Skip to main content

Annual Planning and Annual Development Reviews

Over the last month or so we've been busy with our annual planning process. This is when we invite the service owners across the university to put forward proposals for work in the 2013-14 academic year.  Development Services have the task of giving a rough estimate of how much effort might be required for each proposal, so that the service owners, college registrars and heads of support group can decide what would make the best use of our time.

This year we have tried to make the annual planning more "light touch".  For my management team, this means that we have given each project a simple estimate of Small, Medium or Large, rather than trying to assign a precise figure.  This makes a lot of sense, as the proposals are usually quite general at this stage and a detailed estimate would require far more time spent in understanding all the details of the potential implementation.  It also means that we can get the estimates done sooner and produce a first draft of the potential programme in December, two months earlier than last year.  This in turn gives people more time to review their priorities and/or investigate certain proposals in more detail.

One unforeseen effect of doing this planning earlier was that it overlapped with the time when we run our annual development reviews.  So we've been doing two stressful things at once!  If we've been a little harder to get hold of than usual, this is probably why.

Development Services has grown substantially over the last year.  To manage this expansion, we've delegated some of our management tasks to senior team members.  Each is now responsible for one or two other members of the team, taking over the monthly 1-to-1 meetings and the annual reviews.  In addition to making the management practical, this is also giving our seniors a chance to develop their leadership skills.  My impression is that so far this is going well.  We will be reviewing progress in the new year, which should give us a chance to iron out any minor problems that arise.

In the meantime, I wish all readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy Hogmanay!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Presentation: Putting IT all together

This is a presentation I gave to an audience of University staff: 

In this seminar, I invite you to consider what the University’s online services would be like, if we worked together to design them from the perspective of the student or member of staff who will use them, instead of designing them around the organisational units that provide them. I’ll start with how the services might appear to that student or member of staff, then work back from there to show what this implies for how we work, how we manage our data, and how we integrate our IT systems. It might even lead to changes in our organisational structure.

Our online services make a vital and valued contribution to the work of our students and staff. I argue that with better integration, more consistent user interfaces, and shared data, this contribution could be significantly enhanced.

This practice is called “Enterprise Architecture”. I’ll describe how it consults multiple organisational units and defines a framework …

Service Excellence, Digital Transformation and Enterprise Architecture

Our University Secretary has sponsored a major review of the University’s administrative processes, coining the banner “Service Excellence”.  The aim is to look at the services we provide to staff and students with a fresh eye, making them more effective, more efficient, and focussed on the user rather than administrative convenience.

Our CIO is sponsoring a similar programme called “Digital Transformation”. This will replace old paper-based processes, starting with the question of what would processes look like if we designed them afresh for the modern connected world.  The aim is to make processes that are more focussed on the user and hence more effective and efficient.

Both of these ambitious programmes will need an effective enterprise architecture, if they are to succeed.  Digital Transformation is intrinsically about using opportunities provided by new technology to improve services and, as such, it requires effective technology services to make data available when needed, to pro…

Not so simple...

A common approach to explaining the benefits of Enterprise Architecture is to draw two diagrams: one that shows a complicated mess of interconnections, and one that shows a nicely layered set of blocks. Something like this one, which came from some consultants:


I've never felt entirely happy with this approach.  Yes, we do want to remove as much of the needless complexity and ad-hoc design that litters the existing architecture.  Yes, we do want to simplify the architecture and make it more consistent and intelligible.  But the simplicity of the block diagram shown here is unobtainable in the vast majority of real enterprises.  We have a mixture of in-house development and different third-party systems, some hosted in-house, some on cloud infrastructure and some accessed as software-as-a-service.  For all the talk of standards, vendors use different authentication systems, different integration systems, and different user interfaces.

So the simple block diagram is, basically, a l…