A powerful vision for the new Shared Services team

20 May 2021

By now, you have all heard about the university moving to a shared services model. You will have also heard this model will support significant cost savings and efficiencies in processes, freeing up time for faculty and staff to concentrate on their core work. I understand that there are still many questions being asked. Through a series of upcoming communications, I will endeavor to answer your questions related to Shared Services. Today, I would like to introduce myself and my vision for Shared Services. The Shared Services team will expand on the value already delivered by the teams we’re welcoming, and I want to express my gratitude for the opportunity to work with you.

To begin, let me tell you about my background. I am an alumni of the University of Alberta, a designated change leader and a multi-designated human resources professional. For the last two decades of my career, I have worked with large, complex organizations undergoing significant transformational change.

You may wonder why I would want to work with organizations undergoing so much change. The answer is simple. Bringing together a dynamic group of people to tackle a problem and produce a result that aligns with the vision of the organization is rewarding to everyone involved.

For example, at one of my previous workplaces, one redesigned process created value for all: collective work on an HR process redesign resulted in reducing screen-to-hire time by 54%. Not only did this produce a significant cost saving, but also an improved user experience for both candidates and staff. Staff were able to perform their core work with less disruption.

So where is Shared Services today?

Think of Shared Services as a new place opening in your community. We all know that anything new requires an immense amount of work. While we have the plans, or in this case the model, we also need to create the vision, design and test the services, create the supporting infrastructure, and hire and train the people who will be responsible for bringing this all to life. And when a new place opens its doors, not all of the services will be available on day one. Over time, we’ll add more services. This does not mean those services will not be available--it just means that they have yet to be included in Shared Services as we continue to undergo a process redesign.

What is my vision for Shared Services?

My vision is to build a close-knit community of smart, approachable people who collaborate, exchange knowledge and identify solutions. The staff who are joining my team can expect to feel empowered in the service they provide and look to grow their careers with critical thinking, relationship building and ongoing learning opportunities.

Our team of experts will problem-solve by collaborating with Centres of Expertise, faculty and staff in order to see the whole end-to-end process and find a solution that works for the entire community. We will seek the root of an issue to correct it, rather than just trying to supply a quick fix. We will partner with faculty and staff to support their needs. We will provide advice, guidance and leadership in process, quality and accuracy.

The university will be very different by this time next year, and this new department will be the driver for your support and information on many processes related to staff. While the model labels Shared Services as being a “transaction hub”, it is important to know that Shared Services will be a highly-educated, integrated team whose sole purpose is to provide service excellence in delivering and innovating the diverse catalogue of services we are responsible for.

How do we accomplish this?

We build on our current processes and seek continuous improvement opportunities. We commit to ongoing learning and development. We build trust and credibility with those we serve by asking the right questions, connecting them to the right people and closing the loop. We position ourselves as helpful and curious. Ultimately, we create a human, positive experience when it comes to problem solving. We will work towards the promise of not only getting the job done but getting it done right the first time. This change will take time, and as a community we will work through any bumps in the road to mitigate impacts to staff.

With more frequent communication and visibility of launch plans and timelines, I want to remove the uncertainty around Shared Services and make things less bumpy for everyone.

What can you expect from here? 

  1. Starting this week, positions for Shared Services will begin to be posted on the Position Opportunities page, including dates when you can expect to see them on the Career page.
  2. By mid-June, a series of communications will begin to clarify the launch sequence of services with the caveat that timelines could shift slightly.
  3. Summer 2021 will bring the launch of phase 1 of a Shared Services website and the introduction of the new staff contact center, with information about how to reach us and the services we provide.
  4. Into the fall and for the remainder of 2021, we will continue to hire, onboard and train incoming staff to Shared Services in alignment with the launch plan. This may extend into 2022 based on future considerations of other services identified.
  5. Between September 2021 and January 2022, we anticipate our new home at Enterprise Square will be ready for our staged arrival. There is still quite a bit of work to be completed; however, we are excited by the progress that the team has made bringing it to life and know it will be a community to thrive in.
  6. Process redesign, innovation and integrating a culture of service excellence will continue far into the future as needs change for the university.

As we move forward in launching our services, I will provide more frequent updates and look to answering questions as they arise. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me with your questions, concerns or ideas at ria.ames@ualberta.ca.

Take care,
Ria Ames, Associate Vice-President, Shared Services