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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

General questions (see below)
1. What is the Canadian Information Processing Society (CIPS)?
2. Who can become a member of CIPS?
3. What are the prerequisites of becoming a member of CIPS?
4. What would be the benefits of joining CIPS?

Certification - I.S.P. designation questions (see below) 
1. What is the Information Systems Professional (I.S.P.) designation?
2. Why does the I.S.P. designation matter?
3. Is there a test for certification?
4. How does one qualify for the I.S.P.?
5. Will an I.S.P. designation help me (as an IT practitioner) get a job?
6. Is I.S.P. the abbreviation of Information Systems Professional (I.S.P.) or Internet Service Providers (ISP)?
7. Will the I.S.P. designation be recognized in the United States?
8. Why is skills standards testing important?
9. What is the benefit for an IT individual to have formal certification (e.g. MCSE)?
10. What level of importance are organizations placing on certification vs. hands-on work experience?
11. How has this level of importance changed over the last decade?
12. With the plethora of existing certifications, what benefit does CIPS see in having an overall industry standard accreditation such as the I.S.P. designation?
13. What is the value of the I.S.P. designation for "Public Sector" IT Practitioners?
14. What is the value of the I.S.P. designation for the Canadian Government as an IT Employer?

More I.S.P. Designation Questions (see below)
1. What are the business economics of the I.S.P. designation?
2. What is the need for an I.S.P. designation / professionalism in the IT industry?
3. How we do insure alignment with other certifications and university degrees?
4. Do we really need to factor years of experience into I.S.P. certification?
5. Is CIPS going to get rid of networking?
6. What is the governance model for the I.S.P.?
7. What mechanism exists for assessing the gaps that a candidate must fill before qualifying for an I.S.P. designation?
8. As an implementation strategy to create a critical mass, what is the value of keeping the I.S.P. criteria fairly simple and achievable and then introducing criteria for higher levels of professionalisms?
9. What general info will be contained in the Body of Knowledge?
10. Who has ever failed the MCSE test? How can we recognize the rigor of the I.S.P. designation?
11. What is the value of the I.S.P. designation for employers?
12. How does a consulting organization promote the I.S.P. within their organizations?

Challenging questions (see below)
1. What is the point of having a national association that represents people in the IT sector?
2. Why is your membership so low considering that there are over 500,000 IT professionals across the country?
3. How do you account for diminishing membership numbers?

The Value of CIPS Professionalism Initiatives (see below)
1. How is the I.S.P. designation going to achieve a CIO's "bottom-line?"
2. How is the Body of Knowledge (BOK) going to help achieve a CIO's "bottom-line?"
3. How is the Standards of Practice (SOP) going to help achieve a CIO's "bottom-line?
4. What specifically can CIOs/IT Directors do to help endorse/support CIPS IT professionalism efforts?
 


General questions

1. What is the Canadian Information Processing Society (CIPS)?
Founded in 1958, CIPS is Canada's association of Information Technology (IT) professionals, representing IT workers on issues affecting the IT profession and industry. (Just as engineers are members of a professional association, Information Technology workers are also members of a professional association--CIPS.)

CIPS is involved in a number of initiatives related to public policy, setting standards within the IT profession and assisting its community. Three of the main programs are the certification of IT professionals (Information Systems Professional of Canada - I.S.P. designation); the accreditation of computer science, software engineering, and MIS programs in Canadian colleges and universities; and the organization of a Women in IT program to educate high school girls about career opportunities in IT. CIPS also offers a variety of other benefits and services to its members ranging from a Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct to educational events and networking opportunities.

In Québec, CIPS is partnered with RÉSEAU ACTION TI.

For more information about CIPS, visit the CIPS National Web site: http://www.cips.ca/. You can also contact your local CIPS Section or the CIPS National Office at info@cips.ca or 1-877-ASK-CIPS (275-2477).

2. Who can become a member of CIPS?
Any individual with an interest in Information Technology (IT) (i.e. pursuing an IT career) or any individual who is currently in the field of Information Technology may become a member of CIPS.

3. What are the prerequisites of becoming a member of CIPS?
There are no prerequisites of becoming a member of CIPS. (Note: If you are applying for the Information Systems Professional of Canada - I.S.P. designation, only applicants that meet the required IT education and professional experience will be awarded the designation. Please see the "Standards" page on the CIPS National Web site at www.cips.ca/standards for more information about the I.S.P. designation or take a self-assessment test which is also available on the CIPS National Web site at: www.cips.ca/standards/ispassessment.)

