OPEX

Site Spotlight: Operational Excellence showcases staff members

SMU’s Office of Operational Excellence (OPEX) has introduced a new website feature: a series of  stories about staff members who’ve taken on new leadership roles since the implementation of Operational Excellence for the Second Century (OE2C) and “are helping bring more innovation and efficiency to campus operations,” according to their blog.

The “Staff Spotlight” series includes profiles of staffers and initiatives including Jason Warner, Academic Technology Services; Vali Dicus, Shared Services; and Yvette Castilla, Academic Support.

OPEX updates the blog regularly with information on OE2C initiatives and new endeavors such as the Staff Recognition Initiative and the Data Warehouse Initiative. Bookmark the site to keep up with the latest: smu.edu/opex.

OE2C: Faculty, staff suggestions for continuous improvement needed to sustain savings, efficiencies

SMU has begun the next phase in its Operational Excellence for the Second Century (OE2C) project. A new post on the OE2C website describes its mission:

As it charts its own course for the future, SMU will continue to implement initiatives begun over the past year, and will soon establish “continuous improvement” teams to examine other ways – suggested by staff, faculty and students – to improve administrative functions and reallocate funds to the academic mission.

The article also reaffirms that OE2C is still seeking questions, comments and suggestions from faculty and staff members:

Julie Wiksten, associate vice president for Operational Excellence and director of the OE2C Office, said the SMU community should expect even more improvements in the years ahead as her office continues sifting through suggestions/ideas for operational improvements and implementing those that work.

More than 50 ideas submitted by staff, faculty and students are up for consideration, she said, adding that some already have been implemented.

“We have made great progress toward our overall goal of reallocating $25-$35 million from administrative expense to our academic mission,” Wiksten said. “But we still have a long way to go. The OE2C Office exists in part to help keep our focus on making SMU a leader among academic institutions. We welcome the participation and ideas of staff, faculty and students to help make that happen.”

Faculty and staff members can send their input to OE2C through this website form.

> Read the full story at SMU’s Operational Excellence for the Second Century website

OE2C: New SMU travel, expense process begins June 20, 2015

Christopherson Business Travel logoSMU’s new paperless online system for booking and reporting travel expenses will go live June 20, 2015. The date has been moved from June 1 to coincide with the procurement card billing statement cycle and accommodate fiscal year-end processing.

Beginning June 20, SMU faculty and staff will be required to use Christopherson Business Travel within the Concur® online expense management tool for booking airfare, hotel and rental cars. Training for the new system will begin soon.

Until June 20, faculty and staff must use Colwick Travel for booking travel, regardless of travel dates. Find more information at SMU’s new travel website.

> Read the full story from the SMU OE2C website

 

OE2C: Big savings through network printing

Project SMU: Operational Excellence for the Second Century has identified a projected savings of as much as $200,000 through cutting support for personal printers and encouraging use of network printers. The idea originated with Meadows Dean Sam Holland, who led a similar cost-cutting initiative in the Division of Music five years ago:

Meadows Dean Sam Holland doesn’t use a personal desktop printer in his office. Instead, he opts for the nearby network printer.

“I’m trying to lead by example,” Holland says of his attempt to reduce the printing volume at SMU.

As part of its OE2C initiative, SMU plans to cut support of desktop printers in offices and encourage faculty and staff to use network printers in their respective areas. Employees will still have an option to use desktop printers, but the university no longer will support their upkeep, including toner and paper.

The cost-cutting measure will save SMU a projected $150,000-$200,000 in its first year, and possibly more later, says Dawn Norris, executive director of Student Life and project manager of the Procurement Initiative for OE2C. Holland, who spearheaded a similar cost-cutting measure five years ago as the director of the Division of Music, found that sharing network printers significantly decreased printing expenses. It came down to making better use of a limited budget, he says.

“It became clear that we were spending an awful lot of money on supplies by providing printers, by providing toner, by providing paper,” Holland explains. “But we had other areas that needed that money, such as faculty travel and supporting visiting artists.”

Following Holland’s decision, the division’s printing budget dropped from about $17,000 to $4,000 in a year. “We didn’t expect it to cut it that much. It wound up exceeding our expectations.”

Initially, there was concern from faculty and staff when he pulled the plug on desktop-printer support. “That was the first response,” Holland says, but eventually “reality hit” that the division was putting its savings to better use in other areas. Everyone had access to network printers near their office, but they could purchase their own printers as long as they paid for upkeep and supplies, Holland says.

As another part of his plan to cut back printing costs, Holland encouraged faculty and staff to send digital documents via email instead of making hard-copy handouts. Soon the Music Division faculty and staff started “using digital documents more than ever,” which really helped on costs, Holland says.

Norris believes SMU’s OE2C printing initiatives could have similar positive effects for the University. Right now SMU employees use an estimated 2,400 desktop printers. The OE2C initiative will decrease that to less than 1,000 network printers, Norris estimates.

“This initiative is one of the few in which we have someone in-house (Holland) who has run a pilot of it – and one shown to be a success,” says Norris, who voluntarily returned her desktop printer and now uses the network.

