50 Smart Business Improvements for 2003

50 Smart Business Improvements for 2003

Ever wonder what your fellow college and university administrators around the country consider their most urgent business improvement for the coming year? We did, so we asked them to tell us precisely which planned or instituted initiatives they believe will pay outstanding dividends in 2003. Their responses run the gamut from practical, human resource solutions, to the realms of high technology. Perhaps one school's solution will spark an idea for improvement at your own. Read on and find out!

1. E-procurement, online banking, and expanded functionality for the campus One Card program will reduce or eliminate paper processes. We are expanding the use of P-cards by loosening up or eliminating restrictions imposed on the types and amounts of purchases during the initial use period.

-Frank R. A. Resnick, Chief Financial Officer, Central Connecticut State University

2. The Office of Procurement Services will expand the use of the university's new procurement card to all departments and principal investigators for small purchases. We'll reduce the need for advance paperwork for routine items, and begin to offer online ordering of laboratory supplies. We're also going to roll out a new travel card.

-John Hose, Associate VP for University Affairs, Brandeis University

3. We'll use our portal framework to leverage advance services supporting efficient business processes and student services. This will enable self-service of the routine activities associated with the running of the university business environment.

-Lev Gonick, VP for ITS, and CIO, Case Western Reserve University

4. We'll begin to implement the student information system component of the PeopleSoft project. This will replace outdated student billing and record-keeping systems, will provide better integration with the recently installed PeopleSoft financial system, and will provide more timely and accurate student information to the university community.

-John Hose, Associate VP for University Affairs, Brandeis University

5. We're betting on value-added dividends from technology. After investing more than $20 million in the fiber-optic infrastructure for a collegewide network, numerous efficiencies and improvements are being spawned. Among the most promising: document imaging; video-conferencing; combining low-enrollment course sections through two-way multi-site video transmission; and using groupware to facilitate online committee and departmental reviews of plans, proposals, meeting synopses, and other documents.

-Dr. Philip Day, Chancellor, City College of San Francisco

6. Student records, financial aid, and student accounts will be the final significant piece of our institution-wide implementation of PeopleSoft, as we leave behind a mixture of mostly home-grown business data and financial systems. By the end of 2003, Clarkson will have replaced virtually all of its old business software systems in less than two years.

-Denny Brown, President, Clarkson College

7. We'll be focused on a university-wide effort to implement an integrated software system (SCT Banner). Our first module, finance, will go live in December, with the final module scheduled to go live in the summer of 2004. -Annita Huff, Director of Financial Aid, Washburn University

8. We'll focus on realizing the strategic goals of our PeopleSoft ERP system during the 2003 academic year. Most institutions think of implementing a new ERP system as the significant business improvement, but the reality is, improvement typically does not occur until an organization shifts its energy from merely operating the system to leveraging the ERP system.

-Gordon Haaland, President, Gettysburg College

9. With Verizon, we've designed a single data, video, and voice network to replace three separate networks currently connecting our eight major campus sites. A single set of management tools will be used to control and monitor the services, which will feature Voice Over IP; H.323 / IP Video conferencing; and a single integrated address book for electronic mail, telephone, and video conferencing.

-David Caputo, President, Pace University

10. We'll develop a more comprehensive system for online student transactions, enabling everything from housing and dining registration, to transcript and grade reporting services. This isn't novel, but hopefully our effort-coming later in the game than other campuses-will be more comprehensive (involving a broader array of services and functions), personalized (perhaps tied to a renewed personal portal effort), and efficient (keeping individual departments "hidden" from the consumer).

-Larry Moneta, VP for Student Affairs, Duke University

11. We're expanding our facilities to include the city of Hartford within our campus. As a private liberal arts college, Trinity had been an island unto itself. Today, the Trinity community includes the educational opportunities and realities of urban America. Hartford is a capital city, so the state legislature and the corridors of public policy have become an extension of our classrooms. In the process of opening our gates to the city, we have changed the way we think about the business of providing a liberal education in the 21st century.

