Jon Faulkner whilst working as Chief Information Officer at LSHTM delivered the changes detailed below.
Global leader in research and postgraduate teaching, the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), was seeking to advance its systems, increase productivity and operational efficiency, improve customer experience and gain a greater value from management information whilst mitigating legacy risks.
The organisational complexity and maturing change management practices common in higher education were evident, but new leadership and ambition were driving for future-minded sustainability and success.
Within 6 months a documented digital strategy, with context, capability requirements and change programme had been approved, with the subsequent change programme delivered in just under three years, with an initial focus on collaboration and communication tools. In parallel, incident, problem, change, risk and asset management processes were also embedded.
The new ecosystem of interconnected user-centric services included Office365 for staff and students, a new cloud-based shared service desk providing common user experience and great effectiveness initially across ICT, Finance, HR, Estates and Library teams with more to follow in the following months.
The primary website and multiple satellite websites were migrated to a new easy to use and support CMS, and presented a refreshed and exceptional user-experience optimised design and hosted on resilient and scalable infrastructure.
Through delivery of cloud-based research data and publication repositories and linkage to core staff and research grant data, a greater level of visibility was achieved for operational optimisation as well as the all-important Research Excellence Framework (REF) submissions.
Overseas staff and students as well as remote workers in the UK benefited from refreshed virtual desktop provisions and increased teaching and learning materials captured in lectures and provided for subsequent catch-up, providing great accessibility and helping those for whom English is not their first language.
And in addition, for the student experience, a streamlined application process through integrated systems and a light-touch induction process lead to smoother administration throughout their lifecycle attending the School.
Conversations across the organisation, Faculty academic and administrative staff as well as representation from the Professional Services team were absolutely key. And with a context where so much opportunity for improvement was apparent, it was important to appraise the fuller collective need as well as greatest priorities.
Through one-to-one sessions with organisational leaders and group sessions with wider teams, core themes of requirement and ambition surfaced and could be prioritised into themes for change, including student experience, learning, research, professional services and modernisation, resilience and compliance. Research findings and recommendations were then ratified by Faculty and Professional Services teams to ensure alignment and approval to proceed with delivery of the digital strategy was secured.
There was resistance to change and a lack of trust that true improvements would come following previous iterations of new leadership where following an initial consultation with School stakeholders, the IT team had implemented functionally rich solutions, which people struggled to use.
It was essential to build confidence and engagement for future activities to succeed and build willingness to accept a sustained period of change. Key quick wins were the introduction of improved printing solutions, the smooth and swift provision of Office365 for students and the migration of multiple paper-based processes to be digitised, together with improved helpdesk support and issue resolution.
These early wins helped smooth later challenges such as the move towards greater self-service support provision, which although initially resisted, became a strong positive as people were able to get back working more rapidly.
Removal of legacy technical debt and reduction of operational effort spent on providing IT infrastructure were key drivers for a cloud solution strategy. However, this also afforded the opportunity to bring in key new services or modernisation of existing in an economical and timely manner. As a result, one of the primary focuses of the technical teams was on integration between solutions to optimise the overall experience.
To provide this, lifecycle experience mapping for students, researchers and new starters were all mapped and the primary areas of friction and frustration were identified and addressed. Building from the digital strategy, the solution architecture was mapped out and tranches of change implementation progressed.
Although the strategy, architecture and implementation are all essential elements in the change journey, the associated policies, processes and practices being in place and operationally normalised are also important. Alongside the technical changes and the focus on optimising experience for both staff and students throughout the organisation, improvement in governance, compliance and capability were advanced.
And throughout all of the streams of work, there was continual growth of digital capabilities and awareness building of data protection and information security good practice and associated behaviour.