2015-2016 News Year in Review

Operational Excellence Progress Report: 2015-16 Year in Review

In the past year, the Office of Operational Excellence has helped SMU make great strides in reallocating administrative overhead toward our academic mission. In that time, the University has steadily prepared for the future by centralizing common services, streamlining procedures and funding new initiatives, fellowships and technology to sustain the University, its students and faculty for decades to come.

In the past three months alone, several accomplishments have been recognized, including a projected savings of $17.4 million annually by the end of May 2016, which includes $3.2 million from Purchasing and Facilities initiatives. Several focus groups were conducted to help assess the effectiveness of Shared Service centers; an employee engagement survey was conducted with Shared Services staff members; and plans are underway to launch a campus-wide customer satisfaction survey in fall 2016. Metrics are being created for each initiative, and a new Event Management initiative will begin in summer 2016.

The Progress Report below, recently shared with the Finance Committee of the SMU Board of Trustees and the Council of Deans, shows highlights for 2015-16.

Travel and Entertainment

  • Contracted with new travel management agency Christopherson Business Travel and implemented new expense management system Concur campus-wide in June 2015
  • Concur utilized for travel booking and personal reimbursement
  • Customer satisfaction of 3.4 (on scale of 5) is highest to date
  • Developed metrics for tracking travel and expenses in order to negotiate with airline, hotel and rental cars for possible discounts and price advantages

Contract Administration

  • Senior Contract Administrator position established, reporting to the VP for Business and Finance
  • Contract lead established for each school and unit
  • Implemented Selectica and DocuSign to process contracts
  • To date, more than 300 contracts now go directly to Purchasing instead of Legal Affairs
  • Developed additional standard contract templates to improve processing time; average processing time is two days
  • Overall, reduced the number of contracts going for legal review by over 85%


  • Realized maximum savings through office supply contract with Staples through direct billing, prompt payment and rebate program
  • Category Manager established for IT to execute consolidated purchases in hardware and software
  • Over 400 cell phones eliminated
  • Over 1,200 printers no longer supported centrally
  • Created roadmap for realizing additional savings through FY 2018

Graduate Application Processing

  • Lyle School of Engineering and Dedman College graduate application processing brought under the general Office of Admission and now utilizes a Shared Services scanning and imaging center to process thousands of documents
  • Provided Slate training to faculty and staff across 17 different departments encompassing 62 graduate degree programs
  • Over 2,400 graduate applications reviewed and released through new system
  • Meadows School of the Arts, Simmons School of Education & Human Development and Guildhall to adopt Slate in summer 2016


  • New budgeting process implemented
  • Shared Services implemented, resulting in elimination of 19 positions, mostly unoccupied positions
  • Over $2 million in savings to date
  • Co-located Grant and Contract Accounting to collaborate better with Office of Research and Graduate Studies and provide better access to principal investigators
  • Numerous processes and procedures streamlined; including electronic payroll authorization form; elimination of paper payment request forms; evaluating centralization of receipt of invoices and electronic workflow for approvals
  • “Quick Wins” to reduce number of journal entries, cross charges and unnecessary processes, etc.

Information Technology

  • Chief Information Officer now reports to President Turner
  • Creation of Academic Technology Council and Leadership Council
  • Shared Services implemented; Customer Service support personnel placed in locations across campus
  • Increase in dedicated academic IT personnel (from 4 to 14); each of the schools have been positioned with an Academic Technology Service Director
  • IT infrastructure consolidation underway
  • Cost containment, infrastructure modernization and unified service delivery are direct results of the IT infrastructure alignment
  • ERP (enterprise resource planning) customization reduction plan in progress


  • Consolidation and centralization of all facilities-related administration
  • Thirteen energy savings initiatives identified for overall cost savings of $1.4 million annually after a 3.4 year payback
  • Over 22,000 square feet identified in Expressway Tower for rental to non-SMU tenants while consolidating and collapsing SMU office spaces
  • New agreement with Aramark to manage Operations and Maintenance, Grounds, and Custodial services; gaining economies of scale and projected savings of $1 million annually
  • Shared Services implemented; elimination of 17 positions

Human Resources

  • Implemented new Human Resources Business Partner model for recruitment and HR communications/service delivery to better serve business units and senior leaders
  • Implementing Taleo, a more robust recruitment portal to better serve hiring managers, applicants and HR team members
  • Conducted RFP (request for proposal) for temporary staffing agency to help manage risk issues, maintain regulatory compliance and provide temporary pool access to campus
  • Began University-wide compensation study to review job titles and salary grades for approximately 200 titles and salaries of approximately 1,076 employees
  • Provided support to development and assessment of all Shared Services