Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Closure Information and Coming Next Year

Well that's it from us for another year. We're now closed until Thursday 2nd January, although the Information Commons will continue to provide computing facilities to students 24/7 throughout the holiday period.

For detailed closure information see: http://www.shef.ac.uk/cics/christmas

Next year staff can look forward to the long awaited roll-out of My Sustainable Print. Check out our promo video below:

See you next year!

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

My Sustainable Print service for staff being rolled out from January

The new my sustainable print service is being rolled out to departments from January 2014. 

The service is being provided by Sharp Business Systems who will provide hardware, software and maintenance. It will consist of a network of around 600 devices including multi-functional print devices and a small number of HP legacy printers. The service provision consists of:

  • MFDs that provide A3 and A4, mono and colour, print, scan and copy 
  • MFPs that provide A4, mono and colour, print, scan and copy  
  • Fleet management and onsite training by Sharp
  • Two dedicated onsite print engineers working 9am-5pm Monday - Friday
  • One dedicated onsite fleet manager also working 9am-5pm Monday - Friday
  • Single point of contact to report any print faults is CiCS helpdesk on 21111

The new print service gives all staff access to high-quality printing, scanning and copying. It supports 'follow-me' printing which means you can print from any computer and release print jobs from any MFP/MFD on the network; and for confidentiality your prints will not be released until you swipe your UCard at the printer. Each year the new service will save the University over £1.12 million and reduce our carbon emissions from 24 to 5 tonnes per annum.

The service has been piloted in Management School, School of Languages and Cultures, Materials Science and Engineering, Engineering Faculty Office, Psychology, Human Resources and CiCS. A survey of staff taking part in the pilot revealed that 55% of staff like the services, 34% were neutral and only 11% did not like it. A one-page summary of the survey is attached.

Roll-out will take place in three tranches in January, February and March. Printer installation staff will be followed the next day by training staff who will demonstrate how to use the devices and will provide instructions and training materials. An update to print champions will follow next week setting out which buildings to be included in each of the 3 tranches.

Sharp staff are already visiting tranche one buildings to evaluate the logistical challenge of delivering and setting up the print devices. These site visits also provide an opportunity for departments to finalise or adjust their implementation plans to reflect any changes since the consultation. 

This marks the beginning of the end of our three year msp project and we thank you for your continued support. Once installed the sustainable print service is expected to give the University a yearly saving of £1 million in print costs and 19 tonnes of carbon emissions.

Friday, 6 December 2013

More info on tomorrow's CIS database upgrade...

As part of tomorrow's upgrade of the CIS database to a newer version, a number of apps that rely on it will be unavailable. The upgrade starts at 8am and will be completed by mid-afternoon. We'll let you know when everything is complete.

Here is the full list of applications that will be affected:

CiCS Computer Account Management
Application for Accommodation
Bank details
Building maintenance form
Bursary Calculator
Careers service what's on page
Chemistry department student offers applicationCRM
Degree Ceremonies
Department Student Profiles
Diary of Events
Doctoral Degree Programme Modules
Exam results
Exams timetable
Find A PC
Find an expert
Find People
Folding space uploads
Gartner Research
HEAR Administration Application
HES Enquiries web service
Higher Education Achievement Report Search
Higher Education Achievement Report
Housing Finder
Housing Finder admin
Internal phone directory
International Scholarships Application Form
Key Information Set
Library Database Web Pages 1.0.0
Module Add/Drop
Module Approval
Module Choice
Module Registration
Money Planner
myAnnouncement Composer
Obtain a University Computer Account
Online payments
Online PGT Tuition Fee Deposits
Online prospectus
Online prospectus admin system
Online Registration
Online registration payments
P status
Part-time fee waiver estimator
Programme Accreditation/Recognition
Points-Based System Visa Application
Postgraduate Ceremonies
Prereg Username / Password application
Postgraduate open-days
Postgraduate Application Form
Prereg Tasks Application
Programme Regulations Finder
Programme Regulations Online Management System
Prospectus Request form
Qualification confirmation
Research supervisor finder
Residence Contracts
Salary projection tool
Service Enhancement Request system
Sheffield Mentors
Sheffield Reunited
Sheffield Scholarships Application Form
Sheffield Scholarships Application Form
Student attendance monitoring
Ucard Photo upload
Undergrad Application Form
University Open Days
Web service for prereg tasks

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

MOLE's back and running after this morning 's problems...

