Lead by Project Manager, Adrian Bryant, this week’s meeting was a positive overview of how well the project is progressing as we draw closer to the first ‘go-live’ date.
There has been a lot of resource planning and baselining across streams, making sure that there are enough staff in place when they are needed also that there are enough for the lifespan of each work stream.
Testing ahead of Admissions ‘go-live’ has been going well so far, a lot of issues have been ironed out already and this phase almost completed.
Working closely with Edge on the test strategy, this is going well so far with the test strategy and process on Version 0.5.
There are a number of new members of the team who have or about to join in the coming weeks –
Robert Sprigens (PMO Analyst)
Simon Bedford – Robertson (IT BA)
Lorraine Doyle (Test Manager)
Kirstie Hanney (Project Manager)
Bear Shaw (Business Change Manager)
Now and Next
Working hard at trying to bring everyone to the same technical knowledge level. This involves educating both existing staff members and the many new ones joining in the coming weeks and months.
Coming up, there will be a few training dates prior to the go-live of admissions.
The general consensus at this stage was positive, we are very much on target for go-live of admissions with everything heading in the right direction. With the continued hard work from the team we should see everything moving towards where we want it.
The main points covered in this weeks meeting were that we are in the build up to the testing stage of the Admissions system, with preparations underway ahead of this. Admissions training sessions are now in the calendar, so we are looking to creating a communication to send to Academics within the next couple of weeks. This is so that they can be reached ahead of them breaking up for summer and can be ready for the launch in October.
Now & next
Shortly we will be welcoming a new Business Change Manager, Bear Shaw, who has broad experience of working in the role within various industries. He will be visiting the department over summer ahead of his start date.
This week’s meeting covered various updates and progressions in the project.
We should expect an internal audit in the near future. This is something which all universities experience, due to the size of the project we should expect 3 or 4 with this being the 2nd.
Interviews for a replacement Business Change Manager are on Friday 23rd of June.
The road show is under way, representatives from the project are visiting each of the colleges at various meetings in order to communicate with academics about the project. With this the visual comms material has been approved, see below for examples.
Now & Next
The High Level Plan has now been approved, with some details able to change if problems are noticed. This will now be used to plan resources.
It is looking like a yes to implement the Student Accounting Module but on a slower timescale so as to avoid a ‘Big Bang’ effect. This of course will involve a significant expansion of the project.
Covered in this week’s meeting were some general points about the project branding and how it should be implemented across any comms material created for the project. There was mention of the project website and that it has recently been completely updated with some restructuring.
Among other achievements, he success of the newly formed rapid decision making group was fed back to the team. Also that the high level plan had been completed. Looking forward, we’re expecting to see a lot more communications through poster campaigns, workshops and college roadshows.
A couple of additional things that came up were that:
The Senior User for Admissions, Gemma Prichard, confirmed that the technical specification and Admissions Reporting requirements would be signed off this week. Once signed off no additional changes can be made as this would cause significant delay and risk to the project.
The Work Stream Lead for fees and funding, John Burgess, reported that they had had a very useful site visit to Bath University to look at their use of the system.
Meeting at 11am every Tuesday for a short and concise meeting of updates to the SSR project; this week’s meeting, led by Adrian Bryant, saw us covering a few key points and sharing what we have all been working on.
Having noted early on in the project that people felt communication was an issue, measures have been taken to improve upon this. As part of the weekly project team meeting, we will be doing ‘stand-ups’ at the end which allow each team member to quickly share what we’re doing now & next and any issues we have. In addition to this we will be making use of whiteboards at designated areas throughout the building which will be updated with information for people to see when staff members aren’t available.
The Project Team now have a dedicated workspace on the 5th floor at HH where colleagues can drop into if they want more information.
The high-level plan is on its way, with only some minor details to tweak it should be ready to communicate shortly.
Sadly we will see two highly-regarded team members leaving in the coming weeks, Alix Barker and Mandeep Mudhar. We wish them the very best of luck in their future roles.
Now and Next
We briefly touched on some overall achievements and what to expect next from the project.
Finally, we went over some of the key dates coming up to keep note of in your diaries.
Next week’s team meeting will be led by Alix Barker with a focus on the communication aspect of the project. As always, more detailed info on all aspects of the project can be found on the webpage.
With the Admissions stage of the project going live fast approaching, we thought it a good time to gain new insights into the project nearly a year on from our last ‘Stakeholder stories’ interviews. We spoke to 4 members of the Project Team, each with differing involvement and backgrounds to the project which they all told us about in a bit more detail.
