Friday, 30 March 2012

The Transatlantic University Divide

I was really pleased to see this report today, which compares top US and UK Universities in their use of social media. Called The Transatlantic University Divide, it reports that UK Universities score less than half as well as their US counterparts. This is bad news. The good news is that only two UK Universities made it into the Top Ten, Oxford and Sheffield!

We are described in it as "using social media to punch well above our weight".

Our highest score is for "receptiveness", where we came top of the UK Universities, which measures the extent to which we are seen to be listening to comments or conversations.
Our next highest scores are for popularity and interaction where we're third.

Well done everyone who's involved in our social media presence.

One of the reasons suggested for the UK poor performance in general was that US Universities tend to have committed management support and dedicated resources to promoting and using social media, not just a couple of people doing it in their spare time. That's definitely something we've tried to work on recently, and it could be paying off.

The report makes some suggestions about how UK Universities might improve:

Get the basics right- signpost your social media presence clearly
Develop a clear, formal social media strategy with clearly defined objectives, senior management support and a consistent approach
Choose the right channels, what's right for one University may not work for you
Focus on the right things- concentrate on activities that contribute to achieving strategic objectives or giving you a competitive edge
Benchmark and measure, but measure the right things!

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Connecting to the cloud

Am on my way to Norwich as I write this as I'm on an IT strategy review group for UEA. It's not a journey I particularly enjoy, mainly because there's no connectivity, and no power. I spend most train journeys now working on my iPad, dealing with emails, reading papers, writing reports and although a lot can be done off line, as more stuff is moved into the cloud, our infrastructure and connectivity is going to have to get better. It's a discussion I had with the Director of New Services and Products at Google the other night. He was incredulous that there were parts of the UK with no good phone signal, never mind data.

Had a meeting yesterday to review the way our Service Strategy Board is working. It's been going for 18 months so now's a good opportunity. Lots of good ideas for improvement, especially around looking at how we prioritise in the department, a particular problem for non project work.

Then I had a meeting with the Chief Executive of the White Rose Consortium looking at how the three constituent Universities, (Sheffield, York, Leeds) can collaborate and maybe even share services! Some exciting stuff coming up around doctoral training centres, and also our YHMAN Virtual Share Data Centre.

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Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Horses, Researchers and Enterprise Architects

Last night I had my second visit to a Chemistry Club event, networking with peers, CIOs and senior IT staff from public and private sector as well as some suppliers. Very good event again, lots of good contacts made and some interesting discussions. The main speaker was Shailesh Rao, Director of New Products and Services at Google. Not surprisingly he talked a lot about innovation, and how development and implementation of new products and services can be speeded up by making use of cloud based solutions. His view was firmly that this is where the world is going, consumers are already used to working in the cloud, and we will have to accept and embrace it.

Today I've been to a RUGIT meeting, on a gloriously sunny day, so nice I

decided to forego the tube and walk the nearly three miles from my hotel to Imperial College. The last bit was through Hyde Park, and I couldn't believe how many horses I encountered, until I realised that the Household Cavalry were based nearby. I also watched some of them practising, with a lot of press including TV present, presumably for the Queens Jubilee.

This morning at the RUGIT meeting we had a presentation and a discussion with a Professor who is an applied Computer Scientist, about what academic researchers want from an IT department. Suffice to say it was a lively discussion! In summary what they want is:

Lots and lots of storage
Backup and fast recovery
Fast and reliable networks
Wireless everywhere
Compute power of different kinds
Reliable service hosting
Support for any device and operating system
Availability of skilled and helpful staff, preferably known
Ability to use their own community infrastructures and interface them with our systems

That list promoted an interesting discussion along the lines of most of the above were things that as IT Directors we would all want to provide, if we were funded to do so. So, how much of the above were researchers prepared to pay for?
It was pointed out to us that they have alternatives to using our services, as many of us know, and they would use them if they felt we weren't giving them the flexibility they needed. Flexibility was the key, to use what they want, when they want on whatever hardware, OS etc they want. Dialogue and speaking to each other in a common language was important. It was suggested that IT service staff should shadow researchers to see how they work. That seems like a good idea to me, and it should work in reverse as well, the conversation has to be two way. Academics have to understand how we work and the range of services we are supporting and the constraints we have to operate under as well. She did suggest that we should move to more agile and user centic development. And mean it! I strongly agree with that statement.

