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Agile's Consulting Services

Agile provides variety of services to UCD schools, units and smaller teams including consulting sessions, training, project support and workshop facilitation. The support provided enhances UCD staff proffesional and personal development and aims to reinforce organisational effectivness.

Below are brief outlines - for more information and an exploration of how we may be of help, please contact UCD Agile.

No matter what scale of improvement you are looking to make, a key to success is real clarity about your starting point and real clarity about what you want to achieve.  No matter what the scale, framing the proejct in this way can be a challenge and, when this challenge is met, a great foundation for successful outcomes.

It is never to early in your thinking to reach out to us for support. Initial exploration and scoping can start and end as simply as a short conversation, or can involve scoping workshops and charter development, or can lie anywhere on the spectrum in between.  We begin with the initial coversation and take the journey from there.

In the broad context of shaping our support ecosystem, a team can look at improvement and innovation in three spaces - frontline operations, planning and managing operations, and overall strategy and planning.

We work with teams and units in helping shape the strategy and planning that drives the 'operations' that they use to deliver their 'business'. (In this context, your 'business' is what your team/unit is trying to achieve and 'operations' are how you go about achieving it - a broad definition).

In terms of strategy and planning, our main approach uses a strengths, opportunities, aspirations, results (SOAR) process that focuses a unit/team on its current strengths and vision of the future for developing its strategic goals and the route to get there.

What strengths do we want to build the future on? What opportunities (opportunities / weaknesses / threats) are we faced with, positive or negative? What aspirations have we got for our future state? And what results will measure both the achievement of our aspirations and progress towards those aspirations? The R in SOAR also looks to the resources required.

In terms of strateic planning, SOAR is an alternative to SWOT, with SOAR considered more action orientated compared to SWOT’s analytic approach, and better suited to a broad environement like UCD's.

What is your remit? Officially, it is the tasks or areas of activity assigned to an individual or team or unit.

Remits get formally set at some starting point but typically are then subject to formal and informal change, to the creep of additional responsibility accidentally accumulated, to tasks picked up as circumstances unfold, to the impact of new technology, to changes in others' responsibilities... So what is your remit now?

A remit mapping workshop helps you paint the 'now' picture - just what an individual or a team responsible for 'now'.

Why map your remit? Knowing your 'now' is a necessary foundation to any kind of development. "We want to more clearly communicate what we do". "We know we have additional work coming our way". "We are getting new staff members". "We are losing staff". "The workload is too high". "We want to develop a team strategy".

Before you head into change, where are you 'now'?

Attending training is often the starting point to picking up a new skills.  Then comes the work of developing familiarity and confidence with the new skills as they are put into practice for the first time.  

Agile provides mentoring support to any UCD staff or faculty member practicing the principles, skills, tools and techniques in the Lean/continuous improvement space. This includes those in training, Agile Alumni, and early day practitioners exploring how they can make improvments to how the University works. 

In practice, this is might be mentoring for problem solving, continuous improvement, workshop facilitation, small initiatives, or larger projects.

A Rapid Improvement Event (RIE) is a Lean approach to roblem-solving which involves a small team devoting 100% of their time over a short period (1+ days) to analysing and improving a narrowly defined target issue or process. A key benefit of an RIE approach to project delivery is that it enables effective and efficient multi-domain collaboration, decision-making and action through direct involvement of key stakeholders in the process.

An RIE brings those with hands on experience, expertise and authority together and empowers them to agree on and implement real immediate changes. Instrumental to a successful RIE is the planning and preparation that goes into ensuring the right people are in the room and the inputs to the event are an effective reflection of the current state. Follow up tracks progress and closure on the outcomes of the event.

Agile provides support to projects taking a RIE approach to project delivery, guiding the project lead through the RIE framework and facilitating the RIE itself.

Visual management aims to make the running of given situation – a team in an office, a project, a laboratory - easily understood simply by looking at it. The goal is to provide as much information as possible with as little observation or time as possible. It helps communication, collaborative working, operations management and performance. For example, team communications and operations can be greatly improved through the deployment of a Visual Management Board and accompanying process for running team meetings.

UCD Agile provides a Visual Management Deployment service where we work with you and your team to define your goals from Visual Management, design your visual management board and the meetings process which uses it. The aim is to help you quickly and easily get up and running, reaping the reward of your new approach to team meetings.

This workshop helps a team find its 'Why Statement' - a sentence that clearly expresses the team’s unique contribution and impact.  This is a concept developed by Simon Sinek and adapted for the UCD context. Working with a team, the Why Statement discovery process seeks to discover things as they already are; it’s not an aspirational exercise but is grounded in real-life stories told by the team, helping verbalise what the team looks like when they are operating at their best.

The workshop is run over half a day (4 hours).The focus here is on the team, on their experiences and stories. They are guided in defining their draft Why Statement through their own contributions and impacts. Their Why captures the philosophy and motivation behind their day-to-day work.

Is there a way of managing your process or service more effectively or efficiently using technology?

After an initial consultation, these workshops (usually lasting 2 hours) look at how processes or services are being done ‘As Is’ and with the team break the 'As Is' into its constituent parts.  At the heart of the workshop is the team who have experience and expertise running the processes or services.

From here we can consider what technical solutions could enhance the process or service for the team. If these solutions are right for you or your team we can move forward with demonstrations and implementations of supportive technologies.

So, what kind of technologies can support process or service delivery? Contact forms, CRM tools, service interfaces, email management solutions, and innovative uses of Google & Microsoft Office are just some examples.

We have supported a number of successful technical enhancements to processes across the campus. Some examples from 2019 include;
• Linked contact forms between the Student Desk and the Arts & Humanities Office
• The rollout of the Welcoming System (card scanner) in the new Arts & Humanities Office
• The use of UniShare to manage records of meetings with students

Experience Mapping is a technique that helps us to be focussed by our 'customers' on what is important to them, on how they experience it, and on how they navigate their way through the various elements of that experience.  It creates a map with a narrative.

(We use 'customer' to mean someone for whom we want to provide services or supports, and therefor about whom we want to have a clear understanding of what is important to them and their current experience). 

In the case of UCD, this can be the experiences of students, employees, researchers, etc. By using the perspective of a type of 'customer', Experience Mapping enables decision makers to identify and prioritise initiatives grounded in the perceptions, preferences and priorities of the customers themselves. This 'customer' perspective is also an effective way of testing assumptions and answering questions, providing a solid foundation for decision making and acting planning.

This technique is especially effective in developing a common agenda for diverse cross-functional groups/projects within the University. Through the 'customer' perspective, such groups are provided with a common language and framework for enhancing the 'customer' experience.

UCD Agile provides support for the use of Experience Mapping. We can help you in the planning phase of your project or initiative, provide guidance and facilitation support through the Experience Mapping workshops, and support you in analysing the outputs to produce the Experience Map, insights and resulting recommended actions.

For an example of how Experience Mapping has already been used in UCD, see the Student Experience Mapping project.

Agile's training is delivered by the UCD Agile team, supported by our training partners, SQT.  For more information and to view our training offerings visit our traning page.

This is item in our list of services is simply to say that we can work with individuals or teams in running, or indeed designing, workshops on whatever issue it is they want to pursue.  You do not need to know exactly what you want to do - come and talk with us to explore this further.  

UCD Agile provides this service in the broad context of how UCD delivers the processes, supports and services that create the ecosystem in which our education and research takes place i.e. we do not look to provide supports outside this context.  Check Working with Agile for more on who we work with.

Please feel free to contact us at (opens in a new window)ag(opens in a new window)ile@ucd.ie or via our contact page.