Update from the ACM Professions Board
A recent progress report from the ACM Professions Board, designed to attract and support practicing software professionals.
ACM Professions Board Backgrounder
The Professions Board was created by the council in April of 2005, upon the recommendation of a special task force that had been looking into the issue of how the ACM could best attract and support practicing software professionals. To quote from the charter of the new board, its mission is to:
... focus on products and services that support and enhance the professional and technical development of practicing computing professionals including engineers, architects, IT specialists and managers. It shall be responsible for developing programs that support the professional needs of ACM members as well as promoting computing as a profession.
Steve Bourne, past president of the ACM, and one of the driving forces behind ACM's new magazine for software professionals, Queue magazine, is the chair of the new committee. The committee held its first face to face meeting at ACM headquarters on June 24, 2005. Discussions were wide-ranging and very productive. The result of that meeting is that the committee has established 5 areas that it would like to concentrate on over the next year:
1. Career - The focus in this area will be two-fold: training and skills development and making career transitions. The group felt that one of the most challenging career transitions is that from student to practicing professional, and that the ACM could do more to help support those making this transition. Another area that the board felt was important was to help provide skill development opportunities for non-technical areas such as business operations and technical leadership.
2. Networking/Communities - The board felt that the ACM should offer more support for the creation and ongoing development of communities. Areas that seemed to hold significant opportunities were infrastructure for reviewing/assessing/rating events, courses, books, etc. The ACM may want to look at some existing communities (Experts Exchange, Software Development Forum) to see whether there are opportunities for co-operation. The overriding goal here is not for the ACM to create content for professionals, but to provide the infrastructure which will allow communities to form who will generate, aggregate, evaluate, and discuss content themselves.
3. Best Practices - A refinement of item (2) is that the ACM should help create a framework in which IT professionals can communicate to each other qualified solutions to problems that they face. The goal is to help answer practitioner/manager questions about which technologies/approaches/tools/processes work and which don't work.
4. Ethics and Professional Standards - The board noted that the standards for practicing are changing. ACM should help IT professionals understand what the standards are and how they affect their work. Increasingly important are the issue of privacy and security (through out all aspects of IT).
5. Marketing the Profession - The board believed that the ACM should be a recognized source of information about what the computing profession is doing for society and what impact the IT profession is having.
The board is planning another face-to-face meeting for the fall. At this next meeting, the board is planning to produce a high-level specification of the product set it would like to deliver and will develop a way for market-testing these products in a timely fashion. The current plan is to have a reasonable subset of these products ready for delivery by June 2006.