This report analyses the key stakeholders of the UTS’ ‘An excellent student experience’ project to determine their needs and interests and how these can impact on the success of the project. The report finds that stakeholders determine, to a large extent, the success or failure of projects. It establishes that stakeholders have power and legitimacy that make them important factors to consider when developing and implementing organisational strategies. The report indicates that UTS has several stakeholders that can be impacted by the implementation of the project. These stakeholders are students, employers, staff, parents, and regulators. Each of the identified stakeholders has power and legitimate needs and interests that should be met to ensure that the program is successfully implemented. The project managers must, therefore, ensure that they involve stakeholders during the planning and implementation phase to enhance success.
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The successful implementation of projects significantly depends on whether the interests of stakeholders are taken into account during the planning stage (Jensen 2010). Projects become successful when they can meet the needs of stakeholders. As postulated by the stakeholder theory, it is critical to take into account the needs and interests of stakeholders in order to effectively implement projects and manage organisations (Harrison, Bosse and Phillips 2010). The ‘An excellent student experience’ project has many stakeholders that will benefit from and become affected by its implementation. It is, therefore, essential for the managers of the project to conduct a stakeholder analysis to establish the needs and interests of stakeholders in order to ensure that the implementation of the project is successful. This report analyses the stakeholders of the ‘An excellent student experience’ project to identify how the implementation of the project will impact on their needs and interests. It seeks to establish why the identification of these stakeholders and the consideration of their interests in the project would lead to successful implementation.
Students are key stakeholders of the project because it is specifically designed to improve their learning and social experience while at the University. Students have various concerns that when addressed can enhance their experience at the institution. UTS operates in a highly competitive sector. Universities in Australia are constantly striving to position themselves as ideal learning institutions for students. They do so by marketing their learning programs as designed for the contemporary and future workplace environment. They also seek to gain a competitive advantage by creating services and facilities that would improve the stay of students at the institution. Such services and facilities are designed to enhance the wellbeing of students because student welfare is a critical determinant of effective learning. The marketing aspect of learning institutions follow the conventional rules of marketing that emphasise on the importance of business organisations to understand consumer needs and preferences and the role of consumer psychology in purchasing decisions (Molesworth, Scullion and Nixon 2010). UTS must, therefore, understand the factors that influence students to make university choices regarding the institution that they would prefer to enroll at and the courses that they would like to pursue. Once these factors are identified, universities must portray themselves as best suited to meet the needs and preferences of students through their courses, facilities, and extra-curricular programs. Learning institutions must go to this length to gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace and increase student enrollment and revenue generation. To this extent, students are key stakeholders that hold the decision-making power regarding the selection of the institution as the preferred university for higher education. Their power comes from the revenue that they provide to the institution. Without students, UTS would cease to exist because its core activity is education. The power of students as stakeholders comes from their ability to determine the sustainability of the institution through revenue generation. When students opt to enroll at competitors, UTS would fail to meet its revenue objectives and would, therefore, find it difficult to finance its operations. The immense power that students hold make them key stakeholders in the project.
Students are also legitimate stakeholders because they deserve to obtain value for money. They are within their rights to demand better services because they pay for such services. As legitimate stakeholders, the institution should make efforts to ensure that students are satisfied with the services provided at the university and that they are getting what they deserve based on the amount of money that they pay to the institution. The legitimate concerns of students must, therefore, be addressed during the planning and implementation of the ‘An excellent student experience’ strategy to improve satisfaction. In the same way, business organisations must meet the needs and preferences of consumers and ensure that they obtain value for money because their concerns are legitimate. They are not asking for anything that they have not paid for and, therefore, the organisation is obligated to provide the products and services that they are demanding. Students are also legitimate stakeholders because the strategy has been developed mainly to improve their stay at the institution and enhance their learning. The information systems to be implemented must, therefore, take into account the needs of students to ensure that they can be beneficial to end-users. Like all change processes, the people that will use the new systems must be involved in the planning stage to ensure that the system meets their needs and preferences. The inability of a new system to meet the needs of end users can result in resistance to change. The successful implementation of change within an organisation requires the support of key stakeholders and especially the parties that will be affected the most by the new changes. The legitimate concerns of students regarding the new systems must, therefore, be addressed to ensure successful implementation.