Anne Sidney, Admissions Work stream Lead (Deputy Head of University Admissions Home/EU)
With years of experience working in HE and a subject expert, Anne tells us what it has been like to lay the foundations on such an ambitious project.
Tudo Scheibner, Strand Lead for Design Configuration and Transition, Senior User (Head of Student Systems and Records)
Working day-to-day on the smooth running and upkeep of the existing systems, he tells us about the challenges of implementing a new system whilst maintaining the old one.
Adrian Bryant, Programme Manager
Having joined the project as Programme Manager only two months ago, Adrian is still relatively new. However, with circa 5 years’ experience working in Higher Education on similar Student System Replacement Projects and culture changes, he has just the right knowledge and skills needed to manage this programme.
Peter Watson, Project Sponsor
Peter Watson tells us about what it has been like to run such a large scale project and how important it is to him to make sure everything runs on time.
The most recent Project Board took place on April 20th where a full and frank debate took place on a number of key issues, leading to ratification of some key decisions. Below are some of the key headlines. We will be writing a similar post after each Project Board so please keep checking back for regular updates.
Due to some delays experienced in setting up our technical environments and kicking off Admissions, alongside budget overspend the project is at Amber status. Plans are in place to mitigate against further delays. During this board meeting many valid points were raised and many useful solutions discussed.
The key dates and milestones for Admissions were discussed and although challenging they are still achievable. The senior user, work stream lead and subject matter experts were thanked for all their hard work in this demanding environment.
Concerns were raised about the concurrence of the roll out of the new system for Admissions with an extremely busy period for the University, meaning it would be difficult for users to find time to become familiar and confident using the new system. As a solution to this a transition plan is being developed to help ease users into using SITS during this period.
A discussion paper was presented and debated as to the format of student ID’s in the new system and how this new format would be transitioned to. A numeric format was agreed to and further investigation will be undertaken to assess how best to facilitate the transition, with the lowest impact on students.
So far academic representation / engagement at workshops has been challenging. The Project Team are working to resolve this by setting up an Academic Champion group who will act as a key consultation and engagement group prior to going out to a wider group. Each College has been asked to nominate three colleagues to join this forum.
Discussions were had about the possibility of nominating members to form a rapid decision making group, to make key decisions quicker in order to keep up project momentum. The group would then cascade to their team and any issues could be fed back to them swiftly for reassessment. This proposal was approved and will now be worked into the governance structure of the project.
Despite the delays and challenges faced at times, and which should be expected on such a complex project, the project is still headed in a positive direction. We have made good progress with Tribal and their deliverables to date have been of a high standard and quality.
Following on from the recent Project Board on April 20th, the SSR project officially has a recognisable brand identity which will be used across all comms material put out within the University over the lifecycle of the project. With the project spanning a relatively long period of time we thought it vital that there will be a strong and consistently recognisable identity throughout this time.
The idea behind the branding concept is to feature visual and conceptual progressions (evolution) of a visual element, as we reveal further stages of the SITS product the visual element evolves and progresses with us. This is being illustrated through a geometric element which evolves at each stage of the project representing our evolution of product, process and culture.
We’re very pleased with the outcome and look forward to rolling it out as we communicate more and more about the project with everyone.
The design team have created a set of branded templates for presentations and reports etc. which we will link on the main SSR webpages for you to download and use.
As some of you may be aware, we have reviewed and revised the Governance structure for the SSR Project. We thought it important to ensure we have board membership reflective of the Project requirements for this stage of the project, as we move from procurement and into implementation.
The first board meeting with the new membership was held on 2nd February, with the next meeting to be held on 20th April.
We’ve created a helpful diagram which should illustrate the new structure:
In addition to this, we now have a new programme manager for NGSS, Adrian Bryant who joined us last week. Adrian comes from Imperial where he was responsible for a similar system implementation.
Within the main SSR webpage, we’ve included a section which lists all of the Project team members and board members along with their contact details.
We see it as vital to deliver accurate, consistent and timely information about the project to both staff and students and so have developed a communication strategy to do so. This was approved in the February board meeting which coincides with the rolling out of the implementation stage of the project.
The strategy intends to interact through a variety of communication methods; from roadshows and workshops, to posters, webpages and newsletters, so that all audiences are reached. Further to this, we will be seeking feedback throughout the project to ensure continuous improvement and an agile approach – we want staff and students be involved and for the project to be transparent.
To support this important work Angus Robertson joined the team as Communications Officer in March, he will be reporting to Alix Barker.
With this all in mind, please keep checking the webpage and this blog, along with emails for all updates on the project. We will also be hosting a number of roadshows and workshops as face-to-face involvement is so important to this project and its success.