4. What would be the benefits of joining CIPS?
Please also see "Benefits" page for a list of CIPS benefits.

(for the CIO/IT Director)
Benefit #1: You have access to the I.S.P. Professional designation.

The I.S.P. designation reduces your management risk. You can count on our members for competence, ethical conduct and trustworthiness. The I.S.P. designation is a visible indication of a person's commitment to the IT profession. CIPS members are bound by a Code of Ethics and the Standards of Conduct that defines the IT profession, and protects the public interest. Certified members (I.S.P. designation holders) are proven and trusted IT professionals who have made a commitment to keep their CORE SKILLS current through ongoing professional development.

Encouraging the I.S.P. designation is an easy way for you as an employer to encourage your staff to fill in any gaps in their formal IT education.

To maintain the I.S.P. designation, an IT individual must regularly submit proof of their self-development (i.e. CIPS reviews, and selective audits, claimed self-development) to ensure that it is appropriate in kind and quantity. Requiring the I.S.P. designation is an easy way for companies to require that their IT staff follow through on a commitment to professional self-development. In effect, CIPS and its I.S.P. designation enforce conditions that companies would find useful and important.

All charges of professional misconduct will be reviewed by CIPS and all findings will be published in the CIPS Annual Report. The public identification of findings of professional misconduct would have serious career implications. It means something for an IT individual to commit to the Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct.

(for the CIO/IT Director)
Benefit #2: You have access to knowledge-sharing and best practices culture.

Access to knowledge-sharing and best practices culture through CIPS increases your opportunities for a skilled and current workforce. Your knowledge workers are better because of their CIPS community. They are a part of a connected professional network with exposure to latest trends and experiences of their peer groups. They will contribute their knowledge and best practices to your organization, and will help you attract the best IT professionals to your workforce.

(for the CIO/IT Director)
Benefit #3: You have the opportunity to contribute to the evolution of the Canadian IT profession

Your support and involvement is a welcome contribution to the evolution of the Canadian IT Profession. CIPS needs your support, and the support of all professionals to evolve the IT profession. We will move forward quickly with the leadership of senior Canadian IT management, and the efforts of our committed professionals

"Professionalism is the foundation of our organization. We are committed to certifying qualified IT workers in Canada, and providing support for their ongoing professional development. You can count on our organization."

(for the IT practitioner)
Benefit #1: You have access to a network of IT professionals across the country

You are connected to a professional network, where you can learn from and share ideas, knowledge and best practices with your peers.

(for the IT practitioner)
Benefit #2: You have the opportunity to prove to your employer, clients and the public that you possess the IT education and professional experience to practice in the field of IT.

You will demonstrate your commitment to this profession by achieving your I.S.P. designation.

(for the IT practitioner)
Benefit #3: You have access to high quality professional development opportunities and other member services at exclusive member rates.

(for the IT practitioner)
Benefit #4: You are connected to the key decision makers and leaders in the IT community

(for the IT practitioner)
Benefit #5: Through influence and advocacy, you can have an impact on plans and policies of business, government, and educational institutions, that impact on your profession or the public interest.

"Professionalism is the foundation of our organization. More than ever, our industry - employers, customers and the public - is demanding trustworthy, competent, and ethical IT Professionals. Our I.S.P. designation is a visible indication of your commitment to a high standard of excellence in the IT profession. Join us and take charge of your future!"

Certification - I.S.P. designation questions

1. What is the Information Systems Professional (I.S.P.) designation?
Legislated as a professional designation by Provincial Governments in Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan (efforts to register in other provinces are on-going), the Information Systems Professional (I.S.P.) is the only such designation for Information Technology (IT) professionals in Canada. The Canadian Information Processing Society (CIPS), Canada's association of IT professionals, introduced the I.S.P. designation in May 1989.

I.S.P. holders are required to re-certify every year to show that they maintain up-to-date skills and are knowledgeable about the latest IT trends and best practices.

Like other professional designations - P.Eng. (professional engineers), CA (chartered accountants) - the I.S.P. demonstrates that its holders possess the education and experience to practice to the highest standards in their field.

2. Why does the I.S.P. designation matter?
(To the IT Individual)
The I.S.P. designation boosts your:

  • Career development;
  • Profile and credibility; and
  • Professional image.


