Sustaining The Change: The Future of OE2C

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The work of Bain & Company with the Operational Excellence for the Second Century (OE2C) project concluded in September, and the University is now beginning a new phase in its goal to secure long-term economic vitality. 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 campus efforts to date have already resulted in significant change to the way SMU does business and almost $11 million in savings, noted SMU President Gerald Turner. “The process of change has not been easy, but I greatly appreciate the ongoing dedication of the campus community as we continue to see it through,” he said. “The improvements made to date, along with those still to come, will allow SMU to meet its strategic goals, focus new resources on our academic mission and put us on secure footing for the future amid the changing national landscape for higher education.”

Initiatives undertaken over the past year and a half have offered new academic opportunities. For example, using reallocated funds, the University has provided increased, round-the-clock access to ManeFrame, one of the most powerful, high-performance computers in the U.S., enabling large-scale research opportunities for faculty and students.

SMU also has increased the number of Ph.D. students on campus with the new “University-wide Fellowship” program. The program allows for up to 15 high-achieving Ph.D. students in a variety of SMU’s 22 doctoral programs. More fellowships will be created in years to come.

But these steps are just the beginning toward the University’s goal to shape world-changers while staying financially viable, OE2C leaders said.

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.

“Others will be addressed by small teams who will be tasked with making recommendations after doing research and due diligence,” Wiksten said. “That may mean researching best practices, holding focus groups, conducting surveys, etc.”

These new continuous improvement teams will begin their work after the first of the year to allow thorough, successful implementation of initiatives already in progress.

The OE2C Office will be responsible for reporting key metrics related to both major initiatives and continuous improvement projects. “Dashboards” are under development to add to the OE2C website to help “track progress and address issues as they arise,” Wiksten said. A financial savings tracker – showing how operational funds were saved and redirected toward the academic mission – was recently added to the website and will be updated to demonstrate ongoing progress

The OE2C Council, comprising faculty and staff representatives from schools and units, will continue to serve as a communications forum for OE2C, Wiksten said. The council will meet periodically to get updates and share issues they may hear in their workplaces. And the OE2C website will remain an active outlet for FAQs, related news stories and general updates regarding various initiatives. It’s also a great way for the campus community to submit ideas and suggestions.

“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.”

Have a suggestion or idea to share with OE2C? Submit it here.