Lessons learned

We found the following:
  • Taking forward institutional change is very hard when attempted against a background of organisational and leadership change. Key point for successful change management projects – support from SMT over a sustained period of time is required.
  • Enterprise architecture models were a valuable focus for discussion of issues and concerns with stakeholders. The models showed the big picture (coherence and overview level detail) which made them particularly well-suited to communication with senior management.
  • The ArchiMate language used to create models and viewpoints to be easily accessible. Typically stakeholders engaged and asked questions about the content of the model rather than what the symbols and shapes meant.
  • The process of modelling provided extra insight into the situation and the models helped to quickly develop shared understanding of the problem between stakeholders
  • The JISC-funded Archi modelling tool is very useful for beginners, it provides a free starting point for enterprise architecture modelling.
  • The most effective means of engagement with stakeholders was found to be face-to-face via interviews of single stakeholders or small groups. This approach allowed the conversation to be steered to explore the problems in more detail where appropriate and allowed information to be captured for the model at the same time
Further lessons learnt around particular developments can be found on the project blog, including:

Project Reflections

Ultimately, the Enable Senior Management Working Group did not fulfil its purpose. We intended it to be a forum for raising awareness of the issues affecting CDD and a means to gain support for the proposed solutions. We had success early in the project with University work on identity management and document management being taken forward at least in part in response to the issues being highlighted in the SMWG. As the project progressed, the level of engagement dropped as changes in leadership and senior management took effect. By the end of the project, the SMWG had worked under four different chairs and nine of the sixteen original members had left the University.

University governance is not fit for purpose. With elearning, traditionally focussed on strategy. Then focussed on policy. EA experiences have taught us that governance needs to be aligned to strategy. And university governance isn’t.

The Enterprise Architecture approach has huge potential for other institutions in managing change. Archimate models can also be used with stakeholders to gain a better understanding of the current situation regardless of whether change is proposed.

As highlighted in the Evaluation Story partner location and existing partner engagement with the University is important in guiding project expectations on the scale of engagement with any project work. It is unrealistic to expect colleges with limited links to the University to have the same level of engagement with any changes within the University as an institution that has strong ties with the University. However by managing this expectation and taking the time to engage staff from different colleges highlights issues that can easily become overlooked when dealing with institutions of similar size and engagement with the University.

The Flexible Learning Advice and Guidance tool (FLAG) and the approach it takes of providing advice and guidance in the context of business processes is potentially very valuable across the sector. It can be configured to support and guide the user through the local business processes, providing the right information at the right time. Although at this time repurposing has not been attempted internally. However a new course development process is going through approval at Staffordshire University and therefore the FLAG tool will need to be reconfigured for this as soon as it agreed.

The project has highlighted the benefit of using semi-structured interviews over a period of time with stakeholders has been useful in capturing issues via the Evaluation Report. It is worth reiterating here that the interview loops that occurred with senior staff around the Technology Supported Learning Strategy and the University Strategy has been of particular use in ensuring engagement with the right staff at the right time. It has assisted the Learning Development Innovation team, alongside Enable, in gaining real benefits including working closely with faculties to promote the creation of flexible awards.

If we were to start again, knowing what we know now about the changes that were to happen in the leadership and senior management, we would not have started the project. (These changes would not have been reasonably predicted on the scale that they occurred at, so in many ways this has to be seen as “unlucky” rather than something that perhaps should have been planned into risk management). The project needed more engagement and support from the University executive and this was made impossible by the changes in leadership during the project. Against a more stable organisational background, we would have placed more emphasis on dissemination to the Senior Leadership Team rather than to an Enable Senior Management Working Group. The institutional issues identified by Enable require institutional solutions which fall within the purview of the Senior Leadership Team rather than senior managers.

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