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ISO 20000 Customer Portfolio – A perfect overview of all IT services provided

For some of you it may sound strange, but in my experience, many people in IT Service Management (ITSM), while implementing ISO 20000, have issues with the Business Relationship Management (BRM) process. BRM is certainly not one of the operational processes, and that’s usually the source of the problems. ISO 20000 implementation and, later, operation of the SMS (Service Management System) is usually handled by someone from IT. BRM is a customer-, as well as a business-related process.

On the other side, the business environment is becoming more complex. So are the customers and related services. But, that doesn’t provide an excuse for the IT service provider. Quite the contrary: it provides new requirements – to manage the efficiency of customer relationships in the quickly changing business world.

What is it all about?

ISO 20000, in clause 7.1, sets requirements for the BRM process. BRM should manage relationships with customers, with customer satisfaction being the primary goal. There are a few elements that are needed to ensure this:

  • Responsible person – that’s the Business Relationship Manager. His job is to maintain business relationships with the customers (contrary to the Service Level Manager, who takes care of operational issues related to the services). Maybe you are familiar with the Key Account Manager role. That’s basically the Business Relationship Manager.
  • Communication – that’s the Business Relationship Manager’s main “tool.” That’s also how he gets an understanding of the (customer’s) business environment and respective needs and expectations. In such a way, the IT service provider is in a position to respond to customer requirements.
  • Services – that includes having an overview of the services, its users, interested parties, and performance. Performance should be reviewed together with the customer, but that’s the moment when the relationship with the Service Level Manager gains importance (he knows the performance parameters of the services).

So, to excel in the above-mentioned elements of service management, the Business Relationship Manager has to have an excellent overview of all services in place, relevant customer data, responsible people on both sides (his own as well as the customer’s), as well as whatever is needed to help him manage the customer’s existing and (maybe even more importantly) future needs. The Customer Portfolio, as a document, is a list (or table in the ITSM tool) that correlates all this information. You can even see it as mini (but, really, really mini) CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool.

What does it include?

The standard doesn’t define many details regarding what you need to document. It states that the service provider needs to identify and document users, customers, and interested parties of the services, and a contact for each customer. So, to fulfill the standard’s requirements, the SMS must contain a document, or maybe more practical – a list (as mentioned in the previous section – Customer Portfolio) with just a few details:

  • Who is the customer?
  • Who is the responsible person?
  • Details about communication with the customer

But, once you have such a document or list, it’s obvious that you can get much more than just a list. It’s your chance to manage customer service relationships, as well as customer needs. That opens the door to many opportunities. And, it could be very useful.

Here is what else (the mandatory requirements) that should be in the content of the Customer Portfolio document:

  • General data about the customer
  • Related contacts inside own organization
  • Information about services that particular customer uses
  • Communication details, like who is responsible for what on both sides, history of meetings
  • Details about inquiries, potential new opportunities
  • Financial data

So, basically, “the sky is the limit.” But, be careful, because too much information can create a situation where people will not use the document because of bad usability.

And, the purpose

Once I witnessed a situation when people from my company talked to a customer and tried to create a lead for a service that the customer was already using. It’s not a nice example, but I’m sure that there are many similar cases. And, it’s disgraceful (at least for me, at that time). The point is, that customer already used a long list of services (managed by many different Service Managers), and there wasn’t anything like a Customer Portfolio. And, even worse, there was no overview of the communication matrix (who is communicating with whom on both sides). So, a Customer Portfolio will provide you with a way to manage your customer, relationships with him, and related services.

Basically, it was a wonder in the above situation that no “collisions” happened. The good thing, while implementing a standard like ISO 20000, is that it forces you to manage the situation. So, since you find yourself in that situation – make the best out of it. Managing your most valuable asset – the customer – will pay back in many different ways. And for a long time, as well.

Use this free preview of the  Customer Portfolio template to see the possible formats and the content of such a document.

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.