Tag Archives: UCISA UK HE Capability Model

The UCISA UK HE Capability Model

A UCISA-backed project to unravel the DNA of UK university business capabilities has mapped out a ground-breaking model that promises to revolutionise HE business planning and resource investment.

For the first time, UK HEIs can now predict how pulling on one lever in the organisation will affect all other components across the entire business architecture, as Ian Anderson, head of the UCISA’s Enterprise Architecture Community of Practice, explains:

 

SOURCE CODE FOR AN EASIER LIFE IN A WORLD OF HE CHANGE

 

The UK HE Capability Model is about mapping what a university, or other HE provider, is at its core. A business capability defines “what” a business does and differs from “how” things are done, where, or by whom. Business capabilities are the core of the any enterprise architecture.
When it comes to planning change, if you know all the contributing factors and all the variables to take into consideration in terms of the impacts on the rest of the organisation, then you can better judge and plan where to invest time, money and resource.
I work at Coventry University which is a big £300 (+) million business. Like many other large organisations, it’s not always easy to ensure one end of the businesses always know what’s going on from the other.
Take a simple example. If you want to run a part-time course in the evening, the course content isn’t the only thing to consider. Do you know if the car park is open in the evening? Is catering available? There is seldom one place you can go and find out and one place to let everyone else know what you are planning.
The UK HE Capability Model sets out to allow HEI’s to be more ‘situationally aware’; to allow better assessments of threats and opportunities and plan in a much more consistent manner. Through the model, Senior Managers and planners have a mapping architecture that allows HEIs to plan holistically across the entire business.
For example, if you wanted to break into the American market, what are all the processes and all the data sets that you already have that you should take account of? And how might they need to change? The Capability Model provides you with a baseline to access all the things that you need to consider going forward.
And just one of the many things we discovered in putting the model together, is that while we may all work in the same location, we all come at problems from a different perspective. And we don’t all speak the same language!
For instance, the model has a box for ‘domestic student recruitment’. Something every HEI does. We had to define and map this capability and that led to one university partner asking the simple question: “Who owns the messaging?” The recruitment office said, “Well, we own it.” But a college off-shoot said, “No, we own it.” And the Faculty said, “Actually, we think we own it.”
We had all these people thinking they owned recruitment, a number of systems running it and god knows how many spreadsheets in the background. Mapping and modelling the capability made them realise they were not doing it in a joined-up way.
We also uncovered the language problem. Some people would refer to student invoicing, some to academic fees management and others to student billing. Through the UCISA model, we have created a common language for use not only between the business and IT, but across the organisation.
The aim of the UK HE Capability Model has been to create a generic UK HE model that is very much in line with the UCISA ethos of collaboration and sharing the benefits with the sector.
One or two universities have had a go in the past for their own organisations and models exist for the sector in Australia, New Zealand and Holland – but we wanted to create something specific to the UK sector and to take our model further. Including, for example, commercial activity as a value stream alongside teaching and research and so reflecting the kind of work done at many Universities in areas such as ‘Technology Parks’ etc.
We’ve put in the time, defining something like 230 capabilities and grouping them logically, so you can take our model and put in your data and your information. You may wish have to tailor it to your individual circumstances (that’s fine it’s a generic model) but the bulk of the work has already been done – saving you time and making planning that much easier.
UCISA’s UK HE Capability Model is thus essentially a check list across five core groupings to confirm you have all your building blocks in place before you take anything forward. It ensures that you’ve taken account of all the ripples your plan may cause and that you know exactly what opportunities, impacts and improvements it will create – not only in the area you are working on but right across the rest of the university.
The essence of the model is the repository system. It tells you exactly where to collate and store information and data sets associated with a particular capability. It shows you the links to other capabilities so you can quickly assess the potential impact on them when planning and all the factors you should take into consideration.
That is the sort of work that a business analyst would spend many hours trying to identify. But having that repository of information about how the ecosystem of the organisation is put together, allows you to adapt and change the environment you’re operating in that much quicker.
The starting point is something we’ve called POLDAT. For each capability, ask yourself what are the Processes that support it? What is the Organisation and the people that support it? Where are they Located? Then what is the Data? What is the Application? And finally, what is the Technology?
If you start defining and collating that, you will find you can start to plan much more holistically
HESA contributed because they were doing some work around HESA data sets and felt the model matched what they were trying to do. If you have a capability around, say, enrolment management, then you will identify the dataset that sits there and the processes that create and manage that data and the governance that sits around it. When you look at the UCISA Capability Model you can see there are definitely links.
It’s a stretch —but in future you may be able to benchmark your performance on one capability against other universities using such data.
I see enterprise architecture as the glue that links what we do as individual UCISA members back to the core business and mission of our universities and colleges. If we’re changing a technology or promoting a technology, the model can help us understand which capabilities or groups of capabilities are affected and how that benefits the organisation overall.
I see it helping to move us away from the old-fashioned view of IT as something that works in a tins and wires sort of environment to being absolutely a part of changing the way the business operates. It is very much about being a trusted partner in that process.
And looking to the future in a fast-changing world, the Capability Model is also durable. If you go back 30 years, people paid fees to their university and we had a capability in student fee management. The difference is that people paid by cheque whereas now they pay online.
Thirty years on, the capability is still the same. Once you’ve tailored the model to your institution, you’ll probably be able to say, even in 30 years’ time, that even if the attributes and component parts may be different, we still do most of these things.

Key take-outs:

  • UCISA’s UK HE Capability Model is freely available to all UCISA member institutions

  • The Model enables you to plan holistically across the entire organisation

  • The Model saves planning time, improves decision-making and encourages common
    terminology across the organisation

 

UCISA welcomes blog contributions and comment responses to blog posts from all members. If you would like to contribute a new perspective or opinion on a current topic of interest, simply contact UCISA’s marketing manager Manjit Ghattaura via manjit.ghattaura@it.ox.ac.uk

 

The views expressed on UCISA blogs are the authors’ and do not necessarily reflect those of UCISA.