Skip to content | Change text size
 

Support Services Review Guidelines

1. Purpose

  • To assist the University to assure itself of the quality of its support services.
  • To utilise learning from this developmental process in order to effect ongoing quality improvement.

2. Scope

Support services provide essential infrastructure, policies, processes, and services for staff and students and enable faculties to conduct the core business of the University.  Support services reviews therefore include:

  1. alignment with University plans, priorities, policies, key performance and business intelligence indicators;
  2. organisational structure, management, quality assurance and improvement;
  3. human and physical resources (including IT and facilities and services); and
  4. core services.

The ‘unit' for review may be a whole division/centre/campus/section or any combination of these.

Reporting on progress towards key objectives, reviews must take into consideration customer service (including how customer service is delivered, achieved and measured); financial performance (value for service); internal processes (efficiency and effectiveness); and improvements that should be made in response to this feedback.

3. Guiding Principles

The objective of the review process is for a unit to consider its directions, progress, achievements and strengths, as well as areas for development and improvement and the means of achieving these.

The review is an opportunity to identify key issues in the ‘Improve' step of the Quality Cycle (Plan, Act, Evaluate and Improve).

The unit should both document its current state with respect to the terms of reference, and reflect on and evaluate areas of strength and those areas where improvements or new directions may be needed using the appropriate Monash standards.

4. Review Cycle

Each unit of the University's support service operations is normally reviewed every 5 years although a shorter cycle is discretionary. Information obtained from routine and more frequent performance feedback and monitoring mechanisms (such as customer or client satisfaction surveys) provides input to reviews.

5. Review Schedule

Each  unit publicises the schedule of support services reviews on its website.  This information is also linked to the Office of the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Learning & Teaching) website.  The review schedule will include all reviews planned for a 5 year review cycle.

6. Terms of Reference

Support Services reviews consider outcomes together with the effectiveness of processes and procedures in all key areas, including:

  • alignment with University plans, priorities, policies, key performance and business intelligence indicators;
  • organisational structure, management, quality assurance and improvement;
  • human and physical resources (including IT and facilities and services); and
  • core services.

Terms of reference ensure consistency of reviews across the institution.  Units may also include other areas or issues not covered in the standard terms of reference. Any request to reduce the terms of reference needs prior approval by the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Learning and Teaching).

7. Self Review

Self review is the first stage of the review process.  It presents an opportunity for the unit to consider its direction, progress, achievements and strengths, as well as areas for development and improvement and the means of achieving these.

A team is appointed to lead the self review and produce a self review document.  The self review document forms the basis for the review that will follow.  The self review document is normally up to 7,000 words, beginning with an executive summary including a prioritised list of recommendations and is structured to reflect the terms of reference.  It may be appropriate for smaller units to develop shorter reports.

The fundamental purpose of the self review document is to provide a summary of the outcomes of the self review process; to identify areas where the unit is performing well and areas where opportunities for improvement have been identified.  As the benefits of undertaking this process should outweigh the costs (time, resources and effort), the unit should ensure that the costs are not excessive and that the benefits are realised.

A ‘helicopter view' should be taken, which gives an overview of all relevant aspects of the unit according to the terms of reference, and which allows for closer scrutiny of particular areas where needed. The size of the self review document should be sufficient to reflect this helicopter view. 

Information, data and supporting documentation normally regarded as useful for the self review are available from the OPVC(L&T) website together with guidelines for drafting the Self Review Report (see Attachment 1 and Attachment 2).

8. External Review

The second stage comprises the review of the support services area by an external review panel.

a) Panel Membership

Review panels are selected by the Divisional Director or equivalent, in consultation with the Head of Unit when a sub-unit is being reviewed and are approved by the relevant Deputy Vice-Chancellor or Vice-President. Selection of panel members is based on experience and expertise with regard to the terms of reference.

Panels normally include:

  • an appointee of the Vice Chancellor's Senior Management Team (SMT);
  • two senior counterparts from relevant areas and external to Monash University (an international perspective is encouraged);
  • a senior Monash support services representative, external to the unit and usually external to the division/centre;
  • a member of an appropriate industry group, professional association or society;
  • a senior student or recent graduate for a service that has direct impact on students, or
  • a member of University staff (from a different internal area) for a staff-related service.

The secretary to the committee may be an internal nominee or an external appointment.

The Divisional Director nominates the chair of the review panel and other members of the panel as appropriate.

Once the panel has been appointed, the OPVC(L&T) is provided with the names of the panel members.

 b) External Review Process

Panel members receive the self review document and may ask for further documentation if necessary.  The secretary to the panel convenes the review visit in consultation with the Divisional Director/Head of the Support Services unit and panel members.

During the visit, the panel will meet with interested parties, tour facilities, receive submissions and requests for interviews, and at the end of the visit, present preliminary findings to the DVC or Vice-President. 

As part of the review process, the panel will arrange interviews with representatives of key stakeholder group. These normally would  be planned in consultation with the Divisional Director and arranged by the secretary.  It should be kept in mind, however, that the purpose of these interviews is to verify statements made in the self review document.

It would be expected that the unit itself has processes for obtaining and acting on stakeholder feedback and these should form part of the self review report.

A typical calendar of events is available from the OPVC(L&T) website (Attachment 3).

c) Review Report

The chair of the review panel works closely with the secretary to draft the review report, which the Divisional Director/Head of Support unit receives normally within two months of the review visit.

The review report is usually up to 7,000 words (again depending on the size of the unit being reviewed) beginning with an executive summary including a prioritised list of recommendations.  Major headings normally follow the terms of reference and self review document, with one or two paragraphs for each finding. 

The usual format for the report is available from the OPVC(L&T) website (Attachment 6).

Once the report has been completed, the OPVC(L&T) is sent a copy.

9. Post-Review Implementation

The third stage of the review process is the consideration of recommendations made by the external review panel, the development of an action plan and its implementation.

a) Implementing an Action Plan

On receiving the review report, the Divisional Director, in consultation with the Head of the Support Services unit (if appropriate):

  • reviews the review recommendations and their assigned priorities;
  • develops an action plan (and if necessary modifies the support services unit operational plan) to prioritise recommendations, assign responsibility for action, assess resource implications and provide a time scale for implementation;
  • reports major issues or findings to the Vice-Chancellor's Group and the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Learning and Teaching) who will refer relevant sections to the senior manager with portfolio responsibility for comment and endorsement;
  • has ongoing consultation with the relevant Head of Unit, concerning progress of the action plan.

Approval of the action plan is given by the Vice Chancellor's Group.

b) Reporting

Within two weeks of approval of the action plan, the review secretary lodges with the OPVC(L&T), the review report and action plan.  These documents then are uploaded to the review database.

The Divisional Director has ongoing consultation with relevant members of the Vice Chancellor's Group and the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Learning and teaching) concerning implementation of the plan, and provides reports on implementation of the action plan to the senior manager with portfolio responsibility.

Twelve months following the review, the Divisional Director must provide a report on the implementation of the review to the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Learning and Teaching) and the review secretary must lodge the follow-up report with the OPVC(L&T).

A final report based on outcomes is sent to the OPVC(L&T) once all actions have been implemented.

10. Support

Quality assurance and improvement is a core responsibility for each academic area.  Support with review preparation is available from the OPVC(L&T).  The following documents have been prepared to assist with the review of academic areas and are available from the OPVC(L&T) website: