TechnologyAccountants to help SMEs improve IT usage

Accountants to help SMEs improve IT usage

A government-backed IT accreditation scheme will use accountants to increase the uptake of technology among SMEs, after the IT Forum Foundation put its weight behind the project.

The accreditation scheme, Technology Means Business (TMB), forms part of a new project that aims to provide both the SME community and suppliers of IT with a common set of standards, procedures and services.

‘Increasingly, SMEs are looking to their accountants to give them specific advice on ICT,’ said Phil Flaxton, chief executive of the IT Forum Foundation.

‘With the right skills and knowledge of product sets, this will provide a potential opportunity to add significant value and services to their customers, and increase revenue.’

TMB is part of Project PACT – a industry and government initiative designed to create an assured channel of IT to the SME marketplace.

‘TMB will give accountants the opportunity to obtain an independent accreditation that recognises their ability to combine ICT and business advice. It also helps build a support network, and provides up-to-date information that is industry-specific,’ added Flaxton.

The TMB accreditation was founded by the government and has been run by the Chartered Management Institute for the past five years. However the institute felt it could not progress the scheme’s take-up further.

Neil Southern, director of TMB for the last three years at the CMI, said: ‘We feel very privileged at the institute to have taken TMB as far as we have. Over the last year, however, it has become clear that, in order to achieve its mission, TMB needed to move to a credible organisation much closer to the IT industry. The ITFF is such an organisation and we wish them and TMB all the very best for the future.’

Mike Briercliffe, chairman of the ITFF, said: ‘The IT industry is an ever-evolving scene. What we are aiming at is the provision of an environment in which it becomes easier to buy and sell business solutions. Other industries have their assurance marks and we need one for IT too.’

The organisation spent the last year working a strategy for the uptake of the accreditation scheme, and is liaising with accountancy firms, consultants, software resellers and vendors.

This work has included collaborations with the DTI, the Chartered Management Institute, regional development agencies and other strategic IT industry partners to build up support for Project PACT.

Briercliffe added: ‘TMB has already made a massive contribution and is a highly credible standard for advice provision to SMEs. We are proud to be assuming stewardship of it and look forward to a time when TMB and the ongoing developments of PACT achieve their goal.’

Successful users of IT in business should enter the Accountancy Age-sponsored DTI/InterForum E-Commerce Awards www.ecommerce-awards.co.uk.

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