Helping to develop one of the most significant programmes of IT modernisation across higher education in the UK
The University of Manchester aims to be one of the top 25 research universities in the world, while also providing an outstanding learning experience. That includes providing world-class facilities for its internationally recognised researchers – including Nobel laureates – and for the students who study there. A crucial component of this is IT. The university needs to be able to provide high-speed, secure, and flexible access to research tools, student resources and back-office systems for what is the UK’s largest single campus university.
To help achieve this, Mason Advisory was asked to support the university in transforming its IT infrastructure and end-user computing (EUC). Its existing network was becoming outdated and unable to scale with growing demand. In addition, the university was dealing with a huge number of unmanaged devices, which were difficult to support and posed potential risks in terms of information security and data loss.
We worked with the university to create a vision for a high-performing network and an effective EUC solution that would set it up for growth and innovation, allow much more flexibility in the way people work, and enable the IT service desk to provide better support to all users
Our two teams worked with the university to develop complementary strategies for networking and EUC (covering technology, service desk, applications and licensing). We engaged with key stakeholders from IT, procurement and finance, as well as suppliers through interviews, workshops and validation sessions, and for EUC we also captured user profiles. We also undertook a detailed documentation review. This allowed us to understand the existing environment and the wider business objectives and IT strategy.
Our approach included a ‘POPIT’ review, looking at people, organisation, process, information and technology. We used this information to create a vision for the future based on the requirements of the university and its users, as well as considering technology trends and the market outlook,
Our team performed a gap analysis between the current position and the vision, looking at the risks involved in moving from one to the other. To help the university achieve the vision, we outlined roadmaps for both workstreams, and developed business cases to gain executive support and funding. For networking, the roadmap outlined a service with enhanced cybersecurity and extended operational support to meet staff and students’ evolving demands, such as increased use of Wi-Fi, greater collaboration, and audiovisual learning tools, as well as data-intensive research projects such as supporting the work of CERN’s Large Hadron Collider, and the National Graphene Institute.
For EUC, the roadmap included migration to cloud-based services, virtualising applications, implementing a virtual workspace solution, and implementing mobile device management to allow off-campus access to specialist software on any device, and to provide better support and increased security.
Having gained approval for the way forward, we also supported the preparation of the tender documentation for both procurements, including creating detailed specifications for the end-to-end service, and supported the subsequent procurement processes.
We advised the university on remediating immediate issues around ways of working, change management and application management, as well as providing the springboard for the university to undertake a major transformation based on our approach and methods for defining the strategic use of technology.
Our support in delivering strategic competitive tendering enabled the university to prepare and plan its approach to achieving a more secure, resilient and scalable infrastructure, and a much more flexible and better supported EUC environment, allowing it to keep delivering world-class research and teaching well into the next decade, with satisfied students and supported staff.
“Mason Advisory used its extensive knowledge of different sectors to bring market-leading understanding of technology into our definition. The team’s considered consultative and professional approach provided us with a strong partnership and a great relationship, overall.”
Malcolm Whitehouse CBE, CIO, the University of Manchester