MARS – The first 100 days

While it may seem like an age (for some of us at least!) since we launched the enhanced version of MARS, it’s only been just short of 100 days.

This initial phase has not been without its challenges and has been a steep learning curve for everyone. We appreciate that for those who don’t engage with MARS on a daily basis, the new version may have caused some disruption. However, the MARS team have tried to make this transition as smooth as possible for all of our users.

A significant amount of work has gone into solving the issues directed to us while at the same time, providing a business as usual service for our stakeholders. We’ve learned a lot during this initial phase so we’d like to highlight some of the issues we’ve faced and how things have changed in such a short space of time.

Although the site has changed considerably, it has not disrupted the flow of appraisals. We’ve had two interruptions to service – one scheduled and one not, of which there’ll be more about later.

Below are some the challenges faced, events, facts and figures:


Since the relaunch, over 1,500 appraisals have taken place - 682 in GP and 826 in Secondary Care.

Service desk activity (phone calls/e-mails)

The service desk has handled in excess of 2,000 enquiries since launch. To put this into context, during the corresponding period last year we handled 1200. This represents a year-on-year increase of 66%.

During this period, 168 faults were identified of which 132 have been fixed. We are working closely with BSSU, our IT support team, to investigate, test and ultimately fix the remainder of the faults as quickly as possible.

A number of change requests were also received, 94 in total. During the initial period after launch, the main focus was on fixing the identified faults. As we move to a more business as usual phase, the focus will shift to these change requests and status updates will follow subsequent communications.

Online resources

Aside from the telephone assistance which is available to users, a significant amount of work has gone into enhancing the guidance that is available online. We’ve analysed nearly 2000 calls & e-mails received via the service desk and identified those areas which have generated the most traffic. From this analysis, a range of user guides and videos have been produced covering the areas of most concern, which are;

  • Logging in/password requests
  • Booking an appraisal
  • Entering information
  • Allocated quarters
  • Writing an appraisal summary
  • Revalidation

A direct consequence of these guides being available is that the service desk traffic has reduced form a peak of in the region of 80+ contacts per day to an average of 15-20.

Service interruption

Since launch, MARS has been offline on two occasions. The first was when an external server, which was not in our control, malfunctioned and the service was lost for 24 hours during the weekend.

The second was planned, for the installation of new, more efficient servers which will provide increased security and functionality for the site. The system was offline for 22 hours.

In both instances, a substantial programme of communications was undertaken to advise as many of those effected as possible, in an attempt to minimise disruption.

Latest Communications

Please see the link below to the latest update for:


All Users

What happens next…?

  • Focus on remaining faults
  • Emphasis shifts to change requests
  • Continue to work on enhancing the online resources
  • Work on our communications strategy
  • Prepare for a smooth transition to HEIW


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