IT Service Management (ITSM) has had a transformative impact on how the IT function operates within organizations today. The ITSM approach means delivering IT as a service and viewing the processes under the IT umbrella in terms of holistic, end-to-end service delivery.
Given Atlassian’s leading status in providing project management tools for developers, it’s perhaps no surprise that it offers one of the best solutions available for ITSM – Jira Service Management (JSM).
This guide will explain step-by-step how you can implement an ITSM program using JSM, with advice on deployment and best practices.
What is covered in this blog post:
- What is IT Service Management?
- How does Jira Service Management support ITSM?
- Core ITSM processes
- Getting started with Jira Service Management
- Best practices and tips for Jira Service Management
What is IT Service Management?
The core concept of ITSM is to treat IT operations as the delivery of a service to customers, rather than focusing on the maintenance and management of IT systems. This covers all the processes and tasks that go into creating, delivering, and managing IT services from start to finish.
The approach also stresses the idea of delivery on an ongoing basis, rather than considering deployment as being a series of discrete tasks that can be completed and archived.
Another important element is to centralize infrastructure – diminishing redundancy and confusion – and directing tasks towards optimized workflows so they’re set on track to be completed. Preparing for issues in advance further enhances delivery, so incidents can be addressed quickly and comprehensively, or they can be prevented outright.
All of this means the IT department can focus on delivering the maximum value for all stakeholders, both internal and external, while at the same time boosting efficiency and productivity and running at lower costs.
Equally, it places the IT department at the center of innovation, powering agility and collaboration across the organization, and making it better able to adapt to change and adopt new technologies.
How does Jira Service Management support ITSM?
Atlassian’s Jira Service Management is an ideal tool for managing ITSM, with a powerful toolset that’s easy to get started with. The product – incorporating Jira Service Desk – helps teams get work done, adding transparency to processes, and helping IT, dev, and business teams to work together.
Originally based on Jira, JSM can serve ITSM functions including tackling service requests, changes, and incidents and managing assets and knowledge. IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is the most widely adopted framework for ITSM, looking to align ITSM with core business needs. JSM contains all the tools you need to get started with ITIL, including ITIL workflows, reports, a service catalog, and much more.
JSM is available for Cloud and for Data Center. JSM Cloud offers several subscription packages and is free for teams of three agents or less but with fewer features available. With Data Center, there is an annual license fee, and you can self-host or host via third-party cloud providers.
Over 45,000 companies use JSM, according to Atlassian, which reports that it can offer a 277% return on investment, saving 115 hours per month for IT service and operations teams, and reaching a break-even point based on savings in less than 6 months.
Core ITSM processes
The core processes within ITSM are:
- Service request management – addressing typical customer service requests, such as hardware updates and access to software
- IT asset management – managing, overseeing, and deploying the organisation’s assets
- Incident management – responding to unplanned events and ensuring the continued delivery of services
- Problem management – identifying and addressing issues that may cause incidents
- Change management – standardising change management for IT infrastructure across new and updated services
- Knowledge management – documenting, managing, and sharing the organisation’s knowledge
Getting started with Jira Service Management
To get started with JSM, you’ll first need to set up an ITSM project, and you’ll need to be an admin to do so.
JSM contains a range of project templates that make it quick and easy to get started, providing pre-configured request types and workflows, among other features – and they’re the recommended starting point for creating a project.
To create a project:
- Go to “Projects” then “Create project”
- Then, from “Service management”, select the best template for your team, clicking “Use template” when you’re ready to go ahead
- Note that not all templates have options for both company and team-managed projects. For example, “IT service management” is only available as a company-managed project, while “General service management for IT teams” has an option for team-managed projects
- On the “Create project” page, give your project a name and either choose a project key or generate one, then choose the team type for the project
- For a team-managed project, you’ll need to select an access level and a default language
- For company-managed projects, you can import settings from another project by clicking “Share settings with an existing project”; you’ll then need to choose a project from a dropdown, and its settings will overwrite the current details for the project
- You also have the option to “Change template” if needed at this stage
- Once finished, click “Create project” – and you’re well on your way
You then have the option to brand your portal, with a company-managed project. To do so:
- Click on “Project settings” from your service project then “Portal settings”
- You’ll then have the option to edit the name of the portal, provide an introduction for users, and add your organisation’s logo
With this in place, you can set up an email account so email requests can be sent straight to your project. Your project comes with a cloud email address that’s already configured, and you can also add a custom email address.