-Richard H. Hersh, President, Trinity College

12. We're looking forward to several upcoming construction projects, on the heels of our newly opened Science Center. These include a major renovation of a 1950s academic building that will house a new language resource center and a number of academic departments; the renovation of a vaudeville-era movie house into a performing arts center; and the development of an athletic/recreation complex. We'll create a tiered committee structure to provide all the key constituents with an equal voice throughout the project; this collaborative style was quite successful during each phase in the development of the new Science Center. We've pledged to continue the process for future building projects.

-Gordon Haaland, President, Gettysburg College

13. We'll continue to become a more sustainable community and organization. Our efforts have resulted in high-performing partnerships, alliances, and solutions to difficult environmental and organizational issues. We've designed a new campus parking and transit program in our North Campus district, transitioning the campus from one that is carcentric to one that is pedestrian and environmentally friendly. Being sustainable doesn't mean we have to spend more; it has become a source of savings and increased revenues.

-Kathleen Mallon, Director of Strategic Planning & Institutional Research, and Executive Assistant to the President, University of Rhode Island

14. We plan to create a mobile one-stop shop to increase student satisfaction-lack of facilities for fully integrated student services won't stand in our way.

-Lee Snyder, President, Bluffton College

15. We've created a Web page to display information regarding outages with major IT systems and components. Any outage listed on the page will also display areas affected by the outage as well as estimated time for repair when possible and applicable. Also on the page are links to our monitoring systems that will display current status (real time!) of the network and mission critical servers. This page helps the IT organization disseminate accurate information to its user population.

-David Caputo, President, Pace University

16. We will change the way we serve the community and our business clients through a new $25 million Campus Center. The new Campus Center means a fresh, flexible, technologically equipped, and easily accessible conference facility for meetings, training sessions, and special events. We'll bring more business and community leaders to our campus, thus building our connections in the community-connections that are invaluable in strengthening our networks of financial support, curriculum development, and student job placement.

-R. Thomas Flynn, President, Monroe Community College

17. We will break ground on Phase One of our new Campus Village. It's a 2,200-bed, mixed-use project on 4.45 acres, which will include affordable housing for students, faculty, and staff; underground parking; and recreational and retail space. Our ultimate goal is to bring a total of 6,600 beds, in apartment style, to the campus. This is one of the largest capital projects, to date, in the California State University system.

-Robert Caret, President, San Jos? State University

18. We're establishing a Center for Integrated Systems Biotechnology. The benefits: developing breakthroughs for improving human health; production of medicines; genetic engineering; DNA fingerprinting in forensics; food processing and food safety; energy production; producing crops and plants resistant to plant diseases and insects. Biotechnology in Washington employs more than 17,000. Over 200 companies have been developed in the last five years.

-Joseph W. Barnes, Director of Strategic Communications and Media Relations, Washington State University

19. In 2003, we will get a handle on travel expenses. Working with the Gelco Information Network (www.gelco.com), we are continuing to roll out our online travel-expense management program, which is revolutionizing the travel process at our institution.

-Frank R. A. Resnick, Chief Financial Officer, Central Connecticut State University

20. We outsourced our financial aid services through the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation (VSAC). By doing so, I estimate we'll save around $40,000 a year. We pay VSAC about $50,000 a year, but I can't hire two staffers with benefits, pay postage, telephone costs, and so on for that amount of money. And VSAC is always there-12 hours a day, Monday through Saturday. That will save us a tremendous amount of money,

but most important, it will give our students better service.

-Barbara Sirvis, President, Southern Vermont College

21. We will launch a comprehensive health, wellness, and prevention program. We expect to recruit and retain students, faculty, and staff who value a healthy learning environment, and reduce the prevalence and intensity of health-risk behavior among Alabama students. In order to realize these expectations, the University's Russell Student Health Center has formed a partnership with Ascend (www.ascendhealth.com) to engage in third-party billing of health insurance companies. The revenues will fund this initiative without increasing demands on university resources or creating additional obligations on students and their families.

