Implementing an Evidencing Benefits approach

(This blog is written in relation to the publication of the new Guide to Evidencing Benefits of change in Higher Education by the University of Strathclyde on the 23rd of January 2017).

Since we started to work with lean as a philosophy for continuous improvement at UiT – The Arctic University of Norway (UiT), we have experienced a community within higher education (HE) eager to both share knowledge and competencies. The two years behind us has been especially rewarding as we have been able to widen our scope of collaboration beyond our general local networks and into the international HE sector.

In 2015 the Business Improvement Team at the University of Strathclyde launched “A Guide to Evidencing Benefits in Business Process Improvements in Higher Education” (the Guide). The Guide introduced a systematic and thorough approach to evidencing benefits. Even though evidencing benefits has been pointed out as important in business improvement processes at UiT, we have had little degree of standardisation. Once reading the Guide we realised that by using its principles in business improvement processes at UiT, we could enhance the quality of the improvement processes.

Sometimes you need a gentle but firm push forward in order to gain momentum in any project, and it was not until spring 2016 that we actually used the Guide in a small improvement process. The University of Strathclyde then invited us to collaborate on a case study and describe our experience using their guide. We had no planned business improvement processes at UiT at this time in which we could use/test the Guide. However, we had a small project translating and adapting the Guide to suit the UiT approach. We believed that the translational work would further develop UiT’s improvement initiative and overall enhance business improvement at UiT. By choosing this improvement process for the case study we were actually testing the translated tools and enhancing our experience in evidencing benefits at the same time as we were translating and adapting the Guide.

The Guide has provided us with several standardised tools for evidencing benefits that will simplify our work with improvement processes. Participation in the case study gave us an excellent opportunity to reflect on our use of the Guide. We believe that the quality of the translated material is higher than it would have been if we only had translated the guide without using it or without the collaboration with Strathclyde. For UiT, working together with The University of Strathclyde on a case study for the new evidencing benefits guide has been of crucial importance to our improvement initiative. The work has given us deeper understanding of why and how to monitor effects of changes made in our processes. A special thanks to Dr Nicola Cairns and Heather Lawrence from Strathclyde’s Business Improvement Team for helping us understand the Guide even better. (Check out the Online Toolkit).

It has been both interesting and rewarding to work with a partner outside Norway, thus having to write in a non-native language. “Back home” we have become used to being one of the leading environments in practising lean in higher education, but we are mere freshmen among our friends in the international network. It is inspiring to see how Strathclyde, and all the other universities in the Lean HE network, strives to share their knowledge and experience. Among many lessons learned through this case study, the one of sharing own competencies is probably the most important. To any degree that UiT has built competence in business improvement, we hold an obligation to share it with anyone interested. That is the way to learn and to build new competencies.


– Karin Eilertsen & Svein Are Tjeldnes

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