The part-time MSc Business Improvement course equips managers with the knowledge and skills required to better examine their processes and procedures in order to effect strategic improvements and change.
This results in organisations which are more efficient and effective. The programme has kept pace with new innovations and developments in the area of business improvement and has supported businesses with continuous improvement.
The concept of business improvement originated in the domain of manufacturing and tradable services. However, perhaps as a result of the intellectual force of new public management and the Review of Public Administration (2002) in Northern Ireland, the concept of business improvement now permeates all aspects of economic activity across the private, public and voluntary sectors. Indeed, job titles such as Director of Improvement and Business Improvement Manager are becoming more apparent across a range of public service departments.
The course is recognised and accredited by ICIPS - the Institute of Continuous Improvement in Public Services, although it is not limited to those in the public sector.
The course recognises a need for organisations and their managers to become focused on operational performance outcomes. This requires management by process, the integration of quality management techniques and a commitment to continuous improvement. The course has been shaped and designed by leading academics and business leaders using the European Foundation Quality Model (EFQM) Excellence Model as its inspiration.
The European Framework for Quality Management (EFQM, 2013) introduces fundamental concepts of excellence which are practitioner-focused. The framework encourages organisations to strive towards eight concepts of excellence, which can only be achieved by actually doing something about it. As such, it is a practical model which helps organisations to realise their potential. All modifications to these eight fundamental concepts of excellence, in addition to the new associated emphases, have been fully reflected in the module content for this course.
Students will study a diet of modules which will help them to gain a practical understanding of a variety of business improvement subject areas.
Over year 1 students study three modules equivalent to Postgraduate Certificate in Business Improvement and may exit at this stage. Those who continue into Year 2 study a further three modules equivalent to Postgraduate Diploma in Business Improvement and may exit at this stage also. Once the six modules have been successfully completed students can then move on to complete the full Master's qualification by completing a Strategy module and a Business Transformation Project. The full Master's can be fast-tracked in two calendar years and many students choose this option.
The course provides a structure to business improvement which allows students to follow a logical journey. Year 1 of the course introduces students to the fundamental aspects of business improvement: operational excellence, management of change and quality assurance. In year 2, students add capabilities of innovation management, people involvement and financial decision-making. In year 3, students add strategic awareness capability and are given the opportunity to implement a business transformation to solve a live problem via a supervised project.
Teaching and learning assessment
The teaching of this course is in 3 day blocks, which allows for discussion and exploring theory and practice in depth using examples from students' own experiences and organisations. The 3 day block model also allows us to bring in guest speakers from industry to further explore theory and practice.
Assessment is via written assignments for each module which are largely set within each participant's own organisation. Students are therefore able to make a direct impact within their own organisations and make a difference to the bottom line.