Friday, 31 March 2006

The emerald city that is the BCS London Office

I arrived at the London office of the British Computer Society (BCS) in Southampton street a little early so plucked up the courage to mingle a little.

First I spoke with a guy who was not actually there for the forum, but an oral exam for one of his programme management certifications. Over the past year he's certified in Prince 2, MSP, and APM - busy busy! He said that the Prince 2 exam wasn't that hard as it was open book and that as long as you understand the concepts and overall process it's fine - food for thought (but then it sounds like he has a LOT of experience unlike me!). I was curious as to the sudden need for accreditations and he explained the he works for a large telecommunications company and it is the customers to whom they are increasingly providing ICT services that are the real driver. In today's private sector marketplace there is a real need to demonstrate the professionalism of their staff through accreditations. This interested me because it is one of the very themes that the government is beginning to accept. Perhaps we aren't that far behind the private sector after all...

I also bumped into a lady I met at the Government IT roadshow 2 weeks ago. It turns out she works for a county council, so it will be interesting to see how they progress as I suspect we will face many similar issues with implementation/culture change.

Anyhow, the forum itself focused on the differences between SFIA v2 and v3 and how these changes have been implemented in the BCS products. I was particularly pleased that they spent some time talking about the Government IT profession model based upon SFIA v3 and how SFIA+ has also pulled from this and will continue to do so. I was certainly reassured that we haven't wasted our investment. If anything it has only motivated me to try and realise further benefits from it.

There was also a case study from Deloitte regarding the BCS Group Membership scheme. Fundamentally it's a fast-track way to get their staff accredited and be able to say to customers 'we are professional' and have the BCS seal of approval to show it. They've done well, but I can't see it working for us - not yet anyway.

The afternoon finished with a Professional Development Quiz. The first part was to check if we were listening, but the second half prompted some interesting discussion in our small groups based around the following areas:

3 key principles of professional development
Development against a recognised external standard
Creating a personal development plan as the start of a cycle
Monitoring and recording against the plan
Review sign-off at the end of the cycle

3 most important factors to achieve successful implementation of a professional development programme
Senior management buy-in
Treat as a project using a suitable methodology, e.g. Prince 2.
Appoint a co-ordinator / project manager who is responsible for making it happen

3 most important factors to sustain a successful professional development programme
Continued and visible backing from senior management
Perceived standing of scheme in organisation
Ability to motivate all participants

3 aspects where Quality Assurance can make a major contribution to effectiveness
Correct and consistent use of the SFIA+ framework
Training and monitoring of supervisors
Advice and guidance to supervisors and participants
Regular reviews of scheme operation

3 way SFIA+ should be used in planning personal development
Explore potential career paths and long term development options
Identify main skill and level to develop
Add components from other skill levels if required
Identify specific work activities, knowledge, and skills to develop over the next cycle
Review other components such as training activities, professional development activities, and qualifications

I have some notes I will type up and publish regarding the content of the presentations themselves which may be interesting to someone out there - I certainly found it useful. Until then, there's no place like home! *clicks heels*

P.S. Did I mention our team won? ;)


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