Responding to Stakeholder Feedback through Mini-Projects
Give this Action Project a short title in 10 words or fewer:
Responding to Stakeholder Feedback through Mini-Projects
Describe this Action Project's goal in 100 words or fewer:
The college community will analyze stakeholder feedback gained though the AQIP Examiner, the Community College Survey on Student Engagement (CSSE), internally generated surveys, focus groups, and other means to identify and prioritize improvements that should be made to systems and processes. Ten mini-projects will be completed over a two-year period to create and implement those improvements.
Identify the single AQIP Category which the Action Project will most affect or impact:
Primary Category: Planning Continuous Improvement
Describe briefly your institution's reasons for taking on this Action Project now -- why the project and its goals are high among your current priorities:
As a result of our participation in AQIP, Washington State Community College has increased the number of assessments we are doing to measure the effectiveness or our systems and processes. For example, we participated in the Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CSSE) for the first time in 2007 and we administered the AQIP Examiner for the second time in May 2007. Through surveys and focus groups we have identified a number of areas of potential improvement. We believe that improvement can best be attained through campus-wide discussion, participation, and intentional effort. This project embodies those qualities.
List the organizational areas -- institutional departments, programs, divisions, or units -- most affected by or involved in this Action Project:
Since this project will consist of 10 mini-projects aimed at a wide variety of systems and processes, nearly every area of the college will be affected during its two-year duration.
Name and describe briefly the key organizational process(es) that you expect this Action Project to change or improve:
The five initial projects are listed below. In the fall of 2008, five additional projects will be chosen in response to stakeholder feedback from current or new sources.
Designing and implementing changes to college operations to result in a 3% financial efficiency improvement for fiscal year 2009 in comparison to fiscal year 2008.
Improving the system for notifying students when classes are canceled for any reason and especially with regard campus emergencies.
Improving the college website to provide better navigation and more complete student-centered information.
Investigating and implementing ways to improve CSSE results for Academic Challenge and Active/Collaborative Learning.
Creating a more comprehensive approach to professional development for faculty, staff, and administration.
Explain the rationale for the length of time planned for this Action Project (from kickoff to target completion):
We have found that creating and completing a number of relatively short-term projects aimed at collectively strengthening one AQIP category is an effective strategy for our college. We plan to spread ten mini-projects over a period of two years. Some mini-projects will take more time than others, and each will have a separate time line created by its own project team, but all will be completed within the two-year duration of the action project. We are declaring five initial mini-projects based on stakeholder feedback that we have analyzed, discussed in various forums, and prioritized through campus-wide discussion. In the fall of 2008, we will select a second group of five mini-projects to complete during the second year of the action project.
Describe how you plan to monitor how successfully your efforts on this Action Project are progressing:
A Mini-Project Oversight Team will coordinate this Action Project. This team will identify champions for each project, help those champions organize cross-departmental project teams, and assist with developing project objectives, timelines, action steps, measurements, and communication plans. The Mini-Project Oversight Team will monitor the progress of each mini-project and offer assistance should a project loose momentum. The Mini-Project Oversight Team will also communicate progress to the college community through the college's AQIP/Continuous Improvement webpage; the On Campus e-newsletter; and regular reports at President's Cabinet, Executive Committee, Board of Trustee meetings, and faculty/staff meetings.
Describe the overall "outcome" measures or indicators that will tell you whether this Action Project has been a success or failure in achieving its goals:
Overall Action Project process measures include the following:
Five mini-project teams will be formed during the initial year of the project to work on the projects indicated above.
Each project team will establish specific objectives, timelines, action steps, measurements, and communication plans.
The Mini-Project Oversight Team will track the project of each mini-project through regular communication with the team leaders.
During the fall of 2008, the Mini-Project Oversight Team will work with the AQIP Planning Team, the Executive Committee, and the college community to examine stakeholder feedback and create five additional mini-projects to respond to process or system problems identified through that feedback.
The Mini-Project Team will gather and maintain project outcome data and submit the annual AQIP project updates.
Each mini-project team will create its own set of outcome measures, but overall Action Project measures for the five initial action projects will include the following:
A 3% overall financial operating efficiency improvement (as defined by the Ohio Board of Regents) for fiscal year 2009 over fiscal year 2008;
implementation of an enhanced system for notifying students of class cancellations and campus emergencies with an improved satisfaction level among students as evidenced through student survey and focus group data;
an improved college website with better navigation and student-centered information as evidenced by student survey and focus group data;
CSSE results for spring 2009 that are at or above the national mean for the areas of Academic Challenge and Active/Collaborative Learning; and
enhancement of the college's professional development processes to achieve a system that is perceived to be more comprehensive and efficient than the current system as indicated by employee survey and focus group data.
Annual Update: 2008-09-11
Describe the past year's accomplishments and the current status of this Action Project.
In year one of this project, five "mini-projects" to respond to stakeholder feedback were planned and implemented. Four are currently on-schedule or completed. One (number 2 below) will require some revitalization due to staffing changes. Progress reports for each are on file.
3% financial efficiency - Three compression planning sessions were held to identify areas of financial efficiencies in the amount of $363,063 (3% of the college's annual budget). The sessions were attended by 40 employees generating 175 different ideas that related to 13 different themes. These ideas were then categorized and prioritized. The items were also assigned a dollar value to meet the $363,063 requirement.
Emergency notification system - Several companies were evaluated for their ability to perform a feasibility study to determine if the college can develop and operate a college wide emergency notification system for external use. The top three companies have been selected and the mini-project team is reviewing demos from each company in order to make a recommendation.
Improving the college website - The website was completely redesigned and a sitemap was created. New software was chosen and user training sessions were conducted so that employees can update their sites on their own. A standards manual was created as well as a site inventory system for future growth and development and site maintenance.
Understanding and improving student engagement through CSSE - The 2007 CSSE results have been reviewed and analyzed for common trends. The results have been shared with faculty, the Executive Committee, and the Board of Trustees. The target areas identified for improvement include critical thinking skills and understanding values and cultures. Three professional development sessions have been designed and offered to faculty. Additional professional development sessions are planned for 2008-2009.
Professional Development for faculty, staff, and administration - A tuition reimbursement policy was created that will fall within the college's budget as well as provide a fair distribution of funds to employees seeking tuition assistance. The policy has been written, approved by the college's executive committee, and communicated to employees.
Describe how the institution involved people in work on this Action Project.
A system was put into place to actively engage mini-project participants. Project leaders volunteered to head up each project and assembled mini-project teams of other volunteers. Teams for each mini-project, representing many departments across campus, submitted an application for their project and provided a project update mid-way through their project. A final report is required upon completion. The Mini-Project Oversight Team met on a quarterly basis to review the progress of the five mini-projects and to address problems that may have surfaced with regard to each project. Updates were provided at various staff meetings including the President's Council and Executive Committee. Action project reports are included in the monthly continous improvement articles in our college's e-newsletter.
Describe your planned next steps for this Action Project.
The five current projects will be wrapped up and five more mini-projects will be implemented during 2008-2009. Three of these have already been selected on the basis of surveys and other stakeholder feedback:
Redesign of the quarterly class schedule to result in less travel to and from campus for students in response to high gas prices;
creating and implementing a new approach for updating the college's Systems Portfolio, and
creating a new process for advising and supporting "pre-health major" students. The action project will continue with the process of project applications from employees, review and feedback on the project applications from the Mini-Project oversight team, and progress tracking.
The two final projects to will address stake-holder feedback information gleaned from campus-wide "compression planning" focus groups. These sessions used a brainstorming and consensus approach to compile ideas for improving processes and services to students and other stakeholders.
Describe any "effective practice(s)" that resulted from your work on this Action Project.
The actual "mini-project process" itself has been invaluable in improving our processes and initiating and completing continuous improvement projects that might otherwise have been thought of, but not acted on. The use of the mini-project process to specifically address stakeholder feedback is proving to be an effective way to systematically review feedback and requirements of various stakeholders and then respond in an intentional, organized way. The process could be easily replicated at other institutions. Several documents for tracking mini-projects have been created: an application, a filter grid to aid in reviewing applications, a progress report form, and a final report form. Additionally two training sessions have been created with accompanying PowerPoint presentations and handouts.
What challenges, if any, are you still facing in regards to this Action Project?
Some common mini-project challenges include communication and funding. Another common challenge is misinterpreting the amount of time, the cost, and/or the amount of work required for a particular project. An additional common challenge occurs when project leaders or team members leave the institution for summer break or for another employment opportunity. This disruption in the team can sometimes lead to a project getting off track. Finally, selecting the "key" projects in response to stakeholder feedback is always challenging.
What is the primary reason for closing this project?
The goal of this project was to complete 10 mini-projects in response to stakeholder feedback. We analyzed stakeholder feedback from a variety of sources and and prioritized 10 areas for improvement. We addressed each of those areas with a mini-project and completed five projects in the first year of the Action Project and five projects in the second year.
What aspects of this project would you categorize as successful?
Using the mini-project process as a means to respond to stakeholder feedback was very successful. This approach gave our employees a means to address concerns in the college and further embedded continuous improvement into our Washington State Community College culture.
What aspects of this project would you categorize as less than successful?
None. This project was very successful.