Enterprise Service Management (ESM): What It Is and How It Impacts Business Goals

Enterprise Service Management

Enterprise service management (ESM) is increasingly being implemented and built upon by businesses and corporations worldwide, especially as employee demand for support, training, knowledge, ticketing systems, and problem management grows.

This guide provides an in-depth look at ESM and examples of how it can be used to improve IT services, the primary benefits of ESM, and what makes it different from IT service management (ITSM). 

By the end of this guide, you should have a better understanding of how ESM can be implemented to enable digital transformation and how you can choose the right enterprise service management software for your company.

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What is enterprise service management (ESM)?

Enterprise service management is a system for improving business processes and functions. ESM applies the IT service management framework to other areas of the business that impact internal users. 

ESM can be seen as an expansion of the IT service management (ITSM) framework because ESM does for the rest of the business what IT does for technology needs. ESM generates business value by improving internal processes and streamlining functions such as request management.

When an ESM strategy is implemented, visibility and access to enterprise services of all forms are improved and accelerated. Employees and internal users are the primary beneficiaries of ESM. 

ESM reduces process and workflow friction by improving access to support tools, knowledge bases, and other information that enable team members to perform their jobs efficiently and effectively. 

Examples of enterprise service management

Enterprise service management is broader in scope than an employee help desk or ticketing system. ESM involves other elements of an enterprise that gives both individual workers and multifaceted teams the ability to receive support on-demand without having to resort to manual phone calls, IT visits, and other resolutions that can take up significant time and personnel.

ESM may include the following elements: 

  • IT help desk. This is one of the most common services within IT service management and is used by employees and internal users to manage and resolve common problems with applications, errors they see while working, and other miscellaneous IT help items.
  • Self-service portals for employees. An employee self-service portal is an excellent example of an addition to ITSM that allows users to access information that can help them solve problems or answer questions themselves. For example, a portal may provide access to company policies, allow employees to view information related to benefits or salary, such as a paystub, or make certain requests related to their work duties.
  • Problem management systems. If a problem or an error arises during an operation or development process, problem management systems can help create a standardized process for troubleshooting and root cause analysis. Without this system, there wouldn’t be a clear, documented process that can be later referenced and used in “lessons learned” meetings, intended to prevent the same problems from ever occurring again.
  • Automated ticketing. Automated ticketing gives employees the ability to ask questions and receive quick feedback and/or answers, just like customers would through a service portal. Employees can ask a question and receive feedback from the IT department with follow-ups on their queries.

As we can see in these examples, ESM expands the ITSM structure to ensure that employees and internal users have access to an array of applications, portals, and systems to help them perform their jobs more efficiently and effectively.

Reading recommendation: What Is Service Request Management?

What are the benefits of ESM?

ESM offers several crucial advantages. These include minimizing waste, increasing productivity, improving user satisfaction, and accelerating ROI. Below are some additional business benefits: 

  • Cost containment
  • Enhanced productivity
  • Better employee experiences
  • Accelerated ROI
  • Deeper visibility

Cost containment

When business processes within an enterprise are mapped and all sub-activities and sub-processes are defined clearly, the activities that take up extra space and aren’t as valuable to the organization can be cut out and removed. Implementing an ESM strategy requires a second look at your current processes and, as a result, provides an excellent opportunity for waste management and waste minimization.

Enhanced productivity

When teams use ticketing systems and self-service portals, they take up less time from other teams and departments that may be helping other employees or internal users with more time-critical tasks. This optimization and prioritization improve productivity across the board.

Better employee experiences

As users can resolve problems on their own without having to wait for an IT technician or other employee to respond throughout their busy day, they’ll be happier and more productive.

Accelerated ROI

Return on investment in ITSM solutions can be achieved with an ESM strategy, especially when multiple business units begin using the same or similar ITSM and ESM solutions.

Deeper visibility

When ESM is implemented and additional reporting techniques and business metrics are established, visibility into an organization’s processes and control over these processes is improved as a result.

