Projects and programmes update - Michaelmas term 2020

IT Services projects continue to collaborate with colleagues across the University to improve the way we work and support teaching and research. Some highlights of this work are outlined below.

eExpenses arriving early 2021

The eExpenses project is a Focus initiative run in collaboration with IT Services and the University's central Finance Division. It will deliver the new online SAP Concur eExpenses system, which will be introduced in two waves in January and February 2021. This will mean most expense claims will be submitted and approved electronically. No more lost forms or receipts.

eExpenses will be used by all staff and students with an Oxford Single Sign-On (SSO) to claim expenses from the academic divisions, Gardens, Libraries and Museums (GLAM), University Administration Services (UAS), Continuing Education and three colleges (Kellogg, Reuben and St Cross).  

More information is in our recently published eExpenses article and on the Finance Division website, or by contacting the eExpenses Project team.

SharePoint Online coming soon

SharePoint Online, the modern, cloud-based version of SharePoint, will be available from mid-November. SharePoint Online sites will be provided with 'out of the box' software. It will be the responsibility of administrators and site owners in departments and colleges to move the content of existing sites to the new format, before support for the existing SharePoint on-premise runs out in April 2023. To help with the move to SharePoint Online, e-learning packages on CoSy and quick reference guides will be provided. 

Two important roles will help to facilitate this move: 

  • Site Network Administrator (SNA), replacing the current Site Collection Administrator (SCA), who will be responsible for the site network, its content and who will provide technical assistance to the site owner.
  • Business Owner, a new role held by a senior manager, who will be accountable for the content held in SharePoint Online, but have no technical remit.

We would like everyone to start thinking about their move to SharePoint Online and tidying up existing sites now. Our recent SharePoint Online article has more information about the project. You can also visit the SharePoint Online project website and our frequently asked questions (FAQs) page. If you have any questions about this, please email the SharePoint Online Project team.

CoreHR Upgrade is nearly complete

The 2019-20 CoreHR Upgrade completes imminently. This significant project has achieved two major system upgrades, in order to bring the University’s HR Information System (CoreHR) completely up to date. It also managed the transition to a supplier-hosted service, which facilitates frequent system updates and provides access to the latest features and improvements. 

Benefits to system users include the ability to complete the majority of system processes in a modern and user-friendly interface. In addition, we have also introduced a new, flexible, blended learning experience.

This project was a partnership between University Human Resources and IT Services. We would like to thank all stakeholders for their engagement and cooperation throughout the project. If you have any questions about this, please contact the CoreHR Upgrade Project team.  

CoreHR time and absence management pilot

A project is underway to pilot a new time and absence management system, utilising the University’s human resource (HR) information system; CoreHR.

During the pilot, a small number of departments will implement online timesheets for casual workers, as well as absence management for professional and support staff and some researchers and academics. 

The pilot is scheduled to deliver in early 2021. If successful, funding will be sought to support the rollout of this functionality to all departments across the University. 

This project is a partnership between University Human Resources and IT Services. For further information, visit the CoreHR Time Management webpage or contact the CoreHR Time Management team.

Canvas programme enters final phase  

The start of Michaelmas term marks the final phase of the rollout of the Canvas virtual learning environment across Oxford. From its use by early adopters in 2018, Canvas is now expected to be used by more than 95 per cent of students by the close of 2020. More than 60,000 users currently have access to Canvas.

Activities will now focus on supporting new Canvas users through the early life support process and preparing for the eventual handover of the Canvas service to the Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL). The Programme team will also continue to work closely with the CTL to help with queries related to flexible and inclusive teaching through the teaching remotely helpdesk.  More information is on the CTLs Canvas webpage.  

Gardens, Libraries and Museums (GLAM)

In recent months we have seen the culmination of a productive collaboration between IT Services GLAM Digital programme and the teams at the Ashmolean and Bodleian, with the introduction of the Ashmolean Image Library in August and the recent delivery of the Digital Bodleian 2.0 beta site. 

The Ashmolean Image Library enables access to over 12,500 images, with more being added, and the ability to purchase for either personal or commercial use. This trial continues.

The Digital Bodleian 2.0 beta site will be available alongside the existing Digital Bodleian platform for a two month beta period during which time your feedback is welcomed. Digital Bodleian will become the new digital gateway to the Bodleian collections. It has a much transformed interface, new advanced searching, better object viewer, a more enticing home-page, and greatly clearer and improved downloading, and International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) integration. This work marks a significant development in the presentation and delivery of the Bodleian’s digital collections. Click on the beta site link above to try it out!

Our thanks go to colleagues at the Ashmolean and Bodleian for their hard work in making this happen during extremely challenging circumstances.

COWLSHUR project upgrading the centrally provided Wi-Fi service

The COWLSHUR project is upgrading the Centrally managed Oxford Wireless LAN Service (COWLS) Wi-Fi service, provided centrally by IT Services, and is in the process of appointing suppliers to complete a major upgrade, following a competitive tender process. Starting with a proof of concept installation scheduled to start in mid-November and then moving onto a pilot to start in January, full deployment is expected to commence from March 2021, bringing many benefits including: 

  • 6th Generation Wi-Fi (Wi-Fi 6) providing increased and more consistent speeds, higher density of devices per access point and improved power efficiency 
  • New hardware and management systems 
  • Existing COWLS wireless access points to be replaced by the project 
  • Improved local administrator functionality 
  • Enhanced diagnostics and troubleshooting helping users get on with their work and not fixing issues 
  • Ability to scale with forecast needs and accommodate future requirements such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and asset tracking

Detailed information has been provided to the ITSS community but further enquiries can be directed to the COWLSHUR Project team

Chorus telephony upgrade due in 2021 

The Chorus Upgrade project was established to upgrade the university-wide telephony solution to the latest version (OpenScape v10), to maintain in-life support and provide access to new features and enhancements including:

  • Prolonged working life of existing physical phones
  • Enhanced look and feel for softphone clients, with an improved layout, new feature-set and improved accessibility
  • Moving to an enhanced virtual infrastructure, to provide increased stability and flexibility 
  • Replacement of end-of-life dedicated network hardware

The project is currently developing the back-end infrastructure, ready for supplier testing in November, and aiming to deploy the final solution by summer 2021. The project team will continue to engage with all stakeholders throughout the process but more information is available from the Chorus Upgrade Project website and enquiries can be directed to the Chorus Upgrade Project team.