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Does ISO 20000 guarantee excellence in IT service delivery?

It’s easy to talk to the people who are familiar with ISO standards, i.e., their purpose and pros & cons of the implementation. But, let’s be honest – such people are the minority. There are many more who know a bit about the standards and have their own opinions about them. I have seen realistic expectations (from implemented ISO standards), but I have seen many more unrealistic ones.

The same goes for ISO 20000 implementation. As a standard, it defines the Service Management System (SMS) end encompasses the whole lifecycle of a service. It sounds promising, but does that mean that, by implementing ISO 20000, an organization will excel in service delivery? Let’s see.

Expecting the best

If you would have to answer the question set above, firstly – you will need to understand who the major stakeholders of your services are and what their expectations are. So, your major stakeholders are your customers and your management. There are two of them and they are cross-connected. Your management wants your customer to be satisfied with IT service delivery, and your customer will complain at your management if they are not satisfied.

If you have ISO 20000 in place, it’s logical that your customer and your management have some expectations from you. Let’s see some examples of their perception of your SMS:

  • Incident resolution in “no time” with 100% successIncidents are highly visible in your customers’ eyes. According to the incident resolution efficiency, they will judge the efficiency of the SMS. Having “all those documents and processes in place” must ensure that the SMS significantly contributes to the incident resolution efficiency.
  • Change without failure – Changes are one of the biggest sources of incidents. So, it’s important to have them under control. Having an SMS in place guarantee change implementation without flaws, doesn’t it?
  • No error in asset management – Many processes (and their efficiency) depend on information from your asset management, so it’s logical that it must be state of the art. Since ISO 20000 requires Configuration Management process implementation, one would expect that issue to be – resolved.
  • Cost efficiency – Don’t forget costs. If you do, your management won’t. But, luckily, ISO 20000 requires implementation of budgeting and accounting for services. That includes budgeting (planning of your costs), control and monitoring of spending, cost allocation, and relation to other processes like Configuration or Change Management (from a financial point of view). Sounds quite promising, doesn’t it?

What does it reality look like?

So, these were the expectations. But, what does it look like in real life? Does an ISO 20000-based SMS guarantee that your team achieved a high level of efficiency, your costs are under control and funds are optimally used, and your customers are satisfied? Well, the reality looks different.

What you will find in real life is the following:

  • There are no situations where incidents are resolved immediately and without a single complaint on the resolution. And that’s normal. You have limited resources and knowledge. There will always be issues you face for the first time.
  • Changes without failure are just a nice wish. What happen is that, once you start implementation, there are always surprises. Sometimes you will react perfectly, but sometimes not.
  • If you expect that your Configuration Management Database (CMDB) will be always up to date – most probably, you haven’t worked with a CMDB so far. Particular smaller changes are implemented in a rush, new ones are waiting in the queue, and it’s easy to forget to document some changes on the assets.
  • Cost control is easier said then done. That’s a daily job, and you can’t foresee all costs that will arise in the next year or two: changes will cost more than expected, user number will increase, etc. These factors have a high influence on the cost of IT services and the supporting team.

What’s the point, then?

Back to the question from the introduction. It may sound confusing, but it does pay to have an SMS in place. Namely, by implementing an SMS you give yourself the opportunity to be efficient and have your organization and processes managed. Sure, there is no guarantee that your SMS is perfect once you implement ISO 20000, but controlling the risks of having ad-hoc processes and a self-organized IT Service support team is worth the effort.

Like in life, it’s the same in IT Service Management – there is no magic wand that will make your work a fairytale. But that shouldn’t bother you. ISO 20000 gives you an excellent foundation to excel in service delivery and make your customers and your management smile. And it’s up to you what you make out of it – a success story, or…

Use this free  ISO 20000 Gap Analysis Tool to check your compliance with ISO 20000 requirements.

Advisera Branimir Valentic
Branimir Valentic
Branimir is an expert in IT service management (consultancy, training and tools), IT governance (training and consulting), project management and consultancy in IT and telecommunication. He holds the following certificates: ITIL Expert, ISO 20000, ISMS Lead Auditor and PRINCE2.