“In a year when everyone was trialling new capabilities to drive further improvements to business process and customer outcomes (including ourselves), we decided do the basics better,” says Jason Patrick Mangan, director IT services at the University of Auckland.
This is the backdrop of the “Service Effectiveness” programme which focused on what matters most to their customers – students, faculty and the university staff.
“It was a truly service centric programme that targeted many aspects of our foundation delivery,” he says.
These included implementation of a Service Catalogue Management process and roles; Service Asset and Configuration Management capability and process; orchestration improvements (eg. onboarding); a new service portal; uplift of the systems around knowledge management and configuration; and improved services insights.
The team also introduced pulse surveys backed by a process that drives accountability and commitment to service excellence, says Mangan.
“Implementations of this type come with their own challenges, but when you consider the size of the university, with 15,000 staff and 35,000 students, the diversity of the customer base and varying interests areas, you can start to comprehend the significance of even a small change.”
Mangan says the programme was a huge success.
“Culturally, the 400-plus technology team are now very focused on customer experience. In an environment that has traditionally been more inward focused, this has been a great turnaround.”
From a service perspective, he says, the average time to resolve incidents and fulfill service requests has been cut by 70 per cent. Onboarding has been standardised across faculties and service divisions. What used to take 10 or more days is now down to two days, he adds.
“Customers now have a much clearer view across our service offerings and our new service portal delivers a much more personalised interface to our customers offering dynamic knowledge insights and anticipated catalogue items, based on their previous activities,” says Mangan.
He says the technology team also achieved great insights and outcomes in the innovation domain.
The university has implemented Robotic Process Automation within their high volume transaction environments. The team have also piloted AI in the primary contact centre.
“We’ve implemented some great innovations within our learning and teaching services which have greatly improved our student experience,” he says. “All of these capabilities are demonstrating great potential for improved business outcomes. From student success right through to supplier onboarding. There is a lot of potential”
He points out the new University Digital Strategy deserves pole position with regards to driving innovation.
The strategy, completed in the final quarter of 2017, covers all aspects of the technology team’s delivery, and the vision and capabilities needed to flourish in and adapt to a rapidly changing environment.
The principles underpinning this strategy drive our digital transformation and provide a decision-making framework for service design and investment prioritisation, he says. “Customer led” is an important digital principle and the University has used Customer Journey Mapping techniques to inform our Student Digital Journey programme.
These principles stress the importance of placing customer experience at the centre of their decisions around technology investments and strategic workforce planning, he says.
Mangan says the University fosters a very collaborative environment with formal and informal governance structures.
When you consider the very federated nature of universities, and the fact that a single faculty is the size of a large NZ enterprise, these governance structures are absolutely necessary, says Mangan.
“They form the mechanism for conveying and communicating technology updates around delivery and performance, and to seek cross functional input and guidance.”
He says IT senior managers regularly attend the senior leadership team and IT advisory committee meetings where they provide updates and present concepts for continuous improvements and innovation in IT.
The IT managers regularly attend meetings with senior managers in faculty and service divisions, as well as Community of Interest meetings. IT has a Project Management Office (ITPMO) that interacts directly with the University Strategic Project Office (USPO).
With his team, their BHAG (big, hairy, audacious goal) is to be “the number one digital service provider in the higher education sector across Australasia”.
While our University Strategic Plan provides direction across the institution and our digital strategy provides direction as relates to our technology choices, it is our Technology BHAG that provides the bold goal for our technology teams, he says.
We are a team of significant cultural diversity, with over 66 per cent of the workforce identifying as non-European, says Mangan. “This is a strength we champion and celebrate. Almost every cultural event of significance is celebrated in some way by our teams.”
Mangan says the ITS team organises the annual women in technology event. They invite speakers to share their IT career stories, with over 160 IT women and some men attending the forums.
The ITS department facilitates a Hack Day biannually. Its aim is to bring together IT staff, customers and external expertise for a 48 hour period to work on ideas and projects they are passionate about, and which will improve services, environment and/or customer experience.
Students can participate by starting their own team or joining the ITS teams. During the most recent Hack Day event, a student team took out two of the four awards.
IT Services has a large ‘Boosting the Blue’ board in the foyer of the main IT Services building.
Mangan says the board promotes the mission, vision and values of the department and shares photos of events, awards and activities. It is based on the Human Synergistics circumplex, a methodology for building a constructive culture.
Mangan encourages the team to actively engage with the university community through fortnightly newsletters (which has one of the highest percentage rate of readers of any university internal publication), biannual community events, open days, regular lunch-time sharing sessions, participation at internal staff conferences and notifications on the staff intranet.
Plotting for change management
Mangan shares some lessons learned in leading change programmes.
“When you’re driving change, you have end to end visibility, you’re intimate with detail, understand how the pieces hang together and you’re eager to move quickly,” he says.
“Don’t lose control of the narrative: Invariably your change programmes will consist of many moving parts. Couple that with an oversubscribed portfolio and BAU imperatives, and the story can start to lose its plot line.
“It is imperative that you and your leadership team can confidently and clearly join the dots between those initiatives and communicate the wider story, linked to your strategy, linked to your BHAG.
“Give yourself some headspace but make sure you’re accessible,” he says.
“Invariably your day will be contested with very few opportunities for broader thinking. Ensure you engineer some “headspace” into your week and while you’re at it, allow time for your team to drop by.”
Take care of the “long tail”, he stresses.
“While you want to move quickly, you need to take care of the ‘long tail’.”
“People absorb change at different rates and as the leader you need to make sure that you manage the uplift of those that may not be so close to the change story, or slower to absorb the implications. Failing to manage the long tail will lead to engagement challenges.”