As we look toward the future and UB’s Top 25 public universities ambitions, the College has reorganized the staff structure into Shared Services teams in an effort to better support departments, programs, centers and institutes and to improve and streamline processes and procedures.
The shared services model provides strategic, accurate, efficient and consistent high-quality service delivery across all departments at all times. It balances the workload, reduces duplication and redundancy and maintains continuous service for all departments.
In the shared services model, departments send process-oriented and compliance-based work to specialized teams. The teams will include staff who are subject matter experts in particular areas critical to the operation of the College.
Department support is focused on the work that is not completed by operational teams, including budgeting and reporting. Department support includes department administrators. This work strategically supports the Department Chair/Program Director, faculty and the overall department/unit, College and university’s strategic vision. They will help departments navigate the shared services model by completing tasks and/or delegating/collaborating with teams.
Creating efficiencies and opportunities through prudent use of shared services is not a means to cut staff and services, but to allow us to provide greater consistency in services across the College, as well as the capacity to do more unit-specific work in our departments with our highly-qualified and experienced staff. This is a way for teams to streamline processes for faculty, staff and students who use common services. Departments will share staffing resources through teams to improve service to all. The shared services model will also allow the College to ensure that best practices are consistently utilized and reduce compliance risks.
Through shared services, we will continue employing our existing College staff and rebalance workloads, leading to more consistent services across all departments. In addition, as turnover occurs or temporary vacancies exist, we can do a better job of strategically filling service gaps. For departments that have had unfilled vacancies for long periods of time, this may be more visible than for departments that have not had this experience.
Under a shared services model, departments send process-oriented and compliance-based work to specialized teams. The work will be completed more quickly and at higher volume, because the team will be experts on the subject. They will know contemporary policies, procedures and best practices. This frees up the department administrators to do more mission-specific work such as budgeting, course scheduling, dossier preparation, etc.
A successful shared services model is guided by feedback, concentrating on best practices and customer service. Concentrating on customer service and process improvements is what differentiates the shared services model from the present generalist structure.
Work that is centered on compliance, tasks that are infrequent but specialized, highly transactional or supported by systems are compatible with this model. This may include processing applications, travel planning, human resources transactions, purchasing, international visa support, event planning services, and website maintenance. This is not a comprehensive list and the services may be shared fully or only in part depending on the specific needs of the College/sector and the service in question. Continuous assessment of how we get this critical work done is built into the reorganization plans.
As teams are rolled out, it will be essential to identify accountability and responsibility from both team members as well as recipients of the services and staff members who retain primary responsibility for department-based duties. The objective is to have enhanced service, not just to maintain previous level of service. An important goal of having teams is to increase capacity in departments so smaller, but no less essential, tasks that were sidelined can be completed. Shifting tasks to teams will create capacity for staff with department-based responsibilities.
Yes. Johns Hopkins, Ohio State University, Stanford, UC San Francisco, University of California, University of Delaware, University of Kansas, University of Oregon, University of Pittsburgh and Yale, among others.
Developing a shared services model through staff reorganization is a continuous process. It does not immediately happen and needs to be done in measured roll outs. Maintaining the new structure will be ongoing as people leave, retire, needs change, etc. Keeping that in mind, we anticipate that significant shifts that impact our current staff will be largely complete by the end of the 2022 calendar year.
No. This is a College-wide reorganization.
If an aspect of the shared services model does not work well, it will be re-examined and modified until it does. We should expect shortcomings, mistakes and changes in direction as we implement and refine workflows. We should also expect that they will be addressed, adjusted and the tasks set back on track. Many others have experienced tremendous success and benefits in adopting shared service models so there is not an expectation that we will return to a generalist model.
Work descriptions, dedicated FTE and reporting chain are currently being developed. As these are implemented, performance programs will be updated to reflect any changes.
The Centralized Graduate Application Processing Team was deployed November 1, 2021.
Key takeaways include:
HR Appointment Team. Over the past few months College HR has assumed responsibility for processing all adjunct appointments from for fall 2021, spring 2022 and winter sessions. Starting with adjuncts has revealed important feedback as we look to expand support to the appointment process for all TA/GA/RA – a significant next step in this transition. Given this, we are currently recruiting a number of dedicated team members to accommodate the expanded service delivery.
Other confirmed teams include graduate student support, course scheduling, events, communications, undergraduate student support, travel and reimbursements, procurement and pre-and post award support. The timing of deployment will be announced as teams are confirmed. Most teams are expected to rollout during the spring 2022.
The supervisory structure is being carefully considered. Department Chairs need to focus on their faculty, the future of their departments, and onboarding any new faculty they have recruited. Therefore, as staff members are notified of changes to their duties and new performance programs are written, supervisors will be assigned. One exception will be instructional support staff. They will continue to report to their current supervisor.
Sector Administrative Directors will be notifying staff of their team(s) appointment(s). Once you are notified, you can expect additional follow up from each team lead to meet and discuss the team and the work associated.
People who are assigned to multiple teams or departments will have a primary supervisor who will coordinate the work with the leadership of the second team or through the Sector Administrative Directors. As teams are rolled out, we will communicate with impacted faculty so they have clear direction and contact information about service needs.
For most people, no.
The number of staff on any one team is being determined through careful analysis and research. It should be expected that adjustments may be made even after teams are deployed when staff can offer insight as to how their team is functioning. There is no exact science to this. We’ve checked!
Team selection was determined based on an individual's skill and expertise in a certain area, time spent in the area and interest expressed as part of one-on-one meetings with Sector Administrative Directors.
We anticipate more brainstorming and listening sessions. Suggestions as to how to help improve processes, to move the reorganization forward, etc. are welcomed. We will continue to hear concerns and preferences. We take these very seriously. However, the reorganization will move forward and restructuring will be implemented to best support the new processes.
From the start of this endeavor, we indicated that it is not about eliminating staff or FTE. However, roles will change over time as the reorganization progresses. What those changes look like are to be determined as teams are deployed. All staff have been encouraged to express their interest in specific teams. Position descriptions will change, but there is no intent to demote, lower salaries or eliminate staff. When a position opens due to turnover, it will be reassessed and adjusted to fit the new team structure.
The reorganization is a process that will take time. It is not something that can happen with a flip of a switch. Change is difficult, especially in a large organization with many moving parts. Day-to-day operations need to be supported as we undertake the large-scale changes of the reorganization. Fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of being phased out is understandable. We are taking great care to consider every person, their strengths, their areas of interest. Let’s take the brave path and walk through this together in a way that makes us feel proud. It will be challenging, but we can do this…together.
Have a question about the reorganization? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.