Exit Process Initiative

SMU’s existing process for an employee’s departure from the University is problematic for several reasons. Termination notices are difficult to schedule, outstanding balances are difficult to collect, and often the employee’s termination date changes, further complicating things.

Currently the exit process requires interaction between a minimum of six offices, depending on the access level of the employee leaving and whether or not they are a faculty or staff member. The process is manual and managed through email, with no streamlined electronic way to coordinate between various departments.

To improve upon the handful of attempts to simplify the termination/exit process over the years, the Office of Operational Excellence has created the Exit Process Initiative.

The Initiative Team, led by project manager Sheri Starkey, will work to better understand the current system and identify ways in which SMU can more efficiently process departing employees.

Exit Process Team Members

Project Manager: Sheri Starkey (HR)

Holly Carter (HR)

Susan Howe (Legal)

Tommy Doan (OIT)

George Finney (OIT)

Paula Medders (Payroll)

Judy King (Provost)

Linda Sutton (Budgets and Finance)


Operational Excellence February – March News and Highlights

Over the past two months, campus initiatives have continued to develop more efficient administrative processes.

Following months of research, the Event Management Initiative team began implementing improvements to event planning on campus. The Use of Grounds form, which was a paper form that had to be physically carried to different departments, can now be managed online, and a one-stop website with all the information needed to plan an event, for both on- and off-campus users, is being developed.

An Account Permissions Initiative has launched to streamline the process for getting new employees set up with accounts they need to do their jobs. The initiative will greatly reduce the time it takes for them to get permission to access PeopleSoft, my.SMU, email, TimeAccess and other necessary workplace tools.

Also, Staples Advantage, SMU’s exclusive provider for purchasing office supplies, has replaced its View Only Shoppers site with Individual Shopper Accounts that more easily allow faculty and staff to browse SMU-approved items and pricing. (Continuing the current process, only Authorized Users in each building may place office supply orders.)

Thanks to funds saved through OE2C, the University Research Council now has an additional $100,000 a year to allocate to faculty research and travel, more than doubling its previous budget for faculty grants. The grants were made available starting in fall 2016.   Other funds saved through OE2C have helped expand SMU’s high performance computing (HPC) capacity, making sure the SMU Center for Scientific Computing is open 24 hours a day for faculty research. Several photos were posted showing the installation of the HPC expansion, named ManeFrame II, earlier this semester.

It was also announced that the management of campus facilities and grounds services will return to the Office of Facilities Planning and Management on June 1. Aramark has overseen SMU’s facilities services operations since May 2011.

And, in response to a question about why exterior lights are sometimes on during the day, Facilities encouraged the campus community to report energy or water waste at SMU Facilities or (214)768-7000.


Featured News

Account Permissions Initiative  (3/30)

University Research Council Grants for Faculty Research and Travel Boosted by OE2C Savings (3/30)

The Event Management Team Streamlines with New Processes (3/9)

The Staples Advantage Change for Shoppers (3/9)

PHOTOS: Expanding the University’s High Performance Computing (2/23)

SMU to Adopt New Management Plan for Facilities Services Operations (2/14)



Why do I sometimes see exterior lights on during the day?



President Turner Introduces Data Governance Initiative

Dear Faculty and Staff,

I am excited to announce the launch of a new Data Governance Initiative with the goal of enabling SMU faculty and staff to access information more effectively to make better strategic, data-informed decisions.

In June 2016, an Operational Excellence initiative began to explore implementation of a data warehouse at SMU. A team of University staff and faculty conducted a thorough six-month review of the University’s data holdings, processes and systems. During its review, the team found discrepancies in how data was entered and defined by campus users, which highlighted a need to better define and organize data. Additionally, challenges were identified regarding inconsistent definitions, lack of integrative reporting, and the absence of robust data visualization capability.

For any organization, the process of moving from disparate data collections and definitions to easily accessible data requires careful planning and cooperation. Data governance focuses on improving data quality and access to data, establishing operational definitions, exploring business processes, and developing documented policies. While individual units and departments have responsibility for specific portions of data, often the University is called on to report information and make decisions based on institution-wide data. For some things as simple as what defines an academic department, degree or major across the University, it’s often impossible due to discrepancies to compare and contrast data from school to school or to report accurately across the University.

