Employee input is key piece of services assessment

Some university employees will be invited yet this month to share their insights on service processes – in the areas of human resources, information technology and internal financial transactions – as part of the state Board of Regents' TIER (Transparent Inclusive Efficiency Review) project.

Chazey Partners, the Silicon Valley-based consultant hired to assist the regent universities in developing and implementing process changes, will gather input several ways from employees working in those three areas:

  • Activity-based survey: All employees in each of the three areas who spend at least 10 percent of their time on service processing will be asked to complete a survey on their job activities. The survey will take 10-15 minutes to complete. ISU leaders are working to eliminate duplication; the goal is that an employee whose duties overlap in two or more of the targeted service areas would receive a single survey.
  • Process workshops: An estimated 30 to 50 employees in each area will assess key, higher-level service processes and help identify options for streamlining them

Over the next several weeks, Chazey team members will lead these activities, assisted by ISU leads appointed in each area: associate vice president for university human resources Julie Nuter (HR), interim chief information officer Jim Kurtenbach (IT) and senior vice president for business and finance Warren Madden (finance transactions).

Employees' participation in the survey and workshops will be critical to improving the processes, said Miles Lackey, chief of staff to President Steven Leath and Iowa State's representative on the TIER task force.

"Their input will enable us to identify ways in which we can improve our administrative services – making them more effective and responsive to customer needs," he said.

Lackey said Iowa State will not lay off any employees in these three service areas as a result of this assessment. He said any labor savings would be achieved through normal resignation and retirement rates.

The board hired the Chazey group last month to help the universities implement three of 17 efficiency cases identified in June by the board's initial TIER consultant, Deloitte Consulting. At the same time, the board approved the universities' own plans to implement changes that will:

  • Streamline HR's distributed model for service transactions
  • Streamline IT's distributed model for commodity technology services
  • Streamline the processing of finance transactions

Update on other TIER consultants

The board announced Feb. 13 that it selected Pappas Consulting Group of southern Florida to pick up the academic review portion of the TIER study. A timeline for the work is being negotiated as part of the contract, but work is expected to begin in March.

The academic review intentionally was set aside last summer so faculty could be involved in the discussion when they returned to campus for fall semester. However, the board's intent to hire a consultant for this piece of the efficiency study didn't materialize.

The Pappas team will work on two academics-related proposals from the Deloitte group's early list of 17. They are:

  • Expand the use of online technologies to enhance student learning
  • Improve enrollment management so students complete degrees on their preferred timelines

Because of the summer hiatus, the two never made it to the business case stage of development.

In January, the board also hired the Huron Consulting Group, Chicago, to find efficiencies and savings in the three universities' purchasing policies and operations, including better coordination of purchases in about 10 targeted categories. Huron outlined a 13-week process to complete its work, beginning the first week in February.

And finally, in December the board hired Ad Astra, suburban Kansas City, to continue its work on two business cases related to classroom scheduling and allocation of faculty teaching time. Ad Astra began its assessment work earlier in the fall as a subcontractor for Deloitte. It's a tech company that specializes in scheduling and academic planning services for colleges and universities.

Ad Astra's work for the board is expected to wrap up by the end of the semester.