(To the IT Profession)
The I.S.P. designation establishes and maintains the highest standards of:
 

  • Professional practice;
  • Ethics and conduct; and
  • Protection of public safety through established complaint and disciplinary procedures.


(To Employers and Clients)
They know they can count on the I.S.P. holder's:
 

  • Prerequisite education and experience;
  • Commitment to competence, ethical conduct and trustworthiness; and
  • High-quality work and productivity that will bolster the "bottom line" with increased savings and profits.


3. Is there a test for certification?
There is no test for certification. However, I.S.P. candidates must possess the required education and professional experience to practice in the field of IT.

Please see the "Standards" page on the CIPS National Web site at www.cips.ca/standards for more information on the I.S.P. designation or take a self-assessment test which is also available on the CIPS National Web site at: www.cips.ca/standards/ispassessment.

4. How does one qualify for the I.S.P.?
I.S.P. candidates must possess the required education and professional experience to practice in the field of IT.

For individuals who do not hold a relevant degree or diploma, passing the ICCP's (Institute for Certification of Computer Professionals) Certified Computing Professional exams is a practical way to show mastery of the required body of knowledge.

CIPS also offers a pre-certification membership privilege to individuals who have met the educational requirements, but have not yet attained the required number of years of professional experience, as outlined in the I.S.P. criteria.

Please see the "Standards" page on the CIPS National Web site at www.cips.ca/standards for more information on the I.S.P. designation or take a self-assessment test which is also available on the CIPS National Web site at: www.cips.ca/standards/ispassessment.

5. Will an I.S.P. designation help me (as an IT practitioner) get a job?
An I.S.P. designation should help you get a job because having an I.S.P. designation makes a valuable statement about you, that you are trustworthy from both an ethical and competence perspective. Of course, there is no guarantee of trustworthiness. However, I.S.P. holders who have demonstrated their mastery of the Canadian Information Technology Body of Knowledge (BOK) and have committed to acting ethically can loose their designation if they do not maintain professional Standards of Practice (SOP). There is evidence that employers recognize this value today and the value of the designation will continue to gain as CIPS makes improvements suggested in its new vision document. As well, I.S.P. holders possess the required education and professional experience to practice in the field of Information Technology (IT).

6. Is I.S.P. the abbreviation of Information Systems Professional (I.S.P.) or Internet Service Providers (ISP)?
I.S.P. as an abbreviation of Information Systems Professional was chosen as the English name for the CIPS professional designation well before the term ISP came to be used to specify Internet Service Provider. There is no connection between these letters being used in the two different contexts. There is no such conflict with the French version of the designation, IPA. It is unfortunate for CIPS that ISP has come to be internationally associated with Internet Service Provider. CIPS could and eventually may want to change the name of its designation. However, this would be a major undertaking. For example, legislation would need to be changed in several provinces; registered trademarks would need to be changed, etc.

7. Will the I.S.P. designation be recognized in the United States?
Recognition can take many forms. For example, the I.S.P. designation could be recognized as equivalent to a U.S. designation. It could be used as a qualification criterion for Visa application, etc. We do not believe there is an equivalent designation at this time in the U.S. The U.S. market represents a potential market for the I.S.P. holder.

8. Why is skills standards testing important?
Skills mastery is important because one must be able to rely on a professional to be competent. To be competent, a professional must have, among other requirements, the requisite knowledge for the task. Testing is one way to demonstrate mastery of a knowledge base. Other ways are also valid, for example, prior learning assessment and recognition (PLAR) and successful completion of accredited programs. CIPS uses all these methods in awarding the Information Systems Professional (I.S.P.) designation.

9. What is the benefit for an IT individual to have formal certification (e.g. MCSE)?
The I.S.P. designation makes a statement -- the individual is trustworthy. He/She can be trusted to abide by a code of ethics and trusted to be competent for the work he/she agrees to perform. The benefit to an IT professional results from employer realization of this value statement. Vendor certifications, such as MCSE, generally provide a more specific, defined value statement.

10. What level of importance are organizations placing on certification vs. hands-on work experience?
Mastery of a body of knowledge is necessary but not sufficient. A professional must also be able to apply that body of knowledge in a professional setting. The I.S.P. designation requires demonstrated mastery of the body of knowledge and the demonstrated ability to apply that knowledge in a professional setting.

11. How has this level of importance changed over the last decade?
Over the last decade, there has been growth in certifications that relate to specifically defined knowledge areas, for example vendor certifications. This was very important as new technologies, such as client/server, object orientation, web, and networking were being quickly adopted in the marketplace. There is an increasing realization that having knowledge of these technologies alone is not enough. The technology-specific knowledge must be built upon a solid foundation of IT knowledge and the individual must be able to use the knowledge effectively.

12. With the plethora of existing certifications, what benefit does CIPS see in having an overall industry standard accreditation such as the I.S.P. designation?
The very fact that there is a plethora of certifications increases the need for the I.S.P. designation. The I.S.P. designation provides the marketplace with a single quality differentiation that can be applied to all recruiting needs. The I.S.P. designation encompasses all of IT. If a project/position requires a particular combination of skills, the employer could look for an incumbent with certification in all the required skills (for example, project management and IT infrastructure) or they could just look for an I.S.P. holder knowing that the I.S.P. holder is professionally bound not undertake the work unless they are qualified (and this could mean having the other specific designations).

13. What is the value of the I.S.P. designation for "Public Sector" IT Practitioners?
 

  • Public Sector IT practitioners should want the I.S.P. designation for the same reasons that all IT workers should have the I.S.P., namely to be recognized as "professionals." As "professionals," I.S.P. designation holders are perceived as trustworthy - that they will act ethically and that they are competent. Being a "professional" means taking personal responsibility for one's performance.
  • Value for investment is clearly there. Even if public sector IT practitioners are already committed to lifelong professional development, the following are still required of them as an IT "professional":
    • Ethical behaviour;
    • Attitude of self-responsibility, learning about professionalism; and
    • Reduced risk in recruiting and contract procurement.


All of these are part of being an Information Systems Professional.

  • Public sector IT practitioners should want to be recognized truly as IT "professionals" because by holding the I.S.P. designation they are showing to the public (Canadians that look to their trust to protect their privacy, information, and assets) that:
    • They conform to a Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice (i.e. they will act ethically and only perform IT duties they are qualified to do);
    • They have mastery of a Canadian Information Technology Body of Knowledge (CITBOK) and Standards of Practice (SOP);
    • They are capable of applying their knowledge in a professional setting; and
    • They are maintaining and keeping current their professional knowledge.
  • Performing IT duties solely for financial gain is not an IT "professional"
  • Possessing the I.S.P. designation identifies that an individual is an IT "professional"
  • Possessing the I.S.P. designation demonstrates an IT individual's achievement of excellence measured by his/her IT peers
  • Possessing the I.S.P. designation proves that an individual is proud of his/her IT profession
  • The I.S.P. is the visible indication of a person's skills and commitment to the IT profession. The I.S.P. requires adherence to a Code of Ethics and the Standards of Conduct that protect public interest. I.S.P. holders are proven and trusted IT professionals and have made a commitment to keep their skills current through ongoing professional development consistent with the Body of Knowledge. These three characteristics are what define the IT profession as stated above.
  • The I.S.P. provides an impartial measure of professional achievement on the same basis as for the private sector.

14. What is the value of the I.S.P. designation for the Canadian Government as an IT Employer?

  • The Canadian Government's support for the I.S.P. designation is important. It shows leadership to the private sector (leading by example) that they prefer to hire IT "professionals" (i.e. IT workers who are qualified to undertake IT projects)
  • The Government should want the following characteristics in their IT staff:
    • Conforms to the Code of Ethics (COE) and Standards of Practice (SOP);
    • Possesses mastery of a Canadian Body of Knowledge (CITBOK) and Standards of Practice (SOP);
    • Capable of applying knowledge in a professional setting; and
    • Maintains and keeps current their professional knowledge.
  • The public sector constantly deals with the public and is responsible to protect the privacy information and public assets of all Canadians. Canadians do not want their privacy information and public assets at risk. (The I.S.P. designation proves to Canadians that they can trust the public sector individual holding the designation to be knowledgeable, to be experienced, and to act ethically.)
  • Hiring qualified IT staff is important. The Government saying that they do hire qualified IT staff is not enough in the public eye. Professional designations are individual not corporate and, therefore, the employee is held accountable not just the employer. The Government should have a 3rd party assessment to confirm that their IT workers are indeed IT "professionals." CIPS as Canada's association is qualified and credible to give that 3rd party assessment through the I.S.P. designation.
  • When you want a professional to solve an engineering problem, you look for a P.Eng. When you want a professional to solve an accounting problem, you look for a CA. When you want a professional to solve an IT problem, you look for an I.S.P. Public interest is protected. There is a commitment to best practices, fair and accurate information, no hidden conflicts of interest and enhanced public confidence.
  • It is essential to give employers ways to evaluate an individual's level of competency in an objective manner. This is especially important for those responsible for hiring who are not trained in technology themselves.

NOTE: Many federal CIOs are committed to making the I.S.P. designation a standard benchmark for all public sector IT workers.

More I.S.P. Designation Questions

1. What are the business economics of the I.S.P. designation?
This is a very key driver for the successful implementation of the ISP designation and is still under discussion. Due to the cost magnitude of the I.S.P. designation implementation, we anticipate that CIOs and IT leaders will need to play a key leadership role if the I.S.P. designation is to be accepted.

We are looking quite closely at the British Computer Society business model which has been quite successful in terms of promoting IT professionalism in the United Kingdom.

2. What is the need for an I.S.P. designation / professionalism in the IT industry?
The industry survey sponsored by CIPS, which included input from more than 500 respondents, highlighted the need for an I.S.P. designation / professionalism. Detailed survey results are available by contacting the CIPS National Office (toll free) 1-877-ASK-CIPS (275-2477) or http://www.cips.ca/about/faq/mailtoinfo@cips.ca.

3. How we do insure alignment with other certifications and university degrees?
Other certifications will be embraced through the Body of Knowledge (BOK). The BOK has both core and specialist requirements. The specialty or knowledge silos will embrace the other certifications such as the PMP or ITIL. Therefore, the project management silo will recognize the PMP. The service delivery silo will recognize ITIL.

Successful I.S.P. designation candidates will have in-depth knowledge of the core areas such ethics, security. Less knowledge will be required in the specialty areas.

The alignment with the universities and colleges will be assured because the BOK will be used in the I.S.P. accreditation process. The I.S.P. accreditation process will review the computer science curriculum at the universities and colleges for adherence to the BOK.

4. Do we really need to factor years of experience into I.S.P. certification?
The I.S.P. designation needs to address new and existing entrants to the IT field. Factoring in years of experience provides an avenue for existing entrants to achieve an I.S.P. Sufficient experience is a requirement of most professions. In fact, many if not all professions have a period of apprenticeship or its equivalent. The challenge is having the prudent balance between experience and formal education.

5. Is CIPS going to get rid of networking?
No. Networking has and will continue to be an important part of the CIPS experience. The new focus on the I.S.P. designation and professionalism provides yet another reason for supporting CIPS.

6. What is the governance model for the I.S.P.?
The governance model varies by province since the I.S.P. designation falls under provincial jurisdiction. In more developed cases such as in the western provinces, the I.S.P. designation falls under ministerial direction. In Ontario, the I.S.P. designation was recognized with a private member's bill. On a working level, lay people sit on the CIPS board of directors. The CIPS certification council and accreditation councils operate semi-autonomously from the board.

7. What mechanism exists for assessing the gaps that a candidate must fill before qualifying for an I.S.P. designation?
The Certification Council is the vehicle for assessing an I.S.P. candidate application. Applicants may also choose to assess their readiness by using a new self-assessment tool offered through the CIPS national Web site: www.cips.ca/standards.

8. As an implementation strategy to create a critical mass, what is the value of keeping the I.S.P. criteria fairly simple and achievable and then introducing criteria for higher levels of professionalisms?
Efforts are now underway to simplify the process so that is easier for candidates to demonstrate that they meet the standard and for reviewers to identify worthy candidates. However, at the same time, CIPS has been careful not to lower the criteria for achieving the I.S.P. designation.

9. What general info will be contained in the Body of Knowledge?
This is still under development but will likely include sections on ethics, security, and basic technology infrastructure.

10. Who has ever failed the MCSE test? How can we recognize the rigor of the I.S.P. designation?
Like many designations, unfortunately, numerous I.S.P. candidates have been denied. This continues to happen even though self-screening tools have been provided to help prospective candidates in assessing their eligibility.

11. What is the value of the I.S.P. designation for employers?
Hiring qualified IT staff is important. Professional designations are individual not corporate and, therefore, the employee is held accountable not just the employer. Companies should have a 3rd party assessment to confirm that their IT workers are indeed IT "professionals." CIPS as Canada's association is qualified and credible to give that 3rd party assessment through the I.S.P. designation.