After the problems this morning, MOLE is now back and running. Earlier today we started to see some problems with MOLE being slow and in some cases displaying error messages before loading content. Some of you may still notice a little bit of slowness when you are using MOLE, but it should now be running normally for most of you.

We're continuing our programme of maintenance to improve the performance and stability of MOLE and will keep you updated as we go. Thank you for your patience.

Monday, 2 December 2013

We're turning off our PC booking service, MYPC...

We’re sorry to report that we’ve taken the difficult decision to switch off the MyPC booking service.

In recent weeks we’ve had a problem with the PC booking system where it unexpectedly logs out groups of students on bookable PCs. This problem creates an unacceptable risk of you losing any unsaved work when you are logged out. To ensure you don't lose your work due to a forced logout, we have turned off the PC Booking system. This means all of our PCs in the Information Commons, Western Bank Library and St. Georges Library are no longer bookable, like in our other computer rooms.

Although it's no longer possible to reserve PCs we have a number of laptops, running the same software, that can be booked for use in the Information Commons, Western Bank Library, St. Georges Library and the Health Sciences Library (RHH Site). We're going to be increasing the number of these laptops available for booking and are looking at extending the hours for which these are available, bringing in extra staff to help things run as smoothly as possible. Laptops can be booked from the MyRoom&Resource system.

We are continuing to work closely with the company that makes our PC Booking system to find a permanent fix for the problem although we have no ETA at the moment. We'll also be looking at alternative ways for students to book study spaces in the IC. We hope to have something in place in the not too distant future.

You can still see what PCs are available using the Find A PC page.
And you can also borrow laptops from the IC.

We're upgrading the network in the Mappin Building this weekend, 7-8th December

On Saturday December 7th we'll be upgrading the network in the Mappin building, creating greater capacity for internet and telephone connectivity, in line with the EFM refurbishment project. A few things will be affected, with student computer rooms, telephone services, and wired and wireless network and internet connectivity all being unavailable for short periods between 9am and 6pm. Although, we will have the student computer rooms completed and reopened for students to use at 12pm.

We're hopeful that the work will all be completed on Saturday, however, should we face any difficulties then we may need to finish some bits on Sunday.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

PDF problems on student computers

We’ve been hearing from some students that you’re having problems with PDFs on uni computers. We are working to find a permanent solution for you, but if you are affected here are some things you can do.

  • If you are having problems using PDFs in IE, you can save the PDF then open it from your computer or, use the new Firefox 17 instead.
  • If you are viewing your PDFs directly from Adobe Reader, try opening Adobe Reader and then the PDF.
If you have tried the options above and are still having issues let us know.

Monday, 25 November 2013

There's a new online security threat - Cryptolocker

The latest criminal scam reminds us how important it is to backup our files. Ransomware scams try to trick you into downloading software that then encrypts all of your files so that you can’t open or view them. The criminals behind the scam then demand money in return for a password that will let you view your files.

The latest one is ‘Cryptolocker’ and it’s particularly nasty. It’s a real threat to your files and has gained a lot of attention in the media. The good news is that you can avoid being caught out if you follow our good practice advice.

How to stay safe

You can protect yourself from scams like these by doing the following:
  • Keep antivirus software up to date and install operating system security updates.
  • Don’t be taken in by fraudulent emails claiming to be your bank or another service provider.
  • Be very careful when downloading attachments from emails, especially when they are unexpected or from people you don’t know.
  • Keep backups of important files in a safe place, separate from your computer.

We have information about staying online on our website at http://www.shef.ac.uk/cics/security/safecomputing

To protect your computer from Cryptolocker and malware in general you should install security updates for your computer as soon as they are made available. To detect specific threats (such as Cryptolocker) you should also download antivirus software from the link below and ensure you keep it updated.

Unpleasant though Cryptolocker is, it reminds us how important it is to make sure all your work files as well as your photos and other personal files on your home computer are securely backed up.

Cryptolocker will encrypt any external hard drives and memory sticks that are connected to your computer. To protect your files make sure you have multiple copies in multiple places - you need to make sure there is separation between your working files and backups or they will both get caught out by this type of scam.

