To help put names to faces and highlight the diverse personalities in the Apps department, we run a regular series of short interviews with our staff. These short interviews feature both new and long-standing members of the department.
Tell us about your journey before starting this role: I did a Ph.D. in Computer Science and then worked in a couple of software houses as a developer and team manager. […] In 2002 I joined the National e-Science Centre (NeSC)[…] My time at NeSC got me interested in architecture, and after eight years leading Development Services I was looking for a new role. I joined ISG in 2008 as Head of Development Services in Applications Division, and then started the Enterprise Architecture (EA) section in 2016. The opportunity to set up EA from scratch, while continuing to work with the great colleagues in Apps, was ideal for me.
What kind of tasks does this role involve?: First and foremost, the role of a section head is to build a great team. Our team does architecture, which is about the ‘big picture’ of how processes and systems interact and how to govern these integrations over time. We’re involved in many projects and we work with many people to define technical strategies and data governance processes. We’re building a repository of information about ISG’s applications, data, and services. Our BI Team is building the data warehouse that underpins the university’s strategic reporting strategy.
What’s your favourite place or thing to do in Edinburgh? I’ve been living in Edinburgh for most of 40 years and favourite places have come and gone over that time. Right now, I’d have to pick Blackford Hill and the Hermitage of Braid, because I’ve spent so much time walking there in recent years, especially during lockdown.
Tell us an interesting fact about yourself: In the 1980’s and early 1990’s, I helped to organise the Edinburgh Bisexual Group and the Bisexual Helpline. You could say I’m one of the many people who helped to put the B in to LGBT+!
Find out more about the Enterprise Architecture team here.
Taking on part-time work or a year-long placement in the ISG team has provided countless students over the years with practical experience to complement their university learning. Within the Information Services Group and the Applications Directorate, there are many line managers who first came to work at the University as student employees.
Systems and Database Administrator, Mark McGowan was a student at Edinburgh Napier University about 10 years ago, when he was employed for a one-year placement in ISG. After completing his degree Mark was contacted by the team and invited to interview for a full-time position. Now, Mark supports the recruitment and training of new placement students.
Mark noted that placement students bring a range of new ideas and practices to the team each year thanks to their training at university. He commented that students come with “fresh perspectives” and are encouraged to share their recent learning from university with the team – often prompting managers to review existing processes and implement updates where possible.
Below, we have shared the profiles of several students currently working in the ISG department.
Sharon Chen, Service Management, Online and Digital Events Service Assistant
Sharon is studying a one-year MSc Management program at the University of Edinburgh and applied for this role as Online and Digital Events Service Assistant because she enjoys communicating with people from different cultures and has experience managing social media.
“I am originally from Taiwan, a place that is half the size of Scotland, but four times more populated! I enjoy playing badminton, filming vlogs, and exploring the city. I’m a mini-YouTuber, feel free to check out my channel @happyplus.happylife!
Sharon’s role in ISG involves enhancing the delivery of digital events on Teams and Zoom and assisting the Service Management team. Alongside her work and studies, Sharon enjoys the dance lessons available at the University gym (Pleasance), coffee-shop hopping, and she is determined not only to finish her dissertation this year but also learn some more Scots.
Margherita Tobia, Service Operations Assistant
Margherita is in her fourth year of studying for a linguistics degree at the University of Edinburgh and was attracted to the job of Service Operations Assistant because she finds problem solving challenges to be rewarding.
“I grew up in Argentina, and I’ve been living in Scotland for almost 8 years now. I’ve been obsessed with languages since I was a kid, and I’m always trying to learn new ones in my free time.”
Margherita’s role involves helping manage various services for the university, updating documentation and reporting on the work of the services team.
Margherita likes to spend her spare time exploring the botanic gardens, cooking and reading – in 2022 she reached her goal of reading 50 books and intends to challenge this record in 2023.
Ross Mennie, Project Management Administrator, Project Management Office
Ross is in his fourth year of studying for a politics degree at the University of Edinburgh. He was initially hired as a Project Management Intern in the Summer and is now working as a Project Management Administrator. Ross was eager to work in the PMO office to support his studies while also gaining valuable project management skills.
“I am originally from Aberdeen and enjoy sports outside of work – playing tennis, football, running, cycling and swimming. I have also started boxing and enjoy going to student movie nights at the Cameo Picture House.”
Ross’s role involves administrative tasks that support the PMO such as, managing email inboxes, writing new guidance and uploading to internal wiki pages, creating new projects for the PM’s, running social media accounts and representing the PMO at review meetings.
Ross has set himself the goal of learning sign language in 2023 and will continue exploring his favourite walking trails around Arthur’s Seat, Blackford Hill and the Pentlands.
Marta Negro Puig, Placement Student, Information Services Applications Directorate: Technology Management
Marta is in her third year of studying a web design and development degree at Edinburgh Napier University. She applied for the placement student role as she wanted to challenge herself to learn new gain technical skills alongside her degree.
