Just a quick update in this blog. After a fairly intense period of development and prototyping we are just about up against clearing. So developers are going to be somewhat occupied. We have one more feedback session with the product owner this week. Time to take stock and look at some of the less technical – but equally important work packages.
We have been beavering away as a fairly small group for the last couple of months and I think it is fair to say we are pleased with progress on the new Programmes Plant software. (Is it the Programmes Plant or just Programmes Factory II? Not sure really but we can worry about that later.) The development of the Programmes Plant up to this point has mainly been about how it will be used by the EMS team. We have worked directly with those who will use the system in that department. This has required a great deal of commitment from the Enrolment Mangement Services team as well as from IS but the result is that we are delivering what is needed. It is a really important consideration for any HEI or FEI considering going down this route – the mebers of staff who will be the users of the system must be given the time to provide a high level of involvement – which of course means many hours – if there is to be a succesful outcome.
Now we are ready to start spreading the word and looking at how others in the Faculties and Schools will feed data into the system.
So one of the tasks for the next few weeks will be to introduce the work done so far to our colleagues in other parts of the university. Although we have complete faith in our developers ability to build the application, it will not exist in a vacuum. The Programmes Plant is just one part of a whole range of systems – some software based, some manual and some a mixture of the two – that are needed to get out course data out to those are, and those we hope will be, studying at Kent. And of course to produce the XCRI feed. The long term plan is that these systems are automated and will talk nicely to one another but we cannot achieve all that within the life of this project. Neither can we continue with disparate systems that have the potential to get out of synchronisation and necessitate duplication of effort. To bridge the gaps and maintain communication between our current systems we need to be confident that we have appropriate, efficient and comprehensive workflows in place.
We need to map out how our colleagues in the Schools and Faculties will interact with the Programmes Plant and, where data flows are not yet automated, what manual triggers we need to put in place to capture the creation, modification and termination of programmes and associated marketing information. Some of this information we may be able to get via web services from the Admissions system and the Student Records systems but for the time being some will rely on email notifications and on-line forms.
There is a positive mood in the team at the moment and we are looking forward to demonstrating how far we have come and talking to our colleagues about next steps.