Category Archives: Service Management

Service Management Section

File Sharing Resources for Staff and Students

The SharePoint Solutions Service have developed a collection of resources to support both staff and students with personal document management and online collaboration at the University.

Resources for Staff:

https://uoe.sharepoint.com/sites/sharepoint-solutions-service/SitePages/Staff-Resources.aspx

A series of guides have been developed covering both basics as well as managing file sharing and permissions for the following Microsoft 365 applications available to staff at the University:  

  • SharePoint  
  • OneDrive  
  • Microsoft Lists  

Each guide features guidance and examples of suggested usage, with topics covered including:  

  • Adding members to your SharePoint site  
  • Sharing files and folders in SharePoint and OneDrive (as well as how to stop sharing content, or change permissions)  
  • Reporting on file and folder sharing in SharePoint and OneDrive  
  • Creating rules in Microsoft Lists  

Guidance for other Microsoft 365 applications will continue to be added to the Staff Resources page in due course.  

Resources for Students:

https://uoe.sharepoint.com/sites/sharepoint-solutions-service/SitePages/Student-Resources.aspx

A series of guides have been developed covering an assortment of the Microsoft 365 applications available to students free of charge at the University for the duration of their studies.  

Each guide covers a different theme and set of Microsoft 365 applications, featuring guidance and examples of suggested usage. Topics covered include:  

  • Personal Document Management at University using OneDrive and OneNote  
  • Online Collaboration for Team Projects and Group Work using SharePoint, Teams and Planner  
  • Online Tools for Student Committees and Societies using Forms and Yammer  
  • Sustainable Study: From Paper to Working Digitally  
  • Studying Online: Supporting Remote Learning through Microsoft 365 and other collaboration tools at the University  

Getting the most out of www.ed.ac.uk/teams

Hints & Tips 

Did you know that we continuously stream hints & tips about using MS Teams?  

Our helpful Hints & Tips cover anything from discovering the latest meeting or webinar feature to chat groups, how to embed quick polls or plan boards and even etiquette or best practice matters.  With ‘How-To’ guidance and sign posting to useful features they support users to get the most out of Teams. 

You can follow our twitter feed here: @UoE_ISApps #TeamsTips 

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Watch out for these hints & tips coming soon…. 

• Spotlight on the presenter in your meetings  
• Present like a pro, present like a news reader with presenter overlay 
• Include a meeting ID in your Teams meetings 
• Set a timer on breakout rooms and bring participants back to the meeting 
• Find best practice about how to host a webinar in Teams 

New Features – How to Keep Informed

Did you know we have an extensive listing covering updates to MS Teams? 
 
You can see our “Microsoft Teams Notice Board” for details about updates, including a timeline at www.ed.ac.uk/teams 

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These updates are aligned with Microsoft’s roadmap for Teams and are a useful source of information about when we should expect to see new features or how they will be released to Teams here at the University. 

Coming Soon –  a preview of updates users can expect to see shortly 

  • Webinar 1000 plus attendee registration coming in May 2021 
    Allowing presenter modes, audience Q&A and broadcast to 10,000 listeners 
    More details: https://edin.ac/3bdZvhc 
  • New Breakout Room Features 
    Persistent breakout rooms, ability to reassign participants and set timers on breakout sessions. 
    More details: https://edin.ac/3hiRlrG 

Find the right tool(s) for your next online meeting or event

The University of Edinburgh’s Online and Digital Events Service provides support to ensure your event needs are best matched with the appropriate online solution. The service includes a list of meeting and online event platforms that ISG fully supports as well as advice and guidance, training and case studies to help you use the platforms to their fullest. 

Not sure which tool to use for your event? The Online and Digital Events Tool Selector provides personalised recommendations on which tool is most suitable for your online meeting or event based on your responses to the advice form.  

One of the options in the suite of tools available to the University community is EventsAir. EventsAir is a virtual digital event platform procured by the University to offer a comprehensive solution for organising and running professional quality, large-scale virtual events. The platform supports large numbers of attendees and exhibitors, integrated live streaming, recorded content and point-to-point text and video chat.  

EventsAir helps to deliver quality digital and hybrid events at scale, having already supported a number of successful virtual events across early adopters including Careers Week and University Open Days.  

