Thoughts on the BCS EGM

I got the paperwork for the British Computer Society EGM this week. This EGA raises some interesting issues, the best overview of the issue I have found seems to be on the Computer Weekly site.

So has supporters of the EGM motion argument, led by former BCS trustee Len Keighley, any merit? Yes, it does. Enough to vote out the current BCS management and trustees? Well I am not so sure.

I was a student member of the BCS in the late 80s, when I was working for a small PC and LAN dealership. It was not good experience, I left the BCS with a feeling they did not care for anything bar old mainframe style IT and had no interest in anything newer than the late 70’s.

I rejoined the BCS in the late 90s when I formed Black Marble. This was initially purely as a means to gain my CEng to help in getting more work. I was able to do this due to the number of years experience I had by then. However, I still had to provide references, a very detailed CV and attend a rather daunting panel interview.

At this time also started to attend my local branch, West Yorkshire, and I am happy to say that I found it a far more relevant and friendly organisation. I remember attending a local meeting soon after David Clarke became the BCS CEO, he was touring the branches to introduce himself, and being impressed by his forward looking views and plans for the society, which he seems to acted upon.

So has it all gone too far?

Well I am not too impressed by the CITP qualification, it strikes me as far to easy to get. I thought my CEng application process was fairly light compare the process required for friends who gained CEng via the IEE or who work in other chartered engineering professions such as structural or mechanical engineering.

We all know that qualification can become devalued, there has been no end of these in the realm of IT vendor qualifications such MCP, CNE etc. The vendors regularly force re-qualification (and often with serious re-banding to a new qualification) with greatly increased difficulty; a tactic that cannot be used for ‘pass once hold for life’ qualifications such as a CEng. For CITP I think it arrived devalued. At this time I see little for no respect for the CITP inside the industry or recognition in the world beyond. It certainly does not rank even vaguely equivalent to a ‘real’ CEng. It look like a tool, as said by the EGM supports, to drive membership alone.

Also I am not a fan of the BCS flagship product SFIAPlus, this for me became a huge barrier to completing my CPD record. I used to find it funny the CPD process for the BCS was fill out a Word document online, print out out and post it in. I welcomed the move to the online SFIA model, until I had to use it. It seems again designed for the large company 70s BCS core membership, a nightmare of complexity. It has reached the point I cannot be bothered to complete it, it would take far too much of my valuable time. So it must be said that as I don’t complete it now, there is a chance it has changed (maybe even improved) since I last tried it.

All this said I think the BCS is far more relevant now than it was 10 years ago, though I don’t whole heartedly welcome the move to offering business services, I can see the reason behind it. However I think the changes are still far from moving the BCS into the same space as other professional societies such as the Royal societies and BMA, which must be the long term goal.

So how will I vote at the EGM, like many I am still undecided. As I said the ideas behind the EGM have merit, but an EGM seems a poor way to address the questions, but maybe this is the only way to do it if the current management is a closed as Len Keighley makes out.