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:  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.

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Wolverhampton weekly newsletter #14

This week began with preparing a monthly highlight report and potential items for the next DAS Newsletter.  The subsequent Leadership Team meeting was followed by a conference call with Fruition who are the integration partners for ServiceNow.  As part of its pre-sales function we obtained agreement to Fruition's assistance with developing a roadmap for future stages of implementation. This will take the form of identifying opportunities within the University to enable ServiceNow capability for other core business processes (ie beyond IT and HR). Fruition say they have an approach based on recent work with other agencies and I understand we may be the first University to have approached them. I also took the opportunity to invite them to join the Digital Advisory Board for our technology partners.  At present we have positive responses from a number of others too.

I travelled down to London in the evening for the BETT show which opened at Excel on Wednesday.  A fuller report and feedback session will be arranged - I will tie this into the "Tech Talk" series. I took quite a few photos as backdrop to such a session.  In summary, this event brings together a wide education community from primary, secondary, FE, and HE in the UK together with some overseas contributors.  As well as a significant supplier exhibition there are also demonstrations, seminars and an arena program.  As well as taking in an overall tour I also spent my time at around 15-20 key stands ranging from the start-up entrepreneurs in the BETT futures zone, through to the big corporate stands like Microsoft (primary sponsor) as well as investigating some new suppliers that I hadn't heard of before.  I also attended the keynote Microsoft session (Anthony Salcito VP Worldwide Education).  The Secretary of State was there but I didn't bump into her or her entourage.   Key take-aways:  lots of Virtual Reality in the classroom, launch of Google's VR Expedition technology (field trips to anywhere), quizzes and assessments linked to big data analysis, Hololens demonstrators, Apps aplenty, a guided tour of the HP intelligent classroom of the future etc.  One launch of particular note, given how close Land Rover are to us, was the launch of a life-sized "HumaGram" which chief designer Oliver LeGrice demonstrated live - short clip available and on page 11 of the Evening Standard that night. I came back with a cardboard VR set with links to the Youtube VR channel. We should be considering how we can utilise and be first to use these new channels at pace - they make paper prospectuses and web pages look very dated.  As you can perhaps sense I found it an inspiring event!

While there, I also took the chance to meet up with one or two of our key partners including Adobe and Microsoft (the HE education team were all there). There are some interesting links - which may already have established of course - with local showcase colleges like Shireland.  We may wish to explore an invitation through Microsoft to a future forum e.g. Digital Advisory Board.

Finally, I spent some time in a seminar session on the free Adobe Spark technology by the University of Lincoln - here is my attempt at turning the blog entry into a Spark!

Monday, 23 January 2017

Wolverhampton weekly newsletter #13

This week feels like it has flown by.

I have spent time on the future phases of ServiceNow - meeting with the PMs, planning meetings with Fruition (the systems integrator), and setting up conversations next week with other parties so that we can begin scoping.  It was good to hear that the first workshop day had been a success, and that while there is no slack in the project, the overall risk rating for our implementation is low - presumably due to lack of complexity in this initial phase. That sounds positive.

I also did some more work on developing the one page IT strategy into a format we can start working on here. There was some useful input to this later in the week from others who I shared the draft with.  This will be an iterative process but also a "quick win" if we can agree the shape and content.

There were several conversations this week about none-teaching activity within WOLF.  We need to ensure that the requirements that are emerging are really well understood - various people are digging into this area with gusto. There are potentially some other WOLF-related activities which are not currently being considered in scope, and as a result of our conversation today, I will develop a "landscape" (with others) to try and ensure that we uncover any other areas.

There were quite a few actions arising from the Leadership Team meeting and I will pick mine up during next week.  The session was really positive and good to be talking about future planning, culture change and new Ways Of Working (WOW).  There is a positive vibe around the place which is really good.  This was reinforced by a number of "small successes" reported at the scrum meeting which took place for half an hour today.  The Engineering and Science Faculty was present, which is also positive, and provided us with a potential cloud-based leave management solution which has been running successfully in the Faculty - and which deals with some of the harmonisation issues that are going to be tackled.

My time spent with the enquiry team was illuminating explaining the central enquiry team processes and data collection activity.  Others in the sector are making investments in digital recruitment, but nevertheless we have some robust and automated processing largely based in one system.  We have agreed some follow up actions about improving data input validation which would make a difference and is currently being tackled in different ways, in different places.  Right now we don't appear to have postcode validation or email validation on any data input forms going into eVision (SITS).  That should be fixable.