Digital transformation at the Alumni Relations Office

Alumni Relations provides services and interactions for the Scots Old Boys’ Union. We have a commitment to frequently iterating and redesigning services to meet user needs while always making our interactions increasingly efficient. There is no point wasting member contributions on administration costs that seemingly never cease ballooning. By improving our data sources, refining our front facing Online Community and embarking on a process of strategic review and evaluation we are implementing the principles of digital transformation in the Alumni Relations Office.


In 2014, the Scots Old Boys’ Online Community was launched at a time when the College and the Old Boys’ Union saw a need to improve communications and engagement in the alumni community.

When we built the Online Community we designed a service that could be iterated and improved on a frequent basis. When you access the Online Community, you will see it is divided into two broad categories: services and interactions.

You are currently reading this article on the newest part of our Online Community. Medium offers a chance for us to present beautifully formatted and highly engaging written communications to our entire community. Please let us know if you like this new form of communication.

Services are where we offer our community unique offerings, for example:

  • Job Connect … a comprehensive and innovative platform that connects Old Boys with work
  • Tutors Hub … an integrated platform that connects current parents with recently graduated high achievers
  • Class Pages … customisable hubs for your cohort to interact and connect
  • Reunions & Events … guides to running and managing effective events

We continue to develop and roll out new services. In 2016 alone we developed a number of unique services that responded to community requests.

Interactions are digital forms and processes that replace manual interactions with the Alumni Relations Office, for example:

  • Update details … update your details online with the Union instantly
  • Alumni Reconnection … obtain up to date information on your classmates
  • Publication Submission … submit content to the Editorial Committee for inclusion in the The Lion & Lang Syne
  • Card from the College … request a card from the College to be sent to you or an Old Boys family
  • Governance and Committee … access information relating to the governance of the Union and its Committee
  • Events & Calendar … download and subscribe to all our latest events

The most common queries raised with the Alumni Relations Office pertain to updating details, reunions and events, and, alumni reconnection. All of these interactions can be completed online and our team will encourage you to use the Online Community before contacting the Alumni Relations Office.

In 2017, the Alumni Relations Office will concentrate on queries that cannot be completed online; for example:

  • Connecting with College staff … we can connect you with staff and their programs to maximise the value ‘of our forefathers’
  • Planning events … we can provide you with event management assistance
  • Communications … we will continue to be your first point of contact with the College

Queries that are logged with the Alumni Relations Office on the Scots Old Boys’ Online Community are given priority over those made via phone, email or post.

Back end

We’ve cleansed our database and built registers of interest for most parts of our community. Internally, this digital project is known as Portcullis and is overseen by the Digital Projects Coordinator. Portcullis Registers contain a number of records that include contact and biographical information for each Old Boy. Each record is made up of ‘fields’ and ‘values’. For example, in the rowing register there are five fields ‘first-name, last-name, graduation-year, email-address, mailing-address, phone-number’. The value of each field is derived from existing contact information sources.

All registers created in Portcullis contains the same fields and values system which stops information being duplicated across registers and also means registers can be easily linked to each other. When any of the information in a register changes, an entry is updated in the record. The most recent entry is shown as the current version of the record. Older entries are removed to prevent duplication.

New registers are created proactively as needs arise or by formal request from the Executive Committee of the Old Boys’ Union. Registers are, from their creation, the only source of information that can be used for a given interest area. They are used in every instance. We store this information securely in G Suite and control access to the data in conjunction with College ICT Services.

To access the Online Community, go to