SET’s top 5 most frequently asked questions

Find answers to some of your most commonly asked questions about Service Excellence Transformation.

Rob Munro - 17 December 2020

Over the past few months, the SET team has hosted several events to engage with the university community, including our first Ask SET Anything event held on December 3. Many of you have participated in these discussions to seek clarity on what the SET program and administrative restructuring means not only for the big picture at the U of A, but to determine how it impacts you. We have greatly appreciated everyone’s willingness to engage and raise these necessary questions and perspectives that will help shape administrative restructuring as we move forward.

The majority of your questions and concerns centre around the transition and movement to the centre, and rightfully so. On December 10, the SET Program Office released the Transition Plan which outlines the planning, approach, and timeline for moving to the new administrative operating model, including further detail on how staff transitions will unfold. While there will be an opportunity for further clarity and answers from one of the upcoming Ask SET Anything events, which will focus on the six functional workstreams as well as the Hub (keep an eye on the UAT Consultation page for sessions in January), we wanted to address some of your most commonly asked questions. Here are the answers to the top five most frequently asked SET questions:

  1. How will you manage the need for remaining staff to take on more work as positions are eliminated? 

    We cannot expect our support staff to continue to do more work with less support and fewer overall staff. That is why we are looking at how we organize and do our work through end-to-end analysis of every function. The process of restructuring will significantly reduce redundancies, simplify procedures and workflows, reveal opportunities for automation, and create more rewarding and specialized work opportunities for frontline workers. Our ultimate goal is to support our teaching and research mission in a sustainable way, rather than continuing to distribute cuts across campus in a way that is not strategic and results in added burden on remaining staff.

  2. How can faculties release people before systems are available in the centre?

    The faculties have recently submitted their FTE allocation/reduction plans in two timelines: reductions needed before March 31, 2021 and reductions from April 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022.

    We will review the plans in detail with the faculties to understand their systems and processes and to prioritize system development at the centre. Faculties have agreed to begin phase one by transferring or reducing less-critical processes, reserving the more critical processes for phase two (March 2021 to March 2022). This phased approach will allow the SET team to review and modify processes and develop support in the centre. Continuity planning will also be included to ensure knowledge is retained. These plans will include identification of core business operations affected during the transition period, resources needed to maintain minimum continuity, and key operational risks and their mitigations.

  3. I’m (my co-worker is) feeling incredibly stressed out. What can I do to get some support?

    It’s understandable that you may feel anxious during this time of uncertainty. Please reach out to one of the health and well-being resources available through the university for support. We also encourage you to read the article about building resilience written by SET’s change management manager, Megan McDougald, as it provides some context to the feelings we all experience during change.

  4. What is the timing of the layoffs?

    We will provide as much clarity as possible about what we know and can anticipate will happen over the coming months. We know that the university must save $30 million by the end of this fiscal year; therefore, reductions are planned for January to March 2021. Further layoffs, equating to an additional $30 million, will happen in phase two (April 2021 to March 2022).

  5. How will new positions be filled? [How are people moved to new positions?]

    Faculty to central unit transitions: Where administrative roles within the new model are the same or substantially similar to existing roles, we aim to transfer those existing roles (and the person in the role) from existing faculties and units into new central units within the model. This is expected to account for many of the roles within the new model.

    New role creation from existing talent pool: Where new roles — those substantially different from existing positions on campus — are created in the centres of excellence, the transaction processing hub, as service partners, or in the staff and student service centres, existing staff will be asked to express their interest in those roles through internally restricted expressions of interest. Candidates for those roles will be selected from the pool of interested candidates. Because many new roles will not be an exact duplicate of existing individual roles, successful candidates may be provided with the additional training for their new appointments.

    New role creation with differing requirements: Where new roles require talents, experience or skills not normally found within existing staff roles, those roles will be posted both internally and externally. All things equal, internal candidates will be given preference over external candidates when selections are made.

To see answers to other questions, please see the SET FAQ page on the U of A for Tomorrow (UAT) website.

If you’re looking for more information about SET, please review the SET section of the UAT website. It can help to answer your questions on the new operating model, timelines, organizational changes, and opportunities for you to engage in the process. And if you can’t find an answer to one of your questions, be sure to connect with us through our feedback form

Thank you to everyone who has participated in events, sent us emails, and submitted feedback. We look forward to continuing these discussions in the new year.

Rob Munro
Executive Lead, Service Excellence Transformation