University of Newcastle

The client - University of Newcastle

The University of Newcastle is a tertiary education institution ranked 197th in the world's universities and based in Newcastle, Australia. They are a global leader, with internationally recognised degree programs and are distinguished by a commitment to equity and excellence. As an innovative university, their focus is driven by offering world-class and diverse research, and partnerships and collaboration.

The business challenge

To meet the changing demands of global education, the University of Newcastle’s IT Services (ITS) team needed to transition to a new and contemporary operating model - to more effectively align technology funding, people, processes, data, and ultimately realise the University’s strategic goals for the future. To that end, the CIO led the ITS team through a phased shift to its desired future-state.

BDO’s solution

Utilising the cross-service capabilities of both BDO’s Strategy and Transformation and People Advisory teams, BDO collaborated on a human-centric organisational transformation, and an operating model of the future.

The University of Newcastle

The University of Newcastle’s IT Services (ITS) team embarked on a human-centric organisational transformation in 2018 so the university could become a ‘differentiator’ in the higher education sector.

Anthony Molinia, Chief Information Officer (CIO), University of Newcastle, recognised the need to create both agility and technology capability. This meant overhauling the structure and traditional operating model of the ITS team to a contemporary model, led by culture.

The university engaged BDO to support the people, process, and culture shifts through the transition, through collaboration with specific IT Transformation Consulting Services outlined in a carefully developed blueprint and implementation plan. This team was led by Jenine Waters, National Leader, People Advisory at BDO.

BDO deployed a small core delivery team to work hand-in-hand with the IT services leadership team throughout the implementation. The BDO team supported large-scale change initiatives with a focus on the redesign of the operating model, enabled by a shift to an outcomes-driven culture. This involved setting strategy, planning, assessing risk management throughout the delivery, support through planned change and communication, and enhancing the culture of the organisation.

A customer-centric approach to transformation

To achieve their objectives, Anthony and the ITS leadership team first looked at what IT Services were currently delivering. The university was determined from the outset that it would have to be a staff-led transformation in order to be successful. They began by consulting widely with key stakeholders and staff. Staff were invited to give feedback, be involved with several working groups and scenario planning to test the new operating model. As a result of bringing them through this process, staff felt a sense of ownership over the outcomes and were more willing to embrace the transformation. The result was an operating model aligned to the strategy that resolved their key pain points.

Creating shifts through culture

Throughout the process, the BDO team supported the phased transition of not only the university’s critical operational processes and key risks, but also the organisation’s culture to enable the realisation of their vision. BDO collaborated with the team to develop their capability and skillsets, preserve their culture and build on the strengths of their collective, to transition into what is now an outcomes-driven approach to delivering IT services.

Jackie Mottram, Manager, IT Strategy and Communications at the University of Newcastle, explained the university puts its culture first, because real transformation can’t happen without the right culture. To help achieve the right culture, BDO’s consulting team spent time understanding what they wanted their ideal future culture to look like and how they could bring that to life throughout the recruitment processes.

“We held a number of culture sessions with our staff to talk about what culture means to them. Following feedback from staff, we identified the right behaviours to develop our new culture statement, which is really outcomes-focused,” said Jackie.

“… I’m really buoyed by the energy and the focus to our culture. I’ve already seen improvements in collaboration and delivery throughput and I am looking forward to them exploiting those value streams.”

Anthony Molinia, Chief Information Officer

Defining new ways of working

Managing staff and stakeholder engagement was equally, if not more, important than managing process and technology-related risks. The team successfully trialled new scenarios in pocket initiatives to then inform new ways of working. Part of the design of the operating model was to bring students in, working with IT so they could help inform the solutions they use. The team also focused on ensuring clarity and definition for staff, coaching them, and eliminating the hurdles as they gradually transitioned to their new way of working.

An ongoing partnership

To ensure the success of this project, BDO continues to be involved with the transformation process. The anticipated benefits of this transformation will impact students, staff, and the overall community including:

  • Agility and flexibility in their delivery model, with enhanced speed-to-market
  • Alignment to their strategic objectives and increased value in the marketplace
  • Effective use of collaborative workspaces to support their new ways of working
  • Delivering an enhanced and enriched personalised experience
  • Better community outcomes through support of their researchers.

This major transformation is a testament to the collective strength of the BDO Advisory team.

Jenine Waters and the BDO team have supported our major transformation with their superior cooperative relationships and communications. The result was high-quality work in terms of accuracy, usability, and effectiveness of result as well as being on time and budget.