The function of the Business Improvement Team is to facilitate and catalyse, remove barriers, and help groups work better together, with the overall aim of improving the university for students, staff and other partners.
In establishing a Business Improvement Team, the University of Aberdeen has recognised that we must:
- Introduce a culture of continuous improvement in the University.
- Ensure that all our processes meet existing and emerging needs.
Maximise all of our resources in the delivery of our services.
- The Team
Business Improvement Team Lead
Marion joined the Business Improvement Team in January 2013 and became BI Team Lead in April 2017. She is passionate about Business Improvement and undertakes a variety of roles within the team to promote a continuous improvement culture in the University. Examples of roles are supporting the introduction of OneSource to the University, facilitating lean improvement workshops and training staff in lean methodology and philosophy. She worked previously as a Business Manager in the Health Services Research Unit (HSRU), bringing a wide ranging knowledge of University systems and processes to the BI team.
Marion is a history graduate from the University of Aberdeen and also has an MBA from the University of Abertay Dundee.
Business Improvement Specialist
Craig joined the Business Improvement Team in July 2017 as a Business Improvement Specialist. Craig is a strong advocate of lean methodology for Business Improvement and works with staff and teams on a variety of projects (eg supporting strategic change initiatives) to promote a continuous improvement culture within the University.
Previously Craig worked at Aberdeenshire Council across a diverse range of roles including: Internal Auditor, Senior Continuous Improvement Officer and Project Manager - Improving the Customer Experience (iCE).
- How We Work
Role of a Business Improvement Specialist
Scope and define improvement projects. Impose their own views about how a process should be defined. Ensure the structure, methods and proper channels are in place to give each project the best chance of success. Facilitate team building/away events with no clear and measurable objectives. Support, coach and cajole project participants. Own or become responsible for the process at the heart of the project. Challenge complacency. Undertake all of the actions needed to complete the project. Facilitate groups to achieve a defined outcome. Bring any subject area expertise. Bring and share expertise on business improvement. Champion the view of process beneficiaries. Support the measuring and reporting of output and outcomes. Ensure that all stakeholder views are inclued.
Why Enlist the Support of a BI Specialist?
By enlisting the support of a Business Improvement Specialist to facilitate your improvement initiatives you are benefiting from our expert knowledge and ensuring consistency throughout.
Listed below are several examples of why a team would benefit from the support of the business improvement team.
- Process Improvement using Lean
"Lean" is a philosophy of improvement, a tool for change.
For Lean to provide the most benefit to an organisation it must become part of the 'philosophy' of that organisation.
Lean is about…
- Adding value to everything we do and removing unnecessary burdens.
- Continuously looking for ways to improve.
- Always remembering who the beneficiary is of the work.
- Employee-led improvements (bottom up, not top down).
The Lean Opportunity in a Typical Business Process
Elimination of Waste
A powerful way of demonstrating that there are opportunities for improvement, is to reveal the waste produced by a process. For example, a process may take 8 weeks to run its course from start to finish, but we only spend 45 minutes actually working on it. This waste is usually created by the rules of the system rather than the people. An understanding of what goes on in that time and having a chance to challenge those rules will help us provide better customer outcomes.
Categories of Waste
- Transportation - Unnecessary movements of materials and products.
- Inventory - Excess products and materials not being processed.
- Motion - Unnecessary movements by people (eg walking).
- Waiting - Wasted time waiting for the next step in a process.
- Overproduction - Production that is more than needed or befroe it is needed.
- Over processing - More work or higher quality than is required by the customer.
- Defects - Efforts caused by rework, scrap, and incorrect information.
- Skills - Failure to utilise talent or listen to suggestions for improvement
- Business Improvement and OneSource
OneSource represents a significant opportunity for improvement in the University. Over a 5 year period we will implement new and integrated technology across many of our important functions e.g. Finance, HR/Payroll and Estates and replace our existing Student Record and Admission system. We’ll also introduce a means of managing contacts and the many interactions with internal and external partners.
The Business Improvement Team work alongside other implementers, most notably the Project Directors to understand the opportunities and optimise the benefits from each project.
Read more about OneSource.
Registration Week Student Feedback Session,
- Initiating a Project
Would you like to propose a business improvement project in your area?
Staff are the university’s greatest asset: they know what works well and what doesn’t, and possess the knowledge and ability to suggest and make improvements.
Please complete a project proposal form and send it to us via our suggestion box!
- Staff Training
Learn Lean @ Lunch
The Business Improvement Team are facilitating lunchtime "taster" sessions designed to provide an overview of Lean methodology and a brief insight into the tools and techniques used by the Business Improvement Specialists.
Taster sessions will take place at 12.30pm - 1.30pm, in Edward Wright S95, on the following dates:
- Thursday 22 September 2016
- Thursday 24 November 2016
- Thursday 23 February 2017
- Thursday 25 May 2017
All staff welcome. Bring along your lunch - tea and coffee will be provided.
Visit the Course Booking System to book a place on your preferred date.
Lean for Higher Education
Our two-day training course, recognised by the Institute of Leadership and Management as a Development Programme, is designed to provide in-depth training in Lean methodology as it applies to the Higher Education sector, to further knowledge and expertise of university staff. This training programme is targeted at the following audiences:
- Participants of the Learn Lean @ Lunch sessions who want to learn more.
- Individuals who have been identified as a Project Lead for an upcoming BI Project.
- Individuals who would like to take this course as part of their personal professional development.
The development programme is scheduled for 9.30am - 4.30pm, in Edward Wright S95, on the following dates:
- Monday 24 — Tuesday 25 October 2016
- Monday 23 — Tuesday 24 January 2017
- Monday 24 - Tuesday 25 April 2017
Bring along your lunch - tea and coffee will be provided.
The two-day training course is free of charge for University staff. An optional £50 fee is payable by participants/departments who wish to receive an official UoA/ILM certificate of completion, recognising and celebrating your learning and achievement. ILM accreditation officially endorses the quality of the training and outcomes of this course.
Visit the Course booking System to book a place on your preferred course.
Please note, a minimum of 5 people must sign up for the development course to run. There is a maximum of 12 spaces available.
Lean for your Team
Tailored lean training courses and workshops:
- Provide teams with exactly the right training to suit their needs.
- Oriented towards the application of particular lean tools and techniques.
- Practical focus, using case studies and linking to implementation activities
- Implementation support.
- From 2 hours to a series of sessions planned over a longer period.
Up to 15 people can be hosted in our Edward Wright workshop space, S95. Alternatively, the course/workshop can be delivered in your own work area.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your requirements and obtain a course/workshop planning form.
- The Machine That Changed the World by James P. Womack, Daniel T. Jones, and Daniel Roos
- Lean Higher Education by William K. Balzer
- The Lean Toolbox for Service Systems by John Bicheno
- Lean for Dummies by Natalie J Sayer and Bruce Williams
- Lean in Higher Educationby Bob Emilani
- Creating a Lean Universityby Peter Hines and Sarah Lethbridge
- How to Launch Lean in a University by Alisa Salewski
- A Guide to Evidencing the Benefits of Business Process Improvement in Higher Education by the University of Strathclyde Business Improvement Team
Lean for HE Development Programme, April 2016
I was worried beforehand that I would find the course challenging and jargon heavy - it was quite the opposite and I am very pleased I attended. A light bulb moment for me!
Lean for your Team, March 2016
Some great ideas to help reporting on my projects regarding visual reporting ( A3 reports, burndown charts etc). I found the event, interesting, informative, engaging and challenging.
The day was a good mix of activity (we weren't left staring at a screen being lectured at all day)!
I'll endevour to incorporate LEAN principles into my working practices. Particularly process flow mapping.