Our success in meeting our own challenges has shaped our unique approach to consultancy
Five years ago, the University of Strathclyde (SU) had an ambition to be recognised as a leading international technological university, but a number of market forces were making the business environment challenging. Implementing sustainable continuous improvement and focusing on Operational Excellence could lower the cost of developing SU’s world class services and provide a competitive advantage.
SU set out with two main goals. Firstly, it wanted to improve the conversion rate of
The University believed that establishing and training a central Business Improvement Team (BI Team) in the use of continuous improvement “tools and techniques” and embedding a culture of continuous improvement across the University would remove waste and deliver
Senior buy-in for the project was won by understanding what success would look like to our stakeholders and designing KPIs around these. Unipart engaged front line staff by coaching and training them, and later by providing a supporting or guiding role, to deliver the following:
The Unipart consulting practitioners developed an excellent working relationship with the Strathclyde BI Team. The teams saw each other as capable, engaging and credible colleagues for the project duration.
There were two major elements to the programme:
1. Joint implementation of a continuous improvement system based on Unipart’s Operational Excellence methodology, that included:
2. A ‘Train the trainer’ programme, delivered by the Unipart team, to develop the BI Team’s capability to train and coach their Finance, HR and Student Lifecycle Services colleagues in Unipart Way tools and techniques.
The process had been redesigned and was in the process of being rolled out across the University and benefit measures were in place. However early results were:
The discipline and structure required to maintain and build continuous improvement capability had been effectively transferred to the Business Improvement Team (3 practitioners and 1 support). 11 projects were running across the University, with 167 staff across 15 teams trained by Unipart and the Business Improvement Team. Whilst not the objective of the project, tangible benefits were already starting to be seen from the BI Team’s new skills and capability, including 342 hours per month of additional capacity created.
In the second year of tracking the benefits from the Postgraduate Taught (PGT) process improvements, the BI Team could confirm:
Now, five years on, the BI Team has grown in size and experience. A large and increasing body of knowledge is being published online, which evidences the impact and tangible benefits of individual projects across the University. Key headlines include:
A number of awards validate the extent to which continuous improvement and operation excellence has become a part of SU’s culture. These awards include:
The BI Team has published a report (“Evidencing benefits”) that has been widely recognised across the Higher Education sector and endorsed by the then Higher Education Funding Council for England (now renamed "Office for Students") and the British Universities Finance Directors Group. The approach outlined in the report is being adopted by a number of HE institutions, including Russell Group universities.
The BI Team’s
SU recognises that Continuous Improvement is strategically important and objectives have been set to: