Why Process Improvement matters

Message from Professor Steve Egan, Vice-President (Implementation):

I was delighted to have the opportunity to attend a Process Champions workshop on 14 July, to meet some of our Process Champions, and to talk about why Process Improvement is so important to the University.

One of the initial drivers for investing in Process Improvement came, several years ago, from Staff Survey feedback. Staff were concerned about the amount of time it took to get things done, and the amount of rework, duplication and the level of approvals involved in some processes.

Since then, a considerable amount of process improvement work has happened across the University. The Working Group on Process Improvement, which I Chair, oversees an annual portfolio of larger scale process review and accompanying project work. Completed projects include Guest Accommodation and the Hourly Paid Worker process. Current projects include improving Postgraduate Admissions, Curriculum Management and Staff Induction (among others).

Not all process improvement requires this level of central coordination or oversight. Some of the frustrations we experience in our day-to-day work are the result of locally driven processes, which are often within our own control to change. Empowering staff to do this for themselves, with the right training and support, has been a key part of our approach to Process Improvement. Over 300 staff have now attended introductory Process Improvement training and our 74 Process Champions come from departments right across the University.

People are appreciating more than ever that change doesn’t need to be centrally or externally driven. I applaud those of you who have, as Process Champions, used this network, and the skills and knowledge you’ve learned, to put Process Improvement into action for yourselves.

Why does Process Improvement matter? It’s not just about being leaner and saving money although that will often happen. We know Process Improvement matters to staff who want to be able to do a better job but feel constrained by our systems. On a similar theme it is also vital in enabling us to achieve our strategic objectives. If we want to grow our research power, postgraduate community, and international profile, we need to have processes that match our ambition.

We also need to be able to respond to developments in a sector that is rapidly changing. Our ability to review processes and explore alternative ways of working is critical if we are to be agile and take advantage of opportunities as they emerge. We are already a complex organisation, serving a wide range of customers - from summer hotel guests, to corporate partners - who come with different expectations about quality and service. This complexity will increase as our global reputation and presence expands. The expectations of our students, and growing postgraduate student body, will continue to evolve. So we cannot rest on our hard won reputation. Process improvement can help embed a culture of continuous improvement that helps us meet these challenges.

Ultimately, Process Improvement is important because it enables us to better achieve what we’re all here to do – no less than changing the world through our research, transforming the lives and life chances of our students, and contributing economically, socially and culturally to the region in which we operate.

I look forward to joining Process Champions again in future, to learn more about how they’re using process improvements to bring about change, and their views on how we can better learn from each other’s successes and experiences. I am grateful to all our Process Champions for their commitment and enthusiasm. The centrally run initiatives are very important, but I suspect when we look back we will consider the locally created improvements will collectively to have had far more impact.

Steve Egan

Vice-President (Implementation)

If you would like to find out more about Process Improvement or the Process Champions network, contact the Director of Process Improvement, Mark Ricketts at processimprovement@bath.ac.uk

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