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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Contacting us

Prior to logging a call with the IT Service Desk, it’s worth doing some quick checks before contacting us. If you’re having problems accessing a service, we recommend that you:

  1. Go to the IT Service Status web page to check the status of the service (there may be scheduled maintenance or a known issue)
  2. Is the issue only affecting you? Ask nearby colleagues if they have a similar problem
  3. And of course, our favourite… restart your device (this often resolves the issue)
    For power, network, mouse or keyboards problems, please ensure all cables are connected at both ends while your device is switched off.

If you are still experiencing problems, please don’t hesitate to contact us IT Service Desk. The following information (where relevant) will help us deal with your issue more quickly:

  1. Asset Number – The five digit number found on a red and silver sticker on the device (if applicable). The sticker is titled ‘Property of UNIVERSITY OF ST ANDREWS’
  2. Location of the device – Room number and building name
  3. Computer name (PC or laptop only) – The name can be found as follows:
    Click the Start button > right-click Computer > click Properties
  4. What are the specific symptoms and/or error messages you are receiving? What triggers the error? Can you send us a screenshot?
  5. Is there a deadline for your query? This will help us determine the impact and urgency of your call
  6. Which of the basic checks (listed above) have you tried?
  7. If urgent, please provide additional contact details (e.g. mobile number)

IT Services also offer technical support and expertise to all students and staff for personally owned computers and mobile phones. Fault diagnosis and repairs are offered for a standard fee, plus the cost of any replacement hardware required. For more information, please contact the PC Clinic team.

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Greg, IT Apprentice, secures a full time role as an IT Service Desk Analyst

We’re delighted to report that Greg Jennings, IT Apprentice, has secured a full time permanent role as an IT Service Desk Analyst at the University of St Andrews.

Straight from school, Greg joined IT Services in July 2015 on a two year apprenticeship programme. One of the highlights of Greg’s apprenticeship was being shortlisted down to the final three for the title of Scottish Microsoft Apprentice of the Year 2016 – a fantastic achievement, beating off competition from over 1000 other submissions!

During his IT apprenticeship, Greg benefited from a work placement at Shackleton Technologies in Dundee – particularly enjoying client visits in their sites. It helped him gain a new perspective on IT support in a different business environment.

He also continues to be a proactive Apprentice Ambassador, by attending events at local Secondary Schools, talking to pupils about apprenticeships and the benefits and diversity in a career in IT.

We wish him all the best of luck in his new role!

For more information about our IT Apprenticeship programme, have a look at our web page:

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Work Placement with Streamtec, by Erin Niven, Media Services (AV) Technician Apprentice

My time with Streamtec, an AV integrator company, based out in Arbroath, was split up over two weeks, to ensure I was allocated to jobs that I would benefit from.

Erin Niven, Media Services (AV) Technician Apprentice

My first three days were split up between working onsite and some time in their Arbroath office. On site, I worked in Edinburgh at the National Health Service Conference Centre, where we had three rooms to remove old equipment from and install new equipment in. I spent my time in the office, working on system design with their Managing Director, and configuring systems with their Programmer.

Working onsite with Streamtec’s two integrators was a brilliant experience. Our job was to remove old equipment and install brand new systems and equipment into 3 different rooms within the conference centre. These rooms were to have new monitors installed. Two of the rooms had the same setup, 60” Samsung LCD Monitors with Kramer Viva systems installed, to make the TV collaborative for use in meetings. The remaining room had a large 75” interactive Promethean screen installed – a very heavy install to carry out! The jobs were a fantastic opportunity to gain a general overview of what happens when carrying out the onsite install, from the consultation at the beginning, then the install itself, to the paperwork and handover at the end, to show the client how the system works, and to ensure that they are happy with what has been achieved.

Following this, I spent some time with the Managing Director, to learn about system design and how really simple it is. It is about knowing how to start the documentation, to make it easier for yourself. You start off with little building blocks and then make it bigger. He showed me how to do it and I completed a very basic system design. When carrying out the system design, it is best to start with the main inputs and outputs (inputs: touch panel to control the system, outputs: projector and visualizer) that you are looking to get connected together. Once this is outlined, filling in the gaps, with the right cables and connectors/converters, is the easiest part.

Following on from this, I then spent a day with their AV programmer. We looked at how to configure a basic Extron push button panel, followed by a more complex touch panel interface. I managed to get the hang of creating projects on both rather easily. Extron’s GUI software to configure these types of products can be very easy to understand, as you have a virtual version of what you are needing to program. You configure buttons on the screen with different commands, rather than writing out long scripts of commands. I managed to create and upload/build a program onto the Extron TPL (Touchpanel) and had it switching between sources, and was able to control the volume efficiently. Which I am super proud of! I was also given the opportunity to create basic programs to test systems in the office before they were deployed out to their clients.

In my second week I was working alongside a rack builder. He ensures that when big projects are going on, all racks are built offsite, following the system design drawings, before being taken away by the AV installers to be fitted onsite. When building racks, to be installed as a part of the projects Streamtec carry out, we have to build rack cabinets full of the new equipment and then we try to cable up as much as we can as some of the cabling can only be done onsite. When doing cabling I learned about captive screw connectors and also about soldering, mainly on XLR & RS232/serial cables. When installing the racks we must ensure there is some sense as to the order equipment is fitted, and we need to make sure cables are labelled and tidy, instead of a massive abundance of cables that do not make sense to any user.

I really enjoyed my work experience with Streamtec, they have given me a great insight into the AV industry and have provided me with skills that I will always remember and keep practicing. Work experience is a great way to get a taster of different industries and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it!

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Holyrood’s Connect Awards 2017

We are delighted to know we have been shortlisted for the ICT Team Award in this year’s Holyrood’s Connect Awards – in recognition of work we do to deliver an effective IT apprenticeship programme.

The award winners will be announced at the annual conference and awards event on 21st June in Edinburgh.

More information can be found at:

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