Looking ahead at supporting and sustaining activities

In this four-part weekly series, Vice-President (University Services and Finance), Todd Gilchrist, provides an overview of the upcoming activities and milestones for key initiatives of the SET program as well as case studies to demonstrate recent successes.

Todd Gilchrist - 28 October 2021

In our fourth and final article in the looking ahead series, we review the upcoming activities that will support and sustain our new operating model into the future. If you missed one of the previous articles on the administrative workstreams, central support units, or the non-labour streams, you can find them all on the UAT website here.


As the university continues to implement the new operating model as part of the U of A for Tomorrow (UAT) initiative, it's important to remember it's primary goals: that through fundamental systematic reform, we can and will strengthen U of A's core teaching, research, and community engagement mission and enrich student experience, while addressing the current funding crisis.

In order to achieve these goals and uphold the work we have accomplished over the past year and a half, sustaining the benefits of the transformation, including implementing supporting infrastructure, is critical. The SET program is actively implementing three initiatives to sustain the outcomes of the program long term: service governance, measurement and leadership; and operating model and cost reinforcement.

Looking ahead

To implement the new operating model, the SET team has been working diligently with staff and faculty from across the university to restructure the university's administrative services and structures. This week, I want to provide you with an overview of the upcoming activities that will support and sustain our model and how they will unfold over the three horizons I've been referring to in the previous articles:

  • Horizon 1 - by December 2021
  • Horizon 2 - by March 2022 | End of the SET program
  • Horizon 3 - April 2022 + | Ongoing operations beyond SET

If you missed one of the previous articles in the series, you can find them all here.


Here are the major activities and upcoming milestones for supporting and sustaining the operating model.

Service Governance, Measurement, and Leadership

The overarching principle of the new administrative operating model is the establishment of service excellence. To ensure its success, we require end-to-end service delivery that is shared across multiple teams, service providers, and service users. It, therefore, requires clear mechanisms for stakeholders from across the university to provide feedback and establish service expectations. As a result, the following three initiatives will be undertaken over the coming months:

  • Development of a service governance framework to provide effective oversight to service provision.
  • Institute a service measurement and reporting structure to provide feedback to the community on service effectiveness.
  • Provide service leadership through ongoing training and performance management.

Horizon 1 will see the design of these three components with initiation in Horizon 2, and operationalization in Horizon 3.

Model and Cost Sustainment

To ensure the operational model will be sustainable, intentional activities to maintain the new structures, processes, and behaviours will be required. To prevent a potential decline, a number of activities are being planned under two major categories: cost containment (i.e., spending controls) and operating model reinforcement. To this end, a sustainment plan will be published at the end of Horizon 1 for adoption and implementation in the subsequent horizons. The sustainment plan will indicate activities and responsibilities for work that will need to be completed post SET.

In addition, we will continue evaluating UniForum benchmarking data to evaluate our position versus the peer group and will adapt accordingly. This includes checking individual UniForum codes for anomalies. Finally we will be developing job position controls in order to keep all areas compliant with the model.

Working together

We can achieve our goals, improve the university, and enhance our core mission by working together to meet our UAT objectives. Fundamentally, UAT is about enhancing excellence; ensuring that our academic and administrative structures enable us to thrive today and in the future. Success will depend on all of us working together as we restructure and reorganize how we work and deliver the university's core mission.

We recognize that these changes are difficult and can take a toll. Patience, empathy and kindness for each other are critical as we build the new model and implement it successfully. If you are struggling with stress and anxiety, I encourage you to reach out for support and pursue the Wellbeing Through Change resources the university offers.

I also want to thank everyone who has engaged in opportunities for discussion, kept themselves informed, and helped identify opportunities for future improvements. Please continue to ask questions and provide your feedback using this form.

More information

That concludes the "Looking ahead at UAT" series. SET will continue to share general changes, including what services are being centralized and the associated timeline, in The Quad email newsletter, on the UAT website, and through other channels such as the stream's specific web pages. We also continue to welcome your questions and other feedback and hope you will join us for an all staff edition of our Ask SET Anything event on November 5.

To review all of the articles and timeline charts in the series, please visit the UAT website.



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