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Annual Planning and Annual Development Reviews

Over the last month or so we've been busy with our annual planning process. This is when we invite the service owners across the university to put forward proposals for work in the 2013-14 academic year.  Development Services have the task of giving a rough estimate of how much effort might be required for each proposal, so that the service owners, college registrars and heads of support group can decide what would make the best use of our time.

This year we have tried to make the annual planning more "light touch".  For my management team, this means that we have given each project a simple estimate of Small, Medium or Large, rather than trying to assign a precise figure.  This makes a lot of sense, as the proposals are usually quite general at this stage and a detailed estimate would require far more time spent in understanding all the details of the potential implementation.  It also means that we can get the estimates done sooner and produce a first draft of the potential programme in December, two months earlier than last year.  This in turn gives people more time to review their priorities and/or investigate certain proposals in more detail.

One unforeseen effect of doing this planning earlier was that it overlapped with the time when we run our annual development reviews.  So we've been doing two stressful things at once!  If we've been a little harder to get hold of than usual, this is probably why.

Development Services has grown substantially over the last year.  To manage this expansion, we've delegated some of our management tasks to senior team members.  Each is now responsible for one or two other members of the team, taking over the monthly 1-to-1 meetings and the annual reviews.  In addition to making the management practical, this is also giving our seniors a chance to develop their leadership skills.  My impression is that so far this is going well.  We will be reviewing progress in the new year, which should give us a chance to iron out any minor problems that arise.

In the meantime, I wish all readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy Hogmanay!

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