ISO Show

#152 What is ISO 20000 Service Management?  


Often seen as the poor cousin to ISO 9001, ISO 20000 Service Management largely gets ignored in favour of the more popular Quality Management Standard.

To be fair, it’s title may have done it a disservice in the past. Being known as the IT Service Management Standard prior to 2018, it was often perceived as only applicable to IT service providers, when in actuality it could be adopted by any business!

So, what is ISO 20000 exactly? The aim of the standard is to provide a framework for an effective end-to-end service management system which encompasses the entire lifecycle of a service from concept and design, through to service removal and end-of-life.

It’s best adopted by businesses who provide a service, particularly those that operate a help / service desk system.

In this weeks’ episode, Steve Mason joins Mel to discuss what ISO 20000 is, who can use and benefit from the Standard and how it fits in with other more widely adopted ISO Standards.

You’ll learn

  • What is ISO 20000?
  • Who is ISO 20000 designed for?
  • What are the benefits of ISO 20000?
  • A brief overview of the Standard
  • How ISO 20000 integrates with other ISO Standards


In this episode, we talk about:

[00:50] Why are we talking about this Standard? We’ve had a lot of interest in a few of our informative videos available on YouTube over the past year, with ISO 20000 content constantly ranking in our top 5 most watched videos every month.

[01:00]  ISO 20000-1 was previously known as the ‘IT Service Management Standard’, but since it’s most recent update in 2018, it’s simply known as the ‘Service Management Standard’ now.

[03:10] Why is ISO 20000 one of Steve’s favourite Standards? – It takes some of the aspects of quality a step further and actually gives you much clearer detail on how you can improve your management systems. So, if you’ve got a Service Management System in any way, shape or form, this is the standard to go.

It’s also one of the easiest standards to audit because there’s some very simple questions to ask that can highlight some very obvious weaknesses. This can lead to significant improvement when compared to the likes of ISO 9001.

[04:05] What Is ISO 20000? –  ISO20000-1:2018 is a Service Management standard which has evolved from the IT industry and the ITIL Framework for Service Management; but today it can be used in all types of Service Industries particularly where there is a need for a Help Desk / Service Desk system.

Some may ask, isn’t this what ISO 9001 can do? In short, no. ISO 9001 will give you a bare framework of how to create a Quality Management System, but it won’t give you the fundamental details of how to improve that Service Management System, and that’s where ISO 20000 comes in.

[05:39] Who is ISO 20000 applicable to? – Any business that provides a service, but more specific examples include: IT Service provider, call centres, gas / electricity providers, retail ect.

[07:15] A high level overview of ISO 20000 – This Standard follows the Standard structure that many other ISO Standards follow. The first 3 clauses are all informative, starting from clause 4 we have:

  • 4.0 Context of the Organisation
  • 5.0 Leadership
  • 6.0 Planning
  • 7.0 Support of Service Management System
  • 8.0 Operation of the Service Management System
  • 9.0 Performance Evaluation
  • 10.0 Improvement

Clause 8.0 is where ISO 20000 fills in the gaps for other Standards, as it covers topics such as:

  • Service Portfolio
  • Relationship and Agreement
  • Supply and Demand
  • Service Design, Build and Transition
  • Resolution
  • Service Assurance

[08:20] Familiar to some – Those in Service Management may recognise some of those terms, but may not use that exact wording. For example ‘relationships and agreements’ may be more commonly known as Service Level Agreements and Operating Level Agreements – which can be a business critical area for some.

[10:45] What are the benefits of ISO 20000? –  Improve the planning and introduction of services: This standard would help you understand what it is you need to do to introduce that new service, go through the planning, testing through a proper change management system and launch through a release and deployment management system.

SLA’s and OLA’s – Achieve Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and Operating Level Agreements (OLAs) will be achieved consistently month on month.

Reduce Stress – It will help to reduce employee stress as service request, incident and problem queues become manageable. Knowledge articles can be created to document incidents and solutions for future reference.

Improved quality of service through continual improvement gained from Incidents and Problem fixes resulting in both time and financial savings.

[12:30] ISO 20000 to the rescue –  Steve recounts an experience he had at a company that had an outstanding issue ticket queue of 800. With the introduction of elements of ISO 20000, they we able to reduce this ludicrous amount down to 30!

[14:05] A top recommendation –  We’d highly recommend that you consider doing a Gap Analysis against ISO 20000. Even if you have no plans to implement it, you can still benefit from the findings.

[14:40] Further resources –  You can purchase the Standard directly from the ISO website.

We also have a number of short courses covering specific clauses in ISO 20000, available in the isologyhub.

[15:55] How does ISO 20000 fit in with other ISO Standards?-  ISO20000-1:2018 has now been remodelled using the High Level Standard (HLS) framework so that clauses 4 to 7 and 9 to 10 can all be interconnected with only minor differences due to the nature of each standard.

Essentially, if you already have ISO9001:2015 or ISO27001:2013 most of the framework for ISO20000-1:2018 will have already been done; all that would be required is to address the service aspects in those six clause before tackling the main work in clause 8.

[18:20] Business Continuity –  ISO 20000 specifies a section on ‘service continuity management’ which can neatly slot in with ISO 22301 – the Standard for Business Continuity. While ISO 22301 focuses on the bigger picture, the ISO 20000 element focuses on how a service can continue for a customer during an incident or accident occurring.

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