The need to meet students’ demands is urgent because of the nature of the sector in which UTS operates in. The Australian education sector is highly competitive with institutions seeking to create strong brands that would increase student enrollment. The ‘An excellent student experience’ strategy is a timely project that would increase the competitive advantage of UTS in the educations sector. However, there is a need to urgently address the concerns of students and improve the services offered at the institution to outperform competitors. Since the business model adopted by the institution significantly focuses on innovation, the success of the program depends on how fast it is implemented to improve service quality at the institution.
The power and legitimacy of students as stakeholders and the importance of meeting their needs and preferences urgently makes them definitive stakeholders of the ‘An excellent student experience’ strategy. The project managers cannot, therefore, ignore the concerns of students because that would result in project failure. If the institution aims to position itself as a centre of excellence and a premier university in the 21st century, it must take into account the needs and preferences of students as it develops business strategies.
Employers are key stakeholders of the project. Higher learning institutions prepare students for the workplace by equipping them with the skills and competencies required in the contemporary workplace environment. UTS graduates are entering a labour market that is highly competitive. Stiff competition in the market has been caused by various factors. A key factor is globalisation that has resulted in global citizens. Many modern-day graduates are not limited by geographical boundaries when applying for jobs (Razavi et al. 2012). It means that graduates can effectively apply for jobs beyond their borders. This has made the labour market highly competitive because organisations can recruit the best talents in the market without focusing on a small pool of potential employees. Employers are also looking for specific skills, competencies, and attributes from employees (Andrews and Higson 2008). Graduates without these kills are likely to find themselves at a competitive disadvantage in the labour market. Universities often highlight their successful graduates as one of the reasons why potential students should enroll with them. To increase the success rate of graduates in the labour market, UTS must ensure that it understands what employers are looking for in potential employees to develop graduates that are fit for the labour market.
Employers are major stakeholders of the ‘An excellent student experience’ strategy because they determine recruitment and selection criteria. They hold the power to determine whether a graduate from UTS possesses the skills and competencies required to succeed in the workplace environment or not. This power makes employers important stakeholders of the project. The institution cannot effectively improve student experience when it does not properly equip graduates with the skills and competencies to succeed in the labour market. Employers can advise UTS on how it can develop its programs to position graduates for success in the labour market. The institution can also create partnerships with industries to ensure students gain the necessary work experience that they require through industrial attachment. Internships are an effective means for students to familiarise themselves with the workplace environment and bridge the gap between classroom knowledge and skills required in the workplace (Robles 2012). The institution must actively engage employers as important stakeholders to ensure that graduates from UTS are employable.
Employers also have legitimate concerns regarding the skills and competencies of graduates from UTS because employees significantly determine the performance of organisations in the marketplace. Many organisations look to employees as a source of competitive advantage in a knowledge-driven market. Intense competition across various sectors has made it critical to have a workforce that can provide a sustainable competitive advantage for an organisation through innovation and creativity. Employees with graduate soft skills such as teamwork and communication skills enhance collaboration in the workplace and ensure that an organisation can use creativity and innovation to gain a competitive advantage in the market. Since the key objective of for-profit organisations is profit maximisation, employers focus on recruiting graduates that can help them meet this objective. The performance of employees determines the success of the organisation in relation to meeting its goals and objectives (App, Merk and Büttgen 2012). The concerns of employers regarding employees graduating from UTS are, therefore, legitimate to this extent.
There is an urgent need to meet the needs of employers because employees graduate from the institution after a few years of learning. UTS must ensure that its graduates have the skills and capabilities to succeed in the labour market in order to gain an edge over rivals in the education sector.
The university staff members are also important stakeholders of the ‘An excellent student experience’ strategy. Faculty members play a vital role in ensuring that graduates have the skills and competencies required to succeed in the labour market through effective learning. They teach students and equip them with the knowledge that would help them provide business solutions and drive organisations towards achieving success in the business environment. The effort placed by faculty members and staff in teaching students at the institution and providing essential services impacts on their experience at the university.
