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What Is An IT Service Manager?

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What is an IT Service Manager?

In the rapidly evolving world of technology, the role of an IT Service Manager has become increasingly crucial in bridging the gap between cutting-edge IT solutions and business objectives. These professionals are at the forefront of managing and delivering IT services that not only meet but exceed the expectations of businesses and their stakeholders.

With the responsibility of ensuring the seamless operation of IT services, IT Service Managers play a pivotal role in the strategic planning, implementation, and continuous improvement of technology services.

Their expertise ensures that IT infrastructures are not just supportive but also a driving force behind organisational success.

As we delve deeper into the complexities and responsibilities associated with this vital role, it becomes clear that IT Service Managers are the unsung heroes of the digital age, orchestrating the harmony between technology and business needs.

What is an IT Service Manager?

An IT Service Manager plays a critical role in overseeing and ensuring the delivery of IT services to meet the needs of a business. This position involves managing the IT service delivery process and acting as a bridge between the IT department and the business units it serves.

An IT Service Manager is a vital link between the IT department and the business, ensuring that IT services are delivered effectively, efficiently, and in alignment with business objectives. They require a mix of technical knowledge, management skills, and the ability to communicate effectively with both IT professionals and business stakeholders.

What is ITSM?

A picture with large letters spelling ITSM, underneath that is the text 'Information Technology Service Management' Explaining the acronym. On a turquoise background.

ITSM, or Information Technology Service Management, refers to the activities involved in designing, creating, delivering, supporting, and managing an organisation's IT services lifecycle. Unlike IT management, which focuses on the management of IT systems and networks, ITSM emphasises the importance of aligning IT services with the needs of the business and ensuring that IT supports core business processes cost-effectively and efficiently.

ITSM encompasses a broad range of processes and functions aimed at optimising IT service delivery and support. Here are some of the key components and practices within ITSM:

Service Strategy

This involves planning and designing services that align with the organisation's business objectives, including defining service management policies and objectives.

Service Design

It focuses on designing new IT services or making changes and improvements to existing ones, considering aspects such as architecture, processes, policies, and documentation.

Service Transition

This stage manages the transition of IT services from development to operation, ensuring that changes are made with minimal impact on existing services.

Service Operation

It involves the day-to-day management, delivery, and support of IT services, including managing incidents, fulfilling requests, and ensuring operational efficiency.

Continuous Service Improvement (CSI)

CSI aims to continuously improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and quality of IT services and processes by systematically evaluating and improving IT service management practices.

ITSM is often associated with the ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) framework, which is one of the most widely adopted frameworks for ITSM. ITIL provides a set of best practices and guidelines for IT service management. However, there are other frameworks and standards relevant to ITSM, such as ISO/IEC 20000, Six Sigma, and COBIT.

Implementing ITSM can help organisations improve service quality, increase customer satisfaction, reduce costs through improved utilisation of resources, enhance flexibility and scalability in service delivery, and ensure better governance and compliance with regulations and standards.

What are the Responsibilities of IT Service Managers?

The heading 'What are the Responsibilities of IT Service Managers?' at the top. Below is wooden blocks with roles and responsibilities on them. On a light grey background.

The responsibilities of IT Service Managers are multifaceted and crucial for ensuring that the IT services delivered align with the business's needs and objectives. Their role encompasses strategic planning, operational management, and continuous improvement of IT services. Here are some of the core responsibilities of IT Service Managers:

Service Strategy and Design

Developing and implementing strategies for IT services that support the business objectives. This includes designing or improving IT services and processes to meet business requirements effectively.

Service Delivery and Performance Management

Ensuring that IT services are delivered efficiently and effectively to meet the needs of the business. This involves managing service level agreements (SLAs), monitoring service performance against agreed standards, and implementing improvements to enhance service quality.

Customer and Stakeholder Management

Acting as a liaison between the IT department and its customers, including business units and external clients. IT Service Managers need to understand customer needs, manage expectations, and ensure customer satisfaction with IT services.

Incident and Problem Management

Overseeing the processes for managing and resolving incidents and problems. This includes ensuring that incidents are resolved promptly to minimise the impact on business operations and identifying the root causes of problems to prevent future occurrences.

Change Management

Managing changes to the IT service infrastructure and environment, including software updates, hardware changes, and modifications to processes. This responsibility involves assessing the impact of changes, ensuring that changes are implemented smoothly, and minimising disruption to services.

Financial Management

Planning and controlling the budget for IT services, including forecasting costs, managing expenditures, and ensuring that IT investments deliver value for money.

Resource Management

Allocating and managing the resources required to deliver IT services, including personnel, technology, and information resources. This also involves managing vendor relationships and contracts for outsourced services.

