Group IT

A message from Head of Group IT

 - Lindsey Gibson Head of Group IT 

"This is a very exciting time to join the Group IT team as we embark on a strategic improvement programme. This is not just an IT project - we are building and shaping the future.  With investment and support from the NCFE Executive Team, we’re expanding the internal resource capacity within the IT team, an initiative we feel is important to fully achieve our goals."

Software Development team

The Software Development team works primarily with the Microsoft technology stack and is encouraged to investigate and use relevant languages and methodologies to maximise the quality of the work produced. The team’s work is organised with Scrum and team members collaborate and work closely with the Quality Assurance team, Business Analysts and other key stakeholders on the projects they’re involved in. They also work with the wider business on any innovative ideas they might have in mind.

The team meets every 2 weeks in order to share their knowledge with each other, demonstrations can include personal projects and any new techniques or interesting languages. The latest major project is the development of a Micro Services architecture hosted in the cloud. This represents a significant shift from the way development has been done in the past and is a very exciting prospect for the team as a whole. The output of the development team is essential to NCFE’s continued success.

Test team

The Test team has the responsibility to provide information on the quality of products throughout their lifecycle starting from the requirement gathering stage, all the way through to the support of the product release and post deployment.

The team works in an agile environment, closely with their developer and business analyst colleagues who help them meet their responsibilities deliver a final product of high quality.

Aside from the standard browser and development tools, the main programmes and systems used are;

  • SQL Server Management for database testing and queries
  • Visual Studio for automation development and debugging
  • VSTS for release management and deployment of environments
  • and other supplementary tools such as Notepad++.

A suite of automated GUI tests are linked into a CI pipeline to ensure the main development branch has not introduced any major bugs on business critical process pathways.

Automation is written in C# linked with the Selenium plug in for interacting with web applications. Tests are written in Gherkin, with the Specflow plugin acting as a test runner within the solution, to provide some BDD.

Application Support team

The Application Support team is the Software Delivery sub-team that sits outside of the project scrum teams at NCFE.

The team has two main functions:

  • A support team that - the customer facing side of the Software Delivery team that helps and supports our users.
  • A Kanban development team - focusing on fast turnaround of small changes and fixes anywhere in the technical stack.

The team is made up of dedicated members as well as a rotation of project team members.

Data Services

The Data Services team is responsible for all things data at NCFE. This includes the creation of business intelligence and reporting solutions, administration of databases/database servers, data integrations between systems and research into new and emerging technologies.

The team utilises technologies such as SQL Server, SQL Server Reporting Services, SQL Server Analysis Services, SQL Server Integration Services and PowerBI.

Infrastructure

The Infrastructure team is responsible for a multitude of platforms and all sites throughout the NCFE Group.

Various technologies including Dell, Cisco, Nimble, Meraki, Microsoft Server stack, Vmware Server and Desktop, ShoreTel telephony platform complements our Server, Storage, Desktop, Network and Telephony architectures throughout the NCFE Group.

The team is also responsible for performing all security and upgrade projects as part of underpinning the departments “Technical and Security Pillar”.

The team proactive and uses various tools to allow them to monitor infrastructure as well as maintaining their aims of high availability of services for staff.