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Strategic Priority 3

To grow an efficient, effective and sustainable enterprise


3.1 Develop business systems to meet new and changing needs
3.2 Implement and exploit an Enterprise Architecture
3.3 Promote sustainability
3.4 Exploit Virtualisation and the Cloud
3.5 Make effective use of Shared Services
3.6 Deliver an effective, highly available systems infrastructure
3.7 Protect Information Security and Appropriate Use
3.8 Improve the user experience of our help desks
3.9 Develop the University Network
3.10 Migrate to IP Telephony and Unified Communications
3.11 Enhance e-resource management
3.12 Improve ICT and Media Training for Staff
3.13 Improve Marketing & Communications
3.14 Enhance income generation and contracted services

A summary and details about our goals and actions are available in the tabs below.


Information Services has an important role to play in delivering efficiency, effectiveness and sustainability not just in our direct services but also across all areas of the University’s operations, through support for information systems, communication, marketing and recruitment, carbon management, shared services and a range of other important elements of the Corporate Plan.Information and Communications Technology (ICT) underpins virtually every aspect of the University’s business.

Information Services will support and develop the University’s major business systems – including students, HR, research, finance and estates – in line with integrated plans agreed through the Administration Support Advisory Group.The goal is to provide a suite of high quality administrative applications, streamlined processes, effective reporting strategies and robust information-driven decision making, delivered to an increasingly web-centric and mobile-enabled user base.Increasingly, the focus will be on the effective management of information, including workflow, data quality and records management, with the emphasis on electronic rather than paper-based communication, and Information Services will fully support developments in these areas as part of a wider Information Strategy.

In particular, the early part of 2012-13 will see major developments in relation to QSIS: the re-implementation of Student Financials; an enhanced Registration Wizard for E&R; the launch of the new Key Information Sets (KIS); and planning for UCAS ‘Paperlight’.Information Services will fully support these developments as well as the longer term QSIS roadmap.

A key part of the enabling of effective, integrated and timely decision making will be the development of an enterprise structure to support business solutions.The concept of an Enterprise Architecture was introduced in 2011-12, and will be developed into a production environment in 2012-13.The end goal is an integrated, consumable IT service.This will be achieved by aggregating data from core systems; manipulating this data using a range of powerful business intelligence, reporting and workflow based solutions; and presenting it through the SharePoint based Queen’s Online portal.A fundamental principle, and key goal, is the integration of University business systems so that information is comprehensive and commonly understood.

The Enterprise Architecture will also involve the consolidation of internal (Information Services) development approaches, enabling us to maximise the development resources available to us and to be as responsive as possible to new challenges and emerging business requirements.It will also be supported by a more rigorous approach to project management, with the development of project standards and a project governance framework for the University.

Strategies for effective energy/carbon management will play a fundamental part in all plans relating to ICT infrastructure.Information Services is responsible for ICT systems which have a major carbon footprint – High Performance Computing, for example – and will actively promote the use of virtualisation, shared services and the cloud as ways of reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions.In conjunction with Estates, management information systems will continue to be developed to support the achievement of University carbon reduction targets.We will also continue to develop energy efficiency in our data centres, through measures such as ‘hot aisle/cold aisle’ containment.

The further development of a shared services strategy will be an important part of supporting an efficient enterprise.Good progress has been made already, but a significant piece of work remains to achieve the goal of a common, shared ICT infrastructure that is used in all parts of the University for key services such as authentication, authorisation, file store, backup and printing.Use of shared services will not just create efficiencies, but also improve the staff and student experience of using ICT.

In tandem with an internal shared services strategy, the period ahead will see us actively pursue options to achieve efficiencies though the use of off-campus providers and external shared services.The migration of student email to the ‘cloud’ in 2012-13 is an early target.

The new Library Management System has created opportunities for improved management of electronic resources and these will be exploited in the period ahead.This ability is all the more important where budgets are squeezed and there is the need to make informed decisions about where to prioritise investment in resources.

