We set up the Student Accommodation System (SAS) Project to make sure that our online accommodation booking system meets student needs and expectations.
Currently, students have to wait for up to 28 days to find out if we can offer them a place in halls. Our administrative staff spend a lot of their time processing applications manually instead of helping students directly. These are only two of the reasons that show why we want to improve the process of booking student accommodation at LSE.
The project brings together staff from across the School including the Residential Services Division, the Business Improvement Unit, the Data and Technology Services Division, Summer School and Admissions.
- A ‘self-service’ application system where a student can choose and reserve their room type and price bracket at the time of online application, eliminating or reducing processing times.
- An application that is integrated with the School’s webpages so that research on halls and availability can take place within the application (rather than requiring separate searches on multiple browsers).
- A system that integrates well with our property management system ResLynx, the School’s student record database SITS, and will enable accommodation payments via the School’s finance system OneFinance.
- A system with appropriate management reporting capabilities.
Key benefits include:
- A self-service application will remove the need for the current maximum processing time of 28 days.
- A self-service application will bring the student experience in line with current user experience norms for booking platforms.
- Two-way integration with the reservation system will ensure more efficient operations. For example when a student is checked out of a room in Rezlynx, the room status in the accommodation system will update, too. This also reduces room for error when offering accommodation.
- Key performance indicators can be measured more quickly and reliably through improved management reporting.
- Empty rooms can be filled more quickly through self-service.
- Staff can focus on value-added activities (eg specialist support for non-routine bookings) instead of carrying out manual processes.
Supporting information and documents
The SAS project is being delivered using the LSE’s stage gate methodology. It consists of five stages:
Stage 0 - project brief (Feb 2018 - May 2018)
This stage set out the reason for the project and the business problem that required a solution (it did not specify the solution).
Stage 1 - project initiation (June 2018 - September 2018)
This stage set up the project and its governance arrangements, identified stakeholders and set out the scope and project approach. It also set out a high-level timeline, outlined costs and detailed the benefits which will be attained by addressing the requirements stated in Stage 0.
Stage 2 - solution definition (September 2018 - October 2019)
This stage will focus on designing a suitable solution to the business problem. It will design to-be business processes, detail required organisational change, system requirements and user stories which will address the requirements of the project. It will undergo procurement to find a solution which meets the defined requirements and a business case will be submitted to ensure the delivery of the solution will be suitably resourced.
Stage 3 - solution delivery (November 2019 - December 2019)
This stage will implement the solution chosen in Stage 2. It will plan and implement new systems, configure these to our environment, complete integrations with other systems and conduct end-to-end testing on the whole solution. Stage 3 will also implement any organisational changes identified and facilitate training for all affected stakeholders.
Stage 4 - operationalisation (January 2020 - February 2020)
This stage will roll out the solution and it's benefits and 'go-live' to users. This will include go-live planning and handover to live activities to ensure the implemented solution will be managed and supported effectively once the project has ended. It establishes the measures by which project benefits will be tracked in Stage 5, and culminates in the closure of the project.
Stage 5 - benefits realisation (late 2020)
This stage will focus on benefits realisation and performance monitoring several months after the solution has been delivered. It tracks the benefits detailed in the project's business case against the delivery of these benefits.
Stage 1 Report [PDF]
This report was written at the end of Stage 1 (project initiation), and documents the aims and objectives of the project, project structure, project stakeholders, project scope, risks and issues.
Validation Report [PDF]
A report detailing the work to date that has been undertaken to design the ideal process for students to book their accommodation at LSE, and the resulting discussions and feedback received from LSE colleagues about the proposed new processes during Validation Workshops.
Change Requirements Matrix (Appendix A) [PDF]
A table detailing the changes that the proposed new processes will make within LSE, and the divisions or departments that may be impacted by the changes.
User Storyboard (Appendix B) [PDF]
A visual representation of what the new student and staff journey will look like under the proposed new processes.
Level 3 Process Map (Appendix C) [PDF]
A detailed process map showing all of the proposed processes involved in the project, how they are related to each other, what roles and systems support those processes, policies and procedures required in each process, and the inputs and outcomes of each process.
Level 4 Swimlane Diagrams (Appendix D) [PDF]
Detailed diagrams showing the steps required in each of the proposed processes to enable the student to achieve the desired outcome.
Validation Workshop Discussion Documents (Appendix E) [PDF]
The documents that were used to encourage discussion and debate in the validation workshops. They describe the proposed new processes at a high level, and pose questions for participants to consider.
Instead of simply looking for a system to solve our problems, we have used this opportunity to explore and evaluate how and why we do things surrounding the student application process. This has allowed us to remove unnecessary steps and reducing non value-added activities.
Our aim is to improve students' experiences in booking their accommodation, and to free up our staff time away from transactional tasks.
We brought together colleagues from across the School to map out each aspect of the journey in booking accommodation (from researching options, making an application, moving in, and then moving out). As a group we considered what information we needed and how we could get it in the best way possible.
Business Improvement Unit (BIU)
The Business Improvement Unit was set up to focus on delivering projects which support both transformational change and operational improvement requirements across the School.
The approach is designed to streamline processes and systems, ultimately improving Academic Departments and Professional Services Divisions work, as well as to enhance the student experience. Find out more about the BIU.