ISO/IEC 20000 – An Opportunity to Grow

Drago 3This article is a guest post and has been contributed by Drago Topalovic, ITIL & ISO20000 expert.

 

The first thing to consider when implementing best practices and standards in service management is motive.

Why Should We Do It?

When you provide IT services, you have to be the BEST you can. In other IT areas like development, infrastructure, and business system deployment, you can perform slightly under par and still add perceivable value to a customer’s business. In service management, your good performance is usually taken for granted, and every error is highly visible. Service downtimes adversely impact a customer’s business, and SLA breaches are penalized.

Every resource and every configuration item (CI) has to be utilized efficiently. Business processes and functions have to be organized with defined roles, responsibilities, and action sequences. Ambiguities and a lack of definitions and organization promptly lead to user dissatisfaction. So, IT service organizations should take any help they can get.

 

Is ITIL Enough?

ITIL is abundant with best practices, describing life as it should and could be in IT service management. You have all the options laid out in front of you – the sky is the limit. Like living in a big city, you can go to theatres, fancy clubs, and whatnot. But, do you? Living with ITIL alone tends to move you to roads more travelled, and to neglect service management components you don’t feel comfortable with. Knowing your ITIL is good; you can competently implement all the interesting processes and functions, and safely ignore the other ones, knowing that you can turn to them when the time comes.

It differs from one type of service provider to the other, but typical evaded processes in IT are financial management, supplier and customer management, and Documentation management.

For some insight on ITIL benefits, please have a look at the article Why ITIL?.

When you live with ITIL long enough, whether you are a managed services company or internal IT in a small/midsize/large company, you start to realize a few downsides of doing ITIL alone:

  • ITIL certification is personal, and as people come and go, you start to wish for a way to keep your organization’s intellectual property more anchored, instead of being strongly affected by the fluctuation of your staff.
  • With all the options of best practices, it is hard to get the firm management commitment to what really has to be done, and without it, you are on a slippery slope. There are always more urgent things to attend to.
  • ITIL 2011 addresses more processes and functions then before, and implementing all of them seems like mission impossible.
  • It is really difficult to say when enough is enough.

Once you have improved those processes that cause you the most pain, you may realize that your focus shifts to things you didn’t consider important at first. For example, you implement Incident and Change management, and it suddenly becomes obvious to you that your Configuration management lacks the power to support these processes. That’s a good sign that your organization is growing. And, it’s usually a sign that you should start considering ISO/IEC 20000.

 

ISO20000 – An Opportunity to Grow

ISO/IEC 20000 provides a very strict set of requirements for implementation. The scope can prove to be very demanding for most of the growing IT service companies in the beginning. But, as you mature, you start to consider the advantages of a service management system that takes care of what SHALL be done in order to make you a competent IT service management organization, as opposed to what could or should be done.

At some point, this set of opportunities will start to feel more appealing to an organization.

SMS
ISO/IEC 20000 process groups

 

ISO 20000 Benefits

By implementing ISO/IEC20000, the organization benefits from the following:

 

  • Integrated Service Management System (SMS) supporting the vital service management functions.
  • Organization focuses on all key processes. Measurements and control of integrated SMS brings new perspectives and ideas about organization’s service management business. Since all 16 processes are implemented, combined results from say, Budgeting and accounting with Capacity management will give you the better idea on which customers are more valuable to you.
  • Better alignment of IT services and the business it supports. Adopting the common language and the knowledge about processes usually helps in building trust and confidence of customers.
  • Better reputation on the market. Having an ISO20000 certificate is still not a very common thing; it proves you are serious about your business.
  • ISO/IEC 20000 certificate stays with the company, not individuals. The SMS helps to keep knowledge about service management business within the company, as its intellectual property.
  • Roles, responsibilities, and ownership of all processes remove bottlenecks and ambiguities in service management domain.
  • By defining key processes and agreeing about them internally, ISO20000 helps to overcome natural barriers between organizational units. For example, Sales is forced to cooperate more tightly with internal IT in order to offer more cost-effective services to external customers.
  • Vertical communication in the organization is usually greatly enhanced. Management is involved in the process from the beginning, and the feedback they receive regularly enables better quality of tactical and strategic decisions.

 

I am fully aware that the above benefits are primarily aligned with an IT management perspective. These are the pains immediately recognized by the IT members of the community. So, I intend to provide a separate post where they will be properly addressed from a business point of view. I would love to see some of the visitors’ comments regarding this.

 

Conclusion

The certification process for ISO/IEC 20000 is not an easy one. It’s a very demanding project, requiring a lot of resources. That is one of the major reasons it is not a common certificate. On the other hand, this makes it even more appreciated on the market.

If you are an experienced IT organization with good internal knowledge of key ITIL processes, the above-mentioned benefits should be inspiring to consider ISO20000. From my experience, it looks harder than it is. Just take the first step.

 

 


Drago is an IT Business Consultant oriented to Service Management and Customer Relationship Management, project management in SW development.

