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7 effective strategies to gain employee buy-in for ISO 20000 implementation

Every change in someone’s life causes stress, be it in private life or in business. But, if you really need to do something, it’s important that the people involved cooperate. That’s also valid for Service Management System (SMS) implementation based on the ISO 20000 standard. Once the decision (to implement ISO 20000 in the company) is made, there likely is a consensus among the company’s management. On the other side, implementation introduces a change for the company’s employees.

In order to implement the SMS, and keep it efficient once the implementation is finished, it’s crucial to get employee buy-in for the project. Let’s see why that is important, and learn some practical tips for how to achieve it.

Why does anything need to be done, after all?

Well, if the company is introducing a new Service Management System (or changes to existing service management practices), inertia is working against the initiative – meaning, if nothing is done, nothing will happen. People are used to performing their activities in a certain way, feel conformable with that, and don’t see any real reason for such a change. So, a proactive approach is necessary.

To initiate activities that lead to employee buy-in, management of the company (who are responsible for ensuring that buy-in happens) must be clear as to why they are introducing an ISO 20000-based SMS. So, here are a few of the most common reasons for implementation:

  • Eliminate the “just for the sake of a certificate” approach – If ISO 20000 is implemented just to get the certificate, that’s a lost cause right from the start. There will be no benefits for the company – just additional costs.
  • Increase efficiency – An SMS sets processes, defines roles and their responsibilities, introduces monitoring/measurements, etc. These are the company’s “tools” to increase the efficiency of daily activities, as well as the service itself
  • Help to achieve set goals – There is no successful organization, without goals. Quite the contrary – organizations have business and non-business goals. An efficient SMS helps everyone to stay on the right track towards achieving those goals.

See an example of how a managed SMS can help a small business grow in the article 5 ways ITIL can help your small business grow.

How to get employee buy-in?

So, obviously, getting employee buy-in while implementing an SMS is crucial. Here are a few tips for how to get them on board:

  • Involve them in process definition and setup – maybe you won’t be able to involve them all, but find a way to give them the opportunity to be sure their voices are heard. That will make them feel useful during the implementation (or even during changes to the process, once the SMS is operational). To show that you really want to involve them, take their opinions seriously, and evaluate and communicate (or discuss) the results.
  • Training and awareness – trained people are efficient people (at least, they have a good foundation to be efficient). People without knowledge are, usually, frustrated people. What I noticed is that training needs to be performed before the implementation is finished. Awareness is, in addition to the standard’s requirements, a continual set of activities (during and after the SMS implementation) that keep people aware of the SMS and their contributions to its success.
  • Lead by example – who is a better example than the management? So, make clear to the middle and high management what is expected from them, and make them aware that their subordinates see what they do and how they behave. Also, involve your management as early as possible in the implementation project.
  • Communicate – what I experienced (particularly when there is a change in the company) is that employees really don’t like being uninformed, i.e., not knowing what’s going on (and, consequently, feel unmotivated). So, inform them, and communicate progress, achievements, improvements, milestones, and goals that are achieved, etc. That will keep them involved in the project as it develops. Learn more about communication in the article IT Service Management communication according to ISO 20000.
  • Clear roles and responsibilities – people feel comfortable when they know what their job is, exactly. So, give them clear explanation. But, that’s not the end. Ensure that you monitor what and how they are doing and, in case of noncompliance with agreed process activities and related responsibilities, that consequences are communicated and initiated.
  • Share and celebrate – this partially goes along with communication, but it’s very important to share achievements with your employees. Celebrate milestones, achieved goals, or improvements made.

So, depending on the organization, there are many opportunities to get your employees engaged. But, one thing is certain: buy-in is crucial for the success of the SMS implementation and, even more importantly, for the maintenance once the implementation is finished.

What are the benefits?

Besides the successful implementation of the SMS and efficient maintenance, there is one benefit that shouldn’t be neglected. An efficient SMS is related to fulfillment of customer requirements and satisfaction. Take, for example, the Service Level Agreement and agreed targets. Ad-hoc organizations are very likely to fail in fulfilling SLA requirements. A well-organized company, with clear processes, roles, and responsibilities that constantly improve the SMS – that’s a good foundation to be successful on the market.

An, the reward? Satisfied customers and paid invoices for the services provided. And, I’m sure – it’s not only management who likes that. Your employees must like that, for sure. Let them know that, and there you have one more “tool” to get their buy-in.

Use this free Project Plan for ISO 20000 implementation to manage ISO 20000 implementation and plan your employees’ activities.

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.