Information Services will continue to provide a reliable and effective ICT infrastructure to support the research, education and administrative functions of the University.Key network developments in the period will include:

· The creation of a Wireless Campus, to give wireless coverage to all parts of the University, using latest technologies and taking account of the changing patterns of usage and new requirements

  • The upgrading of the University network ‘backbone’ to speeds of 10Gbps
  • Dealing with an increasingly ‘bring your own device’ environment (staff, students, visitors)
  • Preparing for IP Telephony
  • The implementation of Eduroam

From a systems perspective, the emphasis will continue to be on the use of networked SAN-based storage to give the required levels of performance, reliability, security, availability and capacity, with cheaper storage being used for archival or non-critical data.The groundwork for the widespread use of virtualisation has already been laid and the period ahead will see significant migration from physical to virtual servers, with resulting efficiencies and savings.At the same time, we will continue to evaluate the potential of cloud computing and other new and emerging strategies/technologies, building on a number of active pilots, to ensure best value for the University.

Communication will be an important strand of our activities over the period of the strategy, particularly in the areas of Unified Communications (the integration of a range of communications services) and Social Media (in terms of both policies and supporting services).We will also continue to provide a wide range of training, advisory and support services to ensure that all users have the skills and help they need to make the most effective use of the resources available to them.

Information Services provides a wide range of external, income generating services, including library service contracts for the DHSSPS and AFBI, library system hosting, Language Centre services and management of the regional network (NIRAN) and the Regional Support Centre (RSC).In the current financial climate, the income from these services is increasingly being squeezed and our goal in the period ahead will be to maintain levels of income as far as possible and look for new opportunities to generate additional income.For NIRAN and the RSC, we will need to take account of the wider re-shaping of JISC, which seems likely to include a shift in the funding burden to institutions.

3.1 Develop business systems to meet new and changing needs

Information Services will work with business owners to agree and implement developments plans for major business systems.ASAG will be used to ensure that plans are aligned and resourced; that key business requirements and challenges are met; and that key goals in areas such as data quality are achieved.The Enterprise Architecture described below will aggregate data from core data systems and will complement native interfaces to these systems.


  • Fully support the range of key QSIS developments during summer 2012.
  • Agree and implement the development programmes for major business systems, overseen by ASAG
  • Develop an overarching Information Strategy as a framework for information management in the University
  • Integrate core systems within the ‘data layer’ of the Enterprise Architecture
  • Work with other stakeholders to ensure the effective sharing of data, the quality of data and the streamlining and co-ordination of business processes


3.2 Implement and exploit an Enterprise Architecture

Information Services will expand the “Enterprise Architecture” to include all major online systems and services. This will have an impact on purchasing approaches for new systems, development practices and project management; and will use Queen’s Online portal as the presentation system. This will also open up options for multichannel delivery across PCs, portable computers and smartphone devices.

Once established, the Enterprise Architecture will act as foundation for the development of a range of projects with University wide impact. Areas currently being considered include: Unified Reporting Services; Customer Relationship Management, and Records Management.


  • Introduce new Enterprise wide services including improved reporting, workflow, dashboards, searching and communications
  • Convene a stakeholder group to identify targets for the Enterprise Architecture
  • Undertake at least one meaningful project that will allow us to identify the issues and benefits associated with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and the potential of Microsoft Dynamics as a solution
  • Introduce concept of Unified Reporting Services that offer user focused views of complex data sets, based on designated roles
  • Pilot an online Records Management Service
  • Bring forward, through ASAG, a project governance and management framework and standards for the University
  • Introduce business focused training programmes to ensure that new online services are exploited effectively and efficiently


3.3 Promote sustainability

ICT underpins the work of the University, but is also a major source of power consumption and carbon emissions.Good work has already been done in making the main computer centre more ‘green’ but more can be done.Shared services have a part to play in creating a more energy efficient enterprise, helping to eliminate inefficient servers/data centres.Virtualisation will continue to be a major element in our green computing strategy.


