after seeing a demonstration of the LSE's portal, Stephen Brydges suggested
I post an account of the system on the mailbase - I hope people find this
for original Oct 2001 newsletter see -
a text only version is listed below. The system has progressed further
since the newsletter - the room bookings system is now handling all
bookings in the school, releasing a full-time member of staff from
answering the phone. Also pg applicants are now using the system to lookup
the status of their application - also reducing the number of telephone
enquiries we have and improving the quality of the data held on the
LSE for You
"LSE for You" is a web based portal for members of the LSE community to
access and maintain personalised data from the London School of Economics
corporate systems. Following its launch by Management Information Services
(MIS) in November 2000, the portal has grown in terms of audience,
functionality and availability - now being accessible from anywhere in the
world and soon to be available 24/7. This newsletter provides some of its
history and explains what it can be used for and what we hope to achieve
Meeting heightened expectation and improving customer service. Allowing
enquiries and requests to be handled both on and off campus and inside and
outside office hours i.e. - "anytime, anywhere".
Improving accuracy and timeliness of information. Opening up the
information to the data subject for their immediate scrutiny, and
maintenance thus avoiding transcription errors arising from centralised
Increasing efficiency in the entry, transfer and manipulation of data. By
providing a recognisable single port of call for notification of new
information. Data can be passed on to all that require it, e.g. address
changes for research student part-time teachers would automatically be
distributed to the Academic Registry, Library, Personnel and if appropriate
Providing the potential for greater automation of processes. Replacing
paper based text with electronic data provides the ability to process
information as soon as it is received e.g. validation of credit cards
following payment of fees on-line and account maintenance.
Development of LSEforYou
Management Information Services (MIS) developed LSE for You in
collaboration with the Website Services team and LSE Site Services as well
as numerous other users. After initial meetings between Chris Cobb, and
Stephen Emmott where scope, accessibility, interface and design were
established, work started in August 2000.
While MIS developed the data structures and interfaces and defined the XML
definitions, Website Services concentrated on the design and layout using
XSLT style sheets.
The system was launched in Nov 2000 to users inside the School network and,
following additional security and hardware upgrades, it was then released
to the internet in May 2001.
All users of the LSE's network i.e. staff, students and visitors have
access to LSEforYou via their standard network username/password.
In addition, from 2000/1 graduates will retain their network accounts so
they can continue to participate in the on-line LSE community. Past alumni
are being encouraged to subscribe via the Office of Development and Alumni
From July 2001, applicants with offers have been issued with accounts so
that they can lookup-up accommodation and finance information and pay their
fees on-line - all before arrival.
What can it do?
At the time of its launch students only had access to their fee account and
a personalised version of their timetable. Since then many more screens
have been developed and more are in the pipeline. Those screens currently
Reprographics Usage - breakdown on quota usage for managers
Lookup to privately owned student accommodation
Payment of tuition fees on-line
Financial Undertaking (sponsorship)
Room availability lookup and on-line booking
Mailing list subscription
Exam Result Lookup
Alumni Employment Update
Exam Candidate Number Notification
Maintain telephone directory entry
E-mail directory consent
LSE for You makes use of very new technology. The under-lying data is
stored in various Oracle based applications which are integrated through
LSE Central. The pages are assembled by a Java servlet which applies XSLT
stylesheets to XML and XHTML data before returning HTML to the client
This technology has facilitated collaboration with other service providers -
Website Services provide the XSL to format the pages returned to the
client and the Library are passed XML to handle the network logon against
the IT Services Active Directory.
The application has an n-tier architecture, with several servers
contributing to the assembly of a page including web servers, database
servers, servlet engines and java applications. Using this architecture
helps to provide a robust and high performance application.
Focus on Finance
The Finance Division were among the first to be involved in LSE for You
when Mike Ferguson defined a requirement for students to be able to look-up
their fee related finances. Femi Olayinka from MIS created a database where
data from the Finance, Student, Fee and Financial Aid Systems were
Ron Riley from MIS then developed Java programs to retrieve the data and
display it (via XML/XSLT) through LSEforYou. Keith Adams and Sean Mcnally
were involved in testing the data and provided valuable feedback through
the develop stage. The facility went live at the LSE for You launch in
Students took to LSE for You immediately. In the first three days 150 on-
line queries were received. Now on average the Finance office gets about 10
to 20 queries a day. The introduction of this LSE for You service has led
to many changes taking place in the way the queries are handled. A move
from answering face to face counter and telephone enquiries to e-mail, and
From the outset LSE for You was intended to be a School wide, cross
administrative facility, building on the integration of data provided from
the LSE Central project and facilitating a "joined up" administration, for
example: the timetable lookup available to students and teachers alike. In
September 2001, this was taken one stage further with the introduction of a
centralised address maintenance facility for staff, students, applicants
and alumni to maintain their own contact information. These pages provide a
significant improvement to integration and communication in the School,
with background processes updating all relevant systems in the Library,
Office of Development, Personnel, Academic Registry and Finance. Have you
checked your address information? Have you changed telephone suppliers and
changed your home phone number? Are your Emergency Contact details up to
A Win Win Situation
There are many reasons why LSE for You has been successful - to coin
another phrase it provides win-win situations for all involved. Individuals
are able to see information for themselves without having to phone, e-mail
or queue. They are able to do this faster and more accurately as data entry
or transcription error is reduced. Similarly because of the integration
between the under lying databases, notification only has to be done once:
data changes are automatically disseminated across the School to all
relevant offices. Gone are the days of a student having to independently
inform the library and the registry of an address change.