How does ESM support business goals and strategy?

ESM helps companies achieve goals and crystallize business strategies. ESM does this by empowering employees with information and access to the resources they need to do their jobs well. More specifically, ESM supports businesses by: 

Who benefits from enterprise service management?


Every team in the business can benefit from ESM. This includes finance, human resources, customer service, facilities and operations teams, IT, as well as sales and marketing.


Employees might be the primary beneficiaries of an ESM initiative, but many of the benefits also reach the company’s customers. That’s because ESM reduces the amount of time employees spend looking for solutions or information, so they have more time to address value-adding activities such as caring for customers. 

What is the difference between ESM and ITSM

ITSM is a structured process for delivering and managing IT services, and nothing more. ESM is more broad in scope. ESM facilitates the delivery of an array of services and information using a framework similar to that of ITSM. 

How to implement ESM and enable digital transformation

Every ESM implementation is unique and will need to be tailored to the needs of the business and its employees. ESM implementation will also depend on the resources available, including the apps and systems that make up the existing tech stack. 

However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a common framework for implementing ESM. In order to achieve digital transformation, here are some key points to consider when planning and implementing an ESM initiative for your business: 

  • Build a strong case for ESM
  • Collaborate with IT
  • Avoid a one-size-fits-all approach
  • Give each department its own rollout
  • Communicate successes

1. Build a strong case for ESM

Securing buy-in from all stakeholders is crucial. To do that, you’ll need to be clear about how ESM will impact each team, process, and workflow. Take it one step further and outline the benefits for each team, paying special attention to ROI and other measurable metrics. 

2. Collaborate with IT

Your ESM implementation is likely going to include additions to — or modifications of — the apps and systems in your tech stack. Consult with your IT team and developers to help anticipate the workload that ESM implementation will require of them. Feedback from IT can also help you plan more realistically in terms of costs and rollout. 

3. Avoid a one-size-fits-all approach

ESM will affect the entire business, but it won’t impact every department or team the same way. Make sure you spend time with the process owners, managers, and the people who have their hands on the work. This will help you understand the unique needs ESM can address for each team and gives others an opportunity to provide feedback and insights that will make your ESM implementation successful. 

4. Give each department its own rollout

Deploying an ESM initiative is going to take some adjustment. Make sure you address the specific questions, concerns, and comments from each team, and plan a rollout that’s tailored to their needs. Doing so will ease the transition and encourage buy-in. 

5. Communicate successes

When something works as planned or a goal is met, make sure you publicize that information within your company. In addition to building confidence in the ESM implementation, it can also help teams get excited about what ESM can do for them.

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How to choose the right enterprise service management software

Businesses have many choices when it comes to ESM software. The right software choice will depend on the business size, complexity, and budget. In addition, consider who will need to access the software and how they will use it. 

As you start your search for the right ESM software, consider the following: 

  • Scalability. Anticipate future changes and growth by investing in ESM software that can evolve with your business. Tools that incorporate a low-code framework can simplify future changes and expansion. 
  • Versatility. Consider software that can manage many different types of workflows and processes. 
  • Visibility. Software with robust reporting features (such as dashboards and customized reports) can go a long way to improving control and accountability. 
  • Cloud-based. With a cloud-based ESM, businesses can spin up when it’s time to grow without investing in expensive customization or expansion. Cloud ESM can also safeguard availability and increase accessibility. 

How Pipefy will help your enterprise service management (ESM)

Pipefy is low-code automation software that helps businesses optimize any type of business process or workflow. Feature-rich and customizable, Pipefy gives business users an intuitive interface that they can easily use to eliminate spreadsheet sprawl and automate manual tasks.

Pipefy complements and integrates the apps and systems in the existing stack by filling process gaps and dissolving silos (a feature we call stack extensibility). Pipefy includes industry-standard security features, a wide array of customizable templates, and helps businesses build a system of engagement to improve access and collaboration.

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