An Overview of IT Service Management (ITSM) in ServiceNow

An Overview of IT Service Management (ITSM) in ServiceNow

Information Technology Service Management, also known as ITSM, refers to the practical services, routines or software owned by a modern IT department. Broadly speaking, ITSM can also be seen as a philosophy for how information technology should function in the 21st Century, which is to say: efficiently, effectively and with as few bottlenecks as possible. 

In other words, if you’ve ever struggled with frustrating delays related to computer problems at work, or had to manage lengthy backlogs of IT tasks, ITSM is the process designed to mitigate those issues. ITSM tools or platforms function as the systems used to simplify the day-to-day operations of that modern IT department. The goal of a well-run ITSM practice is to ensure an organization’s operations run smoothly to keep the business’s tech running as intended. Speaking of business, there are several major incentives for executives to encourage larger organizations to adopt ITSM practices.

Notably, the rise in global competition in the tech sector especially,  a rise in cybercrime activity internationally with the total annual cost expected to surpass $10 trillion USD by 2025 according to Ipsos.

One of the most popular ITSM platforms for enterprise-organizations on the market today is ServiceNow, whose total revenue in 2023 nearly hit $9 billion USD according to Forbes. ServiceNow offers a wide range of modules, so this article will focus exclusively on ServiceNow ITSM with details on available modules and packages.

ITSM Value Creation through ServiceNow
Source: ServiceNow

In this article

Why choose ServiceNow ITSM?

First, let’s look at some key statistics. What are the tangible results of businesses choosing to implement ServiceNow in their organizational structure?

Much of this can be achieved through a standardization process in how teams operate once they adopt ServiceNow into their day-to-day operations. 

In terms of culture, ServiceNow boasts a “people first” approach to ITSM following a study conducted in 2019 which showed that positive employee experiences improve productivity, retention and ultimately, customer satisfaction.

This approach makes sense, since the IT department is the technology hub of any modern organization and it interacts with every other team. If that hub functions properly, so does the rest of the business. If not, then every other department will function slowly and inefficiently as staff turnover rises and customers churn quickly.

So not only is ServiceNow a platform that can provide robust security measures, a more optimal process for IT management, but it’s also a company that frequently promotes values around end user satisfaction and customer satisfaction.

This approach has paid off; ServiceNow has ranked in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for IT Service Management for over eight years. In 2023, ServiceNow ranked among the top leaders of Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for IT Service Management programs.

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Low-Code Application Platforms, August 2023
Source: ServiceNow / Gartner

An expert’s take on ITSM

Adopting ITSM frees up your team’s time for tasks that involve their primary skillsets, which helps streamline complex IT processes and procedures. This approach doesn’t just fix IT problems; it transforms how these teams and departments operate. Industry experts agree that a well-implemented ITSM solution leads to significant improvements across the board.

“The benefits of having all your operations on a single platform are everything from better reporting to improved insights and an overall better understanding of the value streams that serve crucial stakeholders. Better insights mean organizations can make iterative improvements to service delivery. But more than just insights, the ITSM/ESM platform can improve knowledge flow, connecting across teams and collaboration. Instead of information locked in functional silos, teams can query across the value stream to identify delay gates and new ways to innovate.”

Julie Mohr, Principal Analyst at Forrester

In short, a platform like ServiceNow ITSM helps businesses get the most out of their technology investments, improving both efficiency and user experience. That’s why ServiceNow is trusted by major brands, including T-Mobile, Deloitte, Zoom, Accenture, and Syntax.

Now, let’s explore the key modules within ServiceNow that make these benefits possible…

ServiceNow ITSM Packages

ServiceNow offers dozens of modules broken down into three core ServiceNow packages to help you optimize your service management processes. Let’s review them to see which best suits your business needs.

Standard Package for ITSM

  • Ideal for: Growing businesses and smaller IT teams needing essential incident, problem, change, and request management capabilities. This gives you a solid foundation to manage IT workflows effectively.
  • Benefits: Streamline core IT service processes and establish a system of record for assets and cost management. The Walk-Up Experience offers a dedicated area to provide in-person support to improve user experiences.

