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What is ITSM?

Modern IT Service Management (ITSM) has a wide reach - inputs and implications are interlinked across the whole organisation. Employees reporting problems and their resolution, process standardisation and management information and reporting, assisting co-workers while supporting the wider business strategy are all elements considered under the remit of ITSM. 

IT support used to mean raising tickets from a call or drop by, fixing issues raised and hopefully meeting SLAs – all reactive and often inefficient. 

That approach is widely relegated to the past. Pandemic crisis management has brought ITSM tools into the spotlight, as organisations have been forced to adapt workforces, devices and systems to new models of working at little notice. With dependency on technology at an all-time high, IT Service Desks are called on to support hundreds if not thousands of software and hardware systems and devices in any organisation, in the cloud and on-premise, office-based and remote, while employee expectations mirror those of their consumer alter ego.

Customer service and 100% satisfaction are targets, no longer just First Time Fix rates. So, where did it all start and where is it going?

Originally a reactive progression from lists and spreadsheets to organise IT teams’ time, ‘IT help desk’ or ticketing software has matured into service desk software which meets the need to scale and support more versatile employees and departments.

As users are no longer primarily desk-based, and often have a software application for every requirement, service management technology has had to keep up with fast-moving changes and in the best of cases, get ahead of them and lead the way to more efficient practices.

Working practices have changed for all size of public or private sector organisation and scalable, adaptable solutions win the day. This nearly always means being cloud based now that early concerns over security and accessibility have been proven a thing of the past.  

Choosing a SaaS platform in turn can have its challenges with a huge volume available, but the most established and proven technology providers can offer high degrees of service uptime, security and compliance with required standards. As factors such as GDPR have impacted organisations, an awareness of geographical data location  is important to organisations and in turn their customers. 

The catch-all of ‘Safe Harbor may be outside acceptable compliance boundaries for many, so checking with a vendor exactly whether the data is hosted in the UK, EU or elsewhere is good practice. 

Frameworks & ITIL

ITIL is the most commonly used framework to deliver ITSM and has found its place over the years, a guiding set of best practices and principles that improve the impact of services on the organisation, while allowing for each to find their own way.

Non-prescriptive but highly detailed, ITIL is aided in its adoption by ITSM software which addresses the core principles while allowing for flexibility in approach. ITSM tools largely provide 'services' out of the box - commonly starting with Incident, Problem, Change Management on the Service Desk -  which the user organisation can customise and deploy at will, to suit its evolving needs.

ITIL and other ITSM frameworks were designed for large corporations and public sector entities, which lend themselves more to formal processes and documents than a smaller company might; of course it is possible for any organisation to benefit whilst avoiding too much red tape but that takes a pragmatic approach from the outset. 

ITIL itself has progressed and in its latest form, provides less of a focus on technology and services and more on the customer experience, a reflection of the blurring lines between home and work.


Usability of ITSM tools is of huge importance to the modern service desk, covering a multitude of elements for the admin and technical teams and end-users alike. The SDI survey and report “View from the Frontline 2019” found that usability was a recurring requirement and point of pain for most IT service management tools users. 

Ease of use for the service desk team in its day to day tasks is one aspect – can your team easily see what’s the priority for them to work on, access the information they need and if needed pass that issue on to another of their team?

The dashboard is an important element of this; it’s not to be underestimated that a tool that’s quick for a new team member to learn to use is a real time and money saver. 

Administrators of course have a different level of need – keeping track and making simple changes to the team workload is one aspect, but what about the need to configure actual changes to the software, not only its front end view and dashboards, but also to build workflows and automation, change simple or complex processes and even build new desks. Training of course is always going to be needed, but with a more configurable service management platform, organisations can get to a point where they might aim to be making 80% of changes themselves, saving budget and increasing long term ROI.

What about usability from the end-user perspective?

With boundaries blurred between consumer and professional lives, employees – the customers of the service desk  have expectations of customer service standards similar to those in ‘real life’ and way above the help desk fixes only a few years ago. Interaction now has to be easy, intuitive and empowered: why actually speak to someone if you don’t have to?  

Many organisations started to adopt Self-Service in the mid 2000s but few were making a success of it until IT teams learned to get closer to understanding their customers.

Openness is key it seems and IT teams which have found ways to gain feedback and research needs by running open Q&A sessions or forums, getting key users across departments more involved in planning and trials and then openly promoting the new portal via any means possible (often involving cake!), are those which are making a success of self-Service.

The users themselves find that a decluttered and intuitive portal which is easy to navigate (think of a favourite online shopping experience and it won’t be far off) and speaks their language is preferable to logging a call by phone or email. It keeps them up to date on the progress of the issue and often can suggest ways to resolve the problem themselves. 

A knowledge base is of course the answer to both improving self-resolution of the self-service portal and to increasing efficiency and sharing of competency across the IT services team.

The information itself is one element to consider planning for, its topics, depth and structure but also now the most appropriate media have to be considered. Lengthy ‘How to’ documents are a thing of the past in many cases with video readily produced and accessed.

Making the knowledge easy to find can be a more challenging aspect – it’s no good it being there if nobody else can find it – but then intelligent dynamic search technology can assist knowledge management and help link a problem to its resolution via keywords embedded in the item or its title, and even auto-suggest a resolution while the user is entering the issue. 