From a School perspective, central and departmental administration is
reduced: fewer requests and queries are received, less data entry is
required and accuracy of data is improved. In addition some mundane,
repetitive tasks have been removed which in turn frees up more time for
advisory functions and improvements in customer service.
Focus on Services Office
The Services Office have been instrumental in the development of LSEforYou.
Two early projects were the personal student/teacher timetable the
reprographics usage lookup.
More recently self maintenance of phone directory information and self
service room availability and booking system have both gone live.
In the near future a reprographics job scheduling interface and a lookup to
telecoms usage will also become available.
Craig Hickson, Services Officer says "LSE for you is an important part of
our customer service strategy, giving users the control of their own
information to ensure it is up to date and accurate. Initiatives such as
the On-line room booking function allows us to improve the speed of our
services to our end users."
In the coming session it is hoped that LSE for You will grow to have an
even greater impact on the School's business processes, some of which are
being re-designed or replaced. Three examples are listed below:
The introduction of a mailing list facility to allow staff to choose which
items they wish to receive and how they wish to receive them. This will
lead to a reduction in paper usage and with it a reduction in costs both
financially and environmentally.
The introduction of a room booking procedure will be greatly simplified,
staff can lookup room availability themselves providing them with a choice
of rooms which can then be booked on-line with-out the involvement of
The introduction of a self maintenance of telephone directory entries, will
allow staff to be listed as they wish to appear and for this information to
be more up to date. The data maintained here is used in production of the
on-line telephone directory and by the telecoms exchange. It is also fed to
the Estates Management System for use in space management, door name plates
production and the maintenance help desk.
Personal Profiles - A central resource to determine an individual's
permissions of access to their personal data - protected by the data
Module Choice - Enables students to enter their choices, have them
validated against the regulations prior to being forwarded to their tutor
for discussion and on-line endorsement. Selections to then be automatically
sent to the scheduler for timetabling.
Reprographics Jobs - Enables users to complete a job sheet identifying
budget, quantity, finish etc. This would provide a job number that could
then be used to track progress of job though the LSEforYou interface. If
the item is already held electronically e.g. in Word, it could be submitted
through the interface by entering the file name and location and then
automatically scheduled on to the docutech printers. Alternatively for
paper originals the on-line job sheet could be printed and attached.
View photos - for teachers, tutors and administrators to put a face to a
Financial Support - to allow applicants and students to apply for financial
support. The current system is labour intensive and slow. With this new
LSEforYou module, applicants will enter their financial details on-line,
these will be picked up by a back office system to match with their
personal details already held, assess eligibility and identify an
appropriate award to allocate.
Class Registers - Allowing teachers to enter class attendance and course
work marks on-line. The information will then be automatically monitored
and alerts for non-attendence issued. The data will also be reformatted
automatically for tutor's termly reports - which with the current manual
method is very labour intensive.
LSE Experts Maintenance - In Autumn 2001, staff will be provided with the
means to maintain their own entries in LSE Experts. The data will be fed
through to other internal service providers for re-use. For example
publication information will go to the publications office for marketing
and research interests will go to the library for feedback on new material
available for loan or reference.
Managed Learning Environments (MLE's) Access to e.g. Web CT and Blackboard
etc - restricting access to the material to only those entitled to see it
while providing those people with a single sign-on to both their academic
record and their learning material.
Telecoms - will allow managers access to on-line telephone statements and
quota usage from the telecoms systems
Module/Class e-mailer - building on the open system already available on
the main LSE website this LSEforYou version will provide better security
and be easier to use and administer.
On-line enrolment - Plans to scan student photos instead of using image
capture at registration should provide the opportunity for on-line
registration through LSEforYou in 2002/3. Brain Storming
We would like to hear what you think of the site and services available and
those planned. Are there services that you expected but that were not
available? In various ways we are all both customers and benefactors of LSE
for You, please let us know how we can improve the site by emailing
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