NDEC – A Case Study in Ongoing Support


Our Research Software Engineers (RSE) provide a range of services including support for existing activities at the University. Find out more about how they are helping the National Drug Evidence Centre (NDEC) to keep their key services up to date.

The National Drug Evidence Centre (NDEC) at the University of Manchester provides key services to Public Health England to support the monitoring of drug and alcohol addiction treatment throughout England. As part of this service NDEC host and develop a web portal, National Drug Treatment Monitoring System (NDTMS.net), to publish regular statistics updates and a visualisation tool, ViewIT, for exploring annual data on key treatment indicators.

NDTMS.net has undergone a number of redevelopments over more than a decade of service, and NDEC are anticipating that NDTMS.net will continue to be an important factor in the addiction treatment field.

NDEC already has a small team of in-house developers, but in light of the importance of NDTMS.net, NDEC recently approached Research IT to discuss ways in which we could help build resilience and redundancy into their hosting and development processes.  This is especially important during times of high workload from the primary client and for the implementation of major new features.

In a multi-approach project, RSE Jim McGrath reviewed the code for NDTMS.net and ViewIT to confirm that good software engineering practice was being followed.  From this baseline he was then able to estimate how much work was required, and therefore the eventual cost of the effort required.  His colleague, Gerard Capes, provided training and guidance to NDEC’s existing development team, focusing on effective and efficient use of source code management tools to simplify testing and deployment of updates. Research IT then identified available software engineers from the RSE pool to provide an ad-hoc development team that are available to work on enhancements and future development of the systems.

By working collaboratively with Research IT, NDEC can access additional staff resources as necessary without the delay and cost of going through formal recruitment.

NDEC director Andrew Jones says “It’s great to have someone like Jim and his colleagues working with us, who can understand both our technical and research needs. This adds to our confidence that, whatever the future requirements on the system, the combination of our own developers and Research IT can help provide a professional service.”

If you are interested in a similar service please get in touch.

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