-Sybil R. Todd, VP for Student Affairs, University of Alabama

22. Foundation board development will be critical in the planning, implementation, and success of a comprehensive campaign strategy. In addition to quarterly board and committee meetings, the director of Advancement will increase individual contacts with board members and encourage and facilitate opportunities for professional board development, utilizing resources from organizations such as the Association of Governing Boards of Universities (AGB), Council for Resource Development (CRD), and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE).

-Judy Taylor, Director of Advancement, Floyd College

23. The support structure for advancement activities will be strengthened through assessment and improvement of the information management system, including the alumni and donor databases.

-Judy Taylor, Director of Advancement, Floyd College

24. We're expecting 10 to 20 percent growth in grant and contract research expenditures in 2003. Our university is a major driver of the state's economy; we have just passed the $100 million mark in grant and contract research expenditures for FY 2002, up 12 percent from last year.

-Joseph W. Barnes, Director of Strategic Communications and Media Relations, Washington State University

25. We are implementing a data-driven strategic planning approach that addresses the bottom line, but also focuses on quality and service. Our priorities are the three R's: recruitment, retention, and resources. For recruitment, we'll launch an integrated marketing plan that extends the effect of our successful new admissions action plan. We'll focus on retention by continuing our "every person makes a difference" emphasis in serving students. We expect to expand resource capacity through a) strategically investing in additional staff for fundraising; b) prioritizing academic programs to reallocate resources for strategic growth; and c) launching a two-year funding initiative (called Students First: Investing in the Future) that builds the donor base and improves quality of programs for students.

-Lee Snyder, President, Bluffton College

26. We've launched Project Second Chance. We used Decision Support Inc.'s (www.decisionsupport.com) database reporting program to identify which dropouts were good candidates to re-enroll and pay outstanding balances. We sent letters and phoned 2,200 former students. Nearly 300 re-enrolled or worked out payment plans, generating almost $1 million, good will, and newly motivated students.

-Dina Dubuis, Director of Administrative Computing, University of Detroit-Mercy

27. We will continue to refine and implement paperless business practices in 2003. We've made a concerted effort to eliminate check writing by mandating ACH distribution of financial aid refunds for students, and by encouraging or mandating ACH transactions for payments to vendors, including employees.

-Frank R. A. Resnick, Chief Financial Officer, Central Connecticut State University

28. We're bringing payroll functions back into the school-that's usually one of the first things an institution of higher education outsources. It was our work-study payments that caught our interest. There's a modest flat rate you pay for processing checks, regardless of the size of your school, but we discovered that in the summer when we had fewer students in work-study, it cost as much as $10 per check. By using the payroll function of our in-house financial software, we expect to save about $14,000 a year.

-Barbara Sirvis, President, Southern Vermont College

29. We're undertaking both strategic and operational improvements. First, we're developing new performance measures to monitor critical success factors. Instead of the traditional organization-based planning model, we are implementing a new planning process that concentrates on strategic areas (e.g., enrollment quality, academics, research, student life, technology, plant maintenance, etc.). At the tactical level, numerous Web-based applications will make campus business more cost-effective.

-Nancy Suttenfield, Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

30. In accomplishing a smooth implementation of a new ERP system, smaller institutions like ours (at just over 3,000 students) have many advantages over larger ones. We made the choice to adhere to a plain vanilla implementation of PeopleSoft, redesigning our business practices to fit within the system. Thus far, we have had a nearly flawless, on-time, on-budget implementation of the financial and human resource modules.

-Denny Brown, President, Clarkson College

31. We developed a wireless network because we found that by providing ubiquitous connectivity, productivity increased when personnel were online more. Many of our students, faculty, and staff are equipped with notebooks and PDAs, and they like to use these devises in public areas. We installed over 150 Wireless Access Points spread throughout our locations, and we're sure we'll see increased productivity in 2003.

