ICT Managers must Adopt Professional Standards to take their rightful place at the heart of organisational strategy says UKCHIP Chairman.

UK ICT Management now has a big opportunity to raise its profile and enhance its reputation and professional standing says Gwyn Thomas, Chairman of UKCHIP (The UK Council for Health Informatics Professionals) through the creation of a new Federation of Informatics Professionals which has ben proposed by UKCHIP, BCS, SOCITM and IHRIM in a ground breaking alliance to adopt and apply professional standards cross all sectors.

In a wide ranging interview Gwyn reports that IT Managers say that they often feel excluded from the important strategic decisions facing their organisations; they feel trapped by having to focus solely on urgent operational problems rather than being able to make a valuable contribution to what is important for the future.

Gwyn cites current changes to integrate health and social care services and design them around the individual as being a typical example of where the IT community has to be involved in determining how information can be shared safely and securely to improve decision making. However, if the profession is to achieve its desired impact it will have to deal with a number of important issues otherwise they will not get their views listened to. The top five failings will need to be addressed by re-energised approach to IT professionalism. They are:

1. Information Technology is usually seen as a cost not an investment and this has led to consistent salami slicing to reduce of IT budgets rather than investing to create value. Compare IT with other functions, for example Marketing and you can see that Marketing managers develop strategies and are skilled at showing return on investment and support their plans with detailed analysis of results of campaigns and how marketing expenditure will pay dividends in the long run. In the future IT management will have to learn to explain value and deliver return on investments which support the achievement of the goals of organisations.

2. Being Efficient as well as Effective – currently there is a focus on delivering services that work reliably and consistently. This is entirely worthwhile in its own right but it means that the success criterion by with IT Managers are judged tends to be “Nothing Went Wrong!” and this can lead to a focus on efficiency at the expense of effectiveness. For example, software licensing where IT managers negotiate value for money contracts aimed at compliance but may not ensure that they get the maximum utilisation out of the products, which is under-utilisation of resources.

3. Leading innovation – developments in digital technology move at a very fast pace and often these new products can deliver improved performance at lower costs, but only if deployed quickly. New ways of working with suppliers are needed with a strategic mix of SMEs and large suppliers able to exploit niche solutions and delivery at scale.

4. Improving communication – IT professionals are often perceived to (and sometimes do) talk a different language to their managerial peers. Jargon gets in the way of understanding and there can be a tendency to describe “What the technology is” rather “What it can do”. Telling stories about the benefits for people and the commercial advantages for organisations are much better ways to show the value IT innovation, standardisation and rationalisation.

5. Tribalism – in many cases IT managers have been over protective of their own small fiefdoms. This can lead to resisting change and not implementing best practices or missing out on the benefits of co-operation. Opportunities should be grasped when they present themselves, the “not invented here” syndrome is no longer acceptable.

One of the aims of the Federation for Informatics Professionals is to promote cross sector collaboration by providing support for career development opportunities so that organisations can benefit from exchange of knowledge, skills, experience to spread the adoption of best practice more widely. It is important that IT Managers join and become actively involved with their professional body to help to build a reputation for professional practice and behaviour that is second to none.

UK CHIP is the UK Council for Health Informatics Professions, it is the voluntary regulatory and registration body for individuals working in health and social care informatics. Gwyn Thomas is Chairman of UK CHIP and was in conversation with Phil Hames of The Business Software Centre Ltd (TBSC).

TBSC works with organizations to improve the efficiency of their software usage. TBSC has developed Rentsoft Meter™ which measures the usage and non-usage of software applications and reveals to organization how they can improve usage levels and gain cost efficiencies by reducing wasted licenses.

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