Saturday, 20 January 2018

Wolverhampton weekly newsletter #10

Update from week ten
  • Couple of meetings with Deputy VC this week - resulting at end of week with paper submitted for consideration regarding IT capital investment 17/18.
  • F&G contract renewal still in progress - actions are with F&G at end of this week.
  • Managed further series of 1-2-1s with most of my direct reports this week .  We also had a one hour "scrum" meeting which also included Faculty representation.  Really good round up of everyone's activities - potted highlights include:
  • Positive discussions about the student face-to-face pilot for IT support and how it might assist Faculty requirements potentially
  • Discussions about some process changes (not job changes) and about relocating from MI where some people are based - the driver is closure and relocation of MI.  The outstanding "job list" ia at 100+ (from 300+) which is good news.
  • The Digital Campus team has been looking at a system to help manage projects and reporting more efficiently - operates SAAS.
  • A successful demo of a virtual desktop workstation which looks positive.  Not got pricing yet - focus is for researcher community in the Faculty of Engineering.
  • We have a "lead nurturing" workshop coming up - agenda issued
  • Good discussion with Liverpool University about software testing as they are ahead of us - possible mentor has been offered.
  • Working on Webserv3 migration as a priority - one casualty will be Surveyor tool (other tools like BOS and survey monkey have replaced it)
  • Improvements to student PC finder are in progress
  • Information Security Board has taken place and is now under review.
  • JISC pen testing has been progressing - a couple of items which we are already addressing and final report due in 2 weeks
  • Trade Union meeting which I have followed up (couple of bits of useful feedback) but predominantly on Library matters.
  • Very useful call with re-seller picking up on previous work from before arrival - invited them to come and tell us all about the work they have been doing for another University which is aiming for best in class computing, network and AV on a greenfield site.
  • Estates/IT monthly meeting today - no major new project since last time.
  • Agresso Programme Board rounded off a pretty full on week.
Good News Stories
  • Two excellent meetings on ECMS:  premeeting with CEO and then Project Board Meeting.  IT is on track and no reported issues at this stage for imminent project handovers in February and March.  Very good feedback on the consistent support from the IT teams over 12-18 months leading up to the launches and happy with how it has all been handled.
  • Panopto Project Board seemed to be on track and some very positive feedback on progress - already as much use by mid-January as the whole of last year and the team describing Apps Anywhere and Canvas integrations as "superb" and "brilliant".
  • No P1 incidents.

Friday, 12 January 2018

Wolverhampton weekly newsletter #9

Update from week nine

  • Concluded NDNA contract and now ready for final signature - commencing February 1st. 
  • Managed 1-2-1s with most of my direct reports this week.  Lots going on.
  • We have attempted to come up with viable options and a recommendation for the Faculty of Arts student desktop replacement.
  • The team did a lot of work at the end of last week to very tight deadlines (NUTS3 analysis).  I took some time on Tuesday for a demo of the work and also we discussed developments in learner analytics.
  • The AV framework for Summer Programme and longer term moved ahead positively this week in joint meetings with Estates/IT/Purchasing.  We have an agreed way forward which gives flexibility.  There is a schedule going to LAPSAG on Monday.
  • Few staff related matters this week including following up with absent staff, probation reports  and one or two contract issues which should now be sorted.
  • Account meeting with External Relations led to a number of follow up actions relating to digital signage, T4 upgrade and some work with the team on single sign-on improvements (T4 related).  We did some pre-work within IT including agenda setting for the third workshop on "lead nurturing".
  • DAS comms went out to all staff ref CPU vulnerability and CAB approved first stages in mitigation activity relating to servers.
  • Very useful call with JISC on remote Data Centre hosting out of Leeds.  JISC is going to approach a couple of other Universities about the business cases they have used - opportunity to fast track writing that up if we can avoid re-inventing the wheel.
  • Arranged meeting with Digital Transformation Director at Wolverhampton Council for next week - good to be looking external as well as internal.
  • We have got invites to join the GDPR working group and have been working on the Cloud Policy executive summary for the Information Security Board.

Good News Stories
  • Positive lessons learned meeting for the Science Centre (SCTP) new build on Science Park.  No significant issues reported with IT or Network planning or implementation despite the fact there was a fundamental change of approach during the process for how network would work for tenants.
  • No P1 incidents.

