Service Management Blog

ITSM Frameworks: Which Are Most Popular?

Joe Hertvik
3 minute read
Joe Hertvik

Information Technology Service Management (ITSM) refers to all the activities, policies, and processes that organizations use for deploying, managing, and improving IT service delivery. Organizations generally use a pre-defined framework of best practices and standard processes to provide a disciplined approach to ITSM implementation.

The most famous ITSM framework is the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL). ITIL was first introduced in the 1980s through the United Kingdom’s Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency (CCTA), but it is now owned, managed, updated, and certified by AXELOS.

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However, ITIL isn’t the only framework around which you can organize ITSM. There are others frameworks as documented in the 2017 Forbes Insights survey on The State of Information Technology Service Management (ITSM). With its surveying of 261 senior executives from around the world, this report can serve as a reasonable proxy for the worldwide state of ITSM.

Regarding who’s using which ITSM frameworks and processes, the Forbes Insights survey issued the following chart, listing the most prevalent frameworks and processes that the surveyed organizations are using to support ITSM strategies:

Different types of frameworks and processes

The first thing you’ve probably noticed is that all of these numbers together add up to more than 100% of the respondents surveyed. That’s because each framework and process satisfies different needs.

There are several ITSM frameworks, like ITIL, that offer best practices on what to do as you implement ITSM – such as Microsoft Operations Framework (MOF); Control Objectives for Information and Related Technologies (COBIT); and Business Process Framework (eTom). Inside ITSM, there are also standards for quality management (such as ISO 9000) and information security management (ISO/IEC) that must be met to become certified and remain in compliance. And, there are software development and delivery best practices – such as DevOps.

With organizations having many different subsidiaries, divisions, and locations worldwide, it’s easy to see how a business could incorporate several different frameworks, processes, and standards into their ITSM platforms to meet different needs.

The most popular frameworks and processes

Picking our way through Forbes Insights chart, these are the ITSM frameworks and processes most used by the surveyed companies:

  • 47% of sites use Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) for ITSM, which focuses on aligning IT services with the needs of business
  • 36% are using Control Objectives for Information and Related Technologies (COBIT), which started in the financial audit community, but has since expanded to add management standards
  • 36% are using Business Process Framework (eTom), which is commonly used by telecom service providers in the telecommunications industry
  • 34% use Microsoft Operations Framework (MOF), which provides another framework for managing the IT life cycle

The other frameworks, processes, and standards all have their users, but these were the big four that Forbes Insights respondents mentioned the most.

The practical use of framework and process ratings

You may be asking yourself, “What good is it in knowing the most popular frameworks and processes used by other organizations?”

For organizations, it helps to understand that there are choices available to help meet your IT service delivery needs. A list of the more commonly used frameworks and processes is valuable, if for nothing else than to help whittle down your choices as you determine your own ITSM strategy. There is a wisdom of crowds involved in selecting ITSM tools that are informed by what other worldwide companies are doing.

For individuals looking for a career in ITSM or for organizations offering ITSM support, it’s helpful for identifying potential employers or customers to know which frameworks and processes are more popular. For example, while ITIL is an enormous name in ITSM frameworks, it’s worth knowing that Microsoft Operations Framework is making a respectable name for itself as a competing framework.

The bottom line is that it’s worth knowing who’s using what in the marketplace, and Forbes Insights research survey helps paint that picture.

About the Forbes Insight survey

The 2017 Forbes Insight survey focused on the state of information technology service management (ITSM). It surveyed 261 senior-level executives from around the world, representing organizations at various revenue levels from small (<$500 million) to large (> $5 billion), and its survey results can serve as a proxy for the state of IT and ITSM worldwide.

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About the author

Joe Hertvik

Joe Hertvik

Joe Hertvik works in the tech industry as a business owner and an IT Director, specializing in Data Center infrastructure management and IBM i management.

Joe owns Hertvik Business Services, a content strategy business that produces white papers, case studies, and other content for the tech industry. Joe has produced over 1,000 articles and other IT-related content for various publications and tech companies over the last 15 years.

Joe also provides consulting services for IBM i shops, Data Centers, and Help Desks.

Joe can be reached via email at, or on his web site at