It was interesting to see how much mass collaboration is going on in research using primarily cloud based and community developed tools. Most of them we hadn't heard of, and it did make us wonder whether we actually know what our researchers are using.

The key point being made was that IT services need to coordinate and support, not try and control.

Second major discussion was on Enterprise Architecture. It is safe to say this is not my strong point and something that I am grateful that I have others who understand it much better than me. We had presentations from Universities who had embraced Enterprise Architecture, employing a Chief IT Architect, an Information Architect and a Data Architect with appropriate policies, standards and procedures and some form of governance such as an Enterprise Architecture Group. We also had a presentation from another University which felt that all of these things got in the way of development, and that although architecture was of course important for reliability etc, it could easily become an end in itself. He made a wonderful comment that in an organisation he had worked in, the Architecture group was the only group less popular than project managers :-).
He proposed that we have more important things to worry about that will have a much bigger impact on our user community than getting the architecture exactly right. I don't think the two sides were really that far apart.

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Monday, 26 March 2012

Learning Technology Blog

Back today, in unseasonably good weather - far too hot to be at work!  Especially too hot to sit for five hours in a rather dark room, looking out to students sitting on the grass in glorious sunshine.  Luckily the five hours were well worth it, discussing the design and accommodation schedule for a proposed new engineering building. Ourselves and colleagues from the Library are involved in the design of the student-led learning space within it. More news as it progresses.

Some of you my already know about this great blog from our Learning Technologies Team - if you don't and you're interested in the use of technology in teaching, it's well worth a read.  Launched at the end of February it's already had thousands of page views, visits from over 40 Universities, and some interesting comments. Great to see the team getting their good work out to a wider audience, and using a blog to do it. There's also a twitter hashtag #cicsltt which you use to find related tweets. Excellent stuff. 

Friday, 16 March 2012

World after Midnight

Great end to the conference with a really good session by Eddie Obeng.
What a performer! He had so much energy, and made it a really interactive session. Most of it was about change, and if you want to know why he thinks we need to change, spare 9 minutes to watch this:

His talk was videoed, and rather than try and summarise it, I'll post a link to it later.

Excellent conference, and now I'm off to Devon for a weeks holiday. See you when I get back!

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Cryer and Clouds

Conference dinner last night, so as usual, a slightly subdued start this morning! After dinner speaker was Barry Cryer, who was very good. Spoke for quite some time, told some great jokes, and managed to get a dig in at many of the people there, including me. Was lucky enough to have a chat with him afterwards, and find out what really happens when they're recording I'm Sorry I haven't a Clue!

First session this morning delivered by Logicalis and was about Cloud, and how it might help us transition to a customer centric experience for students. The technology is there, commercial pressures are there, and now we have the Janet Brokerage to help us procure these services.

Cloud is a mixture of technologies which we need to blend to get a solution that's best for us. Public cloud services are widely used anyway. Private cloud and Hosted cloud solutions are also now mature and need to be considered.

Most young people expect to be able to use technology wherever they are, on whatever device they have, which are increasingly becoming smaller. We need to provide an immersive learning experience. In research, we will have to provide easy access to research resources, again on mobile devices.

Good video here about where the future might be going.

Current way of delivering IT is not sustainable, too controlling. Our approach to the endpoint device that is used to access our services will have to change. We will have no control over it. I think we've already gone down that route. Connectivity is key. Has to be ubiquitous, but high quality and high density. No good having wireless coverage if it doesn't work. Network design is critical to deliver media rich services. Then we have to design services so they can be delivered to any device.

Real requirement for innovation in IT is in risk based security. We have to look at trust mechanisms, methods of authentication and assess risks. Our security gateways will have to change. Again, taking a risk based approach.

So, we need to give a rich experience to our users, to their own devices using risk based security and over ubiquitous high quality networks. To do this, we will have to utilise cloud much more than we are doing now.

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Thursday, 15 March 2012

Value Added Relationships with Suppliers

Next up is a session on Supplier Relationships, Creating Value. A couple of good friends and colleagues, both IT Directors in Universities, presenting.

They interviewed a number of HE IT directors and suppliers to get there views around two key themes, Value and Relationship.
Definition of value has a couple of definitions. Cost, or Quality.

Interesting divergence of views from HEIs and suppliers. Everyone recognised need for good relationships based on trust and sharing of strategic aims. But, neither side felt that we had those relationships in place.

