The OSA OE team (from top left row): Kuek Hue Boey, Cao Pingan, Claire Sequeira, Yanhong Poh, Jeremy Lim, Bell Yeo, Wong Wai Hon, Colleen Toh, Charmaine Yew, Agnes Yuen, Gerrie Kow, Joanne Quek, Siti Aidawani, Kynneth Chang

A mOSAic of Organisational Excellence

When the Organisational Excellence (OE) exercise was launched a few years ago, one of its goals was to inspire a culture of continuous improvement and agility across the University. One department which has fully embraced this ethos is the Office of Student Affairs (OSA), which has formally incorporated OE as one of the three strategic thrusts of its mission, alongside impact and wellness.

To this end, the Office has formed an internal OE team comprising representatives from its various sections. The team meets every two months to update progress on OSA’s OE initiatives (e.g. review processes, identify pain points, and propose solutions) with the aim of increasing the administrative efficiency of the unit.

All OSA staff have also received briefing on how to spot areas for potential improvements that can be made in their daily work, helping to empower staff and encourage their own initiative. Ideas for process improvements were also shared during the briefing. Tools such as Microsoft Visio have also been incorporated in OSA’s work practices in order to build up a knowledge management base for the organisation. Through the documentation of processes, this knowledge base also helps with the retention of best practices and procedures, helping to ensure business continuity. 

“We started on this journey in 2020,” states Kuek Hue Boey, Deputy Director of the Corporate Services Division at OSA. “We don’t believe in big bangs. What we want to encourage is the idea that everybody has a part to play.”

To date, OSA has made over 60 process improvements in terms of cost, speed, service and quality. These updates have not only simplified the administrative work of OSA staff, increasing their ability to focus on their core activities, but have reaped benefits to NUS students. For instance, students have been better assisted as their waiting time decreased.

Improvements made by OSA encompass several varieties, from incorporating automation to digitising manual forms and simplifying processes through the application of business process re-engineering (BPR).  Some changes have also been made in close collaboration with other NUS departments, including Office of Finance (OFN), Central Procurement Office (CPO), Registrar's Office (RO), Housing Services (HS) and NUS Information Technology (NUS IT).

Recent examples of OSA’s Organisational Excellence efforts include:

  • Removing the Section Head as the verifier in Request For Payment (RFP) submissions to OFN, saving 47 man-days in a year and reducing time spent on financial paperwork;
  • Using Power Apps and Power Automate to automate status updates in EduRec for Concession Card collection, saving 10 man-days a year;
  • Working with CPO to improve the procurement process for coaching services to allow a 2-year contract with renewal option for 2+2 years, enabling only one Invitation to Quote (ITQ) process to be done in six years instead of contracting every two years;
  • Digitising the equipment (e.g. projectors, mics, screens) loan request process, allowing students to save a trip to the Student Services Centre (SSC), reducing transaction time by approximately 10 minutes;
  • Enhancing the University Hostel Management System (UHMS) to facilitate the application process for students with both RC and Halls/Residences housing offers, saving more than 4 man- days a year; and
  • Developing a Power App to facilitate OSA's distribution of ART kits in 2021, saving 16 man-hours on tracking the distribution quantity for accountability

a-mosaic-of-organisational-excellence-2An OSA staff member scans a student’s eCard using a Power App to track test kit collection.

“Some of the changes we’ve implemented since the start of our OE journey may seem small, but the point is they don’t have to be big in order to have an impact on OSA’s mindset and culture,” adds Hue Boey. “The alternative would have been to get external experts to work with our various sections, which doesn’t work well.  We want everyone to embrace an OE mindset and that means the staff need to do it themselves. We hope that as our staff are working, they will question what they are doing and how it can be done better.  That’s the culture we want to encourage.”



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