Professional Issues in Information Technology

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Professional issues encompass all the factors that are put into consideration when carrying out business. The aspects are largely similar from business to business since they highlight the major factors that play a critical role in transactions. The issues address a number of variant fields such as the legal sector, financial issues, organizational sector or issues of ethics in society (Tuffley, 2016). In the field of information technology, the major issues dealt with are intellectual property practices especially on software, implications of misuse of computers and internet on legal and ethical environments. The concerns also include the protection of data, freedom of dissemination of information and making such information free from piracy.

 For information technology firms to function properly, all the laws relating to that field must be adhered to failure to which breaches the contract of doing business. All employees are expected to uphold the laws and regulations that govern the profession (Tuffley, 2016). In this scenario, we are going to look at a sample case study of an employee, Bridget Donovan, working for an IT firm as the systems security manager. She, unfortunately, loses the job later after the company discovers that she had a bad criminal record back in the years before being hired. The company took the initiative of firing her since it deemed the action fit to protect the firm's image. We shall look at the various professional issues in this case.

2.0 Analysis 

            The case study presents the fact6ors listed below that influence business organization.

2.1 Legal factors

            In any business organization, the legal frameworks occupy the highest position in the degree of company interests. All business transactions are bound by law hence compels any company to abide by all the laws set up in the country. Acting contrary to such laws may lead to the closure of the business or some other heavy penalty implications to the business. At any given time, a dispute should not arise between professional and legal factors (Tuffley, 2016). From the case study, a legal conflict arises between Donovan and her employer. The contract letter stipulates that an employee can be retrenched for failure to disclose criminal record at the time of being hired. In as much as she was all aware of the consequences, she still went ahead to lie about her records but when the company found out from another employee it led to the termination of her contract

2.2 Professional Factors

            Professional issues are duties and obligations one is expected to have in regard to the profession they practice. Each profession has its own codes of ethics which any practitioner under it is expected to adhere to a breach of which action may be taken by the relevant professional bodies (Tuffley, 2016). From the case study, it comes to the limelight that the team hired by Luke Jackson to conduct test runs of the software is very incompetent. One of the clients is a foreigner who has just a one year experience in the field while the other is a recent graduate who has only practiced for two years. Professional code of ethics requires one to have enough relevant experience in their field of expertise. Hiring a person whose experience is in doubt is utterly unprofessional (Markharm, Buchanan, 2012). The team hired finally fails to meet the task expected of them on the specified timelines which depict a lot of unprofessionalism in their work.

2.3 Employment and Social Factors     

            Organizations and other employers have their own code of conduct usually stipulated in their mission statements. The code of conduct guides the employees on what they ought to do in various circumstances in order to uphold the image of the employer (Tuffley, 2016). These codes of ethics will always conform to societal expectations, legal requirements and professional standards. Jason is a morally conscious worker in the company. He thinks that whenever there is a problem, it should be solved in the shortest time possible. This is why he goes to report to his bosses of a possible vulnerability of the database they are using. Society expects its people to uphold morality and enumerate the good values to give back to society. This expectation should be met at the workplaces.

2.4 Personal Factors  

            Personal factors are a culmination of a person’s general environment. It results from a person’s exposure to family, religious community and close personal friends (Tuffley, 2016). Bridget grows up in a non-conducive environment both for her learning and social upbringing. Despite these circumstances, she still struggles until she graduates with honors from the university. She is able to overcome all the challenges any orphaned juvenile will have to encounter. After her graduation, she easily gets a job at entry level and after a few days later, she rises through the ranks to a middle manager position. Her personal growth is seen to thrive so much after completing her studies and finding a job.

 Bernard Spilsbury, Luke's former boss, learns of a lucrative job offer that Luke is about to receive. This does not go down well with him since it is Luke who blew the whistle leading to him getting sacked. Bernard plans a set up to make sure Luke doesn't land the job. On the morning of the interview, the panel calls off the interview. It comes out clear that Bernard is one egocentric individual and doesn't reflect the society's expectation of people being good-hearted. Likewise, it is against the code of ethical decision making for an interview to be put under duress from a selfish individual.

2.5 Intrinsic Factors

            Intrinsic factors are the natural qualities, characteristics, and innate behaviors someone is born with. Human beings have very diverse qualities and personality traits. Intrinsic factors apply the most powerful yet peculiar to a specific individual influence during the process of ethical making of decisions (Tuffley, 2016). It is possible for employees to develop strong resistance or a vast acceptance of an idea in the field of information technology. Bridget Donovan is deeply convinced that it is not the duty of her department to correct any vulnerability of the database that can adversely affect the operations of the department. In as much as her view might be wrong, it is her deep conviction to uphold it since it is what she believes is right. The implication of her decision may mean the closure of operations by the other department they share a database with but that doesn't seem to bother her at all.    

2.6 Prioritization

            Prioritization is essentially having the factors discussed above in the order of preference. Some factors carry more weight on the impact of the information technology firm than others. For instance, legal and professional factors take precedence over all other matters since respect for the rule of law is an obligation to each citizen or organization in a country. Professionals will also be expected to uphold their professional codes of conduct which makes this factor supersede all the others (Tuffley, 2016). This can be closely followed by social factors since they determine people’s behaviors and how they will respond to them. A sample prioritization table will look as below.


