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Our goal is that our services will be intuitive, simple, secure, will work on any device, in any location, and will work first time, every time. They will also be professionally supported by friendly, expert, approachable IT support colleagues Ben Barry, IT Strategy, Information Management and Partnerships Director
Our goal is that our services will be intuitive, simple, secure, will work on any device, in any location, and will work first time, every time. They will also be professionally supported by friendly, expert, approachable IT support colleagues
This strategy document builds on the work completed over the 2012 - 2015 strategic period, and aligns the IT Strategy with the University’s 2020 Strategy, defining a clear, compelling vision for how IT at Brookes will work by 2020.
“Building inspiring services on solid foundations”
This is the IT Strategy for the university rather than simply the strategy for OBIS. In other words, the success of this strategy will be defined by the whole university, and will depend upon the positive support and engagement of colleagues and stakeholders in every part of the organisation. It is your IT Strategy, therefore it is as much up to you, as it is to the IT team, to make it real.
Recognising there is work to be done in achieving solid foundations, each mission statement will include specific deliverables on getting the basics right. They will also include an outline of the inspiring services and solutions we will deliver over the strategic period.
FOR STUDENTS - an engaging online experience from enquiry to alumni; top quality technology supporting the learning process from VLE to lecture capture to custom apps and more besides; easy to connect to, robust Wi-Fi for all your devices; the latest kit to borrow at no charge; friendly help with technology if you need it.
FOR STAFF - a flexible workforce with a lightweight laptop and mobile phone supported with intuitive systems and digital workflows. A new student record system with intelligent customer relationship management tools will support the full student lifecycle; all core systems including HR, Finance and Estates systems will work faultlessly; new technology, including improved analytics, in place to support teaching and operational processes; and all staff trained, supported and encouraged to be digitally-savvy.
And all this will underpin outstanding teaching, world-leading research, a supportive environment, top quality buildings - all the things that you love about Brookes.
The vision of inspiring students, staff and IT professionals to be drawn to OBU is both impressive and rightly deserved!. "It is so easy to take all this built digital environment at Brookes for granted. The IT strategy made me stop and think about all the work that the team is putting in to make IT at Brookes so agile, responsive and satisfying...it also shows that there is more to come, more to experience - for students, staff and IT professionals and the world outside Brookes." Hassan Ceesay, Brookes student
The vision of inspiring students, staff and IT professionals to be drawn to OBU is both impressive and rightly deserved!.
The Brookes IT Vision for 2020 is to provide IT services and solutions which exceed the needs and expectations of all our stakeholders, and as established in the 2015 strategy, inspires students and staff to choose Brookes. What IT Services at Brookes will look like in 2020:
Everything we do will be driven by the academic and research needs of the university and its stakeholders.
In setting out our vision and defining clear objectives, the IT team will work together, as an efficient and effective team in order to deliver the vision. Therefore we have defined a small number of core Brookes IT values by which every member of the team will judge their approach and contribution to success. These values are brought together under the theme:
One Brookes IT team - all pulling together...
To achieve the operation of one efficient and effective IT team, every Brookes IT team member will display the following values:
Everything we do will be driven by a commitment to professional services.
Defining what we will do, what our stakeholders can expect, measuring ourselves in achieving those levels of service and communicating our achievement of those standards.
To achieve this value we will be driven by Service Level Agreements defining which services we deliver and to what standard. We will also adopt industry best practice ITIL frameworks for our operational processes so that we can evidence that we are working effectively and efficiently.
Everything we do driven by the academic and research needs of the University and its stakeholders. To ensure we continue to achieve this we will achieve cross-department compliance with an industry standard for customer service. We will build on the achievement of “Customer First” in two of our departments in 2014 to ensure our whole operation is driven by putting customers first.
Over the last 5 years, and with the recent creation of the PMO, we have significantly strengthened our capability to deliver the defined and agreed IT programme. This will continue to be a core focus of the whole IT team - that we are delivering services, solutions and projects and that we will be measured by the success of that delivery. We will therefore promote a rigorous approach to benefits measurement and realisation and to ensuring our services and solutions are continuously fit-for-purpose.
Clarity of purpose
Brookes IT will align with best-practice in managing its services by Service Level Agreements for ALL areas of our service. These will be defined in clear, simple language and the key elements that stakeholders care about will be presented up front. The Service Level Agreements will be negotiated with the university and will be regularly reviewed to ensure they remain relevant. Brookes IT will then measure its performance against the standards defined in the SLAs.
Brookes IT will endeavor to bring valuable innovation to Brookes. This will at all times be innovation with a purpose rather than innovation for new-ness sake. Every IT team member at Brookes will be encouraged to innovate and we will create an innovation-promoting culture with clear statements on investments of time, money and space into innovation. Colleagues across the university will also be invited to contribute to technology innovation.
In order to ensure that the Brookes IT Strategy is a live ongoing activity and can be constantly adjusted to the changing needs of the University and its stakeholders as well as responding to the the rapidly changing technology landscape we are proposing an IT Strategy Board with representation from across the University. To meet 3 times per year for 90 minutes.
