Outlook: Ohio University News & Information

Monday, June 1, 2015
Initiatives take a visionary approach
Session highlights efforts that support Vision OHIO  

Oct 8, 2008  
From staff reports   

Smarter purchasing. Competitive pay. Enhanced student recruiting.

Ohio University leaders and managers who gathered Tuesday took an in-depth look at new initiatives that will help meet these objectives and others, all of which are designed to strengthen university operations and support the Vision OHIO academic plan.

The Vision OHIO Information Session provided details on six initiatives: shared services, strategic procurement, pay and classification planning, academic support unit program review, strategic enrollment management and sustainability planning.

?Communicating about Vision OHIO initiatives to a large and diverse campus presents a variety of challenges,? said Bill Decatur, senior vice president for finance and administration. ?We are hoping that today?s forum will help fill some of the gaps that still exist in the broader understanding of what these initiatives are, how they will be presented and what can be expected from them.??

Faculty and staff at Ohio University are recognized nationally, Decatur said. However, pursuing excellence takes not only skill and determination -- it requires resources.

Ohio?s uncertain economy makes the challenge even greater, he said, noting that the state provides 29 percent of the university?s funding, an amount that is not guaranteed in coming years.

?In order to find more resources to support our academic mission, we must pursue strategies that reduce costs, create efficiencies, ensure financial stability and promote quality,?? he said.

Executive Vice President and Provost Kathy Krendl said a strong partnership between the academic side of the university and Finance and Administration is crucial to meeting Vision OHIO goals.

?The partnership is still in the process of developing,?? Krendl said. ?Trust, communication, mutual understanding and coordination -- the key elements of any partnership -- are not yet robust and need to be pursued more vigorously. One of the purposes of this forum is to help that process along.??

Krendl said a member of the Board of Trustees recently told her he was impressed by the university?s ability to do more with less, a tribute, she said, to faculty and staff.

?But it would be a nice change of pace for all of us to have the chance to do more with more,?? she said with a laugh.

The six initiatives, with varying timelines for completion, are outlined below.

Shared Services

What is it?

This initiative aims to streamline administrative functions to improve service and allow units to focus on their core missions. Goals include standardizing business practices, improving internal controls and leveraging technology to increase efficiency and reduce costs.

Why is it needed?
The initiative will eliminate redundancies and reduce processing costs, directing savings to strengthening academic programs. For example, Director of Shared Services Mark Hopton said processing an invoice currently costs about $12.50, an amount he said is four to five times higher than necessary. 

What are the advantages?
A shared-services model will improve cycle times, reducing backlogged documents and steps needed to complete administrative tasks. Automated practices, for example, would speed up travel expense reimbursements to hours or minutes, from nearly 60 days currently, Hopton said.
What are the hurdles?
Adopting a consolidated approach and retraining staff members are the biggest challenges.

What is the timeline?
The Accounts Payable and Payroll departments became part of Shared Services in July.  A benchmark study to evaluate current business practices throughout the university has been completed. An organization and staffing model will be completed by November, and Hopton said he expects services to other planning units to be expanded by early 2009. 

Where can I learn more?
Shared services Web site: http://www.facilities.ohiou.edu/sharedservices
Director of Shared Services Mark Hopton: sharedservices@ohio.edu, hopton@ohio.edu

Strategic Procurement

What is it?
This initiative will help faculty and staff find the best products and services at the most competitive prices and have them delivered on time.

Why is it needed?
Efforts will increase flexibility, accountability, transparency and efficiency in purchasing. Strategic purchasing also will help the university maximize financial resources during an unpredictable economy.

What are the advantages?
These initiatives leverage technology to make purchasing from preferred vendors easier and more efficient. Chief Procurement Officer Frank Corris also said procurement partnerships with members of the Inter-University Council could net the university millions of dollars in savings.

What are the hurdles?
Current purchasing systems are paper-based and largely decentralized. Users have little formal training in advanced procurement techniques.

What is the timeline?
The university already lists preferred suppliers and travel providers on the Purchasing Web site. Implementation and rollout of strategic procurement initiatives will take place in fall 2010.

Where can I learn more?
Frank Corris, chief procurement officer, corris@ohio.edu
Ralph Six, director of purchasing, six@ohio.edu

Pay and Classification Planning

What is it?

This initiative will update the university?s compensation and classification plans for administrative and classified employees to support Vision OHIO?s goal of recruiting and retaining talented and diverse faculty and staff. Pay packages and job classifications will be updated to better reflect the market.

Why is it needed?
The initiative would update a 30-year-old administrative and professional pay plan and proactively address matters of compensation and classification for administrative and classified employees.

