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Home > News > March 2007 > 28 March 2007

IT management experience more important than qualifications, says survey

According to a survey conducted by the British Computer Society (BCS), many organisations believe that IT management experience is more important than qualifications.

A BCS Management Qualification Working Group carried out the survey to determine the relative importance that employers placed on the qualifications, education and experience of their IT managers.

BCS chief executive David Clarke said: "This confirms that the Society's Professionalism in IT (ProfIT) programme - currently seeking to upgrade the perceived value of the IT profession - has a big challenge to correct what is seen by the BCS as an alarming misapprehension. In particular, ProfIT must play a central role in guiding British business and the public services sector to encourage and value a qualified approach to recruiting and integrating IT into the broader business."

According to the survey, almost 90% (88%) of organisations stated that it was the experience of their IT managers that was important to them rather than their IT qualifications (41%).

When recruiting IT managers, 69% of companies put a high importance on the IT knowledge of the applicant compared with 51% who rated management knowledge highly. For the majority of organisations the head of IT or the equivalent was the key decision maker in the recruitment of IT managers.

The head of IT was normally also responsible for setting the standards of management knowledge for new IT managers and the selection of education and training for his IT managers. The survey found that the choice of training provider was based mostly on either previous experience of the provider or on their reputation. Cost was a lesser consideration.

The majority of organisations (69%) did not use a Professional Development scheme for their IT managers. However of those organisations that did use such a scheme, half were based on a scheme either run by or accredited by a professional body. In addition, 59% of the companies stated that they would put a high value on more standardised education and qualifications for IT managers.

There was a range of suggestions for the contents of such a scheme. However, most respondents agreed that any scheme should be based on the continued development of managers as they progressed through their careers. The scheme should emphasise the importance of general management, people management, IT governance and experience. It should be possible to dovetail the scheme with other industry recognised certifications such as ITIL and Prince 2. Some organisations wanted a scheme that was also flexible enough and be tailored to fit in with their own company's management development scheme. For SME's the scheme had to be modular and cost effective.

David Clarke said: "It is vital for British organisations to better gauge IT management skills using exacting qualification benchmarks. Broad experience is no longer as relevant as it was as IT progresses towards more defined delivery roles and working within tighter budgetary constraints. Especially as qualifying bodies like BCS are now offering highly exacting methods to measure and fit individuals to specific IT management roles, which is vital for a prospering business or organisation.

"The BCS supports the development of education and training programmes to include a strong experiential element to reflect interplay of experience and education in the role of IT Managers. Working with e-skills UK , the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET), and the Institute for the Management of Information Systems (IMIS), the BCS has supported the development of the Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA) to enable employers to measure and benchmark their organisation's collective ICT skills and its processes for managing and developing these."

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