ISO/IEC 20000 is the international standard for IT service management, referred to in this post as ISO20000.

In hard economic times, training is often one of the items that is cut from budgets. We are all being asked to take on more work as organizations manage with fewer staff – there is no time to go on a course.

The question is then asked ‘How can I learn about ISO20000 without going on a course?’

Those organizations that are running programmes to ISO20000 to achieve certification and to improve their IT service management have a different question ‘What training should I build into the ISO20000 programme and for which staff?’


How can I learn about ISO20000 without going on a course?

There are many ways to learn without a course:

  • Reading
  • Research/talk with others who have experience of working with ISO20000
  • E-learning
  • On the job working – dive straight in!


There are many books on the market about ISO20000 but do please ensure you read one that has been updated for the new edition of ISO20000 part 1 published in April 2011. Part 1 is the central and most important part of the ISO20000 series. It states the requirements or what you must do to achieve ISO20000. BSI have published books on the new edition.

I know that ITSMF UK and Van Haren are also working on updating books for the new edition.

You need to have a copy of the standard itself. Part 1, as I have said, is essential to buy. You can buy this from your country standards organization or direct from ISO. Some countries have translated part 1. Part 2 guidance, is being updated to align with the revised part 1 and should be published early in 2012.  Part 3 is still valid although being updated and I would recommend that you have this if you need to look at applicability and scope for your organization. Part 5 is useful as an example of how to plan and phase an implementation programme for ISO20000.


Researching about ISO20000 and talking with others is always valuable, whether or not you attend a course. Google ISO20000 and you will get thousands of hits. Look at the blogs on the APMG web site. Join LinkedIn discussion groups. Attend conferences. Find out what worked and what did not work.


Some organizations offer e-learning programmes for ISO20000. Make sure these are for the new edition of part 1. E-learning can be done in your own time and is of course less expensive than attending a course. It is valuable to learn the basics and can be used to prepare yourself for the ISO20000 Foundation exam.

On the job working

This is valuable but you need to understand some basics first about the standard so do some reading and research first. And if possible, work with an expert to learn faster.

All of this is valuable, but I would always recommend attending a training course if at all possible.

What training should I build into the ISO20000 programme and for what staff?

ISO20000, as with other standards, can be difficult to truly understand. Attending a training course given by an expert can unlock the words in the standard. For example, the first requirements in the standard are ‘Top management shall provide evidence of its commitment to planning, establishing, implementing, operating, monitoring, reviewing, maintaining and improving the SMS and the services.’ What does this really mean? Who are top management? What is an SMS?

Without a true understanding and interpretation of the standard, there is a danger you may not satisfy all the requirements and therefore not be able to demonstrate to an auditor that you are ready for certification.

The training courses do more than help you to interpret the requirements of part 1. They also cover how to set up a programme to achieve ISO20000 conformance, how to agree a scope, which services are applicable for ISO20000 and the audit process.

Training courses allow you to ask a lot of questions – to the trainer and also with fellow delegates. In fact, often much of the value is from working on course assignments and talking to delegates from other organizations – something that e-learning does not truly offer.

There are many different course levels to build into an ISO20000 programme. APMG offersFoundation, Practitioner and Auditor courses which are specific to ISO20000. Other examination boards offer variations such as combining service management best practice with ISO20000.

The recommended training for different roles is shown below using the APMG courses as examples. I would always advise checking the qualifications and experience of your trainer – ensure they really are an expert in ISO20000 with plenty of practical experience that they can share with you.

Role Course with pre-requisite Comment
Senior management team members in IT service provider organization (not covered by other roles below). Stakeholders who may become involved in parts of ISO20000 e.g. finance, HR functions. ISO20000 awareness no pre-requisite. Can be anything from 1 hour high level overview to 1 day awareness. Can be tailored to the organization and roles/functions. Non-accredited course developed and offered by many consultants and training organizations. No exam.
Team members in IT service provider organization (not covered by other roles below). ISO20000 Foundation. No pre-requisite although a knowledge of best practice service management such as ITIL will be an advantage.
3 day course.
Accredited course with exam to provide recognised qualification. Provides basic level knowledge.
Manager of an ISO20000 programme.Management representative for ISO20000 within an IT service provider.Functional manager for ISO20000 processes e.g.  change manager.Process owner for ISO20000 processes e.g. owner of incident management process.Consultant.Trainer. ISO20000 Practitioner. Pre-requisite is either ISO20000 or ITIL foundation qualification.3 day course. Accredited course with exam to provide recognised qualification. Provides advanced level knowledge to enable a delegate to manage or advise an ISO20000 programme, consult or work in a key role for an ISO20000 service provider.
Internal auditor.Third party certification auditor. ISO20000 Auditor.Pre-requisite is 3 years of auditing experience2 day course. Accredited course with exam to provide recognised qualification. Provides knowledge of ISO20000 to enable existing auditors to audit against this standard.It assumes knowledge of management systems and auditing and does not cover how to audit.


I would recommend a combination of training courses and other techniques to learn about ISO20000. Look at the roles and decide who needs to attend a course.

Click these links for details of the course content and course providers.

Lynda Cooper, ITIL Master, ISO/IEC 20000-1 project editor, Consultant and Trainer

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Permission to reproduce extracts from BSI ISO/IEC 20000-1:2011 is granted by BSI.  British Standards can be obtained in PDF or hard copy formats from the BSI online or by contacting BSI Customer Services for hardcopies only: Tel: +44 (0)20 8996 9001, Email: