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A new team for student systems

We (meaning the Applications Division of Information Services) have been in discussions with the Academic Registry to find a new way of working together.  It looks like the outcome is likely to be a joint team, combining staff from both divisions, to work on the core functionality of our student record system (EUCLID).  The new team will be colocated and will work together on the design, implementation and test of EUCLID projects.

Some of the people involved are also looking at using Agile development techniques for some of these projects.  For example, we might ensure user representation on all projects, following an approach we used in a recent project for Finance.  We might base our requirements and prioritisation around "user stories".  And we might organise build work in short cycles with a higher emphasis on testing (both automated test suites and user testing).

We have used Agile methods successfully on a couple of other projects in IS Apps and already intend to extend our use of these techniques.  The interest comes from people in the Registry as well.  So this week I ran a two-hour introductory session to give team members and senior management an understanding of the basic ideas and to explore how some of them might apply to the particular circumstances of the EUCLID system.  (Owing to the quirks of the underlying technology, some Agile development techniques are simply inapplicable, but many of the "softer" project management techniques could be very useful).

Relations between the Registry and Applications Division have been somewhat strained in the past year - a situation that has not been helped by resource shortages on both sides.  It is now looking like a fresh start and some openness to new ways of working, along with new resources, will bring a happier and more effective working relationship.

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