Case study - Henley College Coventry

Digital strategy, process improvement and transformation, requirements capture, architecture, systems recommendations, documentation.

Overview

Over multiple pieces of work in 2014 and 2015, I was brought in by the team at Henley College Coventry (a leading Further Education college) in order to help with their digital strategy and transformation goals, and to make independent recommendations.

Henley College Coventry reception

Quick summary

  • Client: Henley College Coventry
    Website: henley.ac.uk
    Industry: Education
    Indication of project time: 1 month
  • Skills/work type: Digital strategy, process improvement and transformation, requirements capture, architecture, systems recommendations, documentation.
  • Select project tools/technologies of note:
    • Umbraco (CMS)
    • EBS by Tribal
    • Amazon EC2

Involvement

My work with the College has spanned a number of pieces of work, and involved both on-site research with different Henley teams, as well as remote planning.

Work package 1

Initially I was brought on board to do a high-level, independent audit of their current situation, specifically focusing on three key areas that the College were keen to get my thoughts on. As is often the case, it transpired that these were much more interlinked than originally thought, and the scope of my investigations and feedback widened. The key focus was that information was getting put into numerous different silos, but they didn’t intelligently talk to each other. I started to look into how this could be made more effective.

After my initial time on-site, I worked remotely to compile some recommendations and a report for the senior management team, presenting this back to the Vice Principal and Digital Media team.

Research & discovery

People and processes:

Investigating the systems and technology – including the website, other internal systems, and ideas for the future (an elearning platform etc):

Deliverables

After this investigation time, some documentation was produced to support the face to face handover day. This included reference documentation for the College, and recommendations for the future. The documentation included:

Recommendations were each given an estimation in terms of impact, complexity and importance, and options were provided where changes could be made incrementally. The information included a description of how any proposed changes would work with the existing systems, and also flagged any necessary process improvements, training, and impact on staff. The recommendations were then put into a suggested roadmap, with items to tackle within 3 months, 6 months to a year, and 1-3 years.

This was presented back to the College in person, with some final amends being made before the report was officially handed over to become a starting point and a reference resource for the team to work from whilst compiling their ongoing roadmap actions.

The College video wall - potential for an interactive display
The College video wall – potential for an interactive display

Work package 2

After the College had spent some time reviewing the recommendations and putting together a plan, I was asked to come back for a second piece of work, this time focusing on specific areas in greater depth.

Based on the timescales we had previously discussed, the potential for gains, and the order of priority made around recommendations in my previous report, we decided to focus on improvements that could be made primarily to the online application and enrolments processes. Once starting to break the processes down, however, we split these out in a bit more detail, to cover:

The processes were heavily paper-based, prone to error, and required a large amount of manual work where information often became duplicated. There was huge scope to not only help with day to day efficiencies, but also to provide a better experience for both the staff and students.

Work included a considerable amount of time on-site with the digital team at Henley, including whiteboarding processes with different subject matter experts, and working alongside the IT team who maintain the core records system in order to understand the impact of exposing/consuming data from the website. We looked at all of the processes as they stood, including assessing all of the physically forms currently used to see if they could be streamlined and standardised digitally, and discussing different ways to solve the problems that were being experienced.

Deliverables

The College wanted this piece of work to be much more in-depth, and to be a blueprint for build to happen rather than aiding strategic decisions. As such the level of detail was much more granular than before.

There were also various options open to the business around the nature of the implementation, much of which was outside of technology and had knock on effects for licensing, maintenance, ownership, and resourcing. With these, I gave my recommendations – outlining the impact of different approaches – but ultimately the College was responsible for choosing their path.

Information fed back included:

Each requirement and user story was given a priority level. The report was again fed back in person, with amends being made as requested. All originals, including diagrams and the main document in Google Doc form were handed over, in order to give the College a starting point for living documentation.

Henley whiteboard
Whiteboarding processes and questions

On one of my final visits I was able to sit in on a staff training session being given on the new elearning system that had been introduced by the digital team, which was great to see. This, along with many other changes, are due to be rolled out at the start of the next academic year.

Contact me

If you'd like any more information about what I did on this project, or would like to talk to me about doing something similar in the future, please get in touch.