Monthly Archives: November 2013

Enterprise Architecture Community of Practice

This post will introduce you to Enterprise Architecture (EA) and the new UCISA Community of Practice to support the collaboration  around EA practices across the sector.

What is Enterprise Architecture?

Enterprise Architecture is a broad term that focuses on strategy related to a holistic approach to organisation, process, data, applications and infrastructure change. Where the change reflects the integration and standardisation requirements for a University’s operating model, and where the operating model is defined as a University’s desired state of process integration and process standardisation for delivering its core activities – education and research, as well as planning and administration.

Enterprise Architecture activities include:

  • IT Governance
  • Alignment of IT strategy with university strategy
  • IT and data integration and standardisation strategies
  • Models that articulate the change from as is to to be
  • Practical modelling
  • A series of architectural activities − a continuum − rather than a single grand plan

ea changeEnterprise Architecture is about change

What are the benefits of Enterprise Architecture?

  • Lower costs for business operation, change management and IT
  • Investments which are more focused on university strategic change priorities
  • More effective dialogue between senior management, users and IT staff
  • Greater business and IT agility
  • Improved IT interoperability
  • Reduced complexity in IT

UCISA has published the sector’s Strategic challenges for IT Services, which is the successor to UCISA’s biannual Top Concerns Survey, and is the output of a facilitated workshop attended by senior IT staff from across the UCISA membership. Enterprise Architecture practices can help support the reaction to such strategic challenges, such as:

“Supporting students and staff in the effective use of technology for teaching, learning and assessment”

– Aligning IT strategy with the institutions Education Strategy. Showing where IT change is influenced by University strategy, and where University strategy may be influenced by changes in technology

“Facilitating institutional efficiencies and modernisation”

– Strategies to deliver a standardised, well integrated, set of core systems, and recognise the costs of diversity.

“Supporting the trends toward IT consumerisation and Bring Your Own Device”

– Helping to assess the holistic fit of Cloud services and BYOD with the existing IT landscape

What is a community of practice?

A group of people who share a common concern, a set of problems, or interest in a topic and who come together to fulfil both individual and community goals. They often focus on sharing best practices to advance a professional practice.

Interaction on an ongoing basis is an important part of a community of practice.

Why is a community of practice important?

Universities have a long history of inter-organisation collaboration. This has sometimes been referred to as ‘co-op-etition’ (cooperation whilst in competition). A community of practice provides a model for inter-organisation collaboration, by helping to: Connect people; Focus on a specific domain of professional practice (in this case Enterprise Architecture); Enable dialogue; Stimulate learning; Generate capture and share knowledge; Introduce collaborative processes; Deliver tangible results

How will this Community of Practice operate?

This needs to be decided by the community of practice as it forms. However, it will be important to create a regular rhythm of communication in order to establish some momentum. This could be achieved through regular on-line conference calls (via Skype or other).

Other ideas include:

  • Initiate new discussions via a mailing list
  • Regional face-to-face events
  • Streams of activity focused around specific areas (IT governance, SOA, modelling, etc.)
  • Knowledge sharing workshops
  • At least one national face-to-face event per year
  • Generate good practice guidance
  • Curate outputs and knowledge on a collaborative wiki

Aims and objectives

The UCISA Enterprise Architecture (EA) community of practice will promote the sharing of information, good practice, tools and technologies amongst those interested or engaged in the use of EA and SOA approaches in Higher Education.

The Enterprise Architecture community of practice has the following aims and objectives:

  • Develop EA and SOA approaches for HE
  • Support for those who are new to EA
  • Share good practice/explore areas of interest
  • Online resources and face to face events
  • Be a highly collaborative community
  • Develop relationships with sector/industry groups
  • Develop the business case for EA
  • Promote EA and SOA approaches

The community will report to UCISA Corporate Information Systems Group (CISG) committee.

How do I get involved?

Find out more at:

Select the ‘Get involved‘ link to express your interest.

