Board of Governors approves new administrative operating model

Rob Munro - 22 October 2020

On October 16, the U of A Board of Governors approved a new administrative operating model as proposed by the Service Excellence Steering Committee (SESC), the university’s administrative restructuring working group. The new administrative operating model allows the university to take a strategic approach to reduced funding by restructuring how services and functions will be delivered across the institution. In addition to meeting fiscal targets, the goal of restructuring is to continue to serve and support the core teaching, research and service mission of the university effectively and efficiently while also ensuring that staff have rewarding, sustainable roles and clearer career paths in the future.

The Model

The approved operating model consists of a hybrid of centralized and decentralized services and functions. With two service centres—one for students and another for staff—and a universal transactional hub, the model will centralize the services and administrative activities, processes, and functions that are common to faculties and units across the university. At the same time, where specialized services and administrative needs are integral to academic programming, these will be provided in faculties, under the direction of a faculty general manager. To ensure a strong connection with and conduit into central services, service partners embedded in the academic units but reporting into portfolio centres of excellence, will bring their functional expertise together with specialized knowledge of the divisions and faculties. To see a more complete description of the model, please see the Administrative Operating Model page

Core Value: Service Excellence

The core value of the operating model is service excellence. All administrative functions and activities must serve and enhance the teaching, research, and community engagement mission of the university to the highest standard possible with the resources available. We know that operational change like this initially leads to a drop in service and satisfaction levels because putting in place and training for new processes and modes of delivery is disruptive. However, the experience of universities that have been through this kind of change before shows that with a commitment to continuous improvement, the long-term outcome is higher levels of satisfaction.

How will we ensure continuous improvement? First, we have put in place pulse surveys for faculty and staff—and will soon start this for students as well. This gives us check-in points on current state and helps to identify needs. Second and more importantly, we will be developing key performance indicators, KPIs, to measure performance and adjust as needed. Finally, as mentioned above, this will be a permanent feature of the model with a team trained and devoted to dealing with issues proactively and effectively throughout the months of implementation and then into the year to come.

Next Steps

In the coming weeks, a report will be issued with information about the new operating model and organizational structure. Although we need to continue to work quickly, full implementation of the operating model will unfold over the next 18 months. We will begin with IT and HR, as these two areas are critical to enabling change throughout the organizations. You can find a tentative timeline for the next six months here

We have been and will continue to work closely with leadership teams and staff across faculties and units to hear their voices and understand exactly what is important to them. We will be talking to individuals in all areas to understand how things are done now and to identify needs and requirements for the future. The transformation is a joint effort and will require collaboration to ensure the right activities are transitioned to the various units within the operating model. On behalf of the Service Excellence Steering Committee, we want to thank all members of our community for your advice and feedback on the process.

Rob Munro
Executive Lead, SET