CHASS Joins BAS Shared Services’ Mission to Eliminate Administrative Waste

"We're not trying to fix people. We're trying to fix broken processes," says Interim Director Tomika Davis

The Shared Services team takes its work very seriously. Pictured are seven of its 12 staff from left, Sheryl Alexander, Christine Smith, Jackie Rodriguez, Nicolas Flore, Tomika Davis, Jessica Illingworth and Brian Sexton. Jeanette Marantos

The Shared Services team takes its work very seriously. Pictured are seven of its 12 staff from left, Sheryl Alexander, Christine Smith, Jackie Rodriguez, Nicolas Flore, Tomika Davis, Jessica Illingworth and Brian Sexton. Jeanette Marantos

Once upon a time at UCR, every department had its own way of handling time sheets and processing new employees.

That’s still an option today, but with the push for organizational excellence amidst continued growth and limited resources, more and more departments are joining the Shared Services bandwagon, so much so that the department has grown from handling 6 percent of the campus’ payroll and employment functions to 35 percent in the past year.

“The big question is, how do we grow our campus with faculty and students without growing our costs at the same rate,” said BAS Shared Service Center Interim Director Tomika Davis. “It’s part of our LEAN thinking for continuous improvement. We’re trying to alleviate the strain on our clients, but we also have to earn their business and demonstrate we can do the work faster, at a higher quality and lower cost than they can do it for themselves.”

Shared Services Center Interim Director Tomika Davis

Shared Services Center Interim Director Tomika Davis

Davis’ team of 12 takes its work very seriously. Process maps line most of the walls in their third-floor SURGE offices, tracking the way people are recruited and hired, for instance, or how departments communicate about time sheets and payroll.  Process mapping lets you see where the waste is in a process and take steps to improve how it performs, Davis said.

And for 2015/2016, the department reported a 99.68 percent paycheck accuracy rating. “One of the five principles of LEAN is pursued perfection,” Davis said. “It doesn’t mean we’re perfect, but we always strive for perfection by continuing to improve our client’s experienceThat begins with each staff member’s commitment to their own professional development. The team has completed a combined total of 1,085 training hours the 2015-2016 fiscal year.”   

Campus departments are taking notice. Five years ago Shared Services worked only within BAS, processing time sheets, updating the payroll system, recruiting and hiring new employees, administering leaves, and providing desktop support. Within the last year, the University Library and University Advancement signed on for similar services, along with the Chancellor’s offices.

The newest Shared Services convert is the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (CHASS), which is in meetings now with Davis’ department now to create a streamlined college-wide process for transitioning their payroll, hiring and related duties.

“We have a transition team on both sides to work through the changes,” she said. “When you change processes, you also change relationships, and we’re very sensitive to that. That’s why these changes are all being done in partnership with our clients. It’s a very collaborative process.”

Davis and her team rely heavily on the principles of LEAN thinking, based on the book by James Womack and Daniel Jones. “It’s all about what our clients value,” she said. “We’re not trying to fix broken people; we’re trying to fix broken processes. This is about empowering the people who do the work to stop doing things that don’t make sense.”

Davis emphasized that streamlining and standardizing processes does not mean laying off employees. The goal, she said, is to move functions into a shared environment, where they can be handled more efficiently elsewhere, so people can do more of the jobs they were hired to do, such as taking police officers away from doing payroll, she said.

“We’ve freed up capacity in our clients’ departments,” Davis said. “The employees are still there, but now they can be redeployed into other projects, doing the things in their unit that weren’t getting done because of this other administrative work.”

But Shared Services is doing much more than just taking over administrative duties for its clients. With every transition it’s also launched an in-depth study of processes, mapping out the current practices, finding problems and discussing ways to make the process more efficient.

Even if departments don’t opt to join Shared Services, they can benefit from the studies her teams are doing into how to best streamline administrative services.

A perfect example is their current study into “onboarding,” which grew to a campus-wide initiative to improve the process of hiring new employees and getting then set up to do their job.

UCR hires hundreds of new people each year, Davis said, between faculty, staff, part-timers, students, contractors and others, so it’s no surprise that departments said their top priority for new hires is one-stop shopping.

The first step for Shared Services, however, was mapping the hiring process and finding the places where it’s broken. One wall of Davis’ office is nearly covered by a large process map, showing that it takes new staff employees at UCR an average of 43 days to be hired and outfitted for their jobs at UCR.

“Only about two of those days are actually process time,” Davis said. “Most of those days are a waste, just waiting for different departments to do what needs to be done.”

The Future State Operating Model Work Group, under the guidance of campus wide leadership, is looking closely at several processes, including jams in the onboarding system, to make improvements. One finding: Every new employee has to be fingerprinted, but the campus has only one fingerprinting machine, which was given to the police department years ago for another function.

These days, the police department schedules part-time employees to handle fingerprinting appointments, but at least 20 percent of those appointments are no shows, and the department has no mechanism for offering the appointment to anyone else. “They average 80 fingerprinting appointments a week,” she said, “so when a certain percentage don’t show up, that’s more wasted time, and wasted efforts.

That’s why it’s so important to study the process, Davis said. “It’s all part of reimagining excellence. “We’re empowering employees to target the pain in their organization and how to get rid of it. When we can deliver services more efficiently, it will free us up to go back to our core mission as a campus.”

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