Well I'm back - had a great week off in Center Parcs. Tried my hand (and glove) at Falconry, and flew a Golden Eagle called Shadow - she flew fast and weighed over 10lbs, and had rather an evil look to her - especially when she couldn't get the food out of my hand because I was hanging onto it too tightly!
And now it's back to work... A day of meetings and catching up. I chaired our Portal Application group, where we discussed the future development of our staff and student portals. We've invested a lot of resource into ensuring that all of our systems are web based and available through the portal, but the user experience is still different according to what system you go into. So, to approve expenses you go into SAP through the portal, but it's a completely different interface to going into our eLearning environment to do something, or into the student system to look up a record. This doesn't cause too much of a problem for "power users", but is a real problem for infrequent users. As we are often told, no-one needs training to do their on-line shopping, so why do they need training to order stationery? Our strategy now is to take bits of functionality out of the systems and make them directly accessible through the portal via a common, user friendly interface. So you will not have to go into the big systems to perform routine tasks, and all of the screens will have the same look and feel. This will also make things easier for access through mobile and other devices. When we've worked out how to do it, I'll let you know.