“I am originally from Madrid Spain. I arrived in Edinburgh 7 years ago to improve my English. I went travelling for several months after 3 years here, but I loved my life in Scotland, so I returned. I value very much the work-life balance you can get here, the easy access to nature and the opportunities to develop your career despite not having experience in a field.”
Marta’s role involves renewing security certificates for software used across the UoE and assisting with software upgrades and ‘patching.’
Outside of work and study, Marta enjoys walking with her dogs on Arthur’s Seat and plays basketball in the Scottish National League as a member of the Edinburgh Lions.
The University’s primary ‘customers’ are undoubtedly students. Meeting and exceeding the expectations of these students is what Alain Forrester, Acting Service Team Leader, describes as the “bread and butter” of the work carried out by the Information Services Group (ISG).
When hiring a student for a fixed-term placement role or part-time student role, Alain explains that not only is it beneficial for ensuring that specific work is completed – but the unique insight students can offer into the end-user experience additionally makes them “invaluable” as employees.
Alain himself came to work in the ISG in 2012, on a one-year placement as part of his degree in Business Information Systems at Edinburgh Napier University. Shortly after graduating, Alain was interviewed and hired by the same Service team members he had worked alongside just a year before. More than ten years later, he now balances two roles as Acting Service Team Leader and Service Manager. Recently encouraged by his colleagues to continue developing his career, Alain was nominated to attend the The Edinburgh Manager programme. This intensive training course is designed to teach management techniques and encourage a community of leaders, confident in their ability to line manage colleagues.
As a workplace with a huge variety of learning opportunities like this, the University is an ideal workplace for students, and ‘student-minded’ who don’t view the end of a university course as the end of their learning potential.
Cerys Jenkins, Digital Skills & Training, Digital Skills Trainer – Coding Intern
Cerys is in her second year of studying a BSc in Cognitive Science at the University of Edinburgh and applied for the Coding Intern role because she is passionate about making coding more accessible to everyone.
“I was born in Hong Kong and moved to London about 8 years ago. I came to Edinburgh 2 years ago to begin my bachelors degree and am still adjusting to the cold weather. Outside of work and study, I enjoy playing volleyball and play for the university’s women’s team.”
In her role, Cerys has delivered a Python vs R webinar and runs a coding club once every 3 weeks. This involves teaching complete beginners how to code, answering any questions they may have and helping with projects.
Aside from her mission to convince everyone that coding isn’t an exclusive skill and is something everyone can learn, Cerys hopes to explore more of Scotland and the highlands this year.
Zohra is in her final year of an MA Hons Social Policy and Sociology at the University of Edinburgh. Before starting this undergraduate degree, Zohra had years of experience working as a Project Manager and Business Manager in Retail IT. Since starting her degree in 2019, she has been working part-time as a SharePoint Solutions Assistant within Service Management for the ISG. Zohra was excited to put her experience to use in a role that would continue teaching her new skills, so was delighted to discover the support available to students seeking employment opportunities through the University and the Student Association.
“I am a mature student from Ireland […] Having had to discontinue my first attempt at university when I was younger in the wake of the financial crisis, it was always my dream to return to obtain a degree.”
The SharePoint Solutions Service specialise in online collaboration and document management. In her role, Zohra assists with a wide range of tasks and projects including building new SharePoint sites, testing new services, authoring content and developing training guides.
“The ability to work part-time during the semester and full-time during the summer is a great part of the job, and as a student at the University, I have often been able to provide useful insight and feedback for many of our projects in ISG […] I highly recommend the student employment opportunities in ISG at the University of Edinburgh.”
Neha Oka, Business School, Reporting Analyst
Neha is in the second semester of an MSc Global Strategy and Sustainability programme at the University of Edinburgh. As someone who enjoys translating data into visual reports and eager to meet new people during her time in Edinburgh, the reporting analyst role was ideal for Zohra.
“I’m originally from India but I’ve lived in Abu Dhabi, UAE until high school. I love going out on walks and hiking every once in a while. I am also a big foodie so I love to try out new cafes and restaurants around the city.”
Neha’s role involves creating interactive dashboards to illustrate data in a visual and intuitive form for different stakeholders. She works closely with people from various departments to gain an understanding of their requirements, then creates customized reports for their team.
Alongside her work and study, Neha enjoys exploring the city and regularly walks up Calton Hill to watch the sunset with a coffee when the weather permits. She also hopes to set some personal fitness and habit-building goals before completing a week-long trek in the Himalayas later in the year.
Rebekah Day, IS Applications Directorate, Staff Journalist
Rebekah is studying an MSc Medieval History part-time at the University of Edinburgh. With previous experience studying journalism and years working as a marketing and communications executive, Rebekah was eager to fund her studies with part-time work in a role that would use her existing skills.
“I am originally from Australia and have loved living in the UK for the past 8 years. I’m finally pursuing my dream of studying history and Edinburgh is the perfect city for it. I also love that there is always live music and comedy happening here.”
Her role as a journalist primarily involves writing articles when project managers achieve milestones in their work delivering IT services across the University. She also shares other feel-good and newsworthy updates (this very article being an example) on the news page, and particularly likes to write feature pieces which highlight talented individuals working in the department.
