Author Archives: Rachel McAssey

About Rachel McAssey

Rachel McAssey Chair of PCMG Head of Process Improvement The University of Sheffield www.sheffield.ac.uk/piu http://www.linkedin.com/in/rachel-mcassey-5b996124 Vice -Chair UCISA Project and Change Management Group

Project and Change Management Group – an introduction.

In advance of our joint conference with our sister group CISG https://www.ucisa.ac.uk/groups/cisg/Events/2017/cisg17.
I thought I’d spare a few moments to introduce you to the UCISA Project and Change Management Group (PCMG) https://www.ucisa.ac.uk/groups/pcmg

PCMG is formed of skilled and experienced Project and Change Management professionals working together to develop and promote best practice in all aspects of project and change management in higher and further education. We have a strong sector focus which is informed and maintained by our member’s presence at the heart of project and change management activities in institutions of all sizes across the UK and beyond. We are supported by and fully integrated within the UCISA community. Our aim is to support better management and execution of projects and change initiatives so that greater benefits are realised by our member institutions across the HE and FE sectors.

The best ways of keeping in contact with the group includes attendance at events, joining one (or more) of our webinars, signing up to our mailing list (UCISA-PCMG@jiscmail.ac.uk) and follow us on twitter @UCISA-PCMG

There are currently 14 people on the PCMG committee and we cover a range of change management and project management roles in our institutions. I took on the role of chair in April 2017. The chair’s remit covers:
• Run activities associated with the group, supported by the Group Vice Chair and Group Secretary and UCISA Office.
• Run activities in agreement with the UCISA Executive and with support from UCISA Office.
• Contribute to general replies, requests passed on from UCISA Executive.
• Chairing Group meetings, including setting agenda and working with host institution to ensure all arrangements are in place to support the agenda.
• Attend the UCISA Executive meetings, including writing a short report of Group activities for each meeting.
• Write annual report of Group activities for AGM in March.
• Write annual business plan for following year Group activities.

Sally Jorjani from Edinburgh Napier University is co-Vice Chair with a remit to:
• Lead on the CISG-PCMG conference.
• Deputise in absence of Chair.
• Support chair in consideration of new members following a call for membership.
Sarah Cockrill from Coventry University is also co-Vice Chair, her remit is to:
• Lead on webinars and community engagement activity.
• Deputise in absence of chair.
• Support chair in consideration of new members following a call for membership.

We are ably supported by Lynne Hewings (Cranfield University) who is secretary and Simon Hogg (Oxford Brookes University) who is comms officer.

As well as the formal roles the other ten member really help to make the magic happen they lead on creating links with other networks e.g JISC, APM, take the lead on producing publications, toolkits and case studies.

Over the next twelve months we plan to work more closely with the other UCISA groups on events, webinars and publications. We are also piloting a mentoring, coaching and work shadowing offering between HEIs.

UCISA bursary – some helpful tips (hopefully!)

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Rachel McAssey
Head of Process Improvement
The University of Sheffield
(Joint Vice-Chair Project and Change Management Group)

 

 

This was the second year that UCISA awarded bursaries, with the aim of helping UCISA members attend an event they would not usually be able to attend

I was fortunate enough to be awarded one of the bursaries, and I’ve just come back from the conference (you may wish to refer to some of my earlier blog posts if you’re interested in change management in Higher Education).

I thought I would use this blog post to share my ideas on how to make the most of the bursary.

  • Apply – you never know you might be successful, ensure you refer to key publications (UCISA’s strategic challenges was this year’s key text), and ensure that your senior management is supportive of your application.
  • Cost – make sure that you include accurate and an up to date costing in the application
  • Preparation – if you are lucky enough to be awarded a bursary prepare. If you are going to be blogging or tweeting, make sure that you have the blog login information and that you share any conference hash tags with the UCISA team, they will want to support any social media presence that you use
  • Preparation – think about how much knowledge about UCISA other event attendees are likely to have. At my conference, I suspected that people’s knowledge would be limited, so I added some sticky labels to the back of my business cards with a link to the UCISA website (I also included a link to PCMG)
  • Attend absolutely everything you can. I appreciate that this can be tiring, but attending all scheduled sessions and any networking events means that you learn as much as possible and meet as many people as possible.
  • Take lots of notes and collect the hand outs, events and conferences can be tiring so adequate note taking is vital to ensure that all of the good practice can be captured.
  • Talk to people! This seems obvious, but often it can be daunting, there will always be individuals and groups that will warmly welcome you and be interested in hearing about your role and UCISA, it’s sometimes a numbers game, so if one person is not very chatty, move on and find someone else.
  • Eat, drink and be merry. Make sure that you eat regularly and rink lots of water, it will help you stay alert
  • On return – make sure that you fill out the claim for reimbursement – this will be important to your home institution
  • Tell other people about the bursary scheme, it’s a fantastic opportunity, and if it were to be available in the future encourage people to apply.

