IT needs to have skills that are practiced and current

Do you view yourself as an expert? How do you know? We need to be able to describe our skills and honestly say what level of expertise we have.

The international (IFIP) code of ethics for IT that CIPS (Canadian Information Processing Society) is currently adopting says that we should “Perform work only in areas of competence” and, further, “A computing professional’s ethical judgment should be the final guide in deciding whether to work on the assignment”. So we need a framework to be able to judge our level of expertise.

CIPS is offering the SFIA framework (Skills Framework for the Information Age) to all members, free. It will help you record your skills and competencies, and even compare your levels to that required for certain job descriptions. Training may be recommended to help you get there. I tried it with trepidation since I have not been keeping current during my retirement. It was quite helpful and specific about what constituted each level.

Even more helpful was the video CIPS has posted of Mathew Burrows, the president of SkillsTx, a Global SFIA Accredited Partner that implemented software for the SFIA framework. He says people tend to overrate themselves, or underrate themselves depending on their personality type. He has observed that most IT folk tend to underrate themselves. He asks what that humility will achieve, noting, “You are not impressing anyone”. That goes for those that might overrate too. Just answer honestly to get useful results.

And if you are unsure what to answer, just give your best estimate and you can always go back and change it later. I certainly found that once I had answered the first few questions, I had more confidence in my answers. The idea is that you will change the answers as you take training and gain experience so you have an up-to-date list.

My list puts me mostly at the “knowledge” level, since I know most of the topics but have not been working recently in most of the areas. At the highest level, if you are an expert who uses the skill regularly and does not require further training, that is at the “competency” level. I think we can all agree that IT requires us to practice what we learn and stay current in our areas.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
Donna Lindskog
Donna Lindskog
Donna Lindskog is an Information Systems Professional (retired) and has her Masters degree in Computer Science from the University of Regina. She has worked in the IT industry since 1978. Most of those years were at SaskTel where she progressed from Programmer, to Business Analyst, to Manager. At one point she had over 48 IT positions reporting to her and she has experience outside of IT managing Engineers. As a Relationship Manager, Donna worked with executive to define the IT Principles so departmental roles were defined. As the Resource Manager in the Corporate Program/Project Management Office, she introduced processes to get resources for corporate priorities. In 2003 she was given the YWCA Woman of Distinction Award in Technology.

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