What are we doing?
We are undertaking an institution-wide administrative process improvement project.
To advance this effort, the University has engaged a cost-effective consultancy that
will work with current staff and resources. The external group will work through a
major process improvement with us as they pass along methodologies and approaches
that can be sustained. The focus is major administrative processes, and particularly
those that cut across many units, in an effort to realize significant gains in efficiency
This work was initiated by the President’s office and the members of the Executive
Council in early December 2009 with the issuance of a call (RFP) for external assistance
to guide us in the implementation of major process improvements across the entire
Why are we doing this – undertaking process improvement?
We are utilizing the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) stimulus
funding period to implement process and service efficiencies – this is a very strategic
and deliberate move to prepare for the funding situation after the stimulus funding
ends. The outcomes of the process and service improvements will significantly advance
the University’s strategic goals and objectives.
In addition, the process itself should foster a culture of enhanced institutional
flexibility and adaptability, so that the University of Memphis can better anticipate
and more rapidly respond to changes in the external environment on an on-going basis,
whether those changes are in customers’ needs, competitors’ actions, economic fluctuations,
or development opportunities.
Is this part of a larger university-wide effort and/or linked to the university strategic
Yes. As the University of Memphis prepares to celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2012,
its strategic plan (http://www.memphis.edu/presweb/pdfs/plan.pdf) sets the course for its second century and provides a vision of being recognized
as one of America’s great metropolitan research universities.
The strategic plan encompasses six goals: Student Success; Research and Creativity;
Access and Diversity; Partnerships; Campus Culture and Service Excellence; and Sense
of Place. Student success, research, and creativity are at the core of the university’s
purpose as it educates students through the advancement of knowledge and expression.
Access and diversity reflect its mission and values by expanding educational opportunities
in an environment that embraces differences. These goals cannot be accomplished without
proper support – embracing shared governance, a commitment to open decision making
and adhering to standards of high quality service. The realization of each of these
goals also requires a safe, healthy, and inviting community – a sense of place. Together
these six goals mutually reinforce one another to become an integral part of a dynamic,
This initiative is a core strategy of the Campus Culture and Service Excellence goal.
Why are we doing this – engaging a consultant?
Given the strategy of using the ARRA timeframe to achieve efficiencies, it has been
decided that we would benefit from some dedicated, external resources. The role of
the consultants is to (1) work with us to improve a major process and (2) train us
on methodologies and recommend ongoing structures to continue that work in a sustainable
way over time. Both within the course of one year.
What can senior leaders and administrators do to encourage project success?
Support the project! Without your help, the project will take longer (and time is
critical) or will not be successful. Research on change efforts in organizations suggests
that teams whose projects are driven and heavily supported by top management are more
likely to succeed. Over time, we will develop opportunities for leadership to visibly
demonstrate support for this work.
What will be the biggest obstacle to our success in major process improvement?
Research indicates that resistance to change within the organization is six times
more often the primary obstacle. Resistance comes in many forms, including organizational
inertia, culture, front-line resistance and management resistance. It can be both
passive and overt.
What are the consultants going to do?
We have structured the project into two phases. As part of Phase 1, the consultant
will help us actually improve a single, high-impact, high visibility, cross-institutional
process improvement. This will help us demonstrate the usefulness of the process and
build support and understanding across the university, preparing us for more extensive
process review and improvement. The process improvement will include review, implementation
of improvements, and assessment through core process measures (such as cost, time,
customer satisfaction, etc.).
During Phase 2, the consultant will teach us a methodology for on-going process improvement
across the University. The methodology must be replicable for multiple process improvements,
engage a broad range of stakeholders, demonstrate measurable outcomes, and create
a culture of change management. Elements of Phase 2 may be concurrent with activities
in Phase 1.
Anticipated actions and outcomes in Phase 2 include:
- Development and prioritization of a list of potential processes for improvement
- Selection of an appropriate process for implementation
- Development and implementation of a communication plan for the improved processes
- Implementation of the process improvement using the proposed methodology
- Knowledge transfer to University employees for future use of the methodology
- Assessment of the improvements realized through the improved processes
- Assessment of the engagement of the University in the methodology, and of the ability
of the University to continue process improvements using the methodology
- Recommendations for the continuation of the improvement process
- Documentation of the proposed governance model for the process improvement methodology
- Estimated Return on Investment (ROI) for Phase 1of the engagement
- A methodology for estimating ROI from future process improvements
What is the process under review as part of Phase 1?
The process that has been selected for Phase I (and the process often brought to our
attention) is the recruitment, hiring or appointment, and integration of all temporary
and student employees, including adjunct (part-time) faculty, graduate assistants,
temporary employees, and student workers into the administrative systems. Note that
this is the entire process of getting these temporary employees hired and working
their first day. The tentative goal is to pilot the process in the summer for full
implementation for Fall 2010 Semester.