Suffice to say, I found the experience incredibly rewarding, and I would like to take the opportunity to thank my institution and UCISA for making this wonderful chance available to me.

Interested in applying for a UCISA bursary? Then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme 2018.

Network for Change and Continuous Innovation Conference

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Rachel McAssey
Head of Process Improvement
The University of Sheffield
(Joint Vice-Chair Project and Change Management Group)

 

 

 

 

Day 3

 

The final day of the conference and it has not been a disappointment

First session of the day was “Using Balanced Scorecards, Lean and Liberating Structures to Accelerate Strategic Planning and Implementation” with Ruth Johnson, Associate Vice-President, and Jeff Fillmore, Senior Organizational Analyst both from University of Washington

This was a very motivational. For more information about liberating structures as a change approach go to the website. Liberating Structures in combination with lean processes have helped the University of Washington to actively engage staff with understanding and implementing the strategic plan. It was a very important methodology for helping the institution change and innovate. I think we all came away wanting to liberate some structures!

Next, a really informative session from three people from Institutions in California “Taking the Mystery out of Managing Change”. They had received change management training from ©Prosci and I was very grateful that they provided us with lots of tools to take away. In my opinion the most useful visual tool was one for measuring strength of sponsor, project management and change management in a project – so that the project team can agree what mitigations need to be taken. Very simple yet incredibly effective and useful. Among the many takeaways also included a really useful checklist tool for project sponsors – I’ll be amending this and use it with my project sponsors.

The final keynote address was wonderful. Allison Vaillancort, Vice President, Human Resources and Institutional Effectiveness, University of Arizona gave a visually pleasing presentation. She challenged the group to look beyond incremental change to respond to the changes in HE, and identify where and when a rebellion would be helpful. Her slides gave us a how to guide about how to ensure that bold change can be actively delivered within our institutions. I tweeted a copy of one of the slides about change sabotage and lots of followers on twitter recognised the behaviours.

The final session of the conference “Leading from Inside the Whirlwind: Creating the New Vision for Public Ed” University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire
This was a really interesting case study of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire who along with the rest of the institutions in the state received a multi-million dollar budget drop. It followed the change steps the institution took from the moment the news broke in January 2015 to current period. The staff had chosen to thrive rather than just survive, it was a fascinating case study about the opportunity change can bring (most dramatically the decision to undertake 8 change projects simultaneously) and how a difficult situation can lead to beneficial improvements for an institution (markedly better student retention and increased enrolments)

It was a wonderful opportunity to attend the NCCI conference. I met so many interesting people and had some very insightful conversation about managing change projects in higher education. My heartfelt thanks to UCISA and my own institution for allowing me to have this opportunity. I’ve got so many ideas for things I can try now that I’m back in the UK.

Change and Continuous Innovation

rachel_m

 

Rachel McAssey
Head of Process Improvement
The University of Sheffield
(Joint Vice-Chair Project and Change Management Group)

 

 

 

 

 

Day two of the Network for Change and Continuous Innovation in HE conference.

A slight downside of the day was the very sporadic Wi-Fi access in the conference hotel. I was only able to reliably tweet until mid-morning. Hopefully it will be better for day 3…

The keynote this morning was very inspiring: Professor Maxi from McGill University “Besieged and Beleaguered, Down but not out: Planned Change at Universities in 21st Century”. The keynote addressed the drivers for change in universities (funding, internationalisation, multiple purposes of mission) and spoke about ways of addressing and supporting the changes. His message about being consultative, using data to identify appropriate changes and measuring impact subsequently was well received.

Next up, I went to implementing a Lean Shared Services Operation. Very quickly, I realised that the challenges we face at the University of Sheffield when thinking about shared services are very different to many American colleges who have multiple campuses, and often very separate technologies to support the administrative work.. I was a little worried about how relevant the session would be. However, the very practical advice about:

  • Establishing a benchmark prior to undertaking the change
  • Have discussions to better understand what good looked like
  • Share the message that no. 1 private organisations are customer focused
  • Focus on process simplification and automation
  • Identify the common and routine services (stop being all things to all people)
  • Identify root causes
  • These are all transferable concepts to managing change.

