Embarking on the ISO 19770-1 certification journey: The insiders’ perspective

31 August 2023
6 minute read
Best practice

Embarking on the ISO 19770-1 certification journey: The insiders’ perspective

31 August 2023
6 minute read

Interviews with HDI and Softline about their ISO 19770-1 certification journeys

One of the founding aims of the ITAM Forum was to create a path for organisation’s to certify their ITAM processes against the global ISO 19770-1 standard. After a few years in development, the certification scheme was officially launched earlier this year.

The first two organisations to officially gain ISO/IEC 19770-1 certification were Softline Group Northern Europe and HDI Group. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to speak with Ash Dharas, Managing Consultant and Practice Manager ITAM at Softline Group Northern Europe and Patrick Milas, License Manager for HDI Group about their respective ITAM journeys and their experience of having their internal processes scrutinised by a third party in the pursuit of ITAM ISO certification.

Introducing our pioneers: HDI Group and Softline Group Northern Europe

Part of the Talanx Group, HDI is a multi-brand insurance company based in Germany. It operates through branches, subsidiaries, and affiliates in more than 175 countries, offering international industrial insurance programs.

Softline Group is part of Noventiq, and delivers expertise & services in the domains of IT Asset Management, Application Modernization, Cloud Transformation and Management and FinOps.

Why did you pursue ISO 19770-1 certification?

For HDI Group, the seeds of certification were sown many years before the ITAM Forum was founded. Patrick Milas explains; “With audits becoming more frequent, the license management function had become too reactive and focused on compliance. But we knew there was more value we could bring. We needed to regain control so we could reduce the impact and frequency of audits and deliver tangible improvements to the business on an ongoing basis.”

Patrick Milas, HDI Group

To help it become more proactive in its approach, HDI appointed the IT consulting company TIMETOACT GROUP to conduct regular maturity assessments of their practice against the ISO 19770-1 standard. The first of these audits was completed in 2017, and another in 2021. “By 2022 we were very confident in our processes, but without a globally recognized certification for ISO 19770-1, we had no way to test or prove our maturity to our stakeholders. As soon as we heard about The ITAM Forum’s plans to develop such a certification, we leapt at the opportunity to put ourselves to the test.”

For Ash Dharas at Softline Group Northern Europe, gaining ISO 19770-1 certification was a no brainer, since the company’s Executive Vice President, Dennis Montanje, is a member of the ISO ITAM Standards Committee (the voluntary committee that develops the ISO 19770 family of standards). He also leads the ITAM Forum’s Committee of Experts, the group of volunteers that formulated what the certification scheme would look like and how conformity would be assessed.

“The moment the certification scheme came to market, Dennis Montanje set the goal for Softline Group Northern Europe to be the first.”

Ash Dharas, Softline Group Northern Europe

The certification process

The certification process consists of three main steps with specific milestones which need to be met in order to progress onto the next step. It starts with a preparation stage, where Brand Compliance (the scheme’s official auditor) conducts a Gap Analysis of the company’s management system in order to highlight any deficiencies that need to be resolved to meet the requirements. Steps 2 and 3 are the audit stages, where documentation and management systems are assessed. Organisations should expect the process to take about 12-18 months from the initial consultation through to certification.

Advice for others embarking on their own ISO 19770-1 certification journey

Commenting on the audit experience, Ash stated, “The certification journey was tough, ultimately because I manage a team of process consultants as my day job and had to fit the certification around this; however, it was a very enlightening journey and well worth the effort. Connecting with different stakeholders to gain insights just like with any ITAM program takes time and effort.”

Ash Dharas, Softline Group Northern Europe

Softline – as a consultancy – is not the typical target for the certification process, which is more for ITAM departments within large organisations. For Softline, it was about practicing what they preach. Ash comments, “Softline is a strong believer of practicing what you preach. Going through the certification process was a unique opportunity to understand the certification process first-hand. While our ITAM services are modelled on the standard, I knew that going through the certification process would be invaluable. Only by genuinely practicing what we preach, could we demonstrate our knowledge and expertise to clients.”

For Patrick, preparation is key. He suggests that organisations should have a good understanding of ISO/IEC 19770-1 before starting the certification process. Ultimately though, starting from anywhere is better than doing nothing. “Just start. The certification process involves the identification of gaps in your compliance, with time provided to close the gaps before the next stage of the audit. So, you are guaranteed to improve simply by going through the process. No matter how mature your processes are, the audit will inevitably find gaps and improvement areas. Even if you don’t gain certification the first time around, you will benefit from the knowledge of where improvements are needed. It’s always a win for you, irrespective of the outcome.”

More on the ISO 19770-1 certification from the ITAM Review

How ISO 19770 certification will help ITAM tackle today’s global challenges

ITAM Forum launches the world’s first ISO/IEC 19770-1 certification scheme

12 days of ITAM: Day 7 – ISO/IEC 19770-1 certification

ISO/IEC 19770-1 certification reaches validation phase

Raising the profile of ITAM identified as the top benefit of ISO/IEC 19770-1 certification: ITAM Forum survey

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