Thursday, 10 February 2011

Never say no, but put a price on yes

After any incident - whether within the department or University wide - we have an incident review. Today we had the review of how we'd handled the bad weather at the beginning of December. An incident management team (IMT) had been put together, and although we'd suspended teaching for a day and a half, the University had remained open. The purpose of any incident review is to learn - what went well, what could we have done better, and what actions do we need to take. We covered all aspects of what happened - how we'd handled putting together the IMT, decision making, effect on teaching, staffing and resource issues. And underlying everything - communication. Communication within the team, and to staff and students. We took the decision very early on to do everything via a web page, updated at specific times, and with links to other useful pages. It was a good decision - the page had 10s of thousands of hits, and although we used other methods including social media such as twitter, everything pointed here. Lots of improvements and actions though arising out of this morning's meeting.

This afternoon we had an interesting discussion with some colleagues from Gartner, looking at some of the challenges currently facing IT in the HE sector. We covered a number of topics especially the need to look at different models of service delivery including outsourcing, and how to prioritise at a time when our budgets are decreasing, but some parts of the University are intending to expand. Knowing the costs of services is key. We should know the cost of everything in our service catalogue, and use this to draw up a portfolio of services for different roles. Knowing what we provide for a member of academic staff for example, or a student. If we have the cost information, we can have informed discussions about the effects of changes. We should "never say no, but put a price on yes" was a quote that I liked, and it's something we  rarely do.  Of course, that's not appropriate in many areas, especially for core services, but the idea of "core plus" services is something we've toyed with in the past.


Anonymous said...

"core plus services"?

Chris Sexton said...

Sorry - probably should have explained. The idea that we are funded to provide core services. Anything above that is core-plus. ie, we're not funded for it, so anyone who wants it has to pay.