From a wind up toy to a jumbo jet... Kris Collins University of Bedfordshire
An introduction• Marketing Manager sitting within the marketing department but with a huge interest in technical aspects• Been at the university for 9 years and counting…• The lead on the development direction of the website, digital communications, CRM and most other things, if it plugs in the wall I probably look after it!• Prince2 and Agile project management trained and father of twins so good at organised chaos, multi tasking and telling off (if required) Pre-project, fewer grey hairs….
Where we started• Currently using a python based product called Silva which sits on top of Zope• Rather restrictive, development is slow as it is virtually unused by anyone else• We’ve done a lot of custom development work to get it going
The challenges we faced• Downtime and lots of it... a complicated ZeoDB (!) cluster was the only answer for a more stable server set-up• Poor interface with our existing services• Lack of internal skillset to support Zope/Python (we did have one)• Lack of buy in from Editors due to the poor CMS interface and experiences• Poor workflow and management tools, we aren’t sure what our editors are doing within their pages…• Strict QAA requirements for the publication and accuracy of course information across both print and digitalBut, the open source ethos was good and we wanted to keep that!
We need a new site!• Increase in fee level will hit all Universities, we need to be ahead of the curve in our recruitment processes• We’re very interest in personalisation of content for our visitors• A noticeable increase in mobile usage over the last 12 months and our iPhone app is hard work• We need to reduce dependent systems and running costs as our budgets are going to be squeezed! We currently outsource too many services• Surprisingly, the THE top 20 website report was our saving grace…
The process• Brace yourself, it takes a rather long time, 6 months in total for the tender, funding allocation and selection process and a further 8 months for the build• Full tender process gave us four shortlisted options• Presentations from all shortlisted parties, some better than others (don’t accept conference call presentations!)• The management options and flexibility within Matrix won over the webteam• The Funnelback presentation won over all other interested parties, its a visually stunning presentation from Al so ask them to do one! Princess Leia!
Progress so far• Tight timeframe to fall in line with the Clearing period (18 August) so launch date is the 31st July• Last migration complete, lots of tweaking to do before we go live!• Full re-training is currently going on to move editors into the new system• SITS IPP course data is going into the system as an XML feed and it sort of works as well!• Lots of additional functionality will come in between now and Christmas as we take advantage of the new system
Things to bear in mind• Ask for more money than you think you need• Get your editors on-side, you will rely on them more than you think• Get sociable and prepare to buy a lot of coffee!• Keep the board well informed and work with your Squiz project manager• Keep the paperwork light and use an Agile approach as things change all the time• Have a support network, you will need to moan and vent!And lastly… don’t forget to take the praise when you deliver a fantastic new site, on time and on budget!It’s a hard slog and easy to get sucked into business as usual and not appreciate what you have delivered!
Demo of the build so far Any questions? Feel free to contact me: E: email@example.com T: @iamkriscollins W: iam.kriscollins.co.uk