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What resources are needed to maintain your ISO 20000-based SMS?

Most implementations (whether they be something in your private life or in your professional one) begin with an idea. Actually, a good idea can be an important distinguishing factor for a successful implementation. But, experience has shown that an idea is not enough – resources are needed to make any idea real.

This fact is valid for the ISO 20000-based Service Management System (SMS) implementation. Due to its complexity, different kinds of resources are needed for the SMS. Let’s see more details about it.

Which resources?

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The requirement for the necessary resources should be well planned. An SMS plan is a mandatory document and requires the planning of resources that are needed to implement, maintain, and improve the SMS and agreed services. And this is a good approach because of two reasons:

  1. It considers resources to be a highly important element of the SMS.
  2. It guarantees management of resources (instead of an ad-hoc approach).

So, clause 4.4 of the standard requires that resources be determined (meaning – which ones you need) and provided (meaning – you have them at your disposal). The standard requires the following resources:

  1. Human – this includes the people needed to design, implement, and maintain the SMS. During the design phase, you will need a lot of help from management, operational staff, and someone familiar with the standard’s requirements. The implementation phase is pretty much an internal issue, so you’ll need someone (usually the implementation project manager) to drive the implementation. Once you are done – the real life begins; i.e., you need to run the SMS and manage the services it supports. That will include process managers (e.g., incident manager, change manager, etc.), but also operational staff (e.g., for measurements, change implementation, problem diagnosis, etc.). Besides the above-mentioned human resources, you will also need top management and IT management, as well as some external parties, e.g., suppliers, subcontractors, consultants, etc., and one person who is not part of the SMS – the internal auditor, who will need to perform (at least annually) an internal audit of the SMS.
  2. Technical – there are a variety of technical resources that the SMS needs. One group of technical resources includes the technology you need to support the achievement of service requirements (infrastructure, applications). Another group of technical resources are the tools you use for the SMS. This could be an IT Service Management (ITSM) tool. Basically, an ITSM tool is a necessity even for smaller organizations, and makes management of the SMS much easier. Data centers and service continuity facilities also require various technical resources, e.g., power supplies, air conditioning, etc.
  3. Information – information is required quite early in the IT service lifecycle – for example, customer requirements, which are typical resources you need for the service management. Other information includes: your policies and procedures, measurements, reports, analytics, improvement plans, plans in general (e.g., capacity, availability, service continuity …), etc. Meaning, information includes the resources you need to establish and manage your services, and have a clear overview of the services’ performance as well as that of your organization and customers.
  4. Financial – like everything in business, the SMS needs financial resources as well. This includes financing of the SMS establishment, as well as funds for the operation of the SMS.

So, there are many different kinds of resources you need. But, there is no magic calculation for which resources, and how much of each, you need for your SMS. Exact resources, their quantities and usage are dictated by the services and customers, so it will be different for every service provider.

sms_related_resourcesFigure: SMS-related resources

The human factor

Although non-human resources are absolutely necessary, the human factor will be a distinguishing factor. Therefore, the standard sets clear requirements regarding human resources in the scope of the SMS. Basically, the requirements involve considering the competence of the people who are part of the SMS. In order to fulfill the standard’s requirements (and, I would say – efficiently operate the SMS), you need to:

  • Determine which skills and competences are needed – that will depend on the role the particular employee has, e.g., Incident Manager or Problem Management Analyst.
  • Educate people – prepare a training program that will increase the competence of the people in the scope of the SMS. And, do that regularly, because in today’s world – people, particularly the skilled workforce, should never stop learning.
  • Evaluate all activities related to human resources (e.g., efficiency of provided training or state of the employees’ awareness of the SMS, its goals, and objectives) and define further steps to increase the competence of employees who are part of the SMS.

So, it may seem like a lot of requirements, but if you really think about them – they are necessary. Because, you can have the best technology in place, or huge financial resources, but without competent people … I think it won’t work.

Cherish what you have

As you can see in this article, the efficiency of the SMS depends on the resources you have. Some of them are easier to gain (e.g., technology), and some of them require more time to build up (e.g., people). But, you can’t have an efficient SMS without any of them. And that’s what you should see as an advantage.

Carefully planned resources, smart investment in people, and management capable of getting the best out of them (all of your SMS-related resources) sounds much easier than it is. But, once you succeed – the result will justify the energy and effort invested. So, don’t hold back in your efforts to build and exploit all your SMS resources. It will pay back well.

Use this free  ISO 20000 Gap analysis tool to check how your resources fulfill the ISO 20000 requirements.

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Branimir Valentic
Lead ITIL/ISO 20000 Expert, Advisera

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