Feeling nostalgic about Better connected

This is the first year in almost 20 years that I haven’t been reviewing local authority websites for Socitm’s Better connected, and it’s turned my thoughts to how I got involved in the first place.

Colleagues with my experience now call themselves UX Architects, but back in the 90s there was no such term; only three quarters of local authorities even had a website and certainly no one was called a web manager. I was a Press Officer in Hackney Council with a keen interest in our website (developed by the IT department) and we managed to create a job for me to be in charge of content and look and feel, which we called ‘Multi-media Editor’. I had just commissioned some focus groups on our site and undertaken a review comparing it to a couple of neighbouring council sites. I desperately wanted some ‘best practice’ to learn from, but I had no idea which of the 467 UK local authorities had a decent website.

Well connected report cover image
Well connected? – the first snapshot survey of all local authority websites

It was, frustratingly, just after I had produced my report and plans that the first of the Better connected series of reports came out. It was called ‘Well Connected?’ and was the result of a team of reviewers looking at every single local authority website and recording how well developed each was for a series of 10 common service areas ranging from tourism and leisure to education, housing and economic development. For each topic the report listed core information, common information, links to other sites, and most importantly examples of well developed sites for that subject. It was a fantastic resource for any local council wishing to develop their website to have at their fingertips, the result of many hours of research. I referred to it frequently when working on our site, then approached the man in charge Martin Greenwood and got involved in its production as soon as I could.

I’ve been heavily involved ever since and surveyed UK council sites countless times in search of good practice for others to emulate. In 2019 Better connected has been reduced to an accessibility survey, so I’m twiddling my thumbs, but ever hopeful that Socitm’s plans come to fruition to bring back and further develop this evolving project that has been such a big part of my professional life.

Tableau at Jaguar Land Rover

  • Tableau Server migration of on-premises Tableau cluster to Google Virtual Private Cloud. Design of high performance ‘Self-Serve’ architecture in Google VPC. Migration of 200 projects and 4000 users to the new platform.
  • Tableau Server Cluster implementation serving 6000 users located across the world.
  • Design and delivery of Vehicle Financing BI solution using SAP Business Objects, SAP Data Services and Oracle technologies. Management of onshore and offshore team.

BI Report Building for HMG

  • Dashboard and report building service using Hyperion Interactive Reporting and Oracle PL/SQL. All the usual BI tools were utilised including PL/SQL packages, table functions, views, synonyms and JavaScript scripting.
  • Automation of several key reports resulting in significant time savings for the customer as well as supply of general Business Intelligence best practice advice.

HP Service Manager Metrics for HMG

  • Oracle MI development for a HP Service Manager and Asset Manager enterprise-wide implementation project.
  • Oracle and Hyperion used to deliver business critical MI reports for multiple business units.
  • The build, test and implementation of PL/SQL packages using table functions to build ‘on-the-fly’ history and snapshot tables with complex runtime transformation logic.
  • The creation of views and synonyms.
  • The build and execution of automated test scripts.
  • The creation of Oracle MI schema build scripts.

Agile XI31 at Sun Life of Canada

Business Objects development using Agile methodology. We delivered a working MI system in 6 weeks that provided key metrics about pension product sales activity and performance.

Activities included:

  • The design, development, implementation and support of the entire Business Objects Enterprise component including server build, presentation database design (Kimball methodology), security model, universes, reports and dashboards.
  • Extensive use of all Business Objects components.
  • Demonstration and training to senior stakeholders.

Business Objects XIR2 and XI31 at Zurich Financial Services

  • Migration and conversion of Full Client documents from Business Objects version 6.5 to both XIR2 and XI31.
  • The main challenges in this project were the multiple platforms and environments in existence at this client, the fact that the user base was geographically distributed throughout the UK, Europe and the US, and the complexity of the migrated reports.

Business Objects XIR2 and Oracle EBS Financials at Cardiff University

  • Oracle EBS Reporting – a challenging project that involved the design, build and implementation of a Business Objects and Oracle reporting solution that provided management information reports from an Oracle EBS R12 Financials system. There were many parts to this project which ran for approximately 12 months and included: complex universes for an OLTP schema; complex Web Intelligence reports; PL/SQL packages and and other database objects; comprehensive unit and system testing and defect resolution; post implementation support including user training, workshops and trouble shooting.
  • Redesign existing Business Objects infrastructure to incorporate enterprise features including: BOE failover; increased resilience; https and SSL; LDAP over SSL; web server deployment and application server optimization. This project included the design, documentation, deployment, testing and migration from the old to the new system.
  • Provided a consultancy service for client’s implementation of Business Objects involving the use of all Business Objects modules at all stages of the development cycle. Included complex universe development on an OLTP student record database (SITS) and complex report development.
  • Developed a scheduling application using Oracle PL/SQL packages and the Business Objects infrastructure to allow non-technical staff to run and schedule various database jobs, freeing database administrators for more complex tasks.
  • Skill transfer to client through a process of ‘best practice’ guidance, mentoring and documentation of Business Objects knowledge, training course delivery and user workshops.
  • Universe design and build. Report writing.

Business Objects XIR2 Upgrade at HMRC

  • Migration of multiple mixed version Business Objects legacy deployments to a single XIR2 enterprise system incorporating over 5000 users and approximately 8000 documents.
  • All migration activities but particularly Workflow Assistant script creation, Personal Document migration, trouble shooting and post migration support.