Recognising the vital contribution software escrow can make towards mitigating the operational risk associated with a company’s dependence on software or systems which it may not own, six leading software escrow specialists with international client bases have united to form the International Software Escrow Association (ISEA).

The aims of the ISEA include:
* Promoting co-operation and synergies in the industry for the benefit of all who have an interest in information technology dependency, operation risk management and corporate good governance.
* Agreeing quality guidelines and standards.
* Providing for a body of knowledge that will assist ISEA members in maintaining the highest professional standards.
* Providing a platform for rendering cross border services to fellow ISEA members.
* Monitoring industry developments so that client organisations are assured of software escrow best practice when they elect to work with an ISEA member.
Three continents – Europe, Africa and North America – are represented among the founder member companies: Software Escrow Services (United Kingdom), Logitas (France), InnovaSafe (United States of America), Escrow4All (Netherlands), Escrow Europe Scandinavia and Escrow Europe South Africa.
Escrow Europe South Africa is one of the world’s first software escrow companies to achieve ISO 9001:2008 quality certification, the only BEE certified provider of active software escrow in South Africa, and consultant on software escrow to the Institute of Directors in South Africa and Judge Mervyn King.
Its MD, Andrew Stekhoven, was one of the driving forces behind the establishment of ISEA.
“The recent global financial crisis demands that directors and managers of companies evaluate all the possible risks – not just financial – if they are to ensure their business continuity for the foreseeable future.
"In addition to taking stock of their financial stability, all commercial and governmental institutions need to implement operational risk management measures for those parts of their business that are dependent on software applications over which they have limited or no control; that they have, in effect, ‘outsourced’,” he explained.
“From an operational risk perspective, an active escrow arrangement is the only proper re-assurance that an organisation has that software that is vital to the survival of their business will not become ‘orphanware’.
"Gartner, for example, describes technology escrow as a smart and effective component of a business continuity strategy designed to protect mission critical applications in an ever-changing environment because it mitigates the risk of a company or governmental institution being entirely dependent on software over which they have limited or no control.
“Given the increasing importance of software escrow, the six founder members of ISEA thought it pertinent to have a formal body to represent the industry, set standards and guidelines, and monitor industry developments so that businessmen are assured of best practice when they elect to work with an ISEA member.
“In addition, the members of ISEA are committed to promoting the delivery of the highest quality escrow arrangements that provide proper reassurance so that their clients are able to meet their specific requirements for operational risk management, business continuity, disaster recovery and corporate good governance,” says Stekhoven.