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Prioritising Operations: Transformative times

Monday 10 June 2019 9:39pm

How will you be affected by the Operations’ Group’s priorities this year? In the second of this two-part series find out how the group aims to provide support through its goals for technology, support services and sustainability.

Smarter buildings are in the University’s future.

Chief Operating Officer Stephen Willis.

Investigating cutting-edge prototype teaching and learning rooms, having more ‘smart’ buildings, prioritising IT projects, and sustainability are tight focuses for the Operations Group this year, Chief Operating Officer Stephen Willis says.

Transforming technology


The possibilities for cutting-edge prototype teaching and learning rooms will start being examined this year – then be used mid-way through next year, he says.

His staff will be “exploring innovative, practical and efficient solutions for flexible teaching and research spaces”.

“The design of new buildings and refurbishments involves being clear about the environments and technology our University wants to provide in the future,” Mr Willis says.

Smart buildings

Having more ‘smart’ buildings will become easier when a University design guideline is created this year that stipulates including emerging technology and future-proofing early when refurbishing and building.

The aim is to ensure building management systems adjust internal environments – temperatures, lighting, fresh air etc – to keep people comfortable and save energy, while also tracking data to help the University use and manage its buildings better by recognising any patterns or changes; such as how much they are used and the number of occupants at any given time in the day and across the week, Mr Willis says.

Equipment that provides audio visual, data and voice communication is also part of a ‘smart’ building so will be considered in the design brief as well.

Such systems will now be integrated with the University’s centralised information technology and communications systems to exploit potential benefits and reduce risks, costs and future rework, he says.

IT projects

The move towards delivering major IT initiatives as projects – rather than business-as-usual – and creating the University’s IT Project Delivery Unit has revealed a large number of IT projects and initiatives that need to be prioritised, Mr Willis says.

Some projects are more essential than others, while some initiatives duplicate existing systems or infrastructure.

Because every organisation has funding and resource constraints, Otago has to fully justify investing in any project and will create a three-year plan that prioritises technology projects from 2020 to 2022, he says.

There is more …

  • A cyber security framework will be created, to focus efforts while ensuring staff and students are clear how security is maintained
  • A University Digital Strategy will be developed – in collaboration with divisions – to maximise use of technologies and services

Transforming service and support

Support services

Support services, helping us all.

Staff and students will be given more clarity about what support services they can expect, from whom, and how well services are performing.

Levels of service for everything from IT to property management will be clearly defined by developing new service catalogues and agreements.

Support services’ performance will also start being robustly measured and monitored because “it is vital to demonstrate value for money and identify any shortfalls or areas that need intervention”, Mr Willis says.

Full performance measures and reporting should be in place by mid-2020.


Other service and support aims include:

  • Examining the future shape of the Property Services Division
  • Achieving stability after widespread changes in Information Technology Support and creating the new Shared Services Division

Equipment, rooms and buildings

Managing the University’s buildings and rooms in the best way possible will include:

  • Maximising room use by simplifying the system for booking teaching and meeting spaces
  • Developing a 20-year University-wide plan for new buildings and redevelopments
  • Helping to ensure buildings and significant equipment are managed efficiently by:

- achieving a Tertiary Education Commission asset management rating of 78 this year (up from 70, the lower end of intermediate)
- aiming to align with international standards for best practice (ISO 55001)

Sustainable operations – leading by example

Making a green impact

The Green Impact logo.

Boosting the University’s sustainability efforts will include giving staff and students more easy, effective opportunities to get involved with sustainability.

The Green Impact initiative is launching later this year by encouraging people to form groups to do set sustainability tasks that will add up to big differences.

Each group can also select a specific larger project from a list of ideas or submit an idea for approval.

The group’s actions can compete for new University sustainability awards.

Reducing waste

The University plans to reduce waste to landfill through its single collaborative contract with Waste Management that includes the company:

  • Adding food waste processors to the Dunedin campus
  • Building up a fleet of electric collection vehicles
  • Providing an annual $10,000 scholarship for waste minimisation initiatives
  • Employing a Waste Minimisation Coordinator to be based mostly on the Dunedin campus

As well this year …

The Operations Group aims to:

  • Finalise and implement a Green Building Standard, to minimise environmental impacts during building design/redesign, construction and occupancy
  • Develop a tool box to help prevent and manage common New Zealand health problems among staff (musculoskeletal, mental health and cardiovascular)
  • Embed the Worker Participation Framework in the University’s new structures – using a Health and Safety committee configuration that retains existing benefits while incorporating law changes