Annual Review

UCD IT Services Annual Review for 2014

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A welcome from the Chief Technology Officer

In 2014 UCD IT Services continued to build upon the success of the recent deployment of new service models that offer us the flexibility to deliver services in an agile way, in order to meet the growing IT needs of the UCD Community.

The emergence of external capabilities such as cloud computing, Software-as-a-service, app stores, BYODC (bring your own device to campus), challenges us to get the balance right between these new service models and the traditional internal IT infrastructure. Engagement with the UCD Community is at the heart of how we design and deliver services. Our Annual Review highlights a few of our main achievements of 2014.

Seamus Shaw
Chief Technology Officer
University College Dublin

New look for IT Centres

This year our two most popular IT Centres had a makeover! The IT Centre in Health Sciences has moved location and is now upstairs on the first floor. It has been revamped with a fresh new look and comfortable furnishings. Since most students now bring their own devices, the focus was on creating a relaxed open plan space rather than providing a lab environment. This allows students and staff to use the space for group collaboration or study as well as to drop in with their devices for face to face IT support.

Our Daedalus IT Centre has been equipped with new furniture including a welcoming new support desk. The vibrant colour scheme and comfortable study and advisory benches make it an ideal spot for both students and staff to drop in for help and advice.

IT Centres are a one-stop shop offering on the spot local IT support. You can bring all your IT issues to us and receive face to face support provided by fully trained staff on a variety of services including, getting connected to the wireless network, changing your password, eLearning services and much more.

SAR preparation for QA/QI

To prepare for IT Services quality review in February 2015, a QA/QI Working Group was established in March 2014 comprising of staff members who were representative of all IT Services, the purpose of which was to plan the most effective approach to producing a full and frank SAR (Self-Assessment Report).  Input from all IT Services staff was also sought throughout this time, through Workshops, email and Google+ Community, and incorporated into the SAR.
Meetings of the Working Group were held on a regular basis over a period of 10 months.  Tasks and timelines were agreed and allocated across members of the group, and subgroups were established to ensure timely progress against the project plan.

It was obvious early into this planning process that service delivery and customer engagement were topics to highlight in the SAR.  Therefore, both qualitative and quantitative, and formal and informal, methods are used to determine how we deliver our service and how we communicate with our stakeholders.  To inform our SAR, we met with a large cohort of staff, students, and vendors so that their feedback of our services could be assessed and reflected in the SAR with a view to continuously improving how we do things.

Feedback mechanisms used included customer surveys focusing on newly launched services, a comprehensive staff Customer Engagement survey, Online feedback form included as standard on every InfoHub report, Research Foresight survey (undertaken by the Office of the VP for Research and provided useful feedback for Research IT), ECAR annual student survey, IT Centre survey, face to face, telephone and email queries captured at IT Centres and IT Helpdesk for both staff and students.

The recommendations and suggestions received as a result of our ongoing customer engagement will, imminently, serve as a key input into the development of UCD’s IT Strategy 2020.

Online Post Authorisation Tool

IT Services in conjunction with UCD Human Resources introduced the first phase of the Online Post Authorisation tool within UCD InfoHub. The tool which allows for an online Post Authorisation Form (PAF) to be completed by an authorised person to begin the process to fill a new or vacant position (non Research only). The form allows for a job description, salary scale and other relevant information be imputed online before the completed form is sent to Human Resources for progression.

Head of Recruitment Services, Elaine Hassett sees the online tool as a positive development leading to a more straight forward and efficient process without the need for numerous printed documents. For the first phase of the project over 100 main users of the system were trained to use the Online post authorisation tool around the college and Elaine believes that adoption of the service was both quick and positive with her own team of trained personnel available to provide any necessary support or training.

Human Resources will continue to work with IT Services on the next phases of the project which will see further developments with the online process.

Plesk Web hosting Review

IT Services now provide access to a shared web hosting service that is suitable to host small websites with a view to promote the work of research groups within the University. The service allows a group to quickly deploy web applications such as Wordpress, Joomla or MediaWiki. The service utilises a Parallels Plesk control panel that makes the service very easy to manage and administer.

The main benefit of the service is that by using Wordpress a Research unit can very quickly and easily deploy a website to promote their research within UCD and to the wider research community. Wordpress does not require the training and expertise that other web hosting systems need so content editors are familiarised with the system quickly. It allows for a more user-friendly content editing environment for non-technical users.

