The IT crowd sees through it

IT Skeptic blog says:

“I once complained to an ISO9000 Manager about the rambling drivelling emails he broadcast every week. He replied: “You don’t understand. My system is assessed by the auditors by the quantity of material I put out”.  ISO9000 is quite capable of generating a lot of heat with very little light.”

This could have come from Dilbert.

The IT Skeptic blog estimates the value of the market for the latest accreditation fad in IT:

“The lesson of history is clear: you don’t win on quality. Build it and they won’t come.  If you want to be #1 you have to out-market them.  In this instance, that means big but not extraordinary resources.

Don’t think this is such a big task.  ITIL V3 was written by a dozen people. The worldwide launch reputedly cost about $7 million.  The IT Skeptic reckons the market is worth about $5 billion per year (my very own Crap Factoid!).  Say $50 million and fifty person-years would be a small investment to generate such a market.  Bill keeps that sort of money in his hip pocket.”

A nice little business for some.

As the UK state monopoly provider for accreditation services, UKAS is subject to price regulation much like BT or the Royal Mail.

Unfortunately these controls have not yet returned UKAS to checking balance calibrations. However, the organisation operates on very narrow margins.  Its cash-flow is precarious. That’s why invoices arrive a day or two after inspections.  That’s why the credit controller calls so quickly afterwards.  It’s why so few victims ever lose accreditation.  If UKAS assured quality as it claims, and enforced it, the organisation could bankrupt itself.  It is not simply another aspect of the organisation’s obsessiveness.

ISO 9001 registrations have been falling markedly.  The exception is in the emerging economies that have been told accreditation will permit them access to western markets. These are the largest victims of ISO marketplace coercion.

IT Skeptic also carries a simple summary of why ISO 9000 is bad:

“I’m genuinely surprised to hear you promoting ISO 9000. There has been a precipitous fall in ISO 9000 usage, particularly among those that were first to jump on the bandwagon. Registration is on the decline in Britain, France and Germany. By all objective measures, the trend is downward.

Yes, there is growth in other markets. China and Rumania, for example, see it as the ticket to global markets and the European union, respectively. Japan’s adoption is considerable because of market-place coercion; the mantra is ‘you comply or we won’t buy’. (Though Toyota abandoned the standard long ago.) Its doubtful ISO 9000 would have survived without marketplace coercion. This is simply no evidence of its intrinsic value. It’s value to IT-based services is a dubious proposition.

John Seddon, one of the most vocal skeptics on ISO 9000, sums it up in this list. (ITIL appears to have noted at least a few of these issues in its latest incarnation):

1. ISO 9000 encourages organisations to act in ways which make things worse for their customers
2. Quality by inspection is not quality
3. ISO 9000 starts from the flawed presumption that work is best controlled by specifying and
controlling procedures
4. The typical method of implementation is bound to cause sub-optimization of performance
5. The Standard relies too much on people’s, and in particular assessors’, interpretation of
6. The Standard promotes, encourages, and explicitly demands actions which cause suboptimization
7. When people are subjected to external controls, they will be inclined to pay attention to
only those things which are affected by the controls.
8. ISO 9000 has discouraged managers from learning about the theory of variation.
9. ISO 9000 has failed to foster good customer-supplier relations
10. As an intervention, ISO 9000 has not encouraged managers to think differently.”

We have also seen the ISO process for OOXML perverted to such a degree that its credibility as a means of technical standardisation has been heavily questioned.

More here.

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