An Ideal relationship would be based on trust and working together, long term, constructive challenges, healthy relationship. Not one size fits all. Needs to be an understanding of goals. Suppliers often feel as though they're being asked to provide a point solution without being asked about the bigger picture, which they could probably help with. We should be looking at partnerships where we define the relationships with our suppliers as to how they help us reach our strategic objectives in either teaching and learning or research.

At the moment there is a mixture of relationships in place, ranging from confrontational, not strategic, sometimes there's no contact unless pain is felt by either side. So, the ideal relationship tends not to exist today.

Biggest issue in supplier relationship management identified by HEIs was around procurement and the lack of understanding of financial constraints we as a sector are under. We also focus on lowest cost rather than best value. Theres also a lack of trust. They don't communicate plans to us,and we don't tell them ours.

The suppliers identified an issue around procurement offices adding cost and conflict. Their overall view is that we have a culture of buying things based on price. They say they can help us add value, but we don't ask.

In summary:
A range of relationships exist today.
The need for change is recognised by both HEIs and suppliers
There's an acceptance that there is a different way to create more value through better relationships
A willingness to change does exist
Clear link between quality of relationship and sustainable value creation
Key factor is "people". It's all about people.

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Student expectations and experience

Second day of UCISA Conference, and it's thick fog. Can't see anything outside bedroom window. There's an eerie hum of cars going slowly on M4, but can't see any of them.

Before the opening speaker we saw a short video of students' experience of using IT, asking them what they owned, what they brought with them, what they thought of what was provided for them. Very illuminating. Lovely quote from one student, "can we send all lecturers on a basic IT course. Sometimes things just aren't plugged in!" We provided some of the footage, and you can see the whole thing here.

Then we had the first speaker, the VC of Buckinghamshire New University and is called "A good student experience in changing times".

First looked at some of the HESA data on student profiles eg 38% of students are 21 or over. 40% of UG students are part time. Not all students are 18 yr olds doing full time UG degree.

We live in changing times. Illustrated by some phrases from Higher Education white paper "putting students in the driving seat", " more competition amongst providers", "Increasing informed student choice leading to improved quality"

But, are expectations going to be dashed?
There's a risk that the focus will be on regulation not students
Choice may be partially illusory. Some students will have little choice eg in geographically location or want to study a particular subject
Not all private providers will choose to be regulated, so there will be institutions outside the sector.
A risk based approach to quality assurance may lose the current positive aspects.
And, the Bill may never happen! Certainly won't happen in original timescale. So, step change as envisaged in the White Paper may never happen, but may instead be incremental.

Students have high expectations.
Student interest has risen up the agenda in all institutions in recent years. Commonplace for students to be involved in quality assurance, student charters increasing as a partnership. Student involvement is now promoted and accepted, but only up to a point.
Expectations getting higher - fees, government policy, NUS campaigns all encouraging students to expect more engagement in the business.
Engagement includes provision of feedback by students which leads to improvements in the learning experience.

How do we make progress?
We need to provide all types of students with a voice and listen to them.
Develop a shard ethos of shared action planning and partnership with students.
A good student experience is defined by the students themselves, and students should contribute to decision making about their learning experience in its broadest sense.

Student involvement is increasingly high priority, leads to innovation, and makes sound business sense.

Student engagement strategy will be different in different institutions. But, we all need a strategy and it has to be appropriate to university's mission. What are the boundaries? They have to be pushed out further than just quality assurance. May be some no-go areas, but has to be tested.

Need to guard against view that there is a universal student. Also, we mustn't view our students only as consumers, they aren't only consumers. Higher education is both transactional and transformational. We need a trusting relationship with them, can be hard if Student Union is campaigning, but if you have a foundation of trust you can talk it through.
Don't assume that a good relationship with students at a senior level permeates at all levels.

What would be the impact of increased student engagement on a sustainable IT service?
Would student involvement put more pressure on the resource base?
Are environmental issues likely to be a high prototype for students?
Does this make us more dependent on having the right people and culture?
Is our mix of skills right to embrace this approach.

Very good talk, and lots of stuff to think about and discuss next time I meet our student officers.

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Wednesday, 14 March 2012

University showcases

Next session is a series of University showcases, where various Universities share some best practice.