A dashboard will be created to ensure that the steering board always has access to the latest IT performance data and specific measures to judge progress towards the strategic objectives. This will be generated and managed by the strategy team within OBIS.
In defining an ambitious IT strategy for the University we recognise that a number of our propositions may be challenging for the University and its stakeholders. Therefore we are stating them explicitly within the draft strategy for consultation to ensure considered, broad feedback. The final version of the strategy will then incorporate updates based on the feedback received:
In order to deliver real value from our investments in many areas we need to recognise that IT is an enabler and the real benefit is from analysing, developing and improving our operational (and strategic) business processes. We would like to see clarity on organisational ownership for key business process themes including (but not limited to) CRM, information management (hence the new Head of Information Management), Programme Management, teaching technology and teaching spaces. Those process owners should be empowered to call for and deliver improvements in efficiency, effectiveness and economy.
We believe that measuring and communicating the progress on the following elements of the strategy should enable us to get a clear sense of whether we are making progress towards our vision. These are the elements we propose to measure and report on at the IT Strategy Board (and more widely in the university) to be clear that we are making the necessary progress:
The details of these strategic themes and the associated roadmaps are contained within the supporting strategies section of the IT Strategy, and a dashboard will be produced highlighting progress with this sub-set as a clear marker towards progress on our strategic journey.
Brookes IT Vision will be achieved by a constant focus on the needs of our key stakeholder groups. There are 5 core mission statements: one overarching mission for Brookes IT, and four others defined by the stakeholders for which they are most relevant. These missions crystallise the strategic plans and delivery roadmaps for each of the supporting elements of our service. These are included in the section on supporting strategies and roadmaps.
The Brookes IT team recognises that the trend for all stakeholders is towards being able to work in any location, at any time and on any device. Our solutions will be characterised by their ability to support those demands. By 2020 Brookes IT will be operating at the highest level of service management maturity and we will ensure that level of service with external benchmarking. Brookes IT will also be internationally known for the excellence of its service and the high standards it achieves.
Stakeholders will be impressed by our can-do attitude and our approach to ensuring that all our solutions and services are leading edge, intuitive, simple to use and fully supported. We recognise that it is not as simple as delivering great solutions, but also encouraging and supporting stakeholders to get the most from them. As such we will increase our investment in training and improving the digital literacy of the whole University community. Again in that effort we will need the support and participation of colleagues right across the University.
Getting the basics right:
Working smart - OBIS will implement a programme of identifying key areas where we could all be working smarter and using that as the basis for a programme of improvements to working practice - information sharing, collaboration, electronic workflow, digital documentation.
Supporting decision making - under the umbrella of the data warehousing and business intelligence programme we will ensure that our solutions are data driven, systems will be smart and designed from the start to provide intelligent insight to support the management of the university. We will start to leverage big data in areas such as learning analytics, potentially an area of great importance for ensuring students get the best possible educational experience at Brookes.
Benchmarked achievement of the highest level of service maturity; “Business Partnership” (Gartner), “Strategic” (KPMG), “Optimised” (PwC)
The students coming through University in the timescale of this strategy will be the first generation who have grown up with Social Media and have never known phones that weren’t “smart”. They are a generation “for whom words such as ‘sharing’, ‘posting’ and ‘viral’ have different primary meanings to the ones their parents understood. In short, the technology that Generation Z uses is not peripheral, but a central and fundamental part of how they live and manage their lives day to day.”
That experience will drive their expectations of IT services to levels that we have not previously experienced. We also recognise that not all Brookes students are Generation Z, some are older, some less tech-savvy, but all will get our support in achieving the best from the latest technology. Our student body is heterogeneous and diverse and our solutions must achieve the same level of inspiration for all.
In order to meet these expectations we will learn from the best commercial, social and online services. Our goal is that our services will be intuitive, simple, will work on any device, in any location, and will work first time every time. They will also be professionally supported by friendly, expert, approachable IT Support colleagues.
In order to keep up-to-date with developing student needs and experiences, we will continue to Involve/employ students in delivering our services. We will also introduce frequent, regular, simple-to-use feedback channels to ensure we “take the temperature” of student experience as well as the current, regular, feedback we already encourage.
The single largest example of this new approach will be the new student record and management system. The Brookes IT team commit to ensuring that whichever solution we choose is fit-for-purpose, at the leading edge in terms of functionality and intuitive operation, and is fully supported with system/solution experts in the organisation.
It should also support the full student lifecycle and provide a portal ensuring consistent experience for ALL students in their interaction with the university. This is not to undermine the individual and unique nature of each student’s experience at Brookes, rather it will ensure that all procedural matters are handled efficiently and effectively, which is no less than students expect in the digital era.
OBIS will ensure that all our solutions and services are simple, intuitive systems that will work anywhere, on any device.
Full lifecycle support (SRS)
We will ensure that students are engaged with leading-edge solutions from their first interest in the university to their time post-university. Where possible this engagement will be made consistent so they get an early feeling for the student centred experience they will get at Brookes. These solutions will also enable us to further develop our alumni network and keep alumni engaged in the life of the university. In addition, University staff engaging with students will also be able to take advantage of the latest developments in CRM and workflow processing.