Friday, 5 January 2018

Wolverhampton weekly newsletter #8

Happy New Year and here is the update from week eight

  • NDNA contract successfully concluded for procurement of PCs, laptops etc via one-stop-shop approach.
  • Updated capital plan one-pager on essential IT investments for 2017-18 with some more detail to backup the estimates.
  • Worked on package of high priority staff recruitment so we have one overall submission covering IT and Digital Campus.
  • Prepared a proposal for focused IT "improvement" dates during calendar years 2018 and 2019 and now with IT team leaders as first stage of consultation.
  • Annual student account deletion progress has commenced - changes to the algorithm have identified 17k accounts which will be targetted over the next 3 months with first batch of emails going out on Jan 15th.
  • Learned that IT account creation and deletion for all staff is currently manual and based on an internally developed system.
  • Went through investment plan budget financials and by end of next week should have clear position - a lot changed over the last couple of weeks before Christmas as invoices were paid.
  • Left field request about re-modelling Arena facility including potential cinema capability.  IT team are  providing some budget estimates into Estates.
  • I am asking the team leaders to think about key (SMART) objectives for the next three months as part of performance management and to provide a focus up to Spring 2018.
  • At our "scrum" meeting there was positive support for a team event (IT focused) to kick off 2018 and get people talking about the changes which will be happening.  We can also use this as an introduction meeting for some of our new faces and tell some good news stories from each of the IT teams.
  • There is a global issue with Intel-based equipment which has emerged in the last few days . Patches are due for release next week. It's a vulnerability that has not so far been exploited according to UK National Cyber Security Centre, although its been there for years. More details here: The Infrastructure team are leading on our options to respond and communications.

Good News Stories
  • Contingency arrangements put in place for Christmas and New Year break were not called on.  No service interruptions or issues (including power) throughout the extended period.
  • Various staff office moves for Engineering at Telford went without a hitch over Christmas period.

Friday, 22 December 2017

Wolverhampton weekly newsletter #7

Here's a final update for 2017 - Season's Greetings to all our readers!

  • Started week with discussions about purchasing contract for new desktops and laptops.  IT and procurement have been leading the NDNA process and this week we were holding final selection interviews.
  • Ran through the final feedback on the original capital plan submission and prepared a one-pager on essential versus highly desirable investments for 2017-18.  This was circulated to IT team leaders although we haven't yet gone through it together.
  • Attended my first Estates and IT working group which was a very useful session. It feel like we have a good basis for building relationships between the teams. We discussed some of the capital projects in progress as well as a number of teaching room projects.  There is a desire to proactively manage the estates elements of projects which was very welcome.
  • There was a separate discussion about AV tender in the New Year with procurement including IT and Estates. We came up with viable options which should not hold up any urgent or ad hoc requirements that emerge.
  • Held several 1-2-1 catch ups which are now scheduled regularly in diary with direct reports.  
  • Attended Finance workshop on budget and forecasting.
  • Business Continuity discussed for Christmas/New Year and a briefing pack created and circulated.  Doing some more work on this will be a priority ahead of the next extended break at Easter 2018.
  • Met with Faculty of Arts - Dean and Faculty Manager - about the desktop replacement program which has been approved.  Have agreed a timeline and process for IT to present options and recommendations in New Year, and will pull team together to support that.
  • Introduction meeting with Director of HR and OD.  Some of the good things were mentioned that had been picked up about DAS and Digital Campus (tackling culture issues for example).

Good News Stories
  • Lots of positive stories in DAS Newsletter - good piece about Enterprise Architecture for example.
  • First IT Task and Finish Group met and agreed follow-up actions for January meeting and way forward for 2017/18 IT capital bid.
  • Generators in MI and MX refuelled and tested in time for the Christmas break
  • NDNA process moved on to next step.