  • University personal and shared networked filestore are the safest place to store files; CiCS will make sure your work is backed up.
  • Google Drive is also a great place to store your files.
  • CDs and DVDs are are great for offline copies of important files but they are not infallible so should be used as a backup and not the only copy of important files.
  • External hard drives and memory sticks are vulnerable to Cryptolocker so they should be disconnected once you have finished backing up your files.

Cryptolocker currently only affects Windows PCs and is primarily spread as an email attachment. It is likely that the threat will evolve to spread through other means and may be developed to affect Macs.

What to do if you get caught out

Don’t panic! If you do suspect your computer has been infected by Cryptolocker, or any ransomware, turn your computer off immediately, disconnect any external hard drives or memory sticks and contact the CiCS Helpdesk. Do not try to and fix the problem or recover files yourself as you may make the problem worse by spreading the infection to other computers and files.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

The latest on student printing...

Here’s the latest on printing from your own laptops. This morning, we have applied an update to the technology and re-enabled the ability for you to print from your own laptop. However, though this works in testing, we cannot be certain that it’s worked until you start printing from your own laptops again. If we continue to have problems we may have to turn it off again, so we will monitor the situation closely we’ll keep you updated too.

We’re really pleased that we can provide the ability for you to use your own laptops here at Sheffield, but the flip side is that there’s always a risk of something new coming out which doesn’t play nicely, and causes situations like this which are outside of our control. This also means that it can take a short while for us and our suppliers to be able to find a fix.

As well as having re-enabled printing from your laptop, we’re working on new ways for you to print using new, more flexible technology. We’ll keep you informed with the current issue and with our progress working on the new printing as we go. Your continued patience during these difficult times is really appreciated.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

We've reenabled advanced PC bookings for student computers...

Over the past couple of days we've made some promising developments with our problem with PC Bookings.  To recap, you could book a PC, but your reservation didn't always work which led us to decide to temporarily disable advanced bookings.

However, we've made some progress and it is now possible to book computers a day in advance. Hopefully we will be able to increase it back to two days if the work we've done proves successful, but for now this is a precautionary measure. We'll keep working at it and let you know how we get on.

Monday, 18 November 2013

No PC bookings for Thursday and Friday...

Due to a problem with the PC booking service for student computers, we are seeing an issue where you can book a PC, but your reservation doesn't always work. Instead, you may find that someone else is already using the computer you have booked. 

As part of our work to fix this issue, you will not be able to make an advanced bookings for Thursday or Friday. You will, however, still be able to use any of our computers around campus on a walk up basis for these two days.

We hope that the work we do will sort out this problem and we'll keep you updated with our progress.

Friday, 15 November 2013

cPanel Sunday service

Over the past few months we have had issues with cPanel, where the service becomes unavailable for short periods of time. To fix the problem we need to stop cPanel so that we can make some repairs which we will be doing this at 6pm on Sunday evening and will take about 4 to 6 hours.

What this means is cPanel, including any websites, blogs or applications hosted on it will be unavailable for viewing or updating from 6pm up until around midnight.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Printing to student printers from your laptop is currently unavailable...

Last week we took the difficult decision to turn off the ability for you to print to university printers from your own laptop. Unfortunately an incompatibility with the latest Mac operating system was causing university printing to keep breaking. We are working hard to bring back the ability to print from your own laptop, and will keep you updated as our work progresses.

In the meantime, you can print to our printers by using university computers in libraries and computer rooms across campus and by using our quick print machines in the Information Commons.

To find a free university computer you can use our Find a PC webpage
And to find where the printer you want is visit our printer locations webpage

You can also find PCs and check your printing accounts using our iSheffield mobile app.

We're updating our eduroam certificates on Monday 11th Nov

First thing on Monday morning,  we will be updating the security certificate for our eduroam wireless network. Whilst many of you will probably not notice it happen, it is possible that some of your devices may ask you to accept the new certificate the first time you connect after the update. 

If you find that you are unable to connect after the update, simply forget the eduroam network on your device then set it up again using the our instructions here: http://shef.ac.uk/cics/wireless

If you continue to have trouble get in touch with our IT Support either by phone, using the Self Service Helpdesk or face to face and they will be will be happy to help you get connected. Find out how here: http://shef.ac.uk/cics/support

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Promotional Offer from Print & Design Solutions

Are you looking for the perfect Christmas gift? Then why not take advantage of Print & Design Solutions' promotional offer. Buy any canvas print or float frame before Christmas and receive six cards with the same image and envelopes free of charge.

