How Elabor8 helped the University of Melbourne come up with agile thinking

Among the roll-call of leading organizations in Australia, consulting firm Elabor8 has assisted several universities over the years in using agile methods, including the University of Melbourne (UoM). A look at the consultancy project with the university and its results provides insight into the value added agile that both IT and non-IT functions can bring, as well as the benefits of an expert-guided transition.

Closing in its 170th anniversary, the University of Melbourne is one of the oldest and most respected institutions in Australia, having over its history produced the marks of prominent academics and political leaders around the world.

This rich legacy does not however serve to insulate the university from contemporary challenges, such as widespread digital disruption and the necessary transition to distance learning and operations caused by the global pandemic.

The University of Melbourne has adopted an agile mindset

Moreover, a steady reduction in academic funding has led to a more competitive and challenging market. Here, the Business Services division responsible for new IT development at UoM acknowledged that it could play an important role in helping the university increase responsiveness and maintain a strong customer focus, as well as increase visibility and transparency. to teams and be more aware of delivering value earlier. However, the team felt siloed.

The belief is that the culture in the workplace can be improved with a more team -centered approach, and that a higher quality of delivery will enhance productivity and in turn will serve the requirements of reducing costs and IT risks. Agile was thought of as a possible solution, and the Business Services team ultimately chose Elabor8, in part because of the pragmatic and fit-for-purpose consultancy approach that adapts to a university’s unique business environment.

“We want to change the way we work and the way we interact with each other,” said Liam Whelan, UoM’s Transformation Lead for the project. “We want to embed better practices to strengthen our customer focus and help agility to accelerate the delivery of value to our stakeholders. We believe agile could be an effective alternative for us, and after reviewing several consultancies we chose Elabor8 to help. “


To show early proof of value and how the rest of the university can work, its ServiceNow platform team was first chosen as an ‘example’ because of its great mix of people attending defect -related enhancements along with the work. project, with agile. ‘test, analyze and improve’ approach adopted for the pilot. The Adaptive Ways of Working (AWOW) initiative will be launched to 70 additional teams in various functions.

For the pilot, Elabor8 provided the ‘example’ teaching and delivery support team, including agile fundamentals training, a team purpose and design workshop, kanban board design (a visual workflow tool), team health assessments and chartering sessions, and the creation of the backlog of the work group. In the running stage, Elabor8 established and taught the skills and rhythm of the agile team, working with the teams on the value of backlog, flow of work items, and efficiency.

Over 21 months, the expanded project has seen more than 600 employees – working in both IT -related and non -IT -related areas including finance, human resources, OHS, campus facilities and services – trained in over 30 agile courses, which add value through a shared knowledge base. Elabor8 also partnered with the university to establish and strengthen an AWOW leadership team, which helped identify new portfolios, programs and cross-functional teams.


The project further adopted a data-driven approach, both as a means of testing the operating model hypothesis and to drive improvement through proven successes. According to the partners, the benefits of AWOW are evident throughout the university, the results of which Whelan describes as ‘undeniable’. The measurements showed more than a 200 percent increase in productivity in total work throughput, with teams delivering a third more important task.

Overall, quality improvement increased by more than a quarter through better prioritization and the reduction of defect/technical task rates, with at least 30 percent of low or no value. of work removed before it even reached the delivery teams. In addition, the AWOW initiative improved team engagement by 15 percent, while team alignment increased nearly 20 percent. There was also a positive 30 percent increase in understanding of why teams exist.

“Not only are the teams that are part of the initiative more productive, but the quality and value of the work they do has improved,” Whelan commented about the success. “What we’re working on ultimately is not just different approaches to achieving delivery speed, but actually addressing the perceptions that people have about the way they perform as well – a total change in mindset. Elabor8 is crucial to the success we have on our teams.

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