CISG-PCMG22 view from a bursary winner

21 February 2023 - CISG-PCMG22 view from a bursary winner


UCISA CISG-PCMG22 Conference, Hilton Hotel Brighton, 30/11 – 02/12/22

Catherine Smith, IT Project Manager, Royal Holloway University of London


Having worked at Royal Holloway, University of London since 2019, I joined the IT department in February this year in the Portfolio Management Office, and moved into the project management space in August this year. This was my first in-person UCISA event, so I had no idea what to expect, but was looking forward to learning lots and meeting new people.

Day 1 started with a network and orientation session for people like me who had not been to an in-person UCISA event before. It was a useful start and gave some good grounding on what to expect from the conference. This was then followed by a peruse of some of the exhibition stands, talking to some great people, and generally settling into the conference environment. The next session I attended was a lunchtime round table session with AvePoint and Kingston University about Kingston University’s journey of going Microsoft Cloud First. It was really interesting to hear about the culture and adoption side of the project, which reiterated how important the communication plan side of all projects is. The afternoon of presentations included a session on ‘Digital Futures: Culture, Investment and Sustainability’ and a session on ‘How to double value for your university every term: an agile approach’. There was a particular emphasis on knowing the importance of what your customers want and need from the very beginning of a project and having this as a constant thread throughout the project, along with the general highs and lows of driving change in an agile way. This was followed by a talk on ‘Evolution for Success: the Story of Lean & Continuous Improvement @ the University of Strathclyde’ which focussed on the successful implementation of a Continuous Improvement Programme at the University of Strathclyde over the last 9 years. ‘The new Jisc strategy and an update on our research into Student Records Systems’ talk was centred on how Jisc is helping to empower communities in its work, and the final talk of the day was ‘Cyber Essentials - meeting the new standards’, which was of particular interest to me as many of the projects I manage at RHUL have a cyber security angle. Day 1 ended with a drinks reception and a street food style meal, followed by a UCISA quiz.

Day 2 started off with ‘An Exploration of Sustainable Procurement and E-Waste Recycling for the Digital Community in HE and FE’, followed by a series of University showcases. The one I chose to attend was the ‘Better the Devil You Know, Fact or Fiction? Journey in Stakeholder Engagement in the Adoption of a New Platform’ where we found out about how the University of Limerick overcame challenges in their SharePoint Migration project from 2010 to SharePoint Online. The Partner showcase I chose to attend that day was the ‘ServiceNow - Transforming student service – Enabling a more efficient and streamlined student experience’. The afternoon of presentations included ‘Cloud migration for HE, Fantasy, pipe dream or nightmare’ and ‘Collaboration – the new normal’. There was particular emphasis on close and meaningful collaboration across and outside of the HE sector to help secure organisational and individual success. The final talk of the day was ‘Learning how King’s College London is leveraging the power of Cloud and Automation to deliver software continuously’, where we found out how they have successfully migrated Moodle VLE, Tribal SITS, Library Management Systems, Research Management and CRM to the Cloud. Day 2 ended with a black-tie dinner and drinks which was a very enjoyable evening.

The third and final day of the conference started off with talks on ‘How Collaboration Built the (Nearly-) Perfect CRM for Student Recruitment’, and the importance of a good digital marketing strategy, and ‘N things I hate about the platform I love’, where we heard about the experiences the University of Wales and University of Greenwich had in implementing integration platforms with Mulesoft Anypoint and Dell Boomi. The final talks of the conference were around ‘Higher Education Business and Technology Trends’ and ‘The Future of Human Experience’.

I found the conference to be a very interesting couple of days with plenty of food for thought, and it was great to meet and get to know fellow HE colleagues and discuss the similarities and differences of the work we do in our respective organisations.