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ITIL & ISO 20000 Blog

How personal certificates can help your company’s IT Service Management

Like with many segments in business, IT Service Management (ITSM) is not an excuse – knowledge of your people makes a (significant) difference. I have seen, many times, companies that struggle with personal certificates for their people (or candidates for the job). Is it necessary to have that certificate? And why? What do we get as a company by, e.g., hiring someone with a certificate? There are many questions, and most of them are hard to answer.

ITSM based on ITIL or ISO 20000 manages services used by a company’s external customers or by internal customers who use these services for their business activities. That sets requirements for people involved in providing those services at a high level. Let’s see how personal certificates can help; i.e., why we should invest in people with personal certificates.

What are the requirements?

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If we consider ISO 20000 – there are quite clear requirements. Section 4.4.2 of the standard states clearly that personnel required for the activities related to the management of the Service Management System (SMS), and conforming to the service requirements, need to be competent; i.e., they need to be educated and trained (meaning, possess the required skills and experience). Although companies are focused on services and customers, they need to evaluate which competencies are needed and how to achieve them.

ITIL is less explicit related to the skill level. But, that’s only the way it looks if you are looking for a direct recommendation – you will not find it in ITIL. But, if you look deeper, once you start the implementation of various processes or start building an ITIL-based ITSM organization – very soon you will realize that the competence of your staff is crucial. It didn’t just happen once – but I faced a situation where the whole ITSM organization went through ITIL training in order to achieve a common competence level throughout the entire organization.

Certificates – Which ones are there?

Evidence of performed trainings is mandatory by ISO 20000. That could be in the form of a signed attendance list, a training attendance certificate, or a certificate issued to a person after the certification exam.

ISO 20000 does not have a strictly defined educational path. Most common trainings are the same as those for other standards (e.g., ISO 27001 or ISO 9001):

  • Foundation level – it gives an overview of the standard’s requirements
  • Internal auditor – besides giving an overview of the standard, it gives knowledge on how to perform the internal audit
  • Lead auditor – this is the training aimed for people who will audit the SMS as a certification body auditor

The article Process to obtain ISO/IEC 20000 certification: Companies and individuals provides more information about ISO 20000 certifications.

ITIL has a strict certification path. The training syllabus, certification levels, and certification exams are controlled by the owner (Axelos Ltd.), which makes it easier to plan personal development (or development of your own people, if you are responsible for competency inside your company). The articles ITIL Certification and ITIL Certification Path – list of all available ITIL trainings, exams and certificates provide more details.

In addition to ISO 20000 and ITIL certificates, people involved in ITSM can have vendor-specific certificates (e.g., Cisco or Microsoft). That’s also valid proof of the employee’s competency.

What are the benefits?

In order to give you an idea of how personal certificates can help your organization, let me put it the other way around: how would you explain to your management why someone should have a certificate – i.e., how the organization would benefit from that? Here are a few ideas:

  • Compliance with the standard – that’s pretty straightforward. Personal certificates will fulfill the standard’s requirement to provide necessary competences as well as record(s) of education/training.
  • Efficiency – gaining know-how from scratch and employing people who possess needed knowledge (proved by personal certificates) are two opposite things. When hiring someone with certificates (or investing in gaining certificates for existing people), the company is sure to start from a much higher point than learning from “zero.” The quality of the gained knowledge is also on the side of someone with a certificate. Of course, if the certified person is new to the company he will need some time to get into the company’s specifics, but at least expertise is present right from the start.
  • Credibility – having experts inside your organization (confirmed with personal certificates) increases the credibility of your company. That could be pretty important for smaller companies (fighting the “big guys” with set requirements to prove the competency of your people – personal certificates are excellent for that purpose). Also, I have often seen that companies like to show publicly (e.g., in marketing material) that their employees have certain competences.
  • Employee satisfaction – the fact that you invest in people has two benefits. Firstly, employees appreciate that the company invests in their knowledge, and that creates satisfied employees. Secondly, competent (and satisfied) people are a prerequisite for an efficient ITSM. An efficient ITSM means efficiency in delivered services, and that is highly appreciated by the customers. And, a customer’s satisfaction returns back into the “system” and the wheel starts turning…

What’s the point?

As you can see, having people with personal certificates can be, when you look at it for the first time, costly. But, once you start thinking about the benefits certified people bring to the organization – it’s very easy to see that those benefits are significant.

And, don’t forget your customers. They also like to see that there are competent people somewhere around the services they use (meaning – pay for). Increasing efficiency, having satisfied employees as well as customers – do you still think that personal certificates are too expensive?

Use this free  ITIL/ISO 20000 Gap Analysis tools to check requirements for the needed competencies.

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Branimir Valentic
Lead ITIL/ISO 20000 Expert, Advisera

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