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Top 10 Tips for Achieving ISO/IEC 20000 Certification

By Dr. Don Page, ITSM Strategic Director, Marval Software 

To maintain a competitive advantage, organisations need to have the conviction to measure and benchmark their IT services to retain business confidence and demonstrate to stakeholders how they measure up against a recognised industry standard or their competition.

If we work on the premise that ‘The only constant is change’ and that business must continually change and evolve to remain competitive or even stay in business, the most important thing is to be able to effectively manage change.

Whilst good practices, such as ITIL®, deliver some of these benefits, they lack the definition of a formalised process approach with an independent assessment and certification process; ISO/IEC 20000, the international standard for IT service management (ITSM), gives ITIL teeth. Demonstrable and auditable compliance to an accepted and respected standard has long been recognised as a professional and proven approach.

This reliance on standards can easily be seen in the domestic environment, where we rely on the quality of electrical appliances that carry certified adherence to a specific standard, and in finance and manufacturing industries, where standards have long been the basic measure of a product or service conformance to agreed requirements.

My top 10 tips and rules of engagement to help you achieve ISO/IEC 20000 are listed below - it’s not rocket science just ‘auditable common sense’.

1. Make It a Strategic Decision ISO/IEC 20000 is not an IT decision, it’s a business decision. With many organisations now being so dependent on information technology, failure to manage this critical resource could be disastrous.

2. Invest In Your People Do not make the assumption that because you employ highly skilled IT professionals they understand or are capable of delivering a world class service. Invest in service reorientation, education, communication and soft skills training. It is ‘people’ who deliver a world class service, underpinned by effective process and stable, reliable technology.

3. Apply Intelligently As with all standards, it needs to be applied intelligently - with the intention of driving improvement and thus value. Failure to do so would simply result in additional layers of bureaucracy. ISO/IEC 20000 has the advantage of being aligned to and underpinned by ITIL, which has been developed, tried and trusted by practising IT service management professionals worldwide.

4. If You Can't Prove It, You Don't Do It If you work on this premise you can’t go wrong. Ask your team these simple questions. Are we confident in our ability to be benchmarked and audited? Can we demonstrate our ability to meet external regulatory and IT Governance requirements (e.g, Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX), ETOMS, COBIT, ISO 9001, etc)? ISO/IEC 20000 demands accountability.

5. Honesty Is the Best Policy ISO/IEC 20000 is about quality, continual improvement, communication, being proactive rather than reactive and being accountable. Your service provider must be brutally honest about their strengths and weaknesses and develop a service improvement plan to leverage the strengths and focus on eliminating the weaknesses; whether the weaknesses are true or perceived. Focus on those who want to deliver a great service, not those who don’t.

6. Sell the Benefits of What A Great Job Your Team Does Ensure staff understand and appreciate the benefits to themselves and their colleagues and most importantly, sell the benefits to the business. Most service providers, internal and external, are abysmal at selling to the business what a great job they and their team actually do. ISO/IEC 20000 has a strong focus on continual improvement and selling identifiable service improvements and the link to the business in business terms.

7. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate Need I say more?

8. All Agreed Policies, Processes and Procedures Shall Be Followed It’s no good having them in place if they are not followed. One of the goals and benefits of having them in place is that anyone in the team should be able to follow them. If you want to free up your skilled IT resources to work on service improvements, then the operational running of your IT services must not be dependent on individuals. Involve your team in their creation and development. Train your staff on the policies, processes and procedures.

9. Record Everything

  • All changes shall be recorded, risk assessed, scheduled, documented, updated and have a tested ‘back-out-plan’
  • Reasons for failing to meet agreed service targets shall be recorded, reviewed and communicated
  • All incidents shall be recorded, documented and updated
  • All identified problems shall be recorded, documented and updated
  • Time spent shall be recorded against every request
  • All service relationships, computer assets, configurations, network and risks shall be documented, understood, maintained and auditable
  • All identified service improvements, evidence, targets and actions shall be documented and auditable
  • Performance against identified improvements shall be regularly monitored and any corrective actions undertaken shall be documented

10. You Need an Integrated IT Service Management Tool Without a good ITSM tool it will be difficult to:

  • Attain and maintain ISO/IEC 20000
  • Collect the required evidence
  • Identify service improvements
  • Demonstrate what a great job you do

Marval's ISO/IEC 20000 Consultancy offers realistic and practical advice and guidance based on our knowledge and expertise as co-authors of the standard, as active participants in the ISO/IEC 20000 accreditation programme and as an ISO/IEC 20000 certified organisation. Learn More - Click Here

“ITIL® is a registered trade mark of AXELOS Limited”. Marval also recognises the trade mark rights of any 3rd party trade mark owners mentioned in this document.

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