For Kozminski University, impact was always embedded in its DNA. It is important for us to improve and excel constantly. Despite the fact that we knew our progress in research, teaching, and optimisation of processes, we didn’t recognise our impact on society in the broader sense, let alone measure its progress. The process of BSIS enabled us to understand our impact on various dimensions better.
We went through the BSIS in difficult times for all. When we finalised the pre-visit report, the first information about the global pandemic started to appear in the media. Kozminski University and BSIS experts had to make an important decision: should we reschedule or proceed as planned online? We mutually agreed that the visit should be conducted.
We would like to share our experience on how to prepare and conduct the BSIS (or in fact any) visit online.
First of all, let’s focus on communication. Communication in those difficult times, when we can’t meet each other on a daily basis, becomes more important than ever. Replying to each e-mail, even with a simple confirmation or “Thank you” ensured that we knew who was working on what.
Kozminski University has been using MS Teams almost for a year before the visit, however, we have never used it before on such scale. Therefore, it was crucial for us to instruct not only the experts and external guests of the visit on how to use the tool, but also faculty members and administrative staff. With the support of our IT team, we have prepared detailed, step-by-step instructions on how to use MS Teams. Still, there were some challenges connected with the tool itself, therefore testing the tool before the visit is crucial. Only because we tested it multiple times, we were able to identify all possible technological weaknesses and prepare for them.
With over 40 participants, even the participation in the meeting was quite challenging, on top of the merit of the visit. Overall, we had scheduled 13 meetings (each from 35 minutes to 1 hour) with both internal stakeholders and external stakeholders (as students, alumni, and corporate partners).
Typically, before the visit, each of the groups, which meet with the experts, undergoes a short briefing. The BSIS visit was no different. We found it crucial during the visit that each of the participants knew the tool, understood the merit of the meeting and the exact order.
During the visit, it was even more important than usual to manage the time. The role of the coordinator was to moderate the discussion so that each of the participants had a chance to present their expertise and point of view.
The online visit, talking to the screen and not being able to use the body language resulted in a discussion that was more difficult to moderate for both participants and experts. Thus, it was important that after each meeting a 10-15-minute break was organised. This break also worked as a buffer in case of delays connected with technological difficulties.
Our recommendations, therefore, would be to test and brief all participants so they feel comfortable with the online tools before the visit. Set and respect the agenda in terms of time management as well as the order of the presentations, and schedule breaks after each session.
Overall, despite the challenges, we demonstrated that conducting an online visit is not only possible but also has its benefits.