DARS Newsletter August 2016

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Dear Users,

Welcome to this month’s DARS Newsletter. Older newsletters can be found at https://www.darscentral.ox.ac.uk/newsletters, with newsletters since May 2015 held at http://darswiki.bsp.ox.ac.uk/index.php/DARS_Newsletters. And remember that you can contact the DARS helpdesk via dars@admin.ox.ac.uk.

In this issue:

Transfer designations – for Gift Registry Use only
Query Node Performance
Certificate errors with DARS environments
DARS Support Centre staff availability – Thursday 1 September
Advance warning - forthcoming maintenance to the Begbroke Data Centre
Circulation of DARS data

DARS news and features

Transfer designations – for Gift Registry Use only

We would again like to draw your attention to the fact that colleges should not use, or change the designation of any donation that begins with ‘1-Transfer’. This is because these are for ‘transfer’ gifts, which are by definition processed by Gift Registry (or the North American Office). Colleges should use or change designations that begin ‘1-College’. The consequences of college staff adding or amending gifts with a 1-Transfer/ designation can vary but may include:

• If the designation is changed before the revenue has been transferred to the college, the transfer will not happen.

• If the designation is changed before Gift Registry have claimed any potential Gift Aid, Gift Aid will not be claimed by the Gift Registry.

• If Gift Registry have already claimed Gift Aid, this will have been transferred to the college. Changing the designation will trigger a Gift Aid refund that will be submitted to HMRC unless this refund is not submitted. If the refund is submitted, then the value of the refund would have to be refunded by the college. Furthermore, because Gift Aid has been “refunded” but the donation is still eligible for Gift Aid, another Gift Aid claim could be made by the College, thus potentially duplicating the submission for a different charitable entity.

• Last, but not least, these incidents take a significant amount of time to investigate, and correct.

Regardless of all the above, changing the designation will affect the university’s accounts reconciliation and the audit trail will be broken. We are now monitoring these incidents, and will be contacting individuals who are using designations improperly.

Query Node Performance

Thirteen users now have second DARS accounts, providing a workaround for the Query Node Performance issue. Blackbaud’s current position is that all but the most critical bugs will only be addressed in Version 4; however, we are pleased to let you know that following extensive lobbying about the severity of this issue, and its impact on the user community across the University, we have received a hotfix from Blackbaud, which should tackle the underlying issue. This hotfix will need to be taken in conjunction with Blackbaud’s latest Service Pack, number 14 (the first Service Pack we have taken since September 2015). Since Service Packs contain a whole range of changes to functionality, they need to be thoroughly tested in an environment which is as similar to Live DARS as possible. The test environment known as QA, which is for this purpose, is currently in use by the SQL Server Upgrade Project. As soon as the QA environment becomes available to us, we will start testing of the Service Pack and hotfix. This will probably be in mid-October.

Certificate errors with DARS environments

Secure web applications, such as DARS, need something called an SSL certificate in order to function properly (you can tell which websites have these, by the fact that they begin with https:// rather than just the usual http://, and often display a padlock symbol. In the past few months, these certificates have expired at no notice, sometimes resulting in a DARS environment (such as Sandbox), or a part of one (such as reporting in live) becoming unavailable. We are pleased to report that we have worked with IT Services so that all DARS certificates are monitored, so that notice can be given of forthcoming expiries, and we can take action to renew the certificate before it expires.

DARS Support Centre staff availability – Thursday 1 September

From 1pm on Thursday 1 September, members of the DARS Support Centre, including helpdesk staff, will be attending the Central Development Office picnic. Therefore, if you wish to raise an incident during that time, we recommend that you do so via email to the DARS helpdesk, and we will address them on Friday morning. Colleagues in the Applications Support Centre have kindly agreed to log any phone calls made to the DARS Support Centre; these calls will be triaged, and if appropriate, staff in the DARS Support Centre will be contacted.

Advance warning - forthcoming maintenance to the Begbroke Data Centre

As noted in previously, one of the elements of the power supply to the Begbroke data centre has a known manufacturing defect. IT Services have now determined that this work will take place on Wednesday 14 September. This work will result in the Begbroke data centre being out of action for the bulk of the working day. Since the DARS infrastructure is replicated across two datacentres, most of DARS functionality will still be available. However, importing functionality will not be available during this period of downtime. We will send a reminder on Tuesday 13th, so that imports can be carried out either the day before, or the day after the work has been completed and the Begbroke data centre is back online. We will of course inform you nearer the time if we have any further information available.


Circulation of DARS data

If you need to circulate data from DARS – for example, an attendee list for an event – please remember to use appropriate encryption, as required by DARS rules 7.2.5 and 7.2.9. The full set of DARS rules can be found at https://www.darscentral.ox.ac.uk/file/darsrules.pdf.

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