Canvas prints are made from high quality polycotton canvas and printed with long-lasting pigment links, stretched around a wooden frame and coated with a satin varnish finish for extra protection.

Float frames are lightweight and glass free, giving a modern minimalist look. Photographs are printed on high quality satin, matt or gloss paper and framed ready to hang. Order any of the sizes below before 9 December and Print & Design Solutions will guarantee delivery on campus by 17 December 2013:

Canvas Prints 12x12 & 12x16
Float Frames 10x12 in black or bare wood

Creating everlasting memories, these are the perfect Christmas gift for all your family and friends, so order early to avoid disappointment.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Accessing Google services is changing

Google Apps menu
Google are changing the way you find your different apps. Soon the black bar across the top of your Gmail, Calendar, Drive etc, will be a thing of the past, being replaced by this grid icon: Google grid icon 

The grid icon appears in the top right hand corner of the page when you're using your Google Apps and once clicked it reveals a menu of your other apps. The menu opens as shown, with the same apps as in the old black bar. As before, to access things like Blogger, YouTube and Translate you can click on the 'More' button and if you still don't find what you want, then there is an 'Even more' button. 

You can access Google Mail, Google Calendar and Google Drive directly from the My Services tab in MUSE as always.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Programme Regulations

The new Programme Regulations Online Management System (PROMS) system is currently being populated with 2013/14 information. Departments will be able to view their regulations on the new web pages during October or November, and the new system will be available for Departments to update their programme regulations for 2014/5.  Training on how the new system works is planned for December.

Monday, 14 October 2013

NVivo on the University Desktop PCs

NVivo is a research application used for analysis of unstructured data including free text survey responses.

Since the launch of the new desktop based on Windows 7 it has been difficult to install and make available to students and staff. There were compatibility issues and the need for accounts to be modified.

However, all users should now be able to run Nvivo10 on the University Desktop without the need to request that their accounts be modified. However, Nvivo is still only available on certain PCs due to outstanding compatibility issues with other software. 

PCs running NVivo can be found in the IC in classrooms 3 and 4 and all machine on floor 4.

NVivo can be made available in selected teaching or staff machines in departments upon request.

Firefox updated on University of Sheffield Desktop

A new version of Firefox has been released in to the Software Center for staff and students on the University Desktop. The new version, Firefox 17.08, fixes a problem we have been having veiwing PDFs within the browser which, had been causing a fair amount of trouble for students in recent weeks.

Friday, 11 October 2013

MOLE update

After a lot of hard work fixing MOLE, we're now happy with its continued stability. We will be continually monitoring it and actively identifying opportunities to further improve its performance. 

If you are planning any assessments in MOLE as always please let us know by contacting mole@sheffield.ac.uk 

Thank you for your continued patience as we worked on this. We are truly sorry for the inconvenience it has undoubtedly caused.

Previous updates can be found here

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

We're having problems with PDFs in Firefox...

Unfortunately, we are having problem where students are unable to view PDFs using Firefox on student computers. The problem seems to be affecting university computers in the IC, libraries and student computer rooms.

If you need to view a PDF from MOLE or any other website you can use Internet Explorer. Or, in Firefox, you can save the PDF to your filestore by right clicking on the link to it and selecting 'save link as'. If you do decide to save your PDF, make sure it has a name you recognise and that it's saved somewhere you can find it, then you can open it in Adobe Reader.

We are working on a new version of firefox which, will fix the problem with PDFs and are confident that it will be available to you soon. In the mean time if you're having problems with PDFs please let us know. You can either talk to our staff in the Information Commons or send us feedback here.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Top tips for keeping your smartphone secure

The ICO has just published a great guide to help keep your smartphone secure.

The tips are applicable to all smartphones (Apple, Android, Blackberry and Windows) and should only take a few minutes to set up.

Feel free to get in touch with us if you have any further questions about smartphone security or need any help with the tips covered in the guide.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Eduroam maintenance tomorrow morning

At 6:30 tomorrow morning, Tuesday 8th October, we will be doing some work on the technology that supports our eduroam wireless. We don't expect you to see any impact for those of you that are awake and connected to eduroam. However, eduroam will be at risk for around 15 minutes. If you find that you become disconnected or that you are unable to connect between 6:30am and 7am, just wait a few minutes and retry and you should get connected.

