Setting the Scene:
Dundee College and Angus College were to merge on 1 November 2013. The merged institution would be known as Dundee and Angus College and would be spread over three main campuses, two in Dundee and one in Arbroath.
We were engaged to work with a team of representatives from each college to create a more efficient student applications process that would be consistent across the colleges and improve student engagement.
To develop a new user friendly and efficient applications process to create the best possible experience for all applicants, ensuring increased student engagement and guaranteeing the right students enrol on the right courses at the right time.
In Scope – From receipt of an application to before the start of enrolment on 1 July
Out of Scope – Funding process
Four main deliverables were expected:
- A documented process, one that is efficient, streamlined, and user-focused
- Staff buy-in, staff happiness, staff confidence
- Relationship building, new sense of team
- Happy students
What we did
The project team consisted of five to six members of the student applications teams at each college. Staff from other areas of the two colleges were available to provide input if required.
The event began with a brief overview of Lean concepts and what was to happen over the coming days. The T=eam discussed and then confirmed Objective, Scope and Deliverables identified previously using BOSCARD.
The Team then mapped out the Current States of their two separate processes using our tried and tested roll of paper, sharpie pens and sticky notes. As they did so, they identified 344 ideas for improving the process. These ideas were then categorised under headings such as IT, Customer Service, Training, Quality, and CAMS, the then application system used at Dundee College. Once all duplicates had been removed, the Team had generated 163 unique ideas that were then further refined.
After discussing the ideas, the project team created an Ideal Future State map, which shows a perfect process in a perfect world, where everyone knows what to do and nothing ever goes wrong. Then, returning to the real world with its constraints on e.g. finance, technology, and legislation, the Team mapped out their new student applications process that incorporated the best of their 163 unique ideas.
The final activity was to create an action list of the remaining tasks required to ensure full implementation of the new process. Responsibility for each task was assigned to a team member for completion by the agreed due date.
The two most significant outcomes of the RIE were:
- A new student applications
- The creation of one cohesive student applications team (spread over two sites). Most of the members of the two teams had not met before, and there was uncertainty around what merging would mean for the process as well as for the individuals themselves. A combination of an inclusive approach, senior management support, relaxed facilitation and enthusiastic staff soon overcame any concerns.
The new process crested several benefits for the new college, including:
- A consistent process followed by all staff.
- Staff time saved, enabling more opportunity for value-adding work.
- Improved service for applicants and other stakeholders.
- The creation of a cohesive team spread over two sites.
A number of regular review meetings were held to ensure action items were completed by the due dates and the new process was successfully implemented on time.
At the conclusion of the RIE, members of the Team provided feedback. A selection of their comments follow:
“Really enjoyed the whole experience. I feel there is a new sense of team!”
“We achieved what had appeared unachievable at the beginning of the week.”
“A great process to simply what was a massive task.”
“I was very impressed by the professionalism and approach of the facilitators. They were very well prepared, organised and expertly led the group through this difficult task.”
“This event exceeded my expectations.”
The Project Team generated the then record of 344 ideas for improving the process.