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Case study

What was the challenge?

In the tough funding climate for higher education institutions, the University of Westminster wanted to grow its non-student fee income. So it put together a strategy document dubbed Westminster 2020, which included the goal to triple surpluses generated from commercial activities within six years. It had a broad portfolio of “academic enterprise” work, from a wide-ranging short courses programme, through to knowledge transfer partnerships and a cinema. The University wanted to move from a “cottage industry” style of operation, to a co-ordinated university-wide model.

What we did

We were initially brought in to create a team that would define and test a new approach to change management. The team worked on process capture and implementation of new tools to better manage the workflow and the research proposals. We identified a committed group of operational staff across the university’s five faculties using workshops and one-on-one sessions to boost their training. We also put in a programme for communication for the faculty leaders.

After that, we expanded the change programme to develop a new, process-based target operating model for the university’s extensive short-courses programme. We created a steering group with people from across the university to provide leadership and governance for the programme and appointed people to specific responsibilities within the institution.

Engaging with the faculty leadership proved crucial to the success of the project and drove significant changes to bringing in new business processes and changing the staff structure. At the same time, the structure reinforced the fact that academics remained in charge of creating ideas based on their expertise, and ensuring they were given the right technical and administrative support to make their ideas commercial more quickly.

Finally we scaled up the operating model for short courses across all of the university’s academic enterprise work. This involved the strong engagement of senior leaders in faculties and across its services.

What was the outcome?

We created a new process-based operating model for the design, delivery and evaluation of the University’s short courses programme. The new model ensured short-course development work was allocated efficiently and was appropriately supported. After that model was agreed, we helped them implement it.

The new operating model, supporting processes, tools and systems are having a positive impact, with more people attending courses, increasing customer satisfaction scores and they are generating new ideas for short courses.  

The project created an effective team with the expanded commercial department and business support department, with roles that were closely aligned to specific objectives. This led to the production of better-quality management information.