Sunday, 15 August 2010

Making computing a recognized profession

Is there any reason to make computing a recognized profession? After all, isn’t it like gardening? Something we all do a bit, with varying degrees of competence for varying amounts of time in a week? Why should it be a recognized profession like medicine, law, or accounting? Does it really need demonstrable professional development, with members adhering to a code of ethics, and having globally recognized credentials?

I would argue that it does. Not only that, I would support whole-heartedly the professionalization of computing. Naming no names, but I’ve come across lots of IT personnel who have an incredibly limited knowledge of the choices available or the types of techniques that can be used to make things happen. I worked with someone many years ago who reckoned he could do anything on a computer with a few lines of code. He was a great hit with customers – they liked dealing with him. He wrote Assembler and he really did make things happen. So often these days, particularly with Windows support staff, the answer is always NO – a particular change can’t be made, either because it’s too much effort or because they don’t know enough.

On the other hand, there are things like ITIL – IT Infrastructure Library – which provide best-practice examples for service management. You can find them at or And there’s IP3 ( who are all about setting standards for the IT industry.

I think organizations like this should be supported. I also think they should have some way of including in the membership recognized industry professionals who’ve been round the block a few times and should incorporate their skills and best practice.

At the moment, from a customer’s perspective, when you employ a consultant or an organization to work on your IT with you, you have no way of knowing how good they are or what standards they achieve compared to other similar organizations.

So, yes, I would absolutely support computing becoming a recognized profession – with continuous professional development, code of ethics, and, of course, letters after your name so customers know you adhere to these standards.

What do you think?

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