  • Continue to support and develop energy management dashboards to promote awareness of energy consumption.
  • Ensure the main computer centre is operating at optimal energy efficiency through ‘hot aisle, cold aisle’ containment
  • Work with Estates to ensure the McClay Library and other buildings are operating efficiently, including automated power on/off of open access PCs and other equipment
  • Achieve the identified targets for virtualisation
  • Audit the data centres across the University to look for opportunities for rationalisation as part of the shared services initiative
  • Provide a range of video-conferencing options, from the individual desktop to meeting rooms – this will also tie in to exploration of Unified Communications
  • Support initiatives for reducing paper consumption through use of ICT


3.4 Exploit Virtualisation and the Cloud

We will use virtualisation to move away from physical to virtual servers, with benefits in terms of reduced cost of equipment; simplification of management; reduced maintenance costs; and reduced energy consumption.Externally, we will actively pursue a number of cloud options, beginning with the outsourcing of student email to the cloud.We will look to exploit the programme of services and investment, announced by HEFCE in 2011, to deliver efficiencies through shared services in cloud computing infrastructure and applications.


  • Significantly expand the number of physical servers moved to virtual – the target is a minimum of 140 virtual servers by 2013.
  • Complete at least one pilot to assess the costs/benefits of migrating PCs (including in the Student Computer Centres) to virtual.
  • Migrate student email to the cloud.
  • Carry out a number of pilots to identify how external shared services (including cloud based) can support the most efficient and effective provision of ICT infrastructure and services to the University.


3.5 Make effective use of Shared Services

Information Services will actively promote shared services as a way of creating efficiencies through standardisation, simplification and sharing.We will complete the targets that have already been identified by the Shared Services Strategy Working Group and look for new opportunities to share ICT infrastructure and services, both internally and externally.


  • Design and create a common University-wide Active Directory, for authentication and authorisation, and migrate School and Directorate PCs and Apple Macs to that.
  • Implement centrally managed systems for backup, file store, student printing and other common services.
  • Review options for data centre provision in the University, including both internal and external hosting.


3.6 Deliver an effective, highly available systems infrastructure

Our systems infrastructure will be geared to support a number of important themes: anytime/anywhere access; effective and efficient management of large volumes of data; information security; business continuity; shared services; and green computing.We will provide a tiered storage architecture with an expanding use of virtualisation.Traditional backup/restore processes using tape will increasingly be replaced by “disk-to-disk” technology.


  • Achieve the identified targets for virtualisation
  • Achieve the identified targets for energy efficiency
  • Grow the storage infrastructure in response to need, including support for shared services
  • Review our storage and backup/restore strategy to ensure that long term, lower cost, archival disk is used effectively


3.7 Protect Information Security and Appropriate Use

Information Security and Appropriate Use are important and challenging issues which are further complicated by the increasing requirements for open networks and mobile use; the ever-growing risk of virus, hacking and data loss, particularly as a result of the threat from cyberspace; the rapid growth in social media; and legislative requirements and penalties for security breaches.The core strategy for Data Security is well established and systems (and data) will have appropriate levels of security with DR/business continuity plans in place.Existing policies and procedures will be kept under review and changed in the light of new threats and the changing landscape.


  • Work with the relevant stakeholders (e.g. Information Compliance Unit) on the secure management of data
  • Ensure effective policies for and awareness of information security, taking account of the rapidly growing threat of cyber attack
  • Work with the Communications Office to develop specific policies for staff and student use of social media; and guidance on the effective use of social media
  • Carry out an annual review of disaster recovery plans for all major systems and update as necessary
  • Investigate new ‘always on’ options for the encryption of data


3.8 Improve the user experience of our help desks

Information Services has a number of help desks/service points and has ongoing plans to improve the user experience by ensuring greater cohesion and sharing of knowledge.In addition, there are a range of help desks and support points across the University serving a diverse range of needs.The shared services initiative is a catalyst towards further rationalisation of service/contact points ITIL provides a structured approach to service management (wider than just help desk management) and we are keen to explore, with other stakeholders in the University, the benefits of adopting an ITIL-based approach.


