TickIT to TickITplus

TickIT is a quality-management certification program for software, supported primarily by the United Kingdom and Swedish software industries. However, ISO 9001 certificates under TickIT have been issued in more than 50 countries, including the European Union, USA, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. The TickIT name is derived from the “Tick” or check mark, along with IT for Information Technology.

TickIT was introduced in the early 1990’s as a sector scheme under ISO 9001 to provide a practical framework for managing the quality of software development. TickIT addressed the need for qualified auditors with IT experience and competence, provided guidance on interpreting ISO 9001 requirements, and introduced rules for accreditation of certification bodies practicing in the software sector.

The TickIT scheme is now being updated to become TickITplus. A new and more adaptable approach was deemed necessary to keep pace with changing technology and the need to provide more demanding IT solutions.

TickITplus adds a new dimension by combining industry best practices with International IT standards. It provides ISO 9001 accredited certification with a Capability Grading for all types and sizes of IT organizations. In addition, it will provide optional certification scope extensions to cover additional IT standards, such as, ISO 20000: IT Service Management, and ISO 27001: Information Security Management.

At present, when an organization decides to obtain TickIT certification, it develops its quality management system and IT processes, has these evaluated by an accredited certification body, receives a certificate if that evaluation is successful, and the certification body follows this up with regular surveillance audits. The organization may do very well and achieve certification with no problems, or it may struggle and require several audit visits before the certificate is issued. And, that situation, doing very well or barely managing to meet the certification requirements, may continue for some time. Under the existing TickIT program (and the same is true for ISO 9001 certification), it is a simple pass-or-fail measure: it conveys no indication of the true quality maturity of the certified organization.

TickITplus is expected to be different, much different. An easier-to-use, redeveloped, and structured set of support and guidance documentation will be available on-line, some of it free. A defined process library will be available to aid development of a process model and to ensure consistent assessment. Regardless of whether or not an organization is seeking certification, large and small organizations will be encouraged to obtain and use the information to develop and build IT processes that conform to international standards requirements. They will also be able to select the process capability level at which they want or need to operate, and if desired, obtain an ISO 9001-based TickITplus certification that recognizes that level. As an added bonus, the methodology is applicable to all business processes, not just software development.

TickITplus Features

  • A means of assessing the process capability of an organization, similar to the approach used by CMMI – the ‘Capability Dimension’.
  • A wider range of processes and IT related standards to be covered within its framework and by ISO 9001 certification – the ‘Process Dimension’.
  • A clear and concise definition of an organization’s scope of activities – the ‘Process Reference Model’ derived from a standard ‘Base Processes Library’.
  • A more structured approach to assessment planning with improvement targets built in to these plans.
  • A clarification of the specific requirements of certification under ISO 9001 and TickITplus, with a clearly structured set of documentation, rather than relying on guidance material only.
  • Self Assessment, a route that organizations can adopt without the need for third party certification, but which can lead to eventual transfer to the full certification scheme.
  • Skills Profile, a framework and infrastructure for the training, qualification, and development of TickITplus Auditors and Practitioners.

TickITplus Grading

The most obvious outward appearance of TickITplus is that certificates will be awarded a capability grading of Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum. These grades will equate to levels 2 to 5 of ISO 15504: Software Engineering – Process Assessment, the standard used as a basis for capability maturity assessments. Current TickIT certification is approximately equivalent to TickITplus Bronze.

TickITplus is not intended as a direct competitor to CMMI type assessments; there is a different approach to assessments and ongoing maintenance and improvements. TickITplus is seen as a potential bridge in this direction and more suitable for either smaller companies, not wishing to take the CMMI step, or those who embrace both approaches.

TickITplus Launch

The launch of TickITplus as the new accredited scheme replacement for TickIT is scheduled for June 2009. Before that, trials will have taken place with selected organizations, with any lessons learned incorporated into the scheme details. Following the launch there will then be a 3 year period to allow organizations and auditors to migrate to the new scheme.

You can read more about TickITplus at their new web site.