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IT Operations Management (ITOM) vs IT Service Management (ITSM)

ITOM and ITSM are both frequently referenced to describe management strategies for Information technology departments, but despite the areas where they overlap, the two acronyms are not quite interchangeable.

IT service management refers to all of the activities that an organization performs to manage IT services throughout their entire life cycle, which includes strategic planning, design, building, service operation and continual service improvement. The industry-leading set of ITSM best practices known as the ITIL framework describes the service life cycle model in detail, offering a structured process for effective management at each stage.

IT operations management is also covered under the ITIL framework, so in that sense it can be said that ITOM is actually a subset of the activities of ITSM. For IT Operations managers and their teams, the focus is on execution of day-to-day tasks associated with operating the organization's existing infrastructure components and applications. These tasks are all part of the "Service Operation" stage of the IT service life cycle.

Taking a closer look at the ITIL Service Operation manual, there are eight processes that must be maintained to effectively operate a service in accordance with the ITIL framework:

  • Event management

  • Incident management

  • Request fulfillment

  • Access management

  • Problem management

  • IT operations control

  • Facilities management

  • Application management

  • Technical management

We quickly begin to see the role that IT Ops plays in managing the Service Operation stage of the life cycle. Processes such as incident and event management, problem management and request fulfillment are managed through the IT service desk which is staffed by IT Operations teams. IT operations control involves the routine daily maintenance of the IT infrastructure, while facilities management focuses on management of the physical environment of data centers - again, both very much in the job descriptions for ITOM professionals. Access management, application management and technical management could all be covered by ITOM as well.

The take-away here is that:

  • ITIL is the leading framework for ITSM.

  • ITIL offers management guidance for five stages of the IT service lifecycle: Service Strategy, Service Design, Service Transition, Service Operation and Continual Service Improvement.

  • ITOM can include any of the processes covered in the Service Operation book of ITIL, including processes normally managed by the service desk.

  • ITOM is a sub-discipline of ITSM that focuses on the Service Operation aspect of the service life cycle.

If you are looking for a team of ITOM experts, do get in touch with Rede Consulting at

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