no longer the way forward. IT operations teams must work closely with others to achieve key ITOM goals.
· Build the right partnerships
IT operations management is a long-term commitment, so your chosen solution to your ITOM software needs must share the same visions. What’s their product roadmap? How have they fared against the competition? How have they supported similar businesses to yours in achieving ITOM success? How are their licensing and pricing structures fit with your budget? These are some considerations to add when searching for your ITOM tools.
IT operations management (ITOM) system features
The wealth of choices for IT operations management platforms can be overwhelming. So, we’ve picked out some must-have features to look out for when selecting the technology that will aid you in your IT operations processes.
· Smart automation
We’ve already mentioned automation is one of the best things you can apply to your ITOM processes, so it’s a given that your chosen solution should have great automation capabilities that provide you with a lot of flexibility. Automate everyday IT tasks like security, compliance, and capacity monitoring so you have more time to think strategically.
· Centralized system
To get a complete overview and control of your systems, it’s important to have a solution that can consolidate all your data. Choosing a platform that can track all your applications, devices, and services with just one app is therefore a no-brainer.
· Robust service mapping
Ensuring services are reliable and stable means any changes on any part of the IT infrastructure must be accounted for and monitored. Robust service mapping capabilities can help you gain a comprehensive view of the applications you need. Detailed data visualizations that provide the bigger picture minimize blind spots in your IT structures.
· Service-view CMDB
Inaccurate information on IT configurations can hinder both incident management and change management efforts. Having a service-view CMDB that offers multiple perspectives of your hardware and software details, as well as workflows, can give you the overview you need to support these activities.
· Simple integration
Disjointed and clunky integrations are another barrier to gaining complete clarity of your IT infrastructure. In these scenarios, seamless exchanges of information are hard to come by, leading to reduced data quality and overlooked errors. So, when reaching out to suppliers, it’s important to ask how their ITOM solution integrates with your current tools.
· Endpoint management
Smooth IT operations rely on secure, well-functioning devices and software. Not getting this right can cause headaches across the business, as employees depend on their equipment working properly to get their daily work done. With endpoint management capabilities, IT operations teams can manage desktops, laptops, tablets, and even smart IoT devices, ensuring seamless security, compliance, and performance.
Streamline your IT operations with IFS assyst
Establishing an effective ITOM strategy isn’t easy but offers a great amount of value to an organization when done right. It’s a continuous process that requires you to constantly evaluate the needs of the business as a whole and align them together.
IFS assyst helps modernize organizations’ IT operations through complete visibility, powerful analytics, and smart automation.
Why not take a moment to discover what IFS assyst’s integrated ITOM solution can do with a free no-obligation online demo? Get started here.