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EA at the University of Lincoln

Last week, Allister Homes from the University of Lincoln gave a presentation to the UCISA EA group about how Lincoln have set up their Enterprise Architecture practice and where they are now in using Enterprise Architecture. The presentation is online and you can see it here:

Enterprise Architecture at Lincoln

Do take a look. 

I found Allister's talk both interesting and reassuring.  Lincoln's EA practice is 12-18 months older than ours, and as a result it is a bit more embedded into university culture and processes than us, as one might expect. But we're on a similar path and not too far behind.  EA seems to be delivering good results at Lincoln, which bodes well for us.

Both practices are based in our IT departments and are reaching out to the business areas.  We are working with similar principles (because we both used the same set of TOGAF principles as our starting point).  Lincoln have an established design authority which reviews all projects; we have put in place p…
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EDUCAUSE article on Enterprise Architecture

This is a useful introduction to the role of Enterprise Architecture in Universities:

Manage Today's IT Complexities with an Enterprise Architecture Practice

EDUCAUSE is the North American organisation for IT in Higher Education, filling roughly the same role as UCISA in the UK.  For the UK, I would add the UCISA EA Community of Practice to the "knowledge base", rather than the North American ITANA group.

The section in the article about formulating an EA practice strategy is highly relevant.  We started with a completely bottom-up approach and it quickly transpired that we didn't have the time or resources to produce the results we wanted.  Now we are sort of half-way between the two: we have top-down support within Information Services Group, and are reaching out in a bottom-up way to the rest of the University.

It's an interesting article and not too long. Take a look!

Data Governance and Open Data

Many people in the University support the idea of making resources open for anyone to use, and some trailblazers have set up the Open Knowledge Network to help support this notion.  One aspect of this is open data and with the Edinburgh Cityscope project developing nicely, it would be timely to put support for open data on a firmer basis.  In this post, I consider some implications and prerequisites for publishing University data.

Suppose someone wanted to make some data available as open data.  What would they need to consider?

Well, first of all, who owns the data, and who is responsible for it?  If it is the University’s data, whose permission do they need?  To answer this, we have agreed policy to assign data stewards to the University’s main enterprise data sets.  These data stewards will be responsible for making data available to people who need it, and ensuring that restricted data (such as personal information) is protected.  So they will be the people to give or d…

2016 has been a good year

So much has happened over the last year with our Enterprise Architecture practice that it's hard to write a succinct summary.  For my day-to-day experience as enterprise architect, the biggest change is that I now have a team to work with.  This time last year, I was in the middle of a 12-month secondment to create the EA practice, working mainly on my own.  Now my post has been made permanent and I have recruited two members of staff to help meet the University's architectural needs.

I have spent a lot of the year meeting people, listening to their concerns and explaining how architecture can help them.  This communication remains vital, the absolute core of what we do and we will continue to meet people in this way.  We also talk to people in other Universities in order to learn from what they are doing and to share our own experience back.  A highlight in this regard was my trip to the USA last January.

Our biggest deliverable for the past year was the design of the data wa…

CRM Strategy from Plymouth University

Last week, we were delighted to receive a visit from Rupert Frankum of Plymouth University.  Rupert was the technical manager for Plymouth's project to replace their old student recruitment and admissions processes with a modern system based on a CRM platform  You can see a shorter presentation that Rupert and his colleague Paul Westmore gave at this year's UCISA conference on the conference website.

Rupert gave an excellent talk, covering many aspects of their project.  For me, the highlight was the discussion of their CRM vision, which used an analogy of a Rubik's cube to give an image of how common technical components can support different parts of the recruitment process.  This explained the issues, and how they can be addressed, in an engaging and effective way.

This visit was timely for us. We have been building a business case for a CRM platform for several months, and the University is currently reviewing how we manage (or fail to manage) student recruitment.  We …

New staff for the EA team

I'm delighted to welcome Jason Murphy, who joins us as our CRM Architect, and Wilbert Kraan, our new Data Architect.  Both Jason and Wilbert have worked as consultants for several years and bring new skills and considerable experience to IS.  They both know more than I do about their respective fields, which is how I like to hire people.

So the Enterprise Architecture practice now comprises the three of us, instead of me working on my won, which means we have more capacty to guide the University's IT architecture.  We can offer a greater range of skills and can bring a wider range of experience to bear.  I'm really excited about the opportunities this presents.

As his job title implies, Jason will focus on contact relationship management, working to build a user community and to create a strategy for managing and improving the University's relationships with prospective students, research partners, community organisations, and other parties - to give them all a better …

Putting IT all together - again

Last Friday I gave a guest lecture to third-year Informatics students on the Software Design and Modelling course.

Professor Stevens, who leads the course, asked me to repeat the presentation that I gave last month to an audience of University staff.  She thought that many of the issues I covered would be relevant to the course, and the topic of improving the online student experience was clearly one that the students could relate to.  It's a long time since I did my own degree but unless times have changed markedly, I suspect that students don't often get to see the issues around integrating many pre-existing systems, rather than building small systems in the lab.

I enjoyed the session.  I don't often get to meet students, so this was a refreshing experience, and we had a good discussion following the presentation. As expected, they confirmed that the online experience currently provided by University systems is "all over the place".

One of the questions was abo…