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IT Service Management Glossary

Terms & Definitions


Terms & Definitions

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Activity A set of actions designed to achieve a particular result. Activities are usually defined as part of Processes or Plans, and are documented in Procedures.
Agreement A Document that describes a formal understanding between two or more parties. An Agreement is not legally binding, unless it forms part of a Contract.
Alert A warning that a threshold has been reached, something has changed, or a Failure has occurred. Alerts are often created and managed by System Management tools and are managed by the Event Management Process.
Asset Management

Asset Management is the Process responsible for tracking and reporting the value and
ownership of financial Assets throughout their Lifecycle. Asset Management is part of
an overall Service Asset and Configuration Management Process.

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Baseline A Benchmark used as a reference point.

A failure to perform some promised act or obligation.


A named group of things that have something in common. Categories are used to group similar things together. Incident Categories are used to group similar types of Incidents.

Change Request A formal proposal for a Change to be made. A Request For Change (RFC) includes details of the proposed Change, and may be recorded on paper or electronically
Closed The final Status in the Lifecycle of an Incident, Problem, Change etc. When the Status is Closed, no further action is taken.

When a customer or user is satisfied that an Incident or Problem has been resolved.

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Configuration Item (CI)

Any Component that needs to be managed in order to deliver an IT Service. Information
about each CI is recorded in a Configuration Item record within the Configuration
Management System and is maintained throughout its Lifecycle by Configuration
Management. CIs are under the control of Change Management. CIs typically include IT
Services, systems, hardware, software, but can also include people groups and formal
documentation such as contracts, process documentation, and SLAs.

Configuration Item Attribute

A piece of information about a Configuration Item. Examples are Name, Manufacturer,
Version number and Operational Status. Attributes of CIs are recorded in the
Configuration Management Database (CMDB).

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Configuration Management The Process responsible for maintaining information about Configuration items required
to deliver an IT Service, including their Relationships. This information is managed
throughout the Lifecycle of the CI. Configuration Management is part of an overall
Service Asset and Configuration Management Process.
Configuration Management
Database (CMDB)

A database used to store Configuration Records throughout their Lifecycle. The
Configuration Management System maintains one or more CMDBs and each CMDB
stores Attributes of CIs and Relationships with other CIs.

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Configuration Management
System (CMS)

Configuration Management System is a set of tools and Configuration Management
databases that are used to manage Configuration data. The CMS also includes
information about Incidents, Problems, Known Errors, Changes and Releases; and may
contain data about employees, Suppliers, locations, Business Units, Customers and
Users. The CMS includes tools for collecting, storing, managing, updating, and
presenting data about all Configuration Items and their Relationships. The CMS is
maintained by Configuration Management and is used by all IT Service Management

Continual Service Improvement (CSI)

Continual Service Improvement is responsible for managing improvements to IT Service Management Processes and IT Services. The Performance of the IT Service Provider is continually measured and improvements are made to Processes, IT Services and IT Infrastructure in order to increase Efficiency, Effectiveness, and Cost Effectiveness.

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Customer A person who requests and usually pays (in one way or another) for the IT services provided.


A stage in the Incident Lifecycle. Detection results in the Incident becoming known to the Service Provider. Detection can be automatic, or can be the result of a User logging an Incident.

Diagnosis A stage in the Incident and Problem Lifecycles. The purpose of Diagnosis is to identify a Workaround for an Incident or the Root Cause of a Problem.
Escalation An activity that obtains additional resources when needed to meet Service level targets or customer expectations.
Functional Escalation

Transferring an Incident, or Service Request to a technical team with a higher level of expertise to assist in troubleshooting and/or resolution.

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Hierarchical Escalation

If incidents are of a serious nature (for example Priority1 incidents) IT management must be notified, for informational purposes at least. Hierarchic escalation is also used if the ‘Investigation and Diagnosis' and ‘Resolution and Recovery' steps are taking too long or proving too difficult to resolve and need additional resources.


A measure of the effect of an Incident, Problem or Change on Business Processes. Impact is often based on how Service Levels will be affected. Impact and Urgency are used to assign Priority.

Incident          An unplanned interruption to an IT Service or a reduction in the Quality of an IT Service.
Incident Management

The Process responsible for managing the Lifecycle of all Incidents. The primary Objective of Incident Management is to return the IT Service to Users as quickly as possible.

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Incident Record Record containing the details of an Incident. Each Incident record documents the Lifecycle of a single Incident.
Information Technology (IT) The use of technology for the storage, communication or processing of information. The technology typically includes computers, telecommunications, Applications and other software. The information may include Business data, voice, images, video, etc. Information Technology is often used to support Business Processes through IT Services.
IT Infrastructure

All of the hardware, software, networks, facilities etc. that are required to Develop, Test, deliver, Monitor, Control or support IT Services. The term IT Infrastructure includes all of the Information Technology but not the associated people, Processes and documentation.

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IT Service A Service provided to one or more Customers by an IT Service Provider. An IT Service is based on the use of Information Technology and supports the Customer's Business Processes. An IT Service is made up from a combination of people, Processes and technology and should be defined in a Service Level Agreement.
Key Performance Indicator (KPI) A Metric that is used to help manage a Process, IT Service or Activity. Many Metrics may be measured, but only the most important of these are defined as KPIs and used to actively manage and report on the Process, IT Service or Activity. KPIs should be selected to ensure that Efficiency, Effectiveness, and Cost Effectiveness are all managed.
Known Error

Problem that has a documented Root Cause and a Workaround. Known Errors are created and managed throughout their Lifecycle by Problem Management.

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Known Error Record

A Record containing the details of a Known Error. Each Known Error Record documents the Lifecycle of a Known Error, including the Status, Root Cause and Workaround.