What are the advantages?
A new compensation and classification plan would increase flexibility for colleges and departments in hiring and retaining qualified staff, streamline processes, reduce paperwork and make the university as a whole more competitive in recruiting.

What is the timeline?
Requests for proposals to facilitate the design of new pay plans have been received. The goal is to enact the new administrative pay plan in February 2010. Staff members will conduct a preliminary review of the classified pay plan through November 2009.

Where can I learn more?
Director of Compensation Steve Brooks, brookss2@ohio.edu

Academic Support Unit Program Review

What is it?

This new process will benchmark the effectiveness, efficiency and accountability of academic support units, which include every functional area that does not undergo an academic program review. Assessments, which will occur on a rolling, multiyear cycle, will tap the expertise of internal and external review teams and the experiences of unit stakeholders and customers.

Why is it needed?
The process will perpetuate a culture of continuous improvement, stimulate planning, encourage use of best practices and ensure that a unit?s desired outcomes align closely with Vision OHIO priorities.

What are the advantages?
ASUPR will create unit- and institution-level knowledge and buy-in of a unit?s mission and goals and help ensure the unit has sufficient resources to accomplish them.

What are the hurdles?
Some units may prefer not to engage in the review and continuous improvement process.

What is the timeline?
Program reviews will take place in eight-year cycles. Eight to 10 units will be reviewed per cycle beginning this academic year. The process is organized into four sequential phases that a unit can accomplish in 18 to 24 months.

Where can I learn more?
The ASUPR Web site: www.ohio.edu/asupr/index.htm
Leadership team members Gary Neiman, neiman@ohio.edu
Mike Williford, willifor@ohio.edu
Terry Conry, conry@ohio.edu

Strategic Enrollment Management

What is it?

Enrollment management will examine enrollment and retention goals that promote fiscal stability and improvements in quality, access, affordability and efficiency. It also aligns those goals with Vision OHIO and University System of Ohio initiatives.

Why is it needed?
The number of high school graduating seniors in the state of Ohio is expected to drop 10 percent during the next six years, creating stronger competition among colleges and universities for a smaller pool of prospective students.

What are the advantages?
An enrollment management plan will allow the university to meet Vision OHIO goals of increasing quality, access and growth in specific areas (diversity, out-of-state students, improved academic profile, international and transfer students). It also will allow the university to tackle affordability issues, provide a quality academic experience to students, and recruit and retain high-quality faculty, staff and students.

What is the timeline?
Enrollment management efforts are an ongoing process.

Where can I learn more?
Vice Provost for Enrollment Management Craig Cornell: cornellc@ohio.edu

Sustainability Planning

What is it?
Sustainability planning is aimed at reducing energy usage and implementing environmentally friendly business practices while still accomplishing the university?s goals.

Why are we doing it?
Reducing energy usage will lower utility costs (which currently total about $1 million per month for the Athens campus alone) and cut down on the university?s carbon footprint, as called for by House Bill 251 and the Presidents Climate Commitment. In addition, today?s college students are demanding that their institutions be part of the ?green economy.?

What are the advantages?
By focusing on sustainability, the university can reduce energy and waste disposal costs, provide a healthier campus environment, enhance its national prominence, comply with state legislation and reduce greenhouse gases.

What are the hurdles?

Overcoming resistance to change is one of the biggest hurdles. Sustainability Coordinator Sonia Marcus said her office?s task is to create new habits, approaches and ways of thinking about resources and the university?s ability to conserve.

What is the timeline?
Sustainability initiatives are ongoing, but the House Bill 251 seeks to have all state-funded buildings achieve a 20 percent reduction in energy usage by 2014.

Where can I learn more?
Office of Sustainability Web site: http://www.facilities.ohiou.edu/conservation/
Sustainability Coordinator Sonia Marcus, marcuss@ohio.edu

In coming weeks: Watch Outlook for additional information on each of these initiatives.




Related Links
Vision OHIO Information Session materials: http://www.ohio.edu/provost/Vision-Ohio-Information-Forum-10-7-08.cfm 

Published: Oct 8, 2008 1:38 PM  

Sonia Marcus 

Sonia Marcus explains the sustainability planning initiative at Tuesday?s Vision OHIO Information Session.  


Chief Procurement Officer Frank Corris answers a question during the forum. At right is Director of Shared Services Mark Hopton.  

Chief Procurement Officer Frank Corris answers a question during the forum. At right is Director of Shared Services Mark Hopton.   

Photographer: Ans Bradford  

Learn more about these initiatives 

Presenters at Tuesday?s Vision OHIO Information Session used handouts and PowerPoint presentations to convey information about the six initiatives. Click here to download the materials


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