11 of the most common service management framework options

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 7 November 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

IT service management is vital for planning and managing different IT services within an organisation. Using a framework to handle implementations effectively provides the organisation with guidance and insight into the most practical ways of developing, changing and transforming their IT solutions to suit their business needs. Knowing the most common frameworks may also help you in interviews when trying to find a job if you're considering a career in IT. In this article, we explain what a service management framework is and list 11 of the most popular options for businesses.

What is a service management framework?

Service management frameworks, also known as Information Technology Service Management (ITSM) frameworks, are collections of different practices and processes that organisations refer to when implementing, managing and changing their IT services. The purpose of these frameworks is to streamline and structure different processes for multiple services, making introducing new technology or adapting existing systems more practical. By improving service management, organisations save time and resources while accessing the technology necessary for business operations.

The concept of ISTM frameworks is a tool that many organisations use to improve and support the delivery of various IT services. There are numerous frameworks to choose from, allowing organisations to pick a solution that suits their business needs and goals. Understanding how frameworks function, how they affect IT services and how to use them effectively is a crucial requirement for many businesses' IT departments.

Related: What are ITSM tools and how can they help IT departments?

11 popular ITSM frameworks

ITSM frameworks provide a blueprint that IT professionals follow to implement, adapt, adjust or change various IT services within an organisation. These guidelines help to unify individual components of an organisation's IT services, improving productivity and reducing waste. Here are some of the most popular ITSM frameworks:

1. ITIL

ITIL provides organisations with directions on how to use IT for different purposes, including development, change and business transformation. ITIL 4 is the latest version of this framework, upgrading existing concepts to suit current real-world requirements, such as DevOps, Agile and cloud services. ITIL includes a service value system and a four dimensions model, covering continual improvement, delivery and creation. The core components of this framework include:

  • ITIL practices

  • ITIL service value chain

  • ITIL guiding principles

  • continual improvement

  • governance

Related: What is ITSM? (With key benefits and popular frameworks)

2. DevOps

DevOps is a process framework used between the development and operations teams within an organisation, allowing code to reach deployment into production quickly. This automated framework includes multiple internal framework structures, such as CALMS, that help to establish and combine different principles for business requirements. DevOps and Agile methodology are specific tools for creating and implementing IT solutions, providing a reliable step-by-step process to achieve results.

Related: What is DevOps? (Definition, key components and benefits)

3. COBIT

COBIT, or Control Objectives for Information Related Technologies, is a framework that unifies different practices within an organisation, helping companies develop information management and governance strategies quickly. For example, this framework includes resources for monitoring, improving and building solutions to support implementation and effectively manage risks. IT professionals implement COBIT most effectively alongside other generalised frameworks, such as ITIL and TOGAF. By aligning business goals with IT goals and establishing a governance framework using over 40 individual objectives, COBIT helps to streamline business practices while mitigating risks.

4. FitSM

FitSM provides a lightweight option for organisations with fewer requirements for a robust framework. This ITSM solution streamlines the delivery, support and management of IT solutions with as few steps as possible, helping organisations achieve results without complexity. The primary goal of FitSM is to provide the degree of control necessary to deliver value and quality customer service quickly and easily. This type of framework suits organisations that don't have extensive IT systems, requiring a limited framework instead of an extensive one.

Related: What does the IT Department do and what are IT roles?

5. eTom

eTom, or the Enhanced Telecom Operations Map, is a specialised framework that includes particular functionality necessary in the telecommunications sector. This model includes a series of standards, best practices and models in three individual processes, which form an overall hierarchy for the management of internal IT systems. Each process defines and guides an organisation on how to support customers and manage business operations. This includes, for example, guidelines for standardising languages and definitions used across the organisation. This specific function helps to improve team communication, preventing silos within the business. The hierarchy of processes defined by eTom includes:

  • strategy, infrastructure and product

  • operations

  • enterprise management

6. MOF

MOF, or the Microsoft Operations Framework, is a comprehensive series of documents that provide an outfit for implementing, creating and managing different IT services cost-effectively. This general framework offers resources to help businesses and IT departments achieve goals efficiently, allowing organisations to reach maturity in operations. These guidelines cover every step of the IT life cycle, providing insight to improve reliability across the whole system. MOF divides into four independent quadrants, defining operational procedures called service management functions. These quadrants include:

  • Optimising quadrant: Functions that assist in maintaining business and IT service alignments, such as performance analysis, review of incidents and capacity forecasting.

  • Changing quadrant: Functions that affect incorporating, implementing, identifying and reviewing any upcoming changes to an existing managed IT processes, such as hardware, documentation or software.

  • Operating quadrant: Functions that affect controlling, monitoring, administration and managing day-to-day IT service solutions within an organisation.

  • Supporting quadrant: Functions that affect diagnosis, identification, tracking and resolving any requests or problems found within other segments.

Related: What is IT governance and how does it affect organisations?

7. Six Sigma

Six Sigma provides a management framework that covers multiple disciplines, offering the versatility necessary for various operational purposes. This framework requires establishing clear objectives in addition to gathering and analysing data to understand and improve results. Organisations that use Six Sigma collect information from data to reduce risk and defects within products and services, delivering high-quality results for the company and external customers.

8. SAFe

SAFe, or Scaled Agile Framework, is a type of Agile structure used for service management. As a tool, SAFe allows businesses to quickly and effectively scale Agile methodology for use in more significant projects and more complex applications. Software development teams may choose this framework as a viable option to gain an insight into the entire Agile development process, providing an overview that enables quick changes and adaptations as necessary.

9. ISO 20000

ISO 20000 is a process framework that simplifies different operations and systems into a single, global standard, allowing organisations to effectively align processes with particular business needs. This management framework originates from ITIL, helping organisations to ensure their ISTM processes meet best practices. As a tool alongside other frameworks, ISO 20000 delivers a benchmark and general assessment of performance and service levels, providing insight for changes, implementations and adjustments.

Related: 11 reasons to get ITIL certification and boost your career

10. TOGAF

TOGAF, or The Open Group Architecture Framework, is a framework that helps to improve efficiency and provides structures for new implementations within businesses. This functionality supports organisations in aligning their business and IT goals, using architecture objectives necessary for software development. For example, TOGAF applies when an organisation wants to implement new software effectively. The core concept of TOGAF is the Architecture Development Method, which includes four individual domains that cover the entire life cycle of enterprise architecture. These include:

  • data architecture

  • business architecture

  • technical architecture

  • applications architecture

11. IT4IT Reference Architecture

IT4IT uses a value chain approach to create a complete model of functions that IT services provide to an organisation, classifying and detecting these activities in relation to business success. This framework focuses on technical competency and measures necessary for IT services to function, improving digital product delivery within businesses. IT4IT helps to add value for organisations through implementing automation, streamlining services and software and introducing Agile methodology in working models.

Related: What are the stages of an ITIL lifecycle? (Plus benefits)

Choosing the correct ITSM framework

Frameworks for service management cover a range of purposes and industry standards, providing a guideline for organisations to standardise and internally regulate specific processes. The ideal choice for an organisation depends on the purpose of implementing a framework, its functionality and its intended audience. For example, eTOM is a specific tool for the telecommunications sector, while ITIL 4 applies to more types of businesses. In most organisations, the purpose of a framework is to create uniformity and standardise processes. Depending on business requirements, using multiple frameworks, such as ISO 20000 and ITIL in combination, may be the ideal solution.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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