Friday, 27 January 2017

Timetable for Change

We have just spent four days working with staff to review and improve the timetabling process. We focused the scope of the project on our Faculty of Engineering. The project team included staff that are tasked with supporting the administration of the process, Departmental Administration Managers from the Faculty and academic staff (including a Director of Learning and Teaching).

The deliverables for the project are:
  • Clearly defined requirements, constraints and workflow that support increased confidence in the timetable production process (this will remove reactivity)
  • Clearly defined roles and responsibilities
  • Greater understanding of each other and the competing constraints and priorities
  • Minimise cross-campus travel for timetabled sessions
  • SOPs for the timetabling process to include continuous improvement
  • Using CMIS to its full potential
  • Reduce amount of reactive changes
The project team were an incredible group of people, every single person actively contributed, was very focused on resolving the problem, was student and staff focused and very professional. Teams like that make it easier for me as a facilitator and are such a pleasure to work with.

We identified that the key problems were:
·      At least nine different ways of timetabling
·      Too many constraints were being put into the process that led to a sub-optimal timetable being produced (at times).
·      Expectations that timetables would not change year on year
·      Too many data sources (in many formats)
·      Lack of trust and under utilisation of the timetabling software

The outcomes were:
A standardised approach for the faculty
A process that supports collaboration to produce the most optimal timetables
Reduction in handovers of work and reporting
A defined process for dealing with reasonable changes and clarity about how unreasonable changes will be denied.

A successful timetable is a complex equation, including space utilisation, student satisfaction, staff satisfaction, staff constraints, teaching and learning requirements etc
A managed risk approach was applied to the outcome with a great deal of process changes being made this year including ensuring that data can be derived from the process to review and improve performance for the future.

This has been a fast moving project, going from scoping in mid-December to implementing the changes from 30 January to positive affect the 17/18 timetables. Even more changes will come in 18/19. The team have a lot of work to support the implementation, but if they can use a tenth of the determination and positivity I observed during the event they will make amazing things happen. I consider it a pleasure and privilege to continue to work alongside this team to help support the implementation.

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