Lessons learned

Key lessons learned by UWE Bristol during the development of the Academic Workload Model and system.

Senior management

  • Senior management and sponsorship has been crucial in the way in which we introduced and successfully managed the introduction of the workload model
  • The Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Resources and others in the senior team were committed to see through the introduction of a consistent workload model across the University. The senior team has had a crucial role
  • Strong academic management in the departments of subject areas is paramount, ie managers who interact with the individual staff, allocate workload, negotiate and discuss their roles
  • The workload model is only as good as the managers and the managers’ process on which it is built.

Project management

  • Developing and implementing a workload model is complicated and requires expert and professional project management
  • The deployment of the system was also project managed.

Communication and training

  • Constant consultation and communication with staff as a whole and unions is essential and this cannot be stressed enough
  • The training which managers and allocators are provided with, the ways in which managers communicate and their commitment to the workload model has been crucial. The training has been improved over time.

Cohesion

  • The workload model involves a lot of disciplines across the University: Human Resources, Finance, Planning, IT, Academic managers, Directorate etc. A cross-University team is important
  • We have had a critical professional structure which UWE calls faculty planning administrators. They are professional administrative roles who have played a key role in interfacing between the model and each of our four faculties and 13 departments
  • It has been important to have a single model with no variants for faculties or departments. Special cases have been considered with close scrutiny to maintain fairness and equity
  • When designing WAMS, regular updates to and contributions from a relatively broad spread of stakeholders meant that a sense of ownership was fostered from day one
  • TRAC component - audited by KPMG (the auditors) to ensure compliance and best practices was shared with other HEIs and fed back into the project. 

System flexibility

  • WAMS is user friendly. The system was designed using the Agile project management DSDM (Dynamic Systems Development Method) approach, which encouraged systematic input from users. Effective use of the prototyping tools allowed WAMS users early visibility of the WAMS screens
  • WAMS has not yet been integrated with other systems such as staffing or course lists. The reason being that integration is complex and would not make the UWE system as transferable as it is currently. Instead of focusing on system integration, UWE chose to draw information with the help of faculty planning administrators, who play a key role in extracting and cleaning data from systems and entering accurate information into WAMS.

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