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The Ultimate Step-by-Step ITSM Implementation Project Plan

Updated: Mar 10

How to Manage an ITSM Implementation

ITSM Implementation Plan Example

Are you seeking to transform your IT service management (ITSM) capabilities?

It’s more than just deploying a new tool or process; it’s about crafting a comprehensive approach encompassing strategy, communication, and continuous improvement.

This article will guide you through the essential steps to craft a successful ITSM implementation project plan and provide you with some templates that have been tried and tested over 15 years of ITSM and project implementations that will get you off to the best possible start.

Document Templates

Here are several supporting document templates that can kick-start an ITSM Implementation Project Plan.

Implementation Project Plan Template
Download DOCX • 73KB

ITSM Requirements Document
Download DOCX • 59KB

There are many others over in the Templates section of the site that may also help, including;

ITSM Implementation Steps

The following are the steps involved in implementing an ITSM solution;

The ITSM Implementation Process
The Implemenation Process

  1. Define Requirements: Document your needs in terms of must-have / could-have requirements.

  2. Identify & Evaluate: Explore the marketplace, draft a top 5, and arrange demos. Then, seek a hands-on trial with the top 2.

  3. Select a Vendor: Make a final selection based on requirements, budget and due diligence.

  4. Plan Implementation: Define a delivery plan, potentially with the vendor's support.

  5. Data Migration: Move any data into the system (users, legacy data, assets, etc.)

  6. Configure & Customise: Configure workflows, teams, categories, SLAs, etc

  7. Training: Train your team on how to use the system. Ensure any administrators are confident in making changes.

  8. User Acceptance Testing: Have the team test the system to ensure it works as expected.

  9. Go-Live: Launch with communications to the organisation. Review & adapt.

Key Recommendations - Before You Start

Nothing Good Comes Easily

Approach the project with the mindset of delivering iteratively. Identify where value can best be added to your processes and focus there. Building something too complex and aiming for nirvana from day one is neither practical nor controlling risk and scope.

  • 48% of organizations self-assess their ITSM capabilities as either “great” or “good.”

  • 27% are “getting there,” indicating ongoing improvement efforts.

  • 22% acknowledge they have “still much to improve upon” in terms of ITSM capabilities

Build. Review. Iterate.

Keep it simple and avoid protracted procurement processes.

Wrapping yourself up in a protracted procurement process is best avoided if possible.

It is understandable if you have a strongly defined procurement process that requires evaluating and scoring options and business case approvals. However, the most difficult decisions are often when we are overwhelmed with choices, or there are no wrong choices.

I've seen teams get procurement fatigue just because they feel they need to get hands-on with everything or the vendors start to control the procurement process.

Short-list. Get Demos. Go hands-on with two. Make a choice.

Seek management support for the investment first.

You don't go to buy a car for yourself before you have decided a) you need one, b) you have the budget. So, the same applies here.

A lot of wasted time can be avoided if you know you have strong managerial support for change before evaluating solutions. If you do have that support right up front, it'll make every step much easier.

The vendors will sit up and notice you better if they think you have budget approval. The team will engage better, too, as will other stakeholders.

  • According to a Freshworks survey, 81% of IT leaders believe that ITSM can enhance employee productivity and efficiency.

  • A Forrester Research report reveals that 59% of organisations have either implemented or plan to implement ITSM tools to improve customer experience

Step 1: Gather Your ITSM Requirements

So, the first step in any procurement process is to define what you need. Even if it's relatively simple, collect your requirements.

Typically the requirements will come from multiple stakeholders, so engage them well, and don't fall into the trap of telling people what their requirements are. If they have needs, they should express them, but may require a little coaching to do so.

ITSM Requirements

I can't define your requirements for you, as everyone's needs are unique, but as a basic starter to get you going, here are some general areas of consideration that most would be exploring from any software evaluation.

Functional Requirements

  • Core Features: The essential functionalities that the application must provide to meet your business needs.

  • User Experience: How intuitive and user-friendly the application is, including its learning curve and interface design.

  • Integration: The ability of the application to integrate with other systems and platforms within your IT ecosystem.

  • Customisation: How easily the application can be tailored to fit specific business processes and requirements.

Technical Requirements

  • Architecture: The technical foundation of the application, including considerations for scalability, performance, and compatibility.

  • Security: Security features and compliance with relevant standards and regulations to protect data and users.

  • Data Management: How the application handles data input, storage, retrieval, and export, including backup and recovery processes.

  • Portability: The ability of the application to run on various platforms or environments if necessary.

Financial Requirements

  • Cost: The total cost of ownership, including initial purchase, implementation, training, support, and maintenance costs.

  • Licensing: The licensing model of the application and how well it fits with your usage expectations and budget constraints.

  • ROI Expectations: Expected return on investment, including efficiency gains, cost savings, and other financial benefits.

Support and Maintenance

  • Vendor Support: The level and quality of support provided by the vendor, including availability, response times, and support channels.

  • Updates and Upgrades: How the application is kept current with updates and upgrades, and the associated costs and processes.

  • Training: Availability and quality of training resources or services to ensure effective use of the application by staff.

Compliance and Standards

  • Regulatory Compliance: Compliance with relevant industry regulations and standards.

  • Data Protection: Adherence to data protection laws and guidelines, ensuring the privacy and security of user data.

Vendor Viability

  • Vendor Reputation: The reputation and stability of the vendor in the market.

  • Customer Reviews: Feedback from current and past customers regarding their experience with the application and vendor.

  • Future Roadmap: The vendor’s commitment to the future development of the application, ensuring it will continue to meet your needs.

The template below will walk you through a more detailed exploration of requirements if needed.

A screenshot of ITSM requirements template

Capabilities for Consideration

Here are some initial suggestions of requirements to consider;

Service Reporting & Resource Management

Visualisation and analysis of the ITSM platform and integrated data for service costing, improvement, and resource utilisation, including

  • Dashboards

  • Historical reporting and trend analysis

  • Predictive analytics

Case Management

The platform can easily be adapted to manage tasks and processes related to IT and other business operations without using a separate tool for automating business processes or a platform specifically designed for creating applications with minimal coding.