“Speaking for my own business area, I was delighted to see 96% satisfaction ratings across our Open Days held in EventsAir for the first time. When feedback like this is coupled with the increase in global reach that we saw in these events, this presents really exciting opportunities,” said Clare Mackay, Deputy Director, Student Recruitment and Admissions.  

If you or your teams are interested in learning more about EventsAir and the other supported tools available for running events, you can find out more on the Online and Digital Events Service webpages at www.ed.ac.uk/digitalevents . The Online and Digital Events Service can help you get started, and recommend which route is most appropriate to your needs. The Online and Digital Events Service can also connect you with the EventsAir User Group that has been set up to enable adopters to share learning and good practices.  

UniDesk Turns 10

UniDesk recognises a decade of providing shared information technology services across Higher Education

UniDesk, the shared service management solution, celebrates its tenth anniversary this Wednesday November 18th, 2020. Delivered in partnership with TOPdesk software, UniDesk offers streamlined service management across the higher education sector.

Founded in 2010 by University of Edinburgh, University of St. Andrews and Abertay University, the UniDesk solution incorporates information technology (IT) processes, guidance and support tailored to further and higher education. Its members collaborate to share costs, administrative knowledge and best practices with one another.

Service Owners Dawn Dodd and Catherine Hetherington are proud to be a part of the UniDesk community, helping to shape its future. “Higher Education needs are more complex than logging calls just for an IT function. Our service is used by different groups across the institutions and we need to ensure that UniDesk evolves to meet the needs of an ever changing and expanding community. UniDesk is scalable which is vital for our large operator base and even larger user base,” said Dawn.

In the past ten years UniDesk has grown its user community to 11 member institutions with almost 969,000 registered users and over 1.4 million calls logged collectively in 2019-2020. In recent years, the membership began hosting annual in-person conferences, pre-conference socials and forums as an opportunity to share their UniDesk experiences, continually improve the service and connect as a community.

To further enhance the partnership, UniDesk also launched the UniDesk Share space for members to support one another and share resources. The Microsoft Teams site includes a repository of videos, start-up guides and quick reference documents for members to rebrand and use in their local settings.

“It feels the UniDesk community has really moved forward in the past 2 years since we joined and there have been some rapid developments. The launch of UniDesk Share to encourage collaborative discussions on common problems has been a very positive step forward,” said Mike Burns, Learning and Information Services Manager at University of Highlands and Islands. “The conferences have been useful to bring teams together and put faces to names, especially for the institutions we work with outside of Scotland.”

Underpinning UniDesk’s continued success is the ethos of sharing and collaboration as part of the solution developed for Education by Education. Members often request advice from other members with years of experience as they develop in their service management journey. UniDesk also benefits from regular support and knowledge shared by an experienced team of dedicated University of Edinburgh staff. Additionally, each of the member institutions is given a seat on the UniDesk governance board and is involved in the future direction of the solution.

“UniDesk for us was ultimately a very neat solution in procuring a compliant system for our needs in a relatively short space of time, but also in the full knowledge that the wealth of experience and skills behind the product would provide us with continued ongoing support. Utilising the experience of the other institutions has led to some great collaborative working and new relationships which have proved fruitful,” said Mike.

UniDesk remains committed to growing and evolving with user needs and a changing education environment. UniDesk has recently moved to TOPdesk’s software as a service (SaaS), enabling Chat functionality and opportunities for improved Asset Management. Looking ahead to the future, UniDesk aims to ensure continuous service improvement through streamlined upgrades, provision of the API and improving overall resilience for the service.

“The move to TOPdesk SaaS will help us on our continual service improvement path. Our membership can look forward to seeing new features as we develop the service for the future,” said Catherine.

UniDesk’s current member institutions include: University of Edinburgh, University of St. Andrews, Abertay University, Sheffield Hallam University, Ulster University, University of Stirling, Edinburgh Napier University, Durham University, University of the Highlands and Islands, Royal College of Art and University of Malta.

To learn more about UniDesk, stay up to date on the latest news and engage with members visit the UniDesk website or UniDesk Twitter.

Our International Shared Service

L-Universita ta Malta to join the UniDesk Service taking our membership total to 11!