-David Caputo, President, Pace University

32. We'll be investing more time, energy and money in broadening our staff development efforts in the coming year. We'll be helping some of our staff members move on to positions better suited for them, and ensuring that we have highly skilled, flexible, and excited folks in the organization. In addition, our organizational work will entail development of the Student Affairs "brand" (including an improved Web presence, and improved collateral materials and related publications); refined organizational relationships; and the further development of a sophisticated infrastructure including technology, budgeting practices, and assessment.

-Larry Moneta, VP for Student Affairs, Duke University

33. Employee burnout and organization stagnation are all too often the legacy of an intense ERP implementation, which then requires an enormous day-to-day management and maintenance effort once these robust applications go live. Our goal is to move beyond these barriers and maximize the systems' strategic potential. How will we succeed when so many of our counterparts struggle? Our plan hinges on three principles: continued investment in our employees, ongoing investment in the ERP system, and the creation of a collaborative work environment.

-Gordon Haaland, President, Gettysburg College

34. We are seeking reductions to the fees that our retirement programs assess employees, since economic conditions constrain our ability to improve compensation.

-Nancy Suttenfield, Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

35. Our accounting data was not comparable to the data that comprise the NACUBO national norms because our institution and the State of Rhode Island have in the past used government accounting metrics. (The NACUBO business process benchmarks use business accounting.) Now that we have made the transition to GASB 34, we will be able to measure ourselves against our peer institutions. [GASB 34 enables the new financial reporting model for public colleges and universities.] To get ready for this change, our controller has taken the necessary steps to enable the university to measure, compare, and improve our core business processes. Under her direction, a process is underway to describe and document all of our core financial business processes. We expect to have this task completed during 2003.

-Robert L. Carothers, President, University of Rhode Island

36. Our most significant initiative is the implementation of Banner Financial and Human Resource software modules from SCT Corporation. The university has been running the Banner Student and Financial Aid modules since 1997, and the addition of the two new modules (beginning in July 2003) will complete the university's ERP system. The integrated system will provide many opportunities for increased efficiency and productivity, and enhanced services such as online fee payments and electronic financial transactions, streamlined administrative procedures, better access to information, and improved customer service.

-Venita Jones, Director of Financial Aid, Florida Gulf Coast University

37. We will expand access and provide training to enable budget managers to conduct more sophisticated queries and produce customized reports in the PeopleSoft financial and human resource systems.

-John Hose, Associate VP for University Affairs, Brandeis University

38. We have introduced a planning and budgeting system involving a highly participatory approach and including both administrators and college representatives as members of the Planning and Budgeting Council. The budgetary decisions were developed in an all-day, widely publicized event in which proponents made their cases and the council prioritized the developmental activities with recommended allocations. The Board of Trustees supported the process and adopted the recommendations. The college community, observing the process, praised the fairness and the outcomes-even when there wasn't enough to go around!

-Philip Day, Chancellor, City College of San Francisco

39. Our students let us know that our Financial Aid Office work practices were not functioning effectively. So we collaborated with financial aid professionals, systems specialists, and user representatives. New procedures and practices were identified and proposed, and within six months the recommended changes were effected. The culminating reward was a newly renovated Financial Aid facility and a new user-friendly approach-sending the message that this was a new place with new practices. Students, faculty, and counselors now praise the office as a model of performance. Next: the Human Resources Office.

-Philip Day, Chancellor, City College of San Francisco

40. For 2003, professional development will be emphasized. The Director of Advancement will increase attendance at professional development seminars and conferences by 25 percent (compared to 2002), will take the CFRE (Certified Fund Raising Executive) Exam, and will continue MBA courses. -Judy Taylor, Director of Advancement, Floyd College

41. College administrators need to be fully equipped to meet new challenges and to work interdependently. Our new six-month program, Leadership-in-Action (LIA), engaged 20 middle managers from all sectors of the college community-academic, athletic, admissions, facilities, finance and administration, communications, student life, and information technology. Through LIA, communication and collaboration increased, and interactions have become more strategic and deliberate. These attributes have radiated throughout our organization as supervisors and subordinates alike have been positively influenced by the actions of the LIA participants. The program will begin its second year with a new crop of administrators.