Service Level Management

The tool should be able to manage service-level agreements, including tracking SLA performance and generating SLA-related reports.

Workflow Automation & Integration

ITSM applications can make IT operations more efficient by automating repetitive tasks and connecting different actions across the ITSM platform. This is made possible with the help of a tool that lets you design and manage complex processes, coordinating various tasks and systems.

So look for something that can allow you to configure processes without too much training and development.

Multichannel Engagement

Look to see if the ITSM system can directly provide, or integrate with other solutions, for the delivery of IT service experiences across various channels and devices, including;

  • Mobile apps

  • Live chat

  • Virtual agents (AI tools),

  • User portals for logging issues with a request catalogue

  • Forums

  • Knowledge base

IT Support Enablement

Processes, recommendations, and automation to enable IT support functions, including incident management, problem management, integrated observability, and knowledge management.

Service Configuration Management

Federated system of record for relationships and performance of IT service components, enabling efficient and accurate decisions regarding IT service delivery.

At the very least, you'll likely want the solution to integrate with your asset and user management systems, so that you can assign the incidents and requests to the correct people and equipment.

Adaptive Change & Release

Control governance and risk in production environment changes through automation, standard change models, integration with DevOps tools, and release and deployment oversight.

Integrated AI

Application of AI and analytics within ITSM platforms to improve staff efficiency, effectiveness, and error reduction by augmenting ITSM processes, field recommendations, proactive support, and data-driven automation.


Integrating IT Service Management (ITSM) with existing systems is a pivotal strategy for organizations aiming to streamline their IT services and enhance operational efficiency. The following articles from Workato and Exalate provide comprehensive insights into the essence, benefits, and practical examples of ITSM integrations, shedding light on how these integrations can transform IT service delivery.

ITSM, at its core, is about delivering IT services in a structured and consistent manner, ensuring that the right services are provided to the right people, at the right time, and in the right way. ITSM tools, such as ServiceNow, BMC Helix, Zendesk, and Atlassian Jira Service Management, play a crucial role in this process by offering a centralized platform for managing all aspects of service delivery. These tools facilitate a range of functions, including incident management, problem management, knowledge management, request management, asset management, change management, and configuration management.

The integration of ITSM tools with other systems is a process that connects the ITSM platform with other applications using third-party tools that leverage application programming interfaces (APIs). This connection allows for the synchronization of data and the automation of workflows across different platforms, thereby enhancing efficiency and reducing manual errors. For instance, integrating an ITSM tool with an engineer's ticket management system can expedite the resolution of technical issues by ensuring that engineers are promptly notified and can address the problems swiftly.

The benefits of ITSM integration are manifold. Firstly, it eliminates data silos, making crucial information accessible across different applications and to all relevant stakeholders. This accessibility improves decision-making and operational efficiency. Secondly, ITSM integration enhances both the customer and employee experience by streamlining service delivery and onboarding processes, respectively. It also minimizes human errors that can lead to costly disruptions. Lastly, ITSM integration is a stepping stone towards digital transformation, enabling organizations to implement end-to-end automations that can fundamentally change how they operate.

However, implementing ITSM integration is not without its challenges. Common pitfalls include inadequate planning, selecting the wrong integration solution, and failing to engage all stakeholders effectively. To ensure a successful integration, organizations should follow best practices such as thoroughly planning the integration process, choosing a compatible and scalable integration solution, establishing clear communication channels, and continuously monitoring and adjusting the integration to meet evolving business needs.

Some Suggestions

Tip: Always write down your requirements.

Have a version you can share with suppliers so they can respond directly in their presentations or responses to each need, and you can compare apples with apples. Most vendors will ask for this if not presented with it anyway; they'll want evidence of how much their solution fits your requirements.

Tip: Know your must-have / should-have / could-have requirements and categorise them as such.

Use something like the MoSCoW model to define your priorities.

The MoSCoW Model for Prioritisation
The MoSCoW Model for Prioritisation

A woman working on her laptop

Tip: If possible, draft a 3-year plan

Where do you want this product to go? How will the business change in that period? What external or internal factors might change? Would you require future integrations with other services? Would you expand into other service areas, such as Change or Inventory management?

Tip: Know your budget, and don't allow yourself to be pulled in by vendors

Early discussion about budget ranges and what you can afford may significantly influence which solutions you evaluate.

There's no point walking into a Rolls-Royce showroom if you only have a few thousand dollars to spend.

Vendors will often be reluctant to share pricing with you at the start of the journey, so if pricing is going to be a significant issue, ask for rough budgetary order of magnitude figures from them right up front or look for organisations which are transparent and publish their pricing on their websites.

Step 2: Evaluating ITSM Vendors

Broadly ITSM solutions will fit into the following categories;

  • free/open source

  • mid-range

  • premium

The table below is a summary of the options and significant differences. However, overlap will always exist as these categories have no hard lines.

Free / Open Source



Features & Functionality

Limited features covering basic ticket management and incident tracking.

More comprehensive features, including reporting, automation, and knowledge management.

Extensive features include AI-assisted automation, advanced analytics, and tight integrations with various tools.

Customisation & Flexibility

It may require manual configuration and programming to tailor the system to your organisation's needs.

Moderate customisation options and configurable workflows may have limitations compared to premium options.

Highly customisable and adaptable to unique requirements, providing greater flexibility for various use cases.


They may struggle to support a growing organisation or handle many users, tickets, or assets.

Better scalability but might face limitations with huge enterprises or complex use cases.

 They are designed for large-scale operations, providing robust performance even in large or complex environments.

Support & Maintenance

Community-driven support, potentially leading to slower resolution of issues or less reliable updates.

Dedicated support, with response times and support quality, varies based on the vendor's offering.

Premium support options often include 24/7 assistance, faster response times, and dedicated account management.


Generally free or low cost, but may require additional resources for customisation and maintenance.

Moderate cost, balancing features, support, and customisation options.

Higher upfront and ongoing costs, but provides a comprehensive solution, advanced features, and reliable support.

Marketplace Options

Stepping into the ITSM marketplace can be overwhelming. There are so many options, and they all claim to be best for you.

The following are not recommendations or endorsements but simply some starting points of the most well-known solutions on the market. They are not affiliated / advertising links.

Free / Open Source Options

Investigating and understanding what you are and are not getting with these solutions is crucial.

For example, some have advertising within them, some have limited functionality, and others are without backup solutions.

spiceworks ITSM logo

FHD help desk software logo

request tracker logo

OSTicket logo

Mid-Range Options

These are widely used and solid choices, with years of product evolution, supporting materials and configuration options available.

solarwinds logo

jira service management logo

freshdesk logo

Premium Options

These market-leading options have the broadest range of features and customisation choices.

servicenow logo

bmc helix logo

Guidance To Help Evaluate ITSM Vendors

Use resources such as 'Gartner's Magic Quadrant for ITSM' 

Many vendors offer the report for free if it reflects well on them

gartner magic quadrant for ITSM tools

Be careful of any websites that claim to compare solutions for you.

They may position themselves as independent, but on closer examination can be found to be application vendors themselves.

That said, here are some commonly used sites that collect software reviews that may be helpful.

Capterra logo

Gartner logo

Consider the configuration and onboarding carefully

Some organisations have thought through the entire customer journey and have onboarding resources dedicated to making implementation successful. Others will throw the software at you.

Evaluate your needs and options here carefully. Success often lies not in the functionality but in the implementation.

Give any existing solution a fair evaluation

It may be that you 100% know the limitations of any current solution if you already have one and are keen to move away from it.

However, don't throw the baby out with the bathwater; ensure you have thoroughly exhausted your existing solution by exploring the requirements you have drafted with the incumbent vendor.

You'll avoid a lot of egg on your face and unnecessary costs if you evaluate your existing tools carefully and give them a fair shake of the stick.

Step 3: Select a Final Vendor

In this step, you'll select the most suitable vendor based on the evaluation process conducted in Step 2.

How you select your ITSM solution will be done to a host of parameters unique to your circumstances and requirements that you need to evaluate, but make sure you are doing this consistently and fairly for each option.

For example, if you don't see a feature in one solution that appears in another, ask the vendor if it exists; don't just make assumptions.

Ultimately, it would be best if you had just two or three options that it comes down to. However, if you are privileged to know which solution is right for you without too much deliberation, I recommend just going for it, especially if its in the Gartner magic quadrant.

Always follow internal procurement guidelines and demonstrate your evaluation and recommendation in a business case. Others may need to know how the decision was reached.

Review the vendor evaluations

Revisit the evaluations you conducted in Step 2, 'Identify & Evaluate Vendors', noting each vendor's strengths and weaknesses. Pay special attention to their ability to fulfil your requirements and any additional features or capabilities that may add value to your help desk operations.

The best way to analyse options is to put them into a matrix, such as a spreadsheet, and numerically score each solution against consistent criteria. Maybe some score more highly in certain areas that look good but are weak in the mandatory features.

a hand using a magnifying glass

Compare costs

Evaluate each vendor's pricing models, considering the initial setup costs, ongoing maintenance fees, and any additional costs for customisation or integrations. Factor in your budget and the potential return on investment (ROI) the tool can provide.

I always recommend looking at the total cost of ownership over three years.

Some suppliers will give an artificially low cost in year 1, substantially increasing the costs through years 2 and 3. They know it is tough to move once locked into their software. Vendors may be low in one area, such as licencing, but high in another, such as integrations with other applications and tools. Make sure they are being transparent and upfront with their costings.

Check references and customer testimonials

If you want additional confidence, contact other clients to understand their experience with the tool and the vendor's support services. It'll likely be a part of any procurement process in a larger organisation.

In addition, online reviews and testimonials can provide valuable insights into the tool's performance and user satisfaction (see Gartner & Capterra in the previous section).

Consider vendor stability and reputation.

Research the vendor's stability, financial health, and standing in the industry.

Choosing a well-established vendor with a proven track record reduces the risk of disruptions due to financial issues or lack of support.

Sometimes the Finance or Procurement teams in an organisation can help here. This is especially important if you don't have much information on an organisation or they don't appear on many evaluation platforms (i.e. Gartner). You could be an early adopter of new technology, offering significant benefits and drawbacks.

Assess vendor support and responsiveness.

Evaluate the quality of the vendor's support services, including their response times, availability (24/7 or business hours only), and communication channels (phone, email, chat).

Selecting a vendor with reliable support services can help ensure a smooth implementation process and minimise potential issues during operation. Dig around on their website, read their help materials and get a sense of their offering. Great support can make or break a relationship.

It can be very telling by evaluating how much the vendor engages with you during the early days and how much support they are willing to offer you in onboarding and migration. Someone once referred to this as the 'get out of bed index', which means if you call a vendor early one morning because you have a problem, will they jump out of bed and get to it because they value your custom, or will they treat your organisation as one among many, and roll over and go back to sleep?

Ensure scalability and future-proofing

Consider whether the ITSM tool can scale and adapt to your organisation's future needs, such as growing user bases, additional features, or integration with other systems.

Choose a vendor capable of supporting your long-term goals and growth plans. This refers to the earlier discussion on our three-year plan for the ITSM solution and any modular add-ons.

Weigh the pros and cons

picture showing a woman weighing some items

Review all the information gathered during the evaluation process, and weigh the pros and cons of each vendor. Then, create a shortlist of the top contenders, and discuss the options with your team and stakeholders to reach a consensus.

That said, while consensus is great, don't attempt to make decisions by committee. It should be no more than 2 or 3 people making a decision and a final recommendation.

Decision-making owner(s) and accountability should be clearly defined from the outset.

Negotiate terms and conditions

Once you've chosen the preferred vendor, negotiate to secure favourable terms and conditions. This may include pricing, service level agreements (SLAs), support services, and customisation options.

