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University or Universality: Designing Software Packages & User Communities. Neil Pollock & Tasos Karadedos University of Edinburgh, UK Neil.Pollock@ed.ac.uk www.homepages.ed.ac.uk/npollock. Research Agenda on Virtual Universities.
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Neil Pollock & Tasos Karadedos
University of Edinburgh, UK
but now used by many UK universities
Supplier (‘Razor Systems’) now intend to market the package globally
Process of Genericification:
How PAMS moves from being ‘locally specific’ to a ‘national’ and potentially ‘global’ system?Property & Accommodation Management Systems (PAMS)
small software house
wanted to build a package
little expertise in Higher Education
saw an undeveloped market niche (no accommodation sys)
had existing financial package (backbone of PAMS)
found a willing collaborator...
wanted system to bring together its ‘idiosyncratic organisation’
“There were 4 different ways to book a room and 6 ways to make an offer letter” (manager)
only software available was hotel package or ERP systems
PAMS allowed them to have a package (and all its benefits) but built around their specific needs!
royalties...The ‘Birth’ of PAMS
Source: Bansler & Havn, 1996
When we first wrote PAMS for Scotia University they produced a payment schedule that gave the student the choice of paying in 3 equal instalments…
The next customer, Bravo University, also offered the choice of paying in termly instalments but they massaged the amounts to take 40% in term 1, 40% in term 2 and 20% in term 3 as they wanted to get as much paid as possible before the student ran out of money. We therefore added a tick box on the payment plan to say ‘use ratios’ and this then gave access to an extra column that allows Bravo to enter the % against each instalment...
Charles University came along and they offered students a discount if they paid by a certain date, so we had to add another column…
Delta University on the other hand charges a penalty for late payments so we added a process that...
“We are not going to accommodate as much diversity as we have in the past because it constrains our ability to grow and resell” (MD)
those who make demands but not prepared to pay
those willing to work with supplier and may contribute to new functionality
those active in development and willing to undergo risks as pilot sites
Classification shapes their interactions with users
“It reflects the type of relationship the customer wants to have with us” (SM)
“It’s about where we perceive it’s worth putting the effort” (MD)Strategies to go from Stage 1 to Stage 2: Managing the User Base
Promote “Best Practice”
Test New Ideas
Discuss Best Practice
encourage new (transactional?) users to draw on accumulated functionality
“Would you like to pay £10,000 or make the student pay 4 days earlier?” (MD)
“The ability to replicate is how we get great value for our development efforts” (SM)
consultancy services (‘experts in HE’)
“In the UK the market suffers from a lack of willingness to measure the returns they make on investment…they will simply sit on trying to replicate the way on which they work at the moment. Take online applications: despite us having it available for a while there’s a certain resistance even though they’ll make significant clerical savings” (MD)Strategies to go from Stage 1 to Stage 2:Managing the User Base
“...hands up who thinks this is a worthwhile development…?” (MD)
Search for equivalence across differences,
process of working disparate ‘needs’ together
“Lima University have done a fair bit…80% of that has been incorporated into the standard package…They were willing to run ahead…they had the resources” (programmer talking about a Consultative User)
“We make sure that it’s in the contract that they don’t do things like that. We have had customers manipulating the data…from the back-end…Very dangerous…They promised not to do it again” (programmer discussing a Transactional User)
“[Razor] is dedicated to the development of property and accommodation management systems and supplies 41 of the UK’s top universities and colleges. Our software is used to manage over 110, 000 beds, making us the largest as well as fastest growing supplier to this market” (Supplier Brochure)
“there are also big differences in the way the allocation is going on. There’s more matching going on booking online…there’s potentially a big functionality gap…students booking online, we don’t have that” (MD talking about the US market)