Western Sydney University is an Australian multi-campus university in the Greater Western region of Sydney. It is a provider of undergraduate, postgraduate and higher research degrees with seven campuses across the region and is currently ranked in the top 400 universities in the world.
The decision to distribute information in a public social forum like Yammer, rather than traditional forms of communication like email and committees, was to test the hypothesis that empowering front-line staff with information would provide opportunities for the change management process. Senior Strategy Advisor and Project Manager, Christine Croser, said Western is overhauling systems, processes and products at breakneck speeds and says it’s vital to openly share information.
“Our projects aren’t linear anymore, they can’t be. Every decision is connected to at least 10 other activities across the university,” she said.
When Western Sydney University (Western) built its most recent high-rise campus, the Ngara Ngura building, it was relocating staff and students from sprawling suburban campuses boasting playing fields, sporting facilities, car parks and offices to a busy central business district in Liverpool, in south-western Sydney. In the past, the university had employed change management consultancies to help with similar campus moves. But with a workforce spread across 11 campuses, the workshops and committees had proved less effective than hoped in both attendance, information dissemination and ability to leverage off other projects in the university.
Ms Croser made the decision to use Yammer, backed by analytics from SWOOP, as the platform to distribute information to empower staff to make decisions in a way that felt easy and not an additional burden.
University Librarian at the time, Michael Gonzalez, was tasked with relocating library staff and a vast library collection.
“It had to be open communication, open discourse, answer once, being able to distribute information in the same way to everyone so nothing was misunderstood. To her credit, she (Ms Croser) chose Yammer as her platform to do that,” he said.
Ms Croser said piloting a new, less traditional form of change management was made less risky when combined with SWOOP Analytics.
SWOOP provides real-time data, shows online behaviours, identifies influencers, assesses the levels of engagement between executives and frontline staff and tracks sentiment in the network.
SWOOP tells you when people are posting, finds the hot topics, shows the health of the network, the most engaging posts and gives every employee tips on how to improve their online collaboration.
To ensure every individual can understand their own online collaborative behaviour, SWOOP has identified five personas – the Observer (non-active), Broadcaster (someone who sends messages but does not engage), the Responder (prefers to react to conversation rather than initiate it), Catalyst (seeds conversation) and the most aspirational persona, the Engager (connects and sustain relationships).
Ms Croser used SWOOP to formally report into the University Governance about staff engagement with the content on Yammer, examples of the collaboration and who was connecting with whom.
Ms Tyson said using Yammer and SWOOP, and combining them with other digital technology, had resulted in better business outcomes, for example, saving hours in the working day by not travelling to other campuses as regularly for meetings. All of this has resulted in a change in culture.
“The culture has achieved that really interesting balance between efficiency and effectiveness,” she said.
And not everyone in those projects knows the value of the information they hold to someone else and they don’t take steps to disseminate it – whereas by using Yammer, that knowledge is shared and accessible. "
- Christine Croser
Senior Strategy Advisor & Project Manager
Western Sydney University