Information Technology and CPD

Continuing Professional Development (CPD) serves two key needs – enabling individuals to fulfil their potential and continue their career development, and ensuring that they remain competent and have an up to date awareness of the requirements of their role and the risks of not performing it correctly.  We’ve grown to accept CPD as a necessary part of our professional lives.  The IDD and SM&CR mean that it is kept under constant review and seen as a key element in improving our careers, our business, and the customer experience.

It's curious to me as an Information Technology professional that nobody seems to draw comparisons between our own CPD and keeping our IT infrastructure updated.  If you think about it, the main point of most updates for your computer will be security related, addressing weaknesses that have been identified in your system and helping to mitigate your risks.  Most office software, such as Microsoft Office is now provided on a subscription basis (e.g. Office 365), and will also include updates to help improve productivity, introduce new features, and address issues where things weren’t working so well.

Look at it in this way, and you could well describe updates as CPD for your computer, tablet or phone.

As we head towards the end of 2020, we’ve passed a number of major milestones in terms of the lifecycle of various IT systems.  In January, Microsoft ended all support for Windows 7, bringing its five-year managed retirement to an end.  In October, Microsoft ceased all support for their Office 2010 and Office 2016 family of products, including any security updates.   Limited support continues for Windows 8.1 for another couple of years, ending completely in January of 2023 – nearly ten years after it was first launched.

Every six months or so, a new version of Windows 10 is released to users, often un-noticed and bringing with it further security enhancements and new capabilities to support more devices.  It also brings updates to features such as the Edge internet browser, which changed significantly during 2020 to move from their own proprietary code to a version of the Chromium project (code that also powers the Google Chrome browser).  This update was made with little fuss but brings some huge changes to the capabilities of your device, unlocking a whole range of new techniques to collaborate with others via your web browser.  It also brings some big security and privacy enhancements.

Some firms take their IT infrastructure for granted, and there can be a complacency amongst managers about updating hardware and software – the phrase “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is regularly used as justification to avoid spending what can sometimes be significant amounts of money to upgrade or replace infrastructure.  Whilst I would never support the concept of updating equipment and software “for the hell of it”, I would encourage firms using older devices – particularly those using older versions of Microsoft Windows – to review their provision and consider whether they are providing appropriate tools for the job.

After all, if you went to an appraisal with your manager and admitted that your CPD was five years out of date, you wouldn’t expect a very warm reception.  As we head towards the end of the year and prepare to update our own CPD plans, take a few minutes to consider whether your IT infrastructure also needs to brush up its CPD record to ensure that it remains competent and able to meet your needs.

About the author

After gaining a degree in Computer Science, Tim spent nine years teaching in a number of secondary schools (11-19 year olds) in Wales.  For the majority of his time teaching, Tim led a highly successful team of teachers delivering vocational ICT qualifications and reached the level of Associate Assistant Headteacher before leaving teaching.  He has also been a senior examiner and moderator for one of the UK's largest awarding bodies.  Since 2013 he has been the senior developer for the Development Zone.

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