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Building the Council: Formation & Operations and Transition to Council


11:50 Sunday, 31 January 2021

Jill Trebilcock, CIISec

This blog is about the two interlinked workstreams lead by CIISec that started first and finished last. This work began with Workstream 3: Council Formation and Operations, which gently evolved into Workstream 10: Transition to Council.

Once we knew the Cyber Security Alliance had to deliver the Council, how did we start?

I wrote to everyone in CIISec asking who wanted to be involved in the Council, either on a workstream or chairing our workstream. As always there are willing volunteers, and James Grimshaw stepped in as our Chair almost from the very start. He kept us focused on our tasks and helped us to find consensus in his excellent warm and friendly style. I or Durgesh Gaitonde acted as deputy when James could not make the meetings. At first, I acted as secretary, but was very grateful when Audra stepped into that role.

DCMS also asked the Project Secretariat to go out and ask other people if they wanted to join the workstreams. We started with about six people turning up the meetings, initially from the Alliance DCMS and NCSC, and finished with about 15-20 per week. This was remarkable, considering almost everyone was a volunteer.

We started with face-to-face meetings, but with the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, everything went on-line and remained there to the end of the project. This worked really well, saved on travel time and meant that people could be involved from anywhere.

The SharePoint document management system that the IET set up was wonderful, so that anyone on the project could access, and comment on, the deliverables.

What did we set out to do?

Our first deliverable, back in October 2019, was the Scope of the Council. Given that the whole project was really only gearing up at this point, this was delivered without a workstream project manager at, I think, the second project board when everyone else was just about realising that the project was running and we were steaming ahead.

Audra Paton was recruited as our project manager, and Audra immediately got Workstream 3 shipshape! We also realised really early on that our deliverables were so numerous that we had to meet every week, and this set the pace for the next 18 months.

We moved on to the Council itself – what form should the Council take? Everyone agreed it should be a charity. However, with the length of time it can take to form a charity it was decided to form a limited company with charitable objectives to allow us to move forward with an established company. This turned out to be a very wise decision as due to a variety of factors the application to the Charities Commission could not be submitted until towards the end of the project.

Our thoughts moved to the costs for the Council, and how the Council would be funded. This became a thorn in the side of the Workstream all the way through from this point, as the charitable Objectives such as diversity in the profession, don’t really make the Council any money, so how does the Council make money when it does not have any assets?

Next came accountability arrangements, grappling with who the stakeholders of the Council would be and what metrics the Council might use. This was the first piece of work for Clare Sharp who came in as a researcher.

Transition to Workstream 10

The IET was originally due to run Workstream 10 but asked us to continue, so Workstream 3 naturally morphed into the Transition to Council work of Workstream 10. Helpfully, James was happy to continue as chair, and Audra as project manager.

Workstream 10 was always going to be more of a challenge. It had only a few firm deliverables and had to think through what a Council would need in order to run effectively – bank account, legal advice, accounting help, CEO job specification, Trustee recruitment, staff handbook, operational handbook, Governance processes for the Council. You name it, Workstream 10 has worked through it.

Audra moved on, and Clare took over as Project Manager, assisted by June and Mark. Towards the end of the project, we also helped the other workstreams produce their governance documentation, so that the Council could continue their work, as well as all the documentation for Membership of the Council.

Our final deliverables were that the Trustees accept the project deliverables, and that we delivered a Fully Functioning Council. Pretty broad.

So where now?

The Council is here. It even has a bank account as of March 2021 – something that was not helped by the introduction of the COVID-19 loans scheme. While intended to help businesses, this meant that every bank was looking at loans rather than setting up bank accounts for new companies. The Council has hundreds of proforma documents and legal contracts that it can use, although some may not be needed for a while, they will all come in handy at some point, well, I certainly hope so after all the reviewing and editing!

I would like to thank all those who have worked on Workstream 3 and 10. I apologise for missing people out, but these have been the main people involved:

Chair of Workstream 3 and 10: James Grimshaw

Project Team, Workstream 3 and 10
Audra Paton
Clare Sharp
June Edwards
Mark Woldon

Key attendees of Workstream 3 and 10 Meetings
John Ellis, IAP
Peter Ellis
Russell Friend, Project Manager, Membership
Ian Fish, BCS
Sandra Godman – Secretariat of the Project
Ian Glover, CREST
Peter Leitch, ISACA
Elaine Luck, CREST
Greg Lupton
Jan Morgan
Colin Sellers, IET
Saab Sembhi, Project Manager, Thought Leadership
Members of DCMS and NCS

All of Workstreams 3 and 10 wish the Council all the best.