Representatives from all the current 16 projects, spread across all of the UK met in sunny (honestly!) Manchester to celebrate the work that has been undertaken and to also discuss plans to take the work forward. It was really heartening to see so much good work and genuine enthusiasm for the activities which people have been involved in, and their desire to continue evangelising the benefits even after funding has ended. Project teams have been plugging the benefits to senior management to achieve buy in whilst also maintaining the backing and interest of the ‘coal face’ staff who would perhaps interact with new initiatives and ideas on a more frequent basis.
As always at such events, it was a packed agenda which could have easily spread over 2 or 3 days, after all it is difficult to summarise an 18 month project in five minutes. But the projects managed it.
It went something like this…
For those staying overnight on the Wednesday, we had Dinner in the restaurant followed by a quiz, which was good fun and covered programme questions but also general knowledge and other fun information. It was a good ice breaker for people who hadn’t seen each other for a long time.
The following day started with JISC Programme Managers Myles Danson and Simon Whittemore introducing the event and our aims, and then Myles gave a overview of the journey so far in terms of Relationship Management work, which goes back to fact finding studies funded by JISC back in 2007, many of the findings and recommendations are still pertinent, indeed even more so given the change in climate in the education sector.
We then broke out into two groups, ‘Strand 2: Sharing RM and the student experience’ and ‘Strand 3: Sharing engaging alumni using RM’ in which projects in the two different strands of the programme did a ‘show and tell’ of the work in their project and main findings, obstacles, issues and unexpected outcomes.
We then all gathered back together for an overview of the work of ‘Strand 1: the CRM (Customer Relationship Management) Handbook’ and discussion about this and it’s potential.
After lunch, Simon Whittemore led an ‘Evaluation and Impact Panel’ with input from the Critical Friends in the programme. Each Critical Friend gave an excellent summary of the issues raised in their cluster of projects and suggestions for next steps.
Sharon Perry from CETIS then gave a whistle stop tour of the ‘Resources for the future’, providing an overview of all the outputs from the programme plus further details of the synthesis work which will continue over the next few months. These will include the
Just Enough RM resource and a Compendium of good practice, due end of 2012.
You may think it would not be possible to cram even more activity into the day, but we did, and Myles and Simon discussed ideas for JISC to continue work in this area, which is seen as crucial and increasingly important to the HE sector. Delegates were given the tricky challenge of mapping out what pointers/resources they may need on the roadmap to successful Relationship Management. It was no mean feat, but I think many good ideas came out of the activity, and ‘hindsight is a wonderful thing’ was the ethos; but that was exactly the point (in my opinion). The essence of the activity, indeed the nub of the issues coming out of the programme are the questions;
If you had your time again on this:
• what would you find useful?, and at what point?;
• what pitfalls can be avoided?, how can you speed up the blockages?…
• what advice would you give to others embarking on this journey?”
As any JISC programme as it finishes needs to make sure lessons are learned for future projects. Surely that is what it is all about.