Major Incident

The highest category of impact for an incident. A Major Incident results in significant disruption to the business.


The value given to an Incident to indicate its relative importance in order to ensure the appropriate allocation of resources and to determine the timeframe within which that action is required.  Priority is based upon a coherent and up-to-date understanding of the business impact and urgency.

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The unknown underlying root cause of one or more incidents.  The cause is not usually known at the time a Problem Record is created, and the Problem Management Process is responsible for determining the root cause.
Problem Management The Process responsible for managing the Lifecycle of all Problems. The primary Objectives of Problem Management are to prevent Incidents from happening, and to minimize the Impact of Incidents that cannot be prevented.
Procedure A Document containing steps that specify how to achieve an Activity. Procedures are defined as part of Processes.

A structured set of Activities designed to accomplish a specific Objective. A Process takes one or more defined inputs and turns them into defined outputs. A Process may include any of the Roles, responsibilities, tools and management Controls required to reliably deliver the outputs. A Process may define Standards, Guidelines, Activities, and Work Instructions if they are needed.

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Process Manager

A Role responsible for Operational management of a Process. The Process Manager's responsibilities include Planning and co-ordination of all Activities required to carry out, monitor and report on the Process.

Process Owner A Role responsible for ensuring that a Process is Fit for Purpose. The Process Owner's responsibilities include sponsorship, Design, Change Management and continual improvement of the Process and its Metrics.
Record A Document containing the results or other output from a Process or Activity. Records are evidence of the fact that an Activity took place and may be paper or electronic. For example, an Incident Record.
Recovery Returning an IT Service to a working state.

A formal statement of what is needed. For example a Service Level Requirement

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Resolution Action taken to repair the Root Cause of an Incident or Problem, or to implement a Workaround.
Response Time A measure of the time taken to complete an Operation or Transaction.
Restoration of Service Returning of an IT Service to the Users after Repair and Recovery from an Incident. This is the primary Objective of Incident Management.

A set of responsibilities, Activities and authorities granted to a person or team. A Role is defined in a Process. One person or team may have multiple Roles, for example the Roles of Problem Manager and Incident Manager may be carried out by a single person.

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The boundary, or extent, to which a Process, Procedure, Certification, Contract etc. applies.

Service Desk The Single Point of Contact between the Service Provider and the Users. A typical Service Desk manages Incidents and Service Requests, and also handles communication with the Users.
Service Request A request from a User for information, or advice, or for a Standard Change or for Access to an IT Service. For example to reset a password, or to provide standard IT Services for a new User. Service Requests are usually handled by a Service Desk, and do not require an RFC to be submitted.
Service Owner A Role which is accountable for the delivery of a specific IT Service.
Service Manager

A manager who is responsible for managing the end-to-end Lifecycle of one or more IT Services. The term Service Manager is also used to mean any manager within the IT Service Provider.

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Service Level
Measured and reported achievement against one or more Service Level Targets. The term Service Level is sometimes used informally to mean Service Level Target.
Service Level Agreement (SLA)

An Agreement between an IT Service Provider and a Customer. The SLA describes the IT Service, documents Service Level Targets, and specifies the responsibilities of the IT Service Provider and the Customer. A single SLA may cover multiple IT Services or multiple Customers.

Service Level Management (SLM)

The Process responsible for negotiating Service Level Agreements, and ensuring that these are met. SLM is responsible for ensuring that all IT Service Management Processes, Operational Level Agreements, and Underpinning Contracts, are appropriate for the agreed Service Level Targets. SLM monitors and reports on Service Levels, and holds regular Customer reviews.

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Single Point of Contact Providing a single consistent way to communicate with an Organization or Business Unit. For example, a Single Point of Contact for an IT Service Provider is usually called a Service Desk.

Support Group

A group of people with technical skills. Support Groups provide the Technical Support needed by all of the IT Service Management Processes.

Tier  3 Support The third level in a hierarchy of Support Groups involved in the resolution of Incidents and investigation of Problems. Each level contains more specialist skills, or has more time or other Resources. e.g. Architecture
Tier 1 Support

The first level in a hierarchy of Support Groups involved in the resolution of Incidents and Service Requests.  The first level is the single point of contact for the Users. e.g. Service Desk.

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Tier 2 Support The second level in a hierarchy of Support Groups involved in the resolution of Incidents, Service Requests and investigation of Problems. Each level contains more specialist skills, or has more time or other Resources. e.g. Desktop Support, Technical Operations etc.
Trend Analysis Analysis of data to identify time related patterns.

A measure of how long it will be until an Incident, Problem or Change has a significant Impact on the Business. For example a high Impact Incident may have low Urgency, if the Impact will not affect the Business until the end of the financial year. Impact and Urgency are used to assign Priority.

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Those who utilize the IT services on a daily basis. Their jobs depend on and are supported by IT services, and they associated with the Service Support processes.

VIP A high ranking executive or personnel.
Workaround Reducing or eliminating the Impact of an Incident or Problem for which a full Resolution is not yet available.

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CAB Change Advisory Board
Cfg Configuration Management
CI Configuration Item
CM Change Management
CMDB Configuration Management Database
CSI Continual Service Improvement
CSS Customer Satisfaction Survey
IM Incident Management
IT Information Technology
ITSM IT Service Management
KA Knowledge Article
KB Knowledgebase
KE Known Error
KEDB Known Error Database
KM Knowledge Management
KPI Key Performance Indicator
LITS Library and Information Technology Services
MI Major Incident
MIN Major Incident Notification
PM Problem Management or Project Management
PPM Project Portfolio Management
RF Request Fulfillment
SDLC Software Development Life Cycle
SIA Service Impacting Advisory
xCAB Executive Advisory Board
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