With the new academic year approaching, some of us may be thinking about how to do things better or how to put into practice ideas and new ways of working that have long been on our to-do list.
And if you are looking for inspiration, or some background on how universities are becoming more efficient, Efficiency Exchange is a great starting place.
We recently spoke to some of our users to find out how they used Efficiency Exchange. They told us about a range of ways that the website has aided them in their work.
1. As a source of information when researching funding applications
Heather Lawrence, business improvement manager at the University of Strathclyde, said she used Efficiency Exchange when researching her application for funding from the Innovation and Transformation Fund (ITF):
“It was valuable for understanding the workforce effectiveness workstream and for ensuring that my proposed project did not duplicate any work carried out previously.
“The information on the exchange confirmed where there were gaps within evidencing benefits across the sector and allowed me to confidently determine the scope of the project. I found the information on previous ITF projects helpful when considering the focus of the project and for ensuring that the proposed initiative met the funding requirements.”
2. Raising the profile of a project
Lawrence also found that her first blogpost for Efficiency Exchange helped to increase the number of a respondents to a survey that she describes as “essential” to the development of a framework she was working on:
“More than 40 business process redesign professionals from across the UK sector filled out the survey and provided essential baseline data on the current approach to evidencing benefits. A further blogpost to present the findings from the survey also led to the identification of further sector individuals who were interested in the findings and the outputs.
“These two blog activities resulted in the identification of a further university to test the framework, and helped to gather case studies from other institutions. The framework was officially launched through the Efficiency Exchange in July 2015 and directed over 200 unique visitors to download the guide in the first week. A further 420 unique visitors downloaded the guide from other channels.
3. Networking with potential collaborators
Simon Perks, director at Sockmonkey Consulting, has blogged on the Exchange about the HEFCE-funded shared services cost/benefit analysis project that he has been working on with Falmouth University and the University of Exeter:
“I was contacted by several readers interested in learning more about the tool and in helping with its further development. This helped me to better understand the needs of potential users of the tool and provided me with a pool of willing participants to test the underlying model and the tool itself.
“This, to me, embodies the collegial and collaborative approach that makes the Efficiency Exchange – and, indeed, the UK higher education sector – so successful.”
4. Getting up to speed with the latest developments in the HE sector
John Hogg, senior business improvement manager at the University of Strathclyde uses the information he finds on Efficiency Exchange in training packages to help set continuous improvement initiatives at the university in a national context.
“I have also used this information to help set the national context for the efficiency agenda in UK HE when I’ve been asked to present to various groups including the Scottish HE Information Directors and the Scottish HR Practitioners’ Network.”
“Great examples of this are an article by Professor Sir Ian Diamond posted entitled ‘No room for complacency in the drive for efficiency and excellence’ and one by Sir David Bell entitled ‘Efficiency is crucial for serving universities’ core mission’.”
5. Raising awareness of the efficiency agenda amongst colleagues
Marion Lois Hutchins, communications manager at Southern Universities Purchasing Consortium, says she often refers colleagues, and those who are new to the sector, to the Exchange to get the latest views on good practice from sector leaders and professionals on the ground.
“I find the Exchange incredibly helpful as a central repository for information on efficiency in the sector. The case studies, blog posts and interviews have been very useful in raising awareness about efficiency, particularly as it relates to procurement.”