To set this up (as an admin – and you may also need Google or Microsoft admin rights/permission):
- In your service project, go to “Project settings”, then click “Email requests”
- Select your email service provider and link up your account by following the instructions
- If you’re using multiple email addresses for customer interactions, you’ll then need to set up any forwarding rules or aliases you need
Keep in mind that if you change your email account password, you’ll need to reconnect the service to JSM. However, adding a custom email account to your service project won’t alter addresses used for notifications from the system.
Next, you’ll want to get your team set up on your project. You can select from global permissions, project permissions, and issue permissions, allowing the user to alter settings for, respectively, the JSM instance as a whole, the project, or issues within a project. Using custom permission schemes, there are then a wide range of options as to what permissions can be granted regarding access to and creation of issues, watching, commenting, time tracking, and how issues are moved through the workflow.
Setting up ITSM services in JSM
Under ITSM, services can cover a wide range of platforms and systems, including products, payment platforms, and websites. JSM enables you to organize and manage services, as needed.
This allows your team to manage their performance, log changes, and prepare in advance for potential incidents. All of this can accelerate and enhance delivery.
Each service entered in JSM can have:
- A tier, ranking the significance of the service for operations, from critical at tier 1 to non-essential at tier 4
- Change approvers, who can approve changes to the service
- Responders, who are notified of issues with the service
- Stakeholders, who are updated on the progress of incidents relating to the service
- Relationships, connecting the service to other services
To set up a service in JSM, you’ll first need to have deployment tracking in place. To do this:
- Click on “Project settings” then “Change management”
- Click “Connect pipeline” then “Bitbucket” or select the relevant CI/CD tool
- You’ll need to configure your DVCS accounts and click “Next”
- Then click “Create a new service” and “Next” and fill in the details for “Tier”, “Repository” and “Description”, and then click Connect
- Next, choose the “Environment type” and “Request type” and click “Connect”
- If you are not using Bitbucket, you’ll need to copy the ID for the service and enter this in the configuration for your deployment pipeline
With this done:
- Go to your service project, then click “Services”
- Click “Create service” and enter the name and tier of your service
- Then add agents as “Change approvers”, “Responders” and ” Stakeholders, as relevant
- You can also add a description in the labeled field
- To connect your service to a CI/CD deployment, click on “Repository”
- Then click “Create”
Services are often connected or interdependent, and JSM allows you to indicate this – and deploy automation rules – with the service relationships feature. You can add up to 20 service relationships per service.
To add service relationships:
- Go to “Services” from your service project
- Click on the relevant service and then “Add relationship”
- Then choose “Depends on” or “Used by” and then on the second service – then click “Add”
To remove a service relationship, go to “Services”, click on the service, and then on “x” in the service relationship panel.
Tracking problems in JSM
The “Problem” issue type allows users to report problems so that they can be investigated – potentially preventing incidents
To create a Problem issue, simply click “Create”, select the “Problem” issue type, and fill out the issue’s fields. If needed, you can also add custom fields to problem issues to collect specific information. If you need to change the “Problem” workflow:
– Go to “Project settings” then “Workflows” and click edit on “Problem Management workflow for Jira Service Management”
– Then use the editor to make the adjustments you need to the steps and transitions in the workflow
ITSM change management in JSM
JSM allows you to track changes, relating to anything that could have an impact on services being added, changed, or removed. This means your team can review and approve events that may affect service delivery.
These can be:
- Standard changes – authorized, low-risk changes
- Normal changes – scheduled, approved changes following change requests
- Emergency changes – changes to be made as quickly as possible, addressing incidents, deploying security updates, or rolling back changes that have proven to be problematic
Your deployment pipeline is your JSM hub for change management. This enables you to:
- Add and remove environment and request types
- Add and remove services
- Edit automation rules
- Enable deployment tracking
- Enable deployment gating
The change calendar allows you to view, schedule, and edit changes, with change requests populating on the calendar. You can access the calendar from the left navigation tool.
Change requests have a planned start, planned end, actual start, and actual end. They will appear on the calendar based on the “actual” dates. The “actual” dates can also be populated automatically using change management automation rules.
To check and edit these date fields:
- Go to “Project settings”, “Screens” and “Jira Service Management: Change Management Screen Scheme”.
- Go to “Create issue” and click on the screen name
- If any of the date fields are missing, you can add them with the relevant dropdown, and you can do the same for “Edit issue” and “View issue”
- The date fields will also need the Date Time Range picker search template, which, if needed, can be added by going from “Settings” to “Issues” to “Custom fields”
The date fields also need to be visible on the change request screens. This can be checked and edited from:
- Go to “Project settings”, then “Issue types”, then “Jira Service Desk Field Configuration for Project [your project key] link” below the “Field configuration” column
- Then click “Show” for the four fields
To create a change request:
- Go to the “Change calendar” from the left navigation
- Highlight the desired time to schedule your change request on the calendar
- Then fill out the fields that appear, set the “Type” as a change request type, and fill out the planned or actual date fields
- Then click “Create”
To edit a change request, go to the change calendar, go to the change request, click “Edit” on the change request, and click “X” when complete. To reschedule, select and drag it on the calendar or use the date fields. To delete a change request, click “Edit”, “…” and then “Delete”.
The change issue view also provides a risk insights panel, based on “Affected services”, “Planned start”, and “Planned end” for the change. The risk insights panel presents a risk summary, noting open incidents and change conflicts, planned changes, and ongoing incidents.
The change calendar also lets you indicate change windows for maintenance windows and freeze windows when changes ideally should or should not be scheduled.
To create a change window:
- Go to the “Change calendar” and select and drag for the appropriate period
- Click “Change window” and either “Freeze window” or “Maintenance window”
- Name the window, choose a service project, and, if you want, add a description and click “Create”
To edit a change window, click “Edit” on it, update the fields as relevant, and then “X”. If you want to delete a change window, go to the change calendar, find the change window, select the recycling bin icon, and click “Delete”.
ITSM service projects have several change management automation rules already in place:
- Creating change management requests automatically attaches the default change management
- Completing, canceling, or failing deployments automatically transitions the request
To create a change management automation rule:
- Go to your service project sidebar and click “Project settings” then “Automation”
- Then select “Create rule” or choose an existing rule to edit
- You’ll need to choose a trigger for the rule
- If you want to set actions, branches, or conditions, you’ll need to click on “New component” and the relevant item – then configure these components and press “Save”
- Once done, enter a name for your rule and click “Turn it on” (with the option to later edit it from the rule details screen)
To set up deployment tracking, to add change requests when your team initiates deployments:
- In your service project, click “Project settings” and “Change management”
- Click “Connect pipeline” and “Bitbucket”, then configure your DVCS accounts, or pick the relevant CI/CD tool
- Then click “Create a new service” and “Next”
- Then name the process, and fill the fields for Tier, Repository, and Description, and click “Connect”
- Next, choose the appropriate “Environment type” and “Request type” and click “Connect”
- If not using Bitbucket, you’ll need to add the service’s ID to your deployment pipeline configuration
Deployment gating enables change requests to permit or block deployments with Bitbucket and Jenkins, with Jira Service Management Cloud Premium.
To set up deployment gating in JSM:
- Go to your service project, then “Project settings”, then “Change management”
- Go to “Deployment gating” and click “Allow or prevent deployments using statuses in the change request workflow”
- For “Allow deployment” choose a transition status for permitted deployments e.g. “Implementing”
- For “Prevent deployment”, select the equivalent option e.g. “Declined”
- Then click “Save changes”
To then set up deployment gating in Bitbucket:
- Go to your service project’s “Project settings”, then click “Change management”
- Click “Configure” for the relevant service under “Bitbucket pipelines” (or “Connect service” if required)
- Then choose the environment for the deployment gate and click on “Enable deployment gating for this environment”
Incident management in JSM
Incidents are unplanned events that impact the delivery of services, potentially blocking delivery entirely. For example, a hardware or software incident might result in a network failure or the loss of data. Major incidents are critical events affecting service delivery that require rapid response. JSM can help you tackle incidents quickly and effectively, while change management and problem tracking can help to prevent them entirely.
Opsgenie is Atlassian’s alerting and incident response tool and several of the JSM incident response features integrate with the platform. JSM automatically creates Opsgenie stakeholder roles for agents connected to services affected by incidents. This provides them with read-only access to the major incident features, without the need to purchase new licenses. Opsgenie also provides free alerting and on-call management features for up to five users, with Incident Management available on its Essentials tier.
Service Level Agreements (SLAs) can be set in JSM to track the amount of time to resolve a ticket. To create an SLA:
- Click on “Project settings” then “SLAs” and select “Add SLA”
- Give the SLA a name in the relevant field, noting that it can’t be changed once created
- Then enter goals and conditions for the SLA – you can add up to 30 goals for each SLA
- For “Time goal”, enter a target time to resolve the issue and for “Issues to display (in JQL)” define the issues to be tracked using JQL
- Under “Conditions”, below “Start counting time” click “Add condition” to initiate the SLA; optionally, click the “Pause counting time” plus icon to halt measurements; and below “Finish counting time”, click “Add condition” to define when to stop the SLA collecting measurements.
- Once finished, click “Save”
The incident timeline lays out an event history for major incidents, updated in real-time and including changes to alerts, edits to the incident, and stakeholder updates. This illustrates actions taken and tasks remaining to address the issue, and it allows you to filter the view.
To go to the incident timeline for major incidents:
- Click on “Incidents” then, from “Major incidents”, click on “Ongoing” or “Past”
- You can then click “View” in the “Timeline” column for the incident you want to inspect
- Under “Linked major incidents” you can see other connected incidents and can access them by clicking on “Timeline”
The Incident Command Center in JSM is a native video chat and calling tool, which can be used to bring your team together to respond to incidents.
When viewing an incident, go to “Details” and you’ll find the “Conference call” field where you can click “Join call” or “Start call”. This allows you to host and join calls, which can have up to 50 participants, and includes features for text chat and screen sharing. You can also invite responders and stakeholders and add responders. JSM also integrates with Slack, Teams, and Zoom to set up calls from the incident screen and set up chat channels for incidents.
To add permissions for the command center:
- In Opsgenie, click on “Settings”, then “Roles”
- Hover and click to “Edit role” and ensure the “Incident handling” toggle is on.
- You can then add or remove permissions for “Delete Incident Command Center Room”, “Create/Update Incident Command Center Room” and “Join ICC Session” – then click “Save”.
The incident investigation view provides a log of changes leading up to the incident. This assists agents in investigating the incident and what caused it.
Incidents can be labeled as “Major Incidents” with the Major incident toggle to highlight them and enter them into the Major incident priority queue.
If you need to add the “Major incidents” field for an issue type:
- From “Project settings” go to “Issue types”
- Click on the relevant incident issue type and on the configuration page click on the “Fields” button in the top right
- From the “Select Field” dropdown, click on the “Major incidents” field (this can also be removed by hovering and clicking “Remove”)
To add a major incidents queue:
- From “Incidents” go to “Manage queues” then “Create new queue”
- Give the queue a name and save it
- From the “Filter by” section, click “Switch to JQL” , enter “”Major incident” is NOT EMPTY” and click “Create”
You can also link a major incident to an Opsgenie incident:
- Go to “Incidents” then “Opsgenie incidents” in the left navigation
- In Opsgenie, access an existing incident or create a new one
- Then click “Link request” from “Jira Service Management requests”
- In Jira Service Management find the incident and click “Link”
You can define responders for incidents using the responders field. Alerts can then be created automatically for incident assignees, responders, and service owners, keeping the team up to date and helping you resolve the issue.
To manually add responders to an incident:
- Go to the incident and under “Details” click “Responders”
- Then click “Add responder”
Agents can also be listed as service responders, which will automatically add them to incidents relating to the service. Service responders are managed from the service’s details page.
You’ll need the responders field for your incident request types’ issue types. This can be edited by going to “Project settings”, “Request types” and “Issue view” for the relevant request type, then click “Request form”. You can then add and remove fields.
To review or remove the responders field:
- Click on “Project settings” then “Issue types” and the relevant issue type
- Click on “Fields” in the top right, then “Select Field” on the dropdown, and then on the “Responders” field
- If you want to remove the field, you can click “Remove” or if it’s not there you can add it, as above
When you add responders to an incident, you can enable the system to send them responder alerts. You can access alerts and the settings by going to “Project Settings” and then going to the “Incident Management” settings page. When alerts are set up, they can be sent automatically to task assignees, responders, and service owners. You’ll need to have the responders field on the relevant issue types for your incident request types.
Alerts can be sent by email, SMS, voice calls, and mobile push notifications. To get alerts, you need to have a contact method set up in Opsgenie, via the “Notification” page under settings. Rules can be set for alerts to define conditions and time constraints.
To configure alert notifications:
- Go to “Alerts” from the sidebar
- Once in Opsgenie, click on “Settings” then “Notifications”
- You can then enter your contact details and enter notification rules
You can set alerts to include incident details, with the incident’s summary and description. To send responder alerts with incident details:
- From “Settings” go to “Products” then “Incident Management”
- Under “Responder alerts” click “Use incident details when creating a responder alert”
Alerts are graded from P5 to P1, from least important to most important, and in the color scheme of dark green to light green to yellow to orange to red. Alert priorities can be assigned to incident priorities from the “Incident Management” page, where you’ll find “Assign alert priorities”.
Alerts can be linked to incidents to track monitoring alerts and provide visibility on which responders have acknowledged the alert. Linking monitoring alerts to the impacted services can help provide clarity and accelerate your team’s response.
To link alerts:
- Go to “Details” for a given incident
- Look for the “Linked alerts” field and click “View”
- The “Linked alerts” pop-up will then appear, listing linked alerts and allowing you to link more alerts or unlink them
Incident stakeholders also receive updates on incidents. To add incident stakeholders:
- Go to the incident and click “Stakeholders” in the “Details” section
- You can then click “Add stakeholder”, with changes being saved automatically
- If needed, stakeholders can also be removed from the same screen
Stakeholders assigned to a service will automatically be added to incidents affecting the service. The incident details page will note how they were added. It also allows you to manage incident stakeholders, though service stakeholders need to be managed from the detail page for the service.
To send an email message to incident stakeholders:
– Go to the “Activity” section from the issue view and click “Inform stakeholders”
– Then fill out the summary and message and click “Send”
ITSM knowledge management in JSM
By creating a shared knowledge resource, your team can save time, standardize responses to common issues, and empower users to solve problems without needing direct assistance.
To get started you will need, at the least, a free version of Confluence running on the site. To add Confluence, click “Knowledge base” on the left navigation and follow the instructions.
Once you’ve done this, create a knowledge base article:
- Go to “Knowledge base” in the sidebar and click “Create article”
- Choose a linked knowledge base space where your article can be placed
- Then create and publish the article
If you want to create a knowledge base article from a request:
- Go to the request’s “Details” section
- Under “Knowledge base” select “related article(s)”
- Then click “Create article” and enter the details
The knowledge base offers several reports, which can be found by clicking “Reports” in the menu on the left:
- Requests deflected – shows the number of article views and the number of requests deflected, based on cases where a user started writing a request form summary but then consulted knowledge base articles based on the information they entered (and voted the article as being helpful).
- Requests resolved – illustrates how requests are being addressed, divided between requests that were deflected and requests resolved with an article and without an article.
Best practices and tips for Jira Service Management
Route requests effectively
Having the right request types is important to help route requests effectively, and it will save time for your team and your stakeholders. JSM’s ITSM template has several pre-loaded request types to help you address issues. However, you should consider issues that are likely to arise within your organization or that might be particularly urgent and consider creating custom request types to match these use cases. You can do this by going to “Project settings” and then “Request types”. The key is to focus on value and to ensure that you continue communicating within and across teams.
Build out your knowledge base
Creating documentation can seem like a chore but having detailed information available in your knowledge base means your stakeholders can quickly and satisfyingly solve their issues without taking a moment of your team’s time. It’s worth making a note of frequently asked questions and common queries so you can enter the solutions in your knowledge base – and you potentially then never have to field the query ever again.
Go even further with Enterprise Service Management
ITSM can position the IT department as an innovation hub within the organization. Enterprise Service Management takes the principles of ITSM and extends them through the whole organization, looking at how functions can be redefined as services. Focusing on customer-centricity can help you embrace greater collaboration between teams and break down organizational silos – delivering better results at lower costs and accelerating the digital transformation journey.
Rolling out ITSM can have a transformative impact on your organization, helping you to do more with less – and Jira Service Management and the Atlassian product suite offer an ideal platform to enable this.
JSM’s powerful tools can help you provide seamless, end-to-end support for internal and external stakeholders, tracking changes, problems, and incidents, and can help you develop organizational agility so you’re able to adapt and embrace change.
- ITSM Workflows and Automation in Jira Service Management: A How-to Guide
- Mastering Jira Service Management Automation: A Guide for Team-Managed Projects
- A Complete Guide to Jira Subtasks
- ESM vs. ITSM: Key Differences in Enterprise and IT Service Management
- A Comprehensive Guide to Jira User Stories
- Master Jira Work Management with this Comprehensive Guide