The power of staff as stakeholders comes from their role as the individuals that drive the learning process at the university. Without driven and competent faculty members, graduates from the institution would not possess the skills and competencies required to succeed in the current workplace. The ‘An excellent student experience’ project cannot, therefore, succeed without the commitment and effort of faculty members. Non-teaching staff members are also key stakeholders because they ensure that students receive quality services at the university. For instance, department administrators can ensure that student issues are resolved effectively as soon as they are raised. Since the strategy also involves a substantial investment in information systems, IT staff will also play a critical role in determining its success. They can ensure the success of the system by properly administering it and ensuring that any arising issues are addressed (Doppelt 2017). They can also provide expert advice during the project planning phase to ensure that the system procured can enhance operational efficiency and improve the experiences of students. The IT staff draw their power from their role as system administrators. The institution will extensively rely on their ability to effectively manage the system to ensure that the project is successful.
The legitimacy of staff needs and preferences comes from the agent-principal relationship. Staff members have personal interests that sometimes run counter to the interests of the organisation. These interests are legitimate interests because each individual has personal dreams and aspirations. It is, therefore, critical that the interests of staff are aligned with the interests of the institution to ensure service delivery (Stringer, Didham and Theivananthampillai 2011). The project must, therefore, also focus on improving staff experience as much as it improves the student experience. Without effective motivation, staff members can opt to pursue their personal interests at the expense of the interests of the institution. Taking into account the interests of the staff during the planning phase would ensure that employees at the university are motivated and committed to their jobs to enhance the success of the project.
The institution must urgently meet the needs of staff to ensure that they are motivated to ensure the success of the project. Their interests and those of the organisation should be aligned from the onset.
Parents spend money to take their children to university. They, therefore, play an important role in determining the university choices made by students. The ‘An excellent student experience’ strategy must, therefore, also address the concerns of parents as key stakeholders of the institution. Most parents are usually concerned about the welfare of their children while in school. They also require efficient ways to make fee payments especially in the age of information technology. Parents also require to feel like they are part of the institution. The university should, therefore, develop strategies that enhance the partnership between the institution and parents.
The power of parents as stakeholders stems from their role as decision-makers regarding the institutional choices made by students. Most parents influence the choices made by students regarding the institution to enroll in because they pay tuition fees and provide upkeep money. By taking into account the interests of parents, the university positions itself as the higher learning institution of choice for both parents and students. The university has to appeal to the needs and preferences of parents in order to influence their decisions regarding the university choices made by students.
The legitimacy of parents as stakeholders of the institution comes from their role as benefactors. They make sacrifices to take their children to school. Most parents would not want to see money paid for university education go to waste and are, therefore, concerned about whether students are obtaining quality education and having excellent experiences at the university (Walker, Shenker and Hoover-Dempsey 2010). The institution must create assurances to this regard by enhancing communication between the institution and parents and fostering collaboration and partnerships between parents and the university.
The need to meet the needs and preferences of parents is also urgent because it will directly impact on the decisions made by students to apply for enrollment at the institution.
The activities of UTS are guided by various laws and regulations. Regulators are, therefore, important stakeholders because they ensure that universities operate according to the established legal regimes (Myllykangas, Kujala and Lehtimäki 2010). Any violations would lead to penalties. Those responsible for these violations would also bear the consequences. It is, therefore, critical for the institution to ensure that its activities are within the established laws and regulations.
The power of regulators as stakeholders is anchored in the law. The university, therefore, has no choice but to abide by legal requirements because any violation would significantly damage the reputation of the institution and result in financial losses due to fines and penalties.
Regulators draw their legitimacy from the people. This is because laws and regulations are made by lawmakers who are essentially the people’s representatives. The university would, therefore, be going against the will of the people if it violates established laws.
The need to meet legal obligations is an urgent need because any slight violation of laws can lead to severe consequences. The project managers must, therefore, ensure that the strategy is anchored in law from the onset.
This report indicates that UTS must take into account the interests and needs of key stakeholders when planning and implementing the ‘An excellent student experience’ strategy. Stakeholders can determine the failure or success of projects depending on whether their needs and interests are taken into account or ignored. The report further shows that stakeholders have power and legitimacy that makes it necessary for project managers to consider their interests and needs when planning and implementing projects. Sometimes these needs and interests have to be met urgently to ensure project success. From the report, UTS has several stakeholders of the ‘An excellent student experience’ strategy. These stakeholders are students, employers, staff, parents, and regulators. Each of the identified stakeholders has power and legitimate needs and interests that should be met to ensure that the program is successfully implemented.
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