In addition to work and study, Rebekah is the president of a student society that host weekly seminars from history students and organises day trips to historic sites. She regularly takes her ginger cat Toulouse for walks on a leash around Lochend park and loves to spend time browsing the second-hand bookshops near Argyle House and in the Grassmarket.
Tapping into the diverse background and interests of past and current student staff is crucial to ensuring projects and services across the University benefit from fresh ideas and perspectives.
In the third year of his Bachelor of Engineering course at Edinburgh Napier University, Stephen Smith took a student placement working for IT services at the University of Edinburgh. Although learning to use “project documentation, flow charts,” and “the design specification” was admittedly “a bit daunting” – more than 20 years later, Stephen credits the insight he gained during this placement as “a key attributing factor” in securing his first graduate job.
When a full-time role working in IT became available at the University a few years after graduating, Stephen had the confidence to apply thanks to the concentrated experience he had gained “into each of the IT roles” and the “projects methodology” used by the team.
Now in his role as the IT Service Manager in the Applications Directorate, Stephen is involved in the recruitment and training of placement and part-time students, who are often studying outside the realms of technology.
Most recently Stephen has been working collaboratively with Business Management student and avid vlogger, Sharon Chen, to enhance the delivery of digital events. Sharon recently shared what a ‘day in the life’ working in the ISG department looks like, and regularly uses her social media to document the picturesque adventures and experiences she embarks on across Scotland. “We learn from our students about the student experience of the service solutions we provide. This builds a mutual respect which in turn helps improve the quality of our services and our relationships with business area staff,” Stephen said.
Likewise, other students at the University have found that working within the Apps and L & UC partnership is a beneficial way to gain valuable work experience.
Not only do do these internships, placements and part-time roles give students insight and a chance to enhance the services and systems that keep the University operating, these paid positions allow the employees to make the most of their time living in Edinburgh.
Rebecca Hayward, Student Engagement and Events Intern, Heritage Collections
Rebecca is a third year history student at the University of Edinburgh and has recently joined the Heritage Collections team. Interested in a career in the heritage sector, the internship will give Rebecca practical experience and insight into how events and exhibitions can be utilised to engage audiences with historic collections.
“I’m originally from Bishop’s Stortford in Hertfordshire. I chose [to study in] Edinburgh because of its beautiful setting both the historical buildings and the easy access to nature.[…] I am also a big fan of musicals and have already got my Hamilton tickets for March next year!”
Her internship involves developing a schedule of events for next semester, focussing on using the exhibition space in the Main Library to showcase the University’s unique collections and collecting student feedback.
Besides her summer internship, Rebecca also works in the National Museum of Scotland and is President of the Edinburgh University Arts and Heritage Society which allows her to enjoy spontaneous trips to museums and galleries with other like minded students. As she approaches her final year of study Rebecca hopes to explore “as much of Edinburgh as possible before I graduate!”
Megan is in her fifth year of study at the University of Edinburgh, now working on a Masters of Science Research in Economic and Social History. Having completed an undergraduate degree in History too, Megan was eager to take on this role to engage local communities with the heritage collections at the University.
“I am from a small and historic city called Lancaster in the North-West of England.[…] Outside of work and studying, I enjoy visiting cafés and bookshops (my favourite right now is Argonaut books in Leith, it does coffee too) and whenever I get chance, travelling and exploring new places.”
Megan is working on several projects in the Engagement team – helping to organise and deliver a weekly Bronze Arts Award programme, ‘Capturing Craigmillar’ to teenagers at Craigmillar Library, and developing workshops to teach at HMP Perth for the Prison Service Programme based around the Musical Instruments Collection at St Cecilia’s Music Hall.
Outside of work and study Megan is planning to run a half marathon this year and enjoys regular trips to the Royal Botanic Gardens.
Are you a student working in the ISG? Or a staff member who has worked with student staff? We would love to hear about your experiences, get in touch with the ISG staff journalist: firstname.lastname@example.org
A new SharePoint timeline tool has been developed by a member of The University of Edinburgh’s (UoE) Information Services (ISG) team which will enhance organisation and utilisation of list data.
The tool has been created by Don Stuckey who was appointed SharePoint Developer in July 2020 within the SharePoint Solutions Service (SPSS) at ISG.
Don was tasked by Claire Bradford, SharePoint Solutions Manager, and Robert Beaton, SharePoint Technical Lead, to develop a roadmap/timeline ‘web part’ for UoE’s SharePoint sites.
This was done to help enhance Don’s SharePoint Framework (SPFX) development skills and produce a reusable ‘web part’ – that is a web part not tied to one particular SharePoint site.
After early experimentation with various forms for the web part, including a Gantt chart format, Don determined that a one-dimensional timeline format would be the most beneficial due to its relative simplicity.
Throughout the process of the web part’s development, Don has also collaborated with ISG colleagues to acquire feedback and suggestions for possible improvements which he has integrated and applied to further enhance the tool.