Why not begin by creating a list of possible improvement projects and then selecting
one as part of Phase 1?
Because we would like to see an immediate impact. Best practice suggests that process
improvement projects are more likely to succeed when the improvement is achieved on
some meaningful and known issue “rather than the fallacy of first searching for something
that needs fixing.”[i]
When will the consultant’s work begin and end?
The selection of a consultant has been completed and we expect that they will begin
on April 5, 2010. The approach proposed by TSI (the selected consulting firm) calls
for a Phase 1 to be conducted in April and a Phase 2 in May. TSI will be working with
us in addressing one of the 4 temporary hiring categories. Thereafter, a University-led
effort will improve the other three temporary hiring categories. More information
about the proposed approach from TSI is contained in the Project Kick-off presentation
available on this website.
Who will be involved?
Dr. Teresa Hartnett will lead this effort, and Dr. Tom Nenon has agreed to serve as
co-lead. They will be working with the consultants, executive officers and cross-functional
groups to implement institutional process improvements and organizational change.
As we receive further input from consultants, we will establish a governance structure
for ongoing process improvement. TSI has proposed an initial Governance structure,
which is also contained in the Project Kick-off presentation.
Who selected the consultants?
The members of the RFP Review Team were
- Ralph Faudree, Provost
- Doug Hurley, Vice President for Information Technology/Chief Information Officer
- David Zettergren, Interim Vice President for Business & Finance
- Rosie Bingham, VP Student Affairs
- David Cox, Office of the President
- Tom Nenon, Vice Provost
- Don Wagner, Dean of the College of Education, Health and Human Sciences
- Ann Harbor, Academic Affairs
- Teresa Hartnett, Business & Finance
- Pam Jenkins, Academic Affairs
- Ellen Watson, Assistant Vice President for Information Technology
How will this impact faculty and staff?
Many will be asked to be involved in the work of process improvement. More generally,
we will all be required to do things differently, and sometimes do different things
in our work.
How will this affect my job here at the University?
This project is aimed at reducing the excess time you spend on this process, freeing
you up to focus on other important tasks. That will reduce work beyond normal hours
that you spend today. As the process is improved, you may find that you no longer
need to spend time on a step as it has been eliminated, or that you now do it differently
(e.g. deal only with exceptions).
That is a natural part of improvement and we should all be preparing to accept changes
like that going forward.
How is this different from other improvement projects that the University has done
in the past?
This is different because we are focused on improvements that cut across the administrative
units of the University. While many units, departments and divisions have very successfully
improved or sustained highly effective processes, we haven’t yet achieved the meaningful
review and improvement of administrative processes that cut across the entire institution.
As a result, we have not yet been able to capture the major gains in efficiency and
effectiveness that we believe are possible. That is the focus of this effort: major
gains across the institution.
In addition, the improvements that have been made have been done without dedicated
resources. The plan is that the additional of dedicated resources – in the form of
consultants – for a timeframe not to exceed one year will allow us to achieve a great
deal in a relatively brief time period.
I heard that this is about WorkForum?
No, this is not about workForum, the University’s electronic applicant tracking system.
Is this about implementing more software or other technological systems?
No. The RFP includes the following statement: It is not anticipated that the consultants
will recommend significant hardware, software, or systems additions or changes; rather,
in most cases, process changes to make more effective use of existing systems will
be the preferred outcome.
Will we be trained on any new software if we need to use it?
Yes. We intend to expand the use of what we have in place today (e.g. PeopleAdmin
and Banner HR).
If you have not been trained on any of the software, we will arrange that. Please
go to https://bf.memphis.edu/training/or email firstname.lastname@example.org you know now that you may need training.
I heard that this is about hiring?
Yes. Because hiring processes impact each and every part of the institution, they
have been selected as a good place to begin as part of Phase 1.
Why begin with hiring when our budgets are being cut?
The university will always be hiring all categories of employees, some years more
aggressively than others. Phase 1 will look at efficiencies in the hiring of temporary
employees (which include student workers, graduate assistants, adjunct faculty, temporary
staff). This may include streamlining, increasing electronic approvals, and/or other
improvements. Implementing these types of efficiencies will allow staff across departments
and units refocus their time on more strategic work.
What is the consulting work going on with research? What is the Huron Consulting that
I hear about?
The division of Business and Finance has contracted with the Huron Consulting Group
to help develop Cost Accounting Standards Board Disclosure Statement (DS-2) and related
policies and procedures. This is required because the university has exceeded the
$25 million threshold in Federal funding in FY’09. Development and documentation of
these procedures will have a significant impact campus wide. Although Business and
Finance is initiating this effort, it is a collaborative effort between B & F, Academics
and Research. The outcome of this consulting contract is a project plan for completion
of the DS-2. It is probable that an additional consultant will be needed to implement
[i] “Seven Key Guidelines to BPM Project Success,” Gartner Research, 14 December, 2009,