Pro Package for ITSM

  • Ideal for: Scaling businesses focused on automation and self-service. ITSM Pro is for teams wanting to reduce manual tasks and empower users to solve issues independently.
  • Benefits: Predictive Intelligence helps you address issues before they become major disruptions. Automate repetitive tasks and drive self-service adoption. Performance Analytics gives deeper insights into service desk performance to drive continuous improvement.

Enterprise Package for ITSM

  • Ideal for: Large enterprises seeking maximum process optimization, cost control, and operational speed. This package is best for IT teams with complex processes, multiple stakeholders, or stringent compliance requirements.
  • Benefits: Optimize team resources with Workforce Optimization and delve deeper into processes with Process Mining. Drive down costs, improve vendor relationships, and streamline IT operations at scale.
ServiceNow IT Service Management chart showing benefits of ServiceNow's platform across the NOW Platform.
Source: Microsoft

List of ServiceNow ITSM Modules

These modules cover a variety of applications and capabilities that can be customized and adjusted to your needs:

Now Assist

Now Assist is an AI-driven virtual assistant that allows employees to self-serve for support related to password resets, knowledge articles, and raising incidents or requests.

  • Who it’s for: Employees and IT support staff
  • Why consider: Reduces ticket volume for IT, empowers employees to find solutions independently, leading to faster resolutions and increased service desk efficiency.

Configuration Management Database (CMDB)

Configuration Management Database (CMDB) is a central repository for all IT infrastructure components (hardware, software, network devices, etc.) and their relationships.

  • Who it’s for: IT support staff, infrastructure teams, change management
  • Why consider: Provides a foundational view of the IT environment, enabling effective incident resolution, problem analysis, change impact assessment, and asset management.\

Knowledge Management

Knowledge Management is a structured knowledge base for storing and sharing troubleshooting tips, FAQs, and best practices.

  • Who it’s for: Employees and IT support staff
  • Why consider: Facilitates knowledge sharing, promotes self-service, reduces repetitive queries, and improves internal knowledge consistency.

Incident Management

Incident Management tracks and manages disruptions to IT services, aiming to restore operations as quickly as possible.

  • Who it’s for: IT support staff
  • Why consider: Streamlines and standardizes incident handling, improves incident response time, and allows for incident trend analysis for proactive prevention.

Change Management

Change Management ensures changes to IT infrastructure are implemented in a controlled and authorized manner.

  • Who it’s for: IT support staff, change managers, infrastructure teams
  • Why consider: Reduces the risk of incidents caused by poorly planned changes, minimizes downtime incurred during changes, and improves coordination across IT teams.

Virtual Agent

Virtual Agent is a chatbot for automating conversations and resolving common requests/incidents.

  • Who it’s for: Employees and IT support staff
  • Why consider: Provides 24/7 support, deflects common tickets, and improves the user experience.

Predictive Intelligence

Predictive Intelligence uses machine learning to categorize, route, and predict the potential for issues or risks based on historical data.

  • Who it’s for: IT support staff, problem managers
  • Why consider: Reduces time spent on manual tasks, prevents incidents, and prioritizes work based on potential impact.

Service Operations Workspace

Service Operations Workspace: Modern workspace for IT support agents with advanced tools and visual layout for better ticket routing and resolution.

  • Who it’s for: IT support staff
  • Why consider: Streamlined UI, improves productivity, and allows agents to work on multiple cases faster.

Now Mobile

Now Mobile offers a native mobile app for accessing core ServiceNow features on the go.

  • Who it’s for: Employees and IT support staff
  • Why consider: Enhances mobile accessibility for approvals, ticket updates, and self-service.

Digital Portfolio Management

Digital Portfolio Management provides a project and portfolio management view for IT, aligning investments with business goals and strategies.

  • Who it’s for: IT leadership, project managers
  • Why consider: Centralizes IT project data, improves decision making, and links IT spend to business value.

DevOps Change Velocity

DevOps Change Velocity manages the speed and integrity of software changes for businesses using DevOps practices.

  • Who it’s for: Developers, IT operations, release managers
  • Why consider: Increases release frequency safely, provides analytics and insights on the DevOps pipeline, and promotes collaboration between development and operations teams.

