Teaching Support Forms and Workflow Enhancements

Final Report for CompProj:413

Description

This project covers the development of Webmark forms and associated Theon desktops and Portal reports to significantly reduce administrative effort in managing Teaching Support processes, which currently rely on hand-crafted CGI forms, manual spreadsheet wrangling and re-keying of personal data. See project descriptor for more detail.

Customer

Internal, which is to say all users of any Informatics system, DICE or otherwise.

Deliverables

  • Creation and design of the "Teaching Support (TSP)" webmark forms (tsp and teachingreq)
  • Backend Theon processes to populate these forms and receive CV and timesheet data.
  • Augmenting core webmark functions to support the above in more detail.

Time

The project took 7 weeks' FTE of C(S)O time. The project was undertaken in two peaks through 2017 and 2018 as the academic year permitted.

Status

The project was largely successful insofar as it was well-received and (as one might hope from such a project) drove a handful of additional feature requests to build on what was developed. It was fairly straightforward to draw a line between iterative changes to the proposal and enhancement requests, collecting the latter and spawning a further project (see below).

Bug fixes aside, the forms and processes created have been effectively maintenance-free from a C(S)O perspective - operational effort (such as adding iFrend access) is largely unavoidable, and the process unchanged from existing forms.

Observations

As with similar administrative process improvement projects before it, the high-level goal is often quite simple to capture but the precise mechanisms often differ significantly from spec once things are worked out in detail. A low-level descriptor turns out to be quite hard - and/or very iterative in nature - and many deliverables considered urgent or crucial turn out to be redundant or far less important in practice once the entire process has been examined. In this case the proposed workflow changed many times over the course of the project - partly guided by the strengths of the core technology used (i.e. Theon, Webmark) and partly due to evolving user requirements.

For example: the project descriptor makes note of a "Webmark form for academic staff to review on-line applications to their course bid requests and directly approve/reject applicants"; this process was instead covered (in part) by a Theon portal report, and there remains an unavoidably manual element to the process of applicant selection. The request to review candidates in this way didn't resurface in the course of this project.

Likewise, the IS API upload work did not resurface as a priority - though in principle further automation is always worth exploring.

As has been commented against other projects before this, it would've been advisable to begin a draft report far sooner - ideally during development - to capture more detail.

Future Work

Due to the "long tail" and additional forms / requests generated through the project, further work is tracked in a second project, Teaching Support Forms and Workflow Enhancements - Part 2 (#459).

-- GrahamDutton

Topic revision: r4 - 05 Feb 2019 - 17:00:34 - GrahamDutton
 
This site is powered by the TWiki collaboration platformCopyright © by the contributing authors. All material on this collaboration platform is the property of the contributing authors.
Ideas, requests, problems regarding TWiki? Send feedback
This Wiki uses Cookies