The Board of Regents, State of Iowa initiated a subcommittee for a Transparent, Inclusive Efficiency Review (TIER) to improve the cost and efficiencies of their three universities: University of Iowa (SUI), Iowa State University (ISU), and University of Northern Iowa (UNI).
A business case assessment was carried out by the Regent System, its universities, and Board Office to determine alignment on the overall educational mission and provide an alternative organizational structure. Each of the universities took the business case to create their own plans to realize the cost savings and efficiencies. In January 2015, Chazey Partners was engaged to work with the universities to validate the individual universities’ board-approved plans and drive the first steps of implementation: the detailed Design phase.
The Validation and Design phases covered finance, HR and IT at the three universities. Specific deliverables included process maps for key processes, Activity Based Analysis (ABA), an assessment of the actual financial savings opportunities and an overview of next steps forward for each of the workstreams. For finance, Chazey assessed process maps for multiple finance service lines to establish appropriate staffing levels and to better clarify roles. For the information technology workstreams, Chazey developed a detailed overview of the distributed IT landscape to strengthen opportunities for collaboration between the distributed and central IT teams within each university. We devised mechanisms to streamline the delivery of commodity technology services, provided recommendations for further synergies and created plans for future technology innovations. For the human resources workstreams, the focus was on increasing the strategic services. We implemented technology solutions to refine and automate processes and the current staff assessment job descriptions to better define and clarify roles. The ABA crossed all workstreams and provided a detailed picture of current spend on a person-by-person basis. The final output found savings opportunities to be greater than targeted. Another example of additional savings opportunities was that Chazey determined a key aspect of the HR plan for one university (a new HR system) should be integrated into the overall IT plan for the university for Finance and HR. As it stood, the University was about to spend over $20 million on a project without a strong Return on Investment (ROI). By halting this independent project, the Board saved the $20+ million immediately and was able to focus on an integrated, lower-cost solution. The Board and each of the workstreams have subsequently moved forward to implement the transformation to Shared Services.