Friday, 27 March 2009

Processes and Management

After a number of posts last week I have been very quiet this week due to attending a number of meetings on process mapping and also continuing my training on Leadership and Management. This week has highlighted a number of issues with processes that exsist within the university where they are implemented against non traditional, flexible award development. We have spoken to 4 faculties and found that the same issues keep reoccurring around document management and resource allocation. I have also attended a college HE Forum to present the Enable project, the first time without a PowerPoint presentation! It all appeared to go well and I got some interesting notes out of it - and they are already joining our Validation Support Network so that is brilliant.

We were going to have a meeting with Gill Howland today but that has been cancelled but we have put a document together to support the presentation that I did last week to the SMWG that also links to the training I am doing which is handy! We have also looked at the themes that were mentioned during the project bid (and the project plan) and have mapped a number of initiatives to the different themes, we did discover that with our holistic overview that they had impact on themes that the initiatives had not acknowledged. We also looked at themes we could create linked to issues around change management. I am now off to a Quality Review meeting to see how that fits with the Enable project. April will be a quiet month for blogging for Enable as there is a fair bit of holiday and me attending conferences, so don't be disappointed if you don't hear from me as much!

Thursday, 19 March 2009

SMWG: A Third Issue - Resources

Resourcing is a recognised issue that has been raised with the Enable project, and with other members of the SMWG at different meetings, although the project is highlighting the issue it recognises that it sits outside the scope of the project.


As part of a presentation Prof Mark Stiles did for an internal conference on "Seize the Technology" Mark mentions the work of the Enable project and how it is disseminating the work it is doing to people in the university and the wider community.

This part of the presentation is just under 3mins long.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

SMWG Presentation: Strategy and Change

As promised here is the presentation I gave yesterday to the SMWG around Strategy and Change Management. Due to the presentation being images only you will need sound. I have tried to summarise what I said at the presentation.

Getting together

So far this week there is a big focus on getting together, first with the colleges on Monday and then yesterday with the Senior Management Working Group. This meeting was to give an update on the progress of the project, including updates on the interviews from initiatives and the work taking place on process mapping. As part of this work we presented two short presentations, the first covering previous blog rants on joining up university level strategy to work taking place on the ground, the second around understanding the issues with resourcing new and flexible course development. During today I will post both these presentations up here. I was also hoping to put a short presentation up from Mark which I recorded last week on the Enable project, yesterday I forgot the cables and today I forgot my phone so you will have to wait another day before you see it!

Monday, 16 March 2009


Just back from the Shrewsbury HE forum, got some interesting feedback about the perception of how the University handles it's partners and also that it is often not clear to colleges whether they are talking to the right person to get the job done. An output asked for was a process map with contact lists, so it is clear who should be contacted when. Richard also suggested ensuring that the SURF groups roles are clear.

Friday, 13 March 2009

Joined-up thinking for the Enterprise

The Enable project is concerned, in part, with facilitating joined-up thinking across Curriculum Design-related projects and initiatives running at the University. As an institution, we're generally very good at aligning initiatives to the aims of the business but such initiatives tend to run on separate tracks. Only peripheral consideration is given to alignment between initiatives or reliance on the IT environment. As a consequence, projects can create information silos and hinder or even derail other projects.

To encourage joined-up thinking we need a picture of where each initiative sits with respect to other ongoing activity. We also need to establish where an initiative fits into the overall Curriculum Design process and what impact it will have on that process. In other words, we need a Curriculum Design Programme. Effectively retro-fitting aspects of programme management to existing Curriculum Design-related initiatives is an important aspect of Enable but it is not the whole story.

As a University, our business is knowledge-based. Our products are information and process-based. We're not a manufacturing organization. Everything we do essentially boils down to passing around and storing information. As such, tight alignment between business processes and supporting information services and IT infrastructure is key to the success of the business.

Often, business processes are considered in isolation from the supporting IT services. In a similar manner, IT projects tend to create solutions to support individual business processes, independent of the wider business context. This tendency is understandable as there is a natural division between the business and IT knowledge areas. Business professionals rarely have the background or opportunity to delve into technical details. Similarly, technical professionals are usually asked for a solution to a particular business problem and rarely get the chance to develop a broad enough view of the business environment to fit their solution to the bigger picture.

To begin the process of joined up thinking across the Enterprise, we are using existing business process maps to start creating a model of the Enterprise Architecture. An Enterprise Architecture model is a model of the entire Enterprise, not just the IT Architecture. It encompasses the business processes, IT applications and underlying technology infrastructure and makes explicit the relationships between them.

The model has tremendous potential for communication of the 'big picture' to all stakeholders. It will describe how the whole business tackles Curriculum Design. It will allow inconsistencies, gaps and duplication to be identified and a future 'ideal world' model to be developed to act as a road map for incremental change. It will be an essential tool in transforming the business, allowing the development of holistic solutions to business problems. Solutions that transform the IT environment along with the business processes rather than transforming business processes in isolation (i.e. rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic).

More about the nuts and bolts of how we're building the model and what the model looks like to follow in a future post.

Friday, 6 March 2009

University view

This week I have attended a number of meetings around work being done in the unversity around looking at our provision of product available to our partner colleges and their learners. This has included being able to be part of two working groups, one on looking at 2 year, part time, Foundation degrees and another on looking at how we support progression onto degree level awards. This has highlighted the fact that the university already validates different deliveries of Foundation degrees beyond those that sit within the standard university calendar, and that there is some need to think of standard frameworks that faculties can use to help designing an award, although these frameworks may differ based on the subject area being taught (such as education - where the work based learning aspect has to fit with the colleges calendar).
I have spoken a bit on my own blog about my thoughts on how the university is handling strategic management, so I wont go into it here. I will simply say that I am now working on a short presentation for the senior management working group on the 17th to raise this with the executive.
We have started having meetings with regards to mapping the processes, however most of these wont be happening until towards the end of the month, which means that we might be a bit late on the mapping for JISC, although the information we already have can be used to create the first draft of the evaluation plan and the "final" project plan.