Tag Archives: JISC

#UCISA12 UCISA Management Conference Day 2 Part 2

A day in the life of the UCISA Exec, Peter Tinson/UCISA

UCISA has 2 main strategic aims: identify & disseminate best practice; inform & support policy making processes. Sounds good to me ūüėÉ

Towards a new JISC, Tim Marshall/CEO, JANET

Because Martyn Harrow, JISC Secretary, was at an important meeting about the future of JISC…

Unprecedented times! Because usually, times are precedented…things are changing, plus ca change. The Russell Group are letting more people in – a sign of the end of days?

UCISA are key players/very important to JISC.

JANET: wholly owned subsidiary of new JISC holding company; retain universal network principle (look at the outcomes not the way you do it).

Shouldn’t be the funders setting the JANET SLA, should be the customers – challenge of managing the stakeholder relationships.

2 + 2 = 5: passionate about the power of synergy.

So: JISC separate legal entity by 1st August; owned by key community representative bodies(UUK; Guild HE; FE?) holding company with 2 subsidiaries incorporating current 4, covering Infrastructure & Content; review of all activities leading to new strategy within 6 months; funded by combination of grant aid & subs; deliver cost savings in line with Wilson Report.

So : high level strategy – May; business review June/July; new legal entity August. The train is leaving the station.





JISC/LFHE Strategic ICT Toolkit Closedown Meeting

To the University of Nottingham for the final meeting for the project team – JISC/LFHE/JISCInfonet – & institutions who have participated in the SICT field test projects. Taxi ride from Nottingham station taking in a firebombed police station – not something you see everyday. Possibly a more than usually garbled commentary, but it was a very worthwhile initiative so I feel the need to get something down.

First session of the day was for each institution to do a Pecha Kucha presentation on their project. The following are a few interesting bits & pieces I picked up…

Bruce Levitan/Manchester Metropolitan University raised the interesting issue of the impenetrability of Enterprise Architecture for those from a non-technical background. Good point, although my experience suggests that as usually presented those from a technical background don’t necessarily find it any easier. Also see my closing comments. Anyroad, he suggested that some more engaging way of presenting EA was needed, & showed part of what looked like a very good Gartner EA animation. Which took me back to illustrating SOA/EA to LJMU management using the JISC SOA animation, & discussions in the EA Practice Group & beyond about how great it would be to have something for EA. Well, it still would.

Ian Hall/York had approached the project through the interesting mechanism of 1:1 interviews with senior managers using the toolkit. Comments: again, EA could be off putting, & not necessarily necessary/essential? Outcome – look into it. Equally, Shared services seen as a means to an end rather than necessarily a dimension on their own. Highlighted need to work on communications! & Information Governance. Started thought process. Will run again.

City of Glasgow College. Difficult to get off the ground but got conversations going. Separate toolkit for FE? EA awareness only with technical staff.

Middlesex. Academic view. Challenged dimensions ie not the ones they thought were relevant eg discarded shared services. Communications! Toolkit – jargon; limitations in spreadsheet; duplication, poor flow of questions. First real attempt at measuring ICT provision. Need to collect data over time – longitudinal.

& then things become rather more garbled than usual as it was my go & I suffered Powerpoint meltdown. My attempt at setting up a timed presentation for my Pecha Kucha (I can’t help thinking of gutta percha…) had resulted in an 0.06 second transition time between slides, which even my fast talking couldn’t keep up with. Attempts to fix it while continuing the presentation failed miserably, so I had to take time out – hence my recollection of other Pecha Kuchas is limited as I was labouring over a hot laptop, thanks for the loan, Lesley Huxley.

Clearly my new ‘zero or one’ strategy for slides is right for me – should never have gone for gutta percha.

So all I can say of the rest is: Coventry – Academic leaning, challenged the premises. Loughborough – scored Strategic! & devised their own simplified version. Bolton used it to support bringing in a Governance structure. & if I’ve missed you out completely whilst I was floundering around, apologies…

Next session: breakout to brainstorm around our projects. Lot of interesting stuff – particularly discussion around whether or not Shared Services should be a dimension, & the tension between generic/persistent dimensions – leadership, communications – & dimensions that may be time-limited eg if you did the exercise 5 years ago, or 5 years in the future, would EA & Shared Services appear? Emphasised the importance of focusing on the objective not the means ie an institution wants effective/efficient services; Shared Services may present a way of achieving these; an institution needs to understand the relationships between it’s people, processes & systems; EA is a way of articulating this. If you don’t go with Shared Services or EA it doesn’t mean you don’t need efficient/effective services or to understand relationships.

