Customer Stories

The University of Sydney

The University of Sydney use Cascade across their entire business to keep them razor-focused on strategy

balances the autonomy of its faculties & schools with the need to stay aligned to the strategic plan

The University of Sydney

The University of Sydney

Australia's first and most famous university. USYD is home to over 50,000 students and is consistently ranked as one of the top universities in the world.

Key Challenges

With such a large and complicated federated structure, USYD were looking for a solution that would help keep them focused on their strategic vision, whilst retaining empowerment for faculties and schools.

With various reporting requirements around their strategy and a matrix of committees and governance - USYD needed a simple way of updating goals once, but have those updates reflect in multiple places.

Biggest Wins

USYD's ambitious strategy centers on the focus areas of Education, Research & Culture. Cascade allowed them to create multiple sub-plans at a faculty & school level which then linked back to the main university strategy. This provided empowerment and autonomy (hence driving engagement) whilst ensuring that all initiatives and projects remained aligned to the ultimate goals of the university.

They were also able to automate their reporting to the various committees & regulatory bodies from a single-source-of-truth.

Balancing Empowerment with Centralization

Running a university with 50,000 students is tricky business. When you add an ambitious growth plan to the mix, as well as time-poor academics and administrators - driving cohesion and alignment becomes even more difficult.

The University of Sydney's strategic plan required them to bring key faculties together under a single strategic plan, but without compromising the spirit of autonomy with which each faculty operated.

Before they implemented Cascade, they knew that a lot of work was happening around aspects of the strategy - but had no way to link it together or get insight into what different faculties were doing.

Previously, everyone was doing lots of work and lots of really great stuff. But it was all in their heads, or on emails or even Excels. No-one really knew what each other was working on. They knew there was a lot going on, but they couldn't really see how it was contributing to the strategy.
Katy McEwan - Senior Project Officer (Business School)

Centralization was a key objective to enable the central strategy office to produce reports for the vice-chancellor.

The university is a very large and complex organization - and it's really a federated structure. Top down control alone doesn't work here. People need to be able to collaborate and enjoy some local empowerment. Linked with information and visibility across teams, Cascade gave them the information and opportunity to drive that collaboration.
David Hannett - Director (Office of the CFO)

Cascade Brought Benefits Both Centrally and Within Individual Faculties

One of the key internal selling points of Cascade is that in addition to bringing value to the central strategy function, it also bring process efficiencies and better quality reporting to individual teams. A key objective of the deployment was that the various teams using Cascade should be able to replicate their own reporting requirements in the system, in addition to the centralized reporting being done by the strategy office.

I really love the dashboards. For me, I'm quite a visual person and I love visual representations. The system gets its name from the notion that strategy Cascades from a high organization down to functional units and various strategic areas and projects. It makes it very easy to navigate the strategy because of the logical way that it is all structured. The setup time was fairly minimal - the time it takes for new people to learn how to use the system is negligible - it's very simple and straightforward. It's just great to finally have that representation of the linkage between the university strategy, the library strategy - and all the projects and tasks that we're working on.
Antonia Mocatta - Associate Director (University Library)

In addition to reporting, USYD teams also commented on the cloud-based collaboration to strategy and project management that Cascade brought.

I love that it's cloud-based. That people can updating projects wherever they are - from their laptops of even their phones. That's really key for a university where we've got people traveling all of the time - domestically and internationally. I also found it really intuitive - immediately I thought - yep, I know how this works and it's pretty easy to figure it all out. That was important as I realized I wouldn't have too much trouble getting my team and other project owners to use it.
Katy McEwan - Senior Project Officer (Business School)
The tool gave us collaboration and the ability for people to understand all the different projects across the domain and how they link together. It's very much a collaboration enabler - driving visibility and giving people access to one source of truth. Getting rid of Excel was a bonus!
David Hannett - Director (Office of the CFO)

Bringing Structure and Order to Strategy

The single biggest benefit that Cascade brought to the University of Sydney, was cohesion and structure to the myriad of strategic work and project management taking place.

The big shift is from everyone being enthusiastic and excited and doing a lot of work - to that same thing, but in a structured way inputting their information into one place.
Katy McEwan - Senior Project Officer (Business School)

The secret to doing so, was providing a platform that is flexible enough to output structured reports, without taking away the creativity and engagement that comes with empowering individual faculties the ability to manage their own strategies, as a part of the bigger strategic picture.

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