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Friday 7 February 2020 12:30pm

Otago's new IT Projects Unit Senior Manager Craig Stephens.

Craig Stephens, the new Senior Manager for the University's IT Projects Unit, tells the Otago Bulletin Board what brought him to New Zealand and outlines the University's priority projects for the year ahead.

Tell us a bit about yourself
My wife Nichelle and I moved here from South Africa with our two young children about two months ago. I've worked on projects all across Africa, Europe, the Middle East, the USA and India and been privileged to spend a lot of time with different cultures across the globe. The main reason we moved here was to experience the culture in this part of the world. We're settling in and trying to come to terms with the weather!

Everyone is so friendly. I think it's the first time I've ever been asked at a supermarket how's my day going. I've never had so much conversation just from buying groceries. It's very cool. It's the only place I've been where people ask how you are and care about what the answer is.

Past work experience
One of the biggest things I was involved in followed Barclays Bank's decision to pull out of Africa after almost 100 years. I was part of the team delivering all the IT separation between Africa and Barclays UK which created a whole new environment for a business in Africa of about 55,000 people.

The IT world is always changing and trying to keep up to speed is a difficult process. Luckily being a projects team leader you work with a lot of people in different areas so you're exposed to a broad spectrum of technology and views of how things work.

Describe your role at Otago
My job is making sure projects are delivered on time and the scope is right. This is still a relatively new department within ITS so it's quite exciting to start from scratch and see where you get to. A lot of what's happening is getting the foundation right which will allow the University to take advantage of better technologies in the future.

What are the priorities?
The core projects are enablement – helping staff achieve what they need to more easily and efficiently. For example there is the rollout of Office 365. In terms of the enablement capabilities of an Office 365 platform, it brings with it collaboration opportunities which we've not had in the past, helps both in teaching and in our day to day interactions between people.

Another key project is a new Customer Relationship Management portal (CRM). This allows staff to have the same amount of information in front of them all the time. So, for example, our teams who engage with students will be able to respond more quickly and consistently to inquiries. The system allows you to spot and react to trends. The goal is to more efficiently engage with your customers, in this case students.

Key projects for 2020

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Service Management
Customer Relationship Management - A new system will help manage the University's interactions with existing and potential students, alumni, research funding organisations and collaborators. The CRM will integrate with existing systems such as eVision (student management) and Raiser's Edge (fundraising).

This tool will assist with:

  • Raising the profile of our researchers and research
  • Providing a holistic view of the interactions between internal and external clients and partners
  • Enhancing and expanding international research and teaching partnerships

Service Management
A single University-wide system that collates progress on all service requests, while providing quality data so performance can be measured and improved. Phase one of this project is starting now with changes to the system used by AskOtago that aim to enhance the searchable knowledgebase and the request system.

Office 365
The gradual roll-out of Office 365 starts in the second quarter of 2020 and transition will be carefully managed, including training and ongoing support.

The project will be broken down into a number of phases, initially providing the basic “utility' type applications

SONIA is a placement administration system for University administrative staff and external partners. About 17 per cent of Otago University students go on placements and SONIA enables the University to meet Health and Safety obligations, standardise and enhance placement processes across the University and quickly identify where students are located at any given time.

SONIA has already been successfully implemented in the College of Education and the School of Pharmacy. During 2020 it will be rolled out to the remaining schools and departments whose students undertake placements.

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