The University Print Unit

Implementing a new Management Information System

The University Print Unit (PCB) undertook a project to create one pricing structure for the services they provided which staff and customers could follow easily.

The programme of improvement project commenced in 2019 and one objective was to replace the two main software systems following feedback and comments received from staff. It was evident the current management information system (MIS) was misunderstood by the team as over time, the system had been modified and little documentation existed to allow them to understand current pricing structures. This resulted in the team working with a system having no processes to follow and users working differently. Which led to customers being quoted differing prices, leaving them unhappy and dissatisfied.

Improving customer satisfaction was a key goal of this project and it was decided the most effective approach was to replace the entire system. A specification was drawn together, and a decision taken to approach current hardware suppliers. The procurement process was followed at the University and a recent tender completed for new hardware gave the team more flexibility to buy additional related items within a 12-month period. The specification was submitted to the hardware supplier who proposed two new systems Market Direct Storefront (online web to print system) and PrintSmith Vision a print pricing engine and MIS system. Demonstrations of each system followed, and staff were involved in the decision-making process throughout.

Once a system had been procured a process mapping exercise was carried out with the customer-facing staff. The aim of this was to gain an understanding of how they performed their day-to-day functions, provide an opportunity for them to share any concerns and highlight any gaps in the process. This valuable information was then reviewed alongside the new MIS software to ensure both worked together. Installation began and although a major obstacle around pricing was uncovered everyone came together to resolve it and move on.

As a result of the team’s hard work and commitment, a successful exercise was completed which revealed accurate costing for the service and provided PCB with a springboard for moving forward. A new process map was devised and shared with customer facing staff alongside an agreement on new ways of working. Training materials were written and delivered as the first part of the system was made live.

Following the COVID 19-19 outbreak and subsequent campus lockdown, it became apparent that to re-open the campus, clear and relevant safety signage was required. PCB were approached to help manage the control of University-approved signage and the team felt confident that the new online ordering service would provide an excellent opportunity to highlight how capable the system was. Having translated the needs of the project stakeholders, an online store to display 389 social distancing related signage products was created on the new ordering service. The benefits of this approach included brand consistency across all signage and effective management of stock and pricing. The team worked tirelessly to adapt and develop new and existing processes to meet the customer demand.

All these changes now mean full costings for the service are available and transparent also pricing can be managed efficiently via a single system. Complete documentation and training materials exist to allow employees to provide clients with estimates through to billing. Above all, everybody is now able to follow the same process allowing anyone on the team to handle estimates or jobs the same way within the system.

Read about our customer focused services, 2020 to 2021

A photo of International Medieval Congress flags flying on the University of Leeds campus

Facilitating Events during a Pandemic

The University Events and Conferencing team’s ability to be flexible and innovative resulted in most events being delivered on virtual platforms, but a few on-campus events took place in line with Government social distancing guidelines.

At a time when the world had gone virtual, to run an in-person activity on campus took immense commitment from both strategic leaders and front-line teams to safely deliver an in-person activity during a global pandemic.

Working closely with the external event organisers the conferencing team delivered a three week, in-person event, providing over 2600 bed nights and supporting the delivery of an additional 130 warranted officers to be deployed in their forces from September 2020.

During the organisation of the event there was a real need to engage senior leaders, and key stakeholders such as Health and Safety services, on the importance of the activity and to promote how it could be delivered safely. In particular, the team had to:

  • Arrange for priority buildings to be unlocked and rooms to be opened and assessed as Covid 19 secure
  • Reduce capacities across the portfolio to allow for 2m social distancing
  • Agree and share best practice in a Covid 19 environment (including face coverings, sanitiser stations)
  • Amend the catering offer to ensure safety for all participants, staff and colleagues
  • Provide sufficient accommodation to allow for minimal interaction between participants, and to allow participants to operate in ‘bubbles’
  • Agree a protocol for isolation and quarantine should it be required
  • Provide additional car parking to negate the use of public transport
  • Support the digital delivery of some of the programme to reduce unnecessary cross over of participants

Adapting quickly to maintain the University’s event business was a priority for the events and conferencing team. In the move to virtual events, a scoping project group was established with key stakeholders including event organisers and conference managers. The group conducted thorough research, testing and evaluation of possible solutions. The chosen platform was multi-functional and included a fully searchable interactive programme, speaker and attendee information, sponsors and exhibitor profiles, social media feeds, downloadable abstracts, and surveys.

