Monday, 14 November 2011

Efficiency, continuity and resources

So, back from Gartner Symposium, and into a day of meetings. First off a discussion with a colleague about how we're going to implement the recommendations in the UUK's Modernisation and Efficiency report. We're coming up with some themed workstreams which we're discussing with our Professional Service director colleagues later this week before we take them to the University Executive Board.

Then the Business Continuity Steering Group. A couple huge pieces of work finally signed off -  a complete rewrite of the University's Major Incident Plan and the Incident Communications Manual. Lots of hard work involved, but we've now got some really quality documents. Now we have to implement them - Duty Managers are already recruited, and we'll be starting to train the other roles including Incident Managers in the New Year. Lots training, testing and communication now.  Then we'll hope we never have to put it into practice.....

This afternoon started with our Service Strategy Board.  As well as the normal look at progress on projects and other issues the service managers have raised we had a lively discussion about priorities and how resources are allocated to them. In the light of some of the things I posted last week, and the need to really move towards more innovative services, it was timely. I think it's fair to say some full and frank opinions were expressed, all in a constructive way of course. One of the main issues is the balance between large projects which require considerable resource to be allocated to them, and the lots more, smaller pieces of work which will benefit many and be quick wins, but unless they have resources allocated to them, will never happen. So, do we prioritise the larger projects, throw all our resources at them to get them done, or allocate a percentage of time to the smaller pieces of work, which means the large bits of work take longer....

Of course, it's never quite as simple as that, as there's other factors to take account of. But something we need to address fairly urgently.


Stuart B said...

Shame I missed yesterday's SSB, sounds a lively one.

Do we need to think about a skills audit to ensure we have the right people doing the most appropriate work for their skill set and reallocating other jobs elsewhere. We seem to be chasing our tail at times trying to get things done when there is so much new stuff that needs looking at.

Last weeks Gartner conference highlighted so many areas we need to be looking at for us to keep up with new developments - Social networking, delivery of services to mobile devices, BYOD and the whole of the Google environment we have opened up for ourselves.

We need to find a way to prioritise what we are currently struggling to deliver as well as taking on new developments - I feel we do have the resources if only we could manage the differently.

Neil Campbell said...

It seems to me that if we as a department are truly serious about implement effective and efficient service management, then some things need to change. This post will probably come across as overly negative, this is not the intention, as anyone that knows me, I epitomise positivity.

I have a few suggestions/thoughts…
The current department structure is causing confusion and ambiguity where there is conflict between line management and service managers. If we were to have only service managers, then this would go a long way to clearing up a lot of the problems we are having with the dual reporting structure. It seems to me that we have an opportunity coming with the office moves next year that we could utilise instead of recreating some of the existing problems. Could a review of how the department structure fits with service management be carried out by then?

There are some (senior) people in the department who think with silo mentality and don’t often consider the bigger picture. To me this is either one of two things, either they are not capable of looking at the big picture for whatever reason (ie. too busy, don’t understand area etc) or they are simply the wrong people in the wrong place.

It seems that the way we handle project management can be improved, currently it can conflict with how we run services, especially when it comes down to resources/people allocations, it nearly always seems to be the same people required for technical work. As a project manager it is frustrating to find that you can’t get the resources when you need them and being on the other side, it is incredibly stressful to be pulled in different directions by multiple projects. We might even consider taking the bold step of aligning project managers to service areas.

I hope that these thoughts and suggestions are taken in the spirit they were intended.