Today was a mammoth day of meetings. This morning we got together with the Service Managers to look at how we will put together our plans for the coming year. Instead of a fairly detailed plan of aims, objectives and a list of tasks, we're going for a very high level list of aims for the year published on our web site, with a detailed operational level plan within each service area. This will be a constantly updated Google doc with timescales, priorities etc which the whole department can refer to. It should be simpler and more transparent both for our customers to understand, and CiCS staff.
Then I had a presentation from a company who had recently carried out a benchmarking survey for us. Two other Russell Group Universities had taken part, and the company was also able to compare us with other sectors. A whole range of things were looked at, and a lot of data had been collected and fed through to them. Importantly, the study was not just about cost - it also looked at people, processes, complexity, service delivery and volume.
In order to keep the scope manageable, we had chosen the following areas:
- Email Services
- Printing Services
- Storage Services
Data Centre Services
Student Records System
I haven't yet shared the results with the rest if the department so don't want to go into detail here, but I think it's safe to say that in general we are very cost effective. :-)
Issues were raised with us around complexity in some areas, and the lack of metrics for some of our service. The latter is something we are aware of and addressing. I'm glad to say that our email costs are very significantly lower than our peer group, but our printer costs are higher, hence our move to a more sustainable print service.
The company had also interviewed a selection of users, and their comments reflected very much what had come out of our recent staff survey.
This was the subject of my last meeting - going though all of the results of the staff survey with the service managers. Each had picked out themes in their areas and suggested actions to rectify issues which had been raised where possible. Some common themes included communication (it is either too much, or too little), poor interfaces into systems (some are packages, some of our own in-house written ones - both came in for as much criticism I think), browser compatibility of applications. There was also a general perception that we didn't consult enough, an we do wonder whether we have lost touch somewhat from our academic departments, focusing too much on consultation and discussion at faulty level? Whatever the cause, we will be getting out much more to talk to people.
Busy day - I think some of us were in meetings for just over 7 hours, but all very worthwhile and all achieved something.