There was an interesting discussion about gaining trust – a key informal theme that has been running through the conference. The discussion identified that lack of trust can lead to lack of standardisation and work-a-rounds. Gaining and maintaining trust is key to successfully managing change.

After lunch, I want to an excellent panel discussion: three women who had received the Leaders of Change Award from the conference. It was a really interesting opportunity for us to question the panel about how they had successfully implemented lean in order to make major changes and improvements at their universities. Key themes from the session were integrity, resilience, identify champions in certain areas and maximise this potential. Each approach had been slightly different, and for me the learning was about understanding the needs and challenges of your own organisation and address this, rather than implement a one size fits all approach.

Two more sessions in the afternoon: “Using Customer satisfaction and Employee Climate data to drive impactful decisions”. This session demonstrated how the University of California is using its staff and student survey data to identify changes and subsequently measure and manage the changes. The team that support this are incredibly proactive with their support for data analysis, rather than just providing the raw data to departments, this rigorous and methodical approach is a useful way of ensuring that institutions have standard ways of identifying and prioritising changes, and then monitoring the level of success.

The final session had lemon jellybeans – so gave me a well-needed sugar boost “From lemons to Culture Change: moving from a SACS Monitoring Report to a Culture of Continuous Improvement”. The key message is if something is a problem, do not try to deny that it is a problem, recognise it then recast it to identify what opportunities the problem can offer.

Teaching Lean Concepts

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Rachel McAssey
Head of Process Improvement
The University of Sheffield
(Joint Vice-Chair Project and Change Management Group)

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks to the wonderful people at UCISA I was awarded a travel bursary to attend the Network for Change and Continuous Innovation Conference.

Today I went to one of the pre-session workshops on “Games and Activities for Teaching Lean Concepts“. The aim of the session was to provide some tools for engaging teams, explaining some of the concepts of process improving and personal and shared communications activities.

The workshop was led by three people: Marc Carlton and Amy Glenn from the University of Illiniois and Ruth Archer from Michigan Technological University.

We had four main activities shared with us. Perhaps, my favourite was a paper boat building exercise which explained lean principles and other lean concepts such as visual controls, waste reduction, flow and level loading. We could have completed many iterations of this exercise (although only did it twice) and I could immediately see how this could be used at the outset of a project to guide a team into focusing on what sort of improvements they might make and to reflect on the change management process.

They also shared a standard work game, reminding us that standard work brings a baseline for improvement and whilst expertise is vital, being able to scale-up activities can only be effectively achieved via the introduction of standard work.

We had a 5S game which I was already familiar with – google 5S numbers game if you are interested. Many people in the room had already used this with varying levels of success.

The final activity was a producing Kanban boards for personal and team use. I am an advocate of making work visible and feel that this is most appropriate it a team environment. Kanban boards can be useful ways of ensuring that a team shares knowledge and responsibility for key actions to progress projects. My takeaway from this was to ensure that work that has been actioned is also evaluated (eg did it go well, did I complete it to the best of my ability, what could have gone better) rather than it being an action that is just closed.

A bonus takeaway was a problem solving exercise to help identify root cause, problem solving throughout a project (and beyond) is absolutely critical, so I’m delighted to have another tool that I can use to support my project teams.

Preparing for the first Project and Change Management Group (PCMG) Event

PCMG has officially been a UCISA group since 2014. We are holding our first event on 10 June 2015 “Project and change management – why bother?” http://www.ucisa.ac.uk/groups/pcmg/events/2015/pcmg.aspx? We are keen that our first formal event should reflect the full range of both the group’s scope and the committee’s expertise.

To prepare for the event, the first thing we had to do was to identify our speakers. We were delighted that Gerry Pennell (University of Manchester) agreed to open the event and we were able to secure Prof. Zoe Radnor from Loughborough University as final speaker of the day. We are also looking forward to hearing from Ruth Murray Webster and Adrian Reed.

Once we’d identified speakers, we focused on potential workshops. We had a very long list of ideas and could have filled the slots three times over. We hope that you will agree that the workshops offer something for everybody interested in this field. At the main UCISA conference in March, there was a great deal of interest in Agile Project Management so we’ve decided to add a workshop on this area: if you would be interested in co-presenting at this workshop, we’d love to hear from you.

Planning for this event has been a real eye-opener about the extent of the professional and helpful support from UCISA. It’s great for us committee members to have the glamour and pleasure arranging the programme: but it is important to acknowledge the invaluable support that UCISA offers to its groups.

We are hoping for a good turn out at the event, please do get in contact if you would like any further information about the event. The content should offer a challenging, informative and enjoyable day for anyone who is interested in project and change management in higher education.