We recently announced our partnership with the University of Huddersfield, helping the university to deliver an improved working environment through the implementation of Office 365. GovTech Leaders spoke to Colin Harvey, the project’s Principal Consultant, who shared how Agilisys and the University are working together.
It’s important that we work together with our clients and it’s a real partnership with the university. We’re working with them, building on their existing IT skills and capabilities to develop full use of the Office 365 suite, with the aim of enabling knowledge transfer right across the university. Huddersfield recently migrated to Windows 10 and have an Exchange environment on premises, which is coming towards the end of its life. Providing an opportunity to move to Office 365 to benefit from all the collaborative tools and extra functionality it offers.
We are very much acting as the enabler, working with the University's technical in-house team, taking the University on their journey to Office 365. Our role is focused on the technical architecture design as well as strategic consulting, providing advice and guidance on the best way to implement things.
Is working in partnership in this way something that’s becoming more common?
In organisations, like the University, with good business as usual in-house IT capability there is growing interest in working with us in this way. They like the idea of a partner bringing specialist experience on board so that their technology transformation journey goes further, faster. This combination of in-house expertise and external knowledge can be very powerful.
And how does this compare to your other clients?
What we are seeing in higher education, which differs from other types of organisations that we work with, is that typically the schools and the faculties within universities hold their own funding and therefore have a lot of influence on IT decisions. This can be challenging with shadow IT, because the schools and the faculties, especially the more technical ones, will have their own development capability, which in turn can become a governance issue.
Let's say that somebody goes and develops something in Office 365 and there's some kind of security breach. This type of scenario is quite a problem for a university’s head of IT, who needs to ensure there's governance and structure in place, so they understand what's being developed out there and can manage it appropriately, without constraining what the schools are doing.
How does this affect what you’re doing with Huddersfield?
The first project we're undertaking is the Office 365 Exchange online migration. We're working together around the technical design. The University already uses Office 365 for their student community and they have about 20,000 student mailboxes, but their academic and administrative staff haven't moved across yet. So, we're looking at their environment, we've come up with the readiness assessments are now putting together the designs for migrating them to Exchange online. This will probably also include OneDrive for business as well.
It’s very much a partnership. The idea is that we are providing the experience and expertise to guide the implementation and migration, leading on what the technical configuration needs to be and using the university’s IT capabilities to undertake the technical work. We're working together in a very open and collaborative way, using workshops to engage all stakeholders and agreeing what best practice looks like.
From an Agilisys point of view, we're very excited, Huddersfield is a really good client to work with. They know a lot about the technology, but the challenge for them is making that change to the next generation of technology. Our role is as an enabler and a partner to walk beside them, to use our experience and expertise and say, ‘this is the best way to do it’ and ‘this is where the risk is’.
Together, the partnership will enable the University of Huddersfield to deliver maximum benefit to its staff and student community from its IT services. It’s an exciting time to see what the future might hold.
If you’d like to know more about our approach to working with clients or would like to discuss a project that is on the horizon, get in touch.