Digital Transformation Project sees College become a powerhouse of innovation

Group of students in library

Borders College now has an enviable reputation as a centre of collaborative growth in the tech sector thanks to a pioneering Digital Transformation Project, which has been successfully implemented. 

Digital transformation is increasingly recognised as a crucial development in the education sector and the wide-ranging and hugely ambitious project saw a number of key developments undertaken to enhance services at the College. 

The transformation cut across two main themes of infrastructure and applications development, with the goal to adopt new ways of working in order to continue delivering user-focused services in the face of changing technology, competition, audience needs and behaviour. 

A major element of the Infrastructure Workstream was to migrate on-premise services to the cloud and partner with a specialist third party to deliver a managed service for its platform storage.

A bold decision was taken by the College Exec to implement an MIS that was not implemented elsewhere in Scotland. The defined requirements of the MIS have led to ProSolution providing sector-leading functionality to manage the student end to end journey and provide customisable and detailed analytic dashboard reporting across the College. 

Establishing an online payment portal as part of the MIS system and new website was deemed as essential. With this in mind, the team settled on World Pay, which allows students to apply and pay for their course at a time and a place to suit them, whilst also encouraging students to commit to the course of their choice by not having to put off their decision to apply. 

Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) have become second nature for most students and staff and the set up and development of Canvas as the new online learning environment has been a major step forward for the future of learning at Borders College, with full implementation and adoption to take place from June 2022.   24/7 service cover for any device is provided as part of the deal.

Assistant Principal, Jayne Gracie commented on the VLE, saying: 

“We are one of the first colleges in Scotland to make this move towards a new VLE that is supported on an international basis. 

“This will influence how we operate as a college in the future and will secure our position as a key provider of learning over the next decade.” 

Also included in the project was the development of a new website with a fresh and modern look. The site was refined to ensure that users can access the information they want to see in a more efficient way.  

To deliver a state-of-the-art website, the College teamed up with award-winning advertising and digital agency, The Union, who took time to understand the needs of the College, engage with our stakeholders and develop a sector-leading website. 

Commenting on the website development, Jane Grant, Executive Director of Enterprise and Innovation at Borders College said: 

“Investing in our website ensured that our online presence and user experience is second to none. 

“While we may own the website, our engagement with all of our stakeholders ensures that the usability and priority of information, along with an effective navigation, has been delivered based on what our users have told us they want to see.” 

Such was the Digital Ambition of Borders College, and the recognition of the mammoth task ahead, it was decided to use the expert services of a digital transformation company with a proven record of success, to manage the various work streams and ensure that the aggressive timelines that were set could be met. 

Hazel Robertson, Vice Principal  Finance & Corporate Services explains: 

“We understood that our staff had the expertise around the areas that they are responsible for. However, the challenge of introducing new systems, and at the same time managing their day-to-day operations, was not something we could expect our staff to execute without some considerable expert support. 

“With this in mind, we appointed Agenor, who have expert knowledge and understanding of implementing digital services along with programme delivery.” 

Steve Black, Programme Director at Agenor Technology was requested to lead the Digital Transformation Programme. Agenor Technology is an experienced IT Services company, founded in the Scottish Borders and who specialise in the end-to-end delivery of large-scale digital transformation programmes.

The DTP leadership ensured that the key business stakeholders of the College were embedded in the Definition and Delivery Phases to deliver successful project outcomes.

Commenting on the Programme, Steve said: 

“It was clear that Hazel’s vision was supported across the College and it is my strong view that Borders College is an excellent example of a college that accepted that digital change was required in order to support Strategic Business Objectives for the future.” 

“The early Discovery interviews with staff (all conducted via teams as Covid restrictions were in place) cemented my view that there was a huge appetite for change across the College and this transferred into support for the DTP that has subsequently followed.” 

With increasing competition for students and funding, the outcomes of the Digital Transformation Programme will allow the College to harness the power of data to streamline operations and enhance the student experience, whilst ensuring that Borders College remains at the forefront of technological advances in learning. 

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