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What is IT Operations Management (ITOM)? Overview & Best Practices

What is IT Operations Management (ITOM) blog banner

Modern IT operations management (ITOM) demands an integrated, service-centric approach. Looking to maximize your IT agility and efficiency? Here are a few best practices to get you started.

What is IT operations management (ITOM)?

As a type of Information Technology Service Management, ITOM primarily addresses the processes for issue remediation, improves workflows and service performance, and optimizes resource use. The goal of ITOM is, in part, to effectively manage an organization’s IT infrastructure and resources through the automation of relatively simple and routine tasks. 

ITOM solutions aim to offer IT professionals a way to monitor the environment in which they work, which helps them detect problems with infrastructure or endpoints early. They offer IT and security professionals a simple way to deploy assistance with devices or software patches quickly and remotely, saving time and resources.

Importance of IT operations management (ITOM)

For many IT professionals and administrators, manually managing the IT and security environments is no longer possible due to the rising numbers of cloud applications, hybrid storage environments, remote devices, and other factors. Ensuring high availability and reliability of IT services is essential for a business to run smoothly, but your team can only handle so much at once. 

To maximize your efficiency and productivity, mitigate risks, and minimize system downtime, you should integrate your work processes and systems with ITOM software. The automation of routine tasks alone is a game-changer; by leveraging an IT automation strategy, you can focus on other urgent projects rather than spending hours or days updating operating systems or applications throughout your organization.

What do ITOM tasks consist of?

As a business expands, its technology needs — software and other assets — will often expand in kind. IT operations managers take on the responsibility for this ever-expanding array of services and solutions. Their main priority is to make sure that all of these services and applications are stable and available for use by their stakeholders. To this end, IT managers and IT professionals typically perform management tasks in three key service areas:

1) IT infrastructure/ IT network operations

IT network infrastructure includes all of the hardware and devices necessary to provide internal and external communications, data storage, and data management for the organization. Tasks that fall under this category include:

  • All networking functions related to communications
  • Management of internal telephone/VoIP system
  • Providing remote access for authorized users and managing access control protocols
  • Internal and external telecommunication management
  • Port management for safe outside server access
  • Regulating traffic via firewalls and maintaining network security
  • Discovering and resolving any issues related to network resources

2) IT support operations and help desk

ITOM includes the management of help desk services and your standard “tech support” roles. These tasks can include service calls, ticketing, troubleshooting, and request fulfillment. IT operations managers are also responsible for managing and testing backups, communicating information about incidents and network outages, controlling system access/licenses/user accounts, and implementing a disaster recovery/continuity plan for the business.

Tasks include:

  • Data center and facility management
  • Help desk management/Network operations center (NOC)
  • Provisioning of users and accounts
  • Conducting audits and testing
  • Backup management
  • Ensuring maximum uptime/network stability
  • Creating disaster recovery plans/business continuity

3) Device and server management

In addition to administering network infrastructure throughout the organization, IT operations teams are also typically responsible for managing network endpoints such as servers and devices. Tasks include:

  • Maintaining, patching, and upgrading servers and any cloud-based infrastructure
  • Storage and network management
  • File server and email setup and account authorization
  • Provisioning IT assets, including devices issued to users
  • Management of the organization-approved devices and BYOD
  • Ensuring that applications have access to the hardware resources they need to operate

Top 4 IT operations management challenges holding organizations back

Modern IT operations management demands an integrated, service-centric approach. It’s essential to maximize service quality, optimize processes, enable innovation, and ensure a stable, reliable IT environment.

Many IT professionals struggle with the logistics and realities of actually implementing such an approach. This can lead to wasted time and confusion, which in turn leads to service outages, poor response times, financial losses, and damage to company reputation.

The following are four of the most common challenges IT teams run into:

1) Lack of integrated IT operations management software and tools

Cobbling together disconnected data from multiple tools is not ideal, especially when modern software solutions can provide a clear, real-time view of a network and IT infrastructure health. There’s no reason to wrestle with detecting, diagnosing, and resolving service issues while fighting the clock or hoping for no catastrophic service outages.

One should also consider that as the demand for cloud resources grows, so does the complexity involved in managing these resources. As organizations of all shapes and sizes continue to adopt new technologies such as cloud-based computing services (SaaS, PaaS, IaaS, etc.), virtualization, and the Internet of Things (IoT), IT organizations are challenged to evolve and adapt. At the end of the day, IT operations must always face the same challenges: deliver IT performance, manage risk, provide security, and control costs.

2) Lack of visibility into IT architecture

Adaptation and agility require a high level of visibility into the IT architecture in order to provide quick response and remediation. Organizations still using legacy software systems with traditional on-premise hardware are often dealing with limited visibility into their own systems. It doesn’t help when information is spread across multiple systems, software, and team members, as is often the case in these situations. These obstacles should be remediated to provide IT operations with the proper controls and oversight to meet their strategic objectives.

3) Disparate tech and applications

Impaired visibility into the IT architecture is largely caused by the independent (and unintegrated) functioning of various technologies, tools, and processes. These days, a typical organization may have some applications running on-premise, some applications through SaaS, and a few other applications hosted entirely by a third-party provider. When these applications and solutions lack the ability to share information, they must be monitored separately. This introduces more room for human error and carries a greater cost in terms of money, time, and resources.

4) Poor scalability

Lack of visibility and limited control over disparate technology often means that IT managers hit a wall when it comes time to scale their operations. A difficult-to-manage environment is not conducive to introducing or maintaining a new service. Without a system for integrating data from various collection points, the addition of any new hardware, service, or solution can result in an even more fractured IT infrastructure. Let’s not forget the security vulnerabilities that often arise from all of these disparate tools and applications, either.

IT operations management (ITOM) benefits

There are a few important advantages to utilizing an ITOM solution in your environment:

  • Improved system availability and performance: Monitoring your environment allows you to be more proactive, which means you’re better able to ensure peak performance and uptime. Rather than waiting until something breaks, you’re able to address issues as they start, which saves time for both you and users.
  • Enhanced IT service delivery and customer satisfaction: ITOM software can integrate with other systems that you already use to enhance them and make your processes more efficient. This means you’ll be able to deliver better services more quickly, and you’ll be able to track issues effectively.
  • Cost reduction and optimized resource allocation: ITOM pays for itself quickly. You can utilize it to assign resources more efficiently, particularly when a task that would normally require a technician to drive to the site can be done remotely. Over time, this saves both time and money.
  • Effective risk management and compliance: The data visibility and automated monitoring that ITOM provides helps you to quickly detect any suspicious activity and address it, which can reduce your risk of a security incident and keep you compliant with regulations.

IT operations strategy and best practices

Looking to maximize your IT agility and really get a handle on ITOM? Here are a few best practices to get you started.

1) Stop fighting fires and start actively managing

The break-fix model is obsolete; organizations can no longer operate under the traditional idea of calling IT only when something stops working. Adopting IT operations best practices starts with moving organizations away from the ad-hoc model of IT that can only fix problems once they’ve already happened and toward active monitoring and proactive maintenance.

2) Align IT management with service

How you look at your IT can be the difference between your business’ success and failure. Viewing IT operations in the old break-fix “tech support” light doesn’t allow you to take full advantage of modern IT. Current ITOM methodology shifts focus away from managing applications and infrastructure in a silo and instead focuses on understanding IT in relation to your business goals. ITOM processes and workflows are often designed around service delivery and customer experience. This allows for a greater ROI on IT investments while raising customer satisfaction.

3) Create goals and plan for success

Effective ITOM requires that you clearly define roles within your IT team and hold everyone accountable. IT teams, especially those within small businesses, often struggle to understand what their responsibilities and objectives are. Automated ITOM processes, ticketing systems, and process-driven management allow IT professionals to make the best use of time and IT resources.

4) Partner with a trusted MSP provider

Small business owners often have to make hard choices when it comes to investing and managing expectations. Developing in-house IT teams can be extraordinarily expensive, and many of the ITOM goals we’ve discussed here can seem very cost-prohibitive. Managed services providers (MSPs) help solve this problem by giving businesses access to technology experts, hardware, and solutions that make IT Operations strategy easier to plan and execute — even on a budget.

What about IT operations automation?

An IT automation tool can bring together enterprise-class monitoring, event management, and operational analytics into a “single pane of glass” dashboard. As we’ve discussed, a centralized view allows you to evaluate the health and performance of your IT infrastructure while increasing the availability of resources and improving security. This approach will typically allow you to use the fewest number of tools possible, which benefits both security and productivity.

Streamline and improve the IT service experience

IT Operations Management (ITOM) is a highly effective tool that helps with management, security, compliance, and support tasks, making it easier for service providers to be efficient and cost-effective. For efficient IT infrastructure management, consider NinjaOne’s IT Operations Management Software, which leverages powerful automation, machine management capabilities, and APIs to integrate smoothly into your pre-existing systems and facilitate proactive, effective IT support and services.

Ready to improve your visibility and automate your most time-consuming IT tasks? See how NinjaOne’s platform can make your team more effective.

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Next Steps

Building an efficient and effective IT team requires a centralized solution that acts as your core service deliver tool. NinjaOne enables IT teams to monitor, manage, secure, and support all their devices, wherever they are, without the need for complex on-premises infrastructure.

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