Administrative Modernization and Shared Services Project Updates

AMSS Overview

The University of Chicago is currently working to modernize its administrative services in the areas of Human Resources, Payroll, and Procure-to-Pay. This modernization will include updates to technology, processes, and policies, and the establishment of a Shared Services Office. Altogether, the project is focused on the following:

  • Technology Enhancements: Updates to current systems to simplify workflow, expand self-service options, and broaden capabilities available in various systems (e.g., ACCTs, BuySite, Concur, FAS, Workday)
  • Process Improvements: Reduce manual processes, eliminate extra hands-off, clarify roles/responsibilities, and address internal controls
  • Policy Updates: Revision or creation of policies to provide better clarity and direction
  • Shared Services Office Involvement: Development of a new on-campus office focused on measureable service quality and support for routine transactions

AMSS Project History

As of August 2017, the Shared Services Office opened at 6054 S. Drexel Ave (Suite 400) and an initial subset of process and technology updates have been implemented. The Shared Services Office Help Desk is available to support campus requests in HR, Procure-to-Pay, and Payroll by phone, live chat, and through the online portal.  

The office has been staffed largely through reorganization of staff from central administrative offices that are located in the same building and has taken on many of the original responsibilities of those staff groups. The decision to move forward was made only after working closely with the Associate Deans, Administrative Unit Leaders, and other leadership at each unit to confirm necessary staff were able to complete training offered over the summer and that key stakeholders were supported as the processes were updated. The Shared Services Office leadership and staff are committed to continuous improvement and will be continuing these conversations with campus regularly to gather feedback, make refinements, and provide support. 

Additional changes will be rolled out gradually in the coming months and years, with appropriate time for communication and training. The current plan for proposed process updates was shared in the spring and can be reviewed on the Resources page. Training resources and related materials can be accessed on the Training page and additional rollout information will be shared as it becomes available.

Beginning in spring 2015, the University decided to explore opportunities to build shared services. This started in the summer of 2015 with the collection of data on 4,000+ unit and central staff members to understand current workload and administrative activities. In the fall of 2015, the Provost and Chief Financial Officer formed an Advisory Committee with representative Deans, Faculty, and Senior Administrators from across the University to provide input on the project.

From fall 2015 through spring 2016, the Shared Services Project Team conducted interviews and focus groups with over 100 representatives from campus local unit colleges, divisions, and schools to learn about challenges and improvement ideas within Finance, Human Resources, Procure-To-Pay, and Research Administration at UChicago. 

Along with learning how work currently takes place and identifying improvement opportunities, staff members provided input on administrative services that might be better performed by shared services and services that should remain local.

In spring 2016, representative staff experts were identified from across the University to serve on Working Groups and Sub Groups to redesign UChicago’s administrative processes and functions in more detail. This occurred for the following administrative areas: Finance, Human Resources, Procure-to-Pay, and Research Administration. (Note: at this time Finance and Research Administration are following a separate approaches and timelines than the other functions.) The initial Staff Working Group sessions resulted in proposals for redesigned administrative processes, and a catalog of technology and policy updates to support the new ways of working.

Beginning in summer 2016, the project expanded engagement across the community. An initial round of Faculty and Staff Forums were held to provide campus with an orientation to the project and to gather input and feedback. The content discussed during the Staff and Faculty Forums are located in the Resources section.

The project team also supported the Provost’s Office to establish and engage a Faculty Working Group. This group was charged to review the proposed administrative changes and to garner feedback from a faculty perspective. The project Advisory Committee used this feedback, along with recommendations from Staff Working Groups and inputs from Faculty and Staff Forums, to evaluate the proposed changes. With this guidance, the project team developed a proposed rollout plan for Administrative Modernization and Shared Services.

In February 2017, the project team began meeting individually with leaders from each academic unit and most administrative units on campus to provide an update on the project and garner input on a reoccuring basis. This included a series of meeting with Deans and Associate Deans to review project scope and collect feedback on proposed process changes.

A series of faculty and staff forums were hosted in May 2017 to provide a project update and to walk through the specific process changes expected with the first wave of AMSS. To view the materials covered during these presentations, visit the Resources page of our website.

Individual unit conversations continued throughout the summer to discuss unit-specific impacts for the proposed changes, identify any unit or division considerations that may need to be accommodated for the implementation, and discuss how to support unit leaders, faculty, staff, and other stakeholders to be prepared for the changes moving foward.

Spring 2016 Findings and Outcomes

 

Data collected from staff and interviews with senior administrator across the University yielded recurring themes related to our service levels.

Decentralization, Duplication, and Underinvestment:

Units rely on their own resources, technology, and processes to support operations

Dependency of “Heroes” not Process:

Work often stops if a key staff person is unavailable


Loss of institutional knowledge when staff leave


University-level and Unit-level Collaboration is Lacking:

Difficulty for units to collaborate on shared investments and priorities


Generalist Staff Model and Limited Training Creates Skill Gaps:

Staff may not have the needed expertise for tasks, or access to training and support

Application Redundancy and Sub-Optimal Technology:

Units develop their own tools and systems


Antiquated systems support critical core business functions


Lack of Performance Metrics and Continuous Improvement:

Performance metrics not consistently collected, tracked, and reported


Improvement programs are lacking


Inconsistent Levels of Service Across Units:

Service differences may impact satisfaction and increase faculty burden

Documentation of Compliance is Challenging:

Confusion by staff regarding some external and internal policies

Along with learning how work currently takes place and identifying improvement opportunities, staff members provided input on needed process, technology, and policy changes, administrative services that might be better performed by a Shared Services Office, and services that should remain local.

Based on the input of UChicago staff members, the following summarizes the expectations for Shared Services as we proceed:

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Administrative activities should occur in partnership among Centers of Expertise (COE), local units, and an on-campus Shared Services Office

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Some level of local staffing will always be needed to support unit-specific activities

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To provide a consistent point of contact when interacting with Shared Services, local units may need dedicated Shared Services staff aligned to supporting the administrative activities of individual units

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Partnership agreements are needed to set joint expectations and clear responsibilities between the Shared Services Office, Local Units, and Centers of Expertise (COE)