My week focused on an hour-long webinar delivered to a range of projects from the JISC Business and Community Engagement’s Open Innovation and Access to Resources programme.
It’s particularly important that any JISC funded project demonstrates impact and benefits for the funding they’ve received. Not because funding bodies are asking about it but because it’s important for the wider sector and the project team itself. In essence, JISC funds risk on behalf of UK further and higher education. From the projects we fund we attempt to assimilate their learning and share it with the wider sector to reduce wasted effort (cost). Where possible a project might turn into a Shared Service, delivered by the sector for the sector.
If projects don’t demonstrate impact or benefits then it makes it particularly difficult for us to reference and use as a real example. Projects do find this particularly difficult. Many people do and for JISC projects, they need to do this within the lifetime of their project. Six months after a project completes is too late. We’re aware this is wrong and are certainly trying to address this but pressure from the sector and from funding bodies to publish findings makes this very difficult.
At this point you’re probably wondering how I define impact, or benefits. Well, after spending some time looking at various definitions I felt that it actually wasn’t worth worrying about. What we’re really trying to do is evidence change. Before our project began we had problem A, we delivered the project and problem A was no more. Impact and benefits are encapsulated within that change however you decide to define them.
In order to evidence change however, we need solid baseline data. For example, %FTE spent on process A, a quote from staff and students before the project started, the cost of something, etc. Some of the proposals we receive lack this baseline data however have fantastic ideas and so it’s our responsibility to help those projects through the process. It also makes sense for those that have captured this kind of information at the start to review it anyway. So the focus of the webinar was around a practical approach to thinking this through. It was recorded and so I’ll add the video here once available…
I’m based at JISC infoNet and we’re currently reviewing a number of our resources (we call them infoKits). This week we were reviewing our Strategy infoKit. It’s grown over a number of years, incorporating a range of other infoKits, such as business intelligence. The idea is to provide an improved wrapper, better explaining the various components within.
There are also a number of other resources across the website that might be brought into this resource such as the Embedding Business and Community Engagement infoKit. I believe the methodology contained within that kit could be used elsewhere to bridge disconnect between strategic and operational levels within an organisation, so quite a useful tool.
This week I also…
- Published a blog post ‘Embedding BCE Workshops: Issues Raised‘
- Commented on a Guardian post ‘How to foster a culture of collaboration between universities and industry‘
- Updated a support wiki with 31 new projects and provided project leads with access to it
- Proof read a range of Business and Community Engagement synthesis documents
- Held a meeting to begin developing a work plan for the synthesis element of the JISC Transformations programme