The restructuring, reported in Computer Weekly last week, enables IT staff to get recognition in the form of a BCS professional member grade much earlier in their careers.
People with the right degree can become a member (MBCS) on graduation, and those without degrees can get that grade after five years instead of the previous 10. The route to fellow (FBCS) has also been simplified and a new title of chartered IT professional (CITP) has been introduced - this demands a formal assessment.
The BCS initiative was welcomed by Peter Gershon, former chief executive of the Office of Government Commerce and now head of the government's efficiency review.
He pointed to the 16% IT project success rate highlighted by Computer Weekly research.
"We are facing a massive problem," Gershon said. "At the heart of this is a fundamental issue: we have not done enough to recognise that software production is an engineering discipline.
"I cannot think of another engineering area where such a low percentage of people belong to a recognised professional institute or have a recognised professional qualification.
"If I ask an architect and civil engineer to design an unsafe bridge, their professional integrity and competence will make them say they won't do it. But if in all innocence I ask a software architect and engineer to design an unsafe system - unsafe because there is inadequate time for testing - how often do we hear those professionals saying no, not at any price, in that timescale?"
Gershon referred to the new code of conduct for government IT projects drawn up by Intellect, the trade body for IT services companies.
"Importantly, one of its commitments relates to individual skills and professionalism, encouraging individuals to seek independent accreditation for their professional skills and formal validation of their experience, achievement and relevant qualifications," he said.
"I welcome this initiative by the BCS to help fill this emerging demand for people to be able to establish proper professional qualifications and attract a much broader range of people currently working in the industry to get relevant professional qualifications and belong to a professional institution.
"I believe this initiative will go a long way to helping to enable IT specialists to gain trust both from their employers and from the clients of those employers."
He added, "I am sure it will make a very important contribution to helping to improve IT project success rates."
The increased professional recognition of IT staff was also welcomed by science and innovation minister Lord Sainsbury.
"The new BCS membership structure is absolutely essential," he said. "It is very important that we give the status and respect to intermediate skills and technicians that previously we have only given to people at the very highest level."
This was first published in May 2004