The Uncertainties of Certification

Most of you that are reading this can probably guess from my name that I happen to be Indian by descent. Probably not so obvious is the fact that I was also born Hindu by birth. Hindus have their gods and their fables, but I like Hinduism most from the perspective of reincarnation. Hindus believe that when a person dies, the soul of the person begins a new life in a new form. The new form depends upon how well the person behaved in their previous life. So, if you were a real schmuck in a previous life, you could, for example, come back as a cabbage and get boiled up for soup in your next life. Conversely, if you were incredibly wealthy and behaved well, you could conceivably back as an even wealthier person. Most other religions only give you one chance at the big score, so there is a definite advantage to being a Hindu.

While I was thinking about reincarnation the other day, I had a quick flashback. It wasn´t to a previous life, but it was to Bill Cosby´s monologue about Noah and the Ark. In the routine God says to Noah, “You will build an ark 80 cubits by 40 cubits by 30 cubits.” And Noah responds, “Lord, what´s a cubit?”

Well, if you look up the definition of a cubit, you will find out that it is a measure of length based on the length of the forearm from the elbow to the tip of the middle finger. As you can imagine, this is not a very accurate measure of length and I suspect that in olden times a lot of men bandied the term about very loosely to impress prospective girlfriends.

In fact, the development of today´s measure of a metre took some time to agree to as a standard. The first mention of a standard metre is supposed to have occurred in England in the mid-seventeenth century. After that, there was significant discussion on what the metre should actually represent. Some of the representations involved ideas such the distance of a swing of a pendulum or a fraction of the diameter of the earth. Today, the world universally agrees that the length metre is defined as the length light travels in a straight line during a time interval of 1/299,792,458 of a second. Let´s not get into how a second was defined...

The point of this is that for a very long time, there was no standard mechanism for people to measure distances in practical, comparative terms. You couldn´t for example, give someone a speeding ticket for travelling over the 10,000 cubit per hour limit on a highway. The perpetrator would simply laugh and tell you that your cubit-o-meter was not calibrated properly. Or try to imagine your GPS telling you that you have to make a left turn in 200 cubits. And think how different the world would be today if you went to the bar to have a beer with your mates and instead of ordering a pint of beer, you ordered one tenth of a cubic cubit of beer? That one makes me shudder.

We rely on standards in order to compare things and make decisions based upon the comparisons. Until quite recently, the world of Information Technology was without standards. In the 1980s, the first concept of the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) was proposed by the British Government´s Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency (CCTA) to create a standard by which the delivery of IT services could be measured and compared. Today, it is a given that when we provide IT services, we need to work towards the ITIL standard to ensure that our service delivery is up to global standards.

A critical part of providing ITIL services to clients is having internal processes which are consistent and can be monitored to evaluate the company and the services it provides. It is for this reason that Bytes & Pieces have worked toward ISO Certification. ISO 9001:2008 specifies requirements for a quality management system for an organization. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) states that for an organization to achieve ISO 9001 it needs to:

  • demonstrate its ability to consistently provide product that meets customer and applicable statutory and regulatory requirements, and
  • aim to enhance customer satisfaction through the effective application of the system, including processes for continual improvement of the system and the assurance of conformity to customer and applicable statutory and regulatory requirements.

It is with great pride that I am announcing that Bytes & Pieces is the first Information Technology company in Mozambique that has achieved this level of Certification. It is among a number of firsts that the company has achieved in Mozambique, including being the first Microsoft Gold Partner, the first Dell Solutions Partner and the first AVAYA partner in the country. All this has been achieved with locally skilled and trained Mozambican staff.

I would like to thank everyone that assisted us in achieving this milestone, including the funding agents, MESE and the World Bank, the consultants that guided us through this process at Ambiqual, the certification service, Instituto Nacional de Normalização e Qualidade (INNOQ), the staff at Bytes & Pieces that worked so tirelessly in this effort and, most importantly, our Clients. Thank you all.

Now let´s go order us a pint of beer.

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