As a result, Don’s web part can read in event-based SharePoint list data (such as the data shown in the image below) and provide a chronological timeline representation of that data.
Through this, SharePoint users are provided with an at-a-glance view of event-based data. Such data – which represents an activity, task, or development with a start and end date – is created and utilised across ISG and the wider UoE.
An example of the web part in configuration mode, i.e. showing the options the site owner can choose from when deploying the web part to a page in the site; can be seen below.
Don said: “Besides all the valuable skills I have developed working on the web part, it has also all been great fun!
“I have really seen the value in sharing the web part with colleagues in the SharePoint Solutions Service Team and in Service Management, at various stages of the web part’s development, to get their feedback.
“I took each round of feedback into account in working on the next version and ultimately was able to implement nearly all the enhancements/features suggested by colleagues. This iterative process of feedback-building-sharing I think led to the web part being quite in tune with the form and functionality my sample users (i.e. my colleagues) envisaged for the web part.
“Given that the requirement to record and access event-based data is quite common (by “event”, I mean piece of data with a start and end date), and that users often wish to have an at-a-glance view of such data, I can see the web part being of value to various business units within ISG and the University of Edinburgh.”
Don’s web part is currently a ‘work in progress’ in the ‘targeted release’ stage and is presently deployed only to several targeted production SharePoints sites in IS Apps
Among the first sites to utilise the web part during this initial stage is the IS Apps Journalism SharePoint. An example of how this appears can be seen below.
Don said: “We will see how this targeted release goes, but assuming it goes well and the feedback from real users is positive, we could then consider making the web part available throughout the University’s SharePoint tenancy, so that any site owner can have the option of adding the web part to their site.”
As this web part is a work-in-progress, Don is welcoming any suggestions to develop it further, such as requests for additional features or configuration options.
He is additionally inviting anyone who wishes to try out the web part to email him to provide access to the demo site and add any ideas they have for its development into the “Suggested Enhancements” list.
Beyond its practical applications development of the timeline web part has also proven of immense personal and experiential benefit to Don, enabling him to gain and grow his SharePoint skills and to apply these to new challenges and other software.
He said: “I have been able to use the SPFX skills that I acquired through developing the web part in many different projects where web parts in general are part of the solutions.
“In addition, SPFX uses many technologies that are not specific to SharePoint, e.g. React, Git, and REST APIS, and I have enhanced my knowledge of these technologies through my work on the web part.”
For more information or to trial the new web part and/or pass on any feedback contact Don Stuckey via email on: email@example.com
Rachel Weller, who studied Spanish and Classics, started as a Project Management Intern and then became a part-time Project Management Office (PMO) Administrator. She has now received an offer for the Change and Business Solutions Graduate Programme at NatWest in Edinburgh.
Ting Hsuan Lin, who studied Business Management, started as a Digital Transformation Intern and then became a part-time Digital Transformation Analyst. She has now received an offer for the Compliance Analyst Graduate Programme at Barclays in Singapore.
They spoke to us about the benefits of being employed by ISG as students.
What was your experience like as an intern?
Rachel: “It was a great experience, especially when I knew so many people whose internships elsewhere could not go ahead due to the pandemic. The summer is a varied and interesting time to work for ISG, and I had many critical year-end tasks to complete alongside my intern project. This was beneficial as an intern as it meant that I could have an impact alongside developing my own skills.”
Ting Hsuan: “Initially it was quite challenging as at the start of the pandemic I had issues with connectivity and equipment. Luckily my team was very supportive and I eventually managed to get better internet connectivity and some headphones so I could better participate in Teams calls. I spent time learning and picking up knowledge on platforms like Sharepoint which were new to me.”
What did you do once you became a part-time employee?
Rachel: “Compared to being an intern, a part-time role allows much more responsibility. I had ownership of many regular tasks, the most important being our departmental quality assurance process.
“I was also able to return to full-time employment during the summer break, which means that I have had two years in which I have supported the new summer interns and the end of year process.”
Ting Hsuan: “During my part-time role, I had the opportunity to spearhead more projects and lead other student interns. This was because I had gained more knowledge and experience after my internship so I could contribute more to the team.
“Working remotely allowed me to balance my time between studies and working because I could save time travelling to the office.”
How did your work complement your degree?
Rachel: “For me, it was more that my degree could complement my work – there was not much crossover in terms of content! Instead, it was largely soft skills that were complementary. The best example of this is communication. Obviously, communication skills are vital when studying a language, and this meant I had experience presenting, debating and communicating clearly from my classes. This was all useful when having to word emails, present at meetings and implement process changes. Altogether studying and working simultaneously added breadth to my experience at university.”
Ting Hsuan: “Having studied Strategy related subjects in my degree, it was interesting to see how it can be applied in a higher education context. I particularly enjoyed working on PowerPoint slides for different projects as this helped me improve my data visualization skills, a soft skill that will be valued in the Finance industry. At the end of my contract, I also spoke to my manager Stephen and kindly requested for a letter of reference; this might come in useful in the future after university.”
