What Must Change, for the IT Profession, to Be a Profession

As IT is not a profession, it stands to reason, that IT professionals, are not professionals. My father is a civil engineer, and a professional. He is a member of the Chartered Institute of Civil Engineering, which is a professional body, set out, by Royal Charter.

Instead of being a chip off the old block, I have a chip on my shoulder. As graduates of Computer Science, we do not have a route set out, that guarantees collective progression to professional standards, renowned the world over.

The Road into a Profession

This paper isn’t downbeat and defeatist. It is not a call for others to set up a professional body, into which I can enroll. Don’t get me wrong, that would be nice, but for now we can put that aside.

I will invite you to look at IT from another viewpoint. You don’t need to know anything about IT. If you can be my rubber duck, we’ll get on just fine.

IT Projects Fail at an Alarming Rate

You probably already know that IT projects fail at an alarming rate. And even when they succeed, they fail because everything gets complex and difficult to change.

There are a myriad of books & websites, all trying to get IT professionals (software developers, architects, administrators) to do things better. Many software languages, methodologies, technologies, patterns, and processes are created and evolved solely to try and crack the problem of project failure, and a high cost of ownership.

This influx and evolution, means that today’s IT systems sport demonstrably higher quality than say, a decade ago. However, IT projects are still prone to fail, to be delivered late, at times partnered with eye-popping cost overruns.

IT Solutions, to IT Problems

Poor quality software is an IT problem, so IT people continue to grapple with IT and process solutions. Businesses have turned to out-sourcing, then turned back again, unsure which was preferable. It seems much of a muchness.

The success or failure of an IT project, is in the hands of people. Not even large IT consultancy firms can guarantee success. Success boils down to who is, (and at times who isn’t), on a particular project.

This is symptomatic of a low capability maturity. Mature sectors such as construction, manufacturing, & film making, deliver consistently on or around a quality benchmark, due to the processes and frameworks employed, rather than the people employed.

My Way or the Highway

I’ll say it upfront. It is not my way or the highway. My way, for today, is not technical. It doesn’t go chasing waterfalls, it isn’t fragile or scrumptious.

If you want to improve quality, and raise the standards of software written for you, more must be done. You need to do more. Yes, use traditional methods that focus on skills, technology choices, and process improvements.