Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Freshers Fayre

Today was the first "proper" day of the new year (freshers fayre) although we have been registering students face-to-face for over a week and there has been a gradual build up on the campus and new and old students begin to arrive. Today was the fayre in the new Student Central building which has been getting some pretty positive reviews from the various people that i have been overhearing as I wander about - been trying to mingle in the odd five minutes here and there to get a feel for it and the student sabs although working really hard have a pretty big grin on their faces as a result of the footfall and interest in the space. Great to see the VC twice in the last week in the building too. Lots of senior people seem to be centred elsewhere on campus - I think we are lucky to now have offices located where we are in the JBP Building which is linked directly and under cover to the new space. It has been quite a rapid transformation in the last few days from an empty shell to a living space as the students have arrived. There are still a lot of snags to sort out which are being dealt with pretty quickly and it seems that everyone is being reasonable and patient about that - today's best quote "the building was put up in 1976 and finished in 2010". I'll drink to that (and the London Pride is excellent).

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Edinburgh Library

UCISA had a meeting in the Edinburgh Library last week and I was there to report on the work of the UCISA Conference Organising Commitee for the 2011 managment conference. Here are a few snaps. I liked the signage, which was clear and consistent, the pods which were funky and getting well used, the silent environment for PC study (amazing versus Bradford) and the very idea of a Library Cafe in the Library serving hot food and coffee. Oh my God! It'll be a Waterstones next!

Emm Lane staff room

Shall we have one of these - or is it too "corporate"?

Sky News on the TV and free coffee and tea all least its not a nursing home lounge.

The London Road

A fairly challenging route to begin with from Hebden Bridge to Stoodley Pike then along the Pennine Bridleway to Mankinholes and pub stop (got one free beer excellent). Over the top again to the reservoir and down to the Hinchcliffe Arms in Cragg Vale and home. About 20 glorious miles no map required just follow the pike. Hard to spot friends Garry and John.

Friday, 10 September 2010

IT Services Newsletter #21

Welcome to the first newsletter of the new academic session – have there really been 21 of these already? Must think of a more imaginative numbering system. There was no newsletter in August however, that doesn’t mean that it was a quiet time for us. On the contrary, it seems to have been one of the busiest years on record with the Student Central preparations for its opening, the launch of a new Finance system, and the business as usual events of A level results and confirmation/clearing. On top of that we had the August Bank Holiday electrical interruption for the new Combined Heat and Power system etc and our IT “at risk” week. As usual, these things are only happen because of the efforts of everyone working together both within IT Services and with others in the University, so I want to thank everyone for what they have done to make all these things a success. Thankyou.


Office Moves and Changes
We have become aware that news of the first phase of office moves in IT Services may not have been distributed to everyone (details deleted)

In addition, the bookable meeting room (via Meeting Maker or LSS Admin) in 01.58 where I was located has already moved to 01.60.
Basically, this set of moves achieves two objectives: the first is to co-locate the infrastructure team and the second is to free up four group study rooms for student use from the start of the academic session. You may also be interested to know that we have agreed for a trial period (up to November 4th) that a space will be re-designated as a communal meeting and relaxation/informal space on level 01 – it is in the un-numbered room. This is a test of viral marketing! We will relocate some existing facilities to see if the room gets used – if it does then it will feed into the thinking of the floor re-development plans. If it doesn’t then it won’t!

Annual Report Metrics
You may be interested in glancing at the metrics that have been put together for this year’s annual report (attached). There has been some useful feedback on how these could be further developed and presented in future years, including developing a longitudinal view over time and also potential to benchmark with other services. However, this is the first time we have gathered some metrics together that we have been collecting anyway over the last year. See what you think and tell us about any other metrics you already collect that might be worth including now or in the future.

IT Support and Telecoms Team

Relocation (and Closure) of Two Student PC Cluster Rooms
We have an agreed strategy to move towards a “zoning” of staff and student occupied space on level 01 JBP. As well as the office moves outlined above, we are also moving student PCs out of the back of level 01 (rooms 01.23 and 01.35) to level 0 refurbished areas and closing the spaces down for student access until the scheme to refurbish level 01 begins. Overall there is no effect on PC capacity or bookable PC capacity in fact we are increasing it (see Sun Ray item below). When students see Student Central it is possible that we will see a very different pattern of student use of space in this part of the JBP building.

Clearing and Enrolment
There was a slightly different feel to this year’s event as a result of the “caps” on student recruitment at Undergraduate (Home/EU) level. Combined with the increase in applications and generally better than expected student A level results it meant that Bradford was in a very good position to fill courses before clearing this time and indeed for the first time I can remember there were a number of courses that did not enter clearing, and by the end of the first two days we were already employing waiting lists. There was lots of interest in foundation level degrees but intake for those had been pegged back so they were full. As you can tell, the whole focus was on the student intake and none of it on the voice or IT technology enabling it. Of course, we dealt with a number of snags over the period and we had key people located in the Richmond base and School rooms as well as the “call centre” throughout. Thank you Roger, Christine and Ray in particular (although lots of others were involved too). The overall operation went extremely smoothly without service interruptions or IT system/voice issues. I worked on confirmation for the first time and it was great to be able to confirm that someone had got a place (truly some of the students were really excited/delighted), but less good speaking to students who hadn’t made the grade and were desperate for a place. It has been a tough year for this intake of students with many missing out – there was anecdotal evidence that we had recruited good quality students and also a trend of more national versus regional intake and particularly from the South of the Country.

IT Services – Service Desk Annual Report
The annual report for has been prepared and published for last academic session 2008/09 and will be posted along with our other annual reports. I think that it speaks for itself – although it is titled service desk it obviously represents the work of all the teams in resolving both requests and incidents that are logged through our single point of contact. We have been talking about how we begin to use the database of information in the RMS logging and tracking system to best effect and that will link with future work in the coming year.

Systems Team

Launch of the E5 Finance System
The major achievement in August was getting to the “point of no return” with a number of major modules in the Finance accounting system and within the agreed launch window in August at the start of the new financial year. This includes purchasing arrangements, general ledger, and basically the core of our non-student financial activity (many of the student aspects were launched earlier in the year). It has been a really big project to undertake with a relatively small team assisted by a number of others in both the systems and infrastructure teams. There is still a huge amount to do, and many things are cropping up as the new system begins rolling out, however, the team are doing a great job to manage the inevitable daily problems as well as continuing to try and develop further features of the system which are due to be launched in the run up to December 2010. Thank you to everyone for making this happen.

Infrastructure Team

Electrical Service Interruption – job done
The August bank holiday weekend power down facilitated the new Combined Heat and Power facility for the University. We have just completed a short lessons learned review to feedback to the project board. Basically there was a significant amount of preparation and planning and we ended up “doing nothing” over the weekend itself. That is how Geoff and team had planned it so the correct answer! The celebration chocolates are well deserved.

Sun Ray Student Cluster
The new 30 seat Sun Ray facility modelled on F42 in Richmond Building will soon be open for business. Located on the learning Mall in Student Central it is smart card controlled for student access whenever the building is open for business. A lot of work has gone into the logistics of furniture, network, printing and other aspects and this has all been co-ordinated by Dougie McHattie. If you’d like to know where it is or would like a brief tour don’t forget that if you visit on Monday (next week) you will be able to get half price teas and coffees all day and FREE WINE after 4pm in the Central Bar and Biko Room on Level 02.