With a well-earned reputation for being one of the ‘Best Modern Universities in the UK’ from The Sunday Times and The Guardian and the top University for employability in Britain, Robert Gordon University (RGU) sits in an impressive, modern campus in Aberdeen. Looking to emulate this prestige online and accelerate towards becoming a Digitally Led University, RGU contracted After Digital to complete a full Digital Roadmap and Strategy exercise.
STAKEHOLDER interviews conducted
MULTI-MILLION pound business case
With a far-reaching target audience and a multitude of ‘customer’ touchpoints, the University lacked a coherent strategy for digital, which would support their marketing and communications needs.
Discovery: Qualitative Research
Kicking off the project, our strategists travelled to RGU’s Garthdee Campus to get to know the business, the Web Steering Group and get a feel for the University and its audiences. Initial discovery sessions looked to identify key drivers and business objectives, establishing the best approach to the audit and research phase of work to come.
Over the space of a three week period, 58 internal and external RGU stakeholders were invited to a number of workshops and one-to-one interviews led by After Digital. Every session was fully captured with detailed minutes, recordings, whiteboard visualisations and flip chart diagrams.
The research aimed to evaluate the digital activity, tools, processes and people currently in place.
“After Digital was contracted to undertake a complex piece of digital transformation consultancy for RGU, across the full organisation. They worked hands-on with the senior management team to deliver true insights and valuable recommendations within a 2-year digital roadmap. They completed the project in a short time frame with a comprehensive and detailed report. The team involved were attentive, thoughtful and offered a clear actionable plan. I'd highly recommend them.”
Michael Greenhalgh, Interim Marketing Director,
Robert Gordon University (RGU)
Discovery: Quantitative Research
This qualitative research phase informed the creation of two online surveys - one for staff and one for students. These were distributed widely and received a fantastic response rate with a total 343 respondents. The insights from both these phases of discovery were critical to us generating an informed view of user personas and needs, as well as the current position of the University’s staff and digital infrastructure.
“The team at RGU are fantastically enthusiastic about putting digital at the heart of the business and ensuring its success. We aimed to capture this passion and drive and translate it into detailed, actionable insights and recommendations, ensuring our Roadmap can be achieved and there are a series of quick wins in place. The response to our work from the RGU team was great and we’re really looking forward to working more with them in the future.”
Cat Leaver, Head of Strategy,
Discovery: Desk Research
In-depth research was conducted into the University and its marketplace, with key outputs including a detailed Technical Website Audit, a Competitive Social Media Audit and a complete Digital Portfolio map.
Insights from our research allowed us to develop user persona profiles, creating an understanding of what motivates RGU audiences and their level of digital competency. From here, we worked through a number of user scenarios, storyboarding the many ways a user may interact with the University online.
The user touchpoints are just one side of the University’s digital story. Each and every system used internally is part of a much larger digital infrastructure that is in place to support all stakeholders in achieving their goals and potential. Liaising with the IT department we identified the numerous systems in place, how they interfaced and integrated with one another (or not in some cases) and gained an understanding of data management in RGU. From here we could evaluate the usefulness, efficiency and practicality of the current infrastructure and offer recommendations for improvement.
“ After Digital prepared a sound 18-month roadmap on how the University could better embrace digital technologies, and made a number of recommendations on organisational and cultural change to underpin this. I was particularly struck at how their recommendations took into account the complexity of a University environment, with multiple stakeholders and identities. Their proposed solution defined structures which were inclusive for key stakeholders across the organisation but still defined clear overall leadership, and they highlighted honestly some difficult and sensitive issues and the criticality of addressing these.”
Andrew McCreath, IT Director,
Robert Gordon University
In order to clearly showcase the benefits and risks, in line with opportunity costs and savings, we created an in-depth business case to support our Digital Roadmap. This was presented to the senior team and prepared for presentation to the Principle.
True digital transformation cannot occur without taking your people on the journey with you. Beyond the digital channels, touchpoints and systems in place, a significant part of this project focused on the organisational structure. Our work looked to establish the current structure, roles and responsibilities and skill sets, from there we could then identify any gaps. We worked closely with RGU’s Web Steering Group to establish an aspirational ‘to be’ model for digital excellence.
PAGES of insights delivered
MONTH action plan outlined
SCOPED technical solution delivered
A Clear and Actionable Digital Roadmap
The project culminated in a Digital Roadmap report, which outlined key opportunities and actions, against a detailed timeline and with indicative investment required. This report covered everything from new systems and integrations to the required internal skill sets and support structure needed to establish RGU as a University of Digital Excellence. At the heart of this Roadmap is practicality and actionable insights, ensuring next steps are clear, succinct and focused.
Having presented our findings and reports to a very happy RGU Web Steering Group, we are now continuing to work closely with them to put the Roadmap in place. Within weeks we were asked to return to deliver a tactical student recruitment platform, which has gone on to deliver well over and above on original expectations, attracting greater student application levels than the existing RGU website.