VSJ – December 2001 – Members’ News

The Director General Writes

Perhaps I am a closet optimist (though my wife always says I am a “glass half empty” man!). Certainly re-reading last year’s Christmas message to you all, I seem to have been expecting 2001 to be a rather more upbeat year than we’ve actually had.

Compared with some governments I can recall, and ignoring the odd lunacy like IR35, recent management of Britain’s economy has been reasonably competent. There seems no reason why this country need suffer a significant recession. Yet the Internet allows crazy sentiment to rush around the globe in microseconds, sending stock traders’ computers into instant pre-programmed panic, and destroying confidence worldwide. As a result many of us are now the victims of dwindling employee stock options, or have seen our hard-earned savings disappear, not just in the shares of unreal dotcoms, but in anything not rooted in the steam age. And that was before we had the New York disaster.

While one cannot ignore these very significant changes, I believe it is important not to go overboard. As well as buildings, Bin Laden destroyed lives and businesses. Though nobody would have wished it, the shift in people’s priorities following these attacks will surely create new business opportunities for many people in our industry. Whether it is in the redeployment of the military to actively combat terrorism, or in the strengthening of civil security, everyone is going to need analysts and programmers.

Here at the Institution it has been a year of quiet progress. Amazingly the quality of our membership continues to increase. The rules may not insist on it, but the majority of people joining the Institution today have degree-level qualifications in computing, so a lot of them soon become full Members. Members now make up nearly 50% of the total.

The IAP welcomes students, but compared with other professional bodies we have very few. Students comprise just 3% of our strength. That is because the IAP is widely recognised as an organisation for serious working professionals. The only students who join us are those who have the dedication and talent to build a sustainable career in the IT industry.

At one time a third of the membership were Fellows. Now that proportion is down to 25%, and the current rate of admission to the top grade is lower still.  Applicants for Fellow need to beat the 700 points required for Member by a “substantial margin”. That means about double. And they need to have spent a lot of time in positions of “substantial responsibility”. That means hands-on technical responsibility, not just administration.

The standard required for Fellow may be high, but it is easy enough for the right people, and the Council is keen to upgrade suitable candidates. The problem is that we are often unaware of their existence. People join the IAP as Members, then never tell us any more about their subsequent achievements.

If you’ve been a full Member of the Institution for a few years, think about whether you might qualify for an upgrade. (Associate Members might think about this too!) I will be happy to give informal advice to any member who cares to call or write, and where appropriate pass his or her name to the Council’s admissions committee for their consideration.

My best wishes to you all for security, prosperity and happiness in the coming year. I hope we will all still be here to enjoy Christmas 2002.


Subscriptions for 2002

Having regard to the economic situation, the Council has decided, once again, not to increase rates for Student and Retired members at all. Other rates are increased by just £4.00 pounds, a very modest figure in relation the continuing expansion of IAP member benefits. People may join the Institution for the prestige, but it also makes very good commercial sense. Tell your non-member colleagues what they’re missing!

From 1st January 2002 the following rates will apply:

Fellow                                                                                £102.00

Member                                                                              £92.00

Associate Member                                                            £82.00

Graduate                                                                             £62.00

Student                                                                                £40.00

Retired Member                                                                £40.00

All these rates are reduced by £5.00 if you pay by direct debit. Over 80% of members already pay by this method. If you want to join them, contact the office for a form (see below for contact details). Remember that the IAP uses an agent, Miller Firstline (NLA), to collect money from members’ accounts and it is their name, not that of the IAP, which will appear on your bank statement.

Your subscription is due each year on the anniversary of the day you joined the Institution and covers your membership for the following twelve months.

If you prefer to pay by cheque or credit card we will invoice you when payments are due. As we can only accept payment in sterling, credit cards are particularly convenient for members overseas. Just phone, fax or email the card details to us.

To qualify for the Retired Member rate you need to confirm that you are over 60, have been a member for at least ten years and are no longer available for work except on an occasional basis.

IAP Office contact details are:

Telephone:            020 8 567 2118

Fax:                        020 8 567 4379

Email:                    admin@iap.org.uk

Nominations for the Council of the IAP

The Institution is a democratic body governed by a Council elected by and from its members. Five members of the 15-strong Council retire in rotation each year. Nominations for the 2002 election must be received at the Institution Office by 31 January 2002. Contact the Office for further details, or an informal discussion, if you are interested in playing your part in the governance of the Institution.


Are due to Cecilia Finnerty, FIAP, and lately member of the Council, on the award of her PhD. Cecilia says of her work:

Very roughly, the thesis was on the topic of what makes users ‘engage’ with packaged software
in the workplace. Is it how it looks? Is it the functionality? The latter point calls into question just what is meant by functionality of course – everything that the software does or the bare essentials that are required to achieve a goal? To cut a long story (5 years worth!) short, the answer is not simple (whoever thought it would be?). A key factor is the context of the workplace. People have to feel that the software is something that is useful and that they choose to use it because it is useful, not that it is imposed because someone else wants it. In this, they may be affected by the attitudes of those around them and their own attitudes to those people. Hopefully, this will not come as news to a lot of people – it would suggest that the findings are not limited to a single set of studies. What does it mean? Well, really that, whilst it is quite right that time should be spent on improving software packages, organisations should also take some responsibility for the success of that software in use (the definition of success including that people make best use of the software). Software purchased off the shelf will rarely suit any organisation entirely. However, better use may be made of it if it is introduced into an environment where people positively want to use that software. Keeping them involved in what is going on and in the decision both to buy software and which software to use are possible ways of aiding that.

Don’t forget to email eo@iap.org.uk with items of news about you or your company.

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