The new governance process recommended by the Data Warehouse Initiative Team will be led by Michael Tumeo, director of Institutional Research. He also will serve as the Data Governance director and lead two committees to address data governance issues at SMU. The Data Governance Steering Committee (DGSC) will include senior administrators from across campus who will discuss overarching data needs and challenges to help SMU make better and more timely decisions. This committee will provide guidance and direction to the Data Governance Committee (DGC), which will primarily include data administrators, or those with data management influence, in their specified areas. This group will make decisions about definitions, quality, and timelines, and will bring knowledge of how data is used in their functional areas. All areas of the University will be represented on both committees. Within the first two weeks of April, invitations to serve on these committees will go out to university faculty and staff. Initial work will begin prior to the end of Spring term.

Data governance is an important step forward for SMU as we strive to meet, and exceed, the goals and objectives outlined in the University Strategic Plan. Ultimately, having clear data definitions and better access to data across SMU will allow us to make better decisions.


Gerald Turner



Account Permissions Initiative

When a new employee is hired at SMU, the process to create their necessary accounts complete with appropriate permissions is complex. Although the employee base account is created automatically, supervisors must still request permissions to the various applications needed.

Currently, there are several different processes for approving and assigning the permission for an account based on the application and business units involved. Due to the complexity of some of the existing workflow processes, a request for permissions can easily take up to two or three weeks to process leaving some employees on the job without the permissions they need to do their work.

To address these issues and to reduce the amount of time between the submission of a request and the assignment of permissions, the Office of Operational Excellence has created the Account Permissions Initiative. The team will be led by project manager Rachel Mulry (OIT) and hopes to submit a first draft of improvements to the Operational Excellence Executive Committee by this summer.

Account Permissions Team Members

Project Manager: Rachel Mulry (OIT)

Yvette Castilla (Finance)

George Finney (OIT)

Curt Herridge (OIT)

Anna Kandasamy (OIT)

Jacqueline McKethan (OIT)

Lauren Nelson (OIT)

Joe Papari (Enrollment Services)

Josh Ruiz (OIT)

Marjorie Rush (Payroll)



University Research Council Grants for Faculty Research and Travel Boosted by OE2C Savings

Last November, thanks to funds saved through the OE2C project, the Operational Excellence executive committee provided $100,000 to the University Research Council (URC) for faculty research and travel grants. The allocation, which will be annual, has helped meet a major goal of OE2C: to help secure the University’s long-term economic vitality by identifying savings in administrative costs, and redistributing them to SMU’s academic mission.

The funds have more than doubled the URC’s faculty grants budget, from $80,000 to $180,000 per year.

“We get between 30 and 40 grant requests each semester, and they are typically for twice as much funding as we have available,” said URC Dean James Quick. “Thanks to this allocation from OE2C, we now have $90,000 to pass out each semester instead of $40,000. As a result, last fall we were able to provide at least partial funding for two-thirds of the requests, a significant increase over previous semesters. We were also able to provide a higher percentage of the request in proposals that were funded.”

Quick said that, while the URC can’t always fund an entire request, its goal is to provide enough to help cover the essentials and enable the project to happen. “We try to be aware of what other resources are available to the faculty,” he said. “Some have monies available through other research grants, or their school. We also try to utilize matching opportunities to extend the impact of our funds.”

The URC puts out a call for proposals each semester, and all applications are rigorously reviewed over a period of weeks by a committee of nine faculty representing every school on campus. Each application is scored separately by each committee member and then ranked and discussed in a group meeting. “When we come together, each committee member brings an amazing level of familiarity with the proposals’ details,” said Quick. “And, importantly, they all think across disciplinary lines – no one is trying to ‘bring home the bacon’ for their own school.”

What kinds of requests are likely to be funded?  “What we’re really after are proposals that will contribute significantly to current literature or research in the applicant’s field,” said Quick. “They must also help build on the faculty member’s expertise and prominence in their area of specialization, and contribute to the stature of their school and the University. In general, a university’s reputation relies heavily on the careers of its faculty. So as we enable the faculty to become better known, to increase their reputation, their standing in their particular communities, it lifts the University.”

The deadline for the next round of faculty grant applications is April 5. For more information, visit