[JISC] Weeknote 5/33

This week had two pretty overwhelming themes – process and synthesis. First though a quick rant about just how poor the IT infrastructure we have to work with internally is.

From about 4.30 last Friday til past midday on Monday we had no email at all. For an organisation that essentially runs on email (for better or worse) this was a bit of a pain and caused more than its share of problems. If it was an isolated incident maybe it could just be forgotten but in the six months I’ve been back there have been at least five significant outages I think. This is now becoming a real issue I think and we need to take some of our own advice and look to alternate options. (By which I mean outsource to GMail!)

Later in the week our regular team call was massively disrupted due to a number of problems with the VOIP phones and conference system our London office uses. I know the solution saves money but sometimes you get what you pay for.

This week we started to look at ways to make communication within our team a little more focused and for ways to ensure that everyone in the team is a little bit more familiar with what everyone else is doing. We are trying to do this with a mix of lightweight regular updates (not dissimilar to my weeknotes) and something more weighty quarterly. Hopefully these will both be managed in some kind of online fashion to allow the data to be collected and analysed in some manner in the future. I did spend a bit of time building a Google Docs Form but it was a bit simple for our needs so I’ll be looking to build something more complex probably in BOS.

I also attended a meeting concerned with identifying ways of improving the documentation and processes we use to manage our innovation portfolios. I am not always sure I am the best person for this as I haven’t been through the full lifecycle of one of our projects yet but I was able to comment more than I would have done a couple of months ago. I think improving the quality of the templates etc we send out to projects and ensuring more consistency is really important – however I do wonder whether we do this at the expense of the flexibility we need to support the different kinds of projects we run. It is good to see that this project seems to be identifying the best practices from our various teams though as that is something that often gets lost.

As a part of this meeting there was a rather long discussion about an upcoming internal IT project. I think I was at fault for dragging this item out a bit but so many of the issues were things I faced before in the past in my previous role(s) and I’d hate history to repeat itself.

I then had three meetings about ‘synthesis’. Now this is a strange old area of work and to be honest we don’t really have an agreed definition of what we mean by the word! That said the work is coming together and this week in particularly a number of concrete pieces of work were identified and kicked off. This includes a really interesting spread of stuff including analytics work, a couple of great events with associated outputs, some publication/report work and a decent bit of web stuff. All stuff I am looking forward to getting my teeth in to. A discussion this morning also opened up a new way of grouping some areas of work together that I hadn’t been able to see despite it being pretty obvious when it was mentioned. This has got me thinking about a meaty piece of work that I will look to scope that I think would be of real interest to a wide audience internally and externally.

I also got another load of marking sorted, arranged a load more meetings and chased up some outstanding issues with my projects around some of the events we have coming up. All-in-all another positive week.

I am on leave next week so there will most likely be a break.