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?

Wolverhampton weekly newsletter #10

At the start of the week there was a review meeting for the supplier responses to our tender for information asset register activity.  This will be picked up again in the New Year with those who responded.

It was also the start of the Multi Function Devices (MFD) roll-out at Walsall campus.  The big bang was rather more of a whimper on day one at least – there were a few glitches reported during the first morning as the MFDs began to roll off the wagons, but no major reports of issues.  In fact, that is the position as we approached the end of the week, which also reflects the lightening of load as staff take well-earned annual leave, and students are not timetabled.  We shall all be hoping for the best in the New Year but so far…so good.

I took some time to prepare a summary site visit after my tour of the Science Park last week. We are going to update with some “before” pictures to go with my “after” photos of the network rooms up there.

I had a useful catch up about the Enquiry Management System project, and also to pick up the offer to lead the investigations for the next phase (after April 2017) of the Service Now implementation.  I have contacts on standby for early in the New Year for probing about the implementation lessons learned and approaches.

A short paper was drafted for the emerging Digital Advisory Boards setting out background, Terms of Reference and Membership etc.  This needs more work ready for sending out formal invites early in the New Year if we are all happy with the proposed approach.  There was some useful input to this process from others and using our links and contacts to make this as effective as we can from the start.

A couple of "moles" have been tackled this week raised by the Digital Services team.  I have dug deep into the burrows of the system called Lyris and we a finalised a couple of recommendations which resulted.  The other one related to Course Finder and after further burrowing it would appear that we are more joined up than anticipated and that the timeline and preferred approaches are consistent.  I will be checking this is the case early in the New Year.

I have also pulled together a first draft Development Portfolio template for the Directorate.  We have shared a couple of approaches and I also took the liberty of digging around other University websites for exemplars.  There is established good practice in this area and some of it is public domain. Some of the customer-facing communications is - in my opinion - of a really good standard.

Friday, 16 December 2016

Wolverhampton weekly newsletter #9

We started the week with the fortnightly "scrum" and that started the week rolling with all things "Print Project" related.  This came about as a result of updates about the Project Board later that day.  At the end of the week there was confirmation that the sponsor had given the final go ahead.  Communications should be rolling today ahead of Monday's planned installations across the Walsall campus.

We also had a major upgrade to the Apps Anywhere service this week, which involved a planned service interruption. This turned out to be quite a lot shorted than anticipated.  It appears to have gone to plan.

I had an audio-conference with Box this week and there is now a meeting in mid-January at Wolverhampton to discuss next steps. I am wondering if this is potentially one of several platforms that might assist with "non-VLE use of Canvas".  It also came up in discussions at the end of the week on Digital Landscape.

I have had four "Digital Lens" sessions this week with the Dean of Students, Digital marketing, Dean of COLT and also the new Head of Computer Science and Maths). I also met with the VC and asked if he would so some homework for me - I've asked him to carry the crib sheet around with him and jot down any relevant areas from his perspective.  This could be the basis of future and ongoing discussions - not a one off exercise - and will feed into the Digital Advisory Boards process which is now getting established for end January.

I finally made it up to the Science Park on Monday this week and have a number of photos and observations. I will do the same thing that I did for the two Server Room visits and put a few slides together.  With over 100 University staff as well as a thriving set of small and medium sized businesses (many technology focused) this is an interesting set of customers and requirements.

There was a really useful conversation about student interns/apprentices and the organisational learning her team has gone through with recruitment and coaching of students.  I am personally very much in favour of students being employed alongside staff teams which can have positive outcomes for everyone involved if well managed.

Finally, I spent a couple of hours giving feedback on the draft business case for Data Management. We had a really positive and constructive session (and the canteen noodles weren't bad) and I was also able to update him on the early output relating to Digital Strategy.
The Slater's evening was good fun and there are some excellent santa selfies as proof!  Hopefully everyone is in their Christmas Jumpers today.

Monday, 12 December 2016

Wolverhampton weekly newsletter #8

At the start of the week I spent time developing the first draft of the Digital Strategy presentation.  Very much a preliminary draft and work in progress and is expected to provide the basis for further iterations and improvements in both content and presentation.  There are a number of supporting documents and collateral which I have used which will be made available as part of this work package.

