Nov. 21, 2007
By Katie Quaranta
Administrative Senate and the shared services project team hosted a public forum Tuesday to gather feedback and answer questions about plans to implement shared services initiatives at Ohio University. The forum attracted more than 150 university employees.
Associate Vice President for Finance and Administration Terry Conry and Vice President for Finance and Administration Bill Decatur outlined the reasoning behind implementing shared services, the benefits of this approach and steps the university already has taken to make this model a reality.
Attendees asked questions throughout the forum regarding what specific departments would be affected and how shared services would change processes at the university. Several also asked if these changes would result in staff eliminations.
Although many of the specifics still are unknown, Decatur stressed that the committee's preliminary work will allow the university to address staffing needs in a strategic way.
"I don't want to be in a position of just cutting positions to save money and possibly decreasing services," Decatur said. "If we're really smart about implementing this ... dislocation can be minimal."
Decatur also indicated that leveraging purchasing power to reduce costs, particularly in regard to technology, is another strategy that would save significant money without affecting jobs.
Conry stressed that the process is involved, and so will take time and careful consideration. The payoffs, though, will make it worth the effort.
"This isn't easy work," Conry said. "This is a large-scale project. This is a cultural transformation."
Beth Lydic, administration and finance manager for the College of Education, was among those who attended Tuesday's forum. She said afterward that shared services could be good for the university, and she is looking forward to hearing more details.
"I think change is important and necessary," Lydic said. "The major question on most people's minds is, 'What specifically is shared services?' I think it's too early for them to answer it."
This was the first of several planned forums designed to maintain a dialogue with the university community as plans for shared services evolve. University employees are invited to post their questions and concerns about shared services at the Listening Post forum, where the Office of Finance and Administration addresses questions on a variety of topics.