Service design and delivery

In September 2014, focus turned to service design and delivery, an initiative to align our administrative services culture to support and facilitate our academic mission. This work focused on increasing the level of administrative support to faculty and staff through shared and consistent services.

We built on four years of prior experience gained through the service and process enhancement projects. We also accessed external research through the Education Advisory Board. Based on this knowledge, we designed and operated our own process in co-ordination with an external consultant.

At its simplest, we started with a review of all staff functions and positions to see where our administrative staff were spending time on transactional-based activities that may or may not be part of their job description. Armed with the data, we identified what functions could be better offered in a central/decentralized hybrid model.

This new way of delivering administrative services involves three delivery channels. It is important they are co-ordinated in their service delivery approach for this model to work effectively and efficiently.

ConnectionPoint is a new unit at the U of S that was created as a result of work done in service design and delivery. ConnectionPoint is a one-stop service centre providing finance, human resources and research administrative services you need, when you need them. ConnectionPoint staff provide support for faculty, staff and students with transactional based administrative tasks in the areas of finance, human resources and research administration.

Strategic business advisors, or SBAs, are a professional resource for a college, school, unit or a group of colleges, schools or units. Individuals in these positions are physically located in close proximity to the college, school or unit they support.

The functional central office (FCO) is responsible for university-wide initiatives and set the overall direction, policy and procedures for each administrative area. Staff in the FCO will remain in their current locations.

At the core of this new model, our goal is to ensure we are supporting our faculty, staff and students in achieving the mission of the university. The intent of this change is to ensure our entire university community, no matter where faculty, staff and students may be located, receives the same quality, efficient service. Our improvement target is to reduce faculty time on administrative work, which reports to be 30-40% across North America. With faculty and staff reducing time spent on administrative tasks, time is freed up to focus on the research and teaching mission of the university. In addition, this structure improves the long-term career growth opportunities for our administrative employees.

Service and process enhancement project (SPEP)

In 2010, Price-Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) was commissioned to support the service and process enhancement project (SPEP), with the goal to assess the university’s services and provide recommendations for service improvements and possible efficiencies.

Highlights of the report identified:

  • a disconnect between administrative service expectations of the colleges and schools and the level of service considered standard by the administrative units;
  • confusion around roles, responsibilities and processes;
  • a lack of standard roles and responsibilities for similar positions across the university resulting in different staff skills and capabilities to deliver the same service;
  • fragmented organization design of administrative services creating varying service levels across the university;
  • colleges, schools and administrative units taking on processes and functions without a strong understanding of the university strategy; and
  • a lack of process to ensure colleges or administrative units did not replicate provided administrative services.

In reviewing PWC’s recommendations, it was recognized that organizational design of the administrative and support services would be an exceptionally valuable project for the university to undertake. It was identified this would be a monumental and difficult task that would take years to complete, as it entailed creating a new organizational design for the university’s support services.

Initial focus was placed on payments and procurement, restructuring of communications, improving travel and expense claim processes, and consolidating printing services on campus. Recommendations also informed the development of the University of Saskatchewan Research Management System (UnivRS), an online system to manage research.

New stories regarding the service and process enhancement project: