Doctors, lawyers,and even electricians belong to regulated industries, why not IT?

Ineeded my figures done for my business at the end of the last financial year, so I went to a friend who was pretty good with numbers at school.

Then I needed to have a contract created for my business to help with payments on large projects. So I rang another mate who was a big LA Law fan and even looked a little like Corbin Bernsen. He was pretty good with words so I got him to create the contract for me.

Next, I hurt my leg playing cricket in the backyard and it was taking ages to get better so I rang a guy I knew who played a bit of cricket and had been injured a few times.

Each one was more than happy to give me some advice. I hope it all works out OK.

By now you are thinking I am a complete idiot – and with good reason. No-one in their right mind would trust their important accounting, legal or medical issues to an individual or firm that wasn’t suitably qualified and didn’t have experience in the area in question.

Now I may be just slightly biased, but I would argue that IT is much more complicated than the financial or legal industries. And yet so many businesses and individuals trust their IT to the nephew of a brother of a friend of an associate who is really good with IT because he had a PlayStation in his bedroom when he was a kid.

I believe that one of the major issues we face as an industry is the issue around industry standards and industry qualifications. Anyone, and I mean anyone, can put an ad in the paper and tell the world they are an IT expert. There is no standard qualification to prove (or disprove) this statement.

Organisations can make all sorts of wonderful statements about what they can do with IT – but there is no industry watchdog or industry standard that businesses in our industry must adhere to. If you are an accountant, individually you are a CPA or an ICAA and there are strict requirements for admission along with minimum criteria to retain membership.

To put the words “chartered accountant” in your business name requires approval by the ICAA and the ICAA was created by Royal Charter in 1928. These guys are serious about their industry.

You require court approval to practise law (I always want to hire a solicitor that has got it right and doesn’t need to “practise” any more) and most solicitors of note are a member of the law society. Even electricians have a highly regulated industry. A sparky only needs to connect a red cable to a red socket (that may slightly oversimplify their skills but hopefully you take my point) but they need to study at TAFE for four years and work under a qualified electrician during that time before they are qualified.

But the good old IT industry doesn’t see what we do as needing any checks or regulations because all we do is set up the networks that run surgeries for doctors and set up the accounting systems that accountants use to lodge tax returns and create the document storage systems that store all those files that solicitors require to do their job! Why would we need any checks or regulations or qualifications?

I am at risk of offending every non-Microsoft aligned reseller here but about the closest we have in this industry is the Microsoft Certified Partner program. In our business we make sure we maintain our external credibility by staying at the Gold level but we also go way above the minimum criteria set by Microsoft and every technician we employ – bar none – must be Microsoft qualified.

If a great technician lands on our doorstep – but isn’t qualified – we will pay for him to sit an exam before we employ him, to make sure we maintain our 100 percent qualified status. It stands to reason that if a GP needs to have all of their doctors qualified we need to have all of our IT staff qualified.

The major problem with the Certified Partner program though is that it is vendor specific. What our industry really needs is an independent body that all IT providers can be a member of after proving their credentials and ethics are intact. I look forward to the day that industry body is set up.

I am sure everyone has a great “cowboy” story where an unqualified tech created a disaster for them to fix up. Send your story to and the worst of them will win a copy of my latest book, Small Business Rules.

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