Covid applications have helped significantly to manage the epidemic situation at the university. What was behind their creation and what was most important for their successful implementation? Martin Jakubička, as Department head of Project Coordination and Communication and vice-head of Information Systems Division, who developed the application with his team, shared his story with us.
To begin with, can you briefly introduce your role at the ICS?
I have been working at the ICS since I joined the Information Systems Division. I originally started in the Information Systems Development Unit, mainly working on projects related to the INET MU intranet system. Later, I‘d also work on the development of the MU Employee Portal. For the last four years, I have been the head of the Project Coordination and Communication Unit, but I have not left the INET and Portal projects by changing my position. I have been the Vice-Head of the Information Systems Division since 2019.
How did the covid situation affect your department?
My unit was not put under too much strain by the covid situation. Covid influenced the Information Systems Development department, where we dealt with, for example, tracing support in the covid-19 Prevention application. Subsequently, further development of this agenda, which is still relevant after so many months.
Originally we did not expect it to be so, but due to the length of the various restrictions and regulations of the Ministry of Health or the Ministry of Education, resolving tasks related to covid took us quite a long time. Sometimes it was quite tense. Certainly, covid used up the resources that we could’ve used to design and implement other agendas needed for MU in the digitization of processes. On the other hand, covid has shown us that many things that were not possible before ("it must be printed and filed") can suddenly be solved digitally.
„Many things that were not possible before ("it must be printed and filed") can suddenly be solved digitally.“
You have worked on important applications such as Evidence and Prevention, can you tell us how it went?
The development and subsequent expansion of related applications was quite turbulent and the whole team that participated in this agenda often had to respond very flexibly. It was no exception that a new part would have to be implemented immediately or over the weekend. This was mostly related to the issuance of government regulations, which were sometimes unpredictable and required universities support for various reports or measures in their systems. Due to the number of MU employees, it was not feasible to perform the processing of the required data by hand.
In what wayswere the procedures and the overall course of application development different?
The development process was very agile. At short intervals, we internally specified and sometimes changed the goals according to current changes at MU or in the Czech Republic. The software development was specific and demanding due to the number of working groups, with whom I discussed adjustments and new requirements. Within the ICS it was especially the Crisis Staff, then also the COVID coordinators and representatives of faculties (with sometimes different views on the matter) and the already mentioned RMU (Crisis Committee and separate departments processing partial agendas). When "connecting" with an external entity, we also dealt with setting up a reservation system for testing employees. It concerned the Brno University Hospital and then the Podané ruce organization, which provides internal testing to this day.
What was the hardest thing about it all? How and thanks to what did you manage it?
I think the hardest part was creating assignments from day to day (or from hour to hour). We had to keep an eye on new requirements and government regulations. Overall, we managed the situation thanks to a great team in our division and good cooperation with RMU and faculties. I was often in contact with the crisis committee or COVID coordinators, with whom I discussed the support of new requirements in INET. The Prevention application eventually became the "signpost" of all possible sub-applications (reservation system for testing, registration of interest in vaccination, generation of various confirmations or in recent days the so-called COVID passport of MU or reservation system for vaccination).
What did you enjoy the most?
I enjoyed the most when I saw the results of the work. Some things would be very challenging or even unrealistic without system support. The applications help both the university management (decision-making materials), COVID coordinators in relation to the operation of the faculty, and regular employees (records of cases, tests, reservations for testing and more).
„I enjoyed the most when I saw the results of the work.“
What are you currently working on and what are your next work goals?
We are working on the digitization of several agendas from the economic and personnel area, which were selected on the basis of prioritizing the requirements of the faculties for 2021. We are also working on the development of the MU Portal and its modifications for faculties with regard to the HR community. Soon, we will cooperate in the selection of a new economic and personnel system.
Did you have time to relax in this hectic period? Or if you could give colleagues some tips on how?
It is probably not possible without regular rest. Any physical activity, such as mountain biking, inline skating or work in the house or garden, works well for me, including activities with my family.