-Gordon Haaland, President, Gettysburg College

42. Higher education must follow the significant productivity increase U.S. industry reported this past year. We will attempt to streamline scheduling to increase class and lab seats in undersized classes, study and adjust peak/valley times for non-instructional staff by cross-training, adjust work loads of faculty for more teaching and less committee work, and reduce administrative expenses.

-John Light, President, Hocking College

43. Human capital is the key business investment I need to make to improve our organization. Changes include hiring a full-time major gifts officer, so considerable fundraising activity is on my business improvements agenda. -Larry Moneta, VP for Student Affairs, Duke University

44. We have conducted a business process improvement study involving over 260 staff, faculty, and administration. The project, called SPARTA (Systems at Pace-Accurate, Reliable, Timely, and Available), used an online decision support tool called Decision Director to identify over 7,000 to-be business requirements that were collected, validated, and incorporated into an RFP for a new ERP system and implementation partner.

-David Caputo, President, Pace University

45. We will be enhancing our win/win partnerships, to make business improvements for the tight economic environment we anticipate in 2003. For example, the two local hospital systems (Greenville Hospital System and BonSecours St. Francis Health System) continue to need more nurses and healthcare technicians. We asked them to help us create a new nursing program on one of our satellite campuses. The two hospitals provided resources to start a new nursing class with 45 students in July. We can expand our nursing program to meet growing student demand, and in less than two years, the hospitals will have 45 more nurses to help meet their workforce shortage. That's what we call a win-win for all.

-Fred Payne, Executive Director of Institutional Advancement, Greenville Technical College

46. We have improved how we do business with the WIDS curriculum software and training tool (Worldwide Instructional Design System, www.wids.org). It has given us a common design language, consistent performance-based courseware, and solid assessment tools. Everyone profits: instructors with modularized curriculum, students with practical applications of their skills, and businesses with a well-trained and educated workforce. -Lynn Thigpen, Instructor and WIDS Trainer, Mott Community College

47. We'll continue improving our curriculum design model-emphasizing our Balanced Learning Format-with its resulting economies of scale. We'll also expand our faculty professional development to include a Balanced Learning Format certification.

-Paul Otte, President, Franklin University

48. We've implemented five pairs of internal video conferencing units called Vbricks (www.vbrick.com) that link a room on the northernmost campus site (Pleasantville) to a room in NYC. These rooms are connected 24/7, and will save countless hours of travel time for multicampus classes, meetings, and interviews in 2003!

-David Caputo, President, Pace University

49. We've reduced by 75 percent the time and effort we put into class scheduling using WebEvent (www.webevent.com). The solution is flexible enough to provide a whole range of access rights so that the responsibility of entering event information can be dispersed among a greater number of people in our organization. Our faculty now has a quick and reliable method of reviewing event information and scheduling their respective courses in our state-of-the-art electronic classrooms.

-Jim Duncan, Assistant Director for Technology Services, Hardin Library for Health Sciences, University of Iowa

50. We're experimenting with how we think about our wireless infrastructure and services. We want to explore building smart locale-sensing applications with Newbury Networks Locale Server. For example, students might have content (ranging from course material to lecture information) pushed to them, depending on the time and place. Instructors would be able to manage classroom devices through a smart PDA. As I walk into a classroom, it would know who I am and the devices in the room that I can manage (e.g., computer projector). Our hope is that if we have access to the APIs (Application Programming Interfaces), our students will come up with innovative applications that we've not even thought of.

-Alfred H. Essa, CIO, MIT Sloan School of Management

We invite you to share your own business improvement ideas: Please write to us at editorial@universitybusiness.com.


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