There are currently 705 organizations certified to the ISO/IEC 20000 standard on the official website. That sounds healthy for the standard and for the IT Services industry, but looking at the 36 pages of international names, it is striking how few of them overall are based in Europe, compared to the Far East and United States, (although Germany, Spain and Portugal are reasonably well represented).

The number of ISO/IEC 20000 certified organizations in the UK seems particularly small to me, especially in comparison to the number of UK based individuals qualified in ITIL, Prince2, etc.

The reasons for this are not altogether clear, although there seems to be a feeling that, “It’s a lot of work” and “what’s the benefit?” Does that mean that organizations in the UK are lazier than their International counterparts, and not prepared to put in the work, more arrogant “We don’t need it!” or just lacking in understanding about ISO/IEC 20000?

I think it’s something else.

Let’s look at the description of ISO/IEC 20000 from the official website:

“ISO/IEC 20000 is an international IT standard that allows companies to demonstrate excellence and prove best practice in IT management. The standard ensures companies can achieve evidence-based benchmarks to continuously improve their delivery of IT services.”

What’s not to like? Which IT service companies wouldn’t like to “Demonstrate excellence,” “Prove Best Practice?” and “achieve evidence-based benchmarks” to impress their customers and potential customers? Not many, so what’s stopping them?

I think that it’s a lack of focus on the next sentence in the official description, “continuously improve their delivery of IT services” – i.e. actually doing it.

Is that just too frightening to undertake? If so how have the over 700 certified companies achieved it?

In a blog on the subject, Lynda Cooper suggested that

“Certification enforces process compliance by turning the “shoulds” into “shalls” so that all the benefits of best practice ITSM will be gained. Instead of your staff saying they know they should operate a process in a certain way, they shall operate it in that way because an auditor will check it!”

 Shouldn’t IT Service organizations in the UK be striving to deliver this high level service? What do you think?