This morning I went to our Research and Innovation Service Advisory Group. Made up of researchers from across the Faculties and from Professional Services research support areas, it is one of number of SAGs supporting our different service areas. The SAGs act as a channel for connecting our services and developments with the relevant areas of the University, and they help us collect user requirements and agreement about services, service levels and priorities.
This morning we had a really productive discussion around service levels, response times and where different research services should sit in the critical, high, medium or low priority matrix. Very pleasing to see a group categorise services as mainly medium, no critical, and very few high. very realistic and helps us enormously. We discussed storage of research data at length, and what advice we should be giving researchers on where to store data - preferably not on a pile of hard drives on their desks, or a small server underneath it! The staff survey we did recently had some comments in about both research computing (which people are generally happy with), and some of the support systems, which many people aren't. There's some work to do on either improving the user interface, or changing the way our costing system is used so that only experienced admin staff use it, not PIs who maybe use it infrequently and therefore find it difficult to use.
Yesterday I went to a presentation on a recent Rapid Improvement Event facilitated by our Process Improvement Unit, looking at the student "Change of Status" form.Now, that might not sound too exciting, but it's an important event for a student - withdrawing, changing course, taking leave of absence - a possibly life changing event. And to achieve this, it was taking up to 200 hours per form over 8 days - and the 8 days could be spread over several weeks. So, the process was not fit for purpose, the event identified where the waste was, and got rid of it. The process was pulled apart, and a new one built. That sounds easy, but it isn't. I was really pleased to see that the team was taking a pragmatic approach, looking at fixing the paper based process very quickly, with a fully digital, workflow based process to come later. If you wait for all of the system based things to be improved before you change anything, then nothing will happen. So, with no system enhancements at all just process improvements, they've reduced processing time by at least half, and seriously improved the experience for students. Well done to all involved.