Allocation of EUCS user support effort by Faculty Group

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					01/06/00
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Allocation of EUCS user support effort by Faculty Group
Background

Since 1987 EUCS user support effort has been allocated to Faculty Groups on the basis of historical demand. A
proposal to change this system to a more transparent formula was rejected by Computer Policy Committee in 1993.
There is now pressure for change from at least two Faculty Groups, each of whom believes they are not receiving their
fair share of the available resource. Circumstances have changed significantly since 1993, with a much greater
proportion of the University IT active, continuing growth in the numbers of research staff and postgraduate students and
departments moving between Faculty Groups. Ideally allocation would be performed on a more relevant, transparent and
flexible basis automatically reflecting changing circumstances.

Please note that the outcome of the mechanisms discussed here only applies to the allocation of user support effort
between Faculty Groups, it has no effect on the other services provided by EUCS. For some years EUCS has separately
reported on the proportion of its total activity taken by each Faculty Group.

Changing the allocation model can only redistribute the existing effort. It is also clear that as the numbers of
postgraduate students and research staff grow, unless the University directs a proportion of the increase in fee and
overhead income to maintaining the level of user support service, the available effort will be progressively diluted and
the quality will inevitably decline.

General considerations in establishing an allocation model

Since 1987 user support has been delivered to staff and postgraduate students by EUCS through teams associated with
each Faculty Group and this simple, clear association should be maintained through any change in allocation model if at
all possible. It allows both a clear focus for the relationship between a Faculty Group and EUCS and also for
considerable flexibility in setting priorities for the delivery of service. For this approach to continue to be viable,
however, there is a minimum size of team which must be maintained to allow continuity of service through periods of
annual leave or absence due to illness and any future allocation model should allow this.

The demand on EUCS user support services is heavily influenced by two main factors, the number of users entitled to
use the service and the nature of their work. Now that almost every member of the University is IT active, there is a
base level of activity associated with every user in establishing and maintaining their connectivity and use of University
wide facilities. The nature of their work and the time they have to spend on it are then further generators of demand, with
those involved in innovation, be it in teaching or research, being more demanding of time to resolve their problems.

Quantifiable factors which could be considered in a future allocation model

1)    SHEFC funds allocated to each Faculty Group

Using this single factor would be much the simplest method of allocation, but it would be a very crude measure of the
level of requirement. There is not a simple, consistent relationship between expenditure and numbers of staff and
students and yet each user can generate a similar demand for service. Better, therefore, to use actual numbers.


2)    Research income in each Faculty Group

Using research income could be part of a complex model for allocation, but again there is not a good correlation between
income and numbers of research active staff and students and hence the support load generated. Better, therefore, to use
actual numbers.


3)    Payroll staff numbers in each Faculty Group

This is an extremely important factor now that almost all staff , irrespective of grade, are IT active. It is also true that
there is a base level of support activity associated with each user in simply providing them with access to IT services,
irrespective of their working hours or duties. It is essential that this factor is included.


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4)    Teaching and research active payroll staff in each Faculty Group

Staff with duties including teaching and/or research are the more demanding and hence time consuming users as they are
by definition involved in innovation. The extent of the demand they create is related to the time they have available, so
FTE appears the appropriate measure. It is essential that this factor is included.


5)    Postgraduate student numbers in each Faculty Group

A very similar case to 3) above. This factor is now very important as all students are IT active to some level. It is also
true that there is a base level of support activity associated with each user in simply providing them with access to IT
services, irrespective of whether they are full or part time and the nature of their course. It is essential that this factor is
included.


6)    Research postgraduate student FTE in each Faculty Group

A very similar case to 4) above. Students on courses including research are the more demanding and hence time
consuming users as they are by definition involved in innovation. The extent of the demand they create is related to the
time they have available, so FTE appears the appropriate measure. It is essential that this factor is included.


7)    Geographical location(s) to be supported

Departments or units remote from the two main University sites at Old College/George Square and The Kings’
Buildings are more time consuming and hence expensive to support. At present this is only a significant factor in
supporting the Faculty Group of Medicine and Vet Medicine, though when Faculty Groups 2 and 5 merge this factor
will be important there also. In FG3 there are substantial numbers of users at Easter Bush Veterinary Centre, the
Western General Hospital and St John’s Hospital Livingston as well as other smaller hospitals. This problem will
become even more significant when the new Edinburgh Royal Infirmary opens at Little France. As this factor has been
recognised previously, it is highly desirable that it continue to be recognised.

8)    Casual staff numbers or budget

While casual staff could be a significant cause of support requirement, in practice they are so difficult to track and change
so quickly that numbers would not be a viable option. The budget available could be used as an alternative, but it is
probably more sensible to see their requirement as an overhead rather than as a factor in its own right, with Faculty
Groups being responsible for identifying those entitled to support.

9)    Clinical honorary staff

In the Faculty of Medicine there is a very large number of clinical honorary staff (approx. 700 at present), playing an
essential part in both teaching and research. Almost all of this group are NHS Trust employees based on Trust premises,
with University responsibilities included in their NHS contract. They do not hold a contract with the University. In
many cases their IT requirements are for access to University information services in order that they can play a full part
in the work of the University, but this is not normally possible through their NHS provision, creating a parallel
University requirement. If this group were to be included in any allocation model their sheer number would imbalance
distribution and it seems appropriate that Additional Cost of Teaching funds are used to underwrite their IT requirements,
as is the case with Library services.

