Shared Services

The new Shared Services unit is a key component of the new operating model focused on centralizing high-volume administrative services from across the university to achieve cost savings and greater process efficiencies over time. Shared Services aims to free up time for faculty and staff across the university to concentrate on their core work. SET is working with the new Shared Services unit to determine which services and processes best align with the unit.

Consisting of the Staff Service Centre, the service teams (divided by function), and the Service Innovation Team, Shared Services delivers cross-functional, high-volume services. It leverages technology, systems, and processes to collaborate, exchange knowledge, and identify solutions for faculty and staff.


Latest updates

Process redesign activities

SET is conducting significant redesign of processes identified through discovery for the new operating model. Within Shared Services, the team is reviewing and optimizing additional processes to ensure a greater focus on the needs of faculty and staff as well as the value that services provide to the university community.

For more information, please visit the process redesign web page

Career opportunities

To view upcoming position opportunities in student services, please check the SET Position Opportunities Page (otherwise known as “POP”) regularly. Once a position has been finalized and the competition launched, you can apply to it on the U of A Careers page.

SET workstream membership

The SET Shared Services workstream consists of the following project team members:

  • Ria Ames — AVP Shared Services — Executive Sponsor
  • Chris Carter — Project Manager
  • Rehan Malik — Project Manager
  • Lynn Bell — Business Analyst
  • Wendy Abraniuk — Business Analyst
  • Donna Harrop-Mckinley — Change Management Specialist
  • Crystal Wood — Senior Communications Officer

Consultation and engagement events

  • July 15, 2021: Ask SET Anything: Shared Services Edition - Part 2
  • May 10, 2021: Kicked off the Job Evaluation and Time and Labour process redesign activities
  • May 3, 2021: Selected and onboarded process redesign workgroup and feedback workgroup members for two process redesigns: Job Evaluation and Time and Labour
  • March 12, 2021: Ask SET Anything: Shared Services Edition
  • February 22, 2021:  Selected and on boarded the Employee Appointment/Reappointment process redesign workgroup and feedback workgroup members
  • February 10, 2021: Shared HR discovery findings and priorities with HR Partners and HR discovery contacts
  • February 4, 2021: Issued call-out for workgroup nominations for the top priority HR processes
  • January 6, 2021: Shared preliminary HR discovery results with HR Partners
  • November 30 - December 1, 2020: Kicked-off HR discovery activities with HR Partners and HR discovery contacts
  • November 2020: Shared the Transaction Processing Hub Overview with Dean’s Council, FMC, APOs and HR Partners
Check the consultation page for upcoming events

Frequently asked questions

Staff Service Centre
Where will the staff and student service centres be located?

As transitions are already unfolding and the U of A is still preparing for a return to campus, it’s likely that aspects of the staff and students service centres will initially be delivered online. Eventually, the Staff Service Centre will be located at Enterprise Square – you can read about the renovations currently underway here. The Student Service Centre will have a physical location on North Campus and will initially be housed in the Administration Building until it takes up final residence in the new Dentistry/Pharmacy centre once refurbishment is complete

[Updated June 24, 2021]

How are research administration services going to be reflected in the Staff Service Centre because students also need to access research services? How are SET and academic restructuring going to converge, particularly with respect to research administration.

The research administration workstream has completed its discovery phase and started to identify processes that could transition into Shared Services. We acknowledge that research administration is less straightforward than the other workstreams in terms of identifying those processes that will benefit from the economies of scale that Shared Services offers. Through the discovery phase, we looked for  processes to transition because ultimately, if we can allow researchers to focus on research itself, it is to the benefit of the university's institutional research strategy.

It is also important to note that some work may have been referred to as "research administration" when it really is HR or finance functions done for researchers. Discovery helped us learn more details of research administration, regardless of who the service is delivered to, and we are focusing on mapping the processes that are unique to supporting research in the new model.

[Updated October 25, 2021]

How are you ensuring that the Staff Service Centre provides timely services, and how will they determine which service requests are processed first?

The Staff Service Centre will utilize a service management platform and other technologies to support its operations. Initially the Staff Service Centre will leverage the same tools that will be utilized by the Student Service Centre. IST intends to release an RFP for an enterprise management solution that will provide a common platform that will support both centres, the service partners and the Centres of Expertise in all functional areas. This will enable the tracking of requests from initiation to resolution as well as provide the necessary data to measure and report on service delivery metrics.

[Updated April 9, 2021]

When do faculty, staff, and supervisors go to HR partners versus the Staff Service Centre versus the Centres of Expertise?

Most general inquiries related to your individual employment will come to the Staff Service Centre, including matters related to pension, benefits, and payroll. An HR Partner would primarily be involved in supporting leadership with strategic objectives. For example, questions regarding collective agreements and application, policies, workforce planning, and staffing questions. In regards to the Centres of Expertise, we are still refining the work that will be directed to them and how best to connect with them. 

[Updated July 27, 2021]

Will Centres of Expertise (CoE) mainly be communicating to the Staff Service Centre/service partners who will then share the information with their clients? Or will communication occur directly between the CoE and faculties/departments/units as needed?

