4 Crucial Techniques for Convincing your top Management to Implement ISO 20000

ISO 20000 does not belong to the most popular standards known to many people in business environment (e.g. ISO 9001, international standard for quality management). That doesn’t mean, however, that it’s not worth implementing. On the contrary, companies active in IT Service Management (ITSM) have many reasons to implement a Service Management System (SMS) based on ISO 20000.

Dealing with standard implementation has one more obstacle to overcome – your top management. Buy-in from top management is a must if you are implementing ISO 20000. I have seen companies where this is not a hard job, but there are more companies where this can be very difficult to achieve. Let’s see how to get this task done.

First thing’s first – Why?

Section 4 of the standard defines the responsibilities of top management. It’s counterproductive just to brief your managers and expect their positive (and proactive) reaction. It doesn’t work that way. For example, there is a requirement that your top management conduct management reviews at planned intervals. If they don’t understand what this means, and the purpose of management reviews, you will not get their support or commitment for this task.

Even before you start the implementation, top management has to give you the OK for the project, and enable the resources you need. If they don’t understand why ISO 20000 is good for the company or the benefits of implementation, they will not cooperate. So, let’s see how to convince them.

1) Make it short and understandable

I have often found that people from IT (including ITSM) are perceived as hard people to understand. This means that, while trying to explain something, IT professionals sometimes don’t come to the level of the people they’re speaking to. Besides complex tech talk, the fact is that management doesn’t like long and complicated explanations. Actually – no one likes them.

So, if you want your management to understand you, then you need to speak clearly, simply and use as many examples or – even better – numbers as possible. Once they understand these examples and see the numbers to show why the organization is implementing ISO 20000, you will get your sponsor.

2) Use examples

There is nothing better than examples. Actually, examples are usually self-explanatory, particularly if they are explaining business benefits achieved through ISO 20000 implementation. To make examples more convincing, use numbers related to the customers – the more important the numbers you can use, the better.

I remember a situation when I was at customer site, and most of the people (from IT) were trying to remedy an unknown error in the system. Technicians implemented an unauthorized change that night and almost cost the company one of its bigger customers. The loss of that customer would have been easily quantifiable and understood by top management.

To be clear, if ISO 20000 has been implemented, that doesn’t mean that this wouldn’t happen. But, ISO 20000 requires that an authorization mechanism would be in place to be sure that only approved changes take place.

3) Explain (financial) benefits

If there’s one thing that management understands, it’s financial parameters for the topic you’d like to discuss. You should try to monetarize (i.e. add financial values) to the arguments for the ISO 20000 implementation. Some benefits are easily related by the numbers, while some are not. For example, Service Level Agreements (SLA) usually contain a penalties clause in case SLA targets are not achieved. With an implemented Incident Management as well as measurement and reporting, an ITSM organization is in position to achieve SLA targets by:

  • Managing incident resolution
  • Controlling all relevant activities
  • Monitoring the progress of the resolution

It’s realistic to say that missing the SLA target is kept to a minimum. Learn more about benefits of the ISO 20000 implementation in the article 5 key benefits of ISO 20000 implementation.

4) Focus on improvement

Getting better, day-bay-day, is the dream of every manager. ISO 20000 provides an excellent foundation to begin improvement as an ongoing activity. Continual improvement will result in a better-managed SMS, and your customers will notice. Here are few (positive) consequences of continually improving your SMS:

  • Improved processes – Activities, in the scope of the processes are performed with less effort and fewer mistakes. That will satisfy your own people, management and customers. It won’t happen, however, if processes are not properly set and managed.
  • Know the facts – Do you have a contractual obligation to your customers, with defined targets (e.g. availability of the services)? If you don’t monitor and measure (which is deeply embedded in ISO 20000), it’s impossible to prove that you have fulfilled your obligations. You also won’t be able to tell what you need to do (i.e. improve) to fulfill your obligations toward your customers.
  • Keep existing customers, and gain new ones – People (including your customers) watch how you are performing, and will notice when you get better. Your management has be made aware that increasing performance is an excellent foundation to keep existing customers, and will help you gain new ones.

Use your opportunity

It’s clear that ISO 20000 implementation is worth the effort of your company. Unfortunately, until top management realizes that, there is no step forward. As you can see, there are many for convincing them to sponsor the project. Top management is sometimes hard to talk to, but if you approach them in the right way, your chances of getting their commitment are pretty high. Remember: Sometimes it’s hard to live with them, but you can’t live without them.

Use this free Project proposal for ISO 20000-1:2011 implementation to present your project to the top management.

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.