Continuous Improvement blog - Collaborate Successfully implementing a new platform during lockdown

As with all client focussed roles, the Conferencing and Events team thrive on the social interaction and face to face contact provided by the busy and demanding world of business events. It took us all a while to adjust to the move to the virtual world and initially, while trying to navigate our new normal, we attempted to replicate our standard daily coffee catch ups and team meetings. When we were in the office these provided an opportunity to discuss any questions or issues arising that day but trying to keep these going remotely proved too much. There were too many emails, too many Zoom calls and not enough time to focus on the wellbeing and respite our team needed during this strange time. The virtual world isn’t the same as a physical environment and that isn’t a bad thing; it has just taken some time to get used to something different. Participating in a number of the training courses managed by the Continuous Improvement Directorate has allowed us to see things differently and has encouraged us to implement some really simple processes to ensure our team is making best use of its time working at home. This has helped us drive our business forward as well as educating us about how to be a bit smarter when we catch up virtually, meaning we are all still smiling and enjoying each other’s company. 

My participation in the Evidencing the Benefits of Change workshop, provided a great opportunity to reset our planning and reflect on how we approach our individual problems to enhance the overall performance of the team. This performance is not only measured in the day to day work outputs from individual team members, but also in our team dynamics and overall wellbeing and happiness – the most important feature of getting through the pandemic together. 

The course focussed on identifying one clear project ambition backed up by detailed key objectives and deliverables as well as the anticipated benefits of this change. Since our campus events delivery paused in March 2020, we have been looking for ways to ensure our team remain engaged, enthusiastic and included without suffering Zoom-fatigue – something we are all susceptible to during lockdown! This was our primary focus and the training encouraged me to look at each stage of the planning process, how it could be improved and what benefits we would see as a result of a planned change. Although a very straightforward and clear process, it took scribbling down my thoughts and anticipated outcome in a Project Proposal to really drill down to the important aspects of our ambition and guidance and signposting from colleagues in the CI Directorate made the process exceptionally easy.

As a result of attending the course, we have successfully implemented multiple changes across the team – how we run our meetings, reviewing diaries to ensure people are making best use of their time and capturing information in a new platform so the team can share ideas and best practice as well as charting their project progress. By recording each proposed significant change to our working methods in the Benefits Exploration Map, we have scoped out the measurable benefits of each change before we embark upon it – a great example of how simple process planning can be a real success on a day to day level.

Our business model has changed many times since lockdown – we have pivoted to offer a virtual event service and the whole team has undertaken significant training to support an entirely new business stream which seemed like a huge challenge before lockdown. By breaking down each activity into manageable chunks and reflecting on their usefulness and any subsequent improvements using the tools the Continuous Improvement Directorate training equipped us with has meant our team has successfully implemented a complex new platform with ease during lockdown. We’ve made sure to document progress along the way which we can look back at on tougher and more challenging days and be exceptionally proud of how far we’ve come in a relatively short period of time.

On reflection, after taking part in the Evidencing the Benefits of Change workshop, these tools would have been exceptionally valuable right from the beginning of our move into lockdown – as a department it has completely changed our thought and planning processes. However, hindsight being a great thing, I feel very lucky we have them now and I am confident we will continue to use them on our planning journey moving forward. 

Given that we are all in an unknown situation and are very much being kept on our toes by the ever changing business circumstances that lockdown has thrown at us, I would wholeheartedly recommend anyone planning a project change to engage with the Continuous Improvement Directorate and tap into their knowledge. The tools they have given us will allow us to continue to remain engaged with our clients, ensuring our team is focussed and engaged and by documenting our progress we can see how far we’ve come – something to be exceptionally proud of in this difficult environment.