Related issue

Breach of contract (legal)

Failure by Bridget to disclose records of criminal history

Code of ethical conduct (legal)

Action to hire unqualified personnel

Acknowledging vulnerability  (professional )

Bridget acknowledged the database was prone to attack and loss of data

Breach of a protocol (professional)

Luke by-passed his immediate manager to report to senior managers

Project suspension (professional)

The project was later suspended since it could not meet expected timelines

Work experience (employment and social)

The hiring of non-experienced personnel to test database

Insufficient money ( employment and social)

Inflating bills to get money for the project

Employee gossip (employment and social)

A longtime friend of Bridget gossiping about her past

Senior manager (personal)

Had a job description as a senior manager

Graduate with honors ( personal)

Bridget graduating with honors after completing her studies

Lead role (personal)

Doing the lead role for testing the database

Team leader (intrinsic)

Luke leading the team of experts

Director (intrinsic)

Bridget is the director of system security 

Honors degree (intrinsic)

Bridget achieving a honors degree

Bungling the interview ( intrinsic)

Bernard didn’t want to see Luke getting a job

2.7 Decision

            The above priority list has been generated based on the importance and weight of the factors involved. For instance, legal and professional factors carry the bulk of the weight in prioritizing that is why they feature at the top. These factors must be adhered to at all times for smooth running of the organization. Thereafter, the employment and social factors come into play. They impact on the organization by exhibiting people’s character’s and their response to work (Tuffley, 2016). Employment deals with the staffing while social factors deal with the behavior of the staff during work.

Personal factors come into place to show people’s attitude in the environment they exist. Human beings react differently to similar situations. They have different tastes and preferences in the same subject matter. The concept explains why such factors must be looked into any time employers are doing staffing. The personal traits normally come up as a result of the environment and nature the person was brought up. Intrinsic factors then carry the least priority since they are inborn traits from a person (Markham, Buchanan, 2012). They cannot be altered since they don’t come as a result of nature. 

Considering the weight of the matter, and following the aforementioned procedure, it was ethical for the IT firm to suspend the project due to delayed completion, because of the legal and professional implications of carrying out a task. First, the personnel working on the project did not have the required expertise in testing and analyzing the database. The legal implication of this would be a disciplinary measure from the board regulating the conduct and code of ethics of the profession to the firm for hiring staff that is not fully fit to carry out the task.

3.0 Discussion

            The above decision was arrived at after weighing the factors involved. As an obligation to everyone, rules, and laws of a society are meant to be obeyed. Also, the code of ethics of professionals ought to be obeyed by the people who subscribe to it. In almost all instances, the code of ethics of professional bodies is consistent with laws of society. This makes it pivotal that legal and professional factors will take precedence over any other factor that is to be considered (Tuffley, 2016). Both people in their private capacity and organizations are bound by law to abide by them. Any attempt to go against the law is always countered by law enforcing agencies.

            Work and social factors carry a lesser weight as compared to legal and professional factors. The policies and goals of an organization are made to suit the social and work interests of the society they are situated. Commercial entities operate with the sole purpose of making profits.  Therefore, it is their role to create a good work environment for the coexistence of their workers. Social factors are usually consistent with legal factors, since laws are made from societal norms, cultures, and practices. For laws to be declared enforceable, they must be supported by the majority of the people in society. However, society undergoes evolution and laws applicable at a certain period may not be applicable at a different time (Tuffley, 2016). In such cases, the legal factors will take precedence since they are not subject to variation at high frequency.

 Personal and intrinsic factors carry the least weight among the factors. This is because, in an IT firm, the major focus is on creating software, establishing and maintaining databases and websites and doing test analysis of the databases. The work may not require a lot of personal and intrinsic character evaluation (Barkharm, Buchanan, 2012). The primary factors to be maintained is working under the guidance of professional factors and ensuring the work done is compatible with legal standards. Therefore, it should free from malpractices such as piracy, intellectual property theft and other breaches of contract. This is why the personal and intrinsic factors carry the least importance or are lowly prioritized in the ethical decision-making model (Barkham, Buchanan, 2012). This model, when adopted into an organization, will help fasten decision making and at the same time uphold the ethics in the field.

4.0 Conclusion

            Ethical decision making is a fundamental procedure especially in the field of information technology. It brings together legal and professional factors, work and environment factors and personal and intrinsic factors and prioritizes them. Each parameter is given a weight in terms of importance and relevance. The related issues under each of the parameters are also noted so as to come up with the priority list or table. This table can then be used to make decisions ethically within the organization.  



David Tuffley, The Ethical Technologist, 2016, 3rd

edition. Altiora publications, Australia.  

Markham, A., Buchanan, E., & AoIR Ethics Working Committee. (2012). Ethical decision-making and Internet research: Version 2.0. Association of Internet Researchers.

September 11, 2023
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