  • Investigate the costs/benefits of adopting ITIL
  • Continue to promote a flexible approach to staffing service points within Information Services by building a wide range of expertise among staff
  • As part of shared services, look for options to provide a more integrated experience for users across the University’s service points


3.9 Develop the University Network

The network strategy for the period ahead is centred on the full deployment of a 10Gb backbone; the increasing roll-out of Gb switches at the department level; and the upgrading of our Internet link through JANET6

A fundamental part of the strategy will be the creation of a Wireless Campus, driven by the significant growth in ownership and use of laptops and mobile devices. This major strategic development will move the University from the current provision – focused on a number of areas such as libraries, social spaces and meeting rooms – to a truly pervasive, highly-performing wireless network serving the whole campus.

The emphasis on convergence will continue, with the network increasingly servicing telephony needs as well as an ever-expanding range and number of building-control and other devices (e.g. CCTV, alarm systems).


  • Implement Eduroam
  • Complete the upgrade of the University network ‘backbone’ to 10Gb and decommission old equipment
  • Complete specification and selection of the new Wireless Campus solution, and begin roll-out
  • Enhance the experience of users connecting to the campus wireless network, through a simpler connection process
  • Fully support plans for ongoing and new convergence on the data network
  • Work with JANET on the planning for the upgrade to JANET6 and the Queen’s University link to the Internet


3.10 Migrate to IP Telephony and Unified Communications

The University’s telecoms services are currently provided through a mix of analogue and digital systems, but analogue systems are increasingly being phased out.We will ensure the effective operation of existing systems while planning to fully migrate to IP Telephony (IPT), using the data network, and building on existing IPT pilots already in place.This opens up opportunities for us to exploit Unified Communications to integrate a range of new and existing communication services and give a much enhanced communication experience to our users, recognising the growing importance of mobile communications.


  • Improve the mobile signal to areas of the University where reception is currently poor
  • Review the University’s mobile phone contract and ensure the chosen contract offers best value and performance
  • Pilot Microsoft Lync to evaluate the potential of Unified Communications
  • Prepare a strategy and action plan for migration to IP Telephony, building on ongoing pilots and information gathering
  • Explore the use of Microsoft Lync to provide desktop video conference services that can integrate with standards based systems


3.11 Enhance e-resource management

The launch of the new Library Management System has brought new opportunities for improving resource discovery. An Electronic Resources Management System (ERM) will be fully implemented to provide an integrated mechanism for management of e-resources. For the first time, we will be able to implement systems to harvest effective usage statistics for electronic resources and develop metrics such as cost per use as an aid to cancellation and investment decision making. During the planning period, we will also begin to explore the behavior of (and develop more personalized solutions to meet the needs of) our virtual users.


  • Continue to develop Encore resource discovery tool and incorporate social networking sites
  • Identify and procure a new knowledgebase to provide bibliographic and holdings information; consider replacement options for the A-Z e-journals listing
  • Set up the Innovative ERM and populate with resource and provider details
  • Introduce a catalogue enrichment service through inclusion of book covers, summaries and Table of Contents in WebPac and Encore
  • Set-up the RAPTOR service to provide e-resource authentication statistics
  • Seek to acquire a selection support tool to provide enhanced usage statistics for electronic resources.
  • Begin to explore the import of e-resource statistics and mechanisms for improving personalisation options for Library users


3.12 Improve ICT and Media Training for Staff

The current range of IT skills courses on offer from Information Services will be complemented by the introduction of a range of business focused ICT courses that support major initiates such as: Records Management, Customer Relationship Management and Business Communications and Reporting. We will also expand our use of blended training approaches to offer increased flexibility in the development of IT skills.


