Computer Society prepares company accreditation

ICT companies may soon have new accreditation scheme

The NZ Computer Society, having instituted its IT Certified Professional (ICTP) qualification, is now turning its attention to the professionalism of companies providing ICT services.

The society has been working on an Accredited Partner certification for ICT companies and teams which will give the seal of approval based on “a set of criteria focusing on the competence, experience and capability of key staff and the company’s professional development culture,” says NZCS CEO Paul Matthews.

The terms of the certification will be released in the next few weeks.

While the Society is chiefly concerned with the professionalism of individual members, it has a responsibility to ensure professionalism also expresses itself in an organisational context, Matthews says.

President Don Robertson emphasises that the accreditation is not only for specialist ICT companies; it can also be given to ICT teams within commercial or public-sector organisations.

Meanwhile, the Society has developed a Code of Practice, meant primarily to govern the way its members conduct their business, but released publicly for the optional use of ICT professionals who are not society members.

There has not had been a code before. Its adoption now is “indicative of the change of direction of the society” towards more strongly encouraging professionalism, Matthews says.

The code covers general standards pertaining to all ICT professionals, including: avoiding or managing conflicts of interest; maintaining competence; adhering to the client’s ways of working and applying and promoting other appropriate standards; keeping knowledge up-to-date through training and communicating with fellow professionals; providing expert advice as far as possible but acknowledging the limits of one’s expertise; using appropriate methods and tools; managing workload efficiently; providing and accepting constructive criticism “maturely” and maintaining constructive relationships with colleagues; respecting the interests of the client; promoting good practice such as an appropriate level of documentation, quality assurance, respecting the confidence of personal data and promoting “a culture within the organisation which strives for continuous improvement”.

Lastly, members are told to represent the ICT profession in a appropriate light.

They are instructed to “contribute to the education of the public whenever you have the opportunity, so that they can be aware of and form an objective and informed view on IT issues”.

Members should also handle complaints from the public fully and properly. Computer professionals should “encourage user and consumer trust in reputable and proven global networks and electronic commerce [and other] relevant technologies,” says the code.

More detailed principles of good practice are appended for specific tasks such as project management, selling and promoting products, assessing risk and managing change.

The code of practice is backed up by a new Code of Professional Conduct, which replaces the previous Code of Ethics. It is not significantly different, says Matthews, but it is “designed to be clearer”.

The code of practice was devised with reference to similar codes applied by related organisations around the world.

While members are expected to consider the code in their work, it is a guideline only, and not a condition of membership, Matthews says.

The society felt that a compulsory code of practice would act as “a barrier, not a tool” to improving the culture of the industry.

The code of professional conduct is mandatory. While both codes have been approved by the society’s council, adoption of the code of professional conduct requires a special general meeting for final approval, as it involves amendments to the constitution.

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