The LEAN Team

Outstanding Project of the Year


The LEAN Exeter initiative brought together staff from across the University to form a really creative and joined-up team. They piloted the use of Lean techniques to improve the University’s efficiency and build a more customer-focused culture. Three pilots were launched in the Business School, CLES and CEMPs and ran for six months.

The pilots demonstrated that Lean could be used to rapidly deliver significant changes to the quality and capacity of services. For example: changes to research finance process to free up 190 days of Professional Service time; improvements in error checking have reduced errors on exam papers from 18% to 5%; the new recruitment process has reduced the time to recruit by 30 days (39%) - this has made a difference to over 3,000 Business School students, 300 academics and 30 Professional Service staff, achieving £300k of cashable and non-cashable savings. It has also enhanced the working relationships between academic and Professional Services staff by bring people together and helping people understand each other’s strengths.

This has set the foundations for the University to move to the next level of performance, fuelled by tea, biscuits, some brown paper, post-it notes and a wish to make things better. The project has raised Exeter’s national profile and will be used by Ernst and Young as an example of good practice in the sector.