A quick look at the eight administrative business cases

On Oct. 2, the state Board of Regents received eight proposed business cases in various administrative areas from the Deloitte consulting team. Those eight subsequently were presented to university audiences on the three regent university campuses. The board is expected to talk about the proposals at its Oct. 23 meeting in Iowa City, and vote on each of the eight during a special Nov. 14 telephonic meeting.

Here's a summary of the eight business cases:

In the area of information technology

(two technology-related proposals would precede two operational proposals):

  • As use cycles end, replace desktop computers with thin client option (networked computer without its own hard drive), and replace personal printers with networked duplex printers that serve groups of employees. Estimated annual savings at Iowa State, including lower energy costs, is $1.6 million-$2 million.
  • Reduce the number of software applications purchased or developed within and across the three universities* and create an inter-university council that finds a consensus regarding the overall inventory, particularly in areas common to all (for example, facilities management or library management). Estimated annual savings at Iowa State is $1.6 million.
  • Technology changes from the above proposals, future innovations and leaner supervisor/employee ratios will "transform" central IT services.* Estimated annual savings at Iowa State is $500,000.
  • Reduce duplication of services between central IT and distributed IT units.* Use a central team for common infrastructure-related services (for example, server or network management, help desk, end user support), with department teams focusing on local or specialized needs such as research. Estimated annual savings at Iowa State is $1.5 million.

In the area of internal financial transactions:

  • Streamline and standardize how the universities provide some finance transactions (suggested are travel and expense reports, purchase requisitions, accounts payable and accounting services), offering them at either the college* or university** level. Estimated annual savings at Iowa State, once startup costs are recovered, is $1.7 million to $2.9 million. Both options would involve retraining and relocating employees. As estimated by the consultants, shared services at a university-wide level could result in greater savings, but also greater shifts in staffing.

In the area of human resources:

  • Revise Iowa State's decentralized HR services model. Options include purchasing** ($10 million) or updating** ($2.3 million) the current HR information system, with the goal of decreasing manual processing and data entry, increasing access to information and improving security and reporting capabilities. Some HR liaison employees around campus would be retrained. Once implementation costs are recovered, estimated annual savings at Iowa State is $800,000 to $2.1 million.

In the area of facilities management:

  • Invest in energy-saving initiatives (for example, digital control systems, occupancy sensors and new light fixtures) with short payback periods and financed through a new energy management fund of $1.85 million. The emphasis is on saving money rather than sustainability. Estimated annual savings at Iowa State is $270,000. (This proposal applies to Iowa State and Northern Iowa.)
  • Adjust thermostats in classroom buildings during the summer (this proposal applies only to Northern Iowa).

*Consultants estimate that positions lost due to efficiencies gained could be absorbed through normal ISU attrition rates

**Consultants estimate that positions lost due to efficiencies gained would require both attrition and phased retirements