Standards rule OK?

There has been a growing move towards adopting accredited standards when delivering services. Use of the standard for information security (ISO27001:2005, latterly BS7799) and the Prince 2 project management methodology are now commonplace. There is growing use of the ITIL standard for service management within the higher education sector but adoption thus far has been patchy although many institutions are following the principles of the ITIL framework.

I met with the current Chair of ITSMF today to talk about the potential for collaboration between ITSMF and UCISA. The two organisations have common aims – both seek to promote best practice and both lobby other bodies on behalf of their members. UCISA has established a working group to look at developing a toolkit for ITIL with the broad aim of improving the quality and professionalism of service management in the sector and ITSMF is represented on the Steering Group for the project.

There is scope for collaboration. ITSMF has access to service management experts across both public and private sector; UCISA can draw on that expertise to expedite the adoption of sound service management principles in the sector. If more service departments adopt formal service management practices then there is the potential for more members for ITSMF. So there should be benefit for both parties. However there is also an opportunity for IT service departments in the sector to again lead in service provision and development. Prince 2 has become the standard methodology for all projects; there is scope for ITIL to become the standard for all service management. There is growing emphasis on customer focus and the student experience in universities and colleges. Clearly adoption of standards which improve the quality of the student experience at service points and result in more professionally operated services will benefit both the students and, in the long term, the institutions themselves. The challenge will be selling service management standards outside of the IT service department.

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