Migrating staff filestore in October

Over the summer we have purchased and set up some new, more powerful hardware to run our virtual server environment. We have been systematically migrating services from the older environment to the new one and have already successfully moved students' filestore

The migrations will take place throughout October, with work beginning at 7am on the scheduled day. Each filestore server will be unavailable for 15-30 minutes whilst it is moved, with your shared areas and personal filestore, u:drive, being affected. If you are using a University Desktop computer or a managed Windows XP computer before 8am on the day your server is scheduled for migration, make sure you can see your u:drive and your shared areas before you do anything, to avoid losing any work you might start. 

Once the migration is complete, everything will look and work the same for you. All your files and folders will appear in the same place they always did.

Here is the proposed schedule:

Ashopton - Wednesday 9 October
Langsett - Thursday 10 October
Windleden - Friday 11 October
Ladybower & Stfdata01 - Monday 14 October
Froggatt - Tuesday 15 October

Ogston - Thursday 17 October

Friday, 4 October 2013

Telephone calls charged centrally

At the start of August we changed the way we recharge University departments for telephone lines and calls in order to simplify the process and to eliminate unnecessary administration.

Now when we pay the bills of our various telephony suppliers, the process is complete. Whereas, previously, we’d then spend a great deal of time across the whole institution passing relatively small sums of money about: all completely unnecessary. It’s difficult to put an exact figure on the time (and hence money) saved, but it will be many thousands of pounds each and every month.

Combined with the recent changes to the way that mobile phone bills are being handled (we think we have saved approximately £200,000 per year in not having to process 1,000 bills once a quarter) and the many other savings we are trying to put in place around telephony, we are going someway to help the Department meet one of its aims in being more efficient and streamlined. 

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Secure your computer, pretty please!

This is a really simple bit of good practice but something that we often forget.

If you leave your computer logged in then any accounts, or information you have access to, are at risk. As embarrassing as it may be to come back and find yourself with a goat on your desktop we also have to remember that we all have access to sensitive information and systems.

Your computer should be protected with a password and set to lock when left unattended. Your screensaver can be set on a timer but it's much better if it becomes second nature to enable the screensaver as you leave your desk.

Update on MOLE performance problems, October 2013

As you may be aware, CiCS staff have been working with our suppliers all week to maintain a usable MOLE service whilst investigating the causes of intermittent performance problems.

Following the installation of some patches the MOLE service has become more stable but is still not running at full performance levels. The my MOLE navigation panel is also running at reduce functionality as depicted below:  

Live classroom teaching can now be undertaken with the understanding that some individual sessions may crash or timeout.  However, tests should not be delivered via MOLE.

To continue to provide this level of service we will restart MOLE during its usual Friday morning at risk period to install more patches.  The service will be unavailable 04:00-07:00 and should be considered at risk all Friday.

Updates on our progress is available on our service status page. A history of all updates to date is reproduced below:

Update 4th October 11:00

MOLE has been successfully restarted and remains stable. Live classroom teaching can now be undertaken with the understanding that some individual sessions may crash or timeout. Significant assessments should not be delivered via MOLE. 

Update 3rd October 13:40

Following the installation of patches from our supplier, MOLE is now more stable. Live classroom teaching can now be undertaken with the understanding that some individual sessions may crash or timeout. Significant assessments should not be delivered via MOLE. 

MOLE will be restarted during its usual Friday morning at risk period and will be unavailable 04:00-07:00. It should be considered at risk all Friday.

Update 2nd October 16:10

We're continuing to work on MOLE but its status remains the same: available but at risk and not stable enough for live teaching in a classroom where students are likely to be performing the same actions at the same time.

Update 2nd October 14:00

The MOLE service is still available but at risk and we are continuing to work with our suppliers to fix the bug and restore MOLE to full service.

Update 2nd October 10:42

The MOLE service remains available but at risk. We are continuing to work with our suppliers who have identified a bug and have suggested some promising workarounds which we are implementing. For the time being we still recommend against using MOLE for live teaching in a classroom where students are likely to be performing the same actions at the same time.