It’s the end of an era but the start of a “bright future” for UniDesk as the service co-founded by the University of Edinburgh (UoE) moves into new ownership. After 11 hugely successful years, in which the service has gone from strength to strength, UniDesk has been transferred to the Higher Education specialist not-for-profit Shared Services organisation HEFESTIS.
Since it was created, the UniDesk Service has grown to become an indispensable IT Service Management (ITSM) tool for the University of Edinburgh and 10 other higher education institutions across the UK and beyond. Among UniDesk’s many highlights are being consistently voted in the “Top 5 most used ITSM solutions within the HE & FE Sector” by UCISA every year since 2018, winning the UCISA ‘Best Delegate Presentation’ award at the 2018 SSG conference and being regularly showcased by TOPdesk online, via social media and at events.
As part of the pandemic response however Information Services has had to re-evaluate its priorities. Our focus on digital strategies and on supporting the University move to hybrid working has meant that we have been increasingly unable to grow and develop the UniDesk service in the way that is needed. The team at the University have therefore accepted that it’s time to pass on ownership of the service they have done so much to nurture and help flourish.
“From the outset building the UniDesk Service and the journey we have been on since has been a real team effort. We would like to say a huge thank you to everyone that has been involved – from those that had that bright idea all those years ago and created and developed the service to everyone that plays a part in supporting UniDesk today eleven years on,”
Dawn Dodd, joint UniDesk Service Owner at UoE, said.
“It really was a unique service to be involved with, and we don’t mind admitting that we are sad to see it go, but we know it has a very bright future ahead,”
Catherine Hetherington, fellow UniDesk Service Owner at UoE, added.
What is UniDesk?
UniDesk is fully managed Information Technology Infrastructure-based (ITIL) shared service management solution, extensively tailored for Higher and Further Education process flows, using TOPdesk as the underlying IT service management platform.
The service was founded by the universities of Edinburgh, St Andrews and Abertay, and has grown to welcome eight new members, the universities of Sheffield Hallam, Ulster, Stirling, Edinburgh Napier, and Durham; and most recently the Royal College of Art, University of Highlands and Islands, and University of Malta, in 2019.
Overseen by its incredible “small army” of hard-working University staff, UniDesk logs and resolves incidents and request calls to ensure these universities’ services are supported and can continue to run smoothly.
In the last academic session, the collective UniDesk membership logged a staggering two million calls, including more than half-a-million at UoE alone, and reached almost one million registered users.
“The key to the success of UniDesk is its collaborative community. The service has been developed with the community in mind.
“We have nurtured the relationships with our members and ensure that they are involved with and have regular input into the service.
“Our community is so unique that it is referred to, by not only the members, but those within the education sector as the “UniDesk Family”. And a willingness to collaborate, share experiences and best practice, documentation and support each other is what makes the UniDesk family really special,”
Dawn Dodd said.
Bigger and better
The UniDesk Service has never stayed still and has constantly been evolving, improving and growing in more ways than just membership. Among the milestone innovations introduced are:
Quick Calls – a unique tool to capture face-to-face support interactions quickly and simply, which has helped to drive changes in service provision and improve student experiences
Launch of EdHelp – UniDesk underpins a ‘one-stop-shop’ where students can access help and information from all student services in one convenient place
Self Service Portal & Knowledgebase and Finance Helpline – delivering a clear route to financial support for university staff
Move to TOPdesk SaaS – providing possibility for future growth through migration of 24 environments in coordination with 11 member institutions
A number of successful communication and marketing initiatives have also been launched over the years.
This has seen the creation of promotional videos, a modernised UniDesk logo, regular newsletters and a revamped service web sites including a ‘forum’ area where members can chat and share documents and videos.
UniDesk has also been very active on social media, sharing information on new developments and “getting creative” by whipping up special seasonal and other temporary logos including animated gifs.
Alongside all the hard work the service team has taken every available opportunity to get the UniDesk family together to collaborate and have fun.
Four very successful conferences have brought together members to enjoy guest speakers and best-practice sharing and updates from the UniDesk community and TOPdesk.
The conferences have further helped to build connections, support new members and brainstorm solutions to any issues, during events and at breakout lunches.
Fantastic entertainment has also been provided at fun-filled preconference events, including a moonlight BBQ cruise in Durham, a spooky ghost walk in Edinburgh and dolphin spotting in the Moray Firth.
The future of UniDesk
The University remains hugely committed to the future success of UniDesk. UniDesk is a critical service for the University and also underpins the successful EdHelp Service which contributes to student and staff experience on and off-campus.
We are certain that HEFESTIS is the right choice for UniDesk. HEFESTIS, as a not-for-profit HE focused Shared Service provider, shares the values and ethos of UniDesk.
HEFESTIS is jointly owned by member Scottish universities and colleges and already provides a number of successful shared services, including DPO Share, CISO Share, Change Share and Office365 Share.
