Futuring Paper – Administrative and Service Excellence

Co-Conveners: Janet Marler and Theresa Pardo assisted by Julia Singleton

Introduction
This paper is being submitted in support of the University at Albany 2016-2017 Strategic Planning Process. The paper includes a summary of the process we used to gather input from the community on the cross-cutting theme of “Administrative and Service Excellence” (A&S Excellence) followed by a summary of the results organized by the pre-defined questions provided by the Strategic Planning Committee. An appendix provides a list of participants in the process and the slides shared with participants to guide the futuring discussions.

Process Overview
We used a focus group approach to gather ideas and insights about A&S Excellence for this report.  The steps below outline the approach we used.

  1. Using a snowball sampling approach we identified 16 people who we thought would provide valuable insight into administrative and service excellence
  2. We contacted those individuals via email (See Appendix A), informing them of the larger process, the focus group event and invited them to participate in a doodle poll so that we could schedule the focus group for maximum participation.
  3. We sent an email reminder and 11 individuals (See Appendix B) attended the 2 hour focus group held in the Massry Center for Business.
  4. We opened the session with an orientation slide show (See Appendix C) and then used basic group process techniques to ask the questions, to provide opportunity for each attendee to respond, for the group to discuss ideas, and where there was interest, to further develop suggestions.
  5. The first segment focused on the definition of administrative and service excellence and exploring the concepts in the words of the participants. Subsequent segments focused on the questions provided by the Strategic Planning Committee.
  6. We captured responses on flip chart, on a lap top and through a digital recording of the session (with approval of the participants).
  7. Following the session, we transcribed and organized the results by question. These are summarized in the following pages.
  8. From these data we also developed a summary of “themes” that emerged from these data.

Summary of Themes
Themes - Forces

  • Lack of control across departments/SUNY limits opportunity for innovation and change
  • Increasing change both with inputs (organizationally, technologically and resource wise) and with expected outputs (breadth/speed of service) at a pace too fast to keep up, particularly when the number and variety of new initiatives is growing.
  • Lack of integration information available to support policy and program planning and decision making

Themes - Implications for Future Planning

  • Need to prioritize programs/initiatives—can’t assume existing administrative structure and resources will support expansion/rapid change.
  • Use resources wisely. Some are not being used at all.
    • Students/Staff/Other SUNY campuses/Alumni.
  • Be proactive with respect to future IT investments.
  • Be prepared for competition from unexpected sources
    • Political changes –domestic and international
    • Technologically driven changes—on-line learning
    • Social changes—millennials careers –more free-lancing
    • Leverage partnerships for funding proposals and marketing academic program
  • Good administrative systems can lead to greater productivity and better student, faculty and financial outcomes.

Defining Administrative and Service Excellence
What is Administrative Excellence?

CHARACTERIZED BY WELL-EDUCATED AND TRAINED PROFESSIONALS.

  • Educated workforce, well-trained, professionally developed to perform jobs efficiently
    • clear understanding of who you are serving /customer/who are the customers and which customer is served by administrative processes
  • Mindful of getting things done.
  • Incentivized by full support and buy-in from University leadership to the importance of  A&S excellence.   

CHARACTERIZED BY STREAMLINED EASY EFFICIENT PROCESSES

  • Transparency of the administrative processes
  • Processes that are streamlined, fast, and transactions are easy to execute.
  • Easy to navigate the bureaucracy
  • clear guidelines and procedures to follow
  • continuity of operations

CLEARLY AND COHERENTLY SUPPORTS THE UNIVERSITY MISSION

  • Support mission of the university/seamless/processes in place and functioning in best capacity
  • Supporting academic units in using resources efficiently and effectively
  • Indicators of OPERATIONAL EXCELLENCE Defined, monitored, and used to inform decision making at all levels. Having information to evaluate effectiveness

CHARACTERIZED BY AS BEING EFFECTIVE-DOING THE RIGHT THINGS AND AGILITY

  • Some degree of flexibility not so rigid so can meet expectations. Administrative structure fluid and flexible alignment of strategies
  • flexibility of getting things done service provider put into job description

CHARACTERIZED BY FULL COMPLIANCE

What is Service Excellence?

