Strategy Review meeting - 18th January 2010

Present: Tim Colles, Alison Downie, George Ross, Alastair Scobie, Craig Strachan

We reviewed progress since the meetings in 2009.

Non technical strategy meeting - 27th May 2009

Self Promotion

  • We should perhaps consider another series of mini-talks aimed at Informatics members, not COs. [ACTION: alisond]
  • We should open up our technical talks to at least other Informatics members (perhaps also to ITPF, but many talks include Informatics specific content) [ACTION: alisond]
  • ITPF appears to be somewhat moribund, though we could suggest talks
  • Attendance at conferences such as UKUUG and LISA hasn't improved - we need to find out why people aren't keen. [ACTION: all]


  • It was felt that we haven't increased our level of automation. Units should identify oft-repeated tasks that could be cheaply automated. [ACTION: all]
  • The pandemic preparation exercise significantly increased uptake of our system monitoring infrastructure. There are a few easy translators which would be useful for all (disk space, machine load) - these will be handled by project #125 (Nagios enhancements).

Knowledge Transfer

  • The pandemic preparation exercise and cross-unit projects have helped with knowledge transfer. Although cross-unit projects should have helped with skills transfer, it is not clear that this happened.
  • We will aim to implement code review wherever appropriate to improve skills transfer (particularly on cross-unit projects) and code quality.

Effort and priority

  • Personal time management was a common theme in this year's appraisals.
  • We should ask our unit members whether they think that we don't give sufficient direction with respect to priorities. [ACTION: all]
  • Our target is for 50% of non absence time spent on development work


  • No obvious improvement


  • It was felt that the project prioritisation reviews are improving this. We need to decide on a fixed timetable for these. IS have an annual round, but yearly is far too long a period to be agile. We've had biannual rounds, so far, but even 6 months could be too long to respond to changing requirements. We will continue with biannual rounds for now, with a mid-term review where priorities can be changed if necessary. [ACTION: ascobie]


  • There has been significant improvement, thanks to Dave and Marije.


  • We should advertise project prioritisation rounds and invite projects. [ACTION: ascobie]
  • We should introduce a web form like Support form for people to propose (and add support for) projects (??? perhaps add to devproj enhancement project ???)


  • We shall second non RAT unit COs to RAT unit on quarterly basis to do short-term technical work. This gives RAT more effort and exposes all COs to research and teaching work. [ACTION: all]

Technical Strategy meeting - 25th June 2009

It was agreed that we should pick some of the topics identified at this meeting and invite Informatics staff/pgs to discuss with us (the COs) over lunch.

We also wish to discuss :-

  • What are COs for?
  • How do we improve our responsiveness to changing research and teaching needs? Our current "commitment" doesn't leave us much effort to be so.
  • Should we run commodity services at all? Perhaps we should use IS for such services, even if it means 10% of our requirements aren't met, and concentrate on deploying bleeding edge technologies and those services only required by Informatics.

-- AlastairScobie - 15 Feb 2010

Topic revision: r1 - 15 Feb 2010 - 15:32:48 - AlastairScobie
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