As we look back, not only over the duration of the project, but also at the “Sustaining Relationship Management Beyond the Programme” event in Manchester, I feel slightly torn.
I have seen the benefit to the college of the work done in analysing and streamlining student engagement. I can see alongside this the benefit to students which has come from the efforts of learner services staff through the extra focus this project was designed to provide.
I can also see the learning process which the team involved in the process has gone through in terms of the use of tools which allow them to approach the modelling of business practices from a new perspective. To be honest this was one of the things which came out of Manchester most strongly for me.
The process of Service Design and the use of the tools such as blueprinting and personas which we were introduced to may not have been new to all, they may have been a variation on a theme already in use, but they helped to provide a focus to activities. The old practices of tweaking what already existed as opposed to taking a fresh view from outside and seeing what was really needed had to be addressed. Some projects seemed to have clear institutional approaches to this, but it was good for us to address this in a fresh way. I also got the impression – perhaps wrongly – that this was one of the aims JISC had in mind for the project as a whole.
We have developed our staff in two ways. Not only have staff in Learner Services refreshed their approach to what they do with students (and this now needs to be rolled out across all academic areas to ensure a seamless approach), but we have also developed new skills in the application of service analysis tools which should be beneficial to the development of the institution as a whole.
In the JISC Inform publication (Issue 34, p.4) there is a quote which may have come from Simon Whittemore, “We’ve found that CRM is about focusing on three core elements: people, processes and technology”. As we look to complete the activities of this project and embed the benefits across the institution there are aspects of what we have learned about all three of these core elements that need to be highlighted and addressed to ensure continuing benefits for those who matter most, the Learners.