Designing business processes: the DSSP

NB: Originally posted on Digital Education @ UNE


At the start of 2021, the Learning Design Team was established as part of the Digital Education portfolio, integrating all Learning Design and Education Support staff from across the university into a single unified team. Staff brought a wide range of practices and processes with them from the various areas, and with this came a number of challenges but some significant opportunities. 

One of the team’s core business processes is the unit site setup process – developing the unit shells in Moodle for every online unit in the university each trimester. This process was identified as a key priority for redesign at the start of the year, as there were a number of significant challenges around workload equity and sustainability, consistency of staff and student experience in teaching units, timelines around hard trimester deadlines, and the experience of academic staff who rely on the setup process prior to preparing for teaching delivery each trimester. 

To address this, the team established a formal design project, drawing on their design expertise and experience as practitioners to own and manage the design and implementation of a new streamlined and consistent unit site setup process across the whole university. This project is known as the Distributed Site Setup Plan, or DSSP. The project was a full design project, spanning data collection and analysis, needs analysis, stakeholder engagement, design and iteration, implementation planning and evaluation. A pilot of the new process was run in T2 2021 in HASSE, and following pilot evaluation and design iteration, the process has been rolled out across the university for T1 2022 setup. 

The key benefits realised through this process are: 

  • Significant reduction in team workload – increasing wellbeing, resource capacity and budget efficacy 
  • Staffing agility and sustainability – all team staff can now work in any faculty or school area, and work fluidly to meet demands and manage absence 
  • Improved student experience – a consistent layout for online units so that key resources and navigation are the same no matter the area of study
  • Consistency for staff – consistent process and expectations that don’t compromise academic agency 
  • Reduced academic staff workload through consistent layout, reduced student queries and streamlined process 
  • Site handover to academic staff to prepare for teaching significantly earlier relative to the start of trimester, reducing pressure on academic staff 
  • Process documentation and monitoring systems are now in place, where previously they didn’t exist or were done ad hoc 
  • Increased capacity for 1:1 support work, project work and innovation  

Initial feedback from key stakeholders has been extremely positive: 

“Thanks very much for your help and for giving me such an early access to T1 unit Moodle site. It’s amazing! I appreciate it 😊.” [Unit coordinator] 

“Many thanks for this – it is great how early you are releasing the Moodle sites to us – very much appreciated.” [Unit coordinator]

“I really LOVE the new checklist. It’s been super nice to keep on track with my builds. It’s way faster than before.” [Education Support Officer] 

 A video from the pilot evaluation of this project was recently shared with the university via Pulse:

In 2022, the team will evaluate the T1 implementation with opportunities for academic staff input as key stakeholders, then refine and continue to embed the new process as business-as-usual. We’ll also look to apply the same design approach to other key business processes, such as the online exam setup process, and we’re looking forward to realising the benefits of the process redesign in the LMS Review project. 

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