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Assessment Phase

In early 2016, Johns Hopkins University launched the multi-year Student Services Excellence Initiative project to redesign and replace the current student information system, which is challenged by functional weaknesses and is rapidly becoming outdated. This effort goes beyond addressing technical concerns to prioritizing the experience of the users – students first and foremost, but also our faculty and staff whose efforts support student experience and outcomes.

The goal of the initial assessment phase of work, which spanned from 2016 through 2017, was to listen to stakeholders and get a comprehensive picture of how the current state of services at Johns Hopkins impacts student experience and outcomes. We were assisted in these efforts by two consulting firm partners: Deloitte, a traditional management consulting firm tasked with helping the JHU team gather and analyze data, and Continuum, a design and innovation firm focused solely on the student experience. 

During the assessment phase, we surveyed over 3,000 students, faculty and staff across the Hopkins enterprise, as well as alumni and trustees. In addition to these survey respondents, over 200 faculty, staff, alumni, trustees, and parents participated by serving on working groups, a steering committee and an advisory committee. We also conducted in-depth interviews and multiple focus groups with a smaller group of students.

Representational images of our different student personas based on assessment phase data

Based on this extensive input, we are now in the process of implementing improvements to the student experience at Hopkins, with special emphasis on six key elements: Career ServicesRecruitment & AdmissionsRegistrationFinancial AidBilling and Advising. We are working to implement an overall more modernized digital experience, with attributes such as:

  • Access to consistent, curated, personalized resources based on their campus, program, personal situation, demographics, and other factors unique to them
  • Proactive alerts to issues requiring action, in the method of their choosing
  • Easy ways to resolve issues or complete activities using the device or channel of their choosing
  • Flexibility to choose the level of support they would like to receive, at times convenient to them
  • Knowledge that staff have relevant personal information available, to avoid students and learners having to give information repeatedly during referrals and over time

Our approach to such a complex and potentially transformational implementation will be incremental, iterative, and incorporate user feedback at every step of the journey. We are taking an agile approach to project management, as opposed to a “big bang” traditional implementation, which we feel will be more feasible and more user-centric – keeping in line with the overall SSEI guiding principles.

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