  • Review scope and sequencing of ICT skills courses on offer
  • Offer focused training on use of teaching rooms as part of the Student Central Timetabling Project
  • Introduce business-focused courses relating to Records Management and Unified Reporting Services
  • Offer training courses on video capture and editing


3.13 Improve Marketing & Communications

Ongoing and innovative ways of seeking feedback from staff and students as well as the introduction of a regular Information Services survey will be explored. Ongoing communication with the student body will be maintained through social media and more traditional mechanisms while the scope and method of delivery of library notifications to students will be reviewed – e.g. delivery to mobile devices. Social media is an essential part of their daily lives and it is important that Information Services uses it to communicate with them. Facebook and Twitter are already being exploited effectively but a strategy for future development is now essential.


  • Develop a marketing and communication strategy for Information Services
  • Develop an integrated and cohesive plan for IS use of social media (re-launch Facebook page; increase number of followers on Twitter; improve co-ordinated use of YouTube, etc.)
  • Review ongoing mechanisms for communicating with students (printed leaflets, video, website, etc.)
  • Carry out a regular IS Survey and develop clear mechanism for student feedback
  • Review the IS briefings and other communication channels
  • Launch a new, user-focused IS website to enable users to easily identify and access the information/services they need


3.14 Enhance income generation and contracted services

Information Services currently delivers two significant Library services under contract (to Health and Social Care (HSC) employees under contract to the Department of Health Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) and to the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) as well as hosting the library management system for Linen Hall Library, Stranmillis University College and St Mary’s University College.

The current strategic plan for the Medical & Healthcare Library provides the framework within which services to HSC will be delivered during the planning period. Maintaining access to resources under increasingly difficult financial conditions remains the primary challenge.

The Library service to AFBI is well established and highly regarded. The contract period has now elapsed and AFBI are about to embark on a new tender exercise. In responding to this tender, the long term delivery of the service and value of this contract to the University will need to be considered carefully.

Service Level Agreements for each of the hosted libraries will be updated to reflect the new structure of the hosting arrangements following the implementation of Millennium.

Opportunities to generate revenue based on our exceptional Special Collections will be explored.

Information Services is the host and management agent for the Regional Support Centre (RSC) and the Northern Ireland Regional Area Network (NIRAN).Changes to the JISC funding model will have impacts from the start of 2013-14 and we will continue to monitor the situation closely and respond to developments.


  • Improve delivery of, and access to, library services through enhancement of honni (honni Encore) and honni hubs.
  • Embrace new technologies to improve delivery of training, resources and other services: mobile technologies/video linking, online tutorials, Web 2.0, etc.
  • Engage in appropriate promotion and marketing activities to raise the profile and increase the breadth and depth of HSC users’ experience of library services and resources.
  • Continue to develop collaborative procurement between sectors and across Trusts on a regional basis involving increasing e-access
  • Respond to the new AFBI tender
  • Agree revised Service Level Agreements with each of the hosted libraries
  • Initiate production of a ‘Treasures of Special Collections’ monograph and a calendar/postcard series based on Special Collections for sale via Welcome Centre (and potentially online)
  • Review loan of performance sets of music from Special Collections- e.g. consider introduction of a fee
  • Consider a fee and license mechanism for online digital access to specific Special Collections materials
  • Consider introduction of smart cards for Associate Members of the Library
  • Feed into the national consultation on the strategic development of the Regional Support Centre concept
  • Deliver core RSC services to the Further Education community in Northern Ireland and review and update services available to the Higher Education Community.
  • Roll out regionally focused services as agreed with the Department for Employment and Learning.
  • Respond to the likely in-sourcing, by JANET, of the NIRAN network
  • Look for opportunities to co-operate in the new Super-connected Belfast Project


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