Frequently asked questions
The FAQs below will be updated on a regular basis to reflect common queries around the Technical Review.
If your question is not answered below, or if you have any feedback on the review, please email FBMH-Tech Review@manchester.ac.uk.
What is the Technical Review?
The Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health commissioned a review of Technical Services in late Spring 2020 to ensure this area of PS was fit-for-purpose to support our Teaching and Research requirements, both now and in the future. This is in line with other reviews across PS such as the SEP project, and feeds into the ethos of ‘Reshaping PS’ which has a focus on partnerships, flexible working and strategic alignment of PS resource to support our activities.
What is the Review’s vision and objectives?
The Review aims to raise levels of expectation in terms of service delivery and technical roles and build partnerships between our academic and Technical Services communities.
It will establish new ways of working that will create a sector-leading Technical Service by removing structural boundaries and fragmentation of service.
We will do this by fully harnessing the current skills and capabilities of our technical and experimental workforce, and identifying current and future skills gaps. This will achieve efficiencies not previously realised through workflow optimisation and management of resources.
To produce a sustainable, skilled, workforce that is in line with the delivery of the UK wide Technician Commitment initiative, the Review will examine how greater visibility of career pathways and opportunities for technical staff can be achieved, alongside appropriate recognition, skills development and training.
The Review is taking a holistic and inclusive path, and consultation with colleagues from Technical Services as well Service users is of key importance.
Having a highly skilled, efficient and responsive Technical Services to partner and support our Teaching and Research is key to the Faculty achieving its Strategic Objectives and this review will allow us the opportunity to explore how we build on the success we have already achieved.
More information can be found on the Technical Review’s StaffNet site.
What is the scope of the Project?
The Review will include the following areas:
- All baseline funded Technical or Core Technical Staff operating in the Schools, Core Facilities and across FBMH
- All research funded Technical Staff operating in the Schools, Core Facilities and across FBMH
- Experimental and Senior Experimental Officers operating in the Schools, Core Facilities and across FBMH
- Technical Staff undertaking H&S responsibilities and duties
- How services work; reducing risk from external drivers and increasing resilience
The Review will not include:
- The BSF
- CRUK MI
What engagement has taken place so far?
To inform the Review Group of PS structures and ways of working in Technical Services at the present time, technical and experimental staff participated in a survey to provide insight on:
- what works well
- what doesn’t work well
- what needs to change
- how do we address issues
In addition to this, in Autumn 2020 a Technical Review Reference Group (TSRRG) was set up drawing together representatives from academic and PS colleagues working in or in partnership with Technical Services at the present time. Individual interviews have been held with academics and technical managers, Heads of Divisions, Heads of Schools and partners in Finance and HR.
What were the findings of the recent Survey?
We had a positive response to the Survey with responses from 99 members of Technical Services staff and 127 members of academic staff from across the Faculty.
The Review Group is currently working on an information piece which we will use in a variety of ways to communicate the findings of the Survey. The findings will be fed back to the TSRRG by the end of March 2021 and to extended stakeholders after this.
What are the main themes of the Review?
Three sub-groups have been established to look at the following areas:
People and Structures (led by Fiona Coll, FBMH HR Partner)
- To review job roles, content, titles and appropriateness of responsibilities and expectations in all technical grades;
- Review and advise on the consistency for the required level and grade of management roles;
- Ensure tasks are being undertaken at the right level across Technical Services, and consider whether administrative support would be a suitable alternative for some activities and tasks
Organisation and Culture (led by Sharon Grant, HoSO SHS)
- Ensure that a clear business partnering approach with Schools;
- To establish a culture of flexibility and a method for timely deployment of technical staff to areas of strategically decided activity;
- Examine Organisational Requirements and tailor staff recruitment, development and training around these
Finance (led by Anthony Edwards, FBMH Senior Finance Officer)
- Establish clear principles and expectations for cost recovery from research funding for core and research technical staffing;
- To consider cost base of Technical Services with the intention of reducing this in line with Institutional PS cost saving aspirations
What are the phases of the Review?
The current phases and dates of these phases are detailed below. These are subject to change depending on the outcomes of surveys and engagement conversations with stakeholders. Depending on what the Group discovers will determine our next steps on tackling any issues uncovered and how we will address these.
|Establishment of Technical Service Review Group (TSRG) by Project Sponsor||May-June 2020|
|Establishing the scope and remit of the Review||June-August 2020|
|Phase 1: Discovery Phase Engagement with Stakeholders and examining Senior Technical Services Grade Roles and Expectations||September 2020-January 2021|
|Phase 2: Examining and consolidation phase||February - March 2021|
|Phase 3: Feedback and 'Testing the hypothesis' phase. Further engagement with Stakeholders||March - May 2021|
|Phase 4: Finalisation Phase. Writing final Report, receiving further feedback from Stakeholders before submission to FLT and beyond||May - July 2021|
|Phase 5: Implementation, roll out, follow up, debrief and T&F Groups||September 2021 onwards|
Does the Review form part of OnePS/Reshaping PS?
Yes. All Reviews of PS areas such as the Review of Technical Services in FBMH and FSE, and the Student Experience Project all form part of the OnePS/Reshaping PS initiative. The OnePS/Reshaping PS approach is to align technology, process and structures, reviewing our existing PS portfolio and revising as we see fit, within a timeframe set by the Faculty, to support the Faculty's Strategic Framework and the University’s Strategic ambitions.
More information on the Reshaping PS initiative can be found on Staffnet in this message from Patrick Hackett, Secretary and Chief Operating Officer (22 July 2020) and also in the Reshaping PS FAQs document.
What is the Technician Commitment?
The Commitment is a national initiative led by the Science Council and supported by the Gatsby Foundation. It is set up to ensure the visibility, recognition, career development and sustainability of technical skills for Technicians including EOs and SEOs across all disciplines working in higher education and research.
We recognise the significant, highly specialised, and vital contribution technicians make to our education and research successes. We will continue to forge partnerships with other institutions to share good practice, create new initiatives and benefit from greater diversity and experience through shared opportunities.
What is the University’s involvement in the Technician Commitment?
Manchester is a founding signatory to the Technician Commitment. As Institutional leads, Colin Baines and Peter Crowe are developing a framework to facilitate work across the various themes and coordinating the link between technical staff within these groups and central university to gain support, guidance and resource for initiatives.
Is there a savings target associated with this restructure? What is it?
In the long term, we predict that any more efficient ways of working and any potentially new structure will generate financial savings through greater cost recovery and through more effective space and equipment utilisation and service contracts. In addition to this, we examine how we might bring areas of activity together and working in new ways. Cost recovery of Technical Staff time on grant funding is also something the Review will examine in detail.
Will there be job losses either via voluntary severance or compulsory redundancies?
At this stage in the Review it is too early to know what changes will be made to the structure and if these will result in a reduction of staff numbers. We are still in the process of discovering the issues surrounding Technical Services and communicating these to stakeholders. We do not know what headcount numbers will be needed to operate the service in the future. Should a reduction in posts be required we would aim to achieve this through a targeted voluntary severance scheme. The details of the voluntary severance package will be subject to consultation with the Trade Unions and provided to colleagues at the relevant time.