If you work in IT, these are the companies that provide the best home for your talents

Computer Weekly today announces the 49 IT departments that have made it on to our roll-call of the UK's best places to work in IT...

Computer Weekly today announces the 49 IT departments that have made it on to our roll-call of the UK's best places to work in IT 2003. From an impressive list of nearly 500 nominations, our panel of experts identified IT departments in both small and large organisations across 10 industry sectors that are giving IT professionals a chance to shine

In Computer Weekly's quest to identify the best places to work in IT, we asked the judges to consider a wide range of factors when making their selection.

A successful and healthy IT department should be defined by a number of criteria: the working environment and culture, team spirit, employee benefits, the level of involvement with the business, and the job satisfaction that comes from working with new technologies and tackling fresh development work.

Feedback from our panel demonstrated the high quality of entrants. Ceri Diffley, an occupational psychologist working with the Work Foundation, said, "The entrants were very impressive. A good IT department encapsulates a lot of facets - I was looking for a high level of staff morale and an involvement in a wide range of projects.

"I was also looking for IT departments made up of a diverse workforce, both in terms of age and gender. Many of the entrants put lie to the belief that IT is a profession simply made up of men in their 20s."

Diffley was also keen to find IT departments where the staff felt integrated with the business as a whole. "IT can be seen as isolated from the rest of the business. It is sometimes regarded as an invisible part of an organisation, as part of the logistics side of the workforce," she said.

"But IT is an an integral part of any initiative that takes place in today's working environment. Any significant change management project does not happen without a high level of IT involvement."

Andrew Davies, a professor specialising in IT strategy at the Cranfield School of Management, said, "It is often said that money is not everything, but is certainly important when it comes to deciding where to work. Even though the job may be interesting and the culture good, it will not be seen as a good place to work if the rewards are inadequate. Managers in a good place to work study the market and ensure that the rewards are competitive and do not damage any good work already done in other areas.

"A particularly successful way of rewarding people is performance-related bonuses, but these have to be sensible and easy to understand. Profit-related bonuses are probably the best way to achieve this."

The level of job security offered was another point highlighted by Davies. "Organisations with a 'hire and fire' culture give little security and are only seen as good places to work in the short term. People want to work in an environment where management views job security as important and tries to avoid redundancies," he said.

Over the following weeks Computer Weekly will profile the shortlisted IT departments, reporting on the work they are doing, the technologies they are using and the views of the IT professionals working in them. Then, after further scrutiny, the winners in each category will be named at the beginning of next year.

But make no mistake, the IT departments listed here are all exemplars in their field that show the IT industry remains a buoyant and exciting place to work.

The Best Places To Work in IT 2003: the finalists       

Central and local government:

Fewer than 250 employees

  • East Lothian Council
  • Education IT Team, Stoke-On-Trent Council
  • Perth and Kinross Council

More than 250 employees

  • Hampshire County Council
  • Hertfordshire Constabulary
  • Leicestershire County Council, ICT Services

Banking and Finance:

Fewer than 250 employees

  • Barclays Bank, Enable, Service Point
  • Firstplus Financial

More than 250 employees

  • Birmingham Mishires
  • Friends Provident

Retail, wholesale and distribution

Fewer than 250 employees

  • Actamed
  • Holstan (UK)
  • Hyundai Car (UK)

More than 250 employees

  • Asda
  • Avon Cosmetics
  • Sainsbury's

IT software, hardware and services

Fewer than 250 employees

  • Data Connection
  • IT Resource Management
  • Kingston Technology Europe
  • Teksys

More than 250 employees

  • Computer Associates
  • Compuware Corporation
  • Mastercare PC Service Call

Media, hospitality, leisure and entertainment

Fewer than 250 employees

  • Earls Court Olympia
  • FireFly PR
  • Unique Pub Company

More than 250 employees

  • Carlton Television
  • Scottish and Newcastle Retail
  • Universal Music

Other public sector and non-profit organisations

Fewer than 250 employees

  • Comic Relief
  • The Food and Drink Federation
  • The Woodland Trust

More than 250 employees

  • Ashbridge Business School
  • C2k
  • WWF

Manufacturing and engineering

Fewer than 250 employees

  • Eli Lilly and Co
  • Global Marine Systems
  • The BWB Partnership

More than 250 employees

  • BAE Systems
  • Perkins
  • Smiths Aerospace Wolverhampton

Unspecified company size

Utililites and communications

  • Economy Power
  • Virgin Mobile

Construction and agriculture

  • Arup Group
  • BAA Terminal 5 Project
  • Hanson Aggregates

Business Services

  • Gartner
  • Mason Communications
  • The Corps

The judging panel     

  • Ruth Spellman, Investors in People UK  
  • Angela Baron, Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development  
  • David Clarke, British Computer Society  
  • Jonathan Exten-Wright, DLA  
  • Karen Price, E-Skills UK  
  • Andrew Davies, Cranfield School of Management  
  • Jane King, Personnel Today  
  • Ceri Diffley, Work Foundation  
  • Peter Scargill, Federation of Small Businesses.

The sponsors     

The Best Places to Work in IT 2003  survey was sponsored by Huxley Banking, Madison Black, New Wave Resourcing, Progressive, Huxley Engineering, ComputerFutures and Real IT.

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