Differentiate With IT Organizational Certification
We’re all aware of the many benefits that individual certification offers. It can help you land a job, add credibility to your resume, increase your earning power, help you work more efficiently with customers and co-workers and provide goals for career paths. For companies, an IT staff with a variety of relevant certifications makes the business more marketable, which translates to new customers, and the development and implementation of new processes, systems and applications. However, individual certifications are only a piece of the puzzle. Organization certifications are a tangible bridge between individual knowledge and business strategy and results. Individual certifications, collective knowledge and grand-slam projects often aren’t enough. At the end of the day, what does all of your hard work and effort (not to mention the output of the entire IT group) mean to your CEO and to the bottom line?
Organizational certifications, such as the ISO IT Security program (www.iso.org), the Help Desk Institute’s (HDI) Support Center Certification (www.thinkhdi.com/certification/sitecertification) and BS15000 (www.bs15000certification.com), require a full team effort. Individual technical knowledge and acumen are components to becoming certified, but organizational certifications require IT groups to be fully on-board with best practices, effective processes, quality focus, industry standards and a sharp eye toward the overall strategy of the business.
Why should this matter to you as a certified technical professional, and how does adding an organizational certificate to your list of accomplishments–and resume–make a difference? If you’re interested in getting ahead and are ready to take on additional responsibilities, spearheading an organizational project is great experience. Organizational certificates require a great deal of project planning, project management and day-to-day operations experience, and require the project manager to make some hard decisions and recommendations. Even if you’re not actively managing the certification project, most likely you will be involved at some level, whether through preparing audit materials, building new processes or documentation, pulling report histories, doing audit interviews or various other activities. IT organizational certifications are impressive, not only to your company and its industry, but to the IT professional community as well.
If IT isn’t empowered to do its job, the whole company fails. For instance, when a hospital’s network operations fail, what happens to communications, life support systems and admissions? Organizational certification proves IT’s capability and value to the business.
If you’re beginning to research certification for your IT group, here are some important benefits and tips:
- Recertification and renewal encourages continuous improvement: Most organizational certifications require ongoing review or annual audits to maintain the certificate. As with individual certifications, IT organizations strive toward a higher score on subsequent certification reviews and audits. The process of ongoing improvement also provides additional opportunities to show ROI.
- Increased opportunities for the enterprise: The quality of security, IT service management or customer support your company provides can have a direct impact on customer relationships and new sales opportunities. Certification is a strong differentiator that can make or break a contract.
- Improved processes, metrics, satisfaction and reduced costs: Preparing for certification can be a process that lasts a few months to more than a year, depending on the quality of your existing operations and compliance with certification standards or guidelines. However, the payoff is well worth the time. Several leading certification bodies and their respective certified organizations report increased efficiencies, reduced costs, an increased quality focus by employees, improved customer satisfaction and improved employee satisfaction.
- Independent, third-party validation of IT practices and operations: It’s easy to say your IT department is doing a great job, but can you prove it? Internal audits can be very effective in promoting awareness of areas of strengths and weakness, but third-party audits that lead to certification have much more industry credibility and offer the perspective of a true “outsider looking in.”
If organizational certification is a goal for your company, begin by researching the various programs available. Review the standards and certification to determine what program is the best fit for your IT organization. There are many different types of certifications available, so focus your efforts on a certification that will meet business priorities and bring the highest value to the company. The process of preparing for certification and moving toward meeting industry standards is a worthwhile endeavor for IT staff, the IT department and the enterprise.
Carrie Higday-Kalmanowitz is the program manager for HDI’s Support Center Certification (SCC) program. HDI is the world’s largest membership association and certification body for IT service and support professionals. Carrie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.