Update 1st October 16:05

MOLE is still running and we are continuing to work with our supplier to maintain and improve it. We still advise that MOLE should not be used for live teaching.

Update 1st October 13:30

The MOLE service is still running and we are continuing to work to maintain the service and improve its performance and stability.

However, for the time being we advise that academic colleagues do not use MOLE for live teaching until we can confirm it is working reliably.

Update 1st October 11:15

We are continuing to have problems with MOLE and we are working closely with our supplier to try and resolve this. CiCS staff are working to maintain the service whist investigating the underlying cause.

We appreciate what a disruptive impact this is having and apologise for the difficulty that it is causing. For now we recommend that academic colleagues do not use the service for teaching until we can confirm that it is working reliably.

Original Post 1st October 10:05

The MOLE service is currently running at reduced capacity and should be considered at risk.

MyJob/MyTeam new theme update.

Just a quick update on the work we did last night on MyJob / My Team. Unfortunately we ran into some complications which means the University theme has not been applied. Everything is working as normal, so nothing to worry about. We will work out the complications then reschedule putting on the theme.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Increased Filestore

After a carefully planned sequence of software and hardware upgrades by our storage team, we are pleased to say that everyone now has a minimum of 2GB of filestore. This is a huge improvement on what we previously offered and something that many of you have been asking for. So now you can save more work on your u: drive without worrying about filling it quite so fast.

SAP Browser Issues

Recently a software update on MyJob caused the payslip viewer to stop working in Safari and Chrome web browsers. We have been working hard to resolve these problems and we are pleased to tell you that you can now view your payslip in Safari once again, although it is still not possible to view your payslip in Chrome. You can also view your payslip in IE and Firefox and we’ll let you know once we have a fix for Chrome.

Monday, 30 September 2013

MyJob / MyTeam work Wednesday evening

MyJob / My Team will be unavailable for upto 2 hours on Wednesday evening whilst the University theme is applied. The new theme will bring it inline with the visual identity of University's public website, giving it a familiar and consistent feel and making it easier on the eye.

We will start this work at 7pm on Wednesday October 2nd, and expect to be finished by 9pm.

Friday, 27 September 2013

uSpace work on Monday evening

If you have used uSpace since the new version of MUSE was launched, you have probably noticed that it asks you to sign in to ye olde version of MUSE before you can get to uSpace. However, from Monday you will be able to get straight into uSpace from My Services in MUSE, no ye olde MUSE required.

To make this happen uSpace will be unavailable between 7pm and 8m on Monday September 30th. If you are in uSpace at that time your session will close so make sure you have saved any updates.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Returning students' filestore

This week we will be doing some work on the student filestore servers for returning students.  The work will affect files and folders returning students use on computers around campus.

Over the summer we have purchased and set up some new, more powerful hardware to run our virtual server environment and we have been moving other services such as printing and MyPC, from the old equipment to the new. So far we have seen performance increases from the new hardware and are confident that you will see improvements in filestore. 

The moves will take place over three days, with two servers being moved per day. The work will take place at 7am and each student server will be unavailable for 15-30 minutes whilst it is moved. 

Here is the schedule:

Wed 25th - Redmires and Foxton - this will affect students with '09' or '12' in their username.
Thurs 26th - Roydmoor and Broadstone - students with '08' or '11' in their username.
Friday 27th - Ramsden and Barbrook - students with '10' in their username.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Helpdesk responds to your feedback

In response to the staff satisfaction survey (sent December 2012) we have made several changes, as detailed below. Your feedback is essential in helping us to provide a high quality service.

You Said: Not all of our customers felt valued.

We Did:
  • Created six new posts within the Helpdesk, recruiting dynamic, customer-focused staff with strong communication skills.
  • Created the role of Incident Coordinator (IC); the IC monitors real-time demands on the Helpdesk and provides support, advice and information. There is always an IC on duty.
  • Provided more customer service training.

You Said: The quality of the Helpdesk service wasn’t as good by email or via self-service, compared to phone and face-to-face service. (Reported by approx 15% of users)

We Did:
  • Introduced Service Level Agreements (SLAs) for all queries received via self-service. This allows our call logging system to escalate any queries that are not responded to swiftly, by sending regular notifications to our Helpdesk staff and also to the on-duty Incident Coordinator (IC).
  • The IC monitors the response times for email queries and ensures that these are handled promptly.

