support and enhancement for bespoke PHP systems

Ulster University have a national and international reputation for excellence, innovation and regional engagement, making a major contribution to the economic, social and cultural development of Northern Ireland.

Their core business activities are teaching and learning, widening access to education, research and innovation and technology and knowledge transfer.

the project

Ulster University needed a software support partner that could provide a rapid response service with flexible capacity.   The initial brief was to familiarise ourselves with a portfolio of 33 systems for which Ulster required documentation, support and further enhancement. This portfolio includes three mission critical systems – Online Prospectus, Online Enrolment and Online Graduation.

The majority of the systems were developed in-house by Ulster University using object oriented PHP and the Zend Framework. Over time, staff turnover and changing roles left Ulster with a limited number of resources with enough domain knowledge to provide support for these systems.

our solution

The initial contract for support required STCS to provide a scalable development resource ranging between 2 and 33 days per month.

We committed to make up to three developers available with knowledge and experience of Ulster’s systems, as well as a project manager/business analyst to ensure we have the resources to undertake substantial project work alongside day-to-day break/fix support.

We provide a defined service level agreement and for Priority 1 cases we are organised to initially respond within two hours and then to provide continuous support until the issue is resolved.

The service we provide is closely integrated with Ulster University’s IT Department. Formal communication takes place through their Redmine project management tool to distribute support tasks and record development time. There is also continual communication at all levels via telephone, skype and face-to face meetings at the University.

As well as the more normal support activity we have as part of this contract been engaged in major system enhancements for the University’s Online Prospectus system, providing the full development team for the project and using an Agile approach to deliver the new functionality on time and within budget.

technology stack


PHP, Zend Framework, Javascript / JQuery, HTML5, CSS3


MySQL, Oracle


Clustered Linux servers

bespoke development

PHP / Zend Framework

2nd / 3rd line support

systems analysis

system integration