Delivering a digital strategy for the University of Bath

First published on University of Bath Digital Marketing & Communications blog

In recent posts, we’ve alluded to there being a University of Bath digital strategy. It’s the product of analysis and interviews conducted over the last 3 months, and we have begun taking that strategy around campus to introduce our colleagues to its contents and to get their feedback and support.

Our strategic goal
The University’s goal is to have a world-class digital domain developed around the needs of its users. This digital goal is framed by the actions set out in the University of Bath’s strategy for 2013 – 2016.

Users of our digital domain include students, academics, corporate staff, businesses and the public. While the majority of our digital users are here on campus, we receive high volumes of traffic from elsewhere in the UK and increasingly overseas. Our website serves in part as a marketing channel but our users are mostly task-driven and view our digital domain as a collection of services they use to get things done.

We want the people who use our site and associated digital channels to regard them as informative, trustworthy and useful. We believe that the manner in which we meet our users’ needs sets us apart from our peers and when we perform well it has a positive impact on the reputation and visibility of our research and teaching.

Delivering our strategy
The University of Bath’s digital presence is of comparable quality to its peers. While we have a decent track record, we are not content with satisfactory. We want to deliver excellent products and services in a distinctive way that puts us amongst the leading higher education institutions globally.

We have put a highly-skilled in-house team of developers, designers and editors in place. Working to a shared set of digital delivery principles, the remit of the Digital team is to:

  • set digital policy and performance standards
  • develop and maintain products and services
  • support publishing and engagement by the University.

Over the course of the next 24 months the Digital team will deliver, coordinate and support 10 workstreams designed to deliver the strategic goal. The workstreams are:

  • develop the central delivery capability
  • embed data-driven decision-making
  • improve content production and curation
  • simplify the digital publishing process
  • upgrade platform infrastructure
  • optimise site search and navigation
  • make it easier for users to complete tasks
  • develop specialist sections on
  • enhance the University’s profile on social channels
  • improve creative marketing.

Within each of these workstreams are a number of projects, each with specific deliverables. Work on each area will take place concurrently because they are all related and represent the component parts of the world-class digital domain we aspire to. Delivery will also be iterative, allowing us to plan, build and test quickly to keep pace with changes in user needs and technology.

The University has put in place a Digital Steering Group to support the strategy and supervise the quality of its delivery. The Group consists of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, the Pro-Vice Chancellors, the University Secretary and the Director Marketing & Communications. We are very pleased to have this level of air cover and also to have expert taps on the tiller occasionally.

Working with you
Lots of people talk about ‘digital first’ transformation projects, which we understand. We prefer to explain our own transformation as ‘putting digital at the core of our organisation’ because digital plays its part in every aspect of the University to one degree or another.

We have begun working our way around the University to introduce the digital strategy and its actions to the people who we hope will work with us to put it into practice because they have a stake in its success. Our intention is to meet with representatives of all academic and corporate departments by the end of the first quarter of 2014.

Sharing progress
Work is under way. As we move from words to outputs and begin to see outcomes,  this blog will serve as one of the places we will use to share our progress. We will post regularly and will welcome your views on what we are getting right or could do better.

Alongside working with our immediate colleagues, we are also keen to speak with our counterparts in other educational institutions here in the UK and overseas. We want to learn from others and share what we are doing, so please get in touch if you are working on something similar and what to compare notes (or battle scars).

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