Employee Center

Employee Center offers a unified portal for employees to access HR, IT, and other company services/resources.

  • Who it’s for: All employees
  • Why consider: Centralizes employee needs in a modern interface, boosts self-service across departments, and provides personalized experiences.

Service Portal

Similar to Employee Center, Service Portal is a user-facing interface for requesting IT services, accessing knowledge, and tracking the status of requests or incidents.

  • Who it’s for: Employees and customers seeking support
  • Why consider: Consumer-like experience, promotes IT self-service, and allows for customization to match your organization’s branding.

Problem Management

Problem Management: Seeks to find the root cause of recurring incidents, preventing them from happening in the future.

  • Who it’s for: IT support staff, particularly problem managers
  • Why consider: Proactive problem resolution reduces incident volume over time, improves service availability, and frees up IT resources.

Service Catalog

Service Catalog: An online storefront where users can request predefined IT services like software installations, hardware provisioning, or account setups.

  • Who it’s for: Employees needing IT goods or services
  • Why consider: Standardized ordering process, improves efficiency for common requests, and provides transparency into the IT service offerings.

Asset Management

Asset Management tracks all hardware, software, and cloud assets throughout their lifecycle, including ownership, financial information, and contracts.

  • Who it’s for: IT asset managers, finance, procurement
  • Why consider: Helps optimize usage and costs of assets, enables informed procurement decisions, and ensures software license compliance.

Workforce Optimization

Workforce Optimization uses data and analytics to manage the deployment and productivity of your IT support workforce.

  • Who it’s for: IT service desk managers, workforce planners
  • Why consider: Proactive staffing for workload shifts, optimizes skill assignments, and identifies training needs for improved efficiency.

Process Mining

Process Mining analyzes process data within ServiceNow instances to discover bottlenecks, inefficiencies, and non-compliance.

  • Who it’s for: Process owners, IT leadership
  • Why consider: Facilitates data-driven process improvement, enables visualization of complex process flows, and identifies areas for automation.

Contract and Renewal Management

Contract and Renewal Management is a central repository for tracking contracts and their renewal dates.

  • Who it’s for: Finance, procurement, legal, IT teams
  • Why consider: Improves visibility into contract spending and timelines, enables better negotiation, and prevents service lapses from missed renewals.

Continual Improvement Management

Continual Improvement Management provides structured methodologies for finding and prioritizing improvements across IT services.

  • Who it’s for: Process owners, IT leadership
  • Why consider: Fosters a culture of continuous improvement, ensures that IT efforts align with business needs, and enables reporting on improvement initiatives.

Site Reliability Operations (SRE)

Site Reliability Operations (SRE) is focused on the reliability and performance of applications and services, with an engineering focus.

  • Who it’s for: SRE teams, IT operations
  • Why consider: Enables data-driven approach to system reliability, promotes automation to reduce toil, and helps define service-level objectives (SLOs).

DevOps Config

DevOps Config manages configuration data associated with DevOps practices across development, testing, and production.

  • Who it’s for: Developers, IT operations
  • Why consider: Centralized configuration management promotes consistency and ensures auditability within the DevOps ecosystem.

Request Management

Request Management handles general user requests for information or resources (not necessarily incident or service-related).

  • Who it’s for: IT teams, other departments
  • Why consider: Streamlines and tracks all types of user requests.

Service Level Management (SLM)

Service Level Management (SLM): Defines, monitors, and reports on service level agreements (SLAs) between IT and the business.

  • Who it’s for: IT service managers, IT leadership
  • Why consider: Sets clear performance expectations, ensures service quality alignment.

Key Considerations for your own ServiceNow package:

ServiceNow ITSM can help your team focus on high-level tasks more relevant to each member’s role, but only if you choose the right module to suit your needs. So factors worth considering include:

  • Team Size & Roles: Evaluate team size, roles involved in service management, and existing levels of automation or self-service.
  • IT Complexity: The complexity of your IT environment and the number of systems you manage will impact your package choice.
  • Future Scalability: Think ahead – how much do you expect your business to grow, or your IT needs to evolve in the near future?
  • Cost: ServiceNow can be an investment, particularly the Pro and Enterprise packages. Consider potential ROI carefully against your budget.
  • Complexity: ITSM Pro and Enterprise packages introduce additional features, which can increase the learning curve and implementation time.

