Successfully delivering Covid-19 Rapid Response programme at University of Exeter

The strategic partnership between the University of Exeter (UoE) and Cadence Innova has enabled the university to provide greater education and student support online using technology and innovation. With staff now working remotely, the UoE can ensure they can continue to provide an exceptional learning experience during one of the most challenging periods the University has ever experienced.

With over 30,000 staff and students having left campus to study and work from home across the world, the clock was ticking to get everyone working remotely before March 23rd. The result of bringing together combined inhouse and external expertise to enable remote working and learning has minimised the impact on the student experience, helping maintain the University’s position as a leading institution.

In less than two weeks, project teams were diverted from the Digital Transformation to the COVID-19 response programme. Staff from Exeter IT and Cadence Innova collaborated to deliver new projects at a rapid pace, resulting in some great achievements.

As a team, we have rolled out Microsoft Teams to the whole institution in eight days, increasing from 429 users to over 29,000 and rising. Academics can now live stream lectures to large groups of students using the university’s existing lecture theatre recording software. The live feature was tested, enabled and user guides created in short time. In addition, the tool was updated to enable academics to save their live recordings to the cloud for post-event viewing. The number of lecture minutes viewed has increased by 300%. We launched a new Virtual Private Network (VPN) service that has enabled thousands of simultaneous users to be connected to our network and has improved security and stability for both Windows and Apple users. A mass migration from the shared network drives to OneDrive is now in-flight impacting all staff and we’re about to go live with assessments and examinations online too. This has all been delivered alongside effective and timely business change readiness, notably communications and training, which has seen over 4000 hits on the new IT Homeworking page and 6000 hits on the staff and student IT support pages. A strong Yammer community which harnesses the spirit of community support has also been launched. In truly unprecedented times the two organisations have worked together to quickly meet the needs of their stakeholders.

Alan Hill, Chief Information Officer and Digital Officer, University of Exeter, said “when we entered into partnership with Cadence Innova, it was about being able to respond quickly with the right skills sets to an ever changing demand. But I hadn’t imagined this! We have rapidly redeployed effort to the emergency requirements of remote working and teaching, and are now dealing with the urgent operational requirements to sustain the University through the next few months. Cadence Innova have been an integral part of the team, truly embedded and delivering expertise at pace, when and where we needed it – with great success.”

Tracey Scotter, Digital Director, University of Exeter said, “Our partnerships with our strategic suppliers have always been of significant importance to us and the benefit of nurturing these was truly demonstrated in the response to the COVID-19 virus. The team from Cadence Innova worked side-by-side with our in-house team providing expertise, leadership and the customary blood, sweat and tears that a response like this demanded. The partnership has been seamless and our gratitude and appreciation is extended to every member of the Cadence Innova team.”

Elaine Griffin, Managing Consultant, Cadence Innova, said “It has been inspiring to see what has been achieved at the University of Exeter in a very short space of time. The University of Exeter and Cadence Innova teams have worked together tirelessly over the last few weeks to provide remote working and learning to over 30,000 people. Great collaboration and team spirit have contributed to this amazing effort and the Cadence Innova team are very pleased to be a part of it.”

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