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Wolverhampton weekly newsletter #6

Update from week six

  • Sunday and Monday brought us lots of challenging weather so didn't travel to Wolverhampton as planned first thing Monday morning.  Spent time on a variety of admin activity - it was useful to catch up on  some of the things in my "to do list".  Since week one I have found myself in meeting after meeting and limited time to do any of the actions that I have agreed!  Just one of these which has been rumbling around is SAMS maintenance - now all sorted.
  • There was a "P1" incident Tuesday morning due to another power interruption affecting one of our server rooms. We will make sure a lessons learned report is produced and any actions identified and allocated.
  • Got up to speed with recent work on "lead nurturing systems" which had involved two workshops.  Arranged next workshop for mid-January and a pre-session with those involved from IT.
  • Held a number of  "account management" meetings this week:  made introductions and a very positive meeting with Strategic Planning; spent a couple of hours with External Relations on the list of outstanding issues - all now being picked up;  met with Purchasing about the upcoming contract reviews and those in progress.
  • Met with Ultimedia who had been involved in an Estates/IT workshop in the Summer about requirements for content management system.  Agreed follow up actions which will be picked up with Estates in the New Year.
  • A very positive meeting with Estates and Facilities colleagues. An extensive list of follow-up actions was circulated for review and comment.
  • After the JISC learner analytics meeting followed up with our JISC account manager and among other things discussed getting some outline costings for potentially moving/upgrading the core network.  The standard lead time is maximum five months from placing orders which is worth knowing - probably longest lead time items.  We also followed up about accessing further information about the JISC Shared Data Centre with our internal legal and procurement people - next steps agreed as this is not yet completed.

Good News Stories
  • Estates and DAS discussing and agreeing responsibilities for Server Room infrastructure.
  • Night out at Slaters to celebrate Christmas and a successful Christmas Jumper day for charity.

Friday, 8 December 2017

Wolverhampton weekly newsletter #5

Brief update from week five

  • Learned about a major African research project currently based in the Congo and met with the academic lead about hosting and "on premise" alternatives.
  • Met with local support teams and toured Telford and Walsall campuses.  Circulated short follow-up notes and took some photos.  Key issues raised by teams were staffing levels to provide professional service and AV support issues.   We noted potential for front of house "face to face" support provision for students (and staff).
  • Attended Cyber Security Centre Project Board and exciting £9M new build project in Hereford.  IT team has been actively involved in verifying and agreeing the numbers which are audit tracked.  Good to be involved early on in such a development.
  • Tender for AV next steps in progress with colleagues in Purchasing.  Various options under consideration with advice from external expertise.
  • Organised the Panopto Working Group on technical workstream - some great feedback from the team including those directly involved with the roll-out.  Notes circulated and next steps agreed to feed into Panopto Project board.
  • Organised useful Logicalis account management meeting.
  • DAS IT managers inaugural meeting covered a number of areas - meeting weekly from the start of the New Year.
  • Completed review of IT elements of the DAS risk register.
  • Introductory meeting with Schools Liaison including integration requests relating to systems in this area and tableau reporting.
  • Attended Tableau Implementation meeting with Planning and IT.

Good News Stories
  • DAS Leadership Team workshop - number of positive and specific outcomes.
  • No P1 major incidents in first week December.

Friday, 1 December 2017

Wolverhampton weekly newsletter #4

Brief Update from Week Four

  • Cascaded briefings from Leadership Team meeting.
  • Attended first DAS Exec meeting - good discussions on change management and service management system project as well as process for taking forward discussions on new DAS structures.
  • Met up with SUMS consultants ahead of initial workshop on Digital Strategy exercise
  • Discussed KX (catering/accommodation) system improvements and agreed action plan
  • Organised briefing session with Faculty IT  and set up team leader meetings from New Year along with others who have IT related responsibilities.
  • Involved in review of Library Platform award and procurement process.
  • Undertook a detailed review of project and program management observations presented by Faithful & Gould  as part of scope of works.
  • Ran a budget review event with Finance and allocated primary and secondary budget holders for all IT related budgets - next step is monthly budget profiling.
  • The team completed a review of capital investment projects (16/17 funding).
  • Attempted to understand some more about the FLEFTwatch research project ahead of audio conference with academic leaders next Tuesday.
  • Involved in several escalation discussions to resolve internal issues with services.
Good News Stories
  • Christmas drinks event at Slaters arranged (Wednesday December 13th).
  • Obtained GDPR Foundation qualification.
  • No P1 major incidents in November and survived major power outage and subsequent interruptions to resolve power issues, without any significant IT service disruption.