UniDesk run by HEFESTIS will bring a broad range of benefits, including:
Dedicated specialist resources with HEFESTIS
Building on the great foundations established by UoE Service Management, meaning a continuation in great service and delivery partnership with TOPdesk
More and bigger promotional activities – including HEFESTIS working in partnership with UCISA
Removal of current constraints on service growth, meaning more member innovation and even better value for the University
The legal transfer of ownership to HEFESTIS has now taken place. The transfer included a detailed agreement for continued UoE technical support, and 12 month transition period to ensure a successful handover.
“Working with the UniDesk team at UoE was a pleasure, the passion for UniDesk was evident and both sides worked well together to make the transition successful.
“Going forward we will endeavour to continue with the same culture and ethics. I believe UoE has built a great service in UniDesk and it’s a foundation that HEFESTIS will build on and grow,”
James Morris, Chief Executive Officer of HEFESTIS, said.
HEFESTIS have the capacity and expertise needed to further grow and develop UniDesk welcoming new members and taking the service forward to a bright future!
The Industry Relationship Management (IRM) platform supports industry engagement relationships, across the University of Edinburgh. The Salesforce-based system centralizes and consolidates data related to engagement with external organisations offering a “pan University perspective” where end-to-end relationship management is possible.
The project to procure and implement the IRM began in January 2018 with the aim of providing external stakeholders with more streamlined interactions with the University, expand University collaboration with a range of industrial partners, increase visibility to interactions, support and report business activity across the University, connect with fellow Schools and Services who also engage with industry and ensure adequacy with regulations relating to GDPR, FOI and UoE Security strategies.
With the IRM University users can view and manage touchpoints from across the University with the outside world, improving understanding of what we’re doing with external organisations and quantify and demonstrate impact of engagements through reporting.
Where is the IRM being used?
The IRM platform is intended for whole-of-university use and is based on business requirements expressed by School of Informatics, Bayes Centre, Informative Ventures, the Principals Office and Edinburgh Innovations.
For example, Edinburgh Innovations (EI) – the University’s commercialisation service connecting researchers, students and staff with industry and external organizations – utilises the IRM to build partnerships and leverage strategic opportunities. In particular, the EI Student Enterprise Service uses the IRM to track key performance indicators (KPIs) related to company formations, student engagements and funding received by clients using the Salesforce Forms, Reporting and Campaign features. In addition, the Social Responsibility and Sustainability Team is currently in the process of onboarding to the IRM to track their communication and engagement activites.
What’s next for the IRM?
Up ahead, the IRM is looking to expand and connect with other parts of the University to leverage communication and information sharing. The service roadmap for the IRM draws from the University’s Enterprise and Innovation Management Strategy which calls for a “more efficient use of systems.” This includes a more tailored use of the IRM by innovation hubs as well as integration of the IRM with other existing University systems such as: alumni data from Access CRM, Career Service, dotdigital in the Marketing Office, Worktribe in the Research office and Kissflow with Edinburgh Global.
Currently, the IRM is “going global” in piloting information sharing between the IRM and Edinburgh Global in its North America and Asia Pacific areas.
The IRM team continues to meet with stakeholders to refresh current training provided to colleagues, refine IRM functionality and increase user awareness of the full range of IRM capabilities.
The Digital Library Programme is a collaborative body of work within Information Services’ Project Services and Digital Library teams focusing on developing the infrastructure to support digital scholarship activities and long-term access to large-scale digitised collections and content. The programme’s vision includes establishing Edinburgh as a “leading university in the provision of easily accessible digital collections, to be widely used in supporting creative learning, teaching and research.”
Achieving this vision includes implementing a number of projects to ensure the ease of discovery and accessibility of online collections, create a fresh and exciting website for collections, provide an efficient digitisation request service, provide a range of digital scholarship tools, guarantee long term accessibility to collections, deliver digitised items as “collections as data” and grow the digital skills of the Digital Library team and broader digital scholarship at the University.
The Digital Library Programme launched in October 2018 with a number of key projects designed to split up work incrementally, making projects more achievable following a planned progression. Analysis, procurement and implementation were split into separate projects with analysis projects being used to recommend next stages leading to incremental development, publishing of web pages, software implementation and data migration.
Breaking work into smaller projects also enabled the team members across ISG and the University Library to accommodate project work while still delivering on their typical daily tasks. In addition, the team members carry their experience of working together and their knowledge of the systems through each project, so the team isn’t left starting from scratch.
“By keeping each project small and contained we were able to use results to analyse how each project went and feed that analysis into the scoping for the next one, so the lessons learned as you go help the next project run more efficiently and focused. In big projects, you typically scope right at the beginning and imagine what might happen in a two-year project and when you get to the later phases everything is based off analysis long ago and not taking into account lessons learned along the way,” said Project Manager Alex Ross.
To date, the programme has accomplished a number of its key projects related to automating a number of digital preservation workflows, improving digital scholarship tools and expanding the offerings of online collections. The current and planned projects focus on implementing new digital workflows, digital asset management and ensuring consistent online access through the redesign of www.collections.ac.ed.uk
Karen Stirling, the Digital Library Programme Manager commented that ‘The Digital Library Programme is an example of how well IS teams can work together, collaborate well and build up their experience and knowledge from the projects we have delivered over the past few years.’