The Service Desk - will continue to engage and employ students in the delivery of our service. This has proven to have numerous virtues and inter-linked benefits. Students like to be supported by other students. We also get a students’-view of our services enabling us to continuously improve our offering.
Digital literacy - we will implement a range of communications, development opportunities and guidance materials to ensure that students can develop their use of technology from the social and unstructured to the level required in their future careers in whichever sectors they choose. This will include helping students to understand the risks of not considering their personal data as valuable and requiring appropriate security safeguards.
Inspiring kit and spaces - we will invest in the ability for students to try and experience cutting-edge kit. This will be managed in a way that enables us to learn from the experience and feedback to drive our investment in future University technology.
IT systems and services in support of the University’s ambitious research agenda will be fully supported and will be in line with the IT vision of being intuitive, simple, easy to use and robust.
Recognising that the demands of the research community are often unique and need supporting in different ways, Brookes IT will ensure targeted support with colleagues who are trained and developed in the key systems and solutions that are required for the research. We have recently introduced a new Business Partnership Manager specifically for research and they will work closely with the Pro-VC Research and Knowledge Exchange, and the wider research community to define what support and systems are required and how best to provision them. These will be added as a specific section in the IT Service Level Agreements.
In addition, this new research supportive capacity will work pro-actively to bring leading-edge thinking and solutions back to the research community within Brookes for consideration.
Getting the basics right - research support - a specific published Service Level Agreement category for researchers will ensure that we recognise the unique needs and demands of the research community.
We will ensure that the fundamental systems needed in support of research activity work consistently and deliver the necessary functionality.
We will continuously update the guidance to researchers (and all staff) on appropriate data storage and sharing solutions and policies and the risks and benefits of all the available approaches.
Specific, targeted support for the unique requirements of the research community
Systems that just work - research management, archiving and costings tool.
Data management and big data are two key areas of expertise required by the research community. We will improve our expertise in data management and big data so that we have expertise within the team to support this work.
The professional staff at Brookes have many of the same IT requirements as those in any organisation:
Brookes IT will work to meet or exceed those requirements at all times. This will again be informed by the best examples from all possible sectors.We will develop and use its extensive network to ensure that we learn from exemplars in the public sector, private sector, education and other organisations.
We will also ensure full support for sorting out the issues with the fundamental organisational/operational systems including CoreHR, e5 and EFM systems.
Support for and implementation of simple, intuitive systems:
Our new approach to data management will enable insightful management information at all levels and in all areas of the University. We will build on the expertise we have developed in provisioning and supporting systems like APTT to ensure that our information management capacity is exemplary
We will define and develop a full programme to improve staff digital literacy:
This will necessitate additional investment which we are committed to providing. It will also need the support and engagement of management and other colleagues across the university. Brookes will be a technology-enabled University and all staff should expect to engage with leading-edge technology in the delivery of their own service.
We will define a standard workspace (kit and approach to accessing systems and data) and support new ways of working to ensure that all colleagues are enabled to work in the most productive, efficient and effective ways.
Technology is one of the most exciting areas of development in teaching even if you do not fully subscribe to the view that technology will sweep away traditional learning (e.g. “An Avalanche is Coming”). The are many elements of technology that could and will have a profound impact on our students’ learning journey and on the experience of our teaching staff in supporting and leading that journey (and their own journey). As such we are committed to enabling all pedagogic approaches, but also to encouraging innovation and enabling teaching staff to try things out with confidence and without fear of things not working, or simply requiring too much effort to master. Teaching technology is right at the front line of our service delivery as a university and therefore just has to work. We have therefore defined a key set of deliverables around getting the basics right for teaching technology (see below). Again, we will complement the technology with a comprehensive training and development offering to enable our teaching staff to get the most out of the technology and to be technology-literate teaching leaders.
Learning analytics and the opportunities afforded by large comparable datasets and predictive analytics will give us the ability to better support all our students with a view to improving their experience and attainment.
We are also fully committed to supporting the University in meeting the developing challenge around a “Teaching Excellence Framework”.
We will continue to support the developments in online assessment and feedback. There are also a number of interesting developments in digital assessment that we will ensure we keep abreast of, so that we can add to the University’s discussions as these become more imperative.
We will also continue to ensure that the University's core Virtual Learning Environment(s) are fully supported and developed. We have a team dedicated to this area of our service and will continue to invest in and develop this team. In addition we will ensure that we work collaboratively with all colleagues currently engaged in supporting Digital Media and e-learning (DMELDs and the Media Workshop team) to ensure that all our services are integrated, supported and that staff have every opportunity to develop and present engaging multi-media content that will continue to inspire our current, potential future students.
Getting the basics right:
Within IT Innovation investment we will provide a teaching technology demonstration space. This will give the academic community an opportunity to try out and promote new technologies, and will give OBIS an opportunity to invite and learn from feedback about what works, what doesn’t work and what could be better. This will in turn educate the investment in teaching spaces and technology across the University over the strategic period.
Ensure all teaching technology is simple, intuitive and fit-for-purpose.
We will invest in and support the implementation of systems that make a difference to teaching staff and by extension to students - e.g. learning analytics.