IT operations management (ITOM): overview, definition & functions

| By:
April Taylor

IT operations management, or ITOM, refers to the team responsible for managing information technology requirements at a business or organization. For Managed Service Providers (MSPs), ITOM encompasses the management and delivery of IT services to clients, resulting in improved client satisfaction, operational efficiency, and new opportunities for scalability and growth. Through this multi-pronged approach to ITOM, MSPs can maximize revenue potential, control costs, and deliver exceptional service. 

What is ITOM?

ITOM teams play a crucial role in day-to-day IT management and operations. In most scenarios, the role of ITOM encompasses a wide range of activities and processes—all centered on improving performance, reliability, and quality of IT services and resources. 

Many companies opt to extend ITOM services to avoid the overhead of an internal team, making a great opportunity for MSPs to fill that role. To take advantage of this potential profit center, understanding how an ITOM framework works and its importance to a client’s overall IT infrastructure is crucial. 

With the support of an effective ITOM program, MSPs can: 

  • Proactively monitor and quickly resolve issues. ITOM enables MSPs to monitor their clients’ IT infrastructure, such as computers, servers, and software, proactively. With several monitoring tools and processes, MSPs can leverage ITOM practices to detect potential risks. 
  • Effective incident management. With a cybersecurity incident, ITOM empowers MSPs to streamline the process, leading to faster incident resolution and reduced impact on client operations. 
  • Performance optimization. As ITOM provides a big-picture perspective on an organization’s software and tools, MSPs can leverage business intelligence reporting and dashboards to optimize performance, monitor resources, identify performance bottlenecks, and analyze capacity trends. 

ITOM vs IT service management (ITSM) and IT operations (ITOps)

What’s the difference between ITOM, IT service management (ITSM), and IT operations (ITOps)? This is a good question, as ITOM and ITSM are both often used in reference to describe management tactics for IT departments. However, the two acronyms are not interchangeable and refer to distinct roles and functions in an organization. 

What is IT operations management (ITSM)? 

To put it simply, IT service management (or ITSM) refers to all activities that an organization does to manage IT services. This typically focuses on a broader set of processes and practices and includes strategic planning, design, service operations, and continual improvement. 

In ITSM, many MSPs and organizations leverage a set of best practices known as the ITIL ITOM framework—this describes the service lifecycle model and offers recommendations for effective management. 

What is ITOM? 

ITOM is a subset of ITSM that focuses specifically on the technical management of IT operations and infrastructure. While ITSM typically encompasses a broader set of processes and practices, ITOM focuses on the direct management of computers, networks, and servers. 

What is ITOPs? 

IT operations (ITOps), on the other hand, focuses on the hands-on management administration of IT systems and infrastructure. 

So, to sum this up, think of ITSM as the broader discipline covering the bigger picture. ITOM specifically focused on those technical facets of IT infrastructure.. ITOps covers the day-to-day technical aspects of keeping said infrastructure running smoothly.

ITOM’s primary functions

What is the function of IT operations management? To manage and oversee the daily operations of an organization’s IT infrastructure and systems. ITOM is responsible for all services, applications, and infrastructure—and its role is to ensure that all are reliable and functioning seamlessly. 

This typically includes: 

  • Network infrastructure management: What equipment is needed for an organization to ensure secure external and internal communications? To manage the holistic network infrastructure, ITOM focuses on setting up remote access networks, deploying firewalls, maintaining comprehensive network security, and managing internal telephone or chat systems. 
  • Help desk: ITOM often encompasses help desks and services issues that arise from servers, networks, or computers. IT operations managers are typically responsible for developing information to share about incidents, managing data back-ups, creating and implementing disaster recovery plans, and controlling the authentication and provision of users. 
  • Server and device management: IT operations teams are responsible for the daily management of servers and devices. This includes servers, computers, virtual machines, devices, and an array of other endpoints. Expected responsibilities include patching, upgrading, and monitoring all devices.  

Benefits of ITOM

Implementing ITOM practices and leveraging ITOM tools result in several benefits for MSPs—from predicting security issues to streamlining the process for users. 

