Strategic Planning in Student Unions


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This presentation tells the story of Leeds University Union's 2009 strategic planning process. Leeds University Union is the only SUEI Gold Status Union and was awarded NUS Students' Union of the Year 2009/10.

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Strategic Planning in Student Unions

  1. 1. Improving the Strategic Planning Process B1.3 Review Tom Salmon, Marketing Manager Leeds University Union
  2. 2. Why review? <ul><li>To support service and provision planning. </li></ul><ul><li>To improve. </li></ul><ul><li>To foster new relationships. </li></ul><ul><li>To future-proof the Union. </li></ul><ul><li>To re-define and re-develop plans. </li></ul><ul><li>To set objectives for the next 4 years. </li></ul>
  3. 3. Contextual desk research and non-student stakeholders September 2008 <ul><li>What contexts we would be operating in within in the future? The national socio-economic picture, University context, ethical and environmental issues. </li></ul><ul><li>We involved our critical friends </li></ul><ul><li>Sources included NUS etc etc </li></ul><ul><li>Future trends prediction </li></ul><ul><li>Union staff away day </li></ul>
  4. 4. What will 2018 look like? <ul><li>We had themes to test with students, signed off by the Board of Trustees. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Application of Ethical and Environmental Concerns </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Democracy and Representation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Services / Activities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Communication </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>LUU Core Values </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Student Experience (e.g. employability) </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Market research October 2008 <ul><li>The brief was for an external, independent market research company to provide us with… </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Qualitative student research </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Quantitative student survey </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Supplemental qualitative post-survey input </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>3 interim reports prior to a final presentation of findings </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. A first round of focus groups December 2009 <ul><li>We tested the themes that emerged from the contextual desk research with over 200 students in a focus group setting (12 students per group) </li></ul><ul><li>A representative sample of our students </li></ul><ul><li>Were they relevant and meaningful to our students? </li></ul><ul><li>What did the Union mean to them? </li></ul>
  7. 7. Feedback from the focus groups December 2009 <ul><li>Tested our assumptions and showed us where to look for more information. </li></ul><ul><li>Showed a general level of satisfaction, but with key areas for improvement. </li></ul><ul><li>E.g. Ethical and environmental concerns less pressing for students than quality and value. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Creating a questionnaire December 2008 / January 2009 <ul><li>University data absolutely fundamental. </li></ul><ul><li>It took 6 drafts to get right. </li></ul><ul><li>Variety of question formats and a progress report. </li></ul><ul><li>Killer questions. </li></ul><ul><li>Ability to build a ‘3D model’ of membership </li></ul>
  9. 9. Recruiting into the questionnaire February 2009 <ul><li>4000 responses we achieved through a mixture of; </li></ul><ul><li>Appealing to highly involved students. </li></ul><ul><li>Instant incentives (Mars bars!). </li></ul><ul><li>Targeted emails to various segment groups. </li></ul><ul><li>A cash prize for one lucky winner (screen shot?), Summer Ball VIP packages. </li></ul><ul><li>Daily respondent checks to focus sampling </li></ul><ul><li>Volunteers supervising laptops in Union and visiting PC clusters across campus. </li></ul>
  10. 10. The results <ul><li>Results from the data were presented by Red Brick media to the senior management team and Executive Committee. </li></ul><ul><li>Board of Trustees, Department Managers and other managers briefed prior to all union staff presentation at an all staff summer meeting. </li></ul>
  11. 12. Final round of focus groups March 2009 <ul><li>We chose 5 areas to interrogate more, e.g. our role in developing skills and employment prospects </li></ul><ul><li>Hosted an informal café drop in style event over 5 hours in the Union. Students were invited to drop in and share their thoughts on the five specific issues. </li></ul>
  12. 13. Creating our strategic themes May 2009 <ul><li>Our strategic themes emerged… </li></ul><ul><li>Students’ skills and experiences </li></ul><ul><li>Providing the support needed to make student life easier </li></ul><ul><li>Quality and value </li></ul><ul><li>Listening to our members and create change together on the issues which affect them most </li></ul><ul><li>Making it fun and exciting to get more out of membership </li></ul><ul><li>Creating a strong culture for our people to work and grow in </li></ul><ul><li>Being a sustainable organisation in every way </li></ul><ul><li>A vibrant space – physical and virtual - for members to meet and connect with each other </li></ul><ul><li>A positive impact ensuring every member is touched by LUU (!) </li></ul>
  13. 14. Setting up project groups June 2009 <ul><li>9 project groups, one for each theme. </li></ul><ul><li>8 staff per project group from right across the Union. </li></ul><ul><li>Given 100 days to come up with 4 big ideas (objectives) to deliver in the next 4 years, complete with initiatives, targets and measures. </li></ul>
  14. 15. Language and vision <ul><li>Simplicity and transparency </li></ul><ul><li>Outside help / sanity checking from a freelance copywriter, </li></ul>
  15. 17. The next steps… <ul><li>Consultation and amendments (Oct 09) </li></ul><ul><li>A referendum campaign (Nov 09) </li></ul><ul><li>Choosing KPIs, e.g. (Nov 09) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Positive contribution to University life </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Turnout in exec elections </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Footfall and specific web traffic </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Net promoter score </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Active membership cards / accounts </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Cascading the strategy (Jan 10) </li></ul><ul><li>Departmental and personal planning </li></ul><ul><li>Departments asked to work on no more than 7 big ideas each year (manage capacity) </li></ul><ul><li>Measurement </li></ul><ul><li>(ongoing & annual, segmented) </li></ul>
  16. 18. Big learns <ul><li>Keep telling students the story 'you told us this, so we're doing this‘ </li></ul><ul><li>Involve staff, especially student staff, at every stage. Internal ideas and communications were key. </li></ul><ul><li>Keep the language simple </li></ul><ul><li>Focus on where your teams can have the most impact, be prepared to direct the plan </li></ul>
  17. 19. <ul><li>Tom Salmon </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>tominleeds </li></ul><ul><li>0113 380 1390 </li></ul>