Why ISO/IEC 20000 should be standard practice

Why ISO/IEC 20000 should be standard practice

In today’s business environment, getting the best possible performance and highest possible return on technology investments is the core objective of every CIO and senior IT manager. In the current economic climate, business technology should be, and increasingly is, subject to the same dynamics that are required to manage and measure every other aspect of enterprise operations.

The management of IT requires structure, governance, metrics, risk management and continual process improvement to optimise performance and to be effectively integrated with broader business objectives.

When looking to optimise the delivery, management and performance of technology enabled services for the business, organisations now have the opportunity to leverage international standards such as ISO/IEC 20000 and established best practice frameworks such as ITIL to ensure their business technology investments deliver results.

For the CIO and other senior IT Managers, standards and frameworks are important tools that allow them to set benchmarks, work in an integrated way and make improvements and monitor the performance of their IT operations. The effective use of ITSM standards and frameworks allow for accurate assessments of what is working, what is not, how much IT really costs and what bottom line value is being delivered to the business.

New frameworks and standards

In the last 12 months there has been a revision of the ITIL V3 best practice framework (now known as ITIL 2011) as well as the release of the latest edition of ISO/IEC 20000-2 2012. The latter is an international standard providing guidance on the practical application of ISO/IEC 20000-1 which is the international standard for service management.

ISO/IEC 20000 and ITIL 2011 are both highly relevant to effective IT service management (ITSM) in the currently-challenged business technology environment where ‘doing more with less’ is an operational catch-cry. ITIL is the most widely accepted framework for IT service management in the world. It provides a cohesive set of best practice approaches, drawn from the experiences and expertise of the public and private sectors internationally. It is supported by a comprehensive qualifications scheme, accredited training organisations and implementation and assessment tools.

ITIL Version 3, first published in 2007, ushered in an important transition toward a holistic, lifecycle approach for ITSM which logically progresses new services through a journey of strategy, design, transition, operation and continual improvement. A revision of ITIL v3 was released in July 2011 (ITIL 2011), with some of the content re-organised to improve flow and readability as well as defining some new processes.

Meanwhile, in February this year, ISO/IEC 20000-2 2012 was published to provide a “guidance manual” to the latest version of the international standard for service management; ISO/IEC 20000-1 2011. With the latest editions of ISO/IEC 20000 Parts 1 and 2, a number of changes have been incorporated including updates to align with ITIL 2011 plus closer alignment to the ISO 9001 and ISO/IEC 27001 standards for quality management and information security respectively.

There were also changes to terminology to reflect international usage, new guidance on governance of processes operated by other parties and additional guidance on defining the scope of service management systems (SMS). ISO/IEC 20000-2 also provides more guidance on continual improvement of the SMS and services as well as on the design and transition of new or changed services.

Interestingly, the chief editor of ISO/IEC 20000-2 and the convener (chair) of the working group within ISO that develops the ISO 20000 standard series is a Sydney-based consultant, Erin Casteel.

Providing guidance to Australian service management

According to Casteel, ISO/IEC 20000-2 2012 provides the all-important guidance to enable organisations to understand, implement and deliver the value derived from an SMS.

“The new edition of ISO/IEC 20000-1 was published in 2011 and this latest ISO publication is designed to be a genuine value-add that really explains what the SMS is, how it works and how all the components work together,” Casteel said. “As a consultant, I help organisations to implement management systems. We wanted to make sure that all the key questions organisations normally ask would be answered by this guidance standard.”

What is the relevance of ISO/IEC 20000 to Australian organisations?

Steve Robinson is the Manager of Service Management, for one Australia’s largest national ITSM consulting and solutions firms, Kinetic IT. According to Robinson, Australian organisations working in a global market place need to be able to demonstrate capability and quality. He said nations with rapidly developing services sectors have been quick to identify the standard as an advantage.

“Adopting an international standard such as ISO 20000 allows organisations to prove themselves on the global stage; it shouts ‘we deliver great service, and can prove it’,” he said. “The rapid and continuing uptake of the standard in countries such as India and China is indicative of its value to services companies in what is a competitive global market.

“For this reason, it is vital that Australian organisations adopt this ISO standard in order to be viewed as serious competitors on that global stage. Adopting a framework such as ITIL and introducing ISO 20000 as a governance mechanism for Service Management will enable both internal and external IT providers to demonstrate world class capability and quality that is externally verified not just internally claimed.”

Robinson believes that IT has a simple purpose; “IT is an enabler to business,” he said. “We expect IT to act as a utility and in today’s ‘always on’ environment it must be available ‘as and when required’.

“Concepts such as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), increased mobility, improved flexibility and the socialisation of IT are here and they are all enabled by IT. To operate effectively in this rapidly changing landscape IT must be integrated with the business. IT must take a position at the ‘top table’ and it must bring forward the innovation and consistency of delivery customers expect, require and demand.

“Service Management utilising ITIL and ISO 20000 can enable IT to deliver in a consistent, controlled and integrated way”.

Casteel, agreed that ISO 20000 is an important standard for Australian organisations and that the new standard will prove hugely beneficial to meeting the challenges presented when trying to integrate systems and processes across an entire organisation.

“We already know from experience that a management system approach that integrates policies, plans and processes in alignment with achieving objectives and delivering value for the organisation and customers is by far the most successful way of doing ITSM,” Casteel said. “Successful applications of the ITIL framework have proven that over many years.

“ISO 20000 defines the requirements for effective service management and ISO/IEC 20000-2 provides the guidance on application of a Service Management System (SMS). It gives tangible examples and explains what the requirements mean and what needs to be done to fulfil them.

“Understanding how to implement an integrated system, as opposed to just a collection of individual processes like Incident Management or Change Management, can be challenging without a guidance document like ISO/IEC 20000-2.”

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