Generally, if the supplier publishes its licencing prices on its website transparently, it won't negotiate. However, if they keep their price book closed and are coy about pricing, you have more room for manoeuvrability. Always act keen but cool. You want the vendor to believe you are interested in their product but have options and don't have to choose them.

If pricing is at the discretion of the salesperson, then they'll pressure you at month, quarter or year-end for the revenue so they can make their sales targets. This can be annoying as they pester you every five minutes, but valuable if you deliberately wait to engage them at one of these points.

Terms and conditions are likely non-negotiable for larger organisations, so I wouldn't even try. However, with smaller vendors, there is always an opportunity to be more explicit about expectations around support and maintenance.

Critical contract considerations to allow you to select a vendor

Important things to always review in any contract, whether you can negotiate them or not, are;

  • Payment terms. Be clear on how invoicing will work. There can be a significant difference for a CFO in paying everything up-front rather than quarterly or monthly. Most small or medium organisations like to smooth their cash flow to regular payments rather than sudden annual spikes.

  • Termination terms. Understand clearly how and when you can terminate your licence agreement. For example, if you are committed to the vendor for a period, you need to know for how long and under what circumstances (i.e. poor performance) you can terminate early and what that process looks like. Also, check the terms about exporting your data. Some organisations may charge extra to help you migrate or may not even let you take your data. It's worth knowing the boundaries.

  • Warranties/service credits. If the performance is poor, how does the vendor experience that pain? Do they have service credits or a money-back scheme? What motivation do they have for providing excellent service?

Step 4: Planning The ITSM Implementation

This implementation project plan will help guide your team through the process and ensure a smooth transition.

Project planning is a skill that requires a whole training course just for the subject, but these guidelines provide a generic implementation plan, which you can adopt and adapt to help you plan out your implementation.

ITSM implementation plan screenshot

Establish objectives and success criteria.

Begin by defining success criteria and key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the project's progress and outcomes. These should come directly from your objectives as outlined in your requirements document from Step 1, "Document Your Requirements".

a project timeline

Create a project timeline.

Develop a realistic project timeline outlining the key milestones, tasks, and deadlines for each phase of the implementation process. This should include planning, data migration, configuration, customisation, training, user acceptance testing (UAT), and go-live.

A template is provided at the end of the chapter for a suggested approach, but it is only a starting point, and many other things need consideration.

Assemble the project team.

Form a cross-functional project team with representatives from IT, the help desk, and other relevant departments. Assign roles and responsibilities, such as project manager, implementation lead, training coordinator, and system administrator.


a lightbulb

Engage with your stakeholders!

Any significant groups impacted by the change should be brought into the project to help shape it and make it a success. Even if your team is small, and the decision-making sits with you, engage the wider team(s) and ensure they buy into the vision and new direction. If you don't, they will likely feel excluded, and that change is being made to them rather than them playing a part in it. I firmly believe in finding your most prominent critics or most likely resisters and bringing them close.


Develop a communication plan

a kanban

Create a plan to keep stakeholders informed and engaged throughout the implementation process.

This may include regular status updates, progress reports, and project meetings.

A template is provided for creating such a plan in the templates section.

Define system architecture and infrastructure

Work with the vendor and your internal IT team to determine the appropriate system architecture and infrastructure for the new ITSM solution, considering scalability, performance, and security factors.

Of course, this will entirely depend upon your hosting options and other parameters, but make sure you are engaging with any technical teams as early on in the process as possible.

I've seen simple implementations prohibited from progressing because infrastructure and security teams are involved too late, and fundamental considerations were not addressed.

Plan for data migration

Develop a data migration plan to transfer relevant data from your current helpdesk system (if it exists) or other tools into the new ITSM solution. This may include user accounts, historical tickets, knowledge base articles, and configuration items.

Again, this is difficult to specify in detail, but you will want to identify your data stores, transfer method and the cutover point when the previous solution is no longer needed.

More information about data migration is in the lesson Step 5 - Data Migration.

Plan for configuration and customisation

Identify any necessary system configurations and customisations to align the new ITSM solution with your organisation's processes, policies, and branding. This may involve configuring workflows, fields, forms, and notifications and integrating them with existing systems.

More information is in Step 5 - Configuration & Customisation.

a lightbulb

It's a suggestion, but accept out-of-the-box configuration options wherever possible.

While it might sound counter-intuitive, most systems will have tried and tested processes based on best practices ready to run with much less configuration needed than adapting to tool to meet your complex existing processes.

Modifying your rules to meet the tool's default configuration is often a better approach. Again, I recognise that it's counter-intuitive but worth strong consideration.


Develop a training plan

someone learning

Create a training plan to ensure all helpdesk staff and relevant stakeholders are familiar with the new ITSM solution's features and functionality. This may include vendor-provided training, in-house sessions, and self-guided resources.

Training is discussed more fully in Step 7 - Training.

Plan for user acceptance testing (UAT)

Develop a UAT plan to validate that the new ITSM solution meets your organisation's requirements and success criteria. This should involve representative users who will test the system, provide feedback, and sign off on the final implementation. Dropping in an untested solution over the top of existing business processes could cause disruption and demotivate the team.

Step 8: User Acceptance Testing, explores UAT.

Prepare for go-live

a rocket

Plan the go-live process, including the steps to transition from the old helpdesk system to the new ITSM solution, such as data cutover, system activation, and user onboarding.

Develop a contingency plan to address any potential issues during the go-live process.

By following these guidelines and creating a thorough implementation plan, you'll be better prepared to manage the complexities of implementing your new helpdesk ITSM solution and achieving your project objectives.

See Step 9 "Go Live" for more information.

Step 5: Considering Data Migration Planning

Successful data migration ensures the new system is accurate, functional and delivers the expected business benefits. This section will explore considerations to remember if you want to bring data over from a legacy system.

Identify the data to be migrated

When you reach your ITSM data migration planning, carefully evaluate which data should be migrated to the new system and why. Prioritise business-critical data and consider removing or archiving obsolete, redundant, or low-quality data to minimise complexity and ensure a clean start in the new system.

