University Hospital South Manchester (UHSM) is a major acute teaching hospital trust providing services for children and adults at Wythenshawe Hospital and Withington Community Hospital (the latter owned by Manchester Primary Care Trust).
It provides district general hospital services and specialist tertiary services to its local community serving a total population of 570,000 people. UHSM is also recognized in the region and nationally for the quality of their teaching, research and development.
Historically, UHSM had provided its staff with a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) for their mandatory training. This was a Web-based system that had been developed internally utilizing PHP and MySQL technologies. Whilst being regarded as an important training/knowledge assessment tool for staff by Senior Management, it quickly became regarded by the users and administrators of the system as cumbersome and unfriendly to the user, due to the technologies the system was based upon and the general look and feel of the system.
According to numerous surveys and feedback exercises carried out by UHSM their VLE posed a number of problems which included:
Mark Wright, Head of Service Management at SMUH said “While the system had always done a good job for us, we realized that going forward it was not the platform we wanted for our VLE. We wanted to use Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS), as our Trust intranet was based on this and it would make integration of the VLE with our other systems much easier.”
Having looked at the marketplace and rejected a number of proprietary VLEs, UHSM were eventually recommended to use GodelTech to help them implement MOSS within the Trust.
The GodelTech team have started with gathering the requirements for the new system, when the business side and technical environment of the project was carefully analyzed and interpreted into detailed System Requirements Specification clearly stating what will be developed and how. It helped to build a common vision of the future project between UHSM and GodelTech and to make sure all key requirements such as integration with Active Directory and flexible reporting engine will be met in the new system.
“Godel examined our brief carefully”, said Mark. “They were able to understand our requirements and come up with some creative solutions to our problems. They mocked up a number of pages to give us an idea of what the final system would look like and also designed the custom reports that we needed.”
During the development phase GodelTech and UHSM teams were working closely together to revise the project progress and resolve any arising issues as soon as possible. Along with the standard means of communication, the contact was also maintained via regular video and phone conferences to ensure the quickest possible resolution of the project issues and getting prompt feedback from the customer.
“We shifted our requirements a number of times during our discussions with Godel”, said Mark, “and they were able to handle this with no problems. They were always very responsive and proactive to our needs and despite the number of changes the whole project only took some two to three months from inception to going live.”
After designing and implementing the new VLE, GodelTech worked closely with the Trust to migrate the majority of the courses from the old system and everything went live in May 2009.
New eLearning solution provided UHSM with a solid framework to design and run internal e- trainings with powerful reporting capabilities and maximum control over the content. The choice of the MOSS as the development platform made it possible to make VLE an integral part of the UHSM infrastructure thus delivering better user experience and making management of the whole IT infrastructure easier.
Commenting on MOSS, Mark concluded “Microsoft Office SharePoint Server is now the future strategic platform for the provision of our VLE to staff within the Trust. Although it is has only been installed for a short time we are beginning to see the benefits of it already with regard to easier management and support. “The work that Godel have done in designing and implementing the system has been excellent. I feel much more confident in developing a roadmap based on MOSS, rather than our previous VLE.”