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.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Wolverhampton weekly newsletter #12

The Multi Function Device (MFD) roll-out continued at pace, and our building (MX) was fully switched over to the new service for staff and students.  The first week of student assessment appeared to pass without major incident relating to print (so far as I was aware).  During the week the DAS lessons learned workshop was set up, identifying the key players across library and IT.  This is scheduled for January 31st and it will follow the DAS template.  Once written up this will be shared with the broader implementation team in Finance and Print Services etc.

This week we talked some more about DAS communications including broader use of social media channels. One of the team has involvement in a company called Modern Human (relating to future library user experience) which led us to some innovative mobile app developments.  It reminded me again how important it is to keep a broad view across the Directorate of potential digital opportunities.

The Leadership team meeting included an update on a Senior PM role for Audio-Visual which is welcome.  We also need to make sure we have clarity over AV investment and day-to-day AV technical support. Towards the end of the week there was some feedback on new installations coming up. The ServiceNow platform will definitely assist with managing and scheduling these sort of standard operating procedures.

During this week, I have started presenting the first draft digital strategy to various people and teams within the Directorate.  The feedback has been constructuve and helpful and I have been modifying and updating as I go along.  Along with the work on the "Digital Lens" and also the Digital Advisory Boards this week, I feel that by the end of January there will be something that is taking shape - this is the major activity and it is on track.

I came across the deadline for RITAs this week (a set of national IT Awards), and it reminded me of THELMAs and the UCISA Awards for Excellence etc. January is when this starts happening, and I believe that we already have some good collateral from the internal Vice-Chancellor's Awards in 2016.  This could be a good time to publicise and promote the success of the foundation work (Digital Campus), and raise the profile.

This week also provided an opportunity to update investigations that I had been making into Lyris (the email list distribution system) and the Course Catalogue.  There were a number of recommendations that have been made and shared.  Student recruitment is a key organisational priority but we need to use robust and fit for purpose systems too.

I also learned this week about some things which haven't affected me so far (as a "new starter") - which are data storage limits on staff email (1 GB limit while student is unlimited in Office365?) and an issue with pop up messages about "your profile has exceeded limit".  These types of capacity issues are hygiene factors which are hopefully being resolved.

Finally, I have been keeping up to speed with ServiceNow project, marked a day for the internal workshops, and brokered a visit to the University of Bradford to share implementation lessons learned on the 20th January.

Friday, 6 January 2017

Wolverhampton weekly newsletter #11

Welcome to 2017!

A shortened week due to Bank Holiday Monday, but nonetheless plenty of things going. As usual a short summary follows of the key updates:

On Tuesday it was good to see people back in the office refreshed after the festive break and with no major service or electrical interruptions to report.  I checked up with the technical teams on the first morning back and also with Estates.  There had been no call-outs or interruptions over the Christmas or New Year period.

The really positive news this week was the success so far of the MFD roll-out, which has been full steam ahead before and after the break.  There was a very positive email from the Dean of Students.  It's too soon to call, with the students and many academic staff still away until next week.

I gave a little assistance with a feedback survey by obtaining the UCISA template from the Exec team in Oxford and this is in relation to the upcoming "Tech Talks" for which there is a roadmap - this is being shared at next Leadership Team to brief everyone.  I personally think this is a really positive development from within the team, which has been further supported and re-inforced by comments about this being mandatory not an optional session.

There are another couple of "Digital Lenses" based on feedback received from the LIS customer service team and also a very productive meeting with the Dean of Social Sciences).  I was impressed with his focus on the bigger picture challenges.  I have a number of these developing now.

I also reviewed the results of the JISC Digital Capability survey last year and that makes for useful reading in the Wolverhampton context too.

Finally, we made some good progress on invitations to the inaugural Digital Advisory Boards and getting an outline agenda and invites out to prospects for expressions of interest will be a priority early next week.  I will also (as a courtesy) run past procurement colleagues.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Ten Towns: Bradford and Wolverhampton

An interesting article comparing the two Cities of Bradford and Wolverhampton.  Great cities with many similarities and of course many differences too.   Perhaps there should be greater collaboration between them - and perhaps there already is?