The website can then be edited and accessed on and off campus and be created for cross-university sites. Darragh Costello, who is an external Web Editor has worked with many units within UCD some of whom avail of the Plesk Web Hosting service.  Darragh sees the easy use of the system as a key benefit of the service. Apart from standard security and patching the system requires little administrative maintenance. As Darragh has become more proficient in creating and maintaining Plesk web hosting sites he feels that there is an opportunity to further develop the service.

This is the first year of the Plesk Web hosting review project and it is proving to be a viable and positive option for many units within UCD. One of the sites deployed using the service is for the Irish centre for research in applied geosciences, http://icrag-centre.org.

Global Engagement Project

The Global engagement project came about as part of the UCD Strategy to expand globally and attract more international students to UCD. IT Services working closely with the International office were requested to ensure that comprehensive and integrated IT systems were in place covering all stages of the recruitment and admissions process for international students in support of the initiative.

The integrated recruitment system allows recruiters to manage enquiries, track leads, communicate with and record interaction with these prospective students. The resulting service integrates seamlessly with the UCD Application System to provide an end-to-end view of the conversion of enquiries and leads through to registered students on our courses.

The system begins with the awareness stage and works through promotion, application, offer and acceptance right through to registration stage. While using existing solutions that were already in place the system continues to develop and adapt with the changing recruitment environment. Many enhancements continue to be added in the later stages of the project.

UCD EdTECx talks and EdTECx in Action

EdTECx talks, a 2 day event for UCD staff showcasing best practice in Education Technology, was held in March. Participants learnt about and discussed strategies, practices and solutions for applying educational technology to their teaching. It provided an opportunity to collaborate, present, network and learn what others in UCD are doing in this space.

A follow up event, EdTECx in Action, ran from the 24-28 August. 230 attendees attended short training courses in the Daedalus building over the course of the week. Courses included both online and classroom based sessions on areas such as Blackboard, Google+ and other collaborative tools. Staff were shown how to get the most from our institutional education technology tools and platforms.

These EdTECx events were collaboratively hosted by IT Services and Teaching & Learning. Future collaborations between IT Services and Teaching & Learning surrounding best practice in Education Technology are planned following the success of these two events.

Workplace Process Review

The workplace process review was setup as part of the customer engagement theme with a view to visit Schools and Units and identify where existing services can provide solutions to their requirements. A review of the School or Units current work process is carried out followed by an assessment of what best practice and solutions are available.

The project encompasses many units of IT Services and covers areas such as Research IT, Google apps and Web publishing along with other areas when required. The service is ongoing and requests for assistance/advice come in on an ad hoc basis. It focuses on awareness of current service offerings such as Google Drive and Google Plus.

Some of the key projects the group have been involved in so far are helping the School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science by setting up Google Sites for their students to test the platform as a possible e-portfolio option and advising the School of Veterinary Medicine on Google Sites and Google Sheets enabling them to setup a dashboard to monitor their curriculum statistics.

It is hoped that the service will continue to demonstrate our services to our customer’s highlighting practical solutions in the workplace environment, providing further or specific training where required.

From networks to networking

Paul Barry began working in UCD in 1994 and has worked in a number of technical roles in the department. In 2000 he moved to the Networks team within IT Services where he spent eleven years, firstly providing support to the network infrastructure before being promoted to a Team Leader role.

After beginning a Bachelor of Business course in the Quinn School of Business, Paul decided to make the move away from technical roles to a more managerial one which eventually led to him to take on his current role as IT Relationship Manager. While the move was challenging, Paul believes that the business course together with his previous experience ‘gave me the tools to understand the world from a management prospective’.

As IT Relationship Manager, Paul is heading a small group of IT staff who are available to meet the UCD community and discuss the specific needs and requirements of individual units and sections within the University. This may be to offer an existing solution to a problem they are having or a chance to discuss new services they would like to see introduced.

The IT Relationship Management (ITRM) project is only in its infancy but Paul sees a great future for the venture. He sees it as a voice for IT Services customer’s to ‘shape our work programme’ and a chance for us to get closer to the larger UCD Community in order to highlight our current services and see what our customers future needs and requirements are.

Paul has recently completed a Masters in Business Innovation with IT in the Graduate School of Business.