First is one "Enhancing the Student Experience", from London South Bank University. They need to attract and retain students, and especially in the new funding regime the student experience is vital. The ICT dept are moving faster, empowering staff, they have control over budgets, faster problem solving, leading to more effective delivery and improved morale in staff.

They implemented student shadowing, spent time with the students, watched what they did, went to classes with them. Rally good for ICT staff to get out there with them. Big cultural change, especially for ICT staff who previously had no contact with students. Really got a feel for what it was like to be a student. This sounds like a good idea to me.

First big project was student enrolment, all now done on-line, before they arrive, takes minutes and used throughout year. Interesting that when they had queues for enrolment they erected circus tents with games in to keep them amused while queuing!

Did a lot of work on progression analysis, a business intelligence application. Retention of students is an issue for them, 40% of students take resits. This tool allows them to see where students are failing, lots of drilling down. Can see why they are failing. Also work on SPOC student points of contact. All buildings have turnstiles, have to touch in and out, and they also measure blackboard log ins. Get alerts if student not turning up regularly.

Lot of work on student portal. Started from scratch 8 months ago and went live in September and adding more services. Has all student info in, very personal. Timetables, coursework tracker, reading lists etc. Have tried to do personal timetables but very difficult because of groups. Where have I heard that before?

Mobile app developed with Ombiel, sounds very like ours, very popular.

They use strategic outsourcing. If they can't do it quickly in house, they outsource it. New opportunities include partnerships with companies such as Pearson and social media providers. Showed example of a course page all based on software based outside the University including slideshare, blogger etc. More and more of this is going to happen. How are IT departments going to deal with it? Very good presentation.

Next session is the University of Leicester about a collaborative development for on line information security awareness training. They had a new is security policy so needed some training to help implement it. Looked around, nothing relevant. No resource to develop in house. So, looked at collaboration. Got interest from York, Leeds, Cranfield and IC. All could find money, but no staff resource. Used company called EPIC as a partner. Needed something that was high quality, delivered though VLE, customisable for different institutions. First they did a proof of concept to see if it could be done, and it if one be viable across the sector. The universities provide the training design and format and EPIC provided the technical design and development expertise.

It was successful, and they now have a product that a general member of staff can complete in 45 minutes and an additional module for research staff of 15 mins. Delivered though Moodle and Blackboard and to iPads, it also tracks completion. It is customisable and has a wider application in the sector and is being marketed via Epic. We saw a demo of it, and it looks good. Given the ICO's interest in data security training, this is maybe something we should look at?

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From Technology to Information

At the UCISA Management Conference at the moment at Celtic Manor. Very nice venue in Newport, built by Sir Terry Matthews, billionaire, and founder of MiTel. Hopefully will blog a number of sessions, but they will probably be in note form.

Conference starts with everyone standing for a minute's silence for Amber Miro, a good friend and colleague and member of the Executive Committee who very sadly died last week. She will be missed very much.

The opening session was from Gwyn Thomas, Chief Information Officer for Wales, working for the Welsh Assembly. His title was from Technology to Information. He's working on a strategy of critical mass, not consensus. Its important to first build the social architecture on which the technology architecture will rest.

Main drivers for his public sector ICT initiative are politics of devolution, (collaboration and cooperation) and the economy, a time of austerity. In technology terms, we're in a time of rapid change and consumerisation and consumer expectations are rising. IT can be seen as either enabling, or a cost and a burden.

Obviously, as we're in Wales he then used the Welsh Rugby team as a metaphor for what they're trying to do|

Coming together of team spirit:
Needs a strong policy and direction from government. Digital Wales is the overarching policy bringing everything together.

Getting organised:
Are National ICT strategies eg Informing Healthcare and Public ICT strategy. Technical strategies are critical to getting themselves organised collectively. Policies are written collectively and are used to engage with people. They hold events at which the audience can moan, criticise them etc, but they have to improve the policy.

They have the CIO Council for Wales at which all public sector groups are represented eg Local Authorities, Universities, Healthcare. The Group owns the policy and strategy but not the implementation. CIO delivery group does that. This separation works.
Then they have the Public Sector Design Authority who are the National Technical experts.

Facing up to adversity
Trouble with adversity is there's a lot of it about:
Improvements in public services are critical on ICT
But level of investment in public sector has gone down.
No collective understanding of spend.
Many hundreds of local systems.
Difficult to share information across sectors.
Some good people, but low critical mass of critical skills.
Some national infrastructure.
Some local pockets of excellence and innovation.