Risk Management and Compliance

Identifying and managing risks associated with IT services, including security, privacy, and compliance risks. IT Service Managers must ensure that IT services comply with relevant laws, regulations, and standards.

Continuous Improvement

Implementing a culture of continuous improvement within the IT department, using methodologies such as ITIL's Continuous Service Improvement process. This involves regularly reviewing and improving IT services and processes to enhance efficiency, effectiveness, and customer satisfaction.

Project Management

Leading and managing projects related to developing and implementing new IT services or improving existing services.

IT Service Managers play a critical role in bridging the gap between technical IT operations and the strategic needs of the business. They must possess a combination of technical knowledge, management skills, and the ability to communicate effectively with both technical teams and business stakeholders.

What Skills Does an IT Service Manager Need?

On the left is the heading 'What Skills Does an IT Service Manager Need?'. On the right is wooden blocks making up a graph going upwards, with the word skills above it. On a light blue background.

An IT Service Manager requires a diverse set of skills that span technical knowledge, management capabilities, and interpersonal abilities. These skills are crucial for effectively managing IT services and ensuring they align with the business's strategic objectives. Here are some of the key skills needed by an IT Service Manager:

Technical Expertise

Understanding of IT infrastructure, software, and technologies used by the organisation. This includes knowledge of IT service management tools, cloud computing, cybersecurity practices, and an understanding of IT architectures and standards.

IT Service Management Knowledge

Familiarity with ITSM principles, practices, and frameworks such as ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library), ISO/IEC 20000, and others. This includes understanding service strategy, design, transition, operation, and continuous improvement.

Leadership and Team Management

Ability to lead and manage teams, including motivating staff, delegating tasks, and managing performance. Effective IT Service Managers can inspire their teams to achieve high levels of service delivery and customer satisfaction.

Strategic Thinking and Planning

Capability to align IT service management with business objectives and strategies. This involves long-term planning, setting goals, and defining service delivery and performance metrics.

Problem-solving and Analytical Skills

Proficiency in identifying, analysing, and solving complex problems related to IT services and infrastructure. This includes incident and problem management, as well as root cause analysis to prevent future issues.

Project Management

Skills in managing projects, including planning, executing, monitoring, and closing projects. This is crucial for managing the implementation of new IT services or improvements to existing services.

Communication and Interpersonal Skills

Excellent verbal and written communication skills are essential for interacting effectively with team members, stakeholders, and customers. This includes explaining technical concepts in simple terms and negotiating with vendors and service providers.

Customer Service Orientation

A strong focus on customer needs and satisfaction, including managing expectations and building strong relationships with business units and end-users.

Financial Management

Understanding of budgeting, forecasting, and financial management principles as they relate to IT service delivery. This includes the ability to manage costs, demonstrate value, and make decisions that align with the organisation's financial objectives.

Risk Management and Compliance

Knowledge of risk management practices and legal/regulatory compliance requirements relevant to IT services. This involves assessing and mitigating risks associated with IT service delivery and ensuring that services comply with relevant laws, regulations, and standards.

Adaptability and Learning Agility

The IT field is constantly evolving, so an IT Service Manager must be adaptable, willing to learn new technologies and methodologies, and capable of leading their team through change.

These skills are developed through a combination of education, professional experience, and ongoing learning. Certifications in ITSM frameworks like ITIL, project management (e.g., PMP), and specific technologies can also enhance an IT Service Manager's skills and knowledge.

What Qualifications Does an IT Service Manager Need?

A graduate cap falling through the air after someone threw it. With the heading 'What Qualifications Does an IT Service Manager Need?' in front.

The qualifications for an IT Service Manager typically include a combination of education, certifications, and practical experience. These qualifications help ensure the candidate possesses the necessary knowledge, skills, and competencies to manage IT services effectively and align them with business objectives. Here's a detailed look at the qualifications commonly required:


Bachelor's Degree: A bachelor's degree in information technology, computer science, business administration, or a related field is often required. This provides a foundational understanding of IT principles, business management, and organisational behaviour.

Master's Degree (optional): While not always required, a master's degree in information systems, business administration (MBA), or a specialised field related to IT management can enhance a candidate's knowledge and leadership capabilities, making them more competitive for senior roles.


Certifications play a crucial role in the IT field by demonstrating a professional's expertise in specific areas. For an IT Service Manager, relevant certifications might include:

ITIL Foundation: This certification covers the basics of IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) practices for IT service management and is a starting point for many ITSM professionals.

ITIL Service Management: Advanced certifications in ITIL, such as ITIL Managing Professional, ITIL Strategic Leader or ITIL Practice Manager, demonstrate deeper expertise in ITSM practices.

