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Away Day: Service Management

Every four months, our Division's management team have an Away Day, a chance to concentrate on particular aspects of our work without the distractions of our day-to-day responsibilities.  We don't go very far, just to a meeting room in the University's Salisbury Green hotel, right next to Arthur's Seat, but it is away from our respective desks.

Yesterday we focused on the three year strategy for our own services, the ones run by our Service Management section.  These include the university portal, the web hosting service, the lecture capture service, the VLEs and other technology-enhanced learning tools, the ID management system, the electronic voting system, and others.  The three team leaders from the section presented their plans clearly and their presentations triggered lots of discussion.  We reviewed their plans for making services even easier to use from smartphones and tablets, adding functionality without duplicating effort, and integrating services so that users have the information they want when they want it.

One issue that we returned to throughout the day was the need to engage users in our service plans .  We plan to establish more user groups for our services and to involve these groups in the design aspects of our projects.  As the leader of Development Services, this is something I am very keen to take advantage of.   Close user involvement has been key to the success of our Agile development projects and we could do more on other projects if we could investigate user interface options early on.

From a projects point of view, we also discussed how to run more usability evaluations and to engage service management in the usability and graphics aspects of our user interface design.  From a corresponding service point of view, we discussed how to provide continuous improvement via a range of options, from small enhancements through to making better use of our project planning processes.

There was plenty to discuss and several useful points arose that we will be taking further.  Hopefully this day spent away from the mundane will lead to better services for all our users.


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