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ITSM Glossary: Understanding the Terminology That You Need to Know

12/21/2015 by: The SunView Team

There's no such thing as a simple ITSM software purchasing decision. Something as simple as investing in word processing can leave you with dozens of choices to make. Extend this out to IT service management platforms, and the decision-making process can get overwhelming. Do you want a cloud-based solution or something hosed on your premises? Which modules do you care about? How many users do you need to support? Is remote access important? What user dashboard features will matter in your organizational context?

These are just a few of the key questions you will need to consider when purchasing a new ITSM platform. As if that process wasn't confusing enough, you also have to sift through industry jargon and figure out what everything means.

We have put together 10 ITSM terms that commonly come up in the sector, with the hopes of making your buying process that much easier:

1. Help Desk/Service Desk Software
The IT help desk, or IT service desk, is the support team that handles end-user issues, passes them along to upper-level engineers if they are especially complicated and ensures a positive experience. Help desk/service desk software provides key process management functions to help teams achieve this end.

What is tricky here is that some people in the industry use the terms interchangeably, while others differentiate. For those that do use the terms differently, help desk usually refers to a basic, dedicated platform that offers core functions like handling support tickets, while service desk points to a more complex software suite that can help organizations mange their full suite of technology services.

2. Configuration
In an ITSM context, configuration is often used as a noun and is a broad term that encompasses every component of the IT system - from servers in the data center to end-user devices. The IT configuration, therefore, is made up of every technology component on the company's network.

3. Incident Management
Incident management is:

... A term describing the activities of an organization to identify, analyze, and correct hazards to prevent a future re-occurrence. - Wikepedia

Within an IT service management module that provides streamlined ticketing functionality for end users, the platform's goal is to resolve incidents that users report as quickly and thoroughly as possible.

4. Self-Service Portal
A virtual location where non-tech users can go to resolve basic incidents on their own, get instructions for setting up personal devices on the company network or otherwise interact with basic IT functions without filing a support ticket.

5. Knowledge Center
An internal catalog of key information, tutorials and media about the company's ITSM processes, capabilities and policies.

6. Problem Management
An ITSM module that uses basic analytics to identify the root cause of repeated incidents and help IT and support teams identify changes that need to be made to prevent them from coming again.

7. Change Management
Change management software devoted to organizing change processes within an IT department. Functionality can vary between solution providers, but core capabilities include scheduling changes, automating documentation process, providing collaboration tools and streamlining managerial approval processes with specialized notifications.

8. Configuration Management Database
Sometimes referred to a change management database, TechTarget does an excellent job outling the basics of a CMDB:

A configuration management database (CMDB) is a database that contains all relevant information about the components of the information system used in an organization's IT services and the relationships between those components. A CMDB provides an organized view of data and a means of examining that data from any desired perspective.

In short, a CMDB contains every configuration item in the organization. The goal is to create a complete catalog of each item, at which point system analysis tools are used to show you how each system relates to each other. This lets you understand the inter-dependencies within the IT configuration and allows users to effectively project the potential outcomes of any moves, adds or changes within the setup.

9. Release Management
Like change management, release management uses automation functions, collaboration tools and similar capabilities to streamline the changes that must be made when releasing new apps and services into the configuration. A release management platform is different from change management in that it is designed to handle some of the specific challenges that come with new app releases. For example, release management systems can automatically roll out multiple instances of an app so that your users aren't performing rote data entry as they upload apps in all necessary locations.

10. Service Request Management
According to MITSM, service request management can be best summed up as follows:

In Service Request Management, all Requests according to a service will be processed. Service Request Management is monitoring and reporting the agreed Key Performance Indicators (KPI) corresponding to compliance with customers and management.

Service request management is an often overlooked, but invaluable, tool, service request management will use keyword algorithms and similar functions to analyze support tickets before they reach your help desk team. From there, the solution will identify the user group that those service requests are most relevant to and automatically forward it along accordingly.

Investing in ITSM software doesn't have to be difficult. While the scope of such a project can seem intimidating, leading solution providers are increasingly focused on flexibility, scalability and user experiences, making it much easier to start with a manageable project that works well for your needs and build up over time.