30 Nov 2011

Field testing of group certification software (ICS)

In November 2011, Frank Gerriets and Verena Hess of Organic Services visited two smallholder groups in Ecuador and Colombia.

Organic Services co-ordinates and co-implements a CERES/DEG financed PPP (public private partnership) project together with Intact Consult and CERES experts to develop software that supports internal control systems (ICS) for small holder groups. The new software is a module of Ecert – the proven professional database system for audit management and certification.


November 15 - 25, 2011, Frank Gerriets and Verena Hess of Organic Services along with Bernhard Schulz and Ida Tamayo of CERES visited two smallholder groups in Ecuador and Colombia to test the new Ecert functionality for both internal and external inspections under field conditions. Together with local stakeholders its usability was assessed and needs for adjustments and modifications were not only evaluated, but immediately implemented by the Intact experts in Austria – the time difference between Europe and Latin America made this possible.

Staff involved in ICS management and documentation learned how to enter and update production and certification data of group members. This included the assignment of internal inspections, the documentation and follow up of non-conformities and data analyses, and reports required for the external certification. Inspired by the intensive work, additional topics for further improvement of the module were developed.

Already today the new software module is fully functioning and applicable. A thrilled employee working in ICS administration commended, that the software is “a practical and extremely helpful tool that is easy to operate. It will facilitate data management and save a big amount of valuable working time”.

For more information about the software please click here or contact Frank Gerriets.