It can be beneficial to draw a line under the old system and only bring across a few bits of critical data, or even none at all. Perhaps the old system can be maintained as a legacy system for reference if necessary, or everything could be exported to PDF documents and filed.

There may be ways in which data migration can be minimised or even avoided. If you can avoid it, it will make your life easier. Robustly challenge why you must migrate data and who needs it for what purposes. It could save you a big headache.

a woman trying to outrun data

Select the data migration approach

Choose a data migration approach that best aligns with your organisation's goals, resources, and the data's complexity.

Common approaches include:

  • Big bang: migrating all data at once, typically during a scheduled downtime

  • Phased: migrating data in smaller chunks over time

  • Parallel: running both old and new systems concurrently for a period while gradually transitioning data

Develop a contingency plan

Plan for the possibility of unexpected issues or setbacks during the migration process.

Develop a contingency plan that outlines steps to mitigate risks, address potential data loss or corruption, and ensure business continuity.

Always be in a position where if the migration steps don't work as expected, you can always go back and try again later.

Test, validate, and monitor the migration process

Test the data migration process before going live.

I'm just going to repeat that. Test the data migration process before going live.

I watched a project I was not directly involved in crash and burn spectacularly because the data migration exercise was an afterthought.

Validate the migrated data to confirm the accuracy and monitor the process closely to identify and address any issues promptly.

Post-migration support and optimisation

After the migration, monitor the new ITSM solution and address any issues or gaps. Use this opportunity to optimise processes and workflows, refine the system configuration, and implement continuous improvement initiatives.

Suggested Steps For A Data Migration Plan

Data assessment & inventory

Identify data sources and types, assess data quality, and create a data inventory.

Data mapping & transformation rules

Define the mapping between source and target systems, and specify any required data transformation rules.

ETL testing & data validation

Test the process in a non-production environment, validate data integrity, and fix any issues.

Data cleansing & migration

Clean and migrate helpdesk tickets, user data, historical incident records, documents, and IT asset data.

Data reconciliation & cleanup

Reconcile migrated data, identify discrepancies, and clean up residual data or differences.

Post-migration monitoring & support

Monitor the system after migration, and provide support to address any migration-related issues.

Step 6: Configuring & Customising the Tool

Configuring and customising an ITSM tool to the organisation's unique requirements and aligning it with its processes and workflows is crucial.

Understand the out-of-the-box capabilities.

Before starting the customisation process, gain a thorough understanding of the out-of-the-box features and capabilities of the ITSM solution.

As previously mentioned, there is great value in leveraging these features as much as possible to reduce the need for extensive customisation, which can increase complexity and hinder system updates and upgrades.

Adhere to best practices and vendor guidelines for configuring and customising the ITSM solution. This minimises the risk of issues, ensures optimal performance, and simplifies future upgrades.

Determine required customisations

a tape measure

Identify the gaps between your organisation's requirements and the ITSM solution's out-of-the-box capabilities. Then, determine which customisations are necessary and prioritise them based on their impact on achieving your needs.

Balance customisation with simplicity.

While customisations may be necessary to meet unique requirements, strive to maintain simplicity in the system configuration. Excessive customisation can complicate the system, increase maintenance costs, and make upgrades more challenging.

Document configuration and customisation

Maintain detailed documentation of all configurations and customisations, including their rationale and expected outcomes. This documentation is crucial for reference, troubleshooting, and future system upgrades.

Test and validate configurations and customisations.

Thoroughly test and validate all configurations and customisations to ensure they meet the organisation's requirements and function as expected. Include key stakeholders in the testing process to gather valuable feedback and identify potential issues early on.

Tasks To Configure an ITSM Tool

  1. Define and configure incident management processes and workflows

  2. Set up incident categories and subcategories

  3. Establish and configure priority levels, impact, and urgency definitions

  4. Define and set up escalation points and rules

  5. Create and configure service level agreements (SLAs) for incident resolution

  6. Configure automated notifications and alerts for incidents

  7. Customise incident forms and fields to capture the required information

  8. Set up incident assignment rules (e.g., based on categories, skills, and availability)

  9. Configure and customise user roles and access permissions for incident management

  10. Integrate incident management with email, chat, and other collaboration tools

  11. Set up incident reporting templates and analytics to track performance metrics

  12. Configure knowledge base integration for incident resolution (e.g., auto-suggest articles)

  13. Establish procedures for major incident management, including communication channels and stakeholder involvement

Step 7: Staff Training

The successful implementation of an IT Service Management solution hinges on practical training, as it empowers staff members to harness the system efficiently and deliver optimal benefits. If activity is ad-hoc or poor materials are provided, the project will likely crash or be poorly responded to.

Here, we'll explore essential advice and considerations for crafting a dynamic, results-driven ITSM training plan.

two people talking online

Gauge Training Requirements

Assess your helpdesk staff's skill sets, current knowledge, and roles. Pinpoint the skills and competencies required to proficiently use the new ITSM solution and address any knowledge gaps through targeted training initiatives.

Collaborate with key stakeholders across various departments, such as IT, helpdesk, and other relevant business units. Their input and support will help tailor training content to organisational goals and requirements.

For example, there will be different types of users of your system, including.

  • Help Desk / Technical Analysts

  • People needing to create dashboards & reports (likely management or team leaders)

  • Those that need to configure the workflows and system options

  • Those that support the infrastructure and database needs.

Of course, depending upon the organisation, these could be one or many people, but by grouping the roles and defining their needs, you plan more effectively.

Craft an Engaging Training Plan

Develop a comprehensive, immersive training plan detailing objectives, content, delivery methods, schedules, and necessary resources.

a head full of ideas

Customise the plan to cater to staff members' needs, including new hires, experienced personnel, and managerial roles.

Employ a mix of training formats, including instructor-led sessions, online courses, workshops, and hands-on exercises, to accommodate diverse learning styles and preferences. This strategy will enhance the learning experience and bolster knowledge retention.

Integrate hands-on exercises and simulations that allow staff members to navigate the new ITSM solution in a controlled environment. This approach will instil confidence, reinforce learning, and deepen comprehension of the system's features and workflows.

