Newcastle achieves 'platinum' IT award

The Society says gaining the 'platinum' award of registration to the nationally-recognised FAST Standard for Software Compliance has been a challenging, but ultimately rewarding process involving a rigorous series of tests and auditing over three consecutive years.

The FAST programme is broken down into four stages, bronze, silver and gold, with platinum as the highest level of excellence in software management, demonstrating that the organisation has achieved registration to the FAST Standard for three consecutive years. There are 39 companies in the UK with the Platinum Award, and only two in the North. In financial services six organisations are Platinum Award holders.

Newcastle’s success means it has demonstrated its commitment to ensuring compliance with all relevant laws, while risks such as software piracy have been effectively eliminated. It also acknowledges the Society’s IT asset management is as cost effective as possible.

Pat Watson, the Information Security Manager for Newcastle Building Society, said: “This has been one of the hardest and most demanding projects I have ever been involved with. To start with we had to prepare an entire inventory to account for every single piece of hardware and software held by the Society. Satisfying such detailed audits at every level of the programme has required an enormous amount of hard work and dedication by our staff, and we are naturally thrilled with the result.

“Having gone through the process our IT and software systems are now much more controlled and managed. As a business we rely heavily on technology, so this has also helped us become far more efficient and make significant savings on our IT costs.”

Robert Hollinshead, the Chief Executive of Newcastle Building Society, added: “One of our fastest growth areas is in providing services, such as the development and management of Internet accounts, for other financial service providers. Having this Platinum Award gives those businesses looking to establish partnerships with us the comfort of knowing our IT systems are highly efficient and have passed strict compliancy tests.”

The Newcastle is also working towards BS7799, which is an internationally recognised code of practice governing information security. The controls implemented through FAST contribute towards BS7799, which means that by gaining the Platinum Award the Society has taken an important step toward achieving registration toward this standard.

FAST Corporate Services works with organisations of all sizes,across all industrysectors. Focusing on training and education, it promotes the effective and legal use of software and helps organisations maximise their software and hardware investment.

Paul Clements, from FAST, commented: “In today’s IT dominated world it is more important than ever to have software control systems and procedures in place that fully protect the company and their customers, and meet all licensing and compliance issues. I applaud the Newcastle’s hard work in achieving our Platinum Award.”