BCS – Interview with Ceri Lambdin

BCS – Interview with Ceri Lambdin

A Successful IT Development Partnership between BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT and Unity Information Systems

A Case Study

Background Information

Client details BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT (previously the British Computer Society), www.bcs.org

Registered charitable organisation with over 80,000 members promoting advancement in IT and best practices

Unity’s client sponsor Ceri Lambdin – IT Director
Dates of partnership January 2009 to present


This case study demonstrates the benefits of Unity’s development partnership to help an internal IT department deliver major systems transformation whilst increasing skills and improving in-house processes.

Client background and objectives

BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT is the professional body for the IT industry in the UK. Formerly known as The British Computer Society the organisation has gone through a complete transformation and rebrand over the last two years. Its broadened mission is now to enable the information society, promoting progress through the advancement of information technology science and good practice. This has involved major organisational change to increase The Institute’s capability and relevance to its members, to industry, to government, academia and the wider public.

The change objectives meant refreshing the services offered to its 70,000 members. The transformation placed heavy demands on the internal IT department. They had a number of critical development projects that needed to be delivered for the business.

In October 2008 Ceri Lambdin was brought in as IT Director to drive the change to The Institute’s systems.

Ceri’s objectives were clear:

  • to meet the demands of the organisation and its change agenda by delivering on all projects on time
  • to raise the skill of her team so they could drive and implement changes even more efficiently in the future.

To help her enhance her new department’s capacity and capability Ceri engaged Unity Information Systems as development partner. Unity started work for The Institute in January 2009.

Why Unity?

Ceri explains her reasons for the partnership with Unity: “I didn’t want to outsource: I wanted a development partner to work alongside my internal team to help us scale up during an incredibly busy period. I wanted to enhance the department’s capacity and capability, not replace it.

I had worked with Unity in a previous role and had seen the strength of their partnership approach. They are good to work with: they integrate well; they’re very personable and thorough and they ask all the right questions to get the answers they need; they inspire feelings of trust in my business customers and my team. I knew that they always delivered on time and to a high quality. I went for the solution I knew would work.”

The partnership solution

Ceri is clear on the scope and value of Unity’s involvement:

A seamless extension of the internal IT department

“Unity works alongside my internal development people and I see them as a valuable extension of my team. Their analysts work with the business teams, their project team work alongside The Institute’s project managers. It is really a collaborative approach. They quickly provide appropriately skilled technical resource when I need to scale up to ensure we meet the business’ requirements. This enables us to react and deliver to very short timescales.”

Taking responsibility to deliver critical projects

“They have helped us to deliver a whole raft of critical transformation projects such as our innovative new CITP online accreditation system for our members. We have ownership of the projects but I trust Unity to deliver to our requirements. Their role starts at requirements gathering with our internal business users, then technical design, systems build, QA, and implementation. Unity supports the system until our internal support team takes over.”

“Our job isn’t finished until the system has gone live and is working as expected.” James Jefferson – Unity Information Systems Director and BCS Account Manager

“We’ve delivered projects really well together, and have had lots of positive comments from the organisation about Unity’s input. It’s a flexible and agile way of working with a combination of onsite and offsite support to best meet our needs,” Ceri explains.

Strengthening internal capability

Partnership working gives organisations a new perspective. Working alongside Unity experts gave The Institute’s people an opportunity to share expertise and learn best practice.  Ceri explains why this type of co-sourcing has been so beneficial to her department:

“A key part of Unity’s role is a mentoring one; they’ve helped to up-skill my department. We’ve learnt a lot from them, and it’s changed the way some of our people work. A good example is the way The Institute has recognised the importance of requirements; getting requirements documents agreed and getting the details exactly right. We’ve worked on that together, and now it works. Unity hasn’t just delivered the IT specification; they have helped us to improve the way we work. This has a long term positive effect for the organisation.”

Benefits that have exceeded The Institute’s expectations

Ceri has seen real benefit from her close development partnership with Unity:

“We’ve benefitted in multiple ways on multiple projects. In terms of The Institutes objectives, we’ve increased our ability to deliver new services to our members, we’re encouraging new members to join us, and we can now offer upgrades to different levels of membership. We’ve been able to quickly conform to new legislative requirements.

Unity has helped to boost our capability and capacity so that the IT department’s standing in the organisation has really improved. The partnership approach we’ve developed removes any bottlenecks in the project pipeline: it has improved our ability to deliver without delay. By working together we’ve delivered a better experience for our business users.”

Working with Unity – Ceri’s feedback

“Unity is a reliable, trustworthy partner and I believe they deliver quality in a timely fashion. If there’s a problem, it just gets fixed. They’re very easy to deal with and we have a great working relationship.

Who else would benefit from working with Unity? I’d say any organisation with an in-house software development function that needs to scale up periodically, and get development work done that they can bring in house and support themselves long term. You get good results with Unity. I recommend their work.”

Case study written by Valuable Content Ltd in June 2010 with feedback from Ceri Lambdin, IT Director, BCS The Chartered Institute for IT

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