> Read the full story at the OE2C blog

OE2C: SMU to use savings to fund new Ph.D. fellowships initiative

Dallas Hall steps from a 3rd-story windowSMU is taking steps to increase the number of Ph.D. students on campus by creating a new University-wide fellowship program, announced by the University’s OE2C initiative:

Using funds saved as a result of the OE2C initiative, new graduate fellowships will be awarded this spring to up to 15 high-achieving Ph.D. students in a variety of SMU’s 22 doctoral programs.

Faculty graduate advisors across SMU were invited to submit up to two nominees for the new fellowship. The nominations were reviewed by the SMU University Research Council, a committee of faculty members drawn from disciplines across SMU; the council meets three times a year to vet nominees for SMU Ford Fellowships and other grants.

According to Associate Vice President for Research and Dean of Graduate Studies James Quick, increasing the number of Ph.D. students will provide benefits to the University as a whole.

“We want to have outstanding faculty to provide better education to undergraduates as well as graduate students, “ says Quick. “We want to have outstanding grad students because they add to the educational experience of the undergraduates. They are intermediate in their career development between faculty and undergraduates and are role models. If the grad student is also functioning as a teaching assistant, they add to the faculty member’s ability to teach.

“The new University-wide Fellowship program will enrich an outstanding Ph.D. program, and outstanding students coming to SMU enriches the atmosphere.”

The move to build up SMU’s doctoral programs was encouraged by the SMU Faculty Senate, which, in its resolution of December 4, 2013, urged SMU to create University-wide fellowships for doctoral students, saying they “play a crucial role in engaging and interfacing with undergraduate students in faculty research projects that in turn helps us recruit high quality undergraduates and raise the academic quality of the incoming class … and … [that] doctoral students are the future leaders of research, innovation and scientific progress, of creative enterprise and arts, and of great scholarship, all of which are some of the longest lasting contributions and legacies that SMU can make to the local economy and community. …”

The Faculty Senate followed up with a resolution on April 2, 2014, requesting that the SMU administration devote “… a substantial and appropriate portion of any savings or additional revenue resulting from Project SMU” toward recruitment and retention of high- quality faculty; investment in research infrastructure, university libraries and doctoral programs; increasing the number of laboratory and teaching assistants to improve the quality of undergraduate education; and University-wide fellowships to attract high-quality graduate students.

The new University-wide Fellowship program fund is expected to grow over time, starting with $150,000 for the program’s first year. The inaugural selected Fellows will receive up to $10,000 in addition to teaching or research assistantships offered by their department.

Quick expects the first award recipients to be announced after April 15.

OE2C: President Turner posts memo on media reports

SMU President R. Gerald Turner has written a clarification memo in response to recent media reports on the University’s ongoing review of finances and resources – commonly known as Project SMU: Operational Excellence for the Second Century (OE2C).

The full text of the memo, posted at SMU’s OE2C site on Monday, Dec. 8, 2014:

__________

Dear SMU alumni, parents and friends,

Because recent media stories have reported SMU’s financial review for resource reallocation with a negative interpretation, we want to communicate directly with you on this matter.

Our review process aims to redirect resources to our academic mission. The majority of the reported $35 million saved will be reallocated to academic purposes. At a time when universities across the country are being questioned about the impact of administrative costs on affordability, SMU is taking the lead in examining operations, procedures and positions that can be streamlined. Elimination of some positions will be one result, and SMU is committed to working with any affected employees in a sensitive and caring way, consistent with our long-held SMU community values. A restructuring also could result in some new positions in high-priority areas, and staff can apply for these opportunities.

In addition, it is erroneous to associate SMU’s review with the opening of the George W. Bush Presidential Center. Although SMU had one-time costs for University-related events during the opening, these activities brought more than 10,000 visitors, dignitaries and five U.S. presidents to SMU and Dallas – visibility that is priceless. The Bush Library is funded by the federal government, while the Bush Institute is funded by donations to the private Bush Foundation. SMU is benefiting greatly from these resources. As noted by Moody’s in its latest rating analysis, expenditures to expand national prominence “will enhance the competitive draw of the University” going forward. Moody’s also noted SMU’s stable outlook with regard to enrollment, philanthropic support and positive operating performance. SMU’s admission applications are indeed growing every year, as is the academic quality of our students.

As you know, the $1 billion Second Century campaign is funding new faculty positions, academic programs, scholarships and facilities. Campaign gifts, however, are restricted for specific purposes and do not cover annual operating expenses. Thus, we must look at our structure and operations to see where savings can occur – to be redirected to our academic mission.

SMU’s financial stability also is reflected in its endowment growth of more than 17 percent in the last year, above the national average, for an endowment of over $1.5 billion as of November 30.

It is a sign of strength that SMU is undertaking a financial review. We want to remain responsible stewards of our resources and the investments that generous donors are making toward our progress. Our constituents – in Dallas and beyond – deserve no less.

Thank you for your ongoing support.