Gathering pace:
Different principles have been agreed for national, regional and local implementations:
In common by design. Eg broadband network
In common by agreement Eg data centre rationalisation
Locally by agreement. Eg new ideas
Early success is Public sector broadband aggregation.

Now looking at global solutions and implementations and engaging with private sector. They've had a number of half day design sessions with likes of Apple, Google, BT, CISCO, Microsoft etc. Some things learned from them:
Joining up of the public sector in the way Wales are trying to do it seems to be unique.
Private sector sees investment in ICT as a way to cut costs.
Theres not much capital around so the tend is to move to , pay as you go charges, revenue based funding.
Pace of technological change is going to get even faster
That have some of the answers, but not all
Desktops are dead
Mobile devices are exploding
We are moving away from the institution to person based services.

Some issues around pace of change, and difficulties of doing anything nationally:
In less time than it's taken Wales to get 70k people on a common national email system, Google reached 100,000,000 on Gmail.
When they looked for data centre rationalisation, local organisations were building them faster than they could count them nationally.

Their strategy is service transformation through innovation and empowerment; engagement and move to self service; technology as an enabler of change; locally realised benefits.

They are changing their ICT investment portfolio to have more high risk and high potential return projects.

The ICT "invest to save" iceberg. Sometimes quoted that if costs £7 to do a service face to face, it will cost £2 if done through a phone app, and 32p if on the web. But, all that infrastructure underneath, costs.

Typically the public sector spends 3% of its budget on IT. Spending 3% to help the other 97% work more efficicnetly would seem to be good value for money.

Moving to public cloud would reduce public sector costs, but they have an issue with security. General view that everything needs to be "military strength" secure. This needs challenging.

Networks, devices and applications are moving into the cloud and this will continue. The ICT department of the future will be different to now. There will be little infrastructure to manage. There will be specialist application development. Technical governance and design will be important. Collaborative ways of working will be critical.

We are moving from systems to services.
And from ICT to support organisations, to ICT to support people.

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Tuesday, 13 March 2012

SSB and Pavement blasting

Main meeting yesterday was Service Strategy Board where we had an initial discussion about how it had been going, and whether we needed to make any changes. General consensus that we are all much better informed than we were before - we see a monthly report from all active projects, as well as a highlight report from each service manger which covers everything happening in their area, not just projects. We do need to take a look at how we better prioritise between different workstreams, and how we ensure that when we do prioritise, things actually get done. There's also an issue we think of people bringing things to SSB when they could do more preparatory work and bring suggestions, not problems. But in general, very positive. In the main business of the meeting we considered all of the project and service managers reports. We also approved a new project - a programme management system to store all information relating to UG and PGT academic programmes, to give a single definitive version of all this information which can be easily accessed by all staff in the format that they require for both external and internal purposes. A major development, and one that will have to go through  LEAN  before we start to make sure we get the process right.
And now for something completely different....On Sunday, on the way back from the pub quiz,we noticed something that I thought had been etched or painted on the pavement:

Not a brilliant picture, but it was dark and I only had my phone. It says:
Further down the road we caught up the the guys doing it, from Green Street Media, by putting a stencil on the floor, and blasting it with a small amount of high pressure water.  You can just about make out the stencil here:

Great idea, very environmentally friendly, and very effective.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Where's my printer gone?

Today I lost my printer. Somewhat careless you might think. Actually, it was ceremoniously removed from my office, as part of a move to a more sustainable printing system we're implementing. Before it went I had to set up a new printer queue, which was as easy as clicking on a link. Even I managed it with little supervision.  Now I can print to any printer, and release my job by swiping my uCard. This means that I can be sure confidential things aren't printed to an open printer. It also means that I don't actually have to release things that I've printed by mistake, so it should reduce waste. Actually, I hardly print anything anyway, preferring everything to be available on my iPad, so I don't think it will inconvenience me at all, and will in fact be better, given that I've now got access to much better printers. So, although this particularly unflattering photo might make it look as though I was hanging onto it, I'm not really at all sorry to see it go. I'm not sure Ian's ever had that response before when removing a printer! Probably a good candidate for a caption competition.