Depending on the role of the IT service manager, the following complimentary qualifications may be beneficial in expanding the IT service manager's knowledge of IT practices:

Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA): For IT Service Managers focusing on audit, control, and assurance, CISA can be valuable.

Certified Information Security Manager (CISM): This certification is important for those who manage, design, oversee, and assess an enterprise's information security.

Project Management Professional (PMP): Recognised across industries, the PMP certification shows expertise in project management, which is relevant for managing IT service projects.

Certified ScrumMaster (CSM): A ScrumMaster certification can be beneficial for IT Service Managers working in agile environments.


Practical experience is crucial for an IT Service Manager, typically requiring:

Several Years of IT Experience: Candidates usually need several years of experience in IT roles, such as in support, network administration, or development, to gain a broad understanding of IT operations and challenges.

Management Experience: Experience in a managerial or supervisory role is often required to demonstrate the candidate's ability to lead teams, manage projects, and make strategic decisions.

Skills and Knowledge

Technical Proficiency: Understanding the organisation's technology stack, IT infrastructure, and software applications.

Strategic Planning: Ability to align IT services with business goals and strategies.

Communication and Interpersonal Skills: Effective communication with team members, stakeholders, and business units.

Project Management: Skills in planning, executing, and overseeing IT projects.

Analytical and Problem-solving Skills: Analysing information, identifying problems, and developing practical solutions.

Continuing Education

The IT field is dynamic, with new technologies and methodologies emerging regularly. IT Service Managers should engage in ongoing learning to stay updated on the latest IT and IT service management trends, practices, and technologies.

These qualifications combine to equip an IT Service Manager with the necessary expertise to oversee the delivery of IT services effectively, ensuring they meet the needs of the business and its customers.

What is the Pathway to Becoming an IT Service Manager?

A picture of steps timeline to becoming an IT service Manager. With the heading 'Pathway to Becoming an IT Service Manager?' above. On a white background.

Becoming an IT Service Manager typically involves a combination of education, relevant work experience, and professional certifications that build the necessary skills and knowledge for the role. Here's a general roadmap to becoming an IT Service Manager:

1. Education

Bachelor's Degree: Most IT Service Manager positions require a bachelor's degree in Information Technology, Computer Science, Management Information Systems, Business Administration, or a related field. This foundational education provides the necessary technical background and business knowledge.

Master's Degree (Optional): While not always required, a Master's in Business Administration (MBA) or a related graduate degree can be advantageous, especially for higher-level management positions. It can provide a deeper understanding of business strategy and management principles.

2. Gain Relevant Work Experience

Entry-Level IT Roles: Start in entry-level IT roles such as IT Support Technician, Network Administrator, or Systems Analyst. These positions offer a hands-on understanding of IT infrastructure, software, and customer service.

Progress to Intermediate Roles: As you gain experience, move up to more responsible positions like Senior Technician, Team Leader, or IT Project Manager. These roles can provide experience in managing teams and projects and developing strategic IT solutions.

Specialise in IT Service Management: Seek roles that specifically involve ITSM processes, such as Service Desk Manager, ITSM Analyst, or Change Manager. These positions will give you direct experience in IT service delivery and management practices and challenges.

3. Professional Certifications

ITIL® Foundation: Start with the ITIL Foundation certification to gain an understanding of ITSM best practices. ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) is widely recognised and provides a comprehensive framework for ITSM.

Advanced ITIL® Certifications: After the Foundation level, consider advanced ITIL certifications such as ITIL Managing Professional or ITIL Strategic Leader. These can deepen your knowledge and demonstrate a high level of expertise in ITSM.

Other Relevant Certifications: Depending on your interests and career goals, other certifications can be beneficial, such as Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) for security management, Project Management Professional (PMP) for project management, or certifications in specific technologies relevant to your field.

4. Develop Key Skills

Focus on building the key skills required for an IT Service Manager, including leadership, strategic planning, communication, problem-solving, financial management, and customer service. This can be achieved through on-the-job experience, training courses, and self-study.

5. Networking and Professional Development

Professional Networking: Engage with professional networks, both online and in-person, to connect with peers, mentors, and industry leaders. This can provide valuable insights, advice, and opportunities.

Continuous Learning: The IT field is constantly evolving, so continuous learning is crucial. Stay updated with the latest trends, technologies, and best practices in ITSM and IT management.

6. Apply for IT Service Manager Positions

With the right combination of education, experience, and certifications, you can start applying for IT Service Manager positions. Tailor your resume to highlight your ITSM experience, leadership roles, and the impact of your work on business objectives.

