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Successful implementation of the discovery tool requires leadership, a well thought out plan and the support of key stakeholders.

The bigger picture

For a quick approach to planning, download and use our implementation plan pro-forma (Word).

For a more thorough approach, read and reflect on the sections below which cover aspects such as: you and your role; stakeholder engagement; your rationale and intended benefits; working with your users; resource and time allocation; technical considerations; and planning for evaluation.

You and your role

The discovery tool process can be led successfully by people in a wide range of organisational roles. What matters is that you have the support of other key stakeholders, and that you have a well thought out plan.

This should include:

  • Your aims and objectives
  • How you will engage users with the tool
  • How you will support and respond to users as they go through the process
  • What organisational resources you will be need
  • Any ethical or technical considerations need to be addressed

Ideally all of these will be considered as part of an organisation-wide strategic approach to digital capabilities.

Stakeholder engagement

If you are using the discovery tool as part of a wider digital capability initiative, you are likely to have more success if you engage stakeholders as an integral aspect of your planning process. You can secure buy-in and alignment with other key initiatives by involving representatives from all parts of your organisation.

One way of doing this is to bring together a working group that meets perhaps twice: once at the start to support the planning process outlined here, and again at the end to review the data and plan how to respond. This is not usually too much commitment for busy people to make.

Think strategically about your key players:

  • Who is your senior sponsor or lead for the project? You need someone who can give the project a high profile and lend their weight to any recommendations
  • Who needs to see your organisational data and make sense of it in terms of recommendations and next steps?
  • Who can approve investment in staff and student digital capability? Ideally this needs to be someone who can use the project outcomes to make a good business case
  • Who will ensure that local resources and opportunities are well signposted and ready for an increase in use? An early benefit of running the digital discovery is to get people sharing resources and creating a more coherent support framework

You will almost certainly want to consult with people who have the following responsibilities (some of these will be combined into one role, while others may be carried out by several staff):

  • Members of staff responsible for human resources, staff development and IT training
  • A senior member of staff responsible for technology enhanced learning
  • A senior member of staff responsible for the student experience » Student representatives » Academic staff representative(s)
  • Representatives of other staff groups, professional bodies, unions

Our case study from The University of Hertfordshire offers insights into how others have built a strategic team to support the implementation of the discovery tool.

Your rationale and intended benefits

  • What is your organisational motivation or purpose for using the discovery tool?
  • Is it to encourage staff and students to take responsibility for their own development, or is it intended to support a particular organisational agenda? Is awareness raising enough, or do you want to see tangible progress (and how would you assess that)?
  • Our pilot revealed that the most common aim was to 'help staff to improve their own digital capabilities', followed by 'support a strategic change agenda'. We provide advice and guidance to help you to evaluate your outcomes against your aims

Consider the benefits of taking part for individual members of staff and students. These might be quite different to the organisational benefits, and identifying and addressing these will be key to successful communication.

Users of the discovery tool are committing time to the project and are the end-users and ultimate beneficiaries so it is really important that you support their experience properly. Encourage senior leaders to undertake the tool too - everyone can benefit.

Working with your users

You will have identified your target users - those you most want to engage in using the discovery tool. For example - if you have a big drive to engage teaching staff with digital methods, then teaching staff will be your priority target users. You may have a 'captive audience' thanks to a particular meeting or event. If so, it makes sense to have them complete the discovery process when they are receptive, and when you can provide on-the-spot encouragement and support.

If you want your data returns to be as meaningful and informative as possible, eg to compare different groups of staff, it makes sense to aim for a larger cohort. If your focus is on developing individuals, your roll-out (at least initially) may be limited to the number who can be accommodated on a development programme or mentoring scheme, or to people who you can rely on for high quality feedback.

Think about the setting in which your users will encounter the discovery tool. Will they be on their own or in a group? Will you offer a formal introduction and walk-through, or will someone be on hand so they can ask for help if they need it?

Consider how the conversation will be followed up after they receive their report, will there be support to discuss, review and further refine their action plan?

If you are engaging students, you will need to consider how this will add to their learning experience and how you can ensure the level of challenge is appropriate.

Engaging users

You want your staff and students to use the discovery tool, but they are short of time. Staff may be wary of measures that could be used to monitor their practice. Students want to know that the time they invest is going to be worthwhile. So how do you encourage them to engage? Our guidance on engaging users offers tried and tested advice.

Resource (time) allocation

The discovery tool can be used completely off-the-peg and does not need customising or hosting locally. However, the project lead and close working group members will need to allocate some time to the following activities (you can use these to create to-do lists and a project plan).

  1. Develop and manage a plan for the project (use these points and develop a timeline with dates that work for you)
  2. Convene a working group, and communicate with key stakeholders
  3. Communicate about the project with end users and encourage their engagement
  4. Consider if you will use the discovery tool feature to add your own organisational resources and how you might link to those within the discovery tool for staff and/or students
  5. Support users to engage with the experience and follow up with personal development (this support may be provided from existing resources but it does matter, especially if you are using the discovery tool with learners)
  6. Run a focus group or consultation event and collect feedback
  7. Assess the data provided, in collaboration with Jisc staff eg your relationship manager and the building digital capability service team
  8. Produce recommendations and next steps for consideration by your working group or key stakeholders

Other considerations

The discovery tool is available off-the-peg so there are few technical considerations, but some questions you may want to consider include:

  • Do all users have access to the tool via a networked device and browser with reliable connection via wifi or mobile?
  • Are there any firewall issues which may prevent users accessing the tool?
  • Do users know that they can pause and return to the discovery process at any time?
  • Do users know that they can save their personalised report and feedback as a pdf for future reference?

Please do let us know if you or your users have any difficulty accessing the tool or you spot any apparent bugs or browser compatibility issues. Contact the building digital capability team via our Get in touch page.

Planning for evaluation

Individual users will be directed to a brief survey, the results of which will be used to inform future developments of the discovery tool. The results will be used by the Jisc team to support the ongoing development of the discovery tool. Please encourage your staff and students to complete this form, which is completely anonymous. They may be interested to know that the tool continues to develop and their views are making a difference.

Focus groups can be a useful way to explore your findings locally and provide us with richer data about the user experience. Plan a time, date and place for this, and a strategy for attracting participants (such as nice food and drink!).

The person named as your lead contact will also be asked to complete an evaluation form towards the end of June or early July, outlining how well the project has met the objectives you outlined when you subscribed to the service. We may ask further questions about the value of the tool to your organisation or invite you to contribute a case study.


Find answers to common questions relating to the discovery tool and its implementation on our discovery tool guidance pages which are regularly updated.