This week, we have been running a process improvement event for our Global Opportunities and Exchanges team, to help them improve their data management processes.
They had originally decided to work with us when as part of an exercise for a larger university project they discovered that they had 25 different systems for managing the processes for Erasmus, Study Abroad and Summer School placements. The team identified that using the different systems had led to repetitive, unreliable, time-consuming and convoluted processes when inputting and extracting data.
We worked with a small project team (four people) and I was amazed at the amount of outputs created. Firstly a systems matrix which unpicked the key elements of each system (e.g. purpose, format, data held, key problems), throughout the week we found that the original list of 25 was actually 35 different systems to support the processes.
We mapped the processes for incoming and outgoing students on both Erasmus and Study Abroad programmes, I think that we were all amazed at how long an unwieldy the processes were. However, the team knew that they had problems – I did not need them to map the processes to have a “light bulb” moment about the complexity (the team had long ago come reached this conclusion), they had become victims of the process, so busy managing the process they had no time to reflect an improve. We mapped the process to see how the value was delivered to our process beneficiaries.
Key outputs from the four days:
- A standard process for managing incoming Erasmus and Study Abroad students. The process has an 80% reduction in process steps, offers greater visibility to the students about the status of the application, reduced errors, and removes the need for matching up paperwork and manipulating data.
- An improved process for Study Abroad students going to other universities on placement, removing work from academic tutors, delivering a better service to students and once again removing a lot of data manipulation and checking.
- An improved process for Erasmus students going to other universities, removing the need to manually input 400 records into two different systems (i.e. 800 in total), improved data management and reporting by keeping all of the data in one system rather than three or four. Risk to the university has also been mitigated.
- A reduction in systems used from 35 to 15 (and some of the 15 are improved systems).
This will lead to significant time savings for the team (to be calculated at six month review stage), increased staff and student satisfaction and a reduction in errors (and checking).
The action plan created is largely in the control of the team, with all actions due for completion in five months.