WELL TRAINED SERVICE ORIENTED EMPLOYEES

  • Well trained and knowledgeable customer service
  • Understanding where the service fits into the bigger picture

CULTURE OF SERVICE TO THE END CUSTOMER

  • Managing customer expectations and meeting customer expectations
  • Understanding end-user’s needs and wants
  • Put yourself in the customer’s shoes
  • Creating a culture of service
  • Communicating service expectations

EFFICIENCY

  • Privileging efficiency when having to deliver administrative and service excellence
  • Getting things done instead trying to be perfect—pareto optimality
  • Reducing service process bottlenecks
  • Streamlined service delivery ( no unneeded steps)

CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT

  • Collecting and responding to customer feedback

INTEGRATION OF SERVICES

  • Integration of services across academic units.

WHAT FORCES ARE INFLUENCING OUR ADMINISTRATIVE AND SERVICE ENVIRONMENT TODAY?

  • Lack of autonomy—UAlbany is a state agency that has to operate within and as part of a larger system over which it has little control.
  • State aid depends on the economy
  • Lack of technology, organization and resource integration
  • Increasing compliance requirement from Federal and State government and from SUNY
  • Increasing pace of change—it is faster than current administrative systems can keep up with
  • Lack of good data with which to make decisions
  • Increasing organizational change that comes with leadership turnover
  • Quality and quantity of communication across people and groups
  • Increasing expectations for faster administrative response times in an age of electronic automation
  • Lack of consistent faculty mentoring regarding how to manage sponsored research
  • Shifting resource allocations without shifting requirements
  • Increasing student diversity—primarily non-traditional students have different service needs and expectations, for example, veterans, transfer students, older students, in addition to standard demographic diversity

WHAT FORCES WILL ACCELERATE UALBANY’S ABILITY TO DELIVER A&S EXCELLENCE IN 2026?

  • Technology advances.
    • Can be both accelerator and inhibitor for distance learning; for our ability to engage in worldwide competition for students.
    • Autonomous devices that can assist in administrative and service processes; delivery drones, automated cushman, etc.
    • Communicating with other things on campus or processes. How will affect work?
  • New level of integration of systems will change what we know, how we know it and how we manage it.
  • Organizational development through cross training/overall mentoring with faculty staff and another department give broader perspective of college and by responding/preparing for the new workforce expectations found in the millenials.
  • The GIG economy may enable reinvention and innovation with respect to workforce, work processes, and administrative and service processes, expectations and responsibilities.

WHAT ARE THE FORCES THAT WILL SLOW DOWN UALBANY’S ABILITY TO DELIVER A&S EXCELLENCE IN 2026?

  • Increases in the regulations that government many of the University’s A&S activities and our lack of ability to respond quickly and comprehensively.
  • The cost of infrastructure necessary to be able to respond to the increasing level of regulation in an effective and efficient way. 
  • Funding reductions - Reductions in the levels of federal funding and state budget cuts.
  • Millenials not interested in working for “old economy” organizations likely to impact our staff recruitment and retention, and will require new ways of organizing and working that will respond to the new workforce.
  • Our size limits our ability to be nimble and therefore makes it difficult to keep up.
  • Our agility is also limited by our identity as a public institution.
  • Limits our ability to generate revenue-- no state aid and not increase tuition
  • Customers, internal and external, are not always ready or interested, UAlbany needs to cultivate A&S excellence across a variety of service channels. Some customers want and in some cases, feel they need to work face to face with an experienced and accomplished professional service provider.
  • Leaderships goals for University exceed capacity to deliver without infusion of resources
  • University goal – increase international student enrollment – question – can we deliver administrative and service excellence to ensure a positive experience to contribute to the retention of those students.  Our systems may not be able to respond without particular attention to not only recruitment but also subsequent processes required for retention and graduation.
  • The rapidly changing immigration policy environment may be an inhibitor to our ability to be responsive with the various relevant A&S processes required to meet the goal of increased international enrollments.
    • Increased competition from other countries and corporate training groups –e.g LinkedIn
  • The lure of new initiatives. Acknowledge the risk of trying to do everything at once dilutes attention and resources including energy and commitment.  Examples: 2 new colleges/Law school/Downstate medical. New priorities related to the enrollment and diversity.
  • Will the value of the four year degree wane?  Will our product reduce in value?
  • Changing expectations from the workforce of the future – where will they work?