Also interesting discussion about how projects get prioritised/get senior managemnt backing, & where innovation fits into this. General rule:

Followed by a video conference session with Alex Hawker talking about the new Strategic Information Practice Group initiative, which will take on & progress the work of the EAPG and SICT, & the JISC call 11/11 for Transformation projects which will engage with these & other JISC-supported tools to deliver organisational change – very useful.

& lastly that I’m going to comment on, Lesley Huxley from the LFHE gave a rundown of how they might incorporate the SICT in their work, & led a very useful discussion around how it could be used in management development. One very straightforward idea: Senior management teams should be knowledgeable about the capability of ICT & what it can do for their business. They really should. Seriously. They should all be type 42s. They bang on all the time about the need to work smarter not harder, to be online, to engage with the digital natives – so plainly at the capability level they need to know about this stuff. So use the ICT Toolkit to find out if they do…

Also interesting discussion about how projects get prioritised/get senior managemnt backing, & where innovation fits into this. General rule: cheaper & better; can also go with better & the same; cheaper & the same; & sometimes even cheaper & worse, if a service is necessary but only needs to work rather than add value. Then raises the question: what about innovation? New things that by definition can’t be cheaper or better because they don’t exist. Suggested that innovation could be another SICT dimension.

Final comments:

– there was a lot of discussion around whether EA & Shared Services were really important strategic dimensions. I think the problem’s with the language. Using these terms can ghettoise them – they become magical technical things that can be put over there with the magical technical people – if you talk about services, which might be shared, or understanding relationships, which can be done with EA, you’re in a different ball game with a chance of winning.
– there still seems to be a lot of obfuscation around EA. EA is like Project Management – it’s just organised common sense. It’s not that complicated; it’s not as complicated as the experts make it seem; bring on the animation!
– Hell yes, JFDI

Shared Services, the Cloud, the Future?

UCISA Shared Services Manager’s Forum in Birmingham today – & curiously apt timing given HEFCE’s Shared services in cloud computing funding announcement yesterday – http://www.hefce.ac.uk/news/hefce/2011/cloud.htm.

HEFCE announcement now lets the cat out of the bag about a lot of stuff that the JISC Flexible Services Delivery Programme Steering Group – & others – have been discussing for some time but not out in the open. Mostly what was expected – Data Centres & HE Cloud with JANET & Eduserv, Research Data Management, procurement services for admin apps – but good to see the Digital Curation Centre in there. Also good that secure electronic documents/the Higher Education Achievement Record (HEAR) has made it in.

So looks like a very positive move, although introduces a bit of a planning conundrum for institutions – if, say, you were planning on developing the HEAR in-house, do the plans now change? Should you wait for a shared service offering? Who, what, how, when, where? Needs a bit more detail, & needs it now – hopefully this will all become clearer soon…

JISC-CETIS Conference 2010


Fantastic setting in Nottingham – beautiful sunny day helps – lakes, ducks, futuristic looking buildings. & a conference opened by an avatar. Hmmm.

Great idea for breakouts – give presenters 2 minute pitch to sell their sessions – idea for UCISA, CISG or Management conferences.

Usual disconnected & truncated commentary.

Anya Kamenetz. DIY U – the Transformation of HE. Comparing HE to a string quartet; you can’t cut anything out; you can’t go faster; what can you do? Theme very similar to the great animation ‘Where Good Ideas Come From’ by Steven Johnson¬†– all about connectivity. Seemed good at the time but bit of a rollercoaster to nowhere – but then, rollercoasters always go nowhere, it’s the ride that counts.

Discussion into – is University good for everyone? Is University about getting a job? Is the role of University to create useful members of society (by what definition?) with superior earning power?…

Subverting Corporate Systems. Sharepoint? De facto standard? Got it, why not use it…the elephant in the room.

