UCL News


Vice-Provost's View: What has happened since the Transforming Our Professional Services programme launched?

1 June 2017

In the October 2016 edition of The Week@UCL, we introduced the

ucl.ac.uk/transforming-our-professional-services">Transforming our Professional Services (TOPS) programme. The programme aims to support the academic mission and improve professional services by:
  • delivering more effective services and a more satisfied UCL community
  • supporting and enabling more fulfilling careers for staff
  • enabling greater investment in UCL's academic mission by improving value for money and efficiency in UCL's professional services.

If you want to find out more about why we're undertaking TOPS, please watch this short video from Professor Anthony Smith, Vice-Provost (Education & Student Affairs):

Since the programme launched, there has been lots of progress and positive momentum so we wanted to provide you with an update and to thank you for your contributions.

What has happened since the launch? 

1. We established the TOPS programme team and governance

We set up a small programme team to create the programme plan and engagement strategy and to start work on piloting an approach to Communities of Practice.

At the same time, we established the TOPS Executive Committee to govern, oversee and guide the programme activities.

Finally, the programme team appointed a partner to help with developing the future vision and design for UCL professional services. Following a competitive process, PA Consulting was appointed in January 2017.

2. We started to meet with UCL colleagues - staff and students - to raise awareness of the TOPS programme and hear your thoughts

So far, we have attended more than 160 group or team meetings across faculties, departments and professional services to talk about the aims and objectives of the programme, take questions and hear your thoughts. We are also meeting regularly with our student representatives and have met with each of the staff unions.

Lunch & learn session

Thank you to all of those who have invited us to a meeting and to those who have attended. For more information on our TOPS roadshow, please see our website.

To support our engagement efforts, we also set up a TOPS Engagement Group. The group is a monthly meeting between the TOPS programme team and volunteer representatives from each faculty, professional services division and Vice-Provost office to encourage two-way engagement regarding the programme.   

In addition, we have been running a series of Lunch & Learn sessions, open to all staff, to share experiences and learnings from other institutions that have been through change.

3. We have been working with colleagues in four areas to pilot an approach to creating Communities of Practice

One of the key aims for the TOPS programme is to support and enable more fulfilling careers for staff.

To start delivering against this aim, we began an early initiative to pilot an approach to creating Communities of Practice.

Communities of Practice will encourage greater collaboration across professional services by bringing together colleagues who work in similar practice areas to share best practice, improve existing processes, develop new ways of doing things and expand opportunities for career development.

We have been piloting the approach in a few early areas and have been working with colleagues in student recruitment, events management, digital communications and internal communications. 

If you are interested in becoming a member of one of these communities, you can register at the Communities of Practice page of our website.

Communities of Practice

Communities of Practice session

Communities of Practice session

4. We started to gather ideas, thoughts and suggestions on the future vision and design for UCL professional services

Supported by PA Consulting, we commenced the programme 'design phase' in February 2017.

The aim of this phase is to gather ideas, thoughts and suggestions from UCL staff and students on the changes that we need to make to processes, systems, structures, culture, governance and accountability in order to deliver our professional services in a simpler and more efficient way.

World café event

The design phase has focused on 14 professional service areas (listed on the website here). To make sure that we are hearing ideas from colleagues across the university, we appointed a small team, consisting of a faculty manager, a representative from a Vice-Provost office and a Professional Services lead, to lead the design activity for each of the 14 areas.

So far, we have met with more than 1,100 UCL colleagues via workshops, world café events, drop-in sessions and focus groups. We have also heard from more than 500 people who submitted their ideas via our online surveys.

As one of the ambitions of TOPS is to recognise, celebrate and replicate where things are done really well, we have also been learning from some great stories of innovation, collaboration and improvement within UCL.

We would like to thank you for your input and creativity and for taking the time to contribute to the future of UCL professional services. There is still time to get involved in the design phase and share your ideas for change.

What happens next?

As we progress through the design phase, we will develop a report for each of the 14 service areas. Each report will collate the ideas, thoughts and suggestions gathered during the workshops and engagement events and explain what the service area could look like in the future.

In addition, we will integrate the outputs for each of the 14 service areas into an overall future vision and design for professional services. We will also write a business case to support any investment need.

In July, the Senior Management Team will review all of the design phase outputs, take the time to reflect upon the outcomes and discuss options for implementation.

In the following months, we will engage with the wider UCL community to gather feedback on the outcomes of the design phase. 

Once we have determined the plans for this wider engagement, which will take into account the quiet period throughout the summer holidays, we will share these.   

We are committed to keeping you up to date via our website, engagement meetings and briefings and invite you to get in touch if you have any questions or suggestions at tops@ucl.ac.uk.

Rex Knight, Vice-Provost (Operations) and Professor Anthony Smith, Vice-Provost (Education & Student Affairs)

Comments? Please provide your thoughts through this form