Service Birmingham delivers value with service management

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Service Birmingham reduced costs and improved efficiency, agility and customer satisfaction, all in the effort to respond to public-sector pressures to “do more with less” while maintaining excellent service quality. This was made possible thanks to the implementation of ISO/IEC 20000 for service management.

Today, organizations are increasingly dependent on business services delivered by their internal and external service providers. These services underpin almost every business function across all industry sectors. IT-enabled business services need to be highly available and responsive – any disruption can have a major financial and customer impact.

As part of its business strategy to provide high-performing services to the largest City Council in Europe, Service Birmingham was looking to reduce costs, improve its service management capabilities and enhance customer satisfaction in an effort to respond to public-sector pressures to do more with less, while maintaining excellent service quality. To achieve this, the organization started a journey toward service management excellence based on ISO/IEC 20000.


Message from Tony Lubman, Chief Executive of Service Birmingham

“ISO/IEC 20000 provides an excellent prompt and framework to instil confidence and learning across the organization. Service Birmingham has strong processes and procedures. People are proud to work in an organization that delivers what our customers want, and to standards of consistent quality. The Management Information enables us to proactively shape our business. I see ISO/IEC 20000 as a tool to review and improve.”

ISO/IEC 20000 is an International Standard for service management. It specifies requirements and provides guidance for a service management system (SMS) to control all aspects of the service life cycle, including resources, contracts, policies, processes and the planning, design, transition, operation and improvement of services. The SMS described in ISO/IEC 20000 is designed to manage all these service capabilities in an integrated way and a key focus of the SMS is to deliver value to both customers and the service provider.

Service Birminghamʼs journey has been a great success story. It not only met but exceeded its goals, and gained certification to ISO/IEC 20000 within its targeted 18-month time frame.

Here, Shirley Lacy, of ConnectSphere, who was responsible for the ISO/IEC 20000 training and awareness programme given to Service Birminghamʼs 600-plus staff members, explains the process involved, and just how beneficial the outcome has been.

ISOfocus: What were the key factors to the success of ISO/IEC 20000?

Shirley Lacy: A key to the success of ISO/IEC 20000 was getting buy-in from the top. A high-level business case was presented to senior management to help them better understand and prioritize the benefits of service management.

Everyone in the organization was brought on board to ensure accountability and engagement: Service Birminghamʼs directors sat on the service management programme board, while the CEO and ICT Director served as programme sponsor and chair, respectively. Staff were regularly informed and updated of the implemented process, underlining its importance across all levels of the organization.

Also critical to the success of ISO/IEC 20000 was the service management programme board that led and directed the implementation. This enabled the integrated management system, including its processes, to be firmly in place across the enterprise while a set of key performance indicators guided the way forward for improvements in customer satisfaction (i.e. improved user support, e-mail and Web services, etc.).

What was the biggest priority for Service Birmingham?

Service Birmingham had a contractual commitment with Birmingham City Council to improve service level targets for key services as part of the transition of the new organization. When Service Birmingham was formed in April 2006, only a third of the service level targets were being achieved. An organizational transformation and culture shift were required to improve the performance and productivity of previously separate service and support teams by adopting a more coordinated and structured approach to service delivery using ISO/IEC 20000-aligned service management processes.

The initial scope for the ISO/IEC 20000 implementation was the customerʼs business-critical services. A key focus for the first year was to manage unprecedented call volumes at the service desk. An analysis identified the main causes of failure and an improvement plan to reduce the incidents was set in place. By concentrating on key performance targets and procedures, Service Birmingham significantly reduced both the number and severity of incidents, particularly in high-priority, high-volume areas.

The rate of calls was reduced by 20 % over the first six months as more permanent fixes were implemented. In fact, the service levels for incident response and resolution times were not only achieved, they exceeded expectations.


Bullring shopping center in Birmingham, United Kingdom
What are the benefits of a service management system?

The management system approach for the governance and service life cycle enabled all the service capabilities, including processes, contracts with customers and suppliers, policies, resources and knowledge, to work in an integrated way.

For Service Birmingham, the implementation of a service portfolio and a supplier contract portfolio allowed the service provider to understand the “big picture”. This helped the business relationship managers to better manage and meet customer expectations. It also contributed to giving visibility into how to leverage existing capabilities and increase efficiency.

Key operational improvements were achieved by implementing and automating the service monitoring and request processes. The self-service channel for service requests from users was popular and delivered significant productivity gains.

New services were also introduced and a new service catalogue structure was developed. The adoption of processes for service design and transition was appreciated by the project and service teams – particularly during challenging times – to reduce risk and cost whilst improving quality and customer satisfaction.

What were some of the most important findings?

Quite simply, the use of ISO/IEC 20000 revealed a number of interesting findings. Here are just some of the highlights:

  • Service Birmingham aims to implement and sustain business- and technology-enabled solutions from a business perspective to ensure that maximum benefit is achieved from investment
  • Senior management is visibly committed to the service management objectives and leads the delivery of the organizational benefits, i.e. improved performance and productivity
  • A more cohesive service-oriented culture across the organization builds staff confidence and pride in the services being delivered
  • Improved customer information on how to access services and what makes up a service (through the service catalogue and self-service capability) enhances customer satisfaction and supports effective business relationship management
  • Improved governance of services and processes is achieved through using an integrated service management system (SMS) and continual improvement process
  • Service and supplier portfolio management delivers an up-to-date status that supports more effective management reporting and decision making
  • Service delivery is optimized by providing operational managers with the skills and management information to manage performance more effectively


Midland metro in Birmingham, United Kingdom
What has been the added value of implementing ISO/IEC 20000 for Service Birmingham?

Continuing to develop service quality and embed service management best practices based on ISO/IEC 20000 has enabled Service Birmingham to make great improvements, helping it move from a reactive to a more proactive and cohesive service-oriented organization that develops staff confidence and pride in service delivery.

Yvonne Batchelor of Service Birmingham, who leads the continual improvement programme, outlined the following achievements:

  • 40 % reduction of major incidents over the last three years demonstrating robust processes and improving system availability, with tangible benefits of less downtime and increased productivity
  • Over 30 % of incidents and requests for service raised via the self-service portal
  • Over 20 % increase in calls resolved at the first point of contact at the service desk
  • Over 90 % satisfied customers from annual and quarterly surveys
  • Ability to respond to public-sector pressures of “doing more for less” while maintaining excellent service quality

Service Birmingham has since extended the scope of its ISO/IEC 20000 certification and upgraded to ISO/IEC 20000-1. And what about the future? Going forward, Yvonne says: “It is an exciting time with the channel shift and the need to improve the customer experience. We have many more improvements in the pipeline.” 

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Elizabeth Gasiorowski-Denis

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