Centralizing Financial & Administrative Management Support
UMBC has experienced tremendous growth in the past 15 years. As departments have worked to catch up to a new cross-divisional approach to projects, many have still retained traditional administrative support models, leading to issues like position redundancy, inconsistency in policy and procedure, and potential challenges with audits.
In an effort to effectively manage the changes in the magnitude and complexity of administrative functions as a result of this growth, the university needed a centralized system for supporting the work of its administrative professionals: Shared Services Centers.
To ensure the program’s adoption, a proper communications strategy and training system also needed to be in place. This included a measured approach to a phased rollout and training on new systems and protocols to grow familiarity with and acceptance of the new model.
The university agreed upon the implementation of Shared Services Centers, which would house administrative professionals whose daily responsibility was supporting administrative functions of the departments and divisions across campus.
Operating with the guiding principle of employees and job security first, I led the communications strategy for the implementation. The emphasis of the messaging was simple: The university is consolidating recurring human resources, finance, and procurement activities to a central system managed by professionals with years of experience performing these critical support tasks.
Understanding the potential concerns for position elimination and/or forced reclassification, I coupled the logistic messaging with a clear reminder of the importance of putting employees and the campus community first. To reassure the community, we consistently promoted the primary goals of the new system:
- Relieving chairs, department leaders, faculty, and other staff of business-oriented tasks, freeing them to concentrate on programmatic support and research.
- Strengthening all aspects of compliance with external and internal policies and procedures.
- Improving audit results.
Over the course of five years, Shared Services Centers have been successfully implemented in four different divisions and colleges with minimal changes to staffing. Recurring town halls and public sessions reaffirmed the university leadership’s position on placing people first in the transition and allowed many opportunities for the campus community to voice perspectives and concerns at an early stage in the process.
To fill the knowledge gap for many of the administrative professionals that accepted new roles in the centers, I led the development of an intranet knowledgebase where all professionals could go to learn and reference uniform procedures for all business processes. This included the use of cloud-based asset management software to ensure all documentation versions are consistent and up-to-date. This new Wiki platform is now accessed up to 500 times a day by administrative professionals across campus.