IT service management: ITIL® or ISO 20000?

The short answer is you don’t choose! 

Despite organisations often declaring they want to be “ITIL-compliant” or they want to implement ITIL”, ITIL isnt something you can actually be measured against or accredited to. The framework consists of a set of best practices created by experts from many leading companies who have been there and done that, which can and should be adapted to meet your organisation’s individual needs. ITIL is not prescriptive, and has often been described as the “documented common sense” of service management; even if the names don’t matchmany organisations may find that they already apply many of these best practices. 

However, ISO/IEC 20000-1:2018 is an international standard organisations cancertifyagainst to demonstrate their IT service management capability. It is an official recognition that they are performing their service management function well and to the standard required by a growing number of customers. The ISO 20000 standard is aligned with ITIL, and directly uses 22 out of the 34 ITIL 4 practices to measure against. Furthermore, an accredited ISO 20000 certification could give your organisation a competitive advantage when tendering for contracts from large businesses or government departments.


IT service management: ITIL® or ISO 20000?


ISO 20000 provides a framework against which you can measure your SMS (service management system) –the documented way your organisation has decided and agreed to manage its services, covering the interrelated processes, assets and resources that will deliver the required outcomes. 

Organisations are often put off adopting ITIL best practice, believing that its necessary to implement all 34 practices, and to adopt them all at once. This would be an unnecessarily daunting and expensive task. ITIL is very much about adopt and adapt organisations should only adopt those practices that are going to bring them real value. 

Whether your organisation’s goal is to achieve ISO 20000 certification or to just improve your service management capability, implementing the practices that are common to ITILand ISO 20000 will significantly improve your IT service. Thepractices you currently have in place give you a starting point – a foundation to build on – that constitute your organisation’s current SMS. You can then develop this management system, prioritising the areas in need of most improvement.


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