Client story: Higher education

Transformational change

Client: Russell Group university in the higher education sector

The client, a leading research university, embarked on a reconfiguration of its largest medical faculty to address student satisfaction scores that needed improving.

Recognising the inconsistency in its professional services across multiple divisions, it moved to create seven health schools. These were broadly aligned in their focus but more importantly supported with a consistent professional services staff structure to drive up student satisfaction.

How I helped

Working with the executive team, I led on the thinking to bring the vision to life with clear aims, targets and operating model. This drove the emergence of the structure to support the delivery of quality professional services and functions.

From there, a project plan was created to define the workstreams; the creation of new roles and redefining existing staff roles to drive the new delivery model; a review of the competencies and skills required in the new world; and a complete review of all professional services employees.

Consultation with trade unions, communication with the wider academic and research community was delivered and positively managed.

Many of the processes and communication channels were either very long or dysfunctional. I facilitated change through supporting the redesign of processes and workflows.

Management capability in relation to key leadership and management skills was lacking, plus confidence and resilience to deal with change was low. I identified new capabilities for the management teams that were then met through agile development and training programmes. I coached and supported managers in the appointment/redeployment of roles within the new structure, including redundancies.

The outcome

This was originally seen as a restructuring exercise but through wrapping in to the project scope, organisational design and change management tools, it became a successful change programme.

With consistent teams across the schools, the professional services teams now share best practice, collaborate on common challenges and issues and provide a more cohesive and cost-effective service.

Importantly, there is no longer the single point of failure that previously existed with knowledge retained by one person. The new development of generic roles meant that people were cross skilled in a variety of tasks, creating better continuity for work. By redesigning end to end processes based on key stakeholders, simpler work flows exist that are centred around the student experience.

Management capability has improved and a continuous improvement culture has been introduced and is starting to gather momentum.


Bristol based with national reach

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