strategic plan goal 6 exemplify operational excellence

Optimize operational efficiency and effectiveness through the establishment of high standards and expectations to maximize resource utilization and to uphold accountability.

To achieve our goals, our strategy must be operationalized (and ultimately monetized). This necessitates that operational excellence be a top priority. Operational Excellence means finding the right balance between efficiency (e.g., lowered costs) and effectiveness (e.g., good outcomes). This operational optimization requires the various elements of our Operating Model — processes, capabilities, infrastructure, organization, governance, leadership and culture — to be integrated and mutually reinforcing. It also requires excellent internal communications within and across units; maximal leverage of external partnerships; accountability-driven performance management that permeates our organization down to the individual; cooperative government relations; and enhanced marketing and external communications.


Process Excellence.

Our objective is to re-engineer current processes, policies and procedures to emphasize service commitment and service metrics so that we collaboratively, consistently and seamlessly meet or exceed customer/end-user requirements and objectives. Rethinking our Operating Model best begins with re-engineering our processes, which drive (or at least heavily influence) the other elements of our Operating Model. A comprehensive review of all policies and procedures is being performed that is gathering constituent input to prioritize needs and collect (re)design ideas.



Our objective is to dynamically optimize the number of personnel and skilling to properly resource functions and programs, taking into consideration the contributions of process improvement, current/future technologies and external partners and redeploying freed-up resources to areas of highest need/impact. Mapping to-be processes as part of process re-engineering provides a good sense of the positions and skilling required to accomplish our objectives. We are seeking the right portfolio of faculty and staff to deliver our instructional and research missions — the right numbers of people, organized and distributed correctly across functions/processes and properly skilled and equipped.


Infrastructure (both physical and IT).

Our objective is to substantively improve infrastructure through re-engineered, long-range, data-driven and collaborative capital planning that directs resources to areas of highest need and/or impact and better supports our people and processes.

  • Physical Infrastructure. Currently, the University of Memphis has the oldest building inventory among Tennessee’s public institutions of higher education, with some buildings far past their useful life, making maintenance and utilities costly. Additionally, we are experiencing a shortage of space; many teaching and research spaces are not functionally equipped to modern standards, and we have a huge and growing backlog of deferred maintenance.
  • IT Infrastructure (and IT services) are also trending downward. Systems are aging and fragmented, with many (and increasing numbers of) bolt-ons, manual processes and workarounds. Additionally, it is often increasingly difficult to determine where data resides, how to access it and whether it is current or accurate. Emphases must be on more digitalization and better leveraging of technology that is backed by a strong business case.



Our objective is to better align our organization structure and responsibilities with institutional priorities. Our task is to find an organizational structure that best fits our new strategy and the modified supporting process, capability and infrastructure dimensions of our improved Operating Model and offers adaptability to ever-changing conditions and emergent priorities. A new organizational structure should focus on catalyzing interdisciplinary collaboration and consider more balance in the size of colleges and schools. In some cases, distributed responsibilities may need to be (re)consolidated. In other cases, responsibilities may need to be redistributed to where they most logically belong.



Our objective is to realize the full potential of selfgovernance by reducing legacy regulation. Selfgovernance is an institutional strength, which has provided needed flexibility and nimbleness. The Board of Trustees was well-designed with governance best practices in mind. Board members are committed and capable. They understand and respect their role and their boundaries. However, the full potential of the Board is not being realized. A legacy of (over)regulation from the former Board of Regents era impedes full self-governance.


Leadership & Culture.

Our objective is to foster an open, trust-based, collaborative culture as a prerequisite for operational excellence. Every day, each member of our campus community should live our mission, vision and principles. As discussed in the “Organization Culture” principle in the Principles section of the Strategic Plan, we seek to cultivate an organizational culture built on pillars of integrity, diversity and inclusion, collaboration, accountability, resilience, pride (in our achievements), innovation, technology-savviness, responsiveness and excellent communications. Following the path of our strategic planning, with its surveys and listening sessions, we are continuing to foster openness and a participatory working environment.



Our objective is to identify objectives and functions that would best be accomplished through external collaboration and then find, vet and work with the most capable partners. Collaboration is a key University principle. External partnerships often offer lower costs, better results or both. They provide great opportunities to accelerate and/or amplify our impact. Partnerships options range from simple vendor-customer arrangements to joint ventures. It is important that we develop an evaluative framework to determine the optimal partnership model for various functions, objectives or activities that provides the best results for us and our partners. We must choose the most operationally excellent option based on well-defined, objective criteria. This requires strong alignment of objectives and the capability to leverage the respective strengths of each partner. We have a good track record of establishing mutually beneficial collaborations but need to continue to improve our array of partnership competencies, including negotiation skills, contract administration, business case development and supply chain management. Our increased partnering includes expansion of our work with the community.


Performance Management.

Our objective is to achieve accountability through clear, quantified and collaborative definition of objectives and associated actions and through continuous and transparent performance monitoring. Performance management necessitates translation of the Strategic Plan to actions, metrics and targets; and extension of Strategic Planning to the colleges, schools and major units. A University action plan is being developed that describes actions for all goals and supporting objectives with associated timelines, assignment of responsibility, (sometimes) resource estimates and metrics affected. For each goal, metrics (also known as Key Performance Indicators, or KPIs) and annual targets for those metrics are being developed. This will require baselining the KPIs and some benchmarking to establish reasonable targets. A plan for periodically reporting progress against the action plan and KPIs will be developed that establishes a reporting format, periodicities, communications channels, intended audiences and information requirements.


Government Relations.

We appreciate the great support we receive from both state and local governments in the jurisdictions where we operate. Our objective is to foster stronger collaborative relationships with our local, state and federal governments that uplift our University, community, state, region and nation. To that end, we are establishing a more cogent and comprehensive public policy strategy, increasing our visibility and more constructively engaging government at all levels and in all branches. We are also engaged in an internal educational campaign to promote a much broader organizational understanding of 1) the important role played by government, especially our state government, in the health of our University and 2) how we need to work with government to achieve mutually beneficial goals.


Marketing & Communications.

Our objective is to enhance marketing and communications to improve our visibility, to strengthen our reputation and to better support recruiting and advancement. Overall, our marketing and external communications function has supported the University’s aims in most areas. However, there are areas for improvement that center on making our marketing and external communications more modern, relevant and distinctive; especially in recruiting and advancement. We understand that significantly more resources will be needed to update our marketing, expand our marketing channels (especially social media) and increase the volume of communications through those channels.

Goal 6 Historical Data Actual Targets  
Fall 2018 Fall 2019 Fall 2020 Fall 2021 Fall 2022 Fall 2023 Fall 2023 Fall 2024 Fall 2025 Fall 2026 Fall 2027  
Bachelor’s Degrees per 100 FTE (THEC measure of productivity) 23 23 24 24 24   25 26 27 28 29
Administrative labor cost as a percentage of operating expenses 3.4% 3.4% 3.4% 3.8% 3.6% 3.5% <3.5% <3.5% <3.5% <3.5% <3.5%
Plant reinvestment rate 2.48% 3.08% 4.34% 4.44%% 4.70% 4.13% 5% 5.50% 6% 6.50% 7%
Total Annual Expenditures on Buildings/Improvements $12.1 M $15.3 M $23.2 M $24.9 M $27.8 M $25.4 M $30.6 M $34.9 M $39.3 M $44.1 M $49.2 M
Unique webpage views 17.8 M 15.2 M 16.2 M 14.4 M 15.5 M 16.4 M 16.0 M 16.5 M 17.0 M 17.5 M 18.0 M
Social media engagement* 125,680 136,044 145,106 150,979 160,461 465,299 307,000 316,210 325,696 335,467 345,531

* = Represents total followers/likes across several platforms

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