UniDesk is an unique offering within the Education Sector. We provide a fully managed ITIL based shared service management solution, extensively tailored for Higher and Further Education, delivered in partnership with TOPdesk and backed by specialist support from the University of Edinburgh. The value realised by our members from being part of the UniDesk service is much greater than the functionality delivered from the modules on offer. As a managed service we provide the ITIL-aligned processes for the core modules and a streamlined implementation process.

Lying at the cross-roads of the Mediterranean the University of Malta with its 400-year history is the hub for international academic exchange on the island. The University is composed of fourteen faculties, a number of interdisciplinary institutes and centres, three schools and a junior college. Besides the main campus, situated at Msida, there are three other campuses: Valletta, Marsaxlokk, Gozo.  There are in excess of 11,500 students, including around 1,000 international students from 92 different countries and 450 visiting overseas students, following full-time or part-time degree and diploma courses.

“We were particularly excited to join UniDesk because of its focus on the University environment. Having the opportunity to share best practices and learn within a community of member Universities was also important for us”    James Cilia, Head of User Services, University of Malta

The service, which will celebrate its 10th birthday in 2020, has grown from strength to strength since it originated in 2010.   In addition to the founding Universities of Edinburgh, Abertay and St. Andrews, other members benefitting from sharing administrative knowledge and working practices are Sheffield Hallam, Ulster, Stirling, Edinburgh Napier, Durham, the University of the Highlands and Islands and the Royal College of Art. We have developed user groups to share best practice and for the past three years have held very successful conferences to bring our members together with guest speakers and great guidance from our community.  UniDesk is now also endorsed and promoted as a shared service through UCSS which simplifies procurement paths for membership.

Dawn Dodd & Catherine Hetherington, Service Owner For UniDesk said

“We are delighted that the quality and reputation of our shared service management solution is being recognised beyond the UK education sector.  This is an exciting time for our service and we look forward to working with University of Malta and welcoming them into our UniDesk family.”

More information about our shared service can be found at unidesk.ac.uk

Royal College of Art now Live with UniDesk

Royal College of Art becomes the 10th member to join the UniDesk National Service

UniDesk is a shared service management solution originally developed in partnership by Abertay, Edinburgh and St Andrews Universities.  UniDesk incorporates ITIL based processes, guidance and support tailored to further and higher education process flows. The UniDesk service also prospers from a strong user community which actively contributes to the continuous improvement of the service. In addition to the founding Universities the other members of the UniDesk family are Durham, Edinburgh Napier, Sheffield Hallam, Stirling, University of the Highlands and Islands and Ulster. All our members benefit from sharing costs, administrative knowledge and working practices. The University of Edinburgh alone logs approximately 1800 calls a day via UniDesk and is used by over 1500 operators. The current UniDesk service is built on the TOPdesk Service Management solution: https://www.topdesk.com/uk/

The Royal College of Art (or RCA) is one of the world’s leading postgraduate Art & Design universities. It has over 2800 students and 960 staff, split across three campuses in Kensington, Battersea and White City in London.

UniDesk will enable RCA to provide enhanced first and second line support to the institution’s growing student and staff population and bring on additional departments such as Building and Estates and Finance. RCA were attracted to UniDesk because of a wealth of education-based experience that supports the service and the strength of the existing UniDesk community. UniDesk facilitate and encourage the sharing of experiences and best practice rather than having to build from the ground up. It’s our business model!

The UniDesk Chair, Mark Ritchie from the University of Edinburgh (who is a bit of a music buff) said: “Greetings pop pickers! In with a bang at No.10 on the UniDesk chart it’s David Bowie’s old mates at the Royal College of Art. We’re looking forward to lots of “Ch-ch-changes” as RCA join the UniDesk family”

We are looking forward to working with RCA on their service management journey.

Information catalogues

There is an old dream of having all information available in one place, just as there is an equally old desire to squirrel away the information ‘we’ need in a place controlled by just ‘us’. Neither of these tendencies are likely to ever completely obscure the other, but there are technologies that attempt to bridge this gap between centralised order and localised specialisation.

