12 July 2018
TOPS responding to UCL community feedback In 2017, the TOPS team listened and talked with colleagues across faculties, divisions, institutes and central teams to learn about what our community feel is working well and not so well in professional services.
These emerging ideas were shared with colleagues across UCL through 95 engagement sessions through the autumn term. There was a healthy degree of challenge and a substantial amount of feedback.
The TOPS team have been working with each Service Leadership Team - made up of the Service Director and a Faculty Manager - and key individuals to review this feedback and come up with some answers that they felt best reflected the needs of UCL and the issues raised.
For some service areas the path forward, while not a straightforward process, has been agreed. In other areas, it has been more challenging to balance varied perspectives and resolve specific areas of disagreement. It is clear, however, that most of the changes will need iteration during implementation.
The TOPS team will continue to work with each Service Leadership Team and key individuals to further define improved professional services that meet the real needs of our community - this will take time. Getting from point A to the desired point B will require a series of continuous improvements. Take a look at You said, What's changed, What's next for a summary of the current Service Design discussions.
Progress to date
Alongside working on the Service Designs, the TOPS team has been focused on kicking-off a set of priority projects to accelerate the wider transformation. After considering a range of ideas at the end of last year (Provost's View - December 2017), the TOPS Executive Committee in partnership with the Service Directors and Faculty Managers agreed to focus on delivering the following in 2018:
1. Improve timetabling and room booking process
3. Improve visibility of core Professional Services activities and timelines across the institution by launching a new UCL Year Planner in advance of 2018/19
4. Prioritise the list of opportunities to introduce changes to the way we buy goods and services across the university
5. Understand and address feedback raised by researchers and contracting support
6. Investigate and scope possible solutions to improve the staff recruitment process and tools
8. Develop a UCL Faculty Blueprint for professional services
The decision to choose these accelerator projects was based on a set of criteria including feasibility to deliver within a constrained time period and in response to feedback on areas that are causing the most frustration. While this work hasn't been very visible, there has been considerable activity behind the scenes and progress is being made. It has been encouraging to see constructive conversations, a sense of urgency and ownership within the groups responsible for driving these initiatives forward. Similar accelerators will continue to be identified and delivered throughout the life of the programme. Once an initiative has been launched or implemented, the TOPS Executive Committee will review the pipeline and approve the next initiative.
We have also defined and agreed a framework for introducing more substantial changes and improvements to professional services. This framework reflects the realisation that transforming our professional services requires a series of iterative improvements rather than a 'big bang' approach.
Looking ahead, once Council has signed-off the TOPS business case, the TOPS team will look into setting up an Accelerator Investment Fund. The aim will be to encourage colleagues to pitch for support and investment in order to pursue improvements to Professional Services.
At a grass roots level, individuals and teams are making greater use of continuous improvement practices. Techniques like Lean and ProcessFix are being applied across the university to address specific pain points identified during TOPS Design and Engagement sessions. This type of activity is happening in HR, Communications and Marketing, Student Registry Services, Finance and Business Affairs, and Estates.
TOPS is committed to continue working with the UCL community, discussing issues and tackling problems as they arise then refining the service designs. To that end, we are looking for expressions of interest from colleagues keen to join the TOPS team. Details will be published on the TOPS website on Monday 30 July, 2018.
We are aware that TOPS has been quiet in the first half of 2018 as we wait for the business case to be signed off, look out for more regular updates going forward
If you have any questions about TOPS or you'd like to find out more, contact our team at firstname.lastname@example.org.