12. How does a consulting organization promote the I.S.P. within their organizations?
 

  • In responding to Request for Proposals (RFP), mention the number of I.S.P. designation holders that you have on staff.
  • Add "I.S.P. designation preferred" to recruitment ads
  • Pay the I.S.P. designation fees for some (if not all) staff
  • Invite local CIPS Sections to speak and participate in staff communication sessions.

For more information, visit the CIPS National Web site: http://www.cips.ca/. You can also contact your local CIPS Section / Province or the CIPS National Office at info@cips.ca or toll free at 1-877-ASK-CIPS (275-2477).

Challenging questions

1. What is the point of having a national association that represents people in the IT sector?
IT is everywhere and influences everyone. Like all professions, it is important to have a professional association that monitors the IT issues that affect the IT profession and professional and that will, in turn, affect the public-at-large.

2. Why is your membership so low considering that there are over 500,000 IT professionals across the country?
CIPS represents more than 6,000 dedicated IT professionals from coast to coast. CIPS anticipates that with the new initiatives that the organization has undertaken (i.e. the development of a Canadian Information Technology Body of Knowledge and Standards of Practice; and the strengthening of its Information Systems Professional designation and Code of Ethics); more IT professionals will realize the enormous value of a professional association for their career.

3. How do you account for diminishing membership numbers?
Unfortunately, due to the downturn in the IT industry, membership was affected. However, the IT sector is picking up and CIPS anticipates its membership to increase as well.

 

CIPS in the 21st Century Vision Document

1. What is the new CIPS Vision document?
CIPS adopted a new vision document entitled, CIPS in the 21st Century that strengthens the organization's commitment to the professional development of all IT workers in Canada. The CIPS vision focuses on professionalism and the Information Systems Professional (I.S.P.) designation.

The vision calls for a strengthening of the I.S.P. designation. The I.S.P. designation is what sets CIPS apart from all other Canadian IT associations and reinforces its commitment to IT professionalism. CIPS wants the I.S.P. designation to be more inclusive for IT practitioners who may, for example, hold a non-traditional university degree but possess the required experience to practice in the IT field. CIPS wants to acknowledge these qualifications, but still maintain the high standards of the designation.

As well, CIPS recognizes that in order to strengthen the criteria of the I.S.P. designation successfully while still maintaining high standards, the association needs to implement a Body of Knowledge (BOK) and Standards of Practice (SOP) that will set standards for knowledge and practice. CIPS also needs to strengthen and reinforce its Code of Ethics. These are all important initiatives that CIPS is undertaking as a part of realizing the CIPS vision.

2. Why did CIPS adopt this Vision document and how did it come about?
Information is fuelling the new world economy. Information is often the most sensitive and always the most valuable asset of any organization. As a result, the IT industry is constantly changing to manage information better. IT professionals are required to respond as the industry changes. These changes put IT professionals under constant pressure to become stewards of information. IT professionals must be knowledgeable and uphold the highest standards of conduct and ethics. As the industry changes CIPS, too, needs to evolve to remain relevant.

As well, the results of the recent CIPS market survey clearly indicated that IT professionalism and standards of practice are important to companies and clients. Other organizational surveys have also drawn the same conclusions. The results of the surveys showed that companies expect their staff to set high standards of professional practice and to possess the required education and experience to practice in the field.

The vision document: CIPS in the 21st Century came about through extensive stakeholder consultation within and outside CIPS. The National Board, Provincial Presidents, Section Presidents, and various CIPS Committees were actively involved in the process.

3. What is the difference between the existing CIPS Vision and the new CIPS Vision?
The major difference with the new CIPS vision and the existing CIPS vision is that the new CIPS vision clearly focuses the organization on promoting professionalism in informatics, whereas in the past the various parts of CIPS were left to decide for themselves what it means to be the "voice and champion of the professional" or "providing leadership in information systems and technologies."

CIPS now has a document that sets out in much more specific terms what it means to achieve its vision. The vision defines professionalism as the "raison d'être" for the organization and identifies long term aims, the major areas of activity for the organization and the changes that need to be made to the Information Systems Professional (I.S.P.) designation in order to strengthen it.

4. How does the CIPS Vision affect CIPS members?
The CIPS vision reinforces CIPS's commitment to the professional development of all IT workers (including CIPS members) in Canada. As CIPS focuses on professionalism and the promotion of the I.S.P. designation, CIPS members become an integral part of achieving the CIPS vision.

