Web will be at heart of society's restructuring

Moves to restructure the BCS from the governing council downwards and put the Web firmly at the heart of its activities are...

Moves to restructure the BCS from the governing council downwards and put the Web firmly at the heart of its activities are gaining momentum, writes John Kavanagh.

Phase one of the BCS' Programme 2000Plus, the result of a major review of the society, has simplified and speeded up the path to professional-grade membership. These changes went live last month.

This is only the first stage of a much wider programme intended to transform the society, says Colin Thompson, deputy chief executive of the BCS, who is overseeing the programme.

"The Web has to be the basis on which we build our relationship with members if we are to fully engage with them, and for the way we do business, with all services available online," Thompson says.

"From members updating their records to getting information or putting a view on a subject, the Web has to be the medium.

"The strategy and indeed the technical detail to achieve the necessary transition are already being discussed by senior officers. The strategy will need very substantial investment and an equally significant cultural change. But we could see some significant progress this year."

Marketing and communication are other key issues. Here there are plans to mobilise members, staff, branches and specialist groups behind a BCS vision and objectives, and to support the effort with a sustained communications campaign, including key external contacts.

The new BCS will need a fresh structure to ensure that all members are properly represented and to ensure two-way communication, Thompson says.

There will be some significant questions asked when the structure is considered in detail, he confirms.

"How should the council be made up to ensure that all sections of the society are properly represented? How can the board and committee structure be opened up to ensure members with relevant experience and expertise can play a part?"Thompson asks.

"Some of those who are best qualified cannot attend meetings during the working day, so new ways of working are needed to give the BCS access to their experience.

"In a wired world, is there still a need for local, physical branch meetings? Should we move to a regional structure with activity at the local level on a less formal or less structured basis? And what relationship should there be between specialist groups and the BCS as a whole, to ensure the best advantage to the society, members and the groups themselves?"

Senior officers and staff are now being consulted on these and other questions. If this exercise brings significant recommendations, consultation will move to the wider membership early next year.

"All this represents an ambitious programme of change, involving nothing less than turning the BCS towards engaging with its members in an entirely new way," Thompson says.

"There is a very clear commitment to change which I believe will drive the project to create a profession for the 21st century."

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