Friday, 21 January 2011

Realising benefits and costing services

One of the external projects I'm involved in is the production of a best practice guide funded by HeFCE, which began as a guide to project and programme management, but is now concentrating much more on  outcomes rather than management. So, it will be concentrating on how you can realise strategic change and benefits. It arose out of a perceived need for such a toolkit by estates directors and capital projects, but has now been expanded to cover other areas of Universities including IT.   On Wednesday I spent the day at the Steering Group meeting where we looked a the different stages of realising change and benefits -the vision and strategic business case; the operational business case; implementation; benefits delivery - and what tools you might need. A very interesting group, and I think the guide will be extremely useful when finished. In toolkit form it will contain information and templates which people can adapt and use to suit their own requirements. As funding becomes more restricted, we'll have to be more rigorous in what big projects we do, and make sure we get the maximum benefits from them.

Yesterday we had our first meeting to kick off a change in the way we look at budgets and expenditure. We want to get much better information on how much our services cost. I could easily find out how much we spend on hardware, software, paper, etc etc, but do we know how much the web service costs? or filestore? or the wireless network? or the payroll system? And do we know how much of our expenditure goes on supporting teaching and learning? Or research? The answer is no - with some qualifications of course. We have done some preliminary work on this, but are now moving into much more detailed work. This should help inform some of our decision making and resource allocation. How do we know what we might have to stop doing if resources are limited if we don't know how much things cost? We've just outsourced email, but we don't know how much we've saved, because we don't know what it was costing us to start with. Hopefully we'll get some useful information out of it.

No comments: