ISO 20K Can Be a Starting Point, Not a Destination

Since it's adoption, there has been a slow, but steady growth in the number of organizations that are seeking, or have achieved, ISO/IEC 20000 (ISO 20K) certification. For the most part, interest in the standard is being driven by RFP requirements or perceived competitive advantage. The certificate is seen as an "award" that an organization receives for achieving best practice ITSM. While ITIL is being actively adopted, many organizations are overlooking ISO 20K because they do not perceive any value in the certification.

I recently realized that we are looking at ISO/IEC 20000 in the wrong way. The standard has so much more to offer than just a certificate. It actually provides a starting place for an ITSM journey, not only the

ISO/IEC 20000 defines the "minimum critical activities" required to deliver high quality, aligned services. Once these activities are understood, an organization can assess which activities they already execute well and which may need implementation or improvement.

Here are some other benefits of ISO/IEC 20000:

  • It is succinct and easy to understand ("you shall record all incidents")

  • It applies to every internal or external IT organization regardless of size or industry

  • It distinguishes critical ITSM activities (in Part 1) from recommended activities (in Part 2)

  • It logically groups processes (Resolution, Service Delivery, Control, Relationship, Release) so you can build related processes together

  • It includes a Quality Management System with requirements for Management Responsibility, Training/Awareness/Competency, Documentation and Plan-Do-Check-Act

  • It is founded on continual improvement

  • It is objective and measurable and can help diffuse political or cultural challenges

There is no requirement that you adopt ITIL in order to implement ITSM according to ISO 20K. ITIL does offer a wealth of good knowledge that conforms to the standard. However, you can also cherry-pick guidance from other frameworks such as MOF or Cobit. Microsoft recently released a free Using MOF for ISO/IEC 20000 whitepaper. You can also meet the standard's requirements through successful, conformant, internal practices.

Whether you are at the beginning, underway or mature in IT Service Management, I would highly recommend learning more about the standard. It is available as a formal standard, digested ISO/IEC 20000 pocket guide or in several ISO/IEC 20000 books.

EXIN has also created a qualification scheme for ISO/IEC 20000 training and certification. You can explore the scheme at At the very least, I would recommend the ISO/IEC 20000 Foundation course for key staff involved in your ITSM implementation.

Striving for ISO/IEC 20000 certification is a management decision; using the standard as a tool for successful ITSM is just good management.


Jayne Groll said…
Ed Williams wrote an interesting blog that elaborates on this topic even further. Check it out at
markinson said…
Reading this post I completely agree with the topic.I mean that's true it is just the begining....
ITIL Version 3

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