Hugh Davis/Southampton using Sharepoint as general collaboration tool. Transferring building funds to collaborative/innovative ways of working. Single collaborative space for staff – service aggregation mechanism. Really a kind of EA presentation, without calling it that. Looking at Live@Edu. Looking at organizing a Rich Learning Environment for staff in Sharepoint. Agile development – new & as opposed to massively bureaucratic PRINCE2 approach, although conceded that PRINCE2 doesn’t have to be like that. Prototypes to see if everything can be run through Sharepoint. Plymouth – implemented most ‘used’ functions of a VLE on Sharepoint. Southampton – do we need a VLE? Looking at Sharepoint, not other VLEs – if need a VLE, will stick with Bb. Have got rid of all the committees & replaced with advisory groups that advise PVCs who make the decisions – sounds very familiar. 360deg view of student. None of this sounds at all subversive to me…

Jim Everett/Strathclyde. Lot of reviews to create standard processes, single sources of truth, efficiency & effectiveness etc…current review on course & class approval & review process. Process modelling approach – BPMN, plenty of boxes & arrows. & another EA presentation – but talking about systems, not services; Sharepoint as presentation layer. The problem lies with compliance, not with systems – useful, usable, & used. Putting information in on time, complete, and compliant with requirements; getting access as/when needed. Interesting reference to the difficulty experienced in even talking about this stuff – the importance of conversation again, who you can talk to, & about what. Difficulty getting people to see the big picture – I’m getting this awful sense of deja vu.

If common sense is subversive, then this is subversion – so maybe in an HE context, it often is.

Sam Rowley/Staffordshire. Usual stuff – frankly, EA, not Sharepoint, is the elephant in the room. But then it’s out! & roaming free; not just EA, but also Programme Management. Just need to chuck Governance in & we’ll have the set…although a bit of ITIL & service design wouldn’t go amiss.

Mark Stubbs/MMU. The reason for getting a VLE is to clean up the SRS – as good a reason as any? Simplifying curriculum; standardizing processes. Everything rewritten by September 2011. Employability built into the curriculum – must identify graduate outcomes. Must find another way of saying deja vu. Not about Sharepoint – about getting the point of sharing: spot on! Build buy in, prototype, EA, prove value – get sense that we may all be separately reinventing the wheel, needs pulling together, maybe this event is where it happens. Sharepoint: driving service feeds.

It’s not the strategy, it’s the delivery that counts.

JISC Enterprise Architecture Practice Group Workshop – June 21st – EA Impact

Beautiful longest day of the year & travelling down to Birmingham for the latest in the EA series. 2-day event, sadly I can only make the first day which means early start & late finish, so longest day may be right.

Good turnout again & some new faces/attendees, from Manchester County Council, Cranfield Business School, University College Falmouth, the Bloomsbury group of institutions/Media Cloud project, & the LFHE SICT project, amongst others.

Session 1 – Big Picture & Discussion

Introduction from David Rose included reference to the ‘6 E’s’ – what we’re trying to achieve is Efficiency, Effectiveness & Enablement for the Enterprise, Education & External Stakeholders – fits very well with our ‘4 P’s’ approach – Problem, Project & Programme-based Pragmatic EA.

Committed a crime against EA in my presentation – referenced new CIO from the ‘business-side’ & ‘ICT function aligned with the business’ – when of course there are no sides, & must think of another way to describe ‘aligning the business with ICT’ when the business is ICT, & ICT is the business.¬†Reemphasised, however, the importance of the conversation, & the impact of culture & context on the conversations it is possible to have. Also here ‘referenced Kamala Velayutham from JISC-CETIS’s blog where she discusses EA with Mark Blowers of Ovum-Butler Group, excellent & succinct articulation of a practical approach, couldn’t have put it better myself, well worth a look.

Paul Belli – Imperial College – thinking of doing some EA modelling, looking at BizzDesign Architect but not happy with the costs. Time to investigate deals &/or the future of Archi.

Patrick O’Reilly/Bolton – struggling with Governance, not just ICT but more generally. Something that the LFHE SICT project should address – but interesting that it is still seen as such a problem; if it is so difficult to introduce effective Governance, is there really a will to do EA/Strategic ICT? & are there not perhaps bigger problems than lack of a Governance framework?

Session 2 – Help Control Costs with EA

A number of brief presentations from institutions doing work in this area.

Simon Waddington/King’s College – Cost Savings in Research through EA. Mostly looking at data reuse.

Sally Gannon/LJMU. CRM Case Management = EA saving money through system reuse; Blackboard capability as against Campus Solutions, integration of Oracle CRM & Campus Solutions via Oracle CDH = EA solving problems through articulating systems capability/complexity.

Sam Rowley/Staffordshire University – External Examiner Appointment. Mapping & rationalisation of the appointment process/implementation of a common system to replace duplication.

Impact of modelling – hits them right between the eyes! Complexity commonality & duplication immediately apparent.

Nathalie Czechowksi/Coventry: Will EA reduce costs? EA as contributor to benefits realisation? EA to assess the impact of change. Question: how can we assess the value of using an EA approach, as against not? Discussion: stress on staff because of lack of documentation – sounds like case for management, not EA.

