Experience wins over enthusiasm

It is only when you have had a tyre blow out at 70mph that you know what to do next time, said long-time Trafalgar House IT...

It is only when you have had a tyre blow out at 70mph that you know what to do next time, said long-time Trafalgar House IT director turned consultant John Elsden, to illustrate the importance of learning from failure as well as success.

He was speaking at the recent Elite group debate on whether experience is essential to the successful IT implementation.

Experience is not about age, added Geoffrey McMullen, director of the University of London Computer Centre, but it is essential if you want to ask the hard questions of salespeople and unravel truth from fiction.

Opposing the motion, young turk James Hickson of Morgan Stanley and chairman of the BCS' Young Professionals' Group, said young people have much to offer teams as they do not know what is supposed to be impossible.

Experience has not prevented a high rate of IT project failure. IT is a five-minute industry, he said, you can become an expert in a technology in six months and it is easy to share experiences.

YPG member Andrew Brown, of PriceWaterhouseCoopers, said inquests on project failures place non-use of skilled staff low down in the list of causes. Trust, knowledge and wisdom are more important than experience, he said.

Despite these impassioned arguments - and a strong turn-out of younger professionals - the meeting voted for experience.

www.bcs.org.uk/elite

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