The goals of RTF for FY 2009 were: 1) Create awareness of the RTF priorities, current efforts, and success to date, 2) Promote ownership among university members encouraging ideas and involvement, 3) Implement initiatives, and 4) Acknowledge contributions.
There were many successes this year across campus including Financial Aid imaging, reduction of staffing at events, the elimination of Christmas cards, the reduction of staff conference travel, on-line course evaluations, the Office Supply Swap, and the reduced printing of the Admissions Big Book/Mini Book.
The role of RTF is to seek out efficiencies, improve productivity and enhance quality. This year the group also defined itself as Story Teller. There are many great projects that are not initiated by RTF, however if a change in practice or protocol results in any of the three priorities, then the RTF wants to tell the story. Sharing the story may enable others to realize that they too can implement ideas that may result in greater efficiency, productivity and quality.
So, we set out to find the stories to tell. It is the opinion of the RTF that the best means of communicating with the university community was to reach out to a number of representative cohorts. This allowed for a customized message to each group. Mike Whittow, a member of RTF and the university's Sustainability Officer, and Dr. Toby Peters, Associate Senior Vice President and Chair of RTF, presented to the business managers for all the Colleges, the faculty in the Diederich College of Communication, the Committees on Staff and Administrators, MUSG Senate, and the Financial Partners Group.
Conclusions from Outreach
During the presentations, those participating were assigned to smaller groups to discuss and identify better ways of doing their work. The conclusions can be classified in seven categories:
Simplify/Standardize/Automate - There are a numerous processes within a university. Today's best practices recommend that all university core processes be reviewed to determine where opportunities exist to make it easier and more uniform. Once this has been achieved it is then that automation can be considered. Specifically, a review of the salary authorization process has begun. Prior to beginning the review process, training was provided by SixMax Solutions. This company is well versed in Six Sigma and Lean Management Principles. Ruth Shock, internal auditor, is the project leader. Others who participated in training and are involved in the review process are Dr. Toby Peters, Associate Senior Vice President and Chair of RTF;, Lynn Mellantine, Assistant Director of Human Resources; Suzanne Abler, Assistant Provost; Michelle Raclawski, Business Manager for the College of Health Sciences; Mary Dunnwald, Associate Dean for Budget and Finance in the College of Arts Sciences; and Lisa Olson, Director of Business Operations for IT Services. It is hoped that this pilot project will create a template to be used to evaluate other core university processes.
Centralized Shared Services - Technology and best practices present opportunities to centralize services. If departments are producing the same outcome in different formats, this is an opportunity to review and consolidate. An excellent example of this is MU Central to be located in Zilber Hall. Staff in MU Central will be professional generalists working with students to resolve the questions or issues at the initial point of contact. Bursar, Registrar and Financial Aid offices have reallocated employee lines to MU Central.
Sustainability - Mike Whittow, the university's Sustainability Officer, and his team have done an outstanding job in educating our community about the benefits of sustainable behavior. His working groups cover the topics of Supplies, Recycling, New Buildings and Natural Resources & Utilities. A single source recycling program has just been introduced that should enhance our recycling efforts significantly.
Web Based Functionality - Many publications have gone electronic and processes that required significant paperwork have been transformed to web based functionality. The Office of Marketing and Communication and the RTF are contemplating a means to create an ongoing, more interactive discussion with the university community. There are many opportunities here.
Improved Productivity - Stories were shared on how something has changed within a department that created greater productivity. The technology to be implemented in Zilber Hall will launch many opportunities to improve productivity. Marquette's legacy PBX (Siemens' telephone system) infrastructure is near end of life and must undergo a substantial upgrade or replacement. The Unified Communication and Collaboration (UCC) project will replace the legacy PBX system with VoIP and other features of Unified Communication and Collaboration (email, audio/web/video conferencing, instant messaging (IM) and VoIP, etc.) utilizing Office Communication Server.
Unified Communications and Collaboration (UCC), as the name implies, represents the convergence and integration of communication methods and technologies with each other and with other business applications. UCC is not synonymous with Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). Although voice is an important part of an overall UCC solution, it is only one of the areas that are being integrated in various configurations.
Enhanced Quality - Ideas were shared on how the quality of campus life could be enhanced for our students and employees. Another great example of Enhanced Quality is the Office of the Bursar's implementation of an electronic billing process which improves the student billing; thereby providing access to the bill sooner each month, making electronic payments more convenient while reducing the cost of paper billing stock and postage for the university.
Additional Revenue Opportunities - This category is simply a reminder that new revenue is the same as a saved expense. Any new ideas in this arena are welcome.