Five enhancements to help universities evidence the benefits of change

Data capture sheet
Following publication of their guide to evidencing the benefits of business process improvement in higher education, the business improvement team at the University of Strathclyde have responded to users’ feedback with an updated version. Nicola Cairns shares some new insights gained from collaborating with colleagues across the sector.

In 2016, we surveyed higher education change professionals to find out how we could improve the evidencing benefits guide, with the help of Efficiency Exchange. The sector feedback was extremely useful, as users told us about obstacles to understanding and applying the approach set out in the guide.

Some users said they were puzzled by terminology like ‘business process improvement’ while others felt their own way of working did not fit the traditional project lifecycle phases. We also learned that users were looking for further practical support on using the tools to identify and calculate benefits, and how to connect these activities to institutional reporting.

Case studies on evidencing the benefits of change

To be able to meet the needs of our users we needed to better understand the approach used by other institutions and how they adapted the tools. So we embarked on a series of case studies with seven universities to find out how they evidenced the benefits of change.

“Being given the opportunity to provide a case study has motivated me to identify more creative ways of evidencing the benefits of our process improvement activity. It has also given this area of work an increased level of importance and visibility in my institution which has helped to positively change attitudes to evidencing benefits.”
Head of Process Improvement, University of Sheffield

These collaborations have been incredibly rewarding. They have enabled us to enhance the practical support on how to use and adapt the methodology and create a benefits-driven culture. Not only that, they showcase how to embed evidencing benefits in real change initiatives.

True inspiration to evidence benefits regardless of project size

The case studies are great examples of learning from each other and they provide true inspiration that regardless of the scale and duration of the initiative, and the size of the project team, evidencing the benefits of change can be achieved.

“Sometimes you need a gentle but firm push forward in order to gain momentum in any project. For the Arctic University of Norway, working together with the University of Strathclyde on a case study has been of crucial importance to our improvement initiative. The work has given us deeper understanding of why, and how to, monitor the effects of changes made in our processes.”
Senior Process Improvement Manager, The Arctic University of Norway

Guide to evidencing the benefits of change in higher education

The guide is designed to support anyone involved with, managing, or leading change. It can help institutions to:

  • achieve greater engagement within institutions to carry out change;
  • drive cultural behaviours in the identification and recording of the benefits of change;
  • contribute to the institutional reporting of efficiencies and benefits;
  • and ultimately communicate the impact of change.

Five key enhancements to the guide

We have endeavoured to meet the needs of our users by making these enhancements to the guide:

  1. Explaining how this approach supports institutional reporting
  2. Guidance on institutional preparation and creating a benefits culture
  3. More support on benefits identification and measurement
  4. More focus on how to use the tools, improving their adaptability for other institutions
  5. Exemplars and case studies to embed the tools in the real world and provide inspiration

Demonstrating the flexibility of the approach by training

The feedback from training and workshops that we have delivered in recent months, based on the enhanced methodology, highlights the flexibility of the approach to any way of working.

“The University of Strathclyde has a tried and tested approach to benefits management with lots of practical solutions to challenges which are universal to all sectors. Since the workshop we have developed an action plan to incorporate many of Strathclyde’s ideas and techniques into our own benefits management approach.”
Benefits Management Team, Rail Group, Department for Transport, London

Accessing the guide, tools and case studies

You can freely access the guide via our online toolkit which is a dynamic resource where you will also find templates for all of our tools and additional supporting resources. The case studies are also available via the toolkit, offering an up-to-date source of shared best practice across the sector as new case studies are added.

Your feedback is welcome

We’d love to hear what you think of the guide, or if you have any case studies you would like to share, so please contact us.

The University of Strathclyde ‘Guide to Evidencing the Benefits of Change in Higher Education’ was produced with funding support from the Leadership Foundation via the Innovation and Transformation Fund.

Nicola Cairns
Nicola is a business improvement manager at the University of Strathclyde.