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Transformations Royal Holloway

Project Name: Towards Universal Learning in Partnership (TULIP)

Lead Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London 

Project Lead: Godswill Arum

 

Using JISC resources to transform the capability and capacity of a series of agreed and proposed collaborative partnerships. Condition is to confirm whether this includes partnerships with business and community organisations (not just other institutions), and hence use of specific BCE resources.  


See the full Transformations programme playlist

 

Background

 

TULIP (Towards Universal Learning in Partnership) aimed to use enterprise architecture and service design at Royal Holloway, University of London (RHUL) to understand the differences in service provision requirements for traditional and non-traditional student study, and to assist the dissemination of needs for new collaborative partnerships by developing a template for professional services.

 

Aims and objectives

 

The overall project aim was to support the increasing demand for delivery of services to non-traditional programmes such as those involving new study modes, community engagement or collaborative partnerships with other HE institutions, private providers, and business.  By reviewing various projects and partnerships within the university and utilising enterprise architecture and service design TULIP aimed to introduce and improve flexible, reusable, and repeatable modes of service delivery across the student academic lifecycle.

 

Context

 

RHUL along with many other HEIs, is involved in the creation of new learning opportunities for students and innovative modes of delivery through collaborative partnerships with other organisations alongside the traditional post 18, 3 year undergraduate or 1 year post graduate campus based programme. The existing IT systems were developed in order to support traditional student entry and delivery of services and modification is required to support non-traditional entry and delivery of services be it, to allow for multiple cohorts in one calendar year, use of Royal Holloway and Bedford New College (RHBNC) degree awarding powers in addition to the traditional University of London award, or study at sites provided by collaborative partners (both in the UK and overseas). The university has an increasing list of collaborations with other HE institutions, private providers and training organisations. Each relationship requires the provision of slightly different services to both the student or partner and currently each relationship is managed independently.  The approach has been to customize the existing standard configurations and setups designed for traditional student entry and programme delivery to incorporate modes of service delivery for the non-standard. Whilst the number of non-standard delivery programmes has been quite small this has worked successfully and led to minimal impact on IT systems staff. As the university’s professional services receive more requests for non-standard, flexible delivery mechanisms from internal stakeholders and the university enters into more collaborative arrangements this model is becoming unsustainable and harder to maintain and manage.

 

The business case

 

The university believes that it is no longer sustainable to implement manual work-arounds to existing systems in order to incorporate new collaborative partnerships without the expense of a compromised student and staff experience. Therefore, there has been a pressing need from both IT and central administrative services to develop a flexible framework that will enable new demands to be dealt with in an efficient and effective way while maintaining a high level of student, staff and partner satisfaction. A flexible framework will also help in the understanding of the impact of new partnership arrangements on existing services amongst senior management, enable forward planning and ensure that informed decisions can be made on the viability of any proposed collaborative partnership. It will also help service teams to consistently provision services and processes that meet the agreed specification.

 

The project aims to develop a service model that can act as a reference guide to help the university to be more efficient and effective in establishing appropriate service arrangements with internal stakeholders and external providers.

 

Key drivers

 

The key driver for this project has been the feedback received while setting up appropriate service delivery for new collaborative provisions. The main challenges are the difficultly in understanding the impact of each collaboration on the services offered by the university (see appendix - RHUL Services), and the difference in the IT system and the configuration of processes for the traditional service delivery compared with that for the non-traditional delivery. The feedback has informed the need to develop a flexible framework that will:

 

  • Enable colleagues exploring new ideas and negotiating partnership arrangements to define what is possible, what is in scope and then a RACI matrix (Responsibility Assignment matrix) to agree the responsibilities of the university and the partner.
  • Help service providers to determine the most effective and efficient way of configuring the services required, and the potential impacts and dependencies for each collaborative arrangement.

 

JISC resources/technology used

 

  • Jisc Netskills workshop on ‘Digital Storytelling techniques’ was very useful in the production of the audio/video summary presentation.
  • Emerging Practices Group – the Emerging Practices Group has been quite useful in providing support for the understanding of Enterprise Architecture and the use of ArchiMate Modelling through workshops and webinars. Although we have not used ArchiMate in this project, it remains a valuable tool for the university to consider in future projects.
  • JISC Relationship Management resources – the service design approaches described in the relationship management infoKit were adopted to find out what partnership project managers want to get out of services and identify areas where improvements need to be made. Some elements of this resource have also been applied in understanding how our services align with different processes within the university.
  • The Action Learning Sets – the support and advice from the members of the yellow cluster set has been huge and helpful in navigating through the difficulties faced during the course of the project.
  • Project Bloghttp://tulip.jiscinvolve.org/wp/ A project blog was maintained for the project to enable us to disseminate our work to the wider HE community in the UK.

