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What is Enterprise Service Management?

enterprise service management

If you are a TeamDynamix client or simply searching online for software to manage IT services and service delivery, you have undoubtedly seen the term “IT Service Management,” often referred to by the acronym “ITSM.”

In short, ITSM is the collection of actions and policies designed to plan, execute, and manage all the IT services available to stakeholders. ITSM methodologies have often been inherently confined to IT, but a shift is occurring. In an increasing number of organizations, departments outside of IT are adopting long-established service management practices to run their operations more efficiently. It is also becoming more common for companies to roll out service management throughout all departments and teams.

This strategy of applying service management principles to departments outside of IT or throughout the organization is, in essence, the definition of Enterprise Service Management (ESM).

Work Management Across the Enterprise: From Basic Service Requests to Full Projects

From managing requests to improving information flow, every department struggles with email inquiries, status spreadsheets and failed attempts at creating order out of chaos. This is an old problem, but now there is a solution.

Requests come in all shapes and sizes: benefit changes, work orders, event support, maintenance, creative services, equipment reservations, security passes, parking permits, etc. The list goes on.

To take an enterprise approach, you can use a single platform to manage these requests. Using the one platform you can tailor portals for each department; automate routing and workflows; utilize a single information repository; and track and report on outcomes.

Gain Control with Enterprise Service Management Software

From a fundamental standpoint, ESM makes perfect sense. After all, in an organizational setting, IT is rarely the only group that offers services. Take the facilities department as an example. If a shorted electrical outlet needs replacing or HVAC issues arise, facility personnel must be alerted so they can act. No doubt, many institutions still rely on emails, phone calls or merely stopping and chatting in the hallway to communicate such things. These approaches can provide a certain degree of effectiveness in handling service requests. But let’s consider what is missing from that type of scenario – one where formalized service management processes are not in place.

  • Accountability: Who is responsible for what? Are requests being completed on time? Without proper assignment and tracking processes, answers to these questions get very blurry.
  • Visibility: Staff members seem busy and appear to be meeting responsibilities. But it is challenging and time-intensive to stop and precisely identify what is complete and what is still outstanding or even past due.
  • Clarity: Decision-making and promises are likely going to be dictated by a hunch unless there is a big picture view of where and when resources are allocated. Lack of clarity can lead to over-committing and, ultimately, disappointing stakeholders.
  • Paths Toward Improvement: The status quo stands a high chance of going on unchanged when there is not a clear view of what is working versus what is not. It often takes highly visible process breakdowns to identify areas of improvement, leading to a perpetually reactive environment.

Enterprise Service Management system fills in the gaps by addressing these areas, leading to higher efficiency, lower operational costs, improved service levels, and increased satisfaction. Additionally, ESM provides a platform for users to search for information and resolve issues on their own. Each time an employee gets an answer or fixes something through self-service, that is one less request for service personnel to fulfill.


Enterprise Service Management is the most widely used and clearly defined framework for IT management. Think of it this way: when a non-IT department uses a traditional ITSM process to provide a service or solve a problem, it is a reuse of an existing process that has just been reinvented.

Inspired by ITIL-4, ESM is now at the heart of the IT management approach to the provision and management of IT services. It goes beyond an ITSM strategy and brings it to bear on the various teams and departments within IT.

Enterprise Service Management and its principles are often thought of as only applying to an IT organization. However, they are now gaining traction outside of IT.

As ITIL becomes more popular, more and more people will realize that ESM and ITSM best practices can and should be used in the business functions of the organization that provides services.

Everyone in a company that provides assistance, for example, should know the needs of its customers and be able to offer and manage a range of services that meet those needs. ESM can help achieve that.

Accelerating Enterprise Service Management Adoption

A recent market study shows that as IT organizations plan for the future of service management, the overwhelming trend they’re preparing for is digital transformation.

Approximately 51% of survey respondents report this as the most critical trend barreling for them in the next couple of years. This indicates that ITSM leadership will need to be cognizant of how their service platforms and workflows integrate with user technologies and, more appropriately, tie data and services together on the back end. This will be crucial in creating seamless digital experiences that drive transformation investments.

This push for end-to-end service is echoed by the next two critical trends, each named by 38% of respondents. Those are integrating ITSM and project management on a single platform and extending ITSM software to other departments through broader enterprise service management (ESM) initiatives.

Like the digital transformation trend, these two trends are also driven by the more tightly coupled and complex technology platform relationships needed to build digital ecosystems that enable critical business functions. ITSM groups must ensure that disparate platforms like Salesforce and DocuSign are well integrated to provide valuable functionality across numerous groups like facilitiesmarketing, and human resources.

Interestingly, only about three in ten organizations say have a formal ESM program to leverage ITSM principles outside of IT. However, work on this front is clearly underway. Even though many of them may not have an ESM program on the books, half the organizations have extended their ITSM or ticketing platform for use in managing work in other departments. Approximately a quarter of organizations say they’ve deployed ESM in more than two departments outside of IT.

This post was originally published in April 2020 and has been updated with new information.