Inside Track | Improving the way we measure success

Professors Hai-Sui Yu, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, and Simone Buitendijk, Vice-Chancellor, outline how new Key Performance Indicators will improve how we measure success toward our strategic goals.

KPIs Inside Track

The University’s 10-year strategy – Universal Values, Global Change – is a blueprint for a values-driven university and sets out our academic ambitions to 2030 and the actions needed to deliver them.

But how do we measure our success in delivering this strategy? And how do we ensure we embed these measures into everything that we do? This has been the subject of careful consideration during the past year.

Strategically meaningful measures

The detail of what we measure – and how – is critical, and all measures must be right for our situation. We should of course be ambitious, without threatening the things that are core to our purpose and ambition:  

  • Harnessing and enhancing our high-quality academic endeavour to achieve positive world impact, underpinned by fundamental and challenge-led interdisciplinary world-changing research, and an evidence-based, research-led and digitally enabled student education offer.
  • Cultivating an inclusive, compassionate and collaborative community – one that is characterised by a culture of partnership, integrity and a sense of belonging for all.
  • Transforming how we operate to enhance our agility, effectiveness and sustainability – underpinned by digitally enabled, modernised and collegiate ways of working.

Outcome-based, values-driven measures 

Guided by a number of KPI principles, and with a focus on ensuring that our measures of success align closely with what we are trying to affect, in July 2021 the University Council approved a set of nine outcome-based Key Performance Indicators (KPIs):

  1. Making a positive difference in the world (‘being a force for good’)
  2. Sustaining a strong academic reputation
  3. Developing, supporting and retaining a diverse and inclusive staff community
  4. Securing successful outcomes for students
  5. Delivering impactful research and innovation
  6. Providing a healthy, safe and inclusive environment and an enriching experience for staff and students
  7. Delivering environmental sustainability
  8. Sustaining an adaptive, effective and financially stable university (‘doing good and doing well’)
  9. Ensuring a sustainable and balanced student cohort mix

Aligned with our values of collaboration, compassion, inclusivity and integrity, during 2021/22 an expert technical working group, with membership from across the academic and professional services community, was established to undertake more detailed work. 

Drawing on both existing and – where appropriate – the design of our own bespoke data sets, the group recommended 30 underpinning component measures, detailing the mechanisms for collecting the necessary information and the individual weightings of individual component measures within each KPI. These recommendations were approved by the University Council in July 2022.

These strategically aligned, outcome-based KPIs and component measures will ensure that the data we use to make decisions is linked more directly to the University’s strategic aims and priorities. This should give students and staff confidence that engaging with our values and strategic goals will result in a visible and tangible difference.

This new set of values-driven measures focus on the health and condition of the organisation – as well as on what it delivers – so that we are not just measuring performance, but taking account of the University as the dynamic, complex community it is, with its extraordinary ability to adapt and reshape to meet the needs of a changing world.

What next?

The detail of the KPI framework – including timescales of implementation – will be communicated during the coming months, and colleagues will be encouraged and supported to consider how measures may be applied in their own areas. 

Whilst work is ongoing to capture the required data, including through the design of bespoke surveys and the greater use of internal data, most of the KPIs and underpinning component measures are mature and ready for implementation. As such, we are preparing to embed these measures into the Integrated Planning Exercise (IPE) for 2023, and into our formal reporting to the University Council and Senate during 2022/23. In parallel, we will also complete the development and implementation of a small number of residual developing component measures.

Full details of the KPIs and underpinning component measures can be found on the KPI website. Please feel free to contact should you have any questions, comments or concerns.

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