Sincerely,

R. Gerald Turner
President

__________

> For the latest updates, visit the SMU OE2C site

By | 2014-12-12T14:45:21+00:00 December 10, 2014|Categories: News, OPEX|

OE2C: Travel Initiative seeks faculty-staff input on travel management companies

Stock illustration of commercial airlinerAs part of Project SMU: Organizational Excellence for the 2nd Century, the Travel initiative is examining savings and efficiency measures in the travel booking process.

The University’s new travel software solution, Concur, requires integration with a travel management company (TMC). According to the OE2C website, the TMC will be responsible for issuing tickets on behalf of airlines, hotels and rental car companies booked through Concur; providing live assistance for travel booking;  and assisting with changes to itineraries.

The Travel committee plans to recommend a TMC to the OE2C Executive Committee before the winter break. Committee members have examined information from a variety of companies and have selected four finalists for campus presentations from 1-5 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 2 in Crum Auditorium, Collins Executive Education Center:

· Colwick Travel
· Corporate Travel Planners
· Christopherson Business Travel
· Corporate Travel Management

Please plan to attend these presentations and bring your questions. Attendees will be asked to provide feedback after demonstrations are complete.

> Read more about the Travel Initiative from the OE2C website

By | 2014-11-20T10:23:20+00:00 November 20, 2014|Categories: News, OPEX|

OE2C: Procurement Initiative begins cost-saving work

Project SMU: Operational Excellence for the Second Century (OE2C) has assembled a Procurement Initiative team tasked with saving the University millions of dollars each year.

The team, chaired by Cox Dean Al Niemi and Vice President of Student Affairs Lori White, began work on Nov. 6, 2014. The initiative’s goal is to help the University realize $11-15 million in annual savings through both quick savings in a few specific spending categories and a redesigned purchasing organization.

Terry Conner, director of Purchasing and Accounts Payable, will serve as project manager and will collaborate with a committee comprised of these SMU contributors:

  • Catherine Collins (Cox School of Business)
  • Donna Cotter (Central University Libraries)
  • Patrick Cullen (Campus Services)
  • Windy Epperson (Accounts Payable)
  • Ellen Frost (Bridwell Library)
  • Cathy Heckman (Purchasing)
  • Mary Hollerich (Central University Libraries)
  • Abby Kinney (Office of Information Technology)
  • Dawn Norris (Student Life)
  • Anel Reyna (Office of Information Technology)
  • Justin Trombold (Simmons School of Education and Human Development)
  • Carmela Wells (Grant and Contract Accounting)

> More information at the SMU OE2C blog

OE2C: President Turner updates campus on next phase

SMU President R. Gerald Turner updated the campus community on the progress of Project SMU: Operational Excellence for the Second Century (OE2C) in an e-mail and video released on Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014:


Today, Project SMU: Operational Excellence for the Second Century (OE2C) is at an important turning point. During the diagnostic phase of the project, we looked deeply into our organization’s data and gathered insights through more than 230 interviews with faculty and staff across campus. Now we are turning our attention to the future with the design phase to make specific plans to improve the way we conduct operations at SMU.

To manage that effort, I’m pleased to announce that Julie Wiksten will be taking on a new role as Associate Vice President for Operational Excellence. Together with project coordinators Bill Detwiler and Julie Forrester, she will oversee the ongoing work of OE2C and make sure that we realize the full savings potential of this project. Read more about her new position and her work at SMU here.

As we close out the diagnostic phase of OE2C and transition to the solutions design phase, I want to share with you a short video that outlines our findings and describes next steps:

Several new items related to our transition to the design phase are now on our website, and I hope you will take time to review them. These include our vision for the ways OE2C initiatives will bolster SMU’s future and a pdf of the slides in the video with some additional details.

We will be moving quickly on our newest initiatives in the weeks to come, so check the OE2C website for updates or subscribe to receive updates as they are posted. We value your input and hope you will continue to provide feedback on specific initiatives and on the project in general via the comments form on the website.

Thank you for your continued support of this initiative. We know it is a challenging and complex undertaking, but one that will greatly strengthen the economic vitality of SMU, significantly support our academic mission and enhance our growing stature as an outstanding academic institution.


> Get the latest updates at smu.edu/OE2C

OE2C: Travel and Entertainment Committee selects Concur® as new expense management tool

Concur logoConcur® has been chosen as SMU’s new electronic travel and expense management solution, as announced by Lyle Dean and Executive Sponsor Marc Christensen and the OE2C Travel and Entertainment Committee in a meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014. The initiative committee would like to thank the faculty, staff and students who provided input and attended the finalist demonstrations in early September.

Based on feedback received from across campus and from consultation with peer and aspirant universities, Concur® emerged as the best option for SMU, according to the committee’s report. The associated tools offer “an absolute, integrated, and tailored solution for easier management of travel, expense and travel risk management obligations.”

The Travel and Entertainment Initiative Committee will continue its review of the University Travel and Entertainment Policy to build a simpler, more standardized process as the implementation of Concur® begins in the coming months. Additional suggestions and feedback from the SMU community are encouraged as this initiative moves forward.

> Send a question to the OE2C team
> Visit Project SMU: Operational Excellence for the 2nd Century at smu.edu/oe2c

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