Universities missing a trick for generating revenue

Universities have always had a complex mission around the mix of what they do; from teaching through to research and community engagement. We’re now seeing a new type of demand – that of economic development.

For the Group of Eight and other Universities there’s going to be a growing focus on strengthening collaboration with business and contributing to productivity in the economy. International links also look set to contribute more significantly.

To gain a little more insight on where the potential lies both now and in the future, ahead of his presentation at Higher Education Funding,  I caught up with Robert Chalmers, Managing Director at Adelaide Research and Innovation Pty Ltd, Chair of Knowledge Commercialisation Australasia Inc and Commercial Directors Convenor, Group of Eight.

What do you anticipate to be new funding streams on the horizon?

There is an increasing focus on accessing philanthropic funding streams within universities and we’ve seen a number of major fund raising campaigns launch recently. A number of others are now going through that same process.

Philanthropic funding will be more significant in the future. If you compare Australia to the US, we’re well behind the level of contribution of philanthropy to the funding mix that you might see in the US – I’ve no doubt that will be a big focus.

In response to reductions in funding from government, particularly from a Federal level, there is definitely a lift in interest accessing alternative funding from the private sector. Either from business, industry or venture, or from high net worth individuals.

On the outer edge of new funding streams, something that may not provide a major contribution initially, but will be part of the mix as we go forward, is crowd sourced funding.

Crowd sourcing has an impact beyond just the funding model in validating the promoted concept and improving engagement, but you certainly see the potential of that with things like Kickstarter, the use of Pozible by Deakin and so on. It’s still early days, small start, but into the future, it will be part of a hybrid of different funding streams universities will be juggling.

Do you see any common opportunities missed that could be generating revenue?

When we look at the broader issue of connection and value creation – rather than immediate revenue – the alumni connections are crying out for better engagement. I speak to a lot of people about these issues; all of us recognise that’s an area where universities are not harnessing the connections they build with their students, adequately, after their time with the institution – especially in the context of their commercial interactions.

What obstacles need to be overcome to release the potential for generating commercial interest?

I’d highlight three: awareness of existing successful stories of engagement and impact, awareness of the pathways to engagement, and the focus on areas of need.

Often, universities focus their marketing efforts around the teaching and learning part of the agenda; the students. We’re not so good at marketing the benefits of our research engagement, for our partners, our clients, and the broader community. We’ll talk to research quality and our research eminence, but we’re not systematically focused on talking to the end output or impact of that research and the impact of innovation on productivity.

As a result, people are not aware of what’s out there right now, and what’s making a difference; so they have less appetite to engage. We’re now working to target stories of impact in a digestible format to the person in the street.

We need to concentrate on identifying needs in the community, and bring those back into Universities, so that we can see how we can hook research capacity up to that need and produce a result.

What’s the current focus at Adelaide? Where are you targeting your efforts?

The promotional effort is a very important one for us as a sector, to engage better.

At Adelaide, we’re also looking at our international partnerships, especially the more promising ones, in areas like the US and China. International connections are one of the fastest growing areas of engagement and income. However, we still suffer from tyranny of distance, and there may be some cultural competencies that people need to develop a bit better to engage in the region.

We’ve also done a lot more joint networking sessions with industry associations – to try to bring researchers together with those needs in the industry. The aim is to reach out and understand what the needs are, and then connect capability to them.

8 lessons learnt from dredging projects

There’s no shortage of hold-ups when it comes to dredging projects, with such a big industry, Australia is full of them. Ahead of Dredging and Reclamation 2014, I caught up with a few project leaders to see where mistakes have been made. Some key areas stood out that I wanted to share with you:

Mapping is key

Financial considerations are hard to overestimate in any project. Developers can often be unwilling to spend money on mapping and monitoring, instead opting for the simplest possible technique. Unfortunately, as you go down the line with this approach, there’s still some surprise when the approvals get rejected. Without the right equipment, the operation tends to go over thresholds or other similar measurements. In the field, the simplest technique doesn’t give you the answer all the time. You’ll only end up having to spend your money on fines and delays instead. Be one step ahead of the regulators and the public.

