Thursday, 12 February 2009

Investing in our future...

Key discussion at today’s Socitm Board meeting, held at Camden Town Hall, concerned our need to invest in additional resources. This was prefaced by consideration of an interim report on the level of financial reserves that the Society should retain. The reserves provide a buffer to ensure the Society can remain solvent and affect an orderly winding-up in case of adversity. This is a bit of a simplification but a very cautious approach would be to retain sufficient cash to enable service delivery for a year with no income, and an orderly winding-up of business. We took the view that a sensible risk posture would be to provide for 6 months’ operation, recognising that a sudden and complete cessation of income would be quite unlikely.

The main investment proposals are in appointing a Commercial & Business Development Director (working title) and a London-based Head of Policy. The former role is to manage business partnerships and oversight of commercial operations, generating revenue for member services and, therefore, more than self-funding. Directors approved, in principle. The final decision will be made by the Commercial Board on 23rd February. The Policy role is required to maintain and develop dialogue with key stakeholders (especially in Government) and to facilitate appropriate policy development through Socitm Futures. This will cover some of the role that I’ve been undertaking, as I return to my “day job”. Directors approved the policy role initially on a contract basis, with a review after six months, and accepted that this could be funded by reserves, with an expectation that funding would be provided by commercial income in the longer term. Although the Board recognises that much of the Society’s work will be undertaken by paid resources, it re-emphasised its need for active support from serving ICT professionals, whose experience cannot be substituted.

Other financial considerations, today, were in reviewing and formalising current public relations, marketing and sales support – remaining areas where we don’t have up-to-date contracts.

Other noteworthy items of discussion were:
  • The problems with our financial management system (Iris) have been overcome. It’s now integrated with the new CRM, and is just going fully “live”.
  • The focus, now, is in getting the new CMS operational. In order to secure early benefits the initial process, now, will be “migration, rather than transformation”.
  • We are implementing a recommendation from our recent Director Training course – a register of hospitality/ gifts received.
  • For the first time, our annual accounts will include a detailed annual report, which is nearing completion.
  • The National Spring Conference is shaping-up well. The AGM report will feature developments in Member Services.
  • The Member Services Board would like the NAC to form a Reference Group of volunteers to consider membership applications, appeals etc.
I hope to publish the next President’s Report by the end of next week.

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