IT groups launch professionalism initiative

The heads of four major IT organisations have signed a formal pact to co-ordinate a single programme to put IT on a more professional footing.

The heads of four major IT organisations have signed a formal pact to co-ordinate a single programme to put IT on a more professional footing.

The initiative – by the British Computer Society, the National Computing Centre, IT suppliers' body Intellect, and government-sponsored body E-Skills UK – has been three years in the making.

Called the Professionalism in IT Alliance, the initiative reaches out beyond technology.

“IT must be seen and see itself as an integral part of business, which involves business and leadership competence too,” said Charles Hughes, president of the BCS at the alliance’s inaugural conference in London. He added that the new IT profession had to measure itself in terms of “business contribution rather than technical elegance”.

Key elements in the programme include skills competency, good practice, relevant qualifications, continuing professional development, ethical integrity, commitment to standards, regard for the public good, and social responsibility. These qualities apply to all IT professionals, whether users or suppliers.

New York-based Maggie Miller, CIO of Warner Music, and formerly CIO of Sainsbury’s UK, said, “Developments such as Sarbanes-Oxley legislation in the US have focused minds on the need for professionalism and standards. If we can’t make it happen now, then shame on us.”

Also at the inaugural conference group chief executive of the NCC, Michael Gough said: “I can’t think of another topic that has so galvanised the whole industry as this one.”

Professionalism in IT Alliance

All four alliance participants – the BCS, NCC, Intellect and E-Skills UK – have agreed a common definition of a professional as “a practitioner who has specific skills rooted in a broad base, has appropriate qualifications from a recognised body, undergoes continuous development and operates to a code of conduct”.

For each party, professionalism is an aspirational standard rather than a set of minimum requirements. The essential elements are competence, integrity and service.

Competence requires up-to-date skills and capabilities, experience, knowledge and understanding of standards and good practice, supported by relevant qualifications and continuing professional development.

Integrity requires commitment to abide by a code of ethics and responsibilities, which can transcend the contractual obligation to an employer, and a commitment to follow relevant standards and established principles of good practice.

Service is manifest through regard for the public good, social responsibility, and commitment and contribution to the profession.

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