Jessica Smith 250sq

BI Manager shortlisted for national award

Date: 11 February 2019

Business Intelligence (BI) Manager for the CRN South London Jessica Smith has been shortlisted for the Digital Festival Awards 2019.

Jessica is one of just eight shortlisted nominees across four categories and the winners will be announced at a ceremony that will form part of the Digital Festival 2019 on Tuesday 26 March 2019 at the NEC Birmingham. On hearing of the nomination, Jessica said:

"I was really flattered and pleased to receive the nomination, especially for such a significant piece of work that has been ongoing since I started at the Network four years ago."

The nomination was for her work on Local Portfolio Management System (LPMS) delivery, which entailed rolling out a brand new system across all Partner Organisations (POs) within CRN South London. In addition, the implementation included work on a series of links to connect the data from CRN South London's chosen LPMS, called EDGE, to the Central Portfolio Management System (CPMS). The final link, and the most significant, will enable recruitment data from EDGE to be sent directly to CPMS, allowing study leads and operational managers to see recruitment progress in near real-time.

Jessica’s team has worked closely with POs across CRN South London to ensure the transition to using EDGE goes smoothly. She said:

“Our relationship with our POs is very collaborative and we tried very hard to help them at every step by finding ways to make the system work for them.

“We understood that a change this major would be difficult, so we were very supportive to make it as easy as possible for them; we quality checked their data where necessary, provided training, and took the time to explain the benefits of the new system. Where they’ve suggested system changes, we’ve tried to advocate and push for those changes both at a local and national level.

“Shortly after getting everyone using EDGE we developed the South London ODP App to integrate data from CPMS with what they were putting into EDGE, so users could see how near real-time data would be useful to them.”

In the last year, Jessica and her team have been adding new features to the CRN South London Open Data Platform (ODP) application to help PO Research and Development (R&D) teams, as well as managers, staff and Specialty Group Leads across CRN South London visualise recruitment against target levels, identify new studies of interest and monitor their own progress in preparing for the next EDGE/CPMS integration phase. The App was well received by users and you can read more about the CRN South London ODP App here. Jessica said: 

"Specialty Group Leads and others are able to look at the data, report on activity more easily and accurately, and intervene earlier to address potential performance issues, or pass on deserved recognition to their teams.”

The South London ODP App works alongside EDGE and provides better and more responsive information for carrying out research. As well as being convenient and flexible for centralising recruitment data, EDGE enables managers to leave comments on their studies to communicate with others on their teams. There is a suite of other tools available to improve collaboration within teams and therefore performance. Jessica said:

“EDGE is an excellent collaborative tool that’s providing us with better data to make better decisions.

“All the PO R&D teams have started using the various EDGE tools available for managing their studies. For instance, they can use EDGE to store relevant documents as well as track all their invoicing and other elements of study financing.”

Now that managers are confident that clean, accurate data is going into EDGE every day, further tools can be built for them to facilitate better performance management of their research portfolio. Jessica feels the key to getting the POs to agree to fully embracing EDGE has been taking a collaborative approach. She said:

“It’s been a long process but because we have a really good relationship with our POs it’s gone well. I like to think we’re really supporting them in getting the level up to where they want it to be, and they’ve been really good at implementing the system so far. I think it’s our relationship that’s made it possible.

“Making the implementation possible - not only supporting POs to use EDGE but also responding to their feedback - was a huge undertaking, but it has meant that we now have better data than we’ve ever had. Because of that we can build better tools for them.

“That’s the important part – what they take away from the system and what they use the data for.”

Jessica regularly attends EDGE conferences and chairs fortnightly teleconferences that bring all the national EDGE leads and the leads from the Coordinating Centre together to discuss hot topics in the delivery of the new system. She said:

“Right now we’re talking about the research activity Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), as well as using EDGE to capture activity for primary care and independent healthcare service providers. In general, we’ve been using the teleconference to discuss what it is we need to do and how to it.”

Jessica and her team are continually developing new tools to support research teams across CRN South London. Currently in development is a Trust dashboard tab within the CRN South London ODP App that will enable PO R&D teams to get a snapshot of their portfolio activity. She said:

“The Trust dashboard is something we’re building at the moment so POs have a high-level view of information about their portfolio and can quickly identify areas of need; they'll not only see recruitment and performance, but it will highlight their portfolio breakdown across 'in setup', 'open' and 'in follow-up' studies, and will include data quality flags. The hope is that anyone can use this to monitor their research performance alongside the breadth of their workload.

“We’ve also launched the BI website and we want to work on making this an even more valuable resource for all CRN South London teams. The aim of having this online presence is to put everything we think is relevant to our users, like training videos and EDGE/CPMS integration news, in one place."

You can visit the Business Intelligence website here. Winners of the Digital Festival Awards 2019 will be announced at the Festival as part of a packed programme that will demonstrate the success of the Accelerating Digital Programme. Digital innovation from across the NIHR will also be showcased at the event alongside talks from industry experts, demonstrations, exhibits, workshops and presentation sessions.

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    Business Intelligence (BI) Manager for the CRN South London Jessica Smith has been shortlisted for the Digital Festival Awards 2019.
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