Choosing the right consultant or contractor for the job can be a fraught task. This situation has encouraged the New Zealand Computer Society to set up a database of members offering IT services to provide some guidance for prospective customers.
While NZCS doesn’t endorse the 81 people in the database, society business development manager John Pringle says each has met the eligibility requirements of having full professional membership of the society. This means they have an IT degree and at least three years’ experience in the industry, or if they don’t have an IT-related degree they can prove at least 10 years’ experience. Practical experience is assessed by a panel of peers who are also members of the NZCS.
“[Without 10 years’ experience] it has to be an IT degree,” says Pringle. “There is a worry that there are a lot of people with other degrees such as accounting who have ended up in the IT industry.”
Pringle says NZCS’s core role is to raise the IT game for the good of the consumer. “One of the things that we want to do is give the consumer a benchmark. I’m hoping that ultimately that it would be used by anyone trying to track the lineage of a person who is offering to do some consulting or contracting for them.”
A member or fellow of the society must maintain their status by meeting an annual requirement for continuing professional development, says NZCS national officer manager Cheryl Horo, who maintains the list. “We take professional development seriously.”
The NZCS president, Otago-based Mike Harte, says businesses deserve to have standards of quality they can trust.
“Whether you are a business requiring contractor skills, or a member of the public seeking technology advice, you are entitled to the comfort of dealing with a professional whose technical skills and ethical standards meet third-party benchmarked criteria.”
The NZCS has 2000 members, comprising fellows, full members who have an IT-related degree and three years’ experience or a non IT-related degree and 10 years’ experience, associate members who have a degree and are working towards three years’ experience, and affiliates who are not qualified but are interested in the industry. This last category includes many students, says Pringle.
Pringle would like to see companies that hire out contractors placing the contractors on the database, which is free to the public, and use it as a marketing tool.