IT services: graduate area of work
IT services is about supplying the systems and computer programs that businesses use, for example accounting systems or the systems that control the flow of parts and components around a factory. Some large organisations buy their IT services from a third party – a supplier who has many clients and therefore sufficient overall demand to build a team of staff to write code and build applications for those clients. Others, such as car manufacturers, banks, aircraft manufacturers or TV production companies, have enough demand to deliver their own IT services.
A popular approach is to try to achieve a ‘buy/build’ balance where the company buys products that don’t need to be very specific to its needs (eg Word, Excel) and builds products that are very specific to its own requirements (or gets a third-party supplier to build them).
As an example, consider Uber. They would probably: buy their HR and word processing systems; build their Uber app; and buy some of the development and testing resources from a supplier of staff for the execution of the project to build the Uber app.
What you need to know about IT services...
You don’t need to know every single latest development language. Knowing any language alone is great and will facilitate you learning others as you go through your career.
IT services and IT consultancy get mixed and matched as terms but they are different. In general, IT services are ‘things’ that the company wants to use constantly and therefore could get its own employees to build them in-house.
IT consultancy is usually about delivering specific outcomes for a set period of time and using expertise that the company does not have in-house, such as advising the company on which vendor would suit it best to provide an IT service.
Who can apply?
Anyone can apply, though this varies from employer to employer. IT is everywhere and today’s graduates and students understand IT better than they have ever done before. If you have training (whether from school, your degree course or just a hobby) this makes it easier for you to be successful in your application; however, we have film, media and law graduates who have started successful IT services careers with us, and one of the best developers and technologists I have ever worked with has a degree in land management.
Career progression in IT services
Graduates joining the industry will start by learning their trade, developing knowledge and taking on more responsibility as they go. Typical roles include developer, tester and project support officer. A project support officer might start by owning the risks and issues log and some aspects of the reporting, moving on to updating and checking the plan for a part of the project, then owning the delivery of a part of the project and so on. Ten years later they could be running a multi-million pound project for a bank.
Jonathan Young is group chief information officer at FDM Group. He has a mechanical engineering degree and a masters in control systems and IT from the University of Manchester, and has worked in IT services across a range of industries for 26 years.
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