Professionalism and Credentialing in Service Management
June 21, 2011
Matthew Burrows
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We have a number of qualifications and certifications in our industry, but these often only prove our textbook understanding and our ability to pass exams. The sheer quantity and structure of some of these can make it extremely confusing. As a result it is difficult for individuals, employers, customers and all involved in Service Management.

I can tell by the amount of discussion and activity, and the number of invitations I’ve received this year to talk about this subject at conferences and seminars, that this is an area many are looking for help with.

Employers and Recruitment Agencies, and customers buying service management-related services (consultancy and training), would be helped if they had some standardized way of assessing the skills, experience, capability and professional standing of individuals.

Service Management professionals, whether working in an operational environment, providing consultancy or training services, or any other aspect of service management, would benefit from the ability to demonstrate their professional standing, competency and experience.

Professionalism in Service Management

Some argue about whether Service Management is a profession. A common definition is that a professional is someone who gets paid – as simple as that! I would hope that the majority of us operate in a professional manner, striving to ensure we act in an ethical and moral way.

If we want to be seen as professionals, and be recognized in a similar way to other professions such as Doctors, Pilots, Accountants and Lawyers, we need to demonstrate certain things. You wouldn’t be happy to fly in an airplane where the pilot has no practical flying experience to support the various desk-based courses and examinations he has successfully passed. Pilots have to show they can actually fly a plane by flying it under the guidance of an instructor for many hours, maintaining their skills by flying on a regular basis and continuing to prove other core capabilities and their fitness to operate – which includes medical tests, more theory and more practical flying tests.

As individuals working in Service Management, wouldn’t it be good to be able to get better professional recognition and to provide independently-verified proof of our professional standing, including our practical experience and capability on top of the list of qualifications and certifications?

As someone hiring service management staff or looking for consultancy or training services, wouldn’t it be good to have some additional tools which help evaluate and differentiate between different candidates or offerings.

itSMF International have introduced a new credentialing scheme for all itSMF Chapters and members around the globe. This aims to provide a set of internationally-recognized credentials to meet the needs described above.

In addition, the wider use of SFIA – the Skills Framework for the Information Age, is also evident with many training organizations aligning and advertising which SFIA skills each course is designed to support. Customer organizations and their Recruitment Agencies, looking to hire Service Management staff, are using SFIA to define the job roles and responsibilities. Consultancy Service Providers are aligning their consultants to SFIA levels, and using SFIA to describe their capabilities.

About SFIA

The SFIA Foundation is a not-for-profit organization whose members are BCS, e-skills UK, IET, IMIS and itSMF UK.

The Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA) provides a common reference model for the identification of the skills needed to develop effective Information Systems (IS) making use of Information Communications Technologies (ICT). It is a simple and logical two-dimensional framework consisting of areas of work on one axis and levels of responsibility on the other.

It uses a common language and a sensible, logical structure that can be adapted to the training and development needs of a very wide range of businesses – or simply used ‘off the shelf’.

SFIA enables employers of IT professionals to carry out a range of HR activities against a common framework of reference - including skill audit, planning future skill requirements, development programs, standardization of job titles and functions, and resource allocation.

It is easily accessible to ICT practitioners and users, employers, education and training providers, and government.

What is priSM®?

priSM®(Professional Recognition for IT Service Management), is a credentialing program aimed at IT Service Management professionals. The program provides a framework and guidance for continuing professional development while building upon member’s existing training, certifications, education, and experience. The achievement of a priSM credential aims to provide the individual with a broad range of benefits including industry and potential employer recognition, and post nominal use (depending on level achieved).

In addition to having to meet a clear set of criteria to gain the credential in the first place, Credential Holders have to commit to Continual Professional Development (CPD) which is tested each year in order for them to maintain the credential, and they must sign and abide by a Code of Ethics. The priSM Institute provides support to these individuals through CPD and Mentoring, which is backed up by the local itSMF Chapters events and other activities.

The priSM® mission is to promote professional recognition of Service Management professionals based on their experience, educational achievements and professional activities. This helps to move our profession in an important direction, supporting service management professionals throughout their careers and helping those who hire staff or consultants.

priSM® is owned by itSMF International, and is being rolled out globally. The Regional priSM Institute for EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) and the Regional Institute for the Americas are both fully operational. The Regional Institute for Asia Pacific is due to be established later in 2011.

A growing number of itSMF Chapters around the globe are now involved, and many people have successfully applied for priSM credentials.

For more information on priSM see The priSM Institute website.

What’s the difference between a Credential (like priSM), a Certification and Membership?

Credential: awarded to an individual based on specific criteria and then maintained via a specified program of activities

Certification: based on achieving a specific set of skills, usually ‘tested’ via an exam

Membership: fee-based group that requires one to abide by group rules and pay annual dues for individual or corporate membership (for example, itSMF)

The priSM credential is owned by the priSM Institute and the credential holder must continue to ‘earn’ that credential through annual Continual Professional Development (CPD) activity.

About Matthew Burrows

Matthew Burrows is President of ISM and Managing Director at BSMimpact, as well as a regular blogger on BSMdigest's The BSM Blog. BSMimpact is a UK-based boutique consulting firm specializing in Business Service Management and Transformation. The company's impressive client list includes O2, British Airways, IBM, HP/Compaq, Centrica (British Gas), Vodafone, BMC, BT, Unilever, Virgin Mobile, and more. Burrows also serves as a Council Member for the SFIA Foundation, Lead for the Global priSM Institute Advisory Committee, President of the Institute of IT Service Management, and a Management Board Member for itSMF UK.

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