HOW CAN UALBANY LEVERAGE THE ACCELERATORS TO CREATE NEW CAPABILITY FOR DELIVERING A&S EXCELLENCE?

  • Leverage the recognition of the value of and need for sophisticated data management, data sharing, and data informed decision making by creating a data culture and investing in capabilities necessary to ensure that A&S processes are well-informed, responsive to a wide range of stakeholder needs and interests, well-performing and continuously improved.
  • Leverage new and emerging technologies to make all records available in digital form and accessible and shareable, within appropriate restrictions, to relevant departments for appropriate administrative and service processes. “Fuel the analytics”.
  • Ensure that all new records are “born digital”.
  • Leverage the changing regulatory context to drive innovation and change in administrative and service infrastructure toward the achievement of excellence. 
  • An accelerator can be the administrative and service staff committed to providing excellence services and who possess a range of long standing and deep expertise in the customer base, the business processes and the problems.

HOW SHOULD UALBANY PREPARE TO RESPOND TO, WORK AROUND, AND MINIMIZE THE INHIBITORS TO CREATING THE CAPABILITY FOR A&S EXCELLENCE?

  • Digitize records to increase efficiency in processing information and in accessing information
  • Prioritize initiatives—we can’t do everything and do it well
  • Acknowledge the cost and complexity of administrative and service innovations and invest in the creation of coherent, sustainable and integrated infrastructures to achieve full benefit and decrease frustration and confusion. For example, the travel card system which now is supported with a range of manual processes due to a lack of investment in the back end infrastructure to make the system fully automated.  Currently, 1400 cards are reconciled through 1400 people engaging in paper based reviewed and approval.
  • Leverage technology and campus and regional expertise to provide a distance learning program.
  • Be more proactive about incorporating emerging technology into campus administrative and service delivery programs. For example, what opportunities does the IoT provide for UAlbany.
  • Use students and their natural IT acumen and experience in helping to update existing outdated technology and systems. Treat it as experiential learning opportunity for students. Everyone wins Better use students to deliver services
  • Develop a process to maintain important tacit/implicit institutional knowledge in the face of expected increasing turnover
    • Require clear succession plans and invest in institutional knowledge sharing at all level
  • Understand and manage to avoid innovation.
  • Develop better metrics to measure administrative and service excellence and to use results for continuous improvement and de-installation of low-value services as appropriate.

WHAT IS THE VALUE PROPOSITION OF ADMIN AND SERVICE EXCELLENCE?

  • A&S excellence will result in our ability to better meet student expectations.
  • A&S excellence will lead to increased student and faculty retention, cost savings, accelerating research productivity, attracting more student applicants, and increasing quantity and quality of students
  • A&S service excellence can lead to increased opportunity for experiential learning by students by having programs that engage students in administrative roles and problem-solving. Such projects will make students  more marketable.
  • A&S excellence will generate reputation benefits both locally and beyond, potentially making us more competitive.
  • A&S excellence in areas such as financial aid will increase our ability to be responsive to the newly diverse and expanded student population. Excellence in serving this community will require agility not currently in place.
  • Increased pride and productivity at all levels of SUNY system

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR THE STRATEGIC PLANNING COMMITTEE REGARDING HOW BEST TO INTEGRATE YOUR IDEAS AND INSIGHTS INTO THE PLANNING PROCESS SO THAT A&S EXCELLENCE IS ENABLED THROUGH THEIR EFFORTS?

