Report of Specialist Groups Congress 2001

held at New Ambassadors Hotel, Upper Woburn Place, London WC1H 0HX.

The Specialist Groups Congress 2001 was held at 11am on Wednesday, 5th July 2001.

 Jeremy Comley BCS Marketing Director
Peter CrouchFortan SG
Stephen DrewitBCS SG Accountant
Anna DuckworthBCS Communications Manager
Roberta FukeBCLO Public Relations
Charles HughesVice-President Member Services
Roger JohnsonAdvanced Programming SG
John KavanaghThe Computer Bulletin
Brian LayzellDeveloping Countries SG
Chris LazouFortran SG
Alastair Macdonald President
Geoff McMullenDeputy President
Carole PendleBCLO Public Relations
David PenfoldElectronic Publishing SG
Barbara PorchBCS SG Liaison Officer
Judith ScottBCS Chief Executive
Jennifer StapletonVice-President Technical
Colin ThompsonBCS Deputy Chief Executive
John YoungFortran SG
around 50representatives of other SGs
5additional BCS staff members


Introduction Jennifer Stapleton

The V-P Technical outline the purpose of the Congress, to let the SG representatives hear the Society's plans for the future and to give an opportunity for them to comment from the SG point of view. She also reported that at the previous day's Policy and Resources Committee meeting it had been agreed that Specialist Groups should retain the same level of representation on Council under the new arrangements as they have had in the past.

The vision for the BCS Alistair Macdonald

The President outlined the steps the Society had taken since the Pollard Report was published to find out the views of both members and non-members on the Society. As a result the new strategy had been developed with an emphasis on the delivery of services and information via the Web, the formation of three forums to cater for members in the technical area, education and management and to increase the visibility of the Society within the IT/IS industry and to the general public.

Using the specialist knowledge of the BCS Specialist Groups Robeta Fuke & Carole Pendle

The BCS Marketing Director described the need for a public relations programme with two strands, "Making the News" and "Responding to the News". There will be a corporate PR programme and budget. Any SG or Branch PR activity would have to be funded from the SG or Branch support budget.

The two ladies from BCLO described the range of services offered by BCLO in marketing, communications and public relations and their expertise in dealing with the media. They also described how PR can be used and the techniques used.

For the BCS the aim was to establish the Society and its members as THE experts in the IS field. This is an area where the expertise of Specialist Groups can be utilised. They emphasised that when dealing with media enquiries a quick response was required, even if it was negative. The charges for PR activities are £600 per day but general PR advice can be funded from the general PR budget.

The proposed organisational structure for coordinating SGs Roger Johnson

The past President stated that the SGs were the Society's major provider of:

They were the Society's biggest shop window:

But they all relied on voluntary effort and needed professional support from HQ in:

In the new Society structure the SGs would report to the new Member Services Board via the Specialist Groups Executive Committee. The Member Services Board in turn would report to Council, as indicated in the following table.

New BCS Structure
BCS CouncilPolicy & Resources Committee
Member Services BoardKnowledge Services Board Management Forum
SG Exec. Comm.Branches Exec. Comm. Qualifications & Standards BoardEducation & Training Forum
Specialist Groups AssemblyBranches Assembly External Relations BoardEngineering & Technology Forum

The SG Executive Committee would organise at least one SG Assembly a year to transact AGM business, receive reports from SGs and provide advice and a discussion forum.

The exact composition of the Executive Committee still has to be decided and how the V-P Member Services and BCS HQ will maintain effective contact with 100 SGs and Branches is still an open question.

The key objective is to ensure that SGs flourish and develop within the new BCS structures to the mutual benefit of SG members and the BCS corporate image.

The new Member Services Board Charles Hughes

The V-P elect Member Services outlined his background. After leaving Manchester University with a degree in Mathematics he joined ICL, rising to become a director in 1985, specialising in sales, marketing and business management. In 1995 he was seconded to the DTI for two years and as Project Director he launched the Government's Information Society Initiative and IT for All programmes. He now runs his own consultancy specialising in the implications of e-commerce and government/industry relations.

He stated that the BCS is seriously undervalued and needs to be at the heart of members business activities. In technical areas SGs represent the Society's position and should aim to attract non-members to join.

The position of the Member Services Board within the new BCS Structure had been adequately covered in the preceding presentation.


The new Knowledge Services Board David Penfold

David was standing in for Wendy Hall, V-P elect Knowledge Services. The new board was derived from the old Publications Board but with a wider remit to develop and dissimilate a wide variety of information on IS.

Up to now the Society has not been a comprehensive source of information. In the future as much as possible of SG's knowledge should be accessible from the BCS web site. As some of this will be part of the BCS Digital Library it will not all necessarily be free. There will be a budget for information creation and a more proactive role for SGs. Knowledge Services will want to tap into information know to SGs.

The future organisation Geoff McMullen

The Deputy President said that SGs should ask for the resources and support they felt they needed. Colin Thompson is the contact point for support issues at present, the new Director of Forums will take over when they are appointed. The aim of the reforms is to make the Society less bureaucratic.

He asked the SG representatives what questions did they want addressing and what level of support did they require from BCS HQ?

Parallel discussion sessions

Feedback from the discussions


Formal Technical Board business

Peter Crouch
August 2001

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