Thursday, 30 March 2017

Wolverhampton weekly newsletter #21

Here is my final update as the contract at Wolverhampton successfully ends.

This week I have been making sure that there are no loose ends and handing over various things that are in progress.  Therefore quite a few meetings and conversations with colleagues in the Directorate and beyond.

I will continue to be available over the coming weeks and months for any follow-ups that are needed.

I plan to return at the end of April in a personal capacity for the JISC/UCISA digital strategy forum, and the agenda includes an update on the University Digital Strategy.

During this week I have also:
  • Provided feedback on the Nexus sessions for the DAS newsletter
  • Prepared input for the monthly DAS highlights (based on scrum meetings among other things)
  • Followed up the regional get-together with Birmingham City University, which has proposed a joined up IT and Library approach
  • Met with Purchasing ref partnership landscape
  • Met with an academic colleague regarding his Professional Doctorate thesis (absolutely fascinating regarding Digital Campus and future strategy)
  • Invited Wolverhampton City Council to speak at the UCISA digital strategy forum on its digital journey
I have also provided a summary of my 90 days at the University with a personal reflection on the original objectives.

I will next be back at Wolverhampton University on April 28th for the Digital Strategy Forum.
It has been a great opportunity to work with new colleagues and create new friends.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Wolverhampton weekly newsletter #20

Here is a penultimate newsletter - with one more week to go.

This week was dominated by the run up to the Digital Strategy Committee meeting including updating several documents as well as a few updates to the main powerpoint and presentation materials including development of a "one pager".  There was also some preparation for the first of the Academic Reference Groups on Monday. It was great to meet a colleague in the Maths department and corresponded about "humagrams" launched at BETT, and also a meeting next week with another colleague regarding his PhD Thesis which has a Digital theme.

Dates were circulated to all members for the Digital Advisory Board hosted by McCann and that will be part of my handover during next week - when I have also scheduled time to complete final handover tasks.

Our meeting with the City Council was fascinating.  Great tour of the facilities which are being significantly re-developed on our doorstep in the Civic Centre.  Various photos and observations are available, however, as some of them are sensitive (i.e. Server Room) I am not putting them here. It was agreed to meet on a regular basis from now on, and to invite them along to our Digital Advisory Board.

I facilitated a final meeting on the Business Intelligence (BI) Lessons Learned activity.  This captured a number of new and different perspectives from those involved with earlier stages of the BI project activity. Draft report is with participants and I will circulate the final signed-off version for next Thursday's deadline.

My final scheduled Nexus session went ahead with the Faculty of Engineering and Arts. It was much more interactive than any other of these sessions and there were some very helpful input from the Faculty team leaders including:-  the need for specialist teams in Faculty; about the nature of relationships with DAS/IT; some fundamental issues with planning and budgeting for basic hygiene factors; confirmation that "one size does not fit all".

CAST kindly circulated a message around DAS with an invitation for a beer and a natter next Wednesday evening to mark my departure at Slater's Bar.  I also created a short highlight report  of my 6 months at the University.  It has been a great opportunity.  Thanks to everyone who has made me feel so welcome.

Monday, 20 March 2017

Wolverhampton weekly newsletter #19

This is a shorter than usual weekly update as I was very fortunate to spend a long weekend away in the French Alps trying to ski.


The week started with pulling together a short report from the UCISA17 Conference which I also circulated later in the week to team leaders at the fortnightly "scrum".  There are a couple of follow-up meetings now beginning to appear in diaries with suppliers that we met.  I also prepared a short paper for circulation ahead of the next DAS leadership team meeting on the partnership analysis which we have agreed to facilitate.  This will be coming for a short discussion at next Tuesday's meeting.  In preparation I have created a "starter for ten".  This is ahead of a meeting next Wednesday with Purchasing to cover areas they might be able to help with.

I spent some time on the "top 5" requests for the next phase of the ServiceNow implementation alongside the strand of work on the software request process.  With CAST team assistance we have honed in on guest Wi-Fi accounts, IT account extensions, mobile phone administration (new, change, leave, billing) and IT equipment purchasing (printers, laptops, tablets etc).  I have kept in touch with the project in my role as QA - the first stage of the project is still progressing well and on schedule - the only glitch is the self-service portal and this is not part of initial launch.  HR are also progressing really well and on schedule.

I have obtained confirmation from McCann that they will host the June Digital Advisory Board (Technology Suppliers). Early next week I will circulate members for the two proposed dates (June 20th and 28th reserved in your calendars) and a request for topic(s).

We have also confirmed the date for Wolverhampton to host the next JISC Digital Strategy Forum which is Friday April 28th.  I am hoping to return and attend the event as a member of the forum and happy to assist with any logistics on the day.  The leader of that group is currently circulating members for the agenda and potential speakers.

The Head of IT at Wolverhampton City Council has confirmed a follow-up meeting next week to include a tour of the new call centre and the computer server room.  Should be interesting.

