Higher Education Student Services Redesign in 6 Phases: An Overview

medium_2521904717Recently I revisited the report “Reclaiming the American Dream: Community Colleges and the Nation’s Future” and the call to action for community colleges.  The report identifies 3 overarching imperatives required to reimagine community colleges.  These are:

  • Redesign students’ educational experiences;
  • Reinvent institutional roles; and
  • Reset the system to create incentives for student and institutional success.

The challenge for most higher education institutions is to identify where to put the stake in the ground and begin the reinvention process.  Should the assessment process begin with people, process or technology- or all three? I recommend a 6- phase process for initiating a redesign.  This blog post introduces the phases recommended for beginning a redesign effort.  In subsequent posts, I will  detail how to engage in each of the 6 phases.

6 Phases for a Student Services Redesign:

  1. Launch project
  2. Assess the current organization
  3. Conduct best practice research
  4. Develop a vision and goals
  5. Formulate options for student service models
  6. Create a go forward plan

 Checklist for Launching a Student Services Redesign:

Pre-launch critical success actions that set a foundation for overall project success include the following:

  • Committed executive sponsorship: President, Provosts, academic leadership, and administrative leadership all need to be on board for supporting this effort.
  • Committed senior student services leadership: Provides resources and support for initiative.
  • Assigned project leader with a work team: Using volunteers is tricky.  A truly transformative initiative needs committed resources.  If performance is only tied to day-to-day responsibilities that are unrelated to this initiative, only those responsibilities will be the priority. A best practice in overall project success is to formally allocate a % of the assigned individual’s time to this initiative.  Align project outcomes to performance metrics to guarantee the initiative maintains priority status.
  • Allocated project administrative support. Communication, scheduling and resource management need to be carefully managed to ensure the project stays on track and continues to move forward.

 Question to Consider?

What will it take for my campus to prepare for a student services redesign effort?

Do we have the right resources allocated to this initiative?

What other campus partners can improve our success in executing this initiative?

Questions about how to begin a student redesign initiative? Contact me at
[email protected].

photo credit: Wonderlane via photopin cc

Strategic Planning CPR: How to Breath Life Back Into Your Strategic Plan

February 26, 2013 by  
Filed under Higher Education, Strategic Planning

Recently I had a conversation about strategic planning with a past higher education client. We discussed the challenge in staying on course when taking action on a strategic plan.  The time commitment to develop an actionable strategic plan is not small. However, the real challenge lies in implementation. Our conversation reminded me of an interview I did a few years ago.

I had the pleasure of being interviewed on The Business Dig, a blog radio show hosted by Lisa Kanda and Debra Frey, Our discussion focused on challenges in successful strategic plan implementation and steps to get back on track.  The focus of this interview was not necessarily on strategic planning in higher education, however the message is applicable.

Has it been awhile since you’ve reviewed your strategic plan? Here is a link to listen to how to get back to your plan.  Strategic Planning CPR: How to Breath Life Back into your Strategic Plan

The four steps below are highlights from the interview to get back to taking action on your strategic plan.


Dust off your strategic plan and take a hard look at it. If it’s been one or two quarters since you last reviewed the document, organize a review session (ideally a half-day retreat) with a committee of key administrative or academic representatives from your school or department. The goal is to re-engage.  Consider the goals listed in the plan and discuss where you are today.

Refine Plan

Does the plan in its current state resonate with where you want to be in the next 18 months?  If not, how can the goals and initiatives be adjusted? What are five key actions that need to take place in the next quarter to get started?

Take Action

The next steps are pure action planning.  Designate an owner of the plan to steer implementation. Discuss and allocate resources needed. Define and agree on immediate next steps for implementation.

Report Progress Regularly

Create a strategic plan dashboard to track progress on key initiatives. How will progress be communicated? What is the communication mechanism? Who is accountable for managing communication?  Who is included on the distribution list?

Questions about starting a strategic planning initiative at your institution or department? Contact me at [email protected].