Create explicit, concise, compelling training materials like guides, tutorials, and cheat sheets to supplement learning. Ensure these resources are easily accessible and updated regularly to stay current with system or process changes.

Foster Knowledge Sharing

Cultivate a culture of knowledge sharing by inspiring staff members to exchange experiences, tips, and best practices related to the ITSM solution. Facilitate this through discussion forums, team meetings, or mentorship programs.

Commit to Continuous Training and Support

continuous cycle symbol

Acknowledge that training is an ongoing process, offering continuous learning opportunities for staff members. Provide refresher courses, advanced training sessions, and access to relevant resources to keep staff abreast of system updates and best practices.

I've witnessed teams implement solutions only to have team members leave. Then the team is now in a position whereby it no longer knows how to administrate its software, paying for costly consultancy to reverse engineer workflows and other parts of the configuration.

Ensure Training is Before UAT

For those contributing to the User Acceptance Testing of workflows and other configuration or integration settings, ensure the users have had sufficient training on the system before or as part of their UAT Testing tasks.

Suggested Training Plan




Help Desk Staff

Basic Navigation & Interface Familiarity

Train helpdesk staff on basic navigation and understanding of the new ITSM tool's interface.

Ticket Creation & Management

Train staff on creating, managing, updating, and closing tickets using the new ITSM tool.

Knowledge Base & FAQ Usage

Train helpdesk staff on utilising the Knowledge Base and FAQs to resolve common issues.

Escalation Procedures

Train staff on the proper procedures for escalating issues to higher-level support when necessary.

Reporting & Metrics

Train helpdesk staff on generating and interpreting reports and metrics to monitor performance and trends.

Technical Analysts

Advanced Ticket Management

Train technical analysts on managing complex tickets, performing root cause analysis, and resolving more advanced issues.

Configuration Management

Train analysts on the Configuration Management Database (CMDB), including asset tracking, dependencies, and change history.

Change & Release Management

Train technical analysts on implementing, tracking, and documenting changes and releases within the ITSM tool.

Incident & Problem Management

Train analysts on distinguishing between incidents and problems and managing and resolving them.

Service Level Agreement (SLA) Compliance

Train technical analysts on adhering to SLAs and tracking their performance.


Tool Configuration

Train administrators on configuring and customising the new ITSM tool according to organisational requirements.

User Management

Train administrators on managing user accounts, access permissions, and roles within the ITSM tool.

Workflow & Process Design

Train administrators on designing and implementing workflows and processes for efficient operations.

Integration & API Management

Train administrators on integrating the ITSM tool with other applications and managing APIs.

System Maintenance & Upgrades

Train administrators on performing regular maintenance, system updates, and ensuring data security.

Step 8: ITSM User Acceptance Testing

ITSM User Acceptance Testing (UAT) verifies that the new system fulfils your needs, functions as intended, and yields the anticipated benefits. In this section, we'll delve into the essential considerations during the UAT stage of an ITSM implementation.

You should engage stakeholders from various departments, including the help desk, the wider IT team, and other pertinent business units. In addition, involving end-users is crucial, as their feedback and insights help ensure the system aligns with their needs and expectations.

a lightbulb idea

You only need to test those parts you have configured or customised.

Let's assume the vendor has thoroughly tested their product.

Design realistic test scenarios, use cases & acceptance criteria

Craft test scenarios and use cases that mirror real-world situations and challenges helpdesk staff might face to get the most out of testing. These scenarios should encompass the entire processes and workflows.

Here are some examples;

  1. Incident submission and categorisation: A user encounters an issue with their email client and submits an incident ticket through the self-service portal. The test case should verify that the ITSM tool correctly captures the incident details, categorises it under the appropriate service (e.g. software - email), and assigns it an initial priority level based on the issue's impact and urgency.

  2. Incident routing and assignment: An incident ticket is created for a software bug affecting multiple users. The test case should ensure that the ITSM tool routes the ticket to the appropriate support team or technician based on predefined assignment rules, such as team expertise, workload balance, or location.

  3. SLA enforcement and escalation: A high-priority incident with a strict SLA that requires a resolution within four hours is logged. The test case should verify that the ITSM tool effectively tracks the time spent on the incident, sends notifications to relevant parties when the deadline is approaching, and automatically escalates the issue to higher-level support or management if the SLA is breached.

  4. Major Incident test: A complex major incident requires collaboration between multiple support teams, such as networking and software development. The test case should ensure that the ITSM tool enables seamless communication, knowledge sharing, and status updates between all involved parties and provides a clear record of the incident's resolution process for future reference.

  5. Incident closure and user feedback: A helpdesk technician resolves an incident, and the ITSM tool marks it as resolved, sending an automatic notification to the user. The test case should verify that the user can confirm the resolution, provide feedback on the service quality through a satisfaction survey, and access a knowledge base article for future reference or self-help, if applicable. The ITSM tool should also automatically update the incident status to closed and document the resolution details for reporting and analysis purposes.

Allocate adequate time and resources.

Ensure ample time and resources are dedicated to the UAT stage. Hastily conducting UAT or scrimping on resources can lead to insufficient testing, resulting in undetected issues and a system that falls short.

people checking for bugs

Testing needs to balance the risk and complexity of the implementation. It's for you to assess and decide what is right.

One of the primary factors contributing to this underestimation is the lack of understanding and appreciation for the complexity and scope of the testing process.

Many projects may assume that testing is straightforward and primarily involves identifying and resolving bugs. However, they may fail to recognise the intricacies of creating comprehensive test scenarios, ensuring adequate test coverage, and managing the time and resources required for thorough testing.

Another reason is the optimism bias. Teams may have an overly optimistic outlook on the project's progress and assume the implementation will proceed smoothly, with few issues or bugs to address during the testing phase. This mindset can lead to inadequate allocation of time and resources for testing, ultimately resulting in a rushed and ineffective testing process.

Moreover, the pressure to meet deadlines and budget constraints can also influence teams to cut corners regarding testing.