I explored one such technology during a workshop by Mike Ferguson of Intelligent Business Strategies in last week’s Enterprise Data Conference in London on information catalogues. These catalogues are a response to the emergence of data lakes, which are repositories of data in whatever form they are found. That is; organisations have started to put copies of the databases of transactional systems, along with social media, click streams, office documents, cloud platform data and API outputs and much more besides into a single place to enable people to analyse, report, visualise and train machine learning models. In these lakes, raw data sits next to neatly processed data reports. A data lake can take the form of a single Hadoop installation or a cloud storage instance, or it can be a logical layer above a wide variety of data storage systems.

Needless to say, keeping track of what is in such a data lake is critical, and that is where the information catalogue comes in. Such a piece of software can:

  • Discover data in the lake much like a web search engine crawls the web
  • Keep track of changes in the data
  • Profile data in terms of data quality and data lineage or provenance
  • Automatically tag data for characteristics such as personally identifiable information, data protection category and more
  • Enable users to collaborate on defining their own terms and tag data items with it (or have the platform do it for them)
  • Attach governance policies to data items, including via tags
  • Attach governance policies to data artefacts such as reports or ETL jobs
  • Provide faceted search over all data
  • Provide REST APIs to allow other tools access to its contents
  • Provide a data market place for ready-made business intelligence applications

The scope of particular products varies, of course. Not all products will be able to support all capabilities. The reason is that some are tied to a specific storage technology such as Apache Atlas to Apache Hadoop’s file system, or AWS Glue to Amazon’s AWS S3 storage service. Others are more tied to specific business intelligence tools such as Alteryx Connect or Qlik Podium Data Catalog. But others again are associated with data management and ETL platforms such as Informatica and Talend and therefore tend to have a wider purview.

Clearly, the data governance and data discovery capabilities of such tools are highly attractive for any organisation with heterogeneous information stores, but it does raise the question at what point it is worth implementing a dedicated information catalogue over making do with an assemblage of features of existing systems. Perhaps the best way to determine that inflection point is to make a ranked list of tools you can use for data governance, metadata management and data discovery – from a pile of spreadsheets to a full blown information catalogue – and agree at what point the pain of manually keeping track of all information outweighs the pain of buying and implementing a dedicated information catalogue

University of Highlands and Islands to Join UniDesk

University of Highlands and Islands becomes 9th member to join UniDesk National Service

UniDesk is a shared service management solution originally developed in partnership by Abertay, Edinburgh and St. Andrews Universities. The service incorporates ITIL based processes, guidance and support tailored to further and higher education process flows. The UniDesk service also prospers from a strong user community which actively contributes to the continuous improvement of the service. The current UniDesk service is built on the TOPdesk Service Management solution https://www.topdesk.com/uk/

The University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) is the UK’s only fully tertiary educational institute, delivering School Link, FE, HE and Research with 13 Academic Partners.  Covering a geographical area the size of Belgium, from Shetland to the Scottish Borders, the partnership has over 80 campus sites and serves a user base of approximately 40,000 users.

Mike Burns, Customer Service Manager for UHI’s Learning and Information Services says their decision to join UniDesk will help UHI with delivering equivalence of support experience across all their user base whether it be at one of their city campus sites in Inverness or Perth to a remote learning centre in Shetland.

 “The University of the Highlands and Islands are delighted to be joining the UniDesk family. After careful analysis of our current requirements and our future plans, it was a unanimous decision to join the UniDesk shared service. Bringing UHI into UniDesk with our 13 Academic Partners is, we believe, a game changing approach to our service delivery model.

 The UniDesk service management team have been also been a major factor in our decision to join. Taking the time to understand our business they have worked closely with us to ensure we could achieve a compliant procurement. With the expected support from the team and the engaged UniDesk community, UHI are confident the UniDesk platform will help us achieve our strategic aims.”

In addition to the founding Universities, Edinburgh, Abertay and St. Andrews, other members benefitting from sharing administrative knowledge and working practices are Sheffield Hallam, Ulster, Stirling, Edinburgh Napier and Durham Universities.

The University of Edinburgh alone logs approximately 1800 calls a day via UniDesk and is used by over 1500 operators.

Mark Ritchie, Deputy Director of Applications Directorate and Chair of the UniDesk Board, said

 “I am very excited to be welcoming the University of the Highlands and Islands to the UniDesk family. UHI’s unique organisational structure, energy and commitment is sure to bring innovation and added value to the UniDesk service. Our experience working with Mike and his team has already been very positive and we are confident that we can achieve great things together.”