Patrick O’Reilly, Bolton. EA to support collaborative provision.

EA in a slightly enlarged tweet: as an aside, interesting to note the definition’s of EA in the LinkedIn Enterprise Architecture Network EA in 160 character’s challenge, analysis of which can be found at Pragmatic EA.

Session 3: Management & Governance.

Andrea Addison – introduction to the JISC LFHE Strategic ICT Project. For my sins(?) I’m on the advisory group for this, but useful for it to be presented to the EAPG. Around levels of maturity in strategic use of ICT, & understanding of how to progress between levels, to become part of LFHE leadership training for senior managers. Findings¬†so far – increase in the CIO role, but not simply number-crunching – there are people not formally designated as CIO who are carrying out that role; key¬†responsibility is promoting the effective use of ICT in support of the business. Communication is key: note the increasing incidence of the account or relationship manager role within the ICT function; EA is a key tool within this. Interesting to note that of 20 HEIs interviewed, about 25% mentioned EA.

What is the compelling argument for EA in strategic ICT? Weill & Ross – need to make architecture decisions: which systems support which processes for which people – without this have no framework for decision making. Interesting points from Graham Openshaw/Manchester City Council, investigating EA as a possible approach to rationalising their ICT estate.

Interesting point to consider – what’s the difference between Governance & management? – try this: Governance is about making the right decisions; management is about managing the implications of those decisions.

Idong Usoru/University of the West of Scotland – Future Proof Institutions. Discussion largely around positioning of EA, how EA can produce value, what the KPIs & performance measures for EA might be.

In conclusion: as the day drew to a close, seemed to me we were losing sight of the service dimension which defines what EA is for ie we are trying to produce excellent services for our customers & stakeholders; technology realises services to support applications; applications realise services to support business processes; business processes realise services for customers. To realise these services in the most efficient & effective way & deliver the best quality to our customers & stakeholders,¬†both now & in the future, we need to understand the relationships between technology, applications, processes & people. To move to new models of service delivery, shared services etc we need to understand these relationships. & EA is a tool that enables you to model & understand these relationships – which is why you would use it. We need to talk about services, not systems – a University needs an enrolment service, or a payroll service, this doesn’t mean it necessarily needs an enrolment system or a payroll system – the latter tends to presuppose that the University would be running these systems, which doesn’t necessarily have to be the case, & may well not be in the future, if not sooner.

JISC Flexible Service Delivery Programme – STG Workshop “Working Towards Delivery”

In Birmingham for next workshop in the series. Missed first day – EA Practice Group workshop focusing on modelling – as attending JISC-CETIS Board meeting. Apparently this went extremely well, & very gratifying that presentation from colleague from LJMU – Sally Gannon – was extremely well received.

Key theme from introduction by Craig Wentworth – synthesis, exemplified by Brian Eno at the synthesiser – although analogy works on other levels…

Focus today very much on sharing between various projects & JISC/sector stakeholders/advisors – sharing artefacts, thinking, concerns, approaches, progress. Round table/world cafe approach to promote discussion working well. First session on themes – SOA; Shared Services; BI; Student Services; Student Retention; Internationalisation/Partnerships – & visualising synergies, where JISCinfoNet will be feeding back synthesis.

Followed by discussion on identifying assets that can be shared – models, presentations, case studies – & taxonomy. Clearly identified that key to sharing is common language; & key to stakeholder engagement is speaking their language & selling the benefits.

Taxonomy/tags: interesting to note that there is already a proliferation of Twitter hashtags with reference to EA that makes it hard to find stuff – hardly surprising given the absence of context. Wouldn’t want to get into the realms of ontology – because I won’t know what I’m talking about apart from anything else – but the usefulness of terminology will be dependent on contextualisation. Is this a job for the semantic web? Now leaving the shallow end of the pool, so I’ll stop there, with a final note that in plain English what we really need to do is make it easier for people to find relevant stuff.

Back to my point about conversations – what conversations is it possible to have? What language needs to be used in those conversations? At what level(s) can they take place? Conversation analysis – like stakeholder analysis/forcefield analysis but at a less formal level? Who can you talk to; what can you talk to them about; how should you do it – may determine strategy for promoting FSD-related stuff within the organisation. One key element – focus on benefits: what will be the outcomes of doing <x>, rather than how to do <x>. Craig Wentworth – focus on talking to people about what they’re bothered about, rather than what you want to tell them. Be useful out there!

