ICL: Performance-Plus

Like your job? Here's your chance to compare your company with eight of the best—at least in how they treat their Microsoft Certified Professionals.

ICL, a European-based systems and services company, views its MCSEs as so core to its success that it quotes an MCSE in its 1999 annual report and brags about how it expects to have 4,000 premium title-holders on staff within the next two years. The person who nominated the firm, Hannu Ylioja, Senior Developer/Systems Engineer, holds MCSE, MCSD, MCDBA, and MCP+1 titles from Microsoft. He’s in a position to gauge how well the company treats its IT staff—he’s worked there for 22 years.

This Year’s Best Companies!
ICL European-based systems and services company; 22,500 employees
Nominated: Slough, Berkshire UK office
+44 (0) 1753 532323

In the last year, Ylioja’s projects have involved ISDN networking and roll-outs for Total Oil, as well as deploying new applications for Shell. He’s currently pursuing his MCSE+Internet and preparing for Windows 2000 MCSE re-certification.

Ron McLaren, ICL’s Manager, Engineering Professional Com munity, estimates that ICL, which is in 40 countries, has about 22,000 employees. The company is organized into 15 different communities based on functional endeavors: sales, commercial managers, and so on. Engineering, the largest community, has 12,500 technical professionals; MCPs fall into this category. The group consists of jobs with descriptions ranging from “tech support on a help desk” to somebody “designing the most complex type of rocket-science solution for a customer.”

McLaren explains that the company has developed a “Performance-Plus” system for evaluating people’s skills, setting their objectives, assessing salaries, and “setting their whole cycle of development.” Certification is a major factor in determining pay and assignments, though not the only one. Like the other companies profiled here, ICL covers all costs of technical training, study, and test-taking.

“We have written objectives for people as to what they should be achieving-in terms of assignments they’re working on, but also in terms of their personal development,” McLaren says. “‘By the end of this year you should be an expert this...’ Those are all written down. The definitions of the roles are also written down. Around spring each year, we start the process of salary reviews, where we evaluate the market conditions. That’s how we come up with the salary.”

Over the next three years ICL will be training 10,000 people in e-business solutions, based on Microsoft technologies and revolving around Site Server. About half of that will be additional training for people inside the company; the other half will focus on new recruits. The initiatives will help the company address its four sets of service offerings: customer relationship management (such as a “loyalty system” for Safeway, USA); e-business (a set of Web sites for Northcliffe Newspapers); enterprise applications (the implementation of REI’s in-store system); and IT services (outsourced service in 1,100 branches of Swedbank).

Concludes Ylioja, “The future will be interesting. ICL is preparing to float on the London Stock Exchange and the company is re-aligning itself to the e-business model.”

About the Author

Dian L. Schaffhauser is a freelance writer based in Northern California.

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