  • Leverage the power of SUNY. Build on the strengths and purchasing power of SUNY.
  • Don’t lose sight of good initiatives already underway at the expense of trying to do something new. Invest in current successes, extend them and make them sustainable. Take inventory of strengths and weaknesses and consider not only how to start new things, but how to end things that have outlined their value.
  • Don’t lose sight of the need to provide students with a quality education.
  • Don’t forget to seek out administrative units as partners. They are a valuable resource, committed to the success of the University and they possess a wealth of unique and relevant experiences.
  • Don’t forget to seek out stakeholders at all levels. Look outwardly, but not at the expense of looking inward. Ask questions of all kinds of experts at all levels of University administration and service units.
  • Communication is key and must be cultivated so that it flows in all directions. Communication about what is being considered and why and ensuring that all actors involved or impact by a decision or a change in the ways the university thinks and operates and effectively communicated.
  • Create an administrative and service professional peer mentoring program to support the process of succession planning and the cultivation of full process knowledge.
  • Be transparent with all processes. What is being considered, why, how, and then after decision are made – what they are and what they mean to all those involved and impacted.
  • Build better alumni relationships as a way to help identify and amplify the best of UAlbany and to help us make decisions about and delivery on strategic priorities.
  • Institutionalize strategic planning so it’s a regular and predictable part of the University life rather than a different approach, language and process each time.
  • Build better alumni relationships Alumni base actively engage
  • Create a SUNY level competition for best administrative and service excellence as an incentivizer.  Current award programs are individually based. For example, NYS provides awards for the best technology innovations to the state agencies. SUNY should launch a program for campuses to compete against each other for the best A&S environment.


Appendices

Appendix A: Invitation to the Focus Group

Dear Colleagues,

We are reaching out to invite you to participate in a 2.0 hour focus group session in support of the University’s new strategic planning process. We are charged with producing a “futuring" paper to guide the effort to envision a "10-year future for service and administrative excellence at UAlbany" given the "forces" that currently exist and will emerge over the next 10 years

Given your role and experience here at UAlbany, we believe your participation in this focus group will help us produce a robust and well-informed paper.

Please respond to the doodle poll link to help us schedule the focus group session. We will conduct just one session as our paper is due on October 7th.

http://doodle.com/poll/7x6e8y8im3n58qzy

Thank you in advance.

Best regards,
Janet Marler and Theresa Pardo
<contact info was included>

Appendix B: Session Participants
Administrative and Service Excellence Futuring Paper Focus Group
Massry Business Center Rm 347
Oct 4, 2016 1-3pm
Participants Table

Name

Title

Years of Service

Janet Marler

Professor

16

Theresa Pardo

Director of CTG/Research Professor

23

Carole Sweeton

Dir. of Client Support Srvcs,

37

Denise Szelest

Dir. of Human Resources Mgmt

27

Noah Simon

Director of Career Planning, Career & Prof Development

10

Dave Mason

Deputy Controller/Dir Acctng,

31

Mary Van Ullen

Director of Collections, University Libraries

20

Jerry Gauriloff

Associate Director, Ofc of Awrd Mngmnt Srvcs

4

Cheryl Yagelski

Human Resources Associate

11

Chris Moore

Client Support Services

9

Kristen Hamel

Budget analyst

3

Jessie Beauharnois-

Associate Director, Ofc of Awrd Mngmnt Srvcs

15

Jane Krumm-Schwan

Dir of Admin & Outreach

18

Julia Singleton

Program Assistant

6 mths

 

 

 

 

Appendix C: Overview Presentation
See attached email