With two more weeks until the end of March there are two more newsletters to go before my contract finishes here at Wolverhampton.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Wolverhampton weekly newsletter #18

This week was mainly about UCISA17 which is the Management Conference for UCISA - Universities and Colleges Information Systems Association.  There is a live stream of all the main sessions here if you register your details.  There was also a Twitter feed at the conference hashtag #ucisa17.

Among other things, I was pleased to represent the University of Wolverhampton on the panel for the JISC Digital Strategy Forum. This was a "University Showcase" session and was well attended.  We hope to increase participation from senior leaders in the forum and to have a well-attended event which we are hosting at Wolverhampton towards the end of April.

There were several attempts at an "East Midlands" meet up.  Birmingham City University are more than willing to host a proper get together for anyone interested and show local Universities around BCU including new developments/refurbishments.

Highlights of the exhibition for me included learning about a new authentication system layer (two factor authentication) which has been developed for the HE market and come from the US and is now going into York.  Also useful to talk to Proof ID and Oxford Computing Group who could potentially solve a couple of things - dealing with "associates and non paid staff" account management etc, and supporting Office365 migration.  I also spoke to Telepen about new attendance monitoring and room booking products - the new service that has gone into the Library  at Birmingham looked attractive and efficient.  The Samsung showcase was interesting and I spent an hour chatting to the MD of WellKon who was demonstrating the wellness app they were launching at conference. Given our Well@Wolves week I thought this might fit very well with both a digital agenda as well as an existing wellness agenda.  The students who were with my demo liked it a lot (they were from Lincoln). They were offering a one-day on-site activity which was student focused.  Samsung would like to join our advisory board and would be willing to potentially do a Wolves specific showcase - perhaps as part of a "digifest" activity.

I have also been making progress with CAST on a quick review of the University mobile phone contract.  Any phone on this contract now has flat rate call and data charge. I am just on the look out for any that could be terminated which wasn't done during the process. I will let you know if there are any (there may of course be none).

I have written up some feedback on a meeting with the Head of IT at Wolverhampton City Council. There are some specific opportunities to follow up and we have a further meeting in diaries shortly.  I was particularly interested in the possibility of sharing rack space temporarily in the server rooms for mutual benefit - that could be a big cost avoidance opportunity to explore.

Friday, 3 March 2017

Wolverhampton weekly newsletter #17

There was no newsletter last week as it was half-term and time for a week away with the family.  Therefore, quite a lot of ground covered on return this week.

Monday kicked off early and meetings commenced with the Vice-Chancellor's update – the notes were circulated promptly so no need to cover here. I noted the  link  between Careers Week and Well@Wolves week  etc and whether we ought to consider sponsoring a “Digital Week/Digifest” to promote and market our various new (and existing) services.  The Nexus sessions have highlighted what we already know – that even those who are actively engaged are not aware of some of the existing messages (like new corporate plan, NSS, TEF etc).  There is value in emphasising the existing as much as the “jam tomorrow”.  One of the messages from Well@Wolves week was avoiding academic misconduct – and I imagine we do a lot already – but perhaps an opportunity to emphasise to students again what we do to support them.  The launch of a peer-to-peer mentor scheme also got me thinking about how we could have a go at doing that from a digital perspective too.  It could be student-to-student, but also student-to-staff as well.  Just another thought.

There was a session on ServiceNow requests and a workshop will follow - looking to document process, workflow and decision points. All good stuff.  In the afternoon, I ran the first of three Nexus sessions this week.  This involved a student focus group assembled from the student ambassadors and interns within our Directorate.  It was good to introduce everyone.  The other Nexus sessions involved travel to Walsall and Telford and were very worthwhile I believe.  To help with immediate feedback I have kept a record of the key things which were raised or discussed at all of the sessions.  Of course there is also the Digital Lens feedback which is online and anonymous – so far I have had minimal take up with that, but a reminder and link went out with a deadline in the newsletter.

Met With one of our Deans ahead of the Digital Strategy Board – got a thumbs up for the faculty to get involved withServiceNow futures and also the Digital Advisory Boards.  Not an issue with any overlap with Industrial Boards – happy that we maintain good communications as main thing. There was positive feedback from the Digital Strategy Board which felt positive and constructive.

We also did some QA work on the Service Management project this week as it was month-end, and I sent a short report which brought together views – continuing a "green" outlook at present.  Report available on request.

There has also been some more logistics this week – we will be hosting the JISC Digital Forum at Wolverhampton in late April;  also followed up with McCann and HP Enterprise about hosting the next two Digital Advisory Boards (technology suppliers) in Birmingham (June) and London HP Experience Centre (November).  Also set up feedback sessions on the Digital Strategy  at the next two Academic Forums in mid-March.