 

Outcomes

 

Achievements

 

The following outcomes have been achieved as a result of the TULIP project.

 

  • The production of a partnership service template that contains a list of questions that will help partnership project managers elicit information that is necessary for non-traditional service provisioning and configuration. The template was prepared by the TULIP project team in consultation with the Systems team and the Strategic Development Unit (SDU).
  • The development of partnership models illustrating the different types of collaborative partnership undertaken by the university which highlights the major differences between them. This is crucial in understanding how services are impacted by each model and the group of services which should be provisioned for each model. This has also helped to identify services and processes that need to be modified to accommodate a variety of modes of learning.
  • The development of process maps for student application based on the partnership models. These process maps help to define the student journey at the application stage and highlight the responsibilities of both RHUL and the partner during this stage. Analysis of these process maps enables identification of areas for improvement.
  • The development of an ‘as is’ process map for initiating a new collaborative provision by extracting information from existing documentation and through one to one interviews with stakeholders involved in establishing partnerships. The process map highlights the role and involvement of the different stakeholders in initiating a partnership. It also assists with identifying issues in the current process with the view to addressing them. 

 

Benefits

 

The changes implemented by this project have increased service delivery flexibility and agility in order to support non-traditional service delivery arrangements, both internally and with external partners. The service template enables partnership project managers to detail the impact of each new collaborative provision on service delivery during the development and negotiation phases, and informs IT systems of the service delivery required.  This also helps inform the financial model and the overall business impact ensuring that the collaboration is viable and can be delivered efficiently.

 

The project has also highlighted the student touch points in the partnership process maps and has enabled identification of areas for improvement which could provide a better experience for partnership students.

 

Drawbacks

 

As the TULIP project spanned 18 months it was inevitable that other strategic priorities for RHUL would emerge and indeed, this was identified as a risk in the original project bid for funding. These strategic priorities have impacted upon the project, and have led to the original work plan needing to adapt to suit urgent institutional demands. 

 

The original risk assessment did not include the risk of senior project personnel changing part way through the project.  Newly appointed project staff needed time to acquaint themselves with the HE sector, the institutional culture and running a JISC project. 

 

Despite these challenges, the project has produced valuable outputs that will be taken forward by the university. 

 

Key lessons

 

The key lessons learnt from the project are:

  • Transformational projects such as the TULIP project aimed at supporting partnership initiatives require commitment at a strategic level and should reflect institutional priorities.
  • The input of members of staff who will support and implement changes in practice should be sought and incorporated into the transformation initiative.
  • Communication with service providers and all major stakeholders from the start of a project is vital. This assisted in identifying the current issues faced in setting up collaborative provision and enabled mutual understanding in order to work together to begin to resolve them.
  • Setting clear goals and the scope of the project from inception is key. Unless these were in place the project could not progress properly. 

 

Looking ahead

 

Sustainability

 

  • This project has served as a springboard for better communication between stakeholders and further improvement to our collaborative provision procedures.
  • During the TULIP project only the process map for the application stage of each of the partnership models was developed. Other stages within the student lifecycle will be mapped to identify and seek to resolve problems. This should help to improve the student, staff and partner experience throughout the partner student lifecycle.
  • The ‘as is’ process map for initiating new collaborative provision will be further analysed in order to identify areas for improvement and subsequently remodelled into a ‘to be’ process map. Changes can be incorporated to improve the partnership initiation process.
  • The partnership service template will enable partnership project managers to ensure that as much information as possible is gathered and recorded in a standardised format during the development and negotiation stage with the partner. This will provide a useful document to notify IT systems of the service requirements of each proposed collaboration and enable preparation to provision the necessary services.  Responsibility for on-going monitoring requires further consideration.

  

Appendix

 

Project Approach

RHUL Services

Partnership initiation ‘as is’ process map

Partnership Application process maps

IT service requirements for new partnership