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Have a great summer!

The summer holiday is just around the corner – time to pack our suitcases and print out our tickets. I actually haven’t finalised my own travel plans yet. But fortunately, I’m much better prepared when it comes to the administration’s travel plans. In this final blog before the summer holiday, I’d like to review the journey we’ve taken together since the beginning of the year, and say a few words about where the journey will take us in coming years.

2017.06.28 | Arnold Boon

Let me start with a big thank you to all administrative employees at AU, in the central administration, the administrative centres and at the departments and schools. I know that you have worked hard to make AU a good place to work and study for our students and academic staff.

And when I look back over the past six months, I’m pleased – and proud – of what we’ve achieved. For example, the new employee registration system is a success – this is a new tool which will help make the administrative work connected with appointments and resignations more efficient.

We have also gotten started on a thorough spring cleaning of our IT systems and infrastructure. By the end of the year, all PCs will have been upgraded and integrated into our shared infrastructure. We are also making good progress on weeding out old IT systems. All of this work is a precondition for building solid university-wide solutions in the future.

We also made good progress on process optimisation this spring. We started out on a small scale last year, but since then many of you have been on a course in the subject. I am pleased that so many of you have embraced the new tools and methods. And I am particularly pleased about all the positive feedback I receive from both employees and managers. This is contributing to the creation of a new culture in which we constantly work to improve our work processes. 

And finally,we have seen a number of breakthroughs and exciting projects in relation to the digitisation of studies administration. I wrote about these last month.

In addition to the many development projects, we should remember that many administrative employees are also responsible for ensuring stable, reliable day-to-day operations. Coupled with the ongoing development projects, this work ensures that we deliver quality, professional service to the academic organisation.

Simply put, you might say that when it comes to administrative service, success is defined by no one noticing it. Because that means that the services we provide are operating smoothly. I agree with this in essence. But on the other hand, it means that we  must to remember to celebrate our successes ourselves, both large and small. And so I would like to encourage you to celebrate the successes you and your co-workers have achieved in your unit before you go on holiday.

Where will the administration be in five years?

In connection with my visits to the administration’s various units this spring, I started asking the question: ‘What will the administration look like in five years?’ This is an important exercise, because we have to understand where we’re going in order to chart a course and plan our journey.

One of my main preoccupations is that all work processes which can be digitised must be digitised within the next five years. At the same time, we have to remember that parts of the administration don’t require digital solutions, but rather face-to-face communication. At a smarter, more digital AU, we will be able to deliver better, more effective services to the academic organisation, and at the same time, we will be able to free up more time for the tasks which require direct dialogue with students and academic staff. This development also requires that we continue to align our expectations with and receive feedback from the academic organisation.

As a consequence, in the next five years, competency development will be a core element. We must make sure that all employees have the competencies – digital and non-digital –  they need to perform their jobs. Along the way, this journey may require us to create new kinds of jobs as digitisation creates new tasks.

Another important issue on which we probably will be focusing more over the next five years is parallel language use. Aarhus University must attract the best international researchers and students. This is a central aspect of our overall strategy. And so we must be able to provide the same level of service to a researcher or student regardless of whether we are using Danish or English.

In other words, we will continue our journey together in the administration after the summer holiday. In the meantime, I hope that you all enjoy a long, well-deserved holiday – whether you travel abroad or relax in your back garden. I am planning an active holiday of hiking and biking – though I haven’t decided where, except that there has to be sunshine!

Have a great summer holiday, and thank you for all your hard work over the first six months of the year. I look forward to continuing to work with you when we return.

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