Supporting Organizational Effectiveness with an Operational Health Check
A lot can change in nine years, even though it might not seem so long ago. In 2008, No Country for Old Men won the Oscar for Best Picture. Beijing was hosting the Olympics. The iPhone was only a year old and we were still two years away from learning about the iPad.
2008 was also when University of Calgary Continuing Education (UCCE) became clients of Destiny Solutions, implementing the Destiny One system to manage our non-credit offerings. Eight years later, in 2016, UCCE engaged with Destiny Solutions in an Operational Health Check (OHC) of our Destiny One implementation. After all, with almost a decade of experience in the Destiny One system, we believed we were overdue for a second opinion on how we were using the product.
Though eight years might not seem like a long time, it is easy to become stagnant in your business processes, and although we knew we were not leveraging the full functionality of Destiny One, that awareness did not push us out of our comfort zone. When it comes to leveraging the full functionality, again, eight years is a very long time. Consider the functionality of the first iPhone compared to what’s available now.
We had to bring someone into our environment with a broader frame of reference, to show us what we could be doing differently, to help us understand how the Destiny One system had changed, and to present us with an unbiased view of our work.
The OHC consisted of two parts. We first conducted a number of internal meetings to get our ducks in a row, and then had a Destiny implementation consultant come onsite to run a series of meetings and sessions to better understand our processes.
Part One of of the OHC: Internal Meetings
Part one consisted of a number of internal meetings with staff who regularly use the core modules of Destiny One (i.e., Curriculum Manager, Enrolment Manger, Marketing, etc.). Destiny provided us with some questions to ask our staff about how they use the system and asked us to document the responses. Essentially, we were identifying the pain-points that staff were experiencing as they worked with the product.
From these preliminary sessions, we discovered that that although we were using the same registration system, we were not executing common tasks in the same way, or with the same knowledge and information. This inconsistency is not a small or inconsequential matter, and it’s not just a simple issue of potential inefficiencies. The risks of this kind of inconsistency include the potential for data integrity issues, misguided work or misplaced priorities.
On a positive note, these sessions provided staff with opportunity to dialogue about how they use the system, sharing knowledge and best practices, learning from each other and teaching each other. I received feedback from staff requesting Destiny One user-group meetings at least once a year so staff have opportunity to come together to discuss and share how they are using the system. In the future, we will host these town-hall sessions with staff prior to every Destiny One version release, which happen approximately three times a year, so we can review new features, upgrades and fixes, and have open discussions that provide learning opportunities.
Part Two of of the OHC: The On-Site Visit
Part two of the OHC was the site visit from a Destiny implementation consultant (IC). Over the course of two days, the IC reviewed the results of the preliminary sessions, clarifying and addressing the questions and concerns of staff, and demonstrating product functionality that we did not know existed. From the preliminary sessions and the OHC visit, over 130 questions and use cases were reviewed. Items were categorized based on the following areas, with many issues having components that will require more than a single resolution strategy:
- Training items: 86 issues had at least some training/out-of-box component
- Configuration items: 13 issues resolved by enabling existing Destiny One functionality
- Product Improvements: 19 considerations for the Destiny One product roadmap
- Gaps: 43 issues had at least some gap component, likely requiring a change request
Following the OHC, we learned about new developments and increased functionality within the Destiny product. We discovered we are not as consistent or as efficient as we’d like to think we are, and there were several things that our Destiny representative explained and demonstrated over the two days that the staff wished they’d known all along.
Looking to the Future: After the OHC and Beyond
For the final stage of the OHC, Destiny compiled a report providing recommendations such as system configurations we can enable ourselves or that Destiny can help us to implement inexpensively. They also offered customizations that we can consider and potentially partner with other clients on through the GROW community, enabling increased efficiencies for all.
The OHC is providing a plan and a path toward easing the administrative work of our staff so that they can provide enhanced and personalized customer service. It will also make a big difference in helping us to maintain data integrity in the system, which will save us money over time because it will take less time to produce accurate reports. These improvements may seem small and incremental, but they all add up. If the system is used in a consistent manner across different program areas, the result is ability to make better management and business decisions more quickly.
To learn more about the University of Calgary’s experience with the Operational Health Check, download the case study.
Author Perspective: Administrator