Does a professional or trade association exist to serve its members, to serve the industry or does it exist to perpetuate itself? There are simply too many people involved in association leadership today that believe in the latter.

The itSMF South Africa will be tackling these and other key issues and presenting a dramatic turnaround strategy proposed for the industry association at its AGM on Wednesday 27 May 2009 at 18H00 at The Arena in Fourways.
The itSMFsa represents the ITIL industry in South Africa and is regarded as the authority in the practice of IT service management in South Africa. It has developed a strong community comprising of companies, vendors and service management professionals and supports the industry by promoting IT service management standards, endorsing vendors and service management professionals.
George Ambler, chairman of the itSMF South Africa, believes the time has come for the industry association to reinvent itself and critically analyse the value it brings to its members and industry. With a proposed strategic redirection for the internationally affiliated ITIL body, the AGM will focus on taking the itSMFsa forward not only in a manner that ensures its long term sustainability and value-add to the industry, but also has real benefit for members in order for them to base their membership on an intellectual decision rather than an emotional one.
"Too often members join an industry association because they feel some emotional link and that it's the 'right thing to do.'  Joining the itSMFsa must be a business decision and both member and association must see and deliver real tangible results and benefits for the relationship to work," says George.
The need to re-examine the role played by the itSMFsa within the South African IT industry has come at a critical time. Globally, the IT service management industry is under increasing pressure to respond to a number of emerging trends:
* The contracting global economy is placing pressure on IT spend;
* A growing global adoption of ITIL within Europe and the US;
* Increasing levels of regulatory requirements;
* Low levels of service management skills and competencies;
* The adoption of SOA is creating the need for improved IT operation management maturity; and
* Approximately 85% of ITIL training being conducted in SA is on ITIL v3 foundation.
Unless we as an industry body help position the industry to respond effectively to these trends IT organisations will be faced with weak operational discipline and under-skilled IT staff within an increasingly complex IT landscape. This demands that we review our role as an industry association to help our members meet these challenges. This is not only true for South Africa, Globally, industry associations are coming under pressure to deliver real, tangible value and all too often member value fails to translate into business benefits.
Few associations are prepared to go as far and tell members exactly what it is that they are going to do for them and exactly what is expected from members.  "In developing the strategy going forward for the itSMFsa, the board is focused on showing real business value to its members and the industry at large. In these turbulent times the need for a strong and credible IT service management association, one that can provide a platform to reposition service management within South Africa has never been greater.
There is a dynamic and committed team of individuals in place who are working exceptionally hard to unlock business benefits, seeking to create an industry association that is robust, sustainable and meaningful," explains George.
This is where the true value of being a member of an industry association comes to bear. The core purpose of an industry association exists for the betterment of its members in terms of conducting their business in a manner that is professional, fair, ethical and to the overall betterment of the entire industry, he says.
"All involved must receive reasonable value for the input of their resources and commitment to the association. Staff members receive value-it is called a pay check. Members expect to see value in terms of how an industry association contributes to their business dealings and helps to enrich their careers. But some onus also lies on the member.  Simply showing up once or twice a year to a meeting will not help you get to know the other members of the group. It is at the committee level where the real networking occurs and where you will develop deeper relationships with other members of your association and realise its true value," says George.