ISO/IEC 20000, the international standard for service management, has been with us since 2005. The success rate has been high with many organizations around the world achieving certification to part 1 of the standard.

The new edition of part 1, Service Management System Requirements, was published in April 2011. Aligned to this, the new edition of part 2 was published in February 2012. Part 3, 4 and 5 are all currently being updated to align with the revised part 1.

What has changed in the 2012 edition of part 2?

The 1st major change is the change of title from ‘Code of Practice’ to ‘Guidance on the Application of Service Management Systems’. The new title is a more obvious view of what the document contains.

The 2nd major change is that it is much longer. The 2005 edition was 34 pages. The new edition is 85 pages. This was intentionally planned to make it a much more useful document for service providers who are trying to achieve conformance to part 1. When part 2 was being developed, the aim was for the part 2 clause to be a maximum of 3 times the length of the relevant part 1 clause.


The 3rd major change is the structure. It was agreed that the 1st edition of part 2 was inconsistent and not useful for all processes. The aim in rewriting part 2 was to provide more consistent and useful guidance about the application of part 1. The revised structure mirrors the exact contents of part 1 at the highest level for ease of use. For clauses 5 – 9 at the sub-clause level, the structure has been broken down into:

Intent of the requirements: this is a short high level statement of intent of the requirements of the process
Concepts: What are the key concepts of the process
Explanation of requirements: This is the core of the guidance in explaining the requirements
Documents and records: A list of the key documents and records produced and used in this process
Authorities and responsibilities: A  list of the authorities and responsibilities  involved in this process.

This structure is more difficult for clause 4 due to its length and structure with its many sub-clauses. This clause in part 2 gives a lot of guidance for each sub-clause of clause 4 in part 1.

There is a very useful annex containing examples of interfaces between processes and integration with the SMS.

Who will be impacted by the changes?

The changes are likely to impact two types of service provider:

–  Service providers just starting to work towards achievement of conformance to part 1 who require some guidance on how to apply part 1

–  Service providers who are already conformant to part 1 who wish to obtain further guidance to help them to improve their SMS and services.

Additionally, part 2 will be useful to managers, consultants, trainers and auditors who wish to understand more about how to apply part 1.

Using part 2 with other guidance

Part 2 is not the only guidance on the application of part 1. Other guidance documents which can be used to support part 1 are:

– Part 3 Guidance on scope definition and applicability of ISO/IEC 20000-1
– Part 5 Exemplar implementation plan for ISO/IEC 20000-1
– Other frameworks, such as ITIL®, can provide guidance about how to implement the service management processes.

Part 2 in APMG certification and qualification schemes

Part 2 is not referenced in the APMG certification scheme. The certification scheme is about conformance to the requirements in part 1 and is not concerned with guidance in part 2. Part 3 is the only guidance referenced in the APMG certification scheme.

Part 2 is in the syllabus of the foundation, practitioner and auditor qualifications. The knowledge required is at a high level – the purpose and use of part 2. The contents of part 2 are not covered in the qualifications.

In my opinion…

The revised part 2 is a great improvement and a much more useful document than the previous edition. It is long but is to be used as a reference document so this should not be an issue. The combination of parts 1, 2, 3 and 5 is now a good package providing both requirements and guidance.

Further information

ISO/IEC 20000 part 2 can be obtained from the ISO web site or your country standards organization e.g. BSI in the UK.