Establishing the profession of IT service management

Are you a service management professional? Or an IT professional specialising in service management? Either way the number of people who consider IT service management (ITSM) a true profession has grown exponentially over the last few years.

Are you a service management professional? Or an IT professional specialising in service management? Either way the number of people who consider IT service management (ITSM) a true profession has grown exponentially over the last few years. This growth is due to the recognition of the importance of the core activity of IT service managers, which is to keep IT up and running within - and between - business organisations.

With this growth and recognition comes a responsibility for both the individuals and the organisations involved to help ITSM become as professional as possible. From a standing start in one of the newest careers that is available in today's job market, this is not necessarily an easy task, particularly as the definition of service management roles is likely to remain a moving target for the foreseeable future.

One relatively recent development in the world of ITSM that is helping to establish it as a recognised profession is priSM (Professional Recognition in Service Management). This scheme, launched by the itSMF, aims to assist individuals to develop in their service management careers in a similar way to schemes that run in many other sectors and professions. As an individual you can gain credentials to one of the levels within priSM by demonstrating a broad range of achievements and abilities in your working life, including training and certification, work experience, job responsibilities and any contribution to the industry itself.

It is this broad, holistic approach to demonstrating an individual's competencies and skills that is setting priSM out as a practical real-world solution to professional development. Many such schemes have been criticised for being over-reliant on academic qualifications and exams and not focusing on the actual knowledge and skills that the individual possesses. Taking a broader view, as priSM does, ultimately makes the scheme harder to administer but it provides a much more valuable end result for the people that go through it and for employers who are looking to recruit and develop ITSM professionals.

But no such scheme can stand still, and once an individual has attained their credential level they immediately need to start thinking about Continual Professional Development (CPD). This is where priSM really begins to help the individual, the employer and the industry itself. CPD can be attained in many ways, including the usual areas of training and promotion. But by getting engaged in industry activities, be it through attending or speaking at events, writing papers or contributing to books, or joining industry bodies, anyone can help themselves to improve and to attain the CPD needed to maintain their credentials.

The idea of giving back to the industry or community is an idea that is gaining support across the IT industry and beyond. It has always been there in some form, and was a guiding principle when the itSMF first began in 1991 but now more than ever, people are really starting to understand the value of an independent organisation that is solely focused on improving service management and those involved in delivering it. What priSM credential holders are beginning to realise is that giving back doesn't just mean giving - it is part of the process of making the industry better at what it does and by doing that helping to professionalise the individuals working within it.

Ben Clacy is chief executive of itSMF UK and company secretary of itSMF International, the UK's and the world's largest service management user groups.

The itSMF UK conference brings together just under a thousand individuals over the course of two days in west London at the beginning of November. With over 40 presentations and a similar number of exhibitors and sponsors, the conference acts as a focus for the latest thinking in service management and related disciplines. It offers a forum for sharing ideas, case studies and experience, reflecting those same personal development principles that are espoused by priSM.


This was last published in November 2011

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