Catch up with the University of Westminster

“Work together effectively” is our catchy little company ethos, and that is what we are always aiming for, to create systems and technologies so that your organisations can work together in a more effective and fruitful way.

But to ensure that we are always delivering the best value to our clients, we must also ensure that we are working together effectively. It’s communication and relationship building that provides the best innovation in the technology sphere and we are blessed with some excellent clients to work alongside.

Last week, we were sad to say that Hiten Vaghmaria, after 5 years in his role as Head of Digital Developments Services at the University of Westminster, and 4 years of working alongside Zaizi to deliver their unified content and records management programme, is moving on to pastures new. We thought this would be a great time to catch up with him.

Can You Give Us An Overview Of The Challenges That UOW Was Facing?

We had the kind of classic challenge of information being stored in a variety of different places, with people not being sure of the definitive version, and generally having difficulty finding the information they needed to do their job.

The process of searching and finding information was time consuming and inefficient so we were looking for something that would give us a central place to store key university documents and enable sharing of information in a controlled manner.

So You Decided On Alfresco, What Made You Come To The Decision To Work With Zaizi?

I think one of the key reasons behind choosing Zaizi was that they were able to offer us 24 hour support service and a robust and stable system for our users to work from, which you were able to guarantee contractually.

You were able to offer Alfresco effectively as a SaaS (software as a service) and that we didn’t have to worry about any of the back end technical stuff, that was looked after for us, and we could concentrate on running the service and working for our staff.

How Would You Describe The Relationship With Zaizi And How Was The Engagement?

I remember the onboarding process was fairly smooth, we worked out a project plan, you worked to migrate the data onto your systems, it was a kind of business as normal operation.

We also had a very positive experience with the support team. Our support queries are logged through your systems and they are visible by both yourselves and us, and we find that critical issues are resolved very quickly. So we bought the service that Zaizi offered and they have ensured that we have a stable and reliable system for our users to work off.

What Were The Biggest Challenges You Faced On The Project?

One of key challenges on these projects is not the technology, it’s often about the people and processes, and helping people to understand the benefits of sharing their information.

People feel a strong sense of ownership for their own local hard disk, so helping them to understand that putting it into a central place, which was managed by a supplier who had all the security certifications and proper procedures in place was a better way of doing things.

The other challenges were then around defining our information architecture and content models, and I think those are still ongoing challenges which we are working with our staff to refine and improve.

What Are The Different Technologies That Are Involved In This Implementation?

We integrated our Alfresco with our Intranet, which currently runs off Squiz Matrix, so that enabled us to surface some of the documents stored on Alfresco to our staff intranet.

The university also uses Google Mail, and Google Apps generally, so we enabled authentication to Alfresco with the Google log in. This meant that for end users it was just a button click for them to access Alfresco, without having to re-enter their credentials. Once they are within Alfresco they can seamlessly edit their documents using Google Apps and the collaboration features it offers.

Overall, What Would You Sum Up Of The Benefits Of Working With Zaizi Or An Organisation Like Us, Using Someone Like An Implementation Partner?

I think you have the experience in providing Alfresco as a service, as opposed to a collection of bits and pieces which other people have to put together themselves. I think that was a key benefit for us, that you were able to offer it as a SaaS solution. That meant that you could worry about the technology and we could concentrate on the information.

In addition to that you have the capability to develop and integrate Alfresco with other technologies, that was certainly key to our plans and a very useful capability to use. I think what we didn’t make enough use of was your expertise in information management and business analysis.

We have had a very smooth, collaborative, and stress free relationship with Zaizi, which we have very much enjoyed over the past four years we have been with you.

What we did

The University of Westminster has 1800 staff using the Alfresco system to store and manage their documents, with integration into their Google framework and other business processes.

Zaizi designed and implemented the solution and provide 24-hour support to a continuously refined solution to guarantee a stable, scalable and ultimately useful system

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