December 2014 Shared Services Update


Dear Colleagues,

As the semester comes to a close, and my tenure as Associate Vice President for Shared Services and Business Transformation begins, I wanted to take a moment to update you on the progress of the Administrative Services Transformation project in general, and with the current pilot project in particular.

Central Business Office and Academic Technology Support

Central Business Office (CBO)

Since the pilots at the College of Education and Provost Portfolio began this past June, the CBO has hired 14 new staff members and now has 26 full-time employees. We are also implementing new career path metrics, which are designed to make clear to staff the knowledge and skill levels that lead to advancement in the organization. Team members who continue to increase their productivity, accuracy rates, and knowledge of policies, procedures, and systems, now have a clearly defined path for advancement.

Progress made during the fall semester:

Redesigned Training Curriculum for Customers: Training now includes a step-by-step business process review, as well as hands-on training on the use of the request forms and the service management tools (Footprints).

Dedicated Resources for CBO Training and Documentation:  We now have one person dedicated to the task of creating procedures guides and training materials for CBO staff.

Automated HR Web Forms:HR request forms are being developed to replace existing PDF/Word forms.

Service Management Tool: We continue to fine-tune Footprints to expedite the assignment of requests to the appropriate functional teams. This will reduce the time required to respond to customer requests.

Academic Technology Support (ATS)

Since the pilot at the Provost Portfolio began this past June, six staff from the Provost Portfolio have transitioned into ATS in addition to two staff that have transitioned from ITS. ATS now has 35 full-time employees.

Progress made during the fall semester:

New Transition Timeline: IT staff within transitioning units who perform duties that will move to ATS are identified immediately and are offered the opportunity to transfer into ATS without the need to apply for their new position. During the transition period, ATS partners with embedded staff to identify existing technology, document processes, communicate with the unit, and prepare for the transition of operational technical support.

Training and Documentation Resources: We continue to build out and document internal processes as a means of capturing best practices, lessons learned, and ultimately, to provide a higher level of support to our customers.

Improved Customer Service: Incident tracking and computer management tools continue to be improved to ensure the best customer experience with our team.

Alignment of Customer Units with IT Best Practices and Compliance:  ATS partners with its customer units to continually implement and improve IT best practices while seeking to minimize the impact of these changes on our customers. 

Current Pilot Project

Provost Portfolio

The Provost Portfolio is nearing the completion of its transition to shared services. Currently all units in the first three phases, plus the Blanton Museum from phase 4 have transitioned. The transitions for the Harry Ransom Center, Briscoe Center, and UT Press are underway.

The Provost Portfolio reports generally good results for both administrative and IT services. Phases 2-4 have benefitted from improved transition planning and lessons learned from phase 1.

College of Education

Over this past summer, phase 1 of the College of Education, the Dean’s Office, two academic departments, Curriculum & Instruction and Educational Administration, and four research centers, transitioned to the CBO (the College of Education piloted administrative services only). All were pleased with the initial rollout of services, but when the academic year began, the CBO found itself short of the trained staff needed to handle the increase in volume surrounding academic transaction requests.

To ensure this shortfall was not systemic, a joint decision was made in September to delay adding additional units within the college to the pilot until all involved agreed that service levels were acceptable.

As the conversations with the college continued, it became clear that we were not adding value in some of the units in the college. These units were already fully staffed and well run, so rather than being a resource to those units, the CBO became an obstacle. In November, after discussions with Dean Justiz, we decided to transition to a volunteer approach, whereby the CBO would serve only those units for whom our services were seen as valuable, either now or in the future.  

We learned much from this phase of the pilot that has informed and will inform the implementations that follow. We are most grateful to Dean Justiz, his leadership team, and to the staff in the College of Education for their contributions to this initiative. They have been, and continue to be an invaluable partner.

Looking to 2015

In 2015 it is our goal to continue to build out the shared services organization. This will include the creation of advisory groups and the implementation of tools to capture process cycle times, error rates, and customer satisfaction levels.  We will also seek to identify opportunities to simplify policies and procedures (beginning with the APS/PBS process), to implement tools that increase efficiency, and to support the Administrative Systems Modernization Program.

I believe that our University can transform the way we do business, by embracing shared services, simplifying and documenting processes, and implementing modern technologies. We remain optimistic that when implemented under the proper circumstances, we can deliver high quality service and create savings in support of our academic and research missions. 

As always, please encourage your peers to sign up for the Transforming UT email updates.

Jamie Southerland
Associate Vice President for Shared Services and Business Transformation