Students Staff

Continuous improvement at Essex

"The right people continuously searching for the simplest and smoothest process, in order to meet customer needs perfectly"

The Strategic Projects Office (SPO) lead on Continuous Improvement (CI) activities at the University, both in facilitating events, and through training, mentoring and supporting staff to deliver their own change improvements around the University. CI activitiy at Essex uses Lean principles:

  1. Who are the customers of a process, and what value do they want from it
  2. Understand and map the current process and where the value is delivered
  3. Create flow in the process and remove unnecessary wastes
  4. Ensure the process is driven by customer demand
  5. Continuously identify opportunities for further improvement

2017-18 Continuous Improvements Programme

The core CI Programme for the year is developed and approved through the Project Coordination Group (PCG) and centres around areas that will help to deliver the University's strategic aims. The programme for 2017-18 includes:

  • Registration
  • Scholarships and Bursaries
  • Admissions process for disabled students
  • 28 Day Rule
  • Timetable Teaching changes
  • Exam Boards
  • Extenuating Circumstances
  • Ethics process for student projects
  • Feedback forms and use of FASER
  • eMentoring
  • New and temporary staff starters
  • Staff on short term contracts

Supporting continuous improvement

The Strategic Projects Office also helps and supports staff to carry out CI activity in their own areas. Support can take the form of full end to end process reviews, a quick chat or brainstorm about the best approach to take, advice on how best to use our Tools, training, mentoring and just about anything in between. The types of reviews can include:

  • end to end process reviews
  • department or section reviews
  • process improvements
  • brainstorming and evaluating as a team
  • advice on how to prioritise improvement activity
  • team development
  • system specification development
  • workshop support

Process for requesting support

We are happy to meet up to have an informal discussion on any area that you are interesting in improving. The first step should be to just give us a call to discuss the area you want to work on. This way we can discuss options and decide on the appropriate approach. Should you wish to follow this up with some continuous improvement activity, we can arrange to meet up and go through our supporting documents.

The two key documents we use are BOSCARD and our Scoping Document (.docx, Essex users only). These documents help you to explore what your objectives are, and the benefits you would like to get out of a review. They also outline information that is needed to identify the kind of support or review that you need. They can be completed independently or as a team, or with support from SPO.

Once the documents are completed we will then work with you on identifying who should be involved in the review, what training or support might be needed prior to the activity, and when the activity should be scheduled.

Support can be requested by contacting the Strategic Projects Office in the first instance.  

Previous core CI reviews

Lean has been used sucessfully within the University since 2013 to improve or futher develop a variety of processes and systems, including:

  • Finance Planning Round Budgeting
  • External Speaker Booking
  • Study Abroad
  • The Student Services Hub
  • Employability and Careers system
  • Student Loans process
  • Health and Safety processes
  • REO Consultancy and Contract Research processes
  • UKDA Product Development processes
  • Flexible Study
  • Course and Module Approvals process
  • Recruitment of staff
  • Work-based learning
  • Student withdrawals and retention

Further information

For more information about Lean and continuous improvement at Essex please explore our webpages, which include more information on tools and training, or contact


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Lean is a methodology used to make improvements to processes and day to day work. Using Lean can help you to identify the work you do that adds value, and remove any wasteful activities.

Lean tools

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A range of tools, templates and guides to support Lean and Change within the University. The BOSCARD and Quad of Aims will be invaluable when working out the detail of your objectives.


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SUMS provide expert consultancy in all areas of University support and management. They can provide support on area reviews, legal compliancy and comparative analysis from other institutions.


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We run a regular training programme covering topics such as Project Management, Lean, Benefits Management, Change Management and Process Mapping. All courses are advertised through HR organiser.