Skip to main content

Strategy at the Heart of institutional transformation

I'm attending the UCISA CISG 2014 conference in Manchester.  I will attempt to blog about each presentation during the conference.  First up was Andrea Nolan from Edinburgh Napier University.

Andrea argued that a university needs a compelling vision of what it is trying to achieve; a vision that people can agree with and work towards.  IT is a key part of transforming visions into reality.  For Edinburgh Napier University, a particular concern is support for student success and for transnational education.  Andrea identified social media as a key technology for building a sense of community.
Andrea used the term “student success” rather than “student experience”.  Are students achieving what they expected, getting good jobs at the end of their course, as well as enjoying their time at the University?

One comment particularly stood out for me.  Andrea asked how Edinburgh Napier could make “home” students feel part of an international online community.   Usually when people talk about distance education they phrase this the other way around, assuming that on-campus is the norm and that online-only students need to be brought into that community.  Andrea’s reversal challenges this conventional thinking and could open some new opportunities.

There was also some discussion of risk.  Andrea argued that there needs to be room for failure, in order to innovate.  One member of the audience suggested that audit committees were too conservative in their attitude to risk, particularly for corporate IT, which can stifle innovation.  A grown-up discussion is needed of which risks can be accepted or even encouraged.


Popular posts from this blog

Changing Principles

In EA, architecture principles set a framework for making architectural decisions.  They help to establish a common understanding across different groups of stakeholders, and provide guidance for portfolios and projects.  Michael Durso of the LSE gave a good introduction to the idea in a webinar last week for the UCISA EA community.

Many organisations take the TOGAF architecture principles as a starting point.  These are based on the four architectural domains of TOGAF: business, information/data, applications, technology/infrastructure.  These principles tend to describe what should be done, e.g. re-use applications, buy in software rather than build it, keep data secure.  See for example the principles adopted at Plymouth University and the University of Birmingham.

Recently though, I encountered a different way of looking at principles.  The user experience design community tend to focus more on how we should do things.  E.g. we should start with user needs, use iterative developm…

Why the UCISA Capability Model is useful

What do Universities do?

This may seem a strange question to ask and the answer may seem obvious.  Universities educate students and undertake research.  And perhaps they work with industrial partners and create spin-off companies of their worn.  And they may work with local communities, and affiliation bodies for certain degress, and they definitely report on their activities to government bodies such as HEFCE.  They provide student services and support.  The longeryou think about it, the more things you can think of that a University does.

In business, the things that an organisation does are called "capabilities", which is a slightly strange term.  I think it is linked to the HR idea of a combination of the CAPacity and ABILITY to do a task.  Whatever the name, it is a useful concept.  A capability is more basic than a process: a University may change the way it educates students but as long as it remains a University it will educate them one way or another.

A capability …

A new EA Repository

One of my goals since starting this job two years ago has always been to create a repository for architecture documents.  The idea is to have a central store where people can find information about the University's applications, data sources, business processes, and other architectural information.  This store will make it easier for us to explain our plans, to show the current state of the University's information systems, and to explain what Enterprise Architecture is all about.

It's taken a long time to reach this goal, mainly because we're often had more pressing and immediate work to be done.  The creation of a repository is one of those tasks that is very important but never quite urgent.  So I'm now very happy to say that we are in the process of deploying a repository and modelling tool.

This is the culmination of a careful process to select the most appropriate tool for our needs.  We began by organising several workshops to gather requirements from a rang…