A large Sydney based University
In order to improve efficiency in its professional support functions, the Faculty devolved a number of functions from the Faculty level to the level of the School. This created a number of challenges:
Processes differed significantly across Schools within the faculty.
Professional roles changed and responsibilities within certain processes and functions were not clear to some staff;
There were unresolved inefficiencies or ‘pain points’ in a number of processes; and
Communication between the schools was inconsistent in some cases.
These issues were exacerbated by the fact that many administrative processes had never been documented, had been documented at an inadequate level of detail, or had been documented in a way that does not reflect actual current practices.
We carried out a detailed and methodical research plan in order to engage staff and to understand the differences in processes that existed and the beginning of the project.
Once we had developed a solid understanding of the issues in the Faculty, we worked closely with the Project Sponsor in developing co-design process capture workshops. Staff who have a hands-on involvement with the processes from across the Schools and faculty administration were represented at the workshop. We used facilitation techniques in order to stimulate conversations in the workshops in order to understand:
The key work activities of staff;
Delivery issues or other challenges with processes; and
Opportunities for improvement or ‘quick wins’.
We used the information obtained in the workshops to develop a number of written process guides, some of which were paired with graphical process maps. The process guides laid out in a step-by-step fashion new processes agreed upon in the workshops, incorporating improved professional support practices, quick wins and clear accountability.
The process guides were actively used by faculty administrative staff to inform how they executed professional support processes. Following the guides, staff were much more certain about their roles and processes that were newly devolved to the Schools became embedded in Schools’ organisational structures.
Importantly, as a result of this project, administrative processes across Schools were standardised. Standardisation gave the Faculty a number of advantages in monitoring its administrative processes into the future:
Savings were made on the maintenance of process documentation. Only one document had to be maintained for a process rather than one for each School.
Variability in service quality levels was greatly reduced. In addition to this, users of processes across multiples Schools (i.e. Students undertaking double degrees or general education courses outside the School of their Major) did not have to learn a number of different processes in order to interact with different Schools.
New employees were trained more easily, as there was clear process documentation and more staff familiar with the process.
The School had a baseline for continuous improvement. A standardised and documented policy made it easier for staff to visualise improvements to the process.