ServiceNow ITSM Efficiencies & Benefits

Without ITSM, you could be losing time, resources, and revenue you weren’t even aware of. It’s much like survivorship bias – we focus on what we can see, not what we don’t see. You can’t see the opportunity cost of not implementing ITSM, but it’s there nonetheless. 

If your problem-solving process is inefficient, employees and customers could end up feeling frustrated and dissatisfied as your organization grows and loses the ability to keep track with the rise in demand and workload. A lack of ITSM can also lead to accountability and compliance concerns and put you at a higher risk of security breaches. So how does ServiceNow ITSM factor in?

  • Self-solve issues 24/7 and eliminate wait times by keeping international teams connected through a centralized hub.
  • Automate services with continuous improvement and AI support.
  • Collaborate and find answers quickly by focusing on individual incidents with visibility on each member’s activity.
Graphic outlining ITSM efficiencies
Source: ServiceNow

The future of ServiceNow and ITSM

Without ITSM, you risk the chance of security breaches, disorganization, financial drain, lack of efficiency, and employee and customer dissatisfaction. Integrating ITSM can help you thrive. Optimizing ITSM can help workflows and enhance the employee and customer experience, providing time to focus on what matters.

 A quote from Brian Solis, Head of Innovation at ServiceNow, stating the need to rethink how businesses understand how technology transforms organizations for a new future. It emphasizes that technology leaders must redefine their roles beyond IT to drive business innovation.

Integrations – the next step to optimizing your ITSM practices

ServiceNow ITSM is fantastic at managing IT processes, but it’s not always the only option or tool used by large organizations. What if some departments need help from software developers in Jira or Microsoft Azure DevOps?

Perhaps your ticketing is handled by a team in Zendesk in one region, and ServiceNow in another? What if you need to share key incident details in bi-weekly or monthly reports by uploading data to a spreadsheet such as Google Sheets or Excel?

Maybe you need to collaborate with a project manager in Smartsheet, Asana, or Wrike? 

When it comes to integrating Servicenow: there is IntegrationHub for those who can handle complex coding solutions. But there are alternatives to IntegrationHub. Unito is a low-code 2-way solution designed to offer a simpler approach to integration powered by live 2-way sync.

Integration Use Case: Collaboration between IT and Engineering

Picture this: A critical customer-facing application crashes and support tickets are flooding your service portal. The IT service desk is inundated with angry end users who need answers fast. The root cause turns out to be a recent code change that wasn’t deployed properly in Jira or GitHub. With ServiceNow and Unito’s 2-way integration, your IT and Development teams can:

  • Automate Jira Ticket Creation: A support agent escalates the ServiceNow incident to the IT department, and a corresponding issue is automatically created in Jira, including all relevant diagnostic details about each incident.
  • Real-time Collaboration: Changes to the status of the Jira issue update the ServiceNow incident and vice-versa, keeping both teams informed. Developers and IT staff can even comment directly within each other’s systems.
  • Swift Resolution: Engineering fixes the bug and deploys the update. Once confirmed in Jira, the ServiceNow incident is resolved, and automated notifications keep impacted users in the loop.

Here’s Unito’s technical documentation on 2-way ServiceNow integration.

Watch a demo integration between ServiceNow and Jira

Integration Use Case: Expanded Incident Creation with Predictive Intelligence

Predictive Intelligence‘s ticket triage, classification and routing, as well as incident detection ensure that new tickets are dispatched to the right team immediately, empowering your IT department to take swift, informed action based on detailed incidents.

Paired with Unito, you could set up an even more sophisticated incident triage and assignment process:

  • ServiceNow triages and categorizes the incident automatically.
  • The ticket is then assigned to the IT department for investigation and resolution. If that team member works outside of ServiceNow (perhaps in Azure DevOps); Unito then jumps in to create a mirrored work item in ADO.
  • The work item in ADO is then kept in 2-way sync with the original incident in ServiceNow. As the team in ADO updates everyone else on their progress, the ServiceNow incident updates automatically as well.

Here’s a comparison between ServiceNow IntegrationHub and Unito.