Thursday, 18 October 2007

UCISA Executive Committee

In April 2006 I was elected to the Executive Committee of UCISA - the Universities and Colleges Information Systems Association. This is a body which represents almost all UK Universities and University Colleges, and has a growing membership in the FE Sector. I'll post more about what it does later, but its main aims are to identify and promote best practice, and to inform and support policy and decision making processes concerning information systems and services.

Earlier this year I was privileged to be appointed Vice Chair, and today I've been to a meeting of the Annual Conference Organising Committee, and the Executive Committee.

The Conference Committee is planning the Management Conference to be held in March 2008 in Glasgow - arranging a programme, booking speakers, discussing who'd make a good after dinner speaker (an important decision because as Vice Chair I'll help host them!), making sure the delegates are all well looked after. Social events have to be organised, as well as a major suppliers exhibition. I'm full of admiration for the team who pull it all together. I'm looking forward to it as always, but slightly nervous about the venue, as last time it was in Glasgow, a certain CiCS Assistant Director managed to get 3 of us locked in Glasgow University grounds late one night and we had to climb over a wrought-iron fence to get out. Not at all elegant!

The Executive Committee has a varied agenda - we try to cover number of strategic issues before looking at our "normal" business - reports from sub groups etc. Today we talked about implementing ITIL. ITIL is a set of service standards designed to improve the quality of customer service in IT Departments. It focusses on areas such as the HelpDesk and the roll-out of new services. It's something I've been interested in doing in Sheffield for some time, and now that we have our new structure it seems an ideal time to begin. More on this later.....

Other areas we discussed were relationships with software suppliers, strategies for deploying and supporting Microsoft Vista, and HAERVI. Although pronounced Harvey, this has nothing to do with white rabbits (sorry, those younger than me may not get that reference), but is to do with access to electronic resources by students and academics who visit other institutions.

As more and more library materials are held electronically, it's only possible to get access to them at another institution if you have a computer account there. As nasty IT Directors like myself are usually unwilling to give them out to anyone not from our University, this can cause problems. This project set out to see if there were any mechanisms which could be put in place to solve these issues. The final report has just been published and an action plan drawn up.

The final item on the agenda was the annual swapping of mobile phone numbers, flight numbers and hotel details, as most of us set off to the Educause conference in the next couple of days. With 6500 delegates and 1500 exhibitors it can be very difficult to find each other!

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