In working with a client who is pursuing an ISO 20000 certification I was struck by the frequent caution in the ISO materials that retaining the certificate is more difficult than obtaining it in the first place.

Like a championship team that finds defending their title to be a challenge, many organizations experience difficulty in maintaining focus on their IT Service Management practices once the initial effort is complete and the project phase has closed.

The reason is that ITSM, whether an organization is pursuing an ISO certificate or just instituting internal best practices, is not a project. Sure, the introduction of IT Service Management is a project. Project management methods can (and should) be used to oversee the effort and the tasks of introducing ITSM, but it cannot stop there.

We work with many organizations who are developing ITSM processes where the effort is viewed as a temporary endeavor, a project separate from the ‘real work.’ Such an organizational attitude is a recipe for failure. The reason is that the ‘M’ is the key initial in the acronym – Management. To adopt and embed ITSM means taking a different approach to the very way the organization is managed. This is something that needs to be reinforced over time until it is deeply embedded in the culture of the organization.

To repeat: ITSM speaks to how the IT organization is to be managed. If this new approach is not embedded and reinforced your organization will most likely not retain the new behaviors of any ITSM implementation you undertake.

The solution is to recognize from the outset and constantly reinforce the fact that you are designing and implementing a Management System that will define how you organize and run your shop. It’s not a project, some activity those ‘ITSM Geeks’ are working on, but a fundamental definition of how things are going to be managed from now on.

In fact, the ISO 2000 standard makes this quite clear. It describes a Service Management System (SMS) that must be in place in its entirety for the organization to obtain certification. Even if you are not going to seek formal certification, your ITSM initiative can only be helped by bringing this spirit to the endeavor.

Here are some past posts that might help you start thinking this through:
‘ITSM – Where to Start? Well, before ITSM actually’

‘Organizational Vital Signs – Leadership Team and Control of WIP’


Bill is just one of our ITIL Experts at Service Catalyst. We would love to discuss with you how you might lay the groundwork to realize the benefits from ITIL, DevOps automation using ServiceNow and how to make the turn towards Digital Transformation. This could even include seeking ISO 2000 certification. You can contact us at or call us at +1.888.718.1708