PG Research Annual Progress Report Project

Earlier this month we started running the Annual Progress Report Project for PGR students and we are already significantly ahead of schedule!

The PGR annual review process ensures the University is meeting the needs of PGR students in terms of support and facilities, as well as allowing the student an opportunity to voice any concerns they may have. Thus far, the project is approaching the due date for the end of the first wave and yet nearly all key outcomes of the project have been delivered.

There are three reports written as part of this process: a self-assessment by the student, a Supervisor’s report written by the supervisor and the Reviewers’ report, which is a summary of the findings from the review team. The Reviewers report and the student self-assessment were previously available via MMS, however many units still handled this internally. The new style reports have been rolled out to every unit, with some schools nearly completing the review process for all PGR students. Completed reports have been uploaded into SITS with full automation expected to happen within the next few weeks. A faculty level view has even gone live that displays the time since last review for each PGR student. All action related notifications have gone live with a number of reminder notification being put in place. Documentation is available online and as PDF for staff and student forms.

Last year (2016), the Proctors Office gave the go-ahead for the PGR Annual Progress Report project. The aims of this were:

  • To bring together a single location for staff involved in the PGR process to access current and historic reviews for students within their unit independent of year;
  • A clear workflow, involving notifications and reminders, that would ensure reviews were completed in a timely manner and that all data was collected;
  • To ensure reports were available to the correct users at the correct time;
  • Upload of completed reviews to SITS.

The Proctors Office wrote up requirements document outlining high level descriptions of expected deliverables and an expected timeline. The project was to be comprised of two waves, the first to be completed by the end of the 2016/7 academic year, and the second by the end of 2017/8 academic year.

The Project Team was comprised of Kevin Thomson as Project Manager and Emmy Feamster from the Proctors office who acted as the Business Representative. The development team comprised of Greg Cowey (Development Team) and Stuart Purdie (MMS). Victoria Davidson-Mayhew (MMS) joined the project in January 2017 to assist in project management, development and documentation after her secondment to the SER.

The project was managed via two main strands: a project in JIRA and fortnightly project meetings attended by the whole project team. At the start of the project the high-level descriptions of the project deliverables were entered as ‘epics’ into JIRA. The project used the Kanban board facility as an overview and MOSCOW prioritization was added to each epic. After each project meeting JIRA epics were updated and new features and changes in prioritization were added. This ensured all members of the team knew the state of the project at any given time.

Each project meeting had an agenda with standing items including a team update regarding each epic, and an update on any outstanding tasks from the previous meeting. Any issues that arose during the period between meetings were added to the agenda to ensure the business was kept up to date and issues could be reacted to quickly. Minutes were taken and sent out before the start of the next meeting for approval. Decisions taken and their reasoning were also recorded allowing the team to refer back if needed.

As expected with every major development, a few issues have arisen, but the structure of the project has allowed the team to deal with issues efficiently. Close ties with the customer has meant that both sides can make suggestions and receive answers to questions in quick fashion. The level of documentation has also allowed reports to be generated quickly on request.

Author: Victoria Davidson – Mayhew, MMS Developer, IT Services

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