Off to Swindon for a meeting of Socitm's MSG (Member Services Group) – possibly the last as it's currently constituted, since all areas of the Society's work are subject to review.

I explained progress in reviewing the Governance and Structure, to date, and then the Chair, Andy Roberts, of Leicestershire County Council, started on the main agenda.

We discussed engagement with the Government IT Profession, and the Aspire system for professional development that we are piloting with half a dozen authorities. All pilots should be completed within the next three months, and our aim is to learn their lessons in order to launch a full programme of implementation and support as soon as possible.

In the meantime, it was agreed that we should ask Consulting to produce a readiness questionnaire preparatory to the launch. One of the lessons already learned is that none of the pilots was as ready as they thought they were!

We discussed Socitm publications, in general, and a proposed new format for a monthly electronic newsletter, in particular. This is to be fairly informal – chatty – but with an identifiable Socitm brand, with links to detailed information on subjects covered, for those who want to explore further.

I plan to provide reports to the membership following the monthly Socitm Directors Board meetings, so hope I'll be able to use this medium!

The main agenda item concerned the development of a new membership model for implementation at the start of our next membership year (starting January 2009). A number of principles were agreed. For example, IT employees of out-sourced service providers who spend their whole time delivering service to a qualifying (public or third sector) organisation will be eligible for membership.

MSG also proposes an organisational membership model (as well as individual memberships) tiered according to the size of organisation.

Any employee of an organisation with corporate membership will be entitled to Socitm membership benefits provided his or her eligibility has been endorsed by the organisation's ICT Head of Profession. Other matters, such as membership classes, private sector partnership, eligibility for election to Socitm office and the establishment of a membership panel to consider all membership applications, were discussed.

The next stage is for the Board to consider the proposals, and I hope that we will be in a position to "test" how the model works for our existing and target memberships from July, so that we can be confident of gaining our membership's approval of the proposition to be made to an Extraordinary General Meeting during this year's conference.

Doug MacLean joined the meeting, after lunch, to present Consulting's planned approach to taking-over and developing the Socitm Learning service, which was well-received.

We also discussed development by the Consulting Service of recruitment services. The aim will be to sign-post all public sector ICT vacancies as a membership service to individual members, and provide a full recruitment service to employing organisations, discounted for member organisations. Look-out for news of these two developments in the near future…

Andy proposed a vote of thanks to Stewart Jackson, who is retiring after having run MSG for the last five years (which, of course, was warmly agreed). Before the meeting closed, I suggested that the Group keep the two further dates pencilled-in for meetings this available, pending my report back after the forthcoming Board meeting.