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2016 WestGrid User Survey: The results are in!

WestGrid would like to extend our thanks to the over 260 users who took the time to complete our survey this past fall. The response was overwhelming and not just in the number of completed surveys but also in the detailed comments provided. 

So without further ado, here are the highlights and some of the action WestGrid plans to take to address those issues users are most concerned with.

Background

WestGrid developed a user survey to gather feedback on user satisfaction with WestGrid’s current support and services. The survey was sent to all WestGrid newsletter subscribers (6,640 emails), which included all account holders on WestGrid systems. A total of 263 respondents took the survey over a three week period ending September 21, 2016.

Key Findings

  • Requests for more computing resources and support tailored specifically for helping new users was a common theme throughout the survey.
  • Respondents said the most important services and resources were: fast file transfer (93%), secure computing environment (84%) and long term data storage (83%).
  • The most common complaints related to resources and services were: insufficient resources, long job queues, restrictive run-times and not enough storage. 
  • 60% of respondents had used WestGrid support in the past year. Of those:
    • Over 98% said the support was good or adequate in terms of ‘helpfulness of advice/recommendations’ and ‘timeliness of response’.
    • The majority of specific comments about support were positive, referring to support staff as “always helpful” and “essential to the success of my research”. 
  • The training topics respondents were most interested in were:
    • Parallel Programming (49%),
    • How to Schedule and Manage Jobs (46%),
    • New User Support / Getting Started sessions (i.e. Intro to WestGrid, Using UNIX and Basic Job Script Commands) (43%)
  • 63% consented to further follow-up on their responses in the survey, with 33% willing to participate in a strategic planning focus group about WestGrid’s future.

Recommendations

  • WestGrid should work with researchers to advocate for those resources and needs which are not currently being met through the national platform.
  • Suggestions for other services needed such as testing environments should be considered for WestGrid’s future service offerings.
  • The visibility and awareness of WestGrid’s support services and personnel needs to be increased. This should start with consultations with those who participated in the survey as well as a broader series of community / user consultations. 
  • Based on the results and feedback from the consultations above, WestGrid should work to implement a multi-pronged approach for increasing awareness and outreach for support.
  • User guides, online tutorials and other resources on the website should be reviewed, reorganized and new ways of presenting the offerings should be investigated. 

More information

For more information check out the 2016 User Survey Infographic highlighting the key results. Or read the User Survey Summary Report

And as always please email us anytime at support@westgrid.ca with any other concerns, questions or suggestions on how we help better support your advanced research computing needs.