Monday, 1 July 2013

Working together

One of the most important aspects to delivering good services is collaboration and teamwork - we couldn't do our jobs without it. It's not just teamwork within CiCS, but across all of the departments we work with.  Most of the time everything works well, but very occasionally relationships breakdown, different cultures collide or communication fails. So, you have to keep working at it, and we've got some great initiatives being implemented or piloted. The Sheffield Leader programme is management development which brings cohorts of staff together from across the institution. In some of the levels staff work on projects together and I'm really pleased that one of the projects which included a member of our staff has received funding from the Leadership Foundation - there's a great article about it here, as well of some great pictures of Janine. The project has been looking at how academic and professional service staff can understand each other better.

Carrying on with that idea, we've been piloting a work shadowing scheme with 10 staff from CiCS and the Faculty of Arts shadowing each other. Today we had a "Meet the Department" session which brought together a mixture of staff from the Faculty of Arts and CiCS. We did a few presentations - starting with an introduction to the department and who we are, where we are and what we do, followed by a great session on "The Hidden World of Infrastructure". A difficult subject to get across to non technical people, but important that the complexity of what we do is understood. Some great fact and figures - we have about 43,000 devices connected to our wired network, and in the last year we've had 100,000 unique wireless devices connect. That's at least 2 per registered user. The extent of our server virtualisation is quite impressive - 7 years ago we had 100 physical servers, each running a service. Now we have 800 services running on 10 physical servers. Soon that will be reduced to 2. It was brought home to me when I went on one of our lunchtime tours of the data centre, (which proved very popular), as I'm not normally allowed down there (I have an urge to fiddle with things....) and I saw all of the empty racks!

Other talks included one on shared service development which explained the collaborative way we run projects and develop new services, and one on incident management and business continuity. Two important messages to come out of this one- Don't Panic and Call Control, and Don't let your pants cause a power cut.   Finally we had a presentation how we support learning and teaching technologies - everything from providing and managing 1700 open access PCs, helping to run the Information commons, providing AV services, lecture capture facilities, supporting the VLE and providing creative media facilities for students. During the day we had opportunities for staff to network, and overall it was  a very good event, and we hope to do it again, either to other specific faculties or as an open event. 

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