Opinion piece: Top 10 tips to achieve and maintain ISO 20000 certification

By Edward Carbutt, Executive Director at Marval Africa

When it comes to achieving ISO 20000 certification, South Africa is a little behind the curve compared to the rest of the globe. However, as Information Technology (IT) becomes more integral to business functionality, underpinning business strategy and enabling organisations to deliver their outputs, so businesses realise the importance of having a streamlined IT service management (ITSM) function.

Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) frameworks help organisations to streamline their ITSM and ISO 20000 certification and solidifies their capability of adhering to the best practices contained within ITIL. So, what should South African businesses do to help them on their ISO 20000 certification journey?

Top 10 tips and rules of engagement to help businesses achieve ISO 20000 certification:

  1. Make ISO 20000 a strategic business decision. ISO 20000 is not an IT decision, it’s a business decision. The board or executive committee of a business is responsible for its governance. With many organisations now being so dependent on IT, failure to manage this critical resource could be disastrous.
  2. Invest in people. Businesses should not make the assumption that because highly skilled IT professionals are employed, they understand or are capable of delivering a world class service. They should invest in service reorientation, education, communication and soft skills training. It is ‘people’ who deliver a world class service, underpinned by effective processes and stable reliable technology.

This should always be driven from the top down, and the best CEOs are usually those who are great coaches too. They understand people and how to bring teams together to deliver the best value and best services.

  1. Apply intelligently. As with all standards, ISO 20000 needs to be applied intelligently – with the intention of driving improvement and value. Failure to do so results in additional layers of bureaucracy. ISO 20000 has the advantage of being aligned to and is underpinned by ITIL, which has been developed, tried and trusted by practising ITSM professionals worldwide.
  2. If you can’t prove it, you don’t do it. Organisation that adopt this premise can’t go wrong. Businesses should ask their team these simple questions: Are we confident in our ability to be benchmarked and audited? Are we able to demonstrate our ability to meet external regulatory and IT Governance requirements? ISO 20000 demands accountability.
  3. Honesty is the best policy. ISO 20000 is about quality, continual improvement, communication, being proactive rather than reactive, and being accountable. Service providers must be brutally honest about their strengths and weaknesses. It is essential to develop a service improvement plan to leverage the strengths and focus on eliminating the weaknesses, whether the weaknesses are real or perceived. Businesses should choose a service provider that is committed to delivering a great service and has the evidence to provide it.
  4. Sell the benefits of great teamwork. Companies should ensure their staff understand and acknowledge the benefits of ISO 20000 certification. Importantly, they should sell the benefits to the business. Most service providers, internal and external, do not proactively communicate what they do, how well they do it and the role that ISO 20000 plays in this. ISO 20000 has a strong focus on continual improvement, selling identifiable service improvements which impacts the business positively.
  5. Communicate, communicate, communicate. Communication with all stakeholders is absolutely critical and could not be underscored enough.
  6. Follow through. Having policies, procedures and processes in place is no good if they are not adhered to. One of the goals and benefits of having them in place is that anyone in the team should be able to follow them. If businesses want to free up their skilled IT resources to work on service improvements, then the operational running of their IT services must not be dependent on individuals. Businesses should involve their team in the creation and development of their policies, processes and procedures, and train them accordingly.
  7. Record everything. In order to easily identify patterns of error, issues and successes, it is essential to have to record everything. All changes should be recorded, the risk assessed, scheduled, documented, updated and have a tested ‘back-out-plan’. Reasons for failing to meet agreed service targets must be recorded, reviewed and communicated.

Time spent attending to any IT service should be measured against every request.

For ISO 20000 to show measurable impact, there has to be a record of evidence and traceable data. This helps to draw a timeline and illustrate where improvements have been made.

  1. Integrated IT Service Management Tools are key. Without a good, easy to deploy and use ITSM tool it is difficult to:
  • Attain and maintain ISO 20000;
  • Collect the required evidence;
  • Identify service improvements;
  • Demonstrate what a great job IT does.

It can be a challenge for a business to undertake this on their own.  As such, a specialist that provides both the right tool as well as consultancy services to help give practical advice and guidance can assist greatly.  It is the sum of the whole – people, process and technology, which makes it a success.

Editorial Contacts

Marval Africa

Edward Carbutt

Executive Director

Tel: 010 020 0640

Email: edward@marvalsa.net

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