The Centres of Expertise, Shared Services, faculties, and units will communicate with audiences as appropriate and collaborate when needed. The Staff Service Centre will collaborate with and triage requests/inquiries to the CoEs, units, faculties, and partners as necessary. Both the partners and the Shared Services teams are in discussions on how to refine handling inquiries efficiently and effectively. 

[Updated July 27, 2021]

If the Staff Service Centre/Service Partners are the main point of contact, how do we ensure they are trained and aware of all the resources available for the Centers of Expertise (CoE)?

The Staff Service Centre will collaborate with and triage to the CoEs, units, faculties, and partners as necessary, depending on the request or need. Conversations between the partners and Shared Services in regards to determining and refining handling inquiries, are ongoing.

These adjustments are a massive undertaking and it will take time to optimize the new Shared Services unit to its full potential. We appreciate your patience as we learn the most efficient ways to support you and your teams. 

[Updated July 27, 2021]

Have key competencies been identified that are needed for Shared Services to mature into its future state?

The Shared Services teams are undergoing training to handle inquiries. Competency frameworks should be developed with a lens of university-wide consistency, and Shared Services will work with the appropriate Centre of Expertise to finalize the competencies we’ve identified.

[Updated July 27, 2021]

It appears that only travel and expenses and PCard has transitioned to Shared Services. What is the timeline for when accounts payable and accounts receivable services will transition?

Invoice processing, travel and expense approvals, credit card reconciliation support, professional expense reimbursement, accounts payable and accounts receivable services (including the corrections posting) all transitioned to Shared Services as of October 18, 2021. Distribution Services will move on December 1. For questions about travel and expenses, PCards, and professional expense reimbursement, faculty and staff are directed to the Staff Service Centre.

[Updated November 25, 2021]

When will in-house IT, HR, and finance services (for example, from within Facilities and Operations) transition?

The transition of IT, HR, and finance processes is planned to occur over the next year, and will include not only the activity in the faculties but also those that occur in central units like IST and Facilities & Operations.

[Updated September 23, 2021]

Why are the IT Service Desk, IT Service Design and Improvement, and IT Service Delivery Process and Tools units not part of shared services? There seems to be equivalent units for HR and finance in shared services.

The continuous improvement unit within Shared Services will focus on all processes and services delivered by the Staff Service Centre and the Transaction Processing Hub. In the initial stages of rollout this is primarily HR and Finance related services. The IT Service Design and Improvement will be focused on the services delivered by IST. As for the operation of how clients will receive support, the Staff Service Centre will be the first level of contact for staff and the IT service desk is identified to transition into shared services. The IT Centres of Expertise will become Tier 2 support.

Updated March 18, 2021]

What is the relationship between the finance partner and the Shared Services finance unit as it relates to work like budgeting, quarterly reports, and forecasting year end?

As a preliminary example, more strategic work such as budgeting and forecasting would be handled by the finance partner, whereas the finance team in Shared Services will be responsible for processing work including accounts payable and receivable, credit card reconciliation, and travel expenses. The finance stream, the procurement team, and Shared Services are still working through the details to determine how the work will be transitioned and roles and responsibilities will be divided between the finance partner and Shared Services. We will also be reviewing other processes and more details will be released as decisions are made. 

[Updated July 27, 2021]

Where does my team fit in Shared Services?

Shared Services is still working to determine where many teams fit within the new model and more services will be defined as SET continues with restructuring and process redesign work. Later this year, additional services will transition from faculties and units into the Shared Services unit, including:

  • Additional HR services (summer and fall)
  • Finance services (early fall)
  • IT helpdesk services (late 2021)
  • Service Innovation team (mid-August)

If you’d like more information, please read this article. We will continue to share more information and updates on Shared Services as the unit progresses.

[Updated July 27, 2021]

Staff transitions
What kind of thought has been put into retaining top talent during these complex and challenging times? How are you ensuring that staff are supported during this transition?

There is a belief that moving to a more centralized model equates to less career opportunities and chance for growth. In fact, the new administrative operating model offers greater career potential as it provides exposure to different jobs and opportunities that either didn't exist before, or that in the previous structure, might not have been easily seen or pursued. Staff will have opportunities to seek fulfilling career opportunities and the university can retain the top talent that we have. The Position Opportunities Page is a new online tool that lists upcoming positions that are planned as part of the new administrative operating model. The intent of this resource is to provide our great staff with the information and resources they need to plan their career path for the future. We are dedicated to establishing an environment in this new model that will make the university a desired employer in the future, as it has been in the past.

We recognize that this is a period of high anxiety, particularly when it comes to the impact these changes have on our staff. There are supports in place at the university including many change and resilience resources, as well as the Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP). We are committed to making answers available to staff as soon as possible, and working to help you through the transition.

[Updated April 9, 2021]

How are you mitigating "brain drain," with staff in faculties applying to the new roles in shared services and diminishing expertise in the faculty/units remaining?

Positions posted in shared services will support processes and transactional activities, much of which currently is completed in facilities. The service will move with the role to shared services, and therefore will not be a loss to the university. Those roles or activities that remain in the faculties will be unique or specialized to that faculty and will not create efficiencies by centralizing them into the Centres of Expertise or shared services.

[Updated April 9, 2021]