Last year I reported that, after the euphoria of our first year of operation, we had experienced something of a reality check. Some projects hadn’t gone so well, and there was evidence of processes sliding back into, if not chaos, then certainly disorder.
I’ll talk about where we are this year with process improvement, but to start with I want to blow our own trumpet a little by talking about external recognition. Early in the year we were awarded a prize for ‘step change in continuous improvement’ by the Institute for Continuous Improvement in Public Services for our work in embedding process improvement in the University, and we were involved with a case study/white paper for ICIPS headed by Zoe Radnor at Loughborough University.
We were fortunate to be able to go to Waterloo University in Canada to present at the LeanHEHub conference. Our presentation was extremely oversubscribed and very well received with 93% of attendees rating it as excellent or very good. It was quite a challenge for us to organise the workshop with so many people standing rather than sitting as we’d envisaged, so we were really pleased.
In other external activities we gave our lean practitioner training to the ‘enabling the student journey’ project team at Salford, and to members of the academic registry team at St George’s College University of London. We gave successful presentations at UCISA PCMG and the AUA conference in York. We’ve contributed to the ‘evidencing benefits of Business Process Improvement’ study by the University of Strathclyde Business Improvement Team, and finally spoken to colleagues at Aberdeen and Strathclyde about our use of games to explain ‘lean’ and process improvement concepts.
Revenons a nos moutons. We had a slow start to the year as far as new projects were concerned, but this has picked up after June and we are now in the middle of setting up several new projects for our HR department. We’ve completed or nearly completed 6 projects altogether, all of them with success (as defined by our project measures). We’ve also run a large number of problem definition workshops to help teams understand and categorise problems in a particular area. These workshops have been very successful, with attendees telling us that they really help to clarify thinking and prioritise actions. Some of these workshops have led on to further projects, which is both encouraging for us, and hopefully useful for teams working with us.
Our training continues to be popular and we have now trained some 32 practitioners and around 250 in general awareness. Slowly the idea that continuous improvement is a University imperative and not a personal development opportunity may be catching hold.