This was echoed by Kirsty Lingstadt, Head of Digital Library and Digital Library Programme Owner ‘It has been great to see the programme delivering and completing projects and watching the confidence and capacity of the staff grow as outcomes are delivered and implemented.’
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.
By July 2021, all Teams meeting recordings will be stored in OneDrive or SharePoint.
What does this change involve?
Currently, A1 licensed users (the majority of users) have their Teams meeting recordings stored within Teams, either in the meeting chat or in the Channel the meeting was scheduled in. While A3 licensed users (E.g. those requiring MS Bookings, Intune, etc) have their Teams meeting recordings stored in Microsoft Stream.
This will change by July 2021, and all users will automatically have meeting recordings saved to OneDrive or SharePoint.
Is there an exact date for when the change happening?
There is no exact date for when the change will be implemented, only that this change will be rolled out gradually and will be completed by July 2021.
Some users may see the change before others,
What are the reasons for and benefits of this change?
Microsoft state that they are making this change as a part of larger changes to Microsoft Stream. Moving automatic upload of Teams meeting recordings to OneDrive and SharePoint will make it easier for users to share recordings with external users. The change will also better integrate Teams, SharePoint and OneDrive.
Microsoft describe their expected benefits for users, following this change, as:
Benefit from OneDrive for Business and SharePoint information governance
Easy to set permissions and sharing
Share recordings with guests (external users) with explicit share only
Request access flow
Provide OneDrive for Business and SharePoint shared links
Meeting recordings are available faster
Multi-geo support – recordings are stored in a region specific to that user
Will there be any possible issues to consider?
We won’t know of all possible issues until the change starts to be implemented. However, Microsoft point out the following:
You can control with whom you share the recording, but you won’t be able to block people with shared access from downloading the recording.
You will not get an email when the recording finishes saving, but the recording will appear in the meeting chat once it’s finished. This will happen much quicker than it did in Stream previously
How do I know if my recording is stored in OneDrive or Sharepoint?
Whether the recording is saved in OneDrive or SharePoint depends on if the meeting was scheduled as a channel meeting or not.
For non-Channel meetings – the recording is stored in a folder named Recordings in the OneDrive of the person who started the meeting recording. For Example, Recorder’s OneDrive for Business/Recordings
For Channel meetings – the recording is stored in the document library of the SharePoint site of the Team that the meeting was scheduled in, in a “Recordings” folder. Example, Teams name – Channel name/Documents/Recordings
This process is automatic, and administrators cannot change where the recording is saved.
How do I handle recordings if a staff member leaves?
Since videos are just like any other file in OneDrive and SharePoint, handling ownership and retention after someone leaves will follow the normal process.
Who has the permissions to view the meeting recording?
For non-Channel meetings – all meeting invitees (except external users) will automatically get a personally shared link.
External users will need to be explicitly added to the shared list by the meeting organizer or the person who started the meeting recording.
For Channel meetings – permissions are inherited from the owners and members list in the channel.
Will captions and transcripts be available?
Closed captions for Teams meeting recordings will be available during playback, only if the user had transcription turned on at the time of recording. To ensure users have the option to record meetings with transcription, this must be turned on in the tenancy.
Captions can be hidden on the meeting recording, although the meeting transcript will still be available on Teams unless you delete it there.
Closed captions are supported for Teams meeting recordings up to 60 days from when the meeting is recorded.
Closed captions aren’t fully supported if the Teams Meeting Recording is moved or copied from its original location on OneDrive for Business or SharePoint.
Will my storage quota on OneDrive and SharePoint be impacted?
Teams meeting recording files will be stored into OneDrive for Business and SharePoint and are included in quotas for those services. You get more storage compared with Stream.
How can I play my Teams meeting recording?
Your video will play on the video player of OneDrive for Business or SharePoint depending on where you access the file.
Is there a detailed list of each type of Teams meeting showing where the recording will be saved and the permissions the recording will have?
Where is the recording saved?
Who has access?
1:1 call with internal parties (University of Edinburgh users)
User who clicked record’s OneDrive
– The user who clicked “start recording” is the owner and has full access – The other user has watch access but no sharing access
1:1 call with an external user
User who clicked record’s OneDrive
– The user who clicked “start recording” is the owner and has full access – The other user has no access, the user who started the recording must share it with the other user
User who clicked record’s OneDrive
– The user who clicked record is the owner and has full rights – Other internal users have watch only access – Other external users have no access, and the user who clicked record must share it with them
User who clicked record’s OneDrive
– The user who clicked record is the owner and has full rights – If the organiser was not the one who clicked record, organiser has edit rights and can share – All other internal users have watch only access – External users have no access, the user who clicked record, or the organiser, must share it with them
SharePoint site for that Team
– The user who clicked record has edit rights to the recording. – Every other user’s permissions are based off of the Channel SharePoint permissions.