There was another well attended scrum session on Thursday – which among other things has led to a Faculty Nexus session on March 15th (aiming to cover across all the faculties involving IT/Technical interests) about the Digital Strategy.  Very pleased that our faculty are leading the invitations and logistics. For UCISA17 next week I am in process of getting some introductions organised for Wednesday for those attending from West Midlands Universities.  A great chance to forge new relationships and collaborations.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Wolverhampton weekly newsletter #16

One of the roles that I have picked up along the way is QA for the ServiceNow project so at is was month-end, I spent some time preparing a QA report.  This will be reported back through the Digital Campus Board which has been agreed as the current route.  I created a template as we didn't have one "in stock" and also passed on for future use.  Using a traffic light approach, there was plenty of green, a couple of amber and no red.

The Digital Advisory Boards continued with a very positive meeting involving our technology suppliers/partners. We have agreement to two further sessions this year in June and November and hosting/facilitation offered by partners including one in its London office where it has a customer experience space.  I also took up the offer of using the new cohort of student ambassadors and together with invites to student interns etc set up an initial session.  I am also in touch with Digital Marketing team about #packleaders (advertised on the foyer TV this week).

The Digital Strategy presentation is now in Spark format, and I used this for an extended "teaser" session with the DAS leadership team and with the Digital Advisory Boards.  It is ready to roll-out in this format to next week's Nexus sessions. These were advertised during the week and bookings are starting to come in.  Here is the link to the latest iteration: https://spark.adobe.com/page/xWWrBjaxMJrkE/.  I have also taken some detail out of this from the Powerpoint version to avoid overload.  Looking forward to some constructive feedback over the next week.  I had an hour's briefing from COLT who helped set me up Panopto and will be having a go at recording the Nexus sessions.

I met with colleagues about looking a little into expenditures - and we identified three work order "owners" to follow up with. So far I have spoken with one and we have the first candidate contract renewal already.  We are looking at what's coming up for renewal and whether we have recently negotiated.

During the Leadership Team meeting I made a note that the next submission of the risk register which is end March.  I subsequently provided some relevant material offering to facilitate a DAS workshop on this if its appropriate.  This is something I have done recently so this might be timely.

There were more Servicenow activities this week with discussions about asset management, and future workshops around the "top five" requests.  We were unable to combine the Servicenow visit on Wednesday to discuss as planned how we might proceed with "the art of the possible" discussions  - the HE lead turned back due to a major traffic incident.  I have arranged instead to see them in London next Wednesday morning for a couple of hours.

Thursday I met with Canvas project managers to bring them up to speed on where we have got to with (1) IT Strategy (the one pager) (2) the first phase of digital campus in the digital strategy document and (3) a roadmap I have begun working on with Technical Services.  This mainly covers Microsoft technologies which would form a range of potential solutions for the "none teaching" WOLF functions.  A very interesting few hours has left me more optimistic than I was, and that progress is going on "in the background" certainly in relation to building blocks.  More to follow on this one I am sure over the next week or two.

Friday, 3 February 2017

Wolverhampton weekly newsletter #15

Here is my usual round-up for the last week.

On return from BETT I spent some time preparing material for a feedback session including creating an Adobe Spark on-line document which is now updated here.  I have got onto the agenda at the beginning of the next round of "Tech Talks" and I have also circulated the material with the offer of attending team meetings to cascade.  I also prepared some materials for the Printer/MDF lessons learned workshop which took place on Tuesday.  There is a deadline of 5pm Friday for any other additions or corrections.  The session went well, in particular helpfully flushing out a range of outstanding actions.  These will be turned into an action plan with ownership and timeline.  I followed up about the lessons learned process for BI and have been unable to find anything so far.  Therefore I will set up another process in a similar format which will involve Directorate colleagues in the first instance.

Tuesday was the all-day ServiceNow workshop with two Fruition consultants and the DAS project team.  A really positive session - made easier by the amount of pre-work that had been undertaken.  My role was to primarily probe around the scope and understand the activities that need to be carried out in future phases - once we have replaced basic functions in the existing system which this workshop was primarily focused on.  We came away with a list of things in three broad categories which I will be writing up covering (1) Broader Directorate requirements beyond initial launch (2)  "the art of the possible" and (3) Things that need addressing which are not directly related to this project.  In a subsequent meeting I also agreed to take on a workstream relating to flushing out the top 5 requests which we will attempt to incorporate before July.  I can see that being a nice little challenge......

There was a bit of logistics this week setting up what are now going to be branded as relaunched Nexus Sessions week commencing February 13th.  There are now three sessions in diaries and we will be sending out invites and bookings via standard templates.  We will emphasise the chance to come to City Campus (and vice versa) and we are also setting up sessions in Telford and Walsall.

We made a reasonably good start with the Digital Advisory Boards this week, and there are 8 of our technology partners currently confirmed for next week's session.  There was another "scrum" meeting.  The "small successes" reported at the last two scrums have been fed into the Newsletter.