I attended the second of two research focus groups.  During the session I made a couple of contributions about looking forward into future digital research requirements, and also protecting existing research assets.  I provided Sharon and team with a summary of the digital gaps, opportunities, threats and capabilities as I perceived them after the meeting.  I think that this model can work quite well but I am going to have to work harder to get people to use this model during the next period of consultation.  Will need to think about how to really engage the digital research agenda if this is going to be a priority (which I feel it should be).

In my catch up meeting with the technical services team, we discussed a number of pieces of work that will be progressing as a matter of priority.  I was pleased that there had been consultation within his team and names had been allocated – these activities are not big enough to warrant any project overhead, but I am keen that they progress and are monitored pro-actively.

I had useful separate catch ups to keep in touch about VLE related and exit handover activity.  I have picked up a request to draft a paper about the non-teaching VLE plan as we migrate from the WOLF system and will pick that up next week.

One thing that I haven’t done well is keep the contract Project Managers informed about what I am doing generally, and that is a gap as they are potentially a little out of the day-to-day loop and potentially with much to offer.  I am going to try and get us all together and provide a briefing and chance to exchange thoughts.

My final meeting of the week was about asset management There are new posts being advertised on the internal University vacancy pages relating to this work.  This is part of a package of dozen or so posts which were mentioned and I wonder whether it might be useful to alert the DAS team to the customer facing roles already recruited, the roles that are actively in progress and those that will follow shortly.  It's another good news story for DAS.

Friday, 2 December 2016

Wolverhampton weekly newsletter #7

There have been a number of things going on this week.  The “moles” have been hard at it again this week and I have been updating the tracker.  

I had a very useful follow-up with the Marketing Team in which they shared their strategy on web, social and paper-based marketing and recruitment  activity. They are working collaboratively across the Faculties and it was positive to hear about the consistent approach they have developed using the Content Management System (T4) and the progress which has been made on social media presence (top 10 in UK higher Education currently).  A clear strategy of quality over quantity paying off.  We also had a useful discussion about course information and how that is being interfaced from SITS into T4 currently and the linkage that has been picked up with our in-house system (WOLF).  This team's timescales may need to be factored in due to timelines for paper-based prospectus and course related information.  They were constructively critical about a couple of activities which would make life easier for them and have got "stuck".  I will attempt to unblock for my next meeting with them to follow up in two weeks.

There were some really positive meetings this week, including the DAS Leadership Team and the DAS Digital Campus Board.  I  did a little research and provided links to Penn State who are a little ahead of us, but also in the midst of a major Canvas migration.  We are in good company with Canvas.  I also made contact with UWL ref Sharepoint and they are willing to assist us setting up a call next week and also interested in our Canvas experiences.

I completed a Powerpoint report from last week's Data Centre tour.  I took some time to feedback a summary to Ian for the Directorate's Risk Register.  There were some other potential risks that have cropped up which were recorded in the "current state analysis" report so I have also taken the opportunity to raise those as well.

I have kept an eye on the information audit work and tender.  On Thursday, I provided responses to a number of questions which have been raised by interested suppliers.  There was also a request to identify top University suppliers over the last three years.  I now have the analysis and the total investment is significant.  My original objective was seeking out key existing partners to bring together to seek insight into Digital Strategy external to Wolverhampton.  In discussing, I am now also adding in key sector suppliers who we don't currently do business with.

Some really good intra-team discussions taking place this week.  For example putting together some plans for a series of "Tech Talks" starting in the New Year.  The focus is on sharing knowledge, but its not going to be exclusive in any way, and there was a suggestion that there may be interest from colleagues outside of DAS.  There is also consideration being given to Continual Service Improvement ahead of the new Enquiry Management System and that is very encouraging.

Final session of the week was to discuss the Enquiry Management implementation project once we get beyond the standstill period.  It will require effective Project Management, clarity over the scope (incident-focus).   One of the critical success factors will be the technical input from the supplier/integrator with configuring the system.  We are going to set up a conference call with a reference site so that colleagues can explore some of the project-related issues and timescales.