On 4 June Sheffield Hallam University and The University of Sheffield co-hosted a meeting for the Inter University Project Management Group. The theme of the day was Business Analysis and Process Improvement across universities. It was the first time that I had attended this event, though I am told that the attendance was the largest to date.
The day started with presentations outlining how things work at both of Sheffield's Universities and some facts and figures. Pablo mentioned our peregrine falcons and we even looked at a few minutes footage - the chicks were very active in their messy nest.
There was a session on what does business analysis / process improvement mean to you? There was broad agreement that it is about helping people to understand their process, help people identify improvements, asking the challenging questions and creating an environment of continuous improvement. All of these ideas were identified using post-it notes!
There were some excellent presentations from people had benefitted from business analysis at SHU and an interactive session based around the TV show Family Fortunes to help us understand some of the challenges of a BA, e.g. how do you identify customer requirements.
Post lunch, I gave a presentation about the work we are doing in PIU, I managed to use examples from Mary Poppins and talk about Lego. It was far from highbrow, intellectual debate one might have wished to engage in, but that's always the challenge when presenting post-lunch; sometimes basic and "fun" can be effective... I got some good feedback, and lots of people were interested in developing links with the unit.
Finally, there was presentation about process improvement in action at The University of Sheffield, covering the value of a kaizen event, the frustrations when impetus for change dissipates; it was referred to as "a trough of despair" (and I saw lots of people nodding in agreement) and the challenges of continuing with an improvement when a project takes longer than anticipated.
Final Q&A touched on how to get academic involvement, identifying the voice of the customer and lessons learned.
All in all, a great day, I met some fabulous people, we were able to highlight some of the good work happening in Sheffield, and take lots of ideas back to the office.