5. When can CIPS members expect to receive more details about IT Professionalism efforts?
CIPS will update members periodically about IT professionalism efforts through letters from the President, CIPS Connections national e-newsletter, and CIPS across Canada magazine.

6. How does the CIPS Vision affect the organization as a whole?
The CIPS vision demonstrates CIPS's dedication towards professionalism. The changes that CIPS is making to the I.S.P. designation will make a significant, positive impact on CIPS, the industry and the profession. More IT professionals will be encouraged to become members and CIPS will have the representation it needs to be the voice of all IT professionals.

7. Why is the CIPS Vision being implemented actively only now?
The CIPS vision has been realized for a number of years now. However, as a non-profit, volunteer association, CIPS unfortunately has not had the resources to conduct the research and work necessary to implement the CIPS vision actively. However, CIPS believes that through the continued strong support of CIPS members and various stakeholders, CIPS will be successful in achieving the CIPS vision.

8. What kind of things is CIPS undertaking as a result of the CIPS Vision?
CIPS is undertaking the following initiatives as a result of the CIPS Vision:

Advocacy
CIPS is taking on more initiatives in the area of advocacy to be able to better represent the interests of all IT professionals. Initiatives will focus on professionalism and various topics/issues affecting the IT profession and industry. John Boufford I.S.P., CIPS Vice President (2005-2006) and a member of the National Executive, is leading the advocacy portfolio.

Making the I.S.P. designation Relevant, More Inclusive
CIPS wants the I.S.P. designation to be more inclusive for IT professionals who may, for example, hold a non-traditional university degree but possess the required experience to practice in the field. CIPS wants to acknowledge these qualifications, but still maintain the high standards of the designation. The I.S.P. designation is what sets CIPS apart from all other Canadian IT associations and reinforces the organization's commitment to IT professionalism.

Canadian Information Technology Body of Knowledge (BOK)
CIPS recognizes that in order to strengthen the criteria of the I.S.P. designation successfully while still maintaining high standards, the association needs to develop a Canadian Information Technology (IT) Body of Knowledge (BOK) that will set standards for knowledge.

The BOK is an outline of the knowledge bases that form the intellectual basis for the IT profession.

An I.S.P. holder would be expected to demonstrate mastery of the core plus at least one (depending on its size) specialized BOK. When setting this Canadian standard for IT knowledge, CIPS would look to other organizations and internationally for standards and bodies of knowledge that we could adopt or adapt, especially for the specialty areas.

The BOK aims to:

  • be an industry structure model that can be used to define the set of performance, training and development standards for all IT practitioners (CIPS members and non-members) in Canada;
  • te alternate paths to certification based on concepts of BOK;
  • establish guidelines for accreditation criteria based on concepts of BOK; and
  • create a professional development model that sets the standards criteria for the knowledge base including knowledge, skills, and professional activities for IT practitioners.

Standards of Practice Development
CIPS also recognizes that in order to strengthen the criteria of the I.S.P. designation successfully while still maintaining high standards, the association needs to endorse Standards of Practice. The CIPS Standards of Practice will be used as a key measure to determine professional competence of I.S.P. designation holders.

CIPS recommends that a core and specialty model, similar to that in the BOK as a framework for the development of the Standards of Practice. I.S.P. holders must be able to demonstrate that they have mastered the Standards of Practice. The Standards of Practice (SOP) should provide first level coverage of all the main areas in which there are established SOP.

Code of Ethics Reinforcement
Being an IT professional requires a commitment to being (professionally) trustworthy. Clients, employers, and the public should be able to trust an individual's intentions and competence. A Code of Ethics provides the standard against which to judge professional intentions.

Both the Code of Ethics and the Standards of Practice combined are the key measure against which to judge professional competence. CIPS is reinforcing its Code of Ethics by investigating potential violations of the code and taking disciplinary action if warranted.

9. Does the I.S.P. designation have licensing rights?
The term "licensing" is used when a designation confers an exclusive right to practice as granted by legislation. Unfortunately, the I.S.P. designation confers no such exclusive right to date.

However, the components of the profession that CIPS is putting in place for the I.S.P. designation are the same as those that would be required to support licensing. Currently, the I.S.P. designation is a registered professional designation in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan. Registration of the I.S.P. designation with provincial legislatures in other provinces is ongoing. The I.S.P. designation is a registered under Section 9 of the Canada Trademarks Act as an official mark of the Canadian Information Processing Society (CIPS).