We're aiming to reduce the number of printers in the department from 33 to 17 - it would be fewer, but we're on 7 different sites. Once we're happy with the proof of concept we're carrying out here in CiCS, we'll start piloting it and rolling it out across the University. It will have major benefits both in reduction of waste, and providing an improved service for staff.

Last week I mentioned that we'd got exceptionally good results in the student barometer survey, and today we have our own press release. Not sure about the stock photo though :-)

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Shared Services at the Conservatoire

Today I spent the morning at the Leeds College of Music, talking to the Executive Management Board of Yorkshire Universities about Shared Services. The college is a lovely building - it has a superb performance auditorium with some beautiful Steinway pianos. The college also has Apple accredited training status, so that every student who goes through the conservatoire not only has a music education but a digital one as well. Very nice venue.

So, what did I say about Shared Services? Well, that it's not anything new to us - we've been doing it for years with JANET, UCAS, etc, but we've just not called it shared services. Now there's a big drive to increase the amount we do - for reasons of economies of scale, efficiency, cost avoidance, improved service, resilience and shared or reduced risk.

The Diamond report highlighted the need for sharing and collaborating, but emphasised that  simplification and standardisation was a real pre-requisite, and would in itself lead to real efficiencies. Something we're trying to achieve with our LEAN implementation.

A commonly identified barrier to shared services is competitiveness, but there are many good examples of shared services in other sectors where there is real competition. The Justgiving website in the charity sector, and the Amadeus airline booking system in the private sector being two good examples. You have to look for a common function which has no competitive edge to it.
 It's also important to go down a level from the whole system. Don't look to share a finance system for example but a transaction such as invoice processing.

A couple of other important things - know your numbers. Know how much things cost, or how can you make decisions.  And most important of all - don't outsource a problem - fix it first!
After I'd done my bit there was a presentation of a real live shared service - the YHMAN Shared Virtual Data Centre, which we're part of. I think that might be worth a separate post - will work on it!

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Best in the world - almost.

Today I was at a University Executive Awayday. Discussing planning, we focused on barriers to achieving the University Strategic plan. Very interesting, and a number of common themes. Some of the things of interest to me included complexity of processes, the need to simplify and understand data flows in the student, teaching and learning systems, research data storage and our interaction and alignment with the Faculties. Lots to talk about on all of them, and all being addressed.

We also discussed a review we'll be starting soon of our Student Information System - we implemented it some time ago and the time is right to look at the future development of it, and whether we should be looking at a package, or another solution - best of breed modules or a shared service development for example. I did try and get them to agree that any implementation of a new system would be after I retired, but they didn't seem too keen on the idea!

Finally -  a piece of really good news. The University commissions iGraduate to carry out a student and international student barometer, where the results get compared against other Universities across the world so some form of benchmarking can take place.  Yesterday the results from the Autumn 2011 survey were fed back

The headlines were;

For the student barometer CiCS scored 96.2% satisfaction, which means we were ranked as number 1 IT dept (in terms of student satisfaction) in the Russell Group and the UK.
In the international student barometer CiCS scored 96.1% satisfaction, which means we were ranked as number 2  in the world, and number 1 in the UK.
Not bad eh??  Well done to everyone - a fantastic result.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

You put your whole self in...

Still busy at the moment with the Planning Round - the annual exercise where we all set out our targets and strategies..  I posted last week that we had draft planning statement, which sits above our operational plans, and that we would be taking it out to the five faculties so that we can make sure we're responding to what they want to do, and that they're aware of ours. We've had three meetings so far, two more to go next week, then we can work on the final plan. Alongside this we're working on our financial forecasts for next year and our projected out-turn for this.  It's certainly keeping us busy!

Today I had an interesting discussion about our departmental use of social media. We have a Twitter account and a Facebook page, which are both becoming increasingly popular, and we're obviously reviewing and learning from what we do. Today we were chatting about how we capture faults, problems, issues etc reported though social media so that we don't lose the information, and it's included in our logging and reporting mechanisms. We also talked about how to balance the informative nature of our tweets, ie communicating with our customers, and the internal "chat" that sometimes happens. I think sometimes people forget that @CiCS is actually a person, and not a generic account! 

Finally, tonight I walked back from  meeting to my office, to find a coupe of hundred students doing the Okey-Kokey (is that how you spell it?) on the concourse - presumably to celebrate the end of the elections for the new student sabbatical officers. It was a great sight!