What you need to know about verification

Where we have got to with the programme

It’s hard to believe that 2017 is nearly finished, and interesting to look back on all that we’ve accomplished this year. We have nearly finished with the design of SAAT services, and for some have started service transition to turn them into reality. Alongside completing the design we have made major strides towards bringing in the most important new tool we have to support our new operating model – the new student record system. This summer we decided to procure TechnologyOne’s OneUniversity system to support our new ways of working. We are one of the first three universities in the UK to implement OneUniversity, which we chose because of its modern architectures and interface, and because it best suited SAAT’s transformation objectives – including that it is mobile device-friendly and will support more flexible ways of all users dealing with the system. Now that the contract has been signed we are well underway with the work to implement our new tool. In October we kicked off an exciting, important, and challenging stage for implementation – verification, which the rest of this blog post describes in more detail.

What is verification?  

Verification is where we begin to ‘make things real’ with the new student records system, OneUniversity. We do this through a series of workshops (yes, more workshops!) to review the functionality of OneUniversity against the requirements we developed during the tendering process, service designs, and work of our business analysis team. So far we have run five of the eight series of workshops which comprise ‘Phase 1’ of verification. Some of these have been ‘building blocks’ sessions which are defining the foundations of the system, such as how the curriculum will be structured, and how student data and fee information will be held. Others have then focussed on how we will use these building blocks to manage our work at the university through to the point a student is ready to enrol, such as our Admissions, and Scholarship and Funding Applications. We are very grateful to all of our subject matter expert participants (SMEs) for their time and contributions to the sessions we’ve run so far.

Why it’s exciting

We are getting a tangible sense of what it will be like to use OneUniversity (and often, how it is going to make life better!), developing a detailed understanding of what functionality is available ‘off the shelf’ and identifying where we may need some configuration. As Adam Willsmore, one of the SAAT Service Design Officers, observed, ‘We’re beginning to understand how the new technical solution will meet the high ambitions set out in our service design workshops over the past year.’ It is exciting to uncover seemingly small things, too, which will benefit the University – for example, during our Direct Admissions series we determined that it will no longer be necessary for the PGT Admissions team to manually enter the fees students will be charged onto their offer letters. This removes the need for a very labour-intensive process and will free up time for the team to focus on other activities.

Why it’s important

While there are many cases where the new system will make life better, it will also make life different, and for a little while, whilst we get used to using the new system, possibly uncomfortable. Verification is our opportunity to have honest and direct conversations about how we do things (or plan to do things) and why, and understand where the trade-offs will be. Whilst these conversations are not always easy, SAAT Business Analyst Sam Elmer noticed, ‘The outlook of our SMEs is a big asset for the programme – they have been very open to and accepting of the need to do things differently, which is not always the case on projects bringing about such big changes.’

Why it’s hard work

There are some new and exciting opportunities for the University, but trying stay in a ‘future’ mind set for extended periods of times is hard work and can be tiring. It is also a tough balance to be thorough and think through a comprehensive set of situations that teams might deal with, without trying to account for every single possibility.

What’s next?

After we complete our Phase 1 workshops, we’ll validate the documentation of the workshop discussions with the subject matter expert participants who joined us. The SAAT Programme Business Design Authority will then take their recommendations and sign off the documentation, which will pave the way for configuration and user testing to begin, moving one stage closer to implementation! Phase 2 verification will begin in early 2018, and run until December 2018 – it will cover the remainder of the student life cycle.

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Goodbye to Nicola!

The SAAT team are sad to announce that Nicola Trathen, our Service Design Programme Officer, is leaving us today. Nikki has had a long history with Sussex University, having completed her undergraduate and postgraduate studies with us, later returning to work in SSRO. Read more ›

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SAAT team members Stefan Vassall and Sara Hinchliffe are running the Brighton marathon for podo research

Stefan and Sara pose with their Preventing Podo t-shirt

The University has a team aiming to raise £50k for brilliant Sussex research into podoconiosis, a debilitating disease of the legs and feet mainly affecting people in sub-Saharan Africa. Here we are modelling our Preventing Podo t-shirts, so you can recognise us on the run, which is on Sunday 9 April. If you’d like to sponsor us, please go to the fundraising pages here:

Sara’s fundraising page

Stefan’s fundraising page

Look out for us on Sunday – it’ll be a beautiful day and we need the support!

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Post-its, progress, and positivity – My experience being seconded onto the SAAT programme

Nicola Trathen blogs about her experience being seconded onto the SAAT programme

I decided to apply for a secondment on the SAAT programme after I attended a blueberry morning with the SAAT team where we worked in groups to look for ‘quick wins’. I was amazed at how positive and enthusiastic the team were but more than that, I could see that this was a way that I could genuinely affect change in a meaningful way. I went back to my office after that workshop feeling inspired, energetic and genuinely excited about what we could achieve, so I started filling in an application form for a secondment on the SAAT service design team. Read more ›

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Welcome to the SAAT blog!

Spring is well underway and we’re already beginning to feel the seasonal transition. It’s a new phase for the year, the University, and for the SAAT programme.

Read more ›

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