 

The third annual UniDesk Conference took place in June 2018 and was hosted by the University of Edinburgh.

The conference chairs were Catherine Hetherington and Dawn Dodd, job-share Collaboration Services Managers and UniDesk Service Owner from the University of Edinburgh. A total of 42 delegates attended the conference representing the majority of the UniDesk member universities, three non-member institutions, TOPdesk, UCSS (a subsidiary of APUC) and JISC.

The conference event included a full and varied agenda with the delivery of six presentations and an Ask the Experts session. The day was kicked off with talks from TOPdesk about their new Asset Management followed by Rad Sargeant, from Help Services, University of Edinburgh discussing the success story of UniDesk Quick Calls. Next up was a Self Service Showcase presented by the University of Durham and Ulster University followed by our wonderful guest speaker, Ruth Drysdale, senior co-design manager at JISC. The presentations were rounded off by Willie Mitchell from Service Management discussing future developments for UniDesk and finally TOPdesk looking at the use of API technology.

The day’s events concluded with the return of the popular UniDesk Quiz, where Alex Carter, Head of Service Management, stepped in as Quiz Master to host a technology themed quiz alongside general knowledge questions.

To enhance the overall offering, encourage networking between members, and provide entertainment for attendees staying overnight in the area, a pre-conference ‘Haunting, Hunting and Hospitality’ event around Edinburgh’s Old Town was offered to all delegates on the evening of the 12th June. This was organised in light of last year’s successful River Cruise pre-conference event in Durham. The delegates were invited to attend an evening of stories, scaring and scran around Edinburgh’s old town, taking in the historic features of the Royal Mile and the vaults underground. The evening concluded with food and drinks in Holyrood 9A which was sponsored by TOPdesk.  This event provided the UniDesk community with the opportunity to socialise and network in an informal setting. The feedback received was extremely positive, with delegates commenting that it was a great way to start the event and get to know other delegates in a fun and relaxed environment.

Overall, the third UniDesk conference was a great success. 90% of delegates responded to the conference survey rating the event as either Excellent or Very Good. We will be following on from this success at our fourth UniDesk Conference next year and look forward to seeing more new faces joining the UniDesk Community.

Authors: Sophie Ainslie, Dawn Dodd, Catherine Hetherington

Data standardisation at the Environment Agency

Funny how very different organisations can have very similar challenges. One of the things I wanted to find out from going to the IRM UK Enterprise Data Conference Europe is how other organisations went about agreeing data standards for their own organisation.

I got there in one: the very first talk was about exactly that topic. Becky Russell from the Environment Agency, with help from Nigel Turner of Global Data Strategy ltd, presented on their approach to the collaborative development of data standards.

The problem they addressed was the following: they had lots of separate teams working on different aspects of the same processes with many different systems. Because they worked on different aspects, they had different definitions for the same things, which made reporting on them difficult, costly and error prone. For example, one ‘thing’ or core data entity for the EA is ‘catchment area’. The team unearthed 16 definitions for those, some subtly, some very different.  Some definitions had the same labels, others not so much. Sounds familiar?

The core of the solution the EA team developed is to design a process for agreeing common definitions of major data entities such ‘catchment area’. They also develop a logical data model for those entities as well, where such a thing is needed. A data model specifies what attributes or dimensions an entity has, without quite specifying how a particular system needs to store it.

That solves the reporting problem, but the process has challenges of its own. To deal with them, they stuck to a couple of principles:

  • Be driven by a business problem, don’t just standardise something for the sake of it
  • Be business led. They know their domain best.
  • Have space for local as well as global standards. There can be good reasons for local exceptions to widely agreed definitions or data models.
  • Re-use external standards where you can.
  • Have supporting technologies in place.
  • Align the standards development to data governance structures.
  • Introduce the standard in new technology alone, because changing legacy systems is costly.

The latter was tricky, because it means that the benefits of standardisation can take quite a while to materialise. Data warehouses can help, in that respect.

This approach did work well, and allows the team to iteratively and pragmatically create more order in the data landscape of the organisation, without having to spend huge resources upfront. As the effort progresses, the standardisation process can become more formal where it needs to be.