Monitor and prioritise issues

Keep a log of issues identified during UAT and prioritise them based on their impact on the system's functionality, user experience, and help desk goals. Then, swiftly address high-priority issues and iteratively fine-tune the system as required.

prioritisation symbol

I recommend using a basic scale of 'must do' / 'should do' / 'could do' / 'won't do' to prioritise issues for remediation. Everything defined as s 'must' has to be fixed by go-live. Anything categorised as 'should' comes next and, if possible, is resolved. 'Could' items can be tolerated, and 'Won't do' things speak for themselves.

After addressing issues, validate and verify the solutions to ensure they have been effectively handled and don't introduce new problems (in the test biz, we call this 'regression testing'). Finally, re-test affected functionality and workflows to confirm the system satisfies the acceptance criteria.

Once UAT is completed, obtain sign-off from key stakeholders and end-users to confirm that the ITSM solution fulfils the organisation's requirements and is prepared for deployment.

Example UAT Plan




  1. UAT Preparation

Define UAT Objectives

Outline the goals and expectations of the User Acceptance Testing phase.

Develop UAT Test Plan

Create a detailed UAT test plan that includes test scenarios, test cases, expected results, and acceptance criteria.

​Assemble UAT Team

Gather a diverse team of end-users representing different organisational roles and departments.

Prepare Test Environment

Set up a test environment that closely mimics the production environment, including data, configurations, and integrations.

2. Test Execution

Conduct UAT Sessions

Run UAT sessions, guiding end-users through test scenarios and documenting their feedback and any issues encountered.

Monitor Test Progress

Track the progress of UAT, including test case completion, issues discovered, and resolution status.

Manage Issue Resolution

Collaborate with the ITSM vendor or internal development team to resolve issues identified during UAT.

3. Test Evaluation

Evaluate Test Results

Analyse the results of UAT against the predefined acceptance criteria.

Review UAT Feedback

Assess end-user feedback and identify areas for improvement, customisation, or further training.

Determine UAT Success

Determine whether the ITSM solution has met the acceptance criteria and decide if it is ready for implementation.

4. Finalise UAT

Obtain Sign-off

Obtain sign-off from stakeholders, confirming that the ITSM solution has passed User Acceptance Testing and can be implemented.

Prepare for implementation

Make final adjustments to your implementation plan based on any feedback and findings from UAT.

Step 9: ITSM Go-Live Planning

The go-live stage marks the transition from implementation to operational use. Ensuring a successful go-live and maintaining the system's performance beyond this stage is crucial for realising the full benefits of the ITSM solution.

This section on ITSM go-live planning will discuss advice and considerations for going live and beyond.

Craft an impeccable go-live plan

a rocket launch cartoon

I know it's the old 'insert a small miracle here' part, but from experience, having an all-encompassing go-live plan meticulously outlines the steps, timelines, resources, and roles is a pillar of a smooth transition. It should read as an instruction manual of who is doing what and when so that there is no ambiguity left during the go-live phase and everyone is clear on their responsibilities.

Conduct a rigorous pre-launch assessment

Before taking the plunge, perform an in-depth review of the ITSM solution to verify that all aspects, from configuration and customisation to data migration and training, have been met. Then, double-check that all issues identified during UAT have been resolved and that the system is primed for deployment.

It is often valuable to have your go-live plan in two parts;

1. Acceptance / Readiness Plan

This outlines everything necessary for the various stakeholders to issue 'green flags' for the project to proceed with the implementation. It forms a kind of checklist of criteria that you can review as a final step before the launch. Before launch, you confirm that all green flags are raised.

2. Customer Implementation Plan

This summarises how you will communicate and engage with your customers. What do they need to know? What is the plan for communicating with them? Is it a series of more minor communications or more extensive training sessions? Will you release a new customer portal on day one or after a few weeks?

Go live with minimal ripples

To keep disruptions at bay, consider scheduling the go-live during a period of low help desk activity, like after-hours or weekends.

Communicate the transition plan and potential downtime to help desk staff and end-users, ensuring they're in the loop.

Deploy a robust support system

Establish a strong support structure during the initial go-live period to assist help desk staff and end-users. This could be a dedicated support team ready to tackle questions, concerns, or any issues during the transition.

Be ready to swiftly address any issues or concerns during the go-live process and beyond. Establish a streamlined process for logging, prioritising, and resolving problems while informing all stakeholders about progress and resolutions.

And After...

a cartoon of a person looking at statistics

Keep a watchful eye on performance and adoption

Monitor the ITSM solution's performance and user adoption diligently during the go-live phase and beyond.

Keep track of crucial metrics, such as system response times, user satisfaction, and incident resolution times, guaranteeing that the system delivers on its promises.

Cultivate a culture of continuous improvement

I've found that fostering a culture of continuous improvement, where helpdesk staff and end-users are encouraged to provide feedback and suggestions for system enhancements, can work wonders in refining the ITSM solution to better align with organisational needs and objectives.

Offer unwavering training and support

Training and support are ongoing endeavours. Continue to provide helpdesk staff and end-users access to resources, refresher courses, and advanced training opportunities, ensuring they remain proficient with the ITSM solution and can adapt to any changes or updates.

ITSM Go Live Planning Activities

Go-Live Preparation Activities

The following summarises the tasks needed before sign-off from the Project Sponsor to approve the production release.

  • Review the overall project status and confirm all key milestones have been met

  • Confirm completion of data migration, system configuration, customisation, and integrations.

  • Conduct a final review of the system setup, including roles, permissions, and workflows

  • Verify that all required documentation (user guides, technical manuals, etc.) is available

  • Confirm completion of user training and ensure all users have the necessary knowledge to use the system

  • Perform final User Acceptance Testing (UAT) to validate system functionality

  • Review and address any open issues or concerns raised during UAT

  • Develop a detailed go-live schedule, including a cutover plan and rollback plan (if needed)

  • Communicate the go-live schedule and expectations to all stakeholders

  • Prepare the IT support team for handling potential issues during the go-live phase

  • Confirm availability of resources to monitor system performance and address issues post go-live

  • Obtain final sign-off from relevant stakeholders to proceed with go-live

Go-Live Activities

The following tasks will be triggered when approval to implement the solution has been finalised in the previous step and scheduled through the change management process.