10. What happens to existing I.S.P. holders because of the changes that CIPS is undertaking?
Existing I.S.P. holders will see the value of their designation increase as the marketplace recognizes the value of the trust statement made by the designation. Any changes to the Code of Ethics would apply to I.S.P. holders (and possibly non-certified members). The introduction of Standards of Practice (SOP) will allow for the transition of existing holders, for example, through a period of time during which they would be expected to become compliant.

11. How can I lend support to CIPS in implementing the CIPS Vision?
All professionals and employers of IT are welcomed to participate actively in the implementation of the CIPS Vision in a variety of ways: by joining CIPS Committees and/or Sub-Committees, providing insight/feedback on the various important initiatives CIPS is undertaking, encouraging IT colleagues to become members of CIPS, and promoting the CIPS vision and the I.S.P. designation.

12. Who is leading the CIPS Vision?
Rick Penton, I.S.P., CIPS President (2004-2005) is leading the CIPS vision. Various sub-committees composed of CIPS stakeholders will assist in achieving the CIPS vision. All IT professionals are encouraged to join a committee(s) or help in any way you can. Please inform your local CIPS Provincial or Section President that you would like to be involved.

13. Where can I obtain more information about CIPS, the CIPS Vision and the I.S.P. designation?
You can obtain more information about CIPS, the CIPS vision document, CIPS in the 21st Century, and the I.S.P. designation by visiting the CIPS National Web Site located at http://www.cips.ca/ or by contacting CIPS by phone: 1-877-ASK-CIPS (275-2477).

Please send your thoughts and/or comments about the CIPS Vision by e-mail to comments@cips.ca.

The Value of CIPS Professionalism Initiatives
1. How is the I.S.P. designation going to achieve a CIO's "bottom-line?"
The I.S.P. designation enables CIOs to maximize their return on investment by reducing risk in their hiring decisions. By hiring staff or contractors that are I.S.P. certified, CIOs can be rest assured that those they have hired have maintained up-to-date skills and are knowledgeable about the latest IT trends and best practices. This translates into a more professional, ethical and productive workforce that can impact the bottom line by undertaking IT projects thoroughly, quickly and successfully - on time and on budget.

The I.S.P. designation allows CIOs to get an accurate representation of IT workers' skills. In order to become I.S.P. certified, IT workers must have mastered an applicable body of knowledge and shown that they are able to apply their knowledge in a professional setting. They are trustworthy both in terms of ethical behaviour and in terms of competence.

The I.S.P. designation can also be used as a management tool to help develop existing employees. By encouraging existing staff to pursue the designation, CIOs can foster a more professional attitude in their department and allow employees to take personal responsibility for their ongoing professional development. Once again, a better-qualified and more reliable workforce should translate into a positive impact on the bottom line.

Think of the I.S.P. as a form of quality control. When you want a qualified professional to solve an engineering problem, you look for a P.Eng. When you want a professional qualified to solve an IT problem, you look for an I.S.P.

2. How is the Body of Knowledge (BOK) going to help achieve a CIO's "bottom-line?"
As was mentioned in the previous discussion on the I.S.P. designation, mastery will be demonstrated through relevant experience, body of knowledge and ethics. The BOK provides the body of knowledge.

3. How is the Standards of Practice (SOP) going to help achieve a CIO's "bottom-line?
The Standards of Practice (SOP) is a subset of the Body of Knowledge (BOK). It is prescriptive and explains how to.

4. What specifically can CIOs/IT Directors do to help endorse/support CIPS IT professionalism efforts?
CIOs/IT Directors are asked:

  • To get involved in their local CIPS CIO Advisory Panel to help with the strategic mandate to certify all qualified Canadian IT workers and to strengthen the I.S.P. designation. (The CIPS CIO panel meetings occur potentially every quarter for CIO input on CIPS strategic initiatives such as strategic planning, Code of Ethics, and Body of Knowledge.); and
  • To actively encourage their IT staff to join CIPS and get involved with their profession.

CIPS Corporate Partners

The following organizations have demonstrated their commitment to professionalism, ethics, and high standards for the I.T. profession through their support of CIPS. CIPS thanks all its partners for their contribution. Become a CIPS Corporate Partner Today! - Send an email to jelias@cips.ca 

                                  


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