Transferring risk can end up costing big bucks

Dredging project owners are always looking to reduce their risk, trying to create contracts that transfer risk to the dredging contractor and it doesn’t work. A contractor can decide at some point that they haven’t made enough money, pick an area of AS 2124 and attack it and make a claim. If multiple contractors operate within a wharf or similar structure at the same time, this can cause access issues and lead to further claims.

There’s an illusion in the current way contracts are done that risk can be transferred from the project owner. Whilst this may save short term costs, it can lead to substantial cost and time delays down the line.

Owners still have a lack of experience in terms of practical dredging knowledge. Most teams have a procurement unit working in isolation and independently of everyone else, which leads to a single vision. Risk becomes points on a paper inside a contract that becomes transferred rather than dealt with from a practical view.

Communication is top priority

It seems obvious, but it’s still an area that leads to many issues throughout the dredging process. This is crucial both for contract relationships and to avoid delays and disputes from stakeholders.

Collaboration, partnership, and being able to see another person’s perspective is key. Building a rapport builds confidence and trust that the contract and project is being handled responsibly – work together early and often, both at the project level and more broadly.

Good planning up front and a robust assessment of baseline environmental conditions needs to be locked in. Have a very well defined project description early on and don’t change it. All of those things will help approvals, stakeholder communication and consultation.

The ‘unforeseen’ can be avoided

If you’re acting for the Principal, start thinking about the likelihood of unexpected conditions at the early feasibility stage of a project right up to when you select a tenderer. After selecting a tenderer and the Contractor is working on site, you lose much of the power to influence. Take steps to identify possible latent conditions at any early stage, before you’re confronted with them during project execution.

Latent conditions need to be managed

If a Principal is faced with a more complex project with varying soil and rock types, then it is well advised to carry out a more thorough investigation to lower the risk of not detecting a latent condition. Obviously there is a cut off; a Principal can’t investigate every cubic meter for the planned Project.

Any site investigation can only be a representation of anticipated subsurface conditions. Principals should always aim to reduce the risk to an acceptable degree. Consider Early Contractor Involvement with the scope of the planned site investigation.

Geotechnical modelling has huge potential

 

Both the Principal and the Contractor should formulate a robust 3D geotechnical model of the likely subsurface conditions. The model can determine what materials you are likely to encounter in different types and categories.

The Principal’s consultant and the Contractor’s production estimator can then calculate the derived productions fairly accurately. If a latent condition is encountered, a geotechnical model can provide the parties with a benchmark to calculate where the differences are. Be wary of interpretation – different biases can lead to issues.

Take proactive measures

A proactive way of dealing with disputes as they arise is needed. A dispute board can be selected for their knowledge and expertise before any dispute has arisen. By undertaking an on-going relationship and regular site visits, the dispute board will acquire a good working knowledge of the project. When a dispute arises, the dispute board will have a much better understanding than a court or arbitral tribunal, which will only be appointed after a dispute has arisen.

Keep learning and evolving

The fundamental of dredging is that you dig the stuff up out of the ground and put it somewhere – that hasn’t changed. What has changed is the way that you do it, and that’s driven from environmental approvals.

The management of reclamation areas has improved enormously, and understanding how to minimise the amount of turbidity or sediments that get back into the environment. That’s going to become much more important as work is done in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Innovation will be dealing with the conditions and coming up with the best outcome using all of your knowledge and resources available to come up with a solution.

The Dredging and Reclamation conference has been developed as a value creation forum where knowledge, new ideas, best practice and real world learning experiences can be shared amongst other dredging professionals. Providing key case studies from leading practitioners, the conference will share insight into Australia’s most exciting dredging projects in the planning, design or development stages.

Find out more by visiting www.dredgingandreclamation.com.au or call 02 9229 1090.

