Service operations benchmarking

For each member University, UniForum’s service operations benchmarking uses:

  • Inputs from the University’s HR system to profile the staffing of support services
  • An administrative Staff Activity Collection that provides details on the resourcing of services
  • Financial data to provide details on outsourced services
  • Key metrics on the University’s operations to understand the key demand drivers and contextual measures for the University.

The methodology has been designed specifically to understand support services in a research active University context.


Critical building blocks of the UniForum professional staff activity dataset


Administrative Staff Activity Collection

Conducting the administrative Staff Activity Collection is part of the critical first step of building the Activity Resourcing dataset and applies a detailed activity framework of 142 activities that group into 13 functions.

The Activity framework is designed specifically for use in a research active Universities. The tools and methodology provide for a highly efficient process for collecting data covering 100% of the University’s capacity employed in support services.

UniForum support services activity framework.


Services resourcing dataset

The Activity Collection data and supplementary data from the University’s HR and Finance systems provides the basis for UniForum members to:

  • Identify the total resourcing in place to deliver all University support services, including outsourced services
  • Understand how these resources are engaged in supporting activities from the list of 142 activities or 13 high-level functions
  • Profile the resourcing of an activity or function to understand which parts of the organisation employ which staff, what the seniority mix is, and how specialised and flexible the workforce involved in support of the activity is
  • Compare the activity resourcing profiles for their institution to that of other UniForum members, including comparing resourcing levels of an activity on the basis of key scaling metrics for the activity.


Benchmarking process from data collection to insight development

The resultant data set provides an invaluable resource to inform their internal debates with robust insights on the end-to-end resourcing and cost of activities and activity resourcing characteristics.


Collaborative studies

The second step for UniForum members is to participate in the collaborative studies that use the Activity Collection data to generate deep insights into the efficiency and effectiveness of their service operations, including:

  • The current scope and quality of services
  • Needs that are not being serviced in the most effective ways
  • The number of people needed to deliver the required scope and quality of services efficiently and effectively.


Typical high-level phases for the 24-week study period

See some of the recent collaborative studies that UniForum members have completed.

Service effectiveness survey

The dual focus in UniForum studies on efficiency and effectiveness is enhanced by members participating in the optional UniForum Service Effectiveness survey.

It complements our Services Activity survey and enables users to investigate the relationship between service efficiency and service effectiveness measures.

The Effectiveness survey addresses a range of questions including:

  • Is the user experience of the service consistent across the University?
  • What are the common causes of breakdown when a service is not performing effectively?
  • How does a particular service, that is inherently unpopular and rates poorly relative to other services within the University, compare to its equivalents in other institutions?
  • Which services, from the user perspective, are a priority for the University to improve?
  • Is a service with a comparatively higher resourcing level delivering a more effective service commensurate with the additional resourcing?

Survey output showing which issues to address first