To improve accessibility and ensure event user experience remained high the platform was made available through google play and the app store making it easy to download on mobile phones and tablets. To ensure events ran smoothly, instruction documents with technical and best practice advice for presenters to pre-record content and for those giving live presentations were produced.

The team went to great lengths to ensure event attendees had a great experience by providing access to the online platform in advance of the event. This allowed attendees to view on-demand content, build profiles and familiarise themselves with the platform. When the event began, links to the live session rooms were made available. Additionally, some sessions were recorded and made available to view on-demand.

As a result of this work, the team discovered that events which were usually only accessible to UK attendees attracted a wider international audience, with some events doubling their expected attendance. As content was made available on-demand, issues with time zones were avoided. Similarly, the creation of a YouTube channel to host the videos helped create a community and bring increased opportunities for sharing research.

Virtual International Medieval Congress (vIMC) 2020 client feedback:

“I have been very impressed with the vIMC- it must have been an immense effort to get everything organised in time and with little time to prepare. I have been very impressed with how well everything works, and I was particularly impressed by the efforts to maintain the social aspect of the conference, despite the circumstances. I cannot imagine how many hours the IMC Team must have put into this, and I’m very impressed indeed.”

Read about our customer focussed services, 2020 to 2021

A photograph of two people from catering services delivering food donations

Improving community engagement and partnerships

Changing lives by making a positive impact on local communities has remained a key priority for the Conferencing and Catering Teams.

In 2019 / 2020, strong working relationships were enhanced with Leeds City College to facilitate a Graduation ceremony for their ‘Children’s University’, and a rewarding relationship was forged with the Chapeltown Youth Development Centre by providing food donations and Christmas gifts for children.

In partnership with Leeds City College, the University supported the ‘Children’s University’ in 2019 by hosting a Graduation Ceremony for 500, Year 7 students. The Children’s University aims to help children and families from the most deprived areas of the city to raise aspirations and encourage them to aim high in secondary school.

As this aligned with the University values, the team were keen to support the initiative and hosted the Graduation Ceremony at the University’s Great Hall, one of the most prestigious venues at Leeds. They went to great lengths to make this a memorable occasion for the children by providing formal graduation attire including ceremonial caps and gowns. As well as hosting the ceremony and associated festivities, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Student Education, Professor Tom Ward was invited to present the accolades to the students and deliver an inspirational speech.

Building on this success, Leeds City College decided to turn this into an annual event. However, in 2020, the pandemic restrictions meant things had to be delivered on a smaller scale and locally within each school involved. The team’s commitment to making this an enjoyable experience remained strong and their support was illustrated through the donation of 160 hand-decorated personalised biscuits for every child at the event.

Following the announcement of the national lockdown in March 2020 the catering requirements across the University were drastically reduced to provide only an essential service. In line with the Catering team’s commitment to providing a sustainable service and reducing food waste, they reached out to the Chapeltown Youth Development Centre to support their “Let’s Eat” Foodbank project by redistributing food that would have otherwise gone to waste. Furthermore, in support of the School Meals Campaign led by footballer Marcus Rashford, the team provided the centre with 100 packed lunches and breakfast cereals daily during the school holidays.

As Christmas approached, colleagues organised a Christmas Present Appeal and asked staff from across the service to donate any new and unused toys. Many remote staff supported the initiative by ordering gifts to be delivered directly to the University. In total, eight large Christmas sacks filled with toys were donated across children and families in Leeds.

The University’s “Too Good To Go” app ensured surplus cooked meals were made available at very reduced prices at the end of each day. This useful app impacted greatly on some regular customers from the local community who utilise the service regularly as it is cheaper and easier than cooking for themselves.

Supporting the local community continued right through to the end of term with the “End of Term Big Clear Out”, an initiative led by local councillors in collaboration with the University of Leeds and Leeds Beckett. The team collected unwanted clothing, household items and food donated by students and items from vacated student properties and delivered them to storage centres, which would later be donated to charities in the local community.

“Leeds University have supported this initiative 100 percent and I have found them a highly professional organisation to work with for which I sincerely thank them. I look forward to working with them in the future raising aspirations for the young people.”

Dianne Murray
Leeds City College


Read about our customer focussed services, 2020 to 2021