How TIPA® Helps Prepare for the ISO 20000 Audit

Alain Renault, Senior R&D Engineer, Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST)

“TIPA is based on the idea to apply the state of the art for process assessment (ISO 15504) to the state of the art for IT service management processes (ITIL). “

Today we have asked the Expert, Alain Renault, Senior R&D Engineer at LIST to answer three questions on “ How TIPA ® can prepare for ISO20K audit”.

Could you explain the advantages of making use of TIPA for IT Process Assessment vs other frameworks in the market?

Alain Renault: TIPA brings many advantages compared to its competitors. The major one is definitely the ISO standard it is based on. The ISO/IEC 15504 standard for process assessment is a fantastic tool. It brings the best of all in one framework. As it was first published as a technical report, it enabled a true validation of its concepts through hundreds of assessments by companies worldwide prior to its official publication as an ISO standard, guaranteeing its robustness. The standard has been developed and is maintained by an international community of experts at ISO levels, which means that it will keep being there as long as ISO members (i.e. the countries) will continue voting in its favour. Life and death of a standard are not dependant on individual persons or companies.

LIST, as a public research centre in Luxembourg and owner of the TIPA framework, gives also the guarantee that TIPA will keep being developed, maintained and supported in the future. The beauty of TIPA is that it brings the process itself at the heart of the system. ITIL has structured the service management activities around processes but we can observe that many consultants or companies pay more attention to the individual activities than to the processes themselves. There is often even a tendency to try and comply to ITIL, which is nonsense. ISO/IEC 15504 and TIPA follow the original (as per ISO 9000) meaning of the process, where activities and resources are used to reach the process purpose and to produce the process expected results. In that sense, TIPA is a very pragmatic approach that supports business activities first by checking if the process purpose and outcomes are there before analysing its level of maturity.

Another big advantage of TIPA is that the framework (the assessment method, the process model and the supporting toolbox) is documented in real detail in a book published with VanHaren Publishing, making it an open and transparent turnkey solution for assessing ITSM processes.

Could you share some examples of the benefits of TIPA for an organization?

Alain Renault: As explained above, TIPA has inherited from the characteristics of ISO/IEC 15504. It brings objectivity and repeatability to the assessment results, which are major assets for benchmarking or for measuring improvements. The whole method is documented which makes it an open framework and not a black-box solution. The end-user organisation or any potential user may know and understand how TIPA works, how it is going to be used, how the process are assessed, how the ratings are done and how the results are presented. There is no surprise.

As it is an open framework the organization can decide at any time to change from partner for the assessments if they are hiring the services of external assessors. This cannot be done easily if the latter are using a black-box solution as in that case there is no evidence that the results may be compared.

As TIPA focuses on the successful implementation of the processes, it guarantees that the business or operational activities will
directly benefit from a TIPA assessment and the subsequent improvement plan. TIPA strives to make sure that processes are successfully implemented before working to improve process maturity through process management, process documentation …

This optimizes the return on investment on the assessment project for the organization.

Here is how the APM Group qualified TIPA at its publication: “This is a truly complementary product for ITIL and will be useful for many organisations”.

We understand that one of the benefits of using TIPA is to prepare for ISO20K audit. Please explain how it works.

Alain Renault: As most ISO standards the ISO/IEC 20000 is rather straightforward. It sets requirements that an organization needs to satisfy to demonstrate its excellence for the delivery of IT services. These requirements target mainly the service management system. Even if the requirements used for certification purpose are completed with additional guidance in a second part of the standard, that guidance is on application of service management systems (based on ISO/IEC 20000-1). In other words 20K sets requirements and provides guidance for establishing a management system for services. This management system is presented as the cornerstone of the delivery and support of ITSM processes.

ISO/IEC 20000 can theoretically be used by an organization looking for guidance on how to improve its IT service management processes, with or without intent in seeking certification. However I don’t think it’s the best source of inspiration, particularly if the organization is expecting short term ROI or has a low maturity level.

TIPA will help the organization strengthen its processes, improving their performance focusing on areas where weaknesses introduce risks or are obstacles for reaching the organization’s business objectives. The focus is on the processes individually and on their global contribution to the achievement of the expected results.

TIPA is assessing process individually which gives the opportunity to track the evolution of each process maturity thanks to the information provided as output of an assessment, namely the assessment profile that support easy comparison or even benchmarking.

We have several cases of organization using TIPA in that particular context for years. A typical example is Fujitsu Services Oy in Finland that started to implement ITIL processes in 2005, and started using TIPA on a regular basis in 2007 to measure the improvements made and the gaps to cover. Over time Fujitsu Services Oy has been using TIPA more and more, decreasing dramatically the amount of internal audits normally required to keep its certificates.

TIPA is working on the improvement of activities or tasks supporting the achievement and performance of the processes. It is intended to bring answers to expectations of individuals involved in using the processes. The great majority of these individuals met during interviews are happy to contribute to the improvements.

TIPA is also interesting as it helps to set priorities in the assessment plans where recommendations related to lower levels of maturity should of course be implemented first. This is already an interesting progress compared to pages-long flat lists of non-conformities that you usually get after audits.

If TIPA can be considered as a truly complementary product for ITIL and will be useful for many organisations we see that in can in addition be an interesting solution to help reaching an ISO 20K certification.

Breaking news

As already done by CMMI for its appraisal method, as expected by the TIPA community and the market in general, the TIPA team is proud to announce they are currently defining different classes of assessment for TIPA, with a special focus on a light assessment method for cheaper assessments.

The upcoming TIPA classes of assessment follow the categories defined in the revision of the ISO/IOEC 15504.