You Said: There were inconsistencies in the way different staff responded to requests, e.g. giving out conflicting or inaccurate information, or willingness to take ownership of problems.

We Did:
  • Following the introduction of quality control measures at the start of the year - recording Helpdesk calls and sampling email responses every 3 weeks - we have been able to identify training needs, inconsistencies in the level of customer service, good and bad working practices and many other ways in which we can improve.
  • The Helpdesk Manager and senior Incident Coordinator are able to give regular feedback and advice to the team as a result of this process.

You Said: You wanted more Google training.

We Did:
  • A number of IT Support staff have attended ‘Train the Trainer’ courses, giving us the flexibility to deliver more sessions in various areas, including Google. In doing this, we have tripled the number of trainers in our team from 3 to 9.

You Said: Not everyone found the classroom-based CMS training useful.

We Did:
  • We now offer two options for CMS classes:
    • For beginners: an instructor-led, classroom-based course
    • For more experienced users: we support self-guided training by providing booklets and exercises and follow-up support via email.

Friday, 13 September 2013

uPlayer work: 17th September 2013

uPlayer will experience a (hopefully) short period of downtime, expected to be around 10-15 minutes at 13:00 on Tuesday 17th September. Both uploading and streaming of media will be unavailable whilst work is done to migrate the service onto a new server platform. 

Every effort has been made to minimise the time uPlayer is unavailable. However, due to potential licensing complications, we may need to get a new license following the migration. If this does happen the system will be down until new license keys can be obtained which, unfortunately could take up to a day. Fingers crossed it all goes cleanly.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

My Sustainable Print progress report

My Sustainable Print (MSP) is the new printing service being prepared for launch to all staff across the University later this year. It will deliver a unified network of fast, efficient multifunctional print devices offering colour and mono print, scanning and photocopying.

Final Print Audit Report

Following a comprehensive audit comprising a physical count exercise, electronically counting a representative sample of print jobs and a University wide staff survey on printing, the auditors have submitted their final report, which has been accepted by the project board.

The full report can be read below and we would like to commend our auditors from Wyse solutions who have done excellent work during the audit and have worked closely with departments, impressing colleagues with their dispassionate methodical approach to calculating genuine print need.

The audit report recommends a unified network of around 600 multifunction print devices giving staff access to to fast, high quality, mono and colour printing. Printing may be released from any device on the network and there will be secure printing release for confidentiality. The network will also support future development of printing from mobile devices.

The proposed solution will generate environmental and financial savings. Annual CO2 production is projected to fall from 86 tonnes to 18 tonnes, with annual running costs to fall from £2.5m to £1.4m.

Rolling Out the Recommended Solution

One department from each faculty will test the practicalities of the recommended solution by running a simplified version of the service. Feedback from these departments will inform implementation throughout their faculty and across the university.  

The transition to the full recommended solution will begin in November 2013. We aim to complete the transition by March 2014, and will review progress early in the new year. We will agree a plan with each department to make the transition from the existing print service to My Sustainable Print.

Funding Model

Departments currently pay for all their own printing and this will continue to be the case but on a much more efficient funding model. MSP will be funded centrally through the shared costs budget via CICS. We will contract the print supplier to provide, manage, service, repair and provide toner and staples for all print devices. Departments will have their budgets adjusted to meet this cost based on the number of devices they have. From then on there will be no charge back for printing but departments will have to provide paper for the print devices they use regularly.

The projected annual running costs are £1.4m, which is a saving of £1.1m against current annual running costs. There will be a projected one off set-up cost in the region of £34k.

Printing and photocopying costs to research grants will, in most cases, be absorbed in the overhead charge. This means that research grant applications should include printing and photocopying charges as “overheads”, rather than as a recoverable cost.

Tender Exercise

We are currently preparing a tender inviting print suppliers to submit proposals to supply and manage the network of print devices. Once the supplier has been selected and contracted we will work with departments to implement the system, on a building by building basis, from November 2013.

University Wide Print Policy

The final details of the recommended solution is being documented in a University Wide Print Policy which aims to ensure the delivery of an accessible, sustainable, secure and cost-effective print service for the University and support the University’s Faculties and Professional Services to reduce the cost of printing and to reduce the environmental impact of University printing. Once the policy has been finalised by UEB we will circulate more widely.