10) Non-clinical honorary staff

The second category of honorary staff is non-clinical, where there are smaller numbers spread right across the University.
Some of this group undertake significant teaching commitments, others work essentially independently. Honorary status
is granted by Faculties and no central register is maintained, so while they are not so volatile as casual staff,
identification is still a problem. As with casual staff, it would seem most appropriate to treat them as an overhead, again
asking Faculty Groups to identify those entitled to service.



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Proposals

Two possible models have arisen from discussion to date, they are outlined below. The discussion below describes in
each case the factors which would be used in allocating support effort and the consequences of following the approach
outlined. In each case detailed implementation has to take account of other factors, such as the need to provide all areas
of the University with a well found base IT infrastructure and the operational requirements of creating a viable support
team for each faculty group.

A total of 26 AEP of EUCS funded staff effort is assigned to the support of the staff and research students of the five
faculty groups, staff providing support to undergraduates, other units and funded from elsewhere have been excluded.
Included in this total of 26 are two elements which have been separately identified and funded; 0.9AEP seconded to
EPCC and 1AEP assigned to the M&VM team in recognition of the additional effort required to support their distributed
user population. These two elements will be excluded from the proposals, leaving a total of 24.1AEP available for
redistribution.

It is proposed that initially each team be allocated a team manager post, with the balance of 19.1 AEP then allocated
according to the chosen model.

Model 1

This will relate the effort allocated to the requirement in each Faculty Group, it is demand led. It will therefore be based
upon the following factors from above:

3)    Payroll staff numbers in each faculty group
4)    Teaching and research active payroll staff FTE in each faculty group
5)    Postgraduate student numbers in each faculty group
6)    Research postgraduate student FTE in each faculty group

This approach would distribute the available effort in a way which is transparent and flexible and which relates the effort
allocated to the demand. It recognises the need to provide support to all payroll staff but does not automatically protect
service quality against the effects of growing postgraduate student and research staff numbers.

A detailed proposal based on this model is shown in Appendix 1.

Model 2

The second model is the exact reverse, it is funding led and is in many ways simpler than the first proposal. It is that
support effort be allocated on the basis of the University’s model for the distribution of SHEFC funds - as a refinement
the element for undergraduate teaching could be either removed or reduced, as undergraduate support is handled separately
by EUCS.

This model would be intended to provide support only to SHEFC funded staff, with all other staff; grant funded, clinical
honorary, non-clinical honorary or casual charged for IT support. This would have the effect of protecting service
quality against the effects of increasing numbers and would solve the clinical honorary problem at a stroke. This model
is again transparent and flexible, but does not direct effort in direct proportion to the requirement.

A detailed proposal based on this model is shown in Appendix 2.




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Conclusion and recommendations

Each model redistributes a substantial amount of effort away from FG1 and it is possible this could prove problematic
in the longer term. The redistribution in option 1 is more toward FG3 than in option 2, reflecting its use of user
numbers rather than funding.

The approach adopted of initially allocating a team manager post to each team and then redistributing the balance has
prevented the creation of wholly unviable teams and seems generally satisfactory.

At this stage I would recommend the use of option 1 with its recognition of the association between workload and
numbers of users. It does of course not address the problem of the increasing numbers of research staff and students,
which go unfunded so far as EUCS is concerned. This problem would be better addressed in its own right than through
this exercise, but remains a serious concern as does the adequate funding of support for clinical honorary staff.

Recognising that the proposed impact of this process is highly sensitive, I would further recommend that C&IT
committee does not take a final decision at this stage, but perhaps recommends an approach initially. Provosts or their
nominee could then be consulted before any final decision is taken as it is essential that any change is universally
accepted before it is introduced.

J Phillips
May 2000




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Appendix 1



The allocation be according to a formula based on:
         A - number of payroll staff
         B - number of postgraduate students
         C - teaching and research active payroll staff FTE
         D - research postgraduate student FTE

where the total support load for each faculty group L is calculated from A+B+C+D and therefore FGn will be allocated

          Ln/(L1+L2+L3+L4+L5) of the available effort

This gives the following proportions:

                  A                B                 C            D     L       %
Faculty           Payroll          PG                T&R          PG(R) Support
Group             Staff            students          staff              Load
                  (H’count)        (H’count)         (FTE)        (FTE)

AD&M              404              628               288          308     1628      13.60
L&SS              422              1197              297          211     2127      17.77
M&VM              1579             548               733          251     3111      26.00
S&Eng             1421             1104              898          661     4084      34.13
Ed                247              588               167          14      1016      8.49

Total             4073             4065              2383         1445    11966     100


The 19.1 AEP available for redistribution would be allocated as follows:

FG                %       Staff    Present Change                                   Team    Total
          (AEP)   staff                                           size    alloc’n

AD&M              13.60   2.60     3.55     -0.95                 leading to        3.60    3.60
L&SS              17.77   3.39     3.35     +0.04                 the               4.39    4.39
M&VM              26.00   4.97     4.35     +0.62                 following:        6.97    6.97
S&Eng             34.13   6.52     6.35     +0.17                                   7.52    8.42
Ed                8.49    1.62     1.50     +0.12                                   2.62    2.62




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Appendix 2

Outcome of model 2, redistributing 19.1 AEP in proportion to total SHEFC funding

Faculty          SHEFC Staff Present Change                                 Team   Total
Group            funding alloc’n staff                                      size   alloc’n
                 (%)     (AEP) (AEP)

AD&M             14      2.67    3.55     -0.88             leading to      3.67   3.67
L&SS             16      3.06    3.35     -0.29             the             4.06   4.06
M&VM             25      4.77    4.35     +0.42             following:      6.77   6.77
S&Eng            37      7.07    6.35     +0.72                             8.07   8.97
Ed               9       1.72    1.5      +0.22                             2.72   2.72




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