With an effective ITOM system, organizations can: 

  • Predict and prevent issues. ITOM systems both collect and interpret data across an organization’s IT ecosystem. By gathering data from crucial sources, such as the cloud, IT infrastructure, logs, events, and metrics, organizations can predict and prevent issues from occurring. 
  • Minimize user impact. With a strong ITOM system in place, organizations can minimize the effect of technical failures or issues on end users. By identifying the root cause of an issue quickly and accurately, IT teams can leverage these insights and create preventative strategies to keep team members up and running. 
  • Automate workflows. Because of ITOM’s big-picture vision of an organization’s IT infrastructure, it provides the opportunity for automation and streamlining of standard or repetitive processes. By eliminating manual processes or unnecessary handoffs, team members can benefit from increased productivity and efficiency. For more information on building efficiency, check out our webinar, Efficiency Matters: Streamlining Service Delivery Operations.

Outsourcing through using ITOM can help MSPs’ overall business health as well. For more info, read our eBook, How to Successfully Grow and Scale Your Business: A Buyer’s Guide.

Considerations and challenges with ITOM

As organizations expand and refine their IT infrastructure, MSPs using IOTM should consider a few key challenges to ensure their clients’ growth and success. 

  • Limited visibility. In order to be effective and efficient, ITOM teams need a high level of visibility into an organization’s IT architecture. When an organization leverages outdated or legacy software with on-premise servers, it can result in limited visibility. Without access to consistent, consolidated information and data, it can be challenging for teams to effectively manage the IOTM infrastructure and meet goals. 
  • On-premise vs. cloud applications. One of the challenges that contributes to limited visibility is the prevalence of disparate technology and systems. Some organizations may have applications or servers hosted on-premise, while others may be provided via a SaaS or IaaS provider. Because these tools and applications cannot communicate with one another effectively, they will need to be monitored individually—which can result in more time spent. If you’re thinking about migrating to the cloud, check out our webinar, Navigating Windows 2012 Server end-of-life with ConnectWise and Arrow
  • Scalability. As organizations grow and their IT environments expand, scalability and performance are critical. Unfortunately, when an organization has poor visibility into its IT ecosystem, it makes it challenging to scale efficiently and can put organizations at risk of increased security risk. However, these challenges are worth overcoming for technological efficiency and sustainable business growth. 

Solutions for ITOM support

Many organizations today leverage a suite of solutions for ITOM support. These solutions are designed to streamline the management, performance, and availability of IT resources. Some of the most common tools used as an ITOM solution include: 

  • Configuration management database (CMDB): If your organization has challenges with finding a centralized view of all IT assets and configurations, a CMDB can be helpful. This centralized repository empowers teams with a system to manage data from multiple components and devices. 
  • PaaS resources: Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) can be an effective solution for managing ITOM support. With a PaaS tool, organizations can leverage cloud management of hardware, software, and general IT infrastructure. 
  • Container management: A container management software platform can help by automating the creation, deployment, and scaling of containers. This can lead to more efficient processes and easier management.

ConnectWise PSA is a helpful solution for ITOM support. ITOM ties into a lot of different areas in your business, from cybersecurity/incident response to network infrastructure management. PSA is the seamless integration tool between all these different areas. By connecting all lines of your business, from help desk and project management to finance and billing, organizations can gain new insights, identify opportunities for collaboration, and improve customer satisfaction. Start your free ConnectWise PSA demo today.


Most operations management focuses on three key tasks: Managing network infrastructure, managing help desk operations, and managing servers and devices.

ITOM refers to the management of computers, clouds, software, hardware, and networking resources required for an organization to run efficiently and securely.

Yes, many ITOM tools do offer customizable dashboards, reports, and analytics so MSPs can effectively and accurately monitor a client’s IT infrastructure.

At most organizations, managing data backups and recovery falls under the ITOM umbrella. Because ITOM manages all IT infrastructure operations, this typically includes scheduling and managing data backups, supporting system access and disaster recovery, and managing user accounts.

Many ITOM tools have the capability to integrate with other IT operations management framework tools, making the process much more efficient and streamlined.

Yes. By following ITOM best practices, MSPs can prioritize compliance with industry standards and regulations for their clients.

Yes, many ITOM tools are designed for scalability and can evolve with an organization over time. Without a suite of effective ITOM tools, organizations may struggle with legacy systems and visibility challenges.