Remember, the path to becoming an IT Service Manager can vary greatly depending on the individual, the industry, and the organisation's specific requirements. However, focusing on building a solid foundation in IT, gaining relevant management experience, and obtaining professional certifications will position you well for this role.

What is ITIL, and How Does it Relate to IT Service Managers?

A picture with large text in the middle saying ITIL, surround that is the text Service Value System, The Four Dimensions, Guiding Principles, and Service Value Chain. On a turquoise background.

ITIL 4 is the latest iteration of the ITIL framework, introduced in February 2019 to update the guidance for the rapidly changing landscape of modern IT. ITIL 4 was developed to be more agile, flexible, and customisable to the diverse and evolving needs of organisations, integrating current trends and practices such as DevOps, Agile, and Lean IT alongside traditional ITSM methods.

Key Features of ITIL 4

Service Value System (SVS): ITIL 4 introduces the Service Value System, which provides a holistic approach to the creation, delivery, and continual improvement of services. The SVS includes all the components and activities necessary to effectively manage service value from demand to value realisation.

Four Dimensions Model: This model ensures a holistic approach to service management, considering factors that are critical for the effective and efficient delivery of services. These dimensions are Organisations and People, Information and Technology, Partners and Suppliers, and Value Streams and Processes.

Guiding Principles: ITIL 4 includes a set of guiding principles derived from Lean, Agile, DevOps, and other practices, encouraging a flexible approach to service management. These principles can guide organisations in all circumstances, irrespective of changes in their goals, strategies, type of work, or management structure.

Service Value Chain: At the heart of the SVS is the Service Value Chain, an operating model outlining the key activities required to respond to demand and facilitate value creation through IT services.

Relevance of ITIL 4 to IT Service Managers

ITIL 4 provides a comprehensive and up-to-date framework for IT Service Managers that reflects and integrates modern digital operations. Here's how it relates to their role:

Alignment with Modern Practices: ITIL 4's integration with Agile, DevOps, and Lean IT practices means IT Service Managers can more effectively manage IT services in environments using these methodologies. It allows for a more flexible and adaptive approach to ITSM.

Enhanced Focus on Value: The shift towards a service value system emphasises understanding and optimising the flow of value to the organisation's stakeholders. IT Service Managers can leverage this focus to ensure IT services continuously align with business objectives and contribute to desired outcomes.

Adaptability and Customisation: With its flexible framework, ITIL 4 allows IT Service Managers to adapt and tailor ITSM practices to their organisation's specific context, challenges, and opportunities. This adaptability is crucial in the fast-paced and ever-changing IT landscape.

Holistic Approach: The four dimensions model encourages IT Service Managers to consider broader factors affecting service management, including organisational culture, technology advancements, and external partnerships. This holistic view supports more effective decision-making and strategy development.

Professional Development: ITIL 4 certification offers IT Service Managers an opportunity to update their skills and knowledge, ensuring they are equipped to navigate the complexities of modern IT environments. Achieving certification can also enhance their credibility and career prospects.

ITIL 4 Certification Path

The ITIL 4 certification scheme is structured differently from its predecessor, providing a modular approach to the ITIL framework. It starts with the ITIL 4 Foundation level and then branches into three main streams: the ITIL Managing Professional (MP), ITIL Strategic Leader (SL), and ITIL Practice Manager (PM), culminating in the ITIL Master qualification. Each certification offers specific insights and skills relevant to various roles within IT and service management, including IT Service Managers seeking to enhance their expertise and effectiveness in the field.

Final Notes on IT Service Managers

In conclusion, the evolving landscape of IT demands adept IT Service Managers who can navigate the complexities of delivering high-quality IT services aligned with business objectives. Understanding ITSM and the ITIL framework, especially ITIL 4, is essential for these professionals.

ITIL 4, with its focus on agility, flexibility, and customer value, equips IT Service Managers with the knowledge and tools to adapt to modern IT practices such as Agile, DevOps, and Lean IT.

By embracing ITIL's principles and obtaining relevant certifications, IT Service Managers can enhance their ability to manage IT services effectively, ensuring they contribute to the strategic goals of their organisations. As the bridge between IT and business, their role is crucial in driving efficiency, innovation, and value creation in today's digital era.

About The Author

James Lawless

James Lawless

From a young age I have been interested in media and technology. I look forward to seeing the interesting future of AI and how it will affect ITSM, business processes and day-to-day life. I am passionate about sustainability, gaming, and user experience. At Purple Griffon I oversee creating/maintaining blogs, creating free resources, and general website maintenance. I’m also a keen skier and enjoy going on family skiing holidays

Tel: +44 (0)1539 736 828

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