Adopting automation is a sign of maturity for many service desks where reactive practices have been replaced by more forward-thinking and efficient activities.

When the average IT department spends 30% of its time on basic, low-level tasks it’s no wonder that the SDI  2019 ‘A View from the Frontline’ report found that for 2020: automation is a priority for 75% of service desks and 43% of service desks want to see improved automation capabilities in ITSM tools.

If a common task or set of tasks consumes a large amount of time repeatedly, workflow tools are available within the service management platform to standardise and automate activities or triggers to these activities, resulting in team efficiency

For example, more complex scenarios such as a New Starter process can cross many teams and hierarchies, from the requesting manager to their boss, HR & payroll, Facilities and of course IT – but automation can streamline and trigger all required actions, prospectively changing the face of a disorganised approach to day 1 for an employee into a positive experience in which everyone plays their part.

Happy employees with a better customer experience are just one benefit – others include reduction of error potential, savings in time and resource allocation with resultant cost savings and increased ability to make adjustments and changes to processes without reinventing from the start.

Of course, not all automation interfaces are simple to use but those with drag and drop workflow interfaces make the efficiencies more compelling and offer opportunities for the user organisation to automate scenarios they might not otherwise consider. 

75% of service desks have automation at the top of their priority list and 43% of service desks want to see improvements in their ITSM tool’s automation capabilities

Watch videos on automation of common Use Cases

See short demo videos of the automated Process Builder Engine, New Starter & Lost Device Use Cases & more.



Reporting is the bedrock of so many aspects of services. Response times relative to goals is a fundamental measurement of the service desk’s performance at team level and for individuals.

Of course, gathering data is one thing and easily achieved – making use of it is another, which is down to the standard set of reports offered within the ITSM software, as well as the configurability of reporting, or use of third party tools deployed on exported data sets.

Reporting is of use way beyond the service desk though; passed on to senior management and other departments, it’s a way to view and share wider trends in cost and efficiency implications.

Accessibility of the data, like so many things is made easier by clear and easily navigated dashboards, preferably with views that can be set at user level.

Team wallboards are a common reminder of goals and achievements as well as helping team leaders and managers to keep their fingers on the pulse of current events. 

Viewing and analysing Service Desk data in applications such as Power BI also adds another dimension to decision-making metrics, both tactically and on a strategic level.

Reporting plays an important role in more strategic team goals too. The SDI Certification standards are a good way to assess a service desk’s capabilities and flag room for improvement, as well as proving a high profile pat on the back for many service desks which often fly under the radar.

The SDI requires certain performance metrics to be measured in reaching its standards and some software vendors – Sunrise included – have certified their reporting to assist with the requirements. 

Continual Service Improvement is a goal for just about every service desk team and without reporting, assessing and planning for the enhancements is impossible. 


Of course, there’s a wider context than IT - Service Management has evolved to address practices that cross departmental boundaries and benefit the wider business. In essence it’s a simple ROI argument – the organisation benefits from the trusted and deployed practices of the IT team and its available technology set.

Enterprise Service Management is a concept whereby a single service technology platform extends the processes and benefits of service provision beyond IT to other service departments. 

It can take a little thought and planning, but once the organisation looks at the fundamental purpose of a department, service provision, usually to employees though also to its own business customers, is actually a very common theme. 

HR case management and employee absence is one common area to benefit. Facilities operations have much in common with IT  logging issues and repair or replacement of equipment, strategic management and end of life of various items as well as planning for upgrades. 

Curo(Housing Association): “Since Sunrise went live, Curo has been able to extend the platform to other departments. The facilities management team now use it to log requests from employees, such as replacing office equipment, while the HR team is running onboarding through the platform. All new starters are registered via Sunrise, ensuring that they receive the right devices and technology for their role, making the set up process smooth and straightforward. Building on Sunrise’s asset management capabilities, a future plan is to log all tools on mobile tradespeople’s vans via the platform.” 

WBD (Law Firm): Following the successful go live with the IT team, the 25 person Risk and Best Practice Group is now rolling out the software, starting with its Helpdesk which advises on a range of regulatory and operational requirements and then on to the Business Assurance Unit,  including client and matter management services, conflicts and information barrier requests. This will be followed by the Facilities Department, which will use it for incident reporting and request management. 

Managed service providers and other technology houses can deploy ITSM technology architected with a different focus, to support business customers who may have different contracts, SLAs and other requirements no less demanding than employee support.  

Aquila Heywood (Software Provider): “By using Sunrise and following ITIL best practice we’re able to deliver the highest level of service our customers require and therefore ensure the wider business thrives”.

In a wider context, the need to adapt the service desk to new environments can come with little notice. With the right process tools to hand, new service desks can be built quickly where common concepts apply, as in this example of building a Logistics service to deal with the requirements of home-working staff during the Covid-19 crisis.


Making a success of IT Service Management is a combination of people, planning, mindset and of course technology. 

Organisational benefits are seen in all sectors - public, not for profit and commercial sector, from small to large. 

Complex factors influence developing a forward-looking service strategy and the issues discussed here are all to be considered. These include:
- Frameworks and their suitability
- Usability of ITSM tools
- Role of automation
- Reporting and its benefits
- Broader role of Service Management in the Enterprise

We hope this guide has provided a useful path to understand more of what can be involved; Sunrise is always here to discuss your ITSM requirements whenever you’re ready.

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