Setting the scene

One of the first pieces of work when Lean was introduced at the University of St Andrews was the ‘Staff Record Project’.

As a staff member’s record began at appointment to a position, recruitment was one of the areas to be investigated. The objective of the recruitment element of the project was to appoint the best person for the job in the shortest possible timeframe.

One aspect of the recruitment process required particular attention – vacancy advertising.

Advertising for new positions within the University was predominantly paper-based and was a very time- and resource-intensive process.

Data collected prior to the rapid improvement event showed that:

  • Advertisements in print media could have a lead time of up to three months
  • Vacancy advertising costs in specialist journals were significantly greater than in other media
  • Response rates from specialist journals were very low
  • Appointment rates from specialist journals were extremely low

Advertising data for selected media





  1. To establish an up-to-date and accurate staff record to include personal details and e.g. CV data, publications data, research grants awards and career history
  2. To enable access through a single web front end – even if the data was being pulled from various databases. Different levels of access would need to be established.




Process Improvements

  • Elimination of print advertising unless a specific requirement and if so, School or Unit funded rather than through the HR budget

Quantitative Benefits

  • Budget savings of £150,000 per annum recurring
  • Online advertising meant the lead time reduced to almost zero

Qualitative Benefits

  • Central funding redirected from the most expensive medium (print) to the most successful medium (e.g. or the University’s own website)