Should I join the BCS?


(Daniel Hollands) #1

Spurred on my @Woo’s blog post, I’m once again asking myself a question which I’ve asked before - should I join BCS?

My favourite tutor at University was a huge fan of BSC, reminding her students at every opportunity that they should join, but I was never entirely clear on what the benefit was.

So I’m interested, is anyone here a member? And if so, should I become one too?


(Max Woolf) #2

I was. But only because my employer paid for it. My new employer does not.
I got literally zero value out of BCS membership and they wanted renewal which was >£100 so I told them no.

So yeah, I wouldn’t recommend it.


(Andy Wootton) #3

I am an MBCS and through that, a Chartered IT Practitioner and a Chartered Engineer.

Ignoring the BCS for a minute, does Computing deserve to be treated as a serious profession? Should there be an organisation that sets the standards of professionalism and fulfils the function of a learned society? Does society need a measure of whether people claiming to ‘know a bit about computers’ actually do, before we let them write the software for a fly-by-wire aircraft or missile targeting system? If the answer is yes then I think we have to accept that someone will have to pay for it and that will probably be us. I wanted to become chartered to put some distance between me and some of the cowboys I met when I was contracting. It can’t hurt on the CV.

What value have I got out of it? The above - I feel I’ve contributed to the professionalisation of our sometimes rather shoddy industry. It once earned me some respect from a fellow CEng who earlier in the day had treated me as having the status of a photocopier ‘engineer’. I can sign the sheet at BCS meetings in the ‘Member’ rather than the ‘Guest’ column.

Does the BCS meet my expectations? They’re trying - but while it doesn’t have a sufficiently large percentage of people working in computing, it has no muscle to impose any standards.

It is making progress in the area of ISEB qualifications which ironically most people don’t don’t know have anything to do with the BCS.
[ Ooh look, they’ve rebranded them as BCS http://certifications.bcs.org/ ]
I did this BA Practice http://certifications.bcs.org/category/15692
It was pretty intense. Many young, suited London consultancy types.
I was dreading the exam. It was the first I’d taken since I graduated but it was OK, taken on the last day of the course which concentrates the mind. It wasn’t hugely relevant to my job, aimed more at board level than software but you can hardly blame them for us choosing the wrong course.

But: I was once a member of the Independent Computer Contractor specialist group (ICC) The EU sent a consultation on contract working to the UK government who forwarded it to a number of official industry organisations. The BCS passed it to the ICC. The Chair (Mike) and a couple of guys met up in a pub and wrote a response. No-one else did. Mike and two blokes in a pub wrote what became the official UK proposal to the EU, because they were in the BCS. That is democracy in action.


(Daniel Hollands) #4

Is that because there was no benefit to be had, or is it because they offered different benefits to what you wanted/needed?


(Omar Qureshi) #5

I don’t think its a worthwhile spend of money.

You could probably buy about 100 McDonalds apple pies for that. After that, you wouldn’t care who or what the BCS was.


(Andy Wootton) #6

But are Maccy Ds tax deductible?


(Omar Qureshi) #7

“Entertaining clients”


(Max Woolf) #8

Interesting. Both I guess. No employer has ever asked for it nor judged my ability based on my membership. I got some letters after my name but I didn’t have to prove much to get them.

The benefits may have been there, but they weren’t made clear to me. The only correspondence I ever received was a letter demanding renewal payment. And then two phone calls asking when I was going to pay.

Professional bodies are important. Programmers could do with a trade union, but personally the BCS didn’t have anything to offer me.


(Andy Wootton) #9

Here are the Birmingham events so far this year. There was one on Big Data last night

http://www.bcs.org/content/ConWebDoc/54312

I really should have gone to that :-/ AND we’ve missed the visit to Bletchley Park!

Now my admission of the problems: I bet the events aren’t on Meetup and the committee haven’t heard of birmingham.io or Silicon Canal. I’ve never got more involved because the effort of BCS political issues would detract from keeping up with relevant knowledge. You tend to get management types and older lecturers who have the time but may be somewhat out of date and not realise.


(Colin Smith) #10

I should have gone to the Big Data talk as well but I definitely didn’t want to spend a day at Bletchley park with the crew that usually turn up to BCS Brum branch meetings.

I’m MBCS as well btw.


(Colin Smith) #11

should have said, my company pay for membership of any professional body so it was a no-brainer for me to join. I actually like the idea that a professional body has a code of conduct that ‘should’ motivate a sense of professionalism it its members. Other than that it looks pretty good on the CV and linked-in but I don’t know how much influence it has in the recruiting process


(Andy Wootton) #12

I don’t know them well. I go to more Stafford meetings.

If anyone does want to go to Bletchley, I had a ‘last chance’ email today, so get in touch fast.


(Daniel Hollands) #13

One of the supposed things that BCS provides is a plan for self development.

Back when I learnt about it (would have been when I was at Uni, so probably 2007/8) the plan had a girls name (something like ALICE), but the closest I can see to anything like this is Continuing Professional Development (CPD) (not sure if this is the same thing, but it seems similar).

This is something which I’d be keen on following, but I’m not sure what’s different about this, vs what I’m doing at the moment (that is, learning what I need to solve whatever problem I’m currently facing).


(Andy Wootton) #14

The Skills Framework for the Information Age, SFIA (was it Sofie?) may be what you are looking for. That is the paths you might follow.

CPD is the mechanism for recording your progress in a structured way; the kind of thing that large companies HR departments try to do.


(Daniel Hollands) #15

Yes, that sounds about right (surely you mean Sophia?) Is that a BCS thing? Because looking at the site, it appears separate form them.


(Andy Wootton) #16

http://www.bcs.org/content/conWebDoc/35327

In my opinion, they’ve gone badly wrong on this. I think because they sink a lot of resources into maintaining the model, they feel they have to get their money back by selling a product and now appear to have outsourced that selling, thus losing the BCS identity that should given the model some authority. The BCS isn’t run by people who ‘get’ Free culture.

They should have given it away free to be printed out and stuck it on every office wall as free advertising then made their approved training courses the easiest way to climb up the ladders and got the money that way. Instead they are hoping to get big companies to buy it, in competition with their own HR Director’s love child.

They outsourced the Agile training too. It all feels a bit FOAF. I expect the government love them for boosting the private sector.


(Andy Wootton) #17

I was too nauseous to think after “Information Age”


(Steve Pitchford) #18

I am MBCS and did go to the big data thing - my first BCS event. It was quite stimulating - an interesting talk.

As for Bletchley Park - I believe the document circulated is just a questionaire to assist in the timing of the trip, rather than a commitment for the trip it’s self.


(Steve Pitchford) #19

Like Woo, I joined to make a difference. I feel that there are far too many cowboys in IT and in order to inact a change, those of us who want IT to be a recognised profession need to make a stand.

The BCS is far from perfect, but the membership fee is tax deductable, and it’s not a bad starting point to inact change.

The question I would suggest you ask yourself is not “what can the BCS do for me” but “what can you do for the BCS”?

If you are happy to think of the question from the second perspective and don’t mind waiting to claim your fee back, then why not give it a go?


(Andy Wootton) #20

Not wanting to deceive all the people all the time, while worrying that I’m now actually driving members away, the fee (and CEng Engineering Council fee) is added onto your taxable allowance (tax code), so you only get back the income tax component on that amount.