Tag Archives: business process management

Benefits of a steep learning curve by a UCISA bursary winner

Sara Henderson
Graduate Intern (Student Champion)
Student Systems Project (Corporate Information and Computer Services)
University of Sheffield

 

 

Sara Henderson was funded to attend this event as a 2017 UCISA bursary winner

Being awarded a UCISA bursary to attend the UCISA Support Services Group (SSG) 2017 conference was a highlight of my working year. Although SSG was not my initial choice, I felt privileged to be accommodated by the scheme nonetheless. Below is an account of how my attendance has positively shaped my professional development, institution and how this interacts with the wider HE IT sector.

For context, I am no longer working at Student Lifecycle Project at the University of Sheffield (formerly Student Systems Project), but the experience of UCISA-SSG has still had a lasting effect on my experience of the sector, as I will detail in the following paragraphs.

Professional development

Many aspects of the conference were a steep learning curve. Although I had attended conferences before, these were alongside my peers as an undergraduate, whereas UCISA-SSG17 allowed me to network with established and influential people in the sector. In some ways this was challenging – introducing myself and my involvement in the Project made me feel slightly vulnerable, but everyone I spoke to was interested and encouraging in equal measure.

Most notably, I was asked to speak on the Panel session – the headline event of the conference. Members of the panel were James Smith, Director of IT Services, Birkbeck, University of London; Adam Kearns, Students’ Union Postgraduate Office, University of Bath; Sebastian Barnes, IT Support Specialist, Leeds Beckett University, and myself. Although I was taken aback by the offer, I’m glad it was given relatively last minute, as it didn’t leave much time for the nerves to kick in. I had given presentations and spoken on a panel and in front of moderately-sized groups of people before, but never on this scale. I was accompanied by confident and competent speakers who luckily had most of the spotlight, and despite the topic areas being somewhat unfamiliar I was still able to draw on my experience as a student and university staff member. I was extremely proud of myself for accepting such a daunting but exciting opportunity, and grateful to UCISA for the experience.

Institutional benefit

Unfortunately, I was unable to present my experience of UCISA to student representatives at the University of Sheffield as I had hoped to, because the recruitment of said students was delayed for the duration of my contract on the Project. The time-scales and priorities of such a major business change project are extremely variable, so this is to be somewhat expected. However, I did share my experience with colleagues, conversationally rather than formally, and believe my attendance at the conference had a genuine impact on Student Lifecycle Project.

Firstly, I’m reminded of the ‘Adding Value with Values’ talk given by Alistair Reid-Pearson, IT Manager at the University of Huddersfield. I was heavily involved in the communication and marketing of the Project to stakeholders, and contributed to the development of our ‘Vision’, including our core values and principles. We acknowledged the importance of gaining buy-in from our team by inviting everyone to participate in the process of developing this piece.

Secondly, the electric discussion by Paul Boag, ‎User Experience Strategic Designer, Boagworks about User Experience How to start a user experience revolution’ carried through all the work I’ve done since hearing it. Being heavily involved in the prospective student enquiry management element of the project, I helped design enquiry categories in the new system, and formulate FAQs for student support and guidance. From content to layout, I began every consideration from the user’s perspective, as championed by Paul.

Lastly, Francesca Spencer’sTechnophobe Testing – an experience of providing a service to those who fear, dislike or avoid technology’ put accessibility at the forefront of my mind when supporting the development of software and services. I made it my priority to advocate for the needs of all staff and students, be it ‘technophobes’, disabled or differently-abled people, by urging their inclusion in the room.

Wider sector

It was a pleasure to contribute my dissemination to UCISA’s website (Part 1: Fresh meat and learning about user involvement and Part 2: Not in the IT crowd (and that can be a good thing) ), and I hope this was well-received. I connected on LinkedIn with some of the people I met at the conference, which has since provided plenty of reading material and food for thought, and allows me to learn from the hard-work and perseverance of others in the sector.

Interested in finding out more about a UCISA bursary, then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme.

Lean in Higher Education conference – key learning

Marion Malcolm
Business Improvement Team Lead
University of Aberdeen

Australasian Lean HE Conference 2017, Macquarie University, NSW, Australia

Marion Malcolm was funded to attend this event as a 2017 UCISA bursary winner

In November, I was able to attend the Australasian Lean HE Conference, courtesy of a UCISA bursary. I had a range of key objectives for attending the conference, one of which involved networking with practitioners from across the globe. The 150 delegates at the conference came from across Australia, Asia, New Zealand, Europe and North America.

My key learning points from attending the conference were:

I will be blogging further about the event including what my key next steps will be, and further information on my presentation on ‘Lean Training to Lean Projects’.

Interested in finding out more about a UCISA bursary, then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme.

EA for managing change

ian-ellery-head-small

 

Ian Ellery
Head of IT Architecture
Canterbury Christ Church University

 

 

 

 

 

 

And so, here I am at the IRM enterprise architecture conference  . The opening introduction promised a mixture of talks about the theoretic as well from those who have actually done it. We were also told that there were representatives from over 30 countries and all continents (except Antarctica!). A glance at the delegate list showed that I am the only person from a UK university, with just three other university representatives. This is reflected in the talks, with lots of emphasis on product delivery, profit margins and managing a business across multiple international locations. However, there was very little that I didn’t feel could be translated into the UK higher education sector in some way.

The opening keynote was from Ashley Braganza, a professor at Brunel Business School. He spoke passionately and length about the fact that, when it comes down to it, everything is about change. Business process management leads to enterprise architecture which leads to project and portfolio management: but all of these are really about managing change.

Theoretically, everything that is being done should link back to organisational strategy, but in practice it rarely does. He used an excellent analogy of the strategy being a mirror. When SMT look in the mirror, they see their strategy reflected back at them. But the mirror is then broken apart and each SMT member takes away a piece that reflects their part of the strategy. The mirror is then broken down again and again until every individual in the organisation has their own piece of the mirror reflecting their objectives. But the big picture, the reflection of SMT’s real vision, has been lost. And unfortunately, it is the enterprise architects who are usually called on to fix things! My reflection on this (pun definitely intended) is that either we fight this and try and get a coherent strategic vision, or alternatively, perhaps we embrace it and welcome the fact that EA is the place where corporate strategy becomes visible.

To finish, Ashley reflected on different change models, which he felt were all lacking. He was especially vitriolic about Kotter’s eight steps to change . Finally, one of the phrases of the day which totally resonated with me: the problems, in his view, are that we have 21st century models and methodologies, working within 20th century organisations led by people with 19th century mindsets. By the latter he meant a Dickensian obsession with counting things. Budgets, REF, TEF… sound familiar?

UCISA has an Enterprise Architecture community of practice which may be of interest.