SEU Portal
Saudi Electronic University

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
Saudi Electronic University (SEU) is a government university that represents one of the modalities of higher education. King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, the custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, issued a royal decree on 10/8/2011 to launch the Saudi Electronic University (SEU) as a government educational institution. SEU is the only specialized university in blended learning (combines distance learning and on campus) in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that offers both graduate and undergraduate degree programs along with life-long education. The university includes the College of Administration and Finance Sciences, the College of Computer and Informatics, the College of Health Sciences and the College of Science and theoretical studies. Environment in SEU based on information and communications technology, e-learning, and distance education. SEU as education sector and as a university, communicating with wide number of audience with different category (students, faculty or employees) in time manner with clear message is a priority. One of the methods SEU decide to use is website at Internet. In early stage, SEU created a site that helps to communicate with citizens. The site was built on static technology, as it was easy and quick to deploy. As SEU grow the challenge to update and maintain the web site was increasing and adding more challenge on IT and on website content team. Following are the main challenges:  Current web site is not capable to serve the needs aimed,  Available systems have different user profiles,  Systems are built on different technologies,  Some of the systems are cloud hosted,  Users are defined in different way across the university systems.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
Due to increase of SEU responsibilities and with the increase of number of benefiters and users of SEU website, SEU business requested IT deanship to introduce new website that can achieve the following objectives.  Have a centralize focal point for all types of SEU users (Students, Instructors and Employees) to access all the systems and other services university providing,  Build an interface to the university that represents its strength in service providing using an international well-known portal provider.  Build business required presentation layer that combines the information from different systems and present it in the portal.  Build the solid and dynamic base for any horizontal or vertical in future business requirements like for example business process.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
The technology used to deploy and developed new site was based on Microsoft SharePoint 2013. This product is combining different components that can help to start with immediate success and improve the site gradually. This helped us at SEU to launch quickly or new website. We work hard at SEU to have most of services provided to citizens from first page. One of the elements helped us to deploy this service quickly that we deployed it on cloud. That helped us a lot to minimize time to buy hardware and software.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
1- Putting the action plan (Project Implementation plan). 2- Detailed requirements gathering. 3- Analyzing the requirements. 4- Prepare the solution design including the interface design. 5- Configuring the SharePoint server 2013 including the following: a. Server Setup. i. Prepare hosting environment. ii. Install OS (windows 2012) b. Configure ready components. c. Develop, deploy and configure customizations (pages, web parts) 6- Training users to administrate and use the system. 7- Testing the various components to ensure users satisfaction, quality and readiness. 8- Deploy on production environment based on business approval.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
This project was collaborative efforts between SEU IT team and trusted partner ITS (system integrator) SEU provided the requirements through several analysis session, ITS developed technical requirements and agreed on the full design with SEU. Full engagement of SEU IT team all over the implementation duration till the last phase which SEU IT team got the needed training and handover to support the production of the system.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
1- SEU IT team: a. Project Manager (1) b. Key user / Content Admin (2). c. IT & Network Admin (1) 2- ITS a. Project Manager (1) b. Business analyst (1) c. Technical engineer (1) d. Functional SharePoint consultant / Developer (1) e. Graphic and User interface designer (1)

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
1. Single location to access SEU provided services to citizens, 2. Automate process to publish contents of site, 3. Flexibility to improve and services,

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
Website committee created to monitor and improve SEU website contents. This committee is composed from different SEU members category technical, business and senior management. Part of this committee responsibility is collecting feedbacks from everyone internal and external website users. Those feedback are categorized and prioritized. Then SharePoint Technical team will develop and implement changes requests.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
Main obstacle was time required to launch the services before academic year start. Time reduced due to internal decision in SEU to have new look on the start of the academic year. It was overcome by close work between project managers from SEU and ITS the partner. Decision taken by project team to increase number of people, working hours and reduce test time. Filling required contents for all pages was huge challenge at this stage. The help of SEU management and direct interaction by vice president Dr. Abdullah Al Najjar helped a lot to give direct instructions to all departments and deanships at SEU to collaborate in providing required contents.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
This initiative improved SEU website a lot. Even we are working to improve it more, but during last year and according to statistics we collected this initiative increase number of visitors to SEU web site dramatically. This helped us to: 1. pass our message wider to citizens, 2. have better contact with our students, 3. ensure our services are reachable, This diagram show the increase for number of users before and after new site.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
This initiative is relatively new to transfer it and replicate it. We at SEU spending time and efforts to document announce and share our experience with other. We highly believe it is sustained and replicable due to its clarity and simplicity in design. This initiative is helping SEU to be more socialized and known to community. This is an important factor for SEU business.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
SharePoint project at SEU was one of successful project that added a lot of experience to technical IT and business IT. From Technical point, having SharePoint on Cloud and hosting at carrier was a challenge for infrastructure team to follow and ensure requested tasks are done on time. Lesson learned here was cloud is easy to operate, but difficult to deploy. From technical side also, clustering and fail-over setup was a challenge. It is business priority to have SEU portal highly available. It was huge efforts from our partner ITS to deploy and setup proper high available environment for SharePoint 2013. Lesson learned here was having strong and combative partner who is capable and having strong project manager and technical team is a key to success. From business perspective, our biggest challenge was time and time. Due to the nature of SEU business as government, education and blinded learning institution gave us, and still giving us very limited time to down, upgrade, deploy and maintain systems. SEU depends a lot on technology to deliver its services to students. Teachers and employees are completely depending on IT systems to perform their jobs. We did a lot of analysis by using e-learning systems(blackboard) to find minimum time that students are connected to systems during weekend to reserve time for maintenance. One of most important lesson learned that involving high management at certain time is key. The commitment from senior management is a key to iron obstacles.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Saudi Electronic University
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Thamer Alhussain
Title:   Dean of Information Technology  
Telephone/ Fax:   +966112613535
Institution's / Project's Website:  
E-mail:   talhussain@seu.edu.sa  
Address:   Riyadh 11673
Postal Code:   11673
City:   Riyadh
State/Province:   Riyadh
Country:  

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