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Birmingham University Involved in Reconstructive Collaboration (case study published in University Business January issue)

The University of Birmingham has undertaken it’s most ambitious reconstruction in 30 years in partnership with Berkshire Consultancy Ltd.

Working towards creating five distinct university colleges by 2010 from the existing 19 subject based schools, the University aimed to create a more stable and flexible business foundation to meet the commercial pressures arising in the sector whilst retaining growth in research and postgraduate study.

The project, which was completed early last year, was initiated in 2005 as part of five year business plan. working in close cooperation with Berkshire Consultancy Ltd (BCL).

Heading the structural change programme was the People and Organisation Development Team (POD), led by Sally Worth, which is a division of the University’s Human Resources Team at the University.

In order to design and implement the new management and operational structure POD cooperated with BCL to design a bespoke programme that tailored to the unique needs of the institutions academic, non-academic, managerial and non-managerial staff.

Worth commented that they brought BCL into the restructuring programme because of their experience and the fact that their team: “demonstrated a commitment to understanding our specific needs from the word go.”

Both parties understood the potential upheaval the project could cause, and therefore undertook a needs analysis with 30 key stakeholders looking to maximise the transference of key skills and knowledge at every stage.

Two workshop stands were initiated in advance of the programme, which allowed staff of all levels to attend flexible events as and when the developments affected them. These workshops focused on providing the practical and psychological support for both managers and staff to maximise the benefits of the new structure and ensure that they had the skills needed to design and translate the changes in to local college specific perspective.

BCL and POD made sure all information was available before, during and after the restructuring process. At the end of the period BCL began a handover stage to in-house personnel, so the University’s staff could continue to provide support into the future.

According to both parties the development has gone ahead without major upheaval. Therese Turner, Account Director of the BCL team stated that: “Now the new structure is in place and all staff are pulling in the same direction. Birmingham University is now well placed to cope with new challenges facing the eduction sector.

Worth commented that the transition to the new structure was extremely smooth and added: “Rather than worry about the change, we have experienced a real buy-in from staff and excitement about the new structure.”

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