After (excellent) lunch – affinity diagramming,challenged to identify expected benefits of FSD projects, & how they might be measured. Benefits, relatively easy; measurement hard (as usual!) Useful exercise – be interesting to see what comes out of JISCinfoNet synthesis. Good point – all good MSP stuff this – one person’s benefit is another person’s burden; need to say who the benefit is for, & should also identify disbenefits.

Followed by a ‘Dragon’s Den’ type session for each STG project to pitch the benefits that would accrue, & be challenged. Interesting but spirits flagging by this point…interestingly noted that benefits can be emergent rather than as initially defined, which is often the case but not often acknowledged. Problem with the traditional business case – can’t do a project without first defining the benefits, can’t truly define the benefits without doing the project – points to approach we are tending to take with projects within our Development Programme, project brief has outline benefits linked to defined programme benefits, more clearly defined as project progresses.

& that draws me at least to a close – another good FSD/STG workshop, & the JISCinfoNet synthesis to look forward to.

JISC Enterprise Architecture Practice Group 26th January 2010

Slightly smaller but enouragingly large group carrying on from FSD meeting yesterday, but with focus on EA.

Kicked off by me with an impassioned – honest! – plea for the importance of EA. Then group discussion on where people are with EA on the maturity model – explorer, adopter, implementer, achiever, practitioner. Mostly explorers, which is both good & not a surprise. Reality: tend to be hovering around all 5 levels at the same time. Fear! Fear of TOGAF, fear of the hugeness of it all, elephant for breakfast etc. TOGAF = like PRINCE2. When digging a hole, the focus should not be on the spade. Back to the Dearing type 42 manager – EA articulates what that kind of leader does. Andy Jordan/Duke & Jordan – EA = a philosophical framework within which the right kind of thinking can be done – spot on.

Is there a danger in EA originating in IT? Is there a danger that IT is seen as driving the business? Is there any difference between IT & the business? Do you worry about aligning the spade with the hole, or do you just dig… Back to the idea of being useful: what does the VC/CEO want? To run a successful University. If EA helps with that, do it. Be useful.

Doing EA – P4; John Townsend/Liverpool John Moores University. Description of a practical problem, project, & programme based approach.

Big EA – John King/Roehampton. 7 steps to EA. No EA project! – exactly. Don’t need a business case for EA – do need a business case for EA awareness. Key problems: Governance & stakeholder buy in. Bonus: modelling.

Run Silent, Run Deep – Paul Hobson/Cardiff. Common theme – address real business change problems. JFDI. Ref http://congliffy.cf.ac.uk/display/LeanEA. Gleaned a lot of intelligence from the Burton Group. Imperial complexity in spades.

Exploring EA – Luke Taylor/Bristol. Scope: supporting process review. Bristol doesn’t see IT as the business -yet. Introducing EA into emerging projects. New Governance structure based round Strategic Programme Board – Programme Management structure, really = home for EA.

Followed by brief but interesting breakout discussions – but surfacing the usual problems/issues – not sure we got any nearer to any solutions. Learn by doing = MOTD.

Introduction to Modelling – Yvonne Howard/Southampton. Modelling is a spectrum of activity, from soft to hard. How do you tell a well socialised software engineer? They talk to your shoes. Modelling enables conversation. Not really for me, as I don’t/won’t do any actual modelling – shame the business analysts who do aren’t here. Interesting point ref audience for FSD/EAPG activity. SSM – hasn’t popped up for a little while. Could be interesting/beneficial to introduce VPEC-T into this conversation.

& on reflection from the train back to Liverpool…

Overall good event, although I felt today/EA was better than yesterday/FSD. Latter seemed more amorphous/harder to get hold of, although maybe this is the nature of the beast – EA is a tool, FSD is an outcome – or rather a wide range of possible outcomes dependent on the context/strategy/objectives etc. Words like agile, flexible, lean are great but low on tangibility. Perhaps FSD would benefit from some further application of MSP ie a blueprint, a future vision state, a definition of what FSD will look like when we get there. I think the business case is made, at least within the Programme – just going to be hard to make the journey to a place lacking definition. Or maybe that’s the point – the journey will define the destination. Starting to sound like rambling to me – or me rambling.

Also interesting discussion over lunch about need for flexibility/dynamic architecture or development without architecture/the expansion of end-user computing/the need to create whitespace/the need for the IT department to just say yes. End user computing as a response to the need to cut costs in central IT. Sounds good to me. In fact, hold on to your hats, it sounds like a paradigm shift! Phasers on stun, and me signing off, before things get ugly.