APMG look set for some spectacular acrobatics over ITIL accreditation

Further to the spot of bother APMG find themselves in with their "accreditation auditors" the UKAS, investigation reveals the suspension is a fact.

This blog is (currently) ITIL-centric, so most readers will be interested that I believe ITIL is not covered by the suspension.

The information on the UKAS site that would confirm this is replaced by a suspension notice. I am told, by someone who knows, that UKAS accreditation of APMG actually only covered the other, older, services of APMG: Prince2, M_o_R etc... APMG had not yet sought UKAS coverage of their ITIL services.

Some might argue that this is a bit like saying it's lucky they didn't buy new driving lights because they just ran into a tree. Certainly APMG made much of their UKAS accreditation in the ITIL market, as their website still attests.

Why are the UKAS references still on the site? I guess APMG would argue that seeking accreditation and audit is as much the point whether they pass the audit or not. I think that is a fair argument so long as they get the accreditation back promptly. I hope for their sake that OGC see it the same way, given that OGC's decision to out-source ITIL certification to APMG was not exactly met with universal acclaim.

This is going to mean APMG walking a tight-rope in the near future; on the one hand there are auditors pressing them to tighten process; on the other they are entering a new market already squealing about the tough new cop on the block. I don't envy them the position, but I look forward to enjoying some spectacular corporate high-wire acrobatics.

And what does it mean to readers? For the majority, not much. Hardly any purchasers of ITIL training even know of APMG's existence, let alone care if they are accredited. In the short-term I don't see it affecting sales of ITIL training.

But in the longer term, it is yet another embarassment in the ITIL governance world. One wonders how many more there can be before the general public start to get restless.


Sympathies from afar for APMG


Although its interesting that APMG has had their UKAS blessing suspended it is perhaps more important that folks out there realize that outfits such as UKAS exist to ensure a MINIMUM quality level is achieved by certification schemes and to help establish a quality of product the consumer can rely on. It also shows a commitment by the organization issuing the certificate to the certificants - the customers.

We (Service Management Institute), decided in 2006 to seek the approval of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) here in the US for the Service Management Qualification Scheme (thats about as close as we can get to a UKAS I think). They were extremely helpful in guiding us in the right direction with regards to scope and content, and were effectively our partner in completing the 3-feet of paperwork required to just be accepted as a viable applicant. It is indeed a daunting mountain of bureaucracy to climb and one I feel one shareholders might question.

Once in the system its easier to add certifications and adjust day to day items, its not easy to wholesale replace policies and procedures. APMG's acquisition of ITIL and recent rumblings about updates to PRINCE are major changes. Perhaps these are the fundamental reasons for the lapse, or perhaps commercial pressures trump compliance - who knows - only APMG.

Anyway, my understanding of UKAS is that they share a common anchor point with other organizations who accredit personal certification schemes, such as ANSI, in referring to ISO 17024. This standard is rigorously intepreted and requires a regular mandatory audit/inspection. Unless you are working as a team with the accreditation body (UKAS/ANSI) throughout, (that includes pre-audit assessments and workshop attendance) you are vulnerable to failing an audit and typically enter a remedial period (probation) before suspension.

As I started out, the most important aspect of this news is that it reminds us all there IS A DIFFERENCE in the quality of certification schemes and the value to a professional of the paper on which a credential is printed. In every case, check if the scheme and credential, certificate, diploma, has been subject, or has subjected itself, to additional third-party scrutiny, preferably based upon ISO 17024 and is recognized at the national, and perhaps international level. A commitment to this, shows a commitment by the organization issuing the certificate, to the customer first, and then to commercial interests.

In thi scase we have discovered that a regulator exists to regulate the regulator!

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