The University’s Web Hosting Service offers a range of proactive security tools to help keep users’ sites safe and secure
The University’s Web Hosting Service is an internal service for members of the University community to host websites suited to their unique needs. The service provides an environment for users to develop and host websites for specific areas that may have functionality, formatting or branding requirements outside the scope of what is offered on the main University of Edinburgh site. The service hosts over 1,000 sites ranging from research projects and PhD pages to the Edinburgh Sports and Student Unions.
“We currently utilise the web hosting service to provide free web hosting to our student societies and groups. Societies and groups utilise this service to host websites with information about the groups and post event details. We have found most of the end users have used the built in application installer to setup CMS systems such as WordPress, which they are able to do without the need of IT as the process is very easy,” said Matthew Ashton-Jones, IT Support for Edinburgh University Students’ Association.
With the flexibility to configure self-service sites suited to personalised needs comes challenges related to ensuring users are protected from potential online malicious activity, and themselves. There is a large variety between users who diligently monitor their site and patch when new updates are released, and others who, for legitimate reasons, leave their sites relatively untouched and vulnerable to exploitation. As such, in recent years the University Web Hosting service has sought to incorporate automated security and technical tools to help assess and secure the servers, increasing the security of the sites hosted on the service while decreasing the burden to individual users.
“We have a very good working relationship with the [Web Hosting] team. Their communications are probably some of the best – both timely and informative – that I have come across from an ISG team. The team have always been approachable, friendly and customer focussed. And extremely knowledgeable about their domain – which has been a life-saver on more than one occasion,” said Euan Cameron, Digital Innovation Team Manager, College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences. “If I have received a system-event alert from the service (security or otherwise) that I have been unsure about, they have always been quick to explain the issue highlighted when contacted.”
Cloud Linux Operating System
The University Web Hosting Service adopted the Cloud Linux Operating System to help manage the multitude of sites it supports. The Cloud Linux operating system is designed specifically for hosting websites in a shared environment and specializes in isolation between websites. In this way, if one site is compromised the system prevents others from being accessed and limits cross-infection. The operating system also has a mechanism for limiting resources between individual users, so one site cannot bring down the entire server of sites if it crashes or experiences technical difficulties. This tool ensures continuity of operations and helps prevent against the chain reaction of negative impacts from denial of service (DDoS) attacks.
“We rely on the OS to be stable and secure and impact as little on our workloads as possible. By utilising the Web Hosting Service, we are more than happy to say that CloudLinux OS has met our requirements, and with the team’s support we hardly notice/concern ourselves about the OS in our day-to-day work,” said Euan.
Patchman is a vulnerability detection and patching tool created to simplify security for web hosting providers. The tool automatically scans all the sites hosted on the University server every night, identifies any known vulnerabilities, commonly via WordPress or Drupal, and patches them unobtrusively. The patching does not impact the platform itself or any settings, rather it changes the code to plug any security holes and then emails the site owners to notify of the patch execution and associated details. Site owners have the ability to roll back any patches in their Control Panel if they discover resulting issues. Additionally, system updates can override patches if necessary.
“With so many sites in our portfolio – including 40+ Drupal installations, and sites supported by external developers – having a tool that can automatically patch vulnerabilities when identified, and before a developer can get to it, has allowed me to sleep better at night,” said Euan.
The proactive tool helps address vulnerabilities before they become targets for spam, DDoS attacks and more. For instance, the Unix team notified ISG of an unknown WordPress issue that suggested exploitation. In exploring the issue further ISG discovered Patchman had already patched 60 sites that contained the vulnerable plug-in.
“Patchman has proven to be an incredibly useful tool, as we are a small team and having time to manually patch the large number of websites which we administer can prove to be difficult to arrange,” said Matthew. “With Patchman this is automatically taken care of and we are notified via email that the upgrades have been successful or have failed (requiring manual intervention).”
To round out its comprehensive package of security tools, the University also utilizes Immunify 360, a proactive defense against threats in the form of a web application firewall. The firewall detects any malicious traffic or attempts to hack into sites hosted through the University. The interactive dashboard provides statistics related to the security levels of sites hosted through the service and their web traffic including detections, blocked requests and black-listed and white-listed IP addresses. Immunify 360 also identifies grey-listed IP addresses that are presented with a CAPTCHA request when trying to access the site to prove their identity. The service’s malware scanner continually analyzes scripts and recognizes suspicious behavior in real-time, stopping malware from running on the servers and successfully restoring scripts from backup.
“Security incidents, to our knowledge, have been kept at an absolute minimum, while my team can focus on delivering and developing our own services unhindered by the resource burden of manually managing these ourselves, or resolving the incidents that would, most likely, be the outcome of not having these tools in place,” said Euan.
Because the University Web Hosting audience is largely internal, access to the tools is only available to those on the University network or via the University VPN. Further, the sites are integrated with University Single Sign On to provide additional secure options for users to access the sites.
“The web hosting service and the included security tools have enabled us to offer an easy and secure web hosting service to our groups which would not be possible without the assistance and service being provided by ISG,” said Matthew.