Where do you start on the ISO journey?

Network Solutions News

Where can large organisations start if they’re seeking ISO 20000 certification? Our experiences showed that perception is an important jumping off point.

As Michael Brophy explained in our recent Certification Europe guest blog, the objective of ISO 20000 certification is clear: ensuring that services are delivered in a way that drives customer satisfaction.

But if you’re a large organisation, how can you begin working towards that ISO certification? In this two-part blog I’d like to take a look at 1) the challenges eir Business faced when we embarked on the ISO journey, and 2) my top tips for large organisations looking to transform service delivery and achieve the same certification.

Over the last two years, my work as eir’s Director of Assure and Customer Service has included delivering a far-reaching service transformation program designed to unify our areas of expertise into a single service entity, to serve our business customers better; a key goal was to help eir to become recognised as a leading managed service provider in Ireland. ISO certification in this context was vital; it would provide independent verification that the way we design, deliver and manage services for customers is world-class. We achieved ISO certification in November 2012, and looking back, here are the key challenges I’d say we faced:

Challenge 1: helping develop perceptions

Mindset is an important one to tackle when beginning the journey. We needed to help our internal teams look at eir in a new way: it’s difficult for a dispersed organisation’s teams to always be aware of what other areas of the organisation do. Parts of our team tended still to look at us as “the phone company,” perhaps unaware of the wide variety in our business units (everything from Internet service provision through network management) or our full skill set, such as systems integration capabilities. This was a critical first step in facilitating all our teams to move forward with a shared vision of who we are and what we are skilled at.

Challenge 2: The skills mash up

A significant part of our transformation program has been to bring all our business units into one location and introduce a new standard service catalogue, all delivered with best in class ITIL V3 processes. Unifying our teams has put staff of quite different skill sets side-by-side in the delivery of combined service offerings for our customers. Be prepared for a culture clash if you’re planning a similar integration of teams – newer parts of the organisation may see the standardised processes as shackles, while other staff may be accustomed to older processes and need time to transition. During this process you may find hidden gems of talent, as well as unexpected synergies as the teams’ combined skill sets resolve problems they couldn’t have addressed individually. The whole really can be more than the sum of its parts when bringing your diverse skill sets together.

Challenge 3: The shift to newer technologies

Innovative technologies offer huge potential for helping a company do things in more productive, more efficient ways, and our industry is no exception. Adopting new technologies has been a significant part of the transformation in eir Business. For example we’re adopting centralised, standardised, repeatable processes for building customers’ enterprise networks, and for remotely servicing those networks throughout the life of that solution. New technology doesn’t just change how teams work, it actually changes how they think about the work, the solutions they sell, and how they service them.

The fact is, the transformation challenge isn’t an insurmountable one. One critical element is helping individuals to genuinely buy into the vision (I’ll talk more about buy-in and empowerment in my next blog). Once individuals are bought-in, they begin to propagate the vision themselves. You know you’re on the right track when, as we discovered, teams coming together to discuss change programmes began to say things like this:

“Forget about changing that thing over there, what we really need is to change this thing here!”

Next time, I’ll offer a few top tips for transforming service delivery – from measuring customer satisfaction to painting a clear picture of the benefits ISO 20000 certification can bring.

If your organisation is facing a transformation challenge, our experienced team can help with network design, information security and ICT architecture.