Do NSW have the contact centre of the future?

Over 1,231,000 online visits since launch.

More than 356,000 calls to contact centres.

731,000 customers served.

All in less than a year since launch…

Service NSW is definitely taking off. The question is; how do you cope with this exponential increase in demand whilst keeping customers ‘delighted’? Well, with a 99 per cent contact centre customer satisfaction rate – we might just have the answer.

The organisation is pretty unique, launching in July 2013 and integrating three service delivery channels – a dedicated web portal, customer contact call centres, and shop-front services. This integration delivers the benefits of internet, cloud, mobile communications and customer relationship management platforms.

I recently caught up with Jody Grima, Director, Contact Centres, Service NSW to get the insight. She explains:

“We’re growing, and our numbers are rapidly increasing. After almost 12 months’ implementation, we’re still delighting customers, which is something that’s always a risk when you’ve got a new service. Does our culture pertain? Well it is, and that’s something that’s really exciting for us.”

Employee engagement

“Our vision is to be a leader in the delivery of customer service not only within government, but also within industry. A leader in customer experience and a leader in the provision of service. That ties in with our employee engagement ambitions, to be ranked in the top quartile.

“At Service New South Wales, the two go hand in hand. In order to deliver outstanding customer experience, you also need to actively engage and have a very happy workforce. That’s a key element to our vision and culture. Invest in your people and you get the outcome of a great customer experience.

“Being a new organisation, we recruited staff afresh. Nearly 60 per cent came from other government agencies, with 40 per cent coming from outside government. We’ve got a real mix of new staff to service New South Wales.

The focus in our training is on emotional intelligence – really looking at the soft skills and complementing that with the technical training.”

Continuing to meet the needs of the customer

“Customer feedback is extremely important to us, so we’re tracking that via CSAT (customer satisfaction scores), which is by a question asked within the contact centre at the end of each call.

“Since the launch, we have continued to modify and enhance the way our service is being designed. This feedback draws on market research, and what end users expect of the service.”

Call centre staff are using Salesforce information management tools. The cloud-based CRM capability helps track and manage customer profiles and tackle the most common enquiries. It enables staff to draw on a previous history, utilise a consolidated database, anticipate questions, increase first call resolutions and respond more promptly.

“We are continuing to build our knowledge base about questions that are routinely asked, and being able to answer these at the outset.

“We have what we call self-service customer feedback zones in the service centres. There’s immediate feedback going through in our physical shop fronts. We also have a feedback mechanism on our web page as well – a significant part of whether we’re achieving our goals or not.

“The other way we’re doing that is tracking against service levels and outcomes. Service New South Wales has a mandate, the Service New South Wales DNA. We’re continually reviewing our performance against those success factors and progressing exceptionally well. As we succeed, we can then continue to grow the service.”

“At the time of writing this, the contact centre had an average answer time of just 29 seconds. The challenge now is to pre-empt the demand. Since going live, customers have embraced the service much faster than expected.”

Up to 8,000 telephone numbers are being used to access information. The NSW government seeks to cut back on these enquiry landlines whilst saving on the cost of running many telephone systems.

During the Government Contact Centre Summit 2014, Customer Service Commissioner Michael Pratt will talk through the Service New South Wales journey – from creation, success, lessons and the culture change and vision for the coming years.

9 Tips for Transitioning to Customer Self Service

Guest post from Ross Clayton for the Government Contact Centre Summit 2014

Customer self-service is the obvious solution for government contact centres looking to preserve their operating budgets.

Not only does it keep low value, high volume transactions out of the contact centre, it also improves your customer experience by offering them a simple, fast and easy way to get the information that they need.

