Case Studies

Information Hub - Jisc with 5 Higher Education Institutions

Toby has been driving a project, partly funded by Jisc and partly by 5 institutions, to build a prototype Information Broker for the sector. This is in line with the recently announced HESA CACHED programme and builds on the work performed at Imperial College.

Kings College London, Plymouth, York St John, Birmingham and UCL have been the institutional partners, as together we have built
1) a common information model with all key information entities and relationships
2) a repository of definitions agreed by the 5 partners to the first level of detail and
3) a demonstration of the prototype, which demonstrates how a common model can be used to build a Cloud broker, simplifying the collection of data from multiple institutions by multiple organisations.

The next phase of the project, due to start in late 2015 with the agreement of partners and sponsor, will be to convert the prototype into a working pilot for 4 institutions.


Imperial College

Toby worked with Imperial College to help them define and drive a project to understand and simplify their information architecture, focusing on a key area around students, utilising existing canonical data models for universities and other organisations. The pilot tested this new approach and will lead to a set of projects across the college to deliver the aims below. The first of these projects around SOA is underway.

1)    Understand the IT estate better, determine who is responsible for key system and information assets, both of which will help the College become more agile in the way they support business users and business needs

2)    Present a clearer, trustworthy, interactive and timely view of information across all applications to consumers of information (students, academics, researchers etc.) at all levels within the organisation

3)    Increase confidence in the College’s information through business information owners, who will provide a common point of ownership for both systems and reporting information.

4)    Reduce the cost of licencing, managing, upgrading and adapting supporting IT systems within the College, by challenging the suppliers to provide more rounded applications, by consolidating where practical and by reducing the proliferation and complexity of interfaces.

The College wishes to harvest the information assets and consolidate knowledge it already has, retire any unnecessary systems, reduce the complexity and cost of interfacing and enrich the visual experience for key workers.

Together, the delivery of these aims will allow the College to make better-informed decisions, at lower cost and respond to business change faster.

The project goals are easy to document but very hard to achieve, hence the recommendation that a pilot approach be used, which can test the approach, deliver valuable recommendations, particularly relating to integration simplification.

The project has defined a pilot approach, built around a hub and spoke architecture akin to Services Oriented Architecture. Moving towards this hub and spoke model will realise opportunities at three levels:

  • Process Simplification
  • Systems Consolidation
  • Interface Consolidation

The scope of the pilot is extensive enough to demonstrate the value of the approach, but simple enough to deliver useful information in a 3 months timebox. Scope can also be partitioned according to these three levels.

Because the College can quickly model interfaces using the Oracle Enterprise Repository and because one of the likely cost savings is to reduce the number of interfaces required, the pilot has focussed on Interface Consolidation and a small visualisation around tutoring.

The pilot also focusses on an area of perceived duplication or data proliferation and one where the potential cost savings and organisational benefits can be seen early.

The initial work on the project started in February 2013 and continues through the pilot phase into June.


Oracle R12 review - London Borough of Bexley

London Borough of Bexley is a London Borough serving some 230,000 residents. It lies in South-East Greater London, is a borough referred to as part of Outer London and lies within the Thames Gateway, an area designated as a national priority for urban regeneration. The Council started using Oracle in the mid-1990’s to support its social care application and then implemented Oracle Financials and Procurement in 1998 for the whole council. In 2011, it went live with Release 12 of Oracle’s flagship software package and is a Tier Two member of the Athena Programme.

Within the current economic and fiscal climate, the Council is ensuring that it is spending wisely and to that end, needed to ensure the governance of its Oracle systems was appropriate.  Following a campaign to local authorities, explaining its Oracle capabilities, the Council recognised it needed expert advice to help with this review and engaged Socitm Consulting.

Toby worked on behalf of Socitm Consulting and the Council to review their Oracle R12 systems. He delivered a report which outlined much of the history of the implementation, compared documented information with information calculated using a software tool called Configsnapshot and then gave recommendations to the Council about what they should be doing next with the software. The software installed includes not only the Finance and Procurement modules, but also the self-service procurement module known as iProcurement. One of Toby’s recommendations was to roll out the iProcurement module more widely within the organisation to ensure that as much as possible is purchased within contracted agreements and also to better facilitate matching of orders to invoices.

The report was presented to senior management on the 6th November 2012 and has provided assurance to the management about their use of Oracle as well as recommending some changes that will improve user adoption, such as the rollout of iProcurement and the use of an external workflow to approve invoices.

Configsnapshot helps organisations to document and manage their Oracle estates. It can significantly reduce the time required to monitor and manage E-Business Suite, increasing accuracy and minimising the risks normally associated with the applications.

Our review concluded that the Council had implemented the software in a safe way and recommended some practical steps forward. The Council’s internal team of highly qualified Oracle staff, whilst overworked, clearly provided good value for the Council. Toby was able to provide skills that enhanced the skills of the team at a time when permanent recruitment of these particular skills is neither practical nor required.

The client was particularly pleased with the thoroughness of the work and the work done in the evenings, outside the confines of chargeable work, leading to even greater reassurances.

Julie Jones of London Borough of Bexley commented that “Toby delivered a very useful report, which has now been passed to the management team for consideration. He was thorough and professional and made very effective use of his time. I would recommend his work to others looking for strategic support with their IT investments, particularly in the area of Oracle.”


South Staffordshire and Shropshire NHS - 2013

South Staffordshire and Shropshire NHS Foundation Trust (SSSFT) has about 3500 staff and about 125 premises. SSSFT operates laptops, a small number of iPads, and a number of desktops. About 2500 staff use computer devices of some sort. There are also an increasing number of staff owned devices used for work, under a BYOD policy

Until January of 2012, there was a central agreement between the Dept of Health and Microsoft that supported the use of Microsoft products within Foundation Trusts. This agreement has since concluded, and each Foundation Trust must inventory its licensing and use of software independently.

It might have been the case that SSSFT had more or less licensing than is required. The purpose of this consultancy was to establish the current position and to enable plans and options for the future.

For SSSFT, ICT is provided by South Staffordshire Health Informatics (SSHI) service under a Service Level Agreement. The Informatics team provide operational support, a service desk, telephony infrastructure and project management support. SSHI were able to support the work, and use a Assyst to track equipment that was actively in use.

Toby Price was asked by Socitm Consulting to complete this work, which was carried out between February and April 2013.

Toby has extensive experience of working on license acquisition, and rationalisation, having conducted licence audits for the Environment Agency, Unite Group and most recently a South-East London Borough (under NDA). Toby has also built licence propositions for organisations including the Health Protection Agency.

The initial activities in this work were to collect the documentation about licences purchased and supported, along with the organisation's perception of licences owned.

This involved working with Health Informatics and Assyst to document the actual usage and any trends. Microsoft Enterprise Licensing is often costed on an initial number, and can involve a retrospective recharge if there is growth that exceeds this number.

The final stage was to present the inventory, and to consider the range of options with the Trust to develop a strategy for rationalisation and License management.

Before completing the work, Toby identified that a hole which was already known, accounting for around 500 unaccounted devices, should be examined further. In completing the analysis, which involved speaking to and visiting a number of Trust locations, Toby identified that there were fewer devices than previously anticipated and this in turn saved the Trust around £150,000 in unnecessary licence purchases.