IT on course to become a profession, says BCS

IT is on the way to becoming a profession with the same ethical and professional standards as medicine and the law, MPs and IT practitioners heard recently.

IT is on the way to becoming a profession with the same ethical and professional standards as medicine and the law, MPs and IT practitioners heard recently.

Charles Hughes, former president of the British Computer Society, and leader of the BCS professionalism programme, told the Parliamentary IT Committee that IT was about a third of the way there, when benchmarked against other professions.

The BCS, suppliers group Intellect, the National Computing Centre, and E-skills UK are collaborating to put the building blocks in place to professionalise IT, he said.

Their work aims to establish a commitment from IT professionals to develop their skills and to apply them, and seeks IT professionals to become more accountable for their decision making.

Intellect has developed guidelines for organisations on how to professionalise their operations. These are already attracting interest in other areas outside of IT, said Hughes.

The joint project aims to usher in a sea change in the way IT professionals and organisations view their work, said Hughes.

“We used to think we did a good job if the project we took on worked. If it did not offer business benefits that was someone else’s problem,” he said.

He pointed to developments in Australia, which allow IT professionals to limit their liability in the event of a project going wrong if they gain a formal accreditation with a professional body. This could be a model for the UK, he said.

And Hughes said that politicians could help by being less quick to blame technology for IT failures, when the root cause is often poor management or poor planning.

“I believe moreorless all the issues to do with IT-enabled projects are not to do with technology. They majority of problems are concerned with people not doing IT in the right way. Most of the problems are down to people, management and communications, and not at all to do with basic technology.”

Shortage of graduates threatens IT sector

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