Isabel Group is a Belgian company founded in 1995. Over the years Isabel Group has grown to be the leading provider of multi-bank internet services for professional users primarily in Belgium.
Isabel Group is a Belgian company founded in 1995 by four banks. It has grown to become the leading provider of multibank internet services for professional users, and is the biggest financial technology company in Belgium. Isabel ensures customers, including major companies, schools, and government agencies, can choose the best products and services offered by over 25 banks at the best rates.
The Brussels-based group invests more than a third of its turnover in the field of innovation. One such investment resulted in Isabel meeting the requirements for ISO/IEC 20000- 1:2011, a prestigious international standard for IT service management. Pink Elephant was instrumental in helping the group to achieve this standard.
Pink Elephant has had a successful working relationship with Isabel since 2012, so it was a natural choice for the company to be involved in the ISO/IEC 20000 certification project from start to finish.
Sabrina Defraene, Isabel’s Chief Operational Officer, said: “All the consultants from Pink Elephant who were and are seconded here are of such a high level regarding their knowledge and skills, there was no need to look elsewhere.”
ISO/IEC 20000-1:2011 specifies requirements for the service provider to plan, establish, implement, operate, monitor, review, maintain and improve its Service Management System (SMS). The requirements include the design, transition, delivery and improvement of services to fulfil agreed.
There was a core project team of four people, including Pink Elephant’s Principle Consultant Paul Jeffries and Vincent Bouillon, Service Operation Manager at Isabel. The ISO/ IEC 20000 project started in March 2015, aiming to be fully implemented 12 months later.
Pink Elephant was involved in the ISO/IEC 20000 certification project from start to finish. Pink Elephant already had a long-standing presence within Isabel Group delivering a variety of projects and fulfilling interim management roles. Defraene explained, “Isabel has been working with Pink Elephant consultants for quite a while, since 2012.” Mr Bouillon said: “We began with setting milestones on the timeline, which were reviewed every two months by our executive sponsors, the COO and CIO. Then we started on the first task: documentation, an important part of ISO/IEC 20000, since you have to prove that your processes work just the way you described them.”
After that, all the processes within service management had to be mapped and divided amongst nominated process owners. Mr Jeffries said: “It was decided to define the processes pretty much from scratch, taking into account Isabel’s current way of working and the requirements of ISO/IEC 20000. “This approach ensured that the things Isabel did well continued to be done, and the things that needed improvement were designed in line with the standard. In terms of process ownership, we ended up with 22 separately defined processes, but of course we didn’t want that many process owners – most process owners own multiple processes.
During the implementation of ISO/IEC 20000, Isabel performed internal audits to establish if the project was on schedule and processes were compliant to the standard. “It was also to simulate and prepare for the external audits,” Jeffries explains, “so everyone knew what to expect and to make sure every process was functioning correctly according to the standard and process documentation.” Bouillon adds: “The initial goal was at the end of the year to be at a level where we would have no major non-conformities against the standard in any of the processes.” The external audit is conducted by an independent Registered Certification Body (RCB). The audit is divided into two primary stages. Stage one checks that all the necessary documentation is in place and of a sufficient quality. It’s during this stage that the auditor determines if a company is mature enough to go for certification. Stage two of the external audit is interview based and covers every process. This stage is conducted over several days after which Isabel was found to be compliant to the standard’s requirements and were awarded ISO/IEC 20000 certification in March 2016.
Ms Defraene said: “We’re very proud of our ISO/IEC 20000 certification as one of only three companies in Belgium. It proves that we do everything we can to improve our services to our customers and that we have a solid base of internal processes.” With all processes compliant to the ISO/IEC 20000 standard, it is easier for Isabel to adjust to the changing financial legislation. Ms Defraene said: “At the moment we are working on a project to be compliant with the new Payment Service Directive legislation, where we can fall back on the processes we implemented for the ISO project.” As Isabel Group already has standardised processes and documentation, it is likely only small changes need to be made to those processes to be compliant with the European legislation.