Specialties: ITIL Expert certificate, Implementation of service management tools, methodologies and processes. Preparation and implementation of ISO/IEC 20000.

You can follow Drago on Twitter here

 

Back to Basics: Why DO the ITIL Foundation Certification?

I was actually asked this question recently by a former colleague working in the IT Asset Management arena, in the context of whether the certification would help them in terms of IT contracting.

I had to think long and hard about my answer, and having learned the hard way in previously trying to get contract work, it does tend to be something that recruiters expect contractors to have, particularly in the ITSM arena.

What’s the real value of ITIL Foundation Certification

I decided to track down the trainer who got me through my Foundation to get his views.

Neil Wilson is an ITIL expert and accredited trainer.  He says:

“The harsh reality is that organisations want it [ITIL], want to start practicing it, but don’t necessarily want to pay for it.

“They can choose who they want.

“It’s a foot in the door, and it gets you on the shortlist.”

He went on to give examples of recent class attendees who have spent many years in the IT industry, but who have never formalised their experience, and have found themselves having to face the prospect of studying.

“Whether we agree with the game, we have to have bits of paper and qualifications.”

I’m too old for this learning lark

This was the crux of my discussion with my colleague – and I am not going to lie, to cram all that stuff in for the Multiple-choice test on top of life, and in my advancing years was not a pleasant prospect.

But in my class, there were several people like me who had faced the spectre of redundancy and saw this as something necessary to help at least get your CV through the first set of scans.

Neil Wilson explains the basics.

“My advice for people who are worried about it – there is no short cut around it.

“You just have to get your head around it, whether that be classroom based or via self-study.”

It culminates in a one hour exam, 40 multiple choice questions, with 26 or more to pass.

“There is an argument for having this format as an appropriate way of testing people’s knowledge and understanding.

“The qualification gets this broad perspective of what the issues are – how do you test that?  With an exam.”

Yoda: "You must unlearn what you have learned"

Unlearn what you have learned

While it sounds a little Yoda™ -like in utterance, it is a valid piece of advice.

Most professionals working in or on the periphery of ITSM/ITAM will have an understanding of the basics in terms of terminology and basic process flow.

And so they should – remember we are talking best practice, here – not quantum physics.

BUT – to get through the exam you perhaps need to put aside what you know of real world situations and just learn what you need to PASS the exam.

Look at it like re-taking your driving test once you have established all those bad habits after you initially passed (we ALL have them!)

Isn’t that a bit defeatist?

Well not really – the Foundation Certificate is just that.  It gives the candidate a good grounding in the terminology and the concepts of ITIL, and at all times it constantly emphasises the fact that you go on a journey, and the need to adapt what you are learning to your own environment.

Is there anything I need to do beforehand?

There are some decent materials out there that can at least give you a ready reference for terminology – which in most cases is half the battle for the exam.

One of the things I found was at The ITIL Training Zone – where they offer ITIL Mind Maps and, more recently, ITIL on a Page.

I was able to catch up with their Head of Online Education, Claire Agutter at the Service Desk and IT Support Show 2012 to learn more.

She explained:

 “The mind maps were something that I found useful and we made freely available, as an effort to build up a trusted training brand.”

“People tell us they take these with them on courses!”

So is it worth it?

There are a couple of ways to look at this:

  • ITSM Credibility

For anyone working in the ITSM arena, there is little doubt in my mind that having a good understanding of the ITIL basics is going to help the team as a whole.

There are alternatives for companies who might balk at putting teams through the certification process.

Remember to balance the theory with common sense and practice.

  • Marketability

At the risk of sounding mercenary – anything, these days, that edges you closer to the start line in the race for jobs/better positions is a good thing.

Let’s be realistic – we work to make money to live.  If having at least the certification means you might be able to negotiate a better starting rate on contracts, or puts you in the frame to move up through the ITSM job structure in your organisation, then it is no bad thing.

  • Choose what works for you.  Classroom learning is an expense and takes up time, but it puts you in an environment where you have no choice but to soak it all in.  Self-study will give you a little more flexibility to study in your own time, but can be equally stressful when it comes to putting the time aside to focus on it.  If you have no self-discipline to do that, then be honest with yourself from the start!

Has it helped me?

For me, gaining my ITIL certification meant I could approach a change in role in terms of process consultancy with a little more comfort.

In my previous roles I could get by with my versions of the books and some background knowledge, happy in the knowledge we had Process Implementation Managers who handled all that other stuff.  I just needed to argue my case for the tool vs process.

But for my next role it was roles reversed – the focus was on process consultancy, with my technical expertise then helping us to develop the tool accordingly – the deeper dive into the basic foundation of ITIL gave me that balance.

I personally think it is worth the 3 days and a couple of nights of pain (if you do a typical course) to have the certification under your belt.

What you do with it afterwards, or more importantly what it can do for you…?  Well that’s another story.

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