About me

Luke_Taylor_v3My name is Luke Taylor. I have the role of Assistant IT Director at University of Bristol, and also Chair of UCISA CISG Committee.

My normal day job involves taking responsibility for working with senior management to help them understand the opportunities IT can bring; Working with project sponsors to identify solutions for specific projects, within a context of an overall IT systems strategy (Enterprise Architecture); Taking the PRINCE2 role Senior Supplier on project boards; Leading and developing a team of circa 30 staff.

My role at UCISA involves leading the CISG Committee and its activities, liaising with sector-specific organisations, and contributing to the UCISA Executive Committee.

Support Services Conference Planning for 2014

Crewe HallThis week I have been back to the lovely and awe-inspiring Crewe Hall Hotel with some of my UCISA colleagues to plan the next Support Services Conference scheduled for 2-4 July 2014.

It really doesn’t seem so long since July when we were enjoying ourselves in Edinburgh both on campus at the John McIntyre Centre and off campus (climbing Arthur’s Seat) but time marches on and following a couple of years contributing to this annual event, namely by delivering a Pecha Kucha session, facilitating a couple of discussion sessions and talking about our Edge Hill experience obtaining the Customer Services Excellence award (with five Compliance Plus elements), it’s time for a different challenge: Joining the Conference Committee.

Now then, in the past I have enjoyed contributing to the fringes of the conference discussions from the security of the UCISA group, suggesting various ideas ranging from discussion topics to vegetarian menu options safe in the knowledge that they were only ideas. This time it’s different – and it includes responsibility for delivery. In my normal role, as IT Customer Services Manager at Edge Hill, I am comfortable with both aspects of delivery and responsibility – delivery of a service and taking responsibility for the same. But conference organisation … that’s definitely well outside of my comfort zone.

I learned that we have to identify potential speakers and balance them with break-out sessions, sponsors’ showcases, comfort breaks, lunch menus, networking opportunities, pecha kucha sessions, after dinner speakers and discussion groups. On top of that there are the session chairs to sort out, the meet-and-greeters, the room planning the housekeeping and the AV. Phew!

Crewe Hall is an unusual and beautiful venue for a conference. The feedback from the last time we visited in 2012 was superb. All the facilities are close together in a wonderfully historic and atmospheric building. There is the luxury of the leisure centre facilities for the energetic amongst us and the fabulous revolving cocktail bar for the adventurous (I highly recommend their Chocolate Orange Cocktail). The Great Hall where the drinks reception before the conference dinner is held is a truly remarkable room and as for the old bedrooms … Wow!

There are many things that we need to plan over the next few months. Today we left with an idea of the structure and the timings of each event and a pretty good idea of who we would be inviting to speak. This time we are going to be seeking potential attendees views before the event – we want to know what you’d like to discuss; what entertainment you would enjoy after the conference dinner and we’ll be looking for questions and topics for some of the discussion sessions we are planning. We really want it to be YOUR conference so that you get the most from it. So if you haven’t done so before, please think about participating whether it be suggesting a discussion topic or delivering a fully-fledged pecha kucha session which really and truly is great fun despite what you might think 

Of course, we’ve all been to these kind of events before and when they run smoothly and to plan it seems like they are effortless. Please spare a thought for the people who devote their time and effort into the planning. I know I will.

Jenny Jordan
Customer Services Manager
IT Services
Edge Hill University, Ormskirk, Lancashire

A bit about me:

Jenny JordanAs part of my role, I manage the IT Service Desk where we focus on resident students IT enquiries (other than first line enquiries which are generally directed to the library), 2nd line student enquiries and staff IT issues. We support BYOD and will help any authorised users connect their device to the wireless. We use RMS as our Service Management tool and we are doing our best to increase our profile and, therefore, promote our service portfolio to the business which consists of Faculties and Support Departments. I have been a member of UCISA since 2010. My first language is English and my second is IT Speak. You can contact me on the comments form below.