  • Execute the cutover plan, switching from the old ITSM system to the new one

  • Monitor system performance and connectivity during the transition

  • Verify that all data, customisations, and integrations are working as expected

  • Confirm that users can successfully access and use the new system

  • Establish communication channels for users to report issues or seek assistance

  • Communicate the successful go-live to all stakeholders

  • Decommission the old ITSM system, if necessary

Post-Go-Live Monitoring and Snagging

Following implementation, we will monitor the solution for one week through the following actions.

  • Monitor system performance, response times, and overall stability

  • Track and address user-reported issues, questions, or concerns

  • Review system logs for any unexpected errors or performance issues

  • Hold regular status meetings to discuss system performance, user feedback, and open issues

  • Implement any required system updates or patches

  • Optimise system configurations based on actual usage patterns and user feedback

  • Perform a post-implementation review to assess the success of the project

  • Identify and prioritise areas for further improvement or enhancements

Embracing Continuous Improvement in ITSM Implementation

A successful ITSM implementation doesn't end with the deployment of tools and processes; it evolves into a continuous journey of improvement and adaptation. As highlighted by Cask NX, LLC, and Info-Tech Research Group, the dynamic nature of IT services and the ever-changing demands of businesses necessitate an ongoing commitment to refine and enhance ITSM practices.

Monitoring for Ongoing Improvements

Post-implementation, it's crucial to establish a robust monitoring system that tracks the performance of your ITSM processes against predefined key performance indicators (KPIs). Cask NX, LLC emphasizes the importance of identifying and evaluating essential success metrics to adapt business processes as ITSM progresses. This proactive approach ensures that ITSM services remain aligned with business objectives and user expectations, facilitating a smoother digital transformation journey.

Feedback Loops and Iterative Enhancements

Incorporating feedback mechanisms is vital for capturing insights from IT staff, end-users, and stakeholders. This feedback should be quantitative and accurately reflect costs, business effects, and the overall customer experience.

As suggested by Info-Tech Research Group, creating a feedback loop augments implementation progress according to end-user feedback, enabling iterative enhancements. Regularly reviewing feedback helps identify areas for improvement, ensuring that ITSM tools and processes continuously evolve to meet the organisation's needs.

Applying DevOps as an ITSM Best Practice

Adopting DevOps principles within your ITSM strategy, aligns with the continuous improvement methodology. This approach involves incremental changes in development, feature testing, release, and deployment, fostering a culture of continuous delivery and quality assurance.

By outlining the ITSM implementation project's endgame and measuring vital success criteria regularly, organizations can enhance service quality and reduce waste, thereby achieving operational excellence.


Case Study


In an SME organisation, the fragmentation of support systems across various teams presented significant operational challenges; Teams utilised disparate systems for logging and tracking incidents, changes, bugs, and knowledge, leading to inefficiencies and communication barriers. This setup necessitated multiple logins for users and manual case transfers between systems, complicating the incident resolution process and knowledge sharing.

Problem Statement

The lack of a unified system led to several critical issues:

  • Multiple Logins: Users were burdened with navigating multiple systems, complicating their workflows.

  • Manual Case Transfers: The absence of integration necessitated manual transfers, increasing the risk of errors and delays.

  • Visibility and Traceability Issues: It was challenging to track incidents and locate knowledge across different systems.

  • License Duplication: Financial resources were wasted on duplicating licenses for different systems.

  • Lost Tickets: The disjointed system led to tickets being overlooked or lost, hindering timely action.

  • Change Management: Without a central register or forward schedule of change, the organisation reacted to changes rather than proactively managing them.


After evaluating various solutions, the organisation decided to implement, despite it not being a dedicated ITSM tool.

The decision was based on its:

  • Flexibility: offered the adaptability needed to tailor workflows to the organisation's specific needs.

  • Intuitive Workflow Configuration: The platform's user-friendly interface facilitated easy setup and management of workflows.

  • Broad Applicability: Beyond ITSM, could be utilised for project management and other business workflows, offering a versatile solution.


The implementation process was meticulously project-managed, with a focus on collaboration with's onboarding team to tailor the platform to the organisation's needs. Key steps included:

  • Workflow Development: Team leads, with minimal support, could develop most workflows themselves thanks to the platform's intuitive design.

  • Data Migration: A selective migration strategy was employed, transferring some historical data via spreadsheets and utilising an easy import facility.

  • Training: Adopting a 'train-the-trainer' approach, key business leads were equipped to disseminate knowledge within their teams, fostering a culture of advocacy for the new system.

  • Testing: An informal yet critical phase of UAT allowed for the refinement of process flows before full deployment.

  • Go-Live and Beyond: The initial success of the go-live was amplified by subsequent evangelist-led sessions, comprehensive training materials, and continuous feedback loops with both internal stakeholders and the supplier.


The transition to significantly improved operational efficiency by:

  • Consolidating Systems: Reducing the need for multiple logins and manual case transfers.

  • Enhancing Visibility: Facilitating easier tracking of incidents and access to knowledge.

  • Optimising Resources: Eliminating license duplication and ensuring resources were utilised effectively.

  • Improving Change Management: Establishing a proactive approach to change management with a central register and forward schedule.


The organisation's strategic decision to adopt as a unified platform for support systems marked a pivotal shift towards streamlined operations. The careful planning, inclusive training approach, and ongoing engagement with the platform have cultivated a more efficient, proactive, and collaborative work environment. This case study exemplifies the transformative potential of flexible, user-friendly technology solutions in addressing complex operational challenges.


Mar 08

The emphasis on continuous improvement and the integration of DevOps principles into ITSM implementation really resonated with me. It's a reminder that ITSM isn't just about deploying new tools but about fostering a culture of ongoing enhancement and adaptability. I've seen too many organizations treat ITSM implementation as a one-off project rather than an iterative process.

Thanks for sharing

Alan Parker
Alan Parker