Monday, 3 August 2015

Improving the prospectus production process

Last week we ran a four-day event to improve the process for the production of the prospectus. This process involves over 100 members of university staff and is a key recruitment document for the university. The production of the undergraduate prospectus is governed by key recruitment events, which means there are production deadlines that cannot be missed.

We spent the first part of the event unpicking the current process so that we could get a shared understanding of the process and its problems. Our sponsor had given us a very clear scope, but we still found ourselves sometimes unpicking the prospectus as a product (i.e. the sort of information it contains) rather than the production process. The problems we agreed to improve were: reduce the administration in the process so that more time could be devoted to value added work (such as creating clear, interesting content), remove some of the rework at proof stages, make it clearer to academic departments what content was required, make the sharing of key recruitment data easier, explore ways of proofing on one document rather than update on may different documents, having one source of data and starting to prepare the content for the online prospectus earlier in the process.

The event benefited from having some key staff from Recruitment and Corporate Affairs attend the Wednesday afternoon session to create a four-year vision. By the end of Wednesday we had a shared view about the problems we were going to address ad a shared view about the future.  

We used an agile prioritisation tool (MoSCoW) to prioritise our good ideas, and then drilled down to reach consensus about which good ideas would be implemented for this year. The improvements for this September will be:
  • A briefing meeting for academic departments and professional services so that everyone understands the brief for prospectus production.
  • More and targeted 1-1 meetings with academic departments to create good quality content.
  • A move to one source of data.
  • Prescriptive/specific templates for departments who are providing the print Marketing team with information.
  • Better use of Google documents (rather than emailing and filing word documents and spread sheets), shared with key staff.
  • Use an Online Proofing system.
  • 2 stage proofing (to reduce rework).
  • Bring forward digital update (where possible).

Measures for this project will include staff satisfaction, increased number of departmental sign-offs at first stage and a reduction in administration time in the process.  We look forward to catching up with the team in one month’s time to review progress.

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