To help you on your journey, here are nine key things to consider when moving to self-service:

  1. Decide on your channel strategy – with a new social media channel appearing every minute, you can’t be everywhere. Instead, map out your target demographics and the channels they frequent, and tailor your efforts accordingly.
  1. Bring your customers with you – spending time and money on developing a new communication channel will be a fruitless endeavour unless your customers use it. Tell them about it in person, over the phone and any other way you can.
  1. Make it simple stupid – if your self-service channel is more complicated than doing it over the phone, it will go the way of the dinosaurs. Keep the interface simple and reduce the burden of effort on behalf of your customers.
  1. Don’t reinvent the wheel – You are not the first government agency to move to self-service, and you certainly won’t be the last. Draw on the lessons learned by your peers like ServiceNSW at home and the UK’s Digital by Default strategy abroad.
  1. The left hand should know what the right hand is doing – Integrate your self-service channels with the rest of your organisation. If someone is half way through a form online, you should know about it when they call you.
  1. Sing from the same hymn sheet – Consistency of message.The information on your website should be the same as that available on the phone. If your customers consider the phone channel the source of truth, you can guarantee they will continue to use it as their first port of call.
  1. Create a feedback loop – If customers often call the contact centre due to a similar issue or error, ensure that this is fed back into self-service design. That way problems can be addressed at source, and interactions can be resolved online rather than on the phone, saving time and money for all concerned.
  1. Don’t let fear of the unknown hold you back – Often we see Contact Centre Managers shying away from newer channels, particularly social media, as they are more fearful of what might go wrong than the potential upside.
  1. Up skill your staff – Contact centres have come a long way from the call centres of yesterday. A modern customer service agent needs to be savvy across multiple channels. Ensure that you give them the tools they need to do the job.

How the Dept of Justice developed an assurance governance mapping tool…

Have you been tasked with providing an analysis of how assurance activities within your organisation are mitigating against risk?

Ahead of ERM for Government 2014,  Jacinthe Galpin, Director Risk and Audit at the Victorian Department of Justice gave us a sneak peak of developments across risk management….

Jacinthe is an innovative governance executive with over 15 years’ experience across public and private sector corporations, including the Australian Taxation Office, British Petroleum, Telstra Corporation and the Department of Justice.

Jacinthe believes that governance functions can – when well executed – not only provide robust assurance and comfort but can also deliver innovative best appropriate practice.

The Department of Justice Victoria has developed an assurance governance mapping tool. Can you give us some background on what this is and why it was developed?

An assurance governance map is an one-page analysis of how assurance activities in organisations are mitigating against risks. Assurance governance mapping allows an organisation to assess both the presence, and effectiveness of, governance, risk and control processes. It also highlights opportunities for realistic reduction of assurance activity (if existing activity is sufficient) or where assurance activity must be increased (if existing activity is insufficient).

While assurance governance mapping may not tell you anything new, it distils information from a variety of inputs into a single point, allowing organisations to see their risk and control environment on one page as an executive summary of an organisation’s risk environment.

The Department of Justice is a complex and diverse organisation. Assurance governance mapping will help us understand our risk environment – our exposures, threats and opportunities – and make informed and intelligent decisions about that environment. It will help our decision making and strengthen the intelligence and data we use to make those decisions.

With increased regulatory and compliance requirements, how important is it for public sector organisations to understand and manage their risks?

Public sector organisations must have frameworks in place to identify, analyse, evaluate and treat risk. The community expects nothing less.

A good risk management framework increases organisational awareness of exposures, threats and opportunities, and gives its owner the tools with which to manage those risks to acceptable levels.

Can you give us some insight into the findings of your mapping tool? And how has this made you reassess your approach to difference kinds of risk within the department?

The Department of Justice’s tool is still in development so I can’t speak about the findings yet. However, we expect to be surprised by the end result as assurance governance mapping is usually an exercise where everyone ends up learning a little more about their business. History shows that organisations tend to saturate known risks with control structures whilst the severe and protracted problems are a little tougher to deal with and, as a result, control activity tends to be more limited or targeted. My own personal experience has shown me that in many organisations where severe and protracted problems were critically exposed, it was only via the assurance governance map that the exposure was identified and subsequently treated.

For the Department of Justice, the implementation of assurance governance mapping will enable us to best direct our efforts in terms of control and treatment strategies. We will be able to better target areas of exposures and ensure that our lines of defence remain robust and strong.

Developing a proactive risk culture is a major challenge across the public sector. What strategies can risk leaders deploy to develop a proactive risk culture and build capability in the risk function?

Building and maintaining a culture in which the awareness and discussion of risk is paramount is critical to the successful development and implementation of a risk framework. A good culture is developed with and for its business, is agile and responsive and seeks to embed risk in the day to day operations of a business, rather than a cumbersome additional compliance exercise. A bad culture is one where the executive has decided what the culture is going to be and it is henceforth dictated to staff.

Good risk management leaders should conduct risk surveys, talk to their business and find out what people really want rather than what you think they need. Working closely with your business to institute change by degree may result in slower cultural transformation, but your results will be more sustained and embedded.

Join Jacinthe and key stakeholders from State, Local and Federal Government during ERM for Government 2014.

Government Organisations tasked with risky business…

Times are changing for government organisations, and for many it’s going to come as quite a shock. When it comes to risk, we haven’t seen anything that’s actually required government agencies to set up a framework that really aligns to processes. The framework is aimed to fully manage risk and proactively put tools in place to mitigate any potential outcomes.

By the 1st July, under new guidelines, it’s time for organisation to progress beyond compliance.

Rod Farrar, Director of Paladin Risk Management Services has been working with organisations for years, helping them to develop and implement risk management frameworks for their business. He explained how in many organisations, if risk management is done at all, it is in a token manner and is mainly seen as a compliance exercise – it does not add value to the organisation in any way. Even with the introduction of the PGPA, there is a danger that Government Agencies will do just enough to be compliant but it’s time to start looking at the wider strategic and operational picture. If embraced fully, in the long term, there’s huge potential to achieve the national objective of doing ‘more with less’.

It’s time for change

What needs to happen between now and July 1st? According to Rod, organisations need to embrace the true benefits of ERM to achieve their full potential: “Many Government organisations are in a situation where they spend more time crisis managing than they do on risk management. If they start to see risk management as more than a compliance activity, one which is fully integrated into their other organisational programs, then huge efficiencies are to be gained.

“There are some key areas that need to change, and it has to start with a culture shift driven from within. To manage risk effectively, we need to be working in a no blame culture, where we learn from our mistakes.”

“When you have a culture that embraces open discussion around mistakes, people are more encouraged to prevent it happening again and therefore adapt new processes. There’s absolutely no capability of a risk framework succeeding if there is a blame culture.”

For many organisations, this would require a big shift in culture, with support needed from top to bottom

“Everyone is accountable for driving a positive culture, management need to lead through open communication, but all tiers need to embrace change in order to switch from re-active to pro-active. There needs to be a transition from ‘doing risk management’ to ‘managing risk.’

“I look around the public service now and government agencies have to come up with efficiency dividends. This is usually done by reducing staff numbers. If we managed risk properly, however, efficiency dividends may not be needed.

Where the benefits can be seen

It seems clear there are some real benefits to be had for the entire business when risk management is seen as more than just a compliance exercise. Rod described the knock on effect that has seen many organisations dramatically improve operations:

“Organisations are currently spending too much time managing a crisis. It’s been shown that managing crises costs more than proactively managing risk.

“What risk management will do – if it’s integrated properly with strategic and business planning, compliance, performance management and internal audit is reduce the amount of work an organisation is required to do and will significantly reduce expenditure.   “Risk management has also been shown to improve objectives, planning and relationships with stakeholders.

 “Simply relying on risk champions within your organisation to be the focus of the risk management effort will not work – the organisation as a whole needs to embrace the program within a well-structured risk management framework.”

Join the Masterclass

During Enterprise Risk Management 2014, we’ll be holding a brand new one day masterclass: Governance, Risk and Compliance. Not sure whether it’s for you? Find out more