Alan Paull
Service Offer: Process improvement
Business Area: Student Journey Transformation
Techniques Used: Service Design
Service Type: Consultancy
Role: xxx

In late 2013 and throughout 2014, Alan Paull (APS Ltd, now a Cetis Partner), supported by Service Design expert Jean Mutton, undertook an investigation into enrolment and induction at the University of Bradford. The purpose was to design and implement improvements to the student experience of enrolment and induction and to streamline internal processes. The team used a service design approach, in line with the University’s stated aim to place “the student at the heart of all we do”. Working closely with University staff, we reviewed the situation in the autumn of 2013, mapped out improved procedures and recommended changes for 2014, and then helped the University to start to evaluate the impact of changes.

“Improvement” meant a slightly different focus for different groups. For students, this meant receiving necessary information in a timely and consistent manner from across the University. For staff, there were more pressing existing issues around work pressure at a key time of year following on quickly from A level results and clearing, which was putting extended pressure on many of the same people.

We used a range of service design methods to investigate improvements to the student experience of enrolment and induction, to engage staff and students in the design and management of changes, to make, and provide evidence for, recommendations for changes, and to start to evaluate the impact of changes.

Participation by staff in the whole project, from start to finish, was the key to success. We ran workshops and interviews with relevant departments and individuals, invited written submissions and documentation, and directly observed enrolment and induction activities. Through these methods, we gained a deep level of engagement. We created a map of enrolment and induction at the University, using service design blueprinting and process design techniques. These were discussed, amended and verified in a round of workshops with staff and student representatives. We analysed the information gathered, and then, in close consultation with staff, drew up a further map of improved procedures that could be developed over time. After a second series of workshops with staff and student representatives, we drew up recommendations for change, both short and long term, prioritised as ‘recommended’, ‘desirable’ or ‘nice to have’.

The recommendations for change were considered by the University and, where practical and resourced, implemented on a trial, or in some cases, permanent basis. The project team also tracked progress during the trailling period through monthly telephone calls with the Dean of Students and Student Records Manager, having identified a lead member of staff, priority, deadline and measure of success for each recommendation. Many of the recommendations were reviewed for their impact during the following enrolment and induction period at the University.

The project demonstrated the advantages of using a Service Design approach within the University context. Through tried and trusted techniques that were readily understandable by non-technical staff, the people involved generated ideas for change and took ownership of the recommendations and the implementation of improved processes. Service transformation from the student perspective, rather than the intricacies of technical business process design from a provider perspective, crystallised the issues at stake. Improved staff engagement in the change process, and the resultant successful outcomes, strongly suggests that this approach is highly applicable to improving student-facing services within the HE sector.