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November 17th, 2008

Phone Conference on Process Modelling Strand

Phone conference with Robin Johnson (PM), Rachel Forsyth (CeLT) and Alan Paull (ext. consultant)on 12/11/08

The purpose of this conference was to bring Alan up to speed with the early developments in the project and to start to formulate a strategy for the work in the PARM/Process Modelling strand of work.

We spent some time discussing various aspects of this project which impinge upon the process modelling – COVARM model, Current PARM review, Institutional audit, proposition that we can treat the SRC subject areas differently to the rest of the university (they are the project “sandpit”), revised PARM processes are expected to be run on the basis of management by exception and how skeletal frameworks are being validated across the University to support the easy “dropping-in” of units to quickly meet emerging needs, cf Fashion Design Technology and MMUBS Executive Programme. We mentioned our Academic Database project and Robin realised he needed to understand this linkage much better – NB Nigel Famer is the project manager.

Alan described work he had undertaken or was undertaking on ADAM, DELIA, and XCRI. Later on mentioned PORTISHEAD.

The key message, as I see it, came from Alan.

He highlighted the importance of the management and maintenance of the data in order to ensure a reliable, authoritative and accessible source of information. In order to do this, clearly articulated processes, software support, trained staff and other resources are essential – If this is achieved then the whole process can be transformed very easily when compared to a paper process. Alan used the example of admissions to exemplify this, where the staff involved in collection and filing and movement of piles of paper are relieved of this burden and can concentrate on the actual process of admissions rather than the necessary evil of managing the paperwork. Incremental change is preferred to a big bang approach, owing to system complexity; this means isolating sub-systems and hence reducing dependencies

We discussed ways forward.

Robin suggested that we try to develop a set of scenarios, which capture the situation at the end of this project in terms of processes, giving us a target to aim for and something to measure our progress against. We agreed to try to develop some initial scenarios and circulate them for discussion amongst ourselves initially, in order to ascertain whether they were useful, what level of detail they required and the style in which they are presented. Ideally, Robin would like to develop a complete set of scenarios but we agreed to review this in light of their perceived value. Target should possibly be to identify some ‘quick wins’ to help with staff engagement.

ACTION: We will circulate and discuss these scenarios by email.

We discussed the value and danger of getting senior staff in the Steering group to review scenarios and choose between competing scenarios. Alan pointed out that senior staff often don’t perceive or feel the pain of the detail in a process and hence won’t engage with it, or discount it. Project needs to think very carefully about how senior staff might be involved in reviewing scenarios as we need them to engage and support the high level aims of the project and have a clear concrete understanding of where it might take us.

Alan explained how he had used brainstorming style workshops, possibly based on SSM, to help develop a clearer understanding of what needs to be addressed and what might constitute a solution. We will probably do this after the scenario development.

We discussed our presence at the JISC process Review Workshop. We decided telling the story of our current position and our strategy for taking it forward was relevant. Alan may be talking about UML also. This would be a good opportunity for us all to meet face to face.

ACTION: Robin to email Gill Ferrell and explain this.

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