Universities are hugely important to our economy, society and our nations growth. Today, Universities face major shifts in economics, politics and technology, further compounded by increased competition on the global stage. It is vital that the University Strategic Planning Framework and the University strategic planning process combine to deliver positive results. This article presents 4 key challenges being faced by the sector and provide an insight into how technology could support the successful adoption of a University Strategic Planning Framework.
1. A University Strategic Planning Framework thats enhances reporting to Councils and Committees
Universities maintain specialist committees that provide governance in the areas of strategy, planning and performance. Whilst the remit of each committee might vary slightly, to also covers matters relating to governance, managing resources and risk, inclusion of the Chancellery Executive, President of the Academic Board, and Deans is mostly consistent. Stricter governance is magnifying the value of the University Strategy Committee with a direct correlation between the success of the Committee and the overall success of the University.
Technology can equip Universities with the tools for improved execution and tracking of strategy and perfomance. Used effectively it can deliver timely reporting in accordance with the University Strategic Planning Framework providing the Committee oversight and insight into matters that may require attention.
Technology provides a University and its Committee the tools required to
support a University strategic planning process which:
- Improves the formulation of the University Strategic Plan
- Aligns the University Strategic Plan with portfolio, faculty and school plans
- Supports the Strategic Plan through improved alignment with Enabling plans
- Inform the preparation of the annual budget and annual report
- Monitor the progress of plans across all levels
- Provide oversight into strategic direction, risks, major projects and strategic activities
- Deliver insights into rankings and performance
2. Strategically Dealing with Economic Volatility
Recent times have brought about increased competition and economic pressures. Global events and reduced Government support threaten to wipe off more than 2 billion in revenue from the sector. As a result, Universities are reforming their financial models, operating models and renewing their strategic plans to safeguard their future.
The reputation of the sector both locally and globally is at risk. Furthermore research and teaching programs which are important to funding and long term sustainability are either being constrained or delayed.
Technology can enhance a University’s strategic planning process for a better response and adaptation to external change. Technology supports increased adoption of the University Strategic Planning Framework which in turn allows for the seeding, acceleration and institution of change. In addition use of technology will result in the more efficient delivery of strategy by reducing waste, red tape and ensuring resources are smartly allocated on demand.
skefto Helps with University Strategic Planning and Reporting on Performance Indicators
3. A University Strategic Planning Framework to Combine Deliberate & Emergent Strategies
Typically Universities like most other sectors have adopted a deliberate approach to strategy. Deliberate strategies are identified by their top down nature whereby mission, vision, goals, actions and KPIs are set in advance. Deliberate strategies tend to focus on internal factors with only modest consideration of the external environment.
Emergent strategies on the other hand are adaptive to turbulent conditions and provide high levels of agility. Emergent strategies allow for a rapid during strategy delivery based on an evolving reality and without necessarily needing the full picture. These strategies take a customer centric approach and are typically delivered by those closer to the coal face who have an intimate knowledge of operations and customer expectations.
Whilst deliberate and emergent strategies in isolation have their own benefits, the best outcome is arguably achieved when combined. Think of a strategy which allows for a quick response to change in environmental conditions whilst keeping a true north position with respect to mission and vision.
Technology helps Universities achieve alignment by allowing both vertical and horizontal linking of plans. It combines deliberate and emergent strategies by balancing strategic goal direction with responsiveness and adaptation.
Unifying strategy across the University avoids the formation of siloes and enhances overall capabilities. Most importantly a unified strategy connects the University vision with operational planning to ensure everyone is moving in the same direction.
4. Dealing with Technology
Universities are not alone when referring to the impact of technology on its strategy and its operations. However when compared to many other sectors Universities have had a stronger inclination to stay true to their proud, rich and long-standing traditions. Whilst these are the qualities that define a University it also means that strategic shifts are laced with greater complexity.
So how can Universities adapt and thrive in an era that has seen a rapid emergence of artificial intelligence, blockchain, online offerings, augmented reality, BIG Data, business intelligence and mobility? The answer, is to “embrace” and “use” these technological resources to gain a competitive advantage.
The rise of artificial intelligence, BIG Data and business intelligence platforms are transforming the way Universities interpret information and make business decisions founded on historic data and future projections. Software such as skefto, fits into this data paradigm by supporting improved data collection, workflow and subsequent integration with analytics platforms to surface insights relating to University performance. This is resulting in process improvements, increased efficiencies and evidence based decision making.
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