Implementation Plan Summary
In April 2020, in response to the global novel coronavirus pandemic, President Martha Pollack required all administrative areas to develop strategic plans to gain significant long-term savings for the university. These savings aim to shield Cornell’s resources from future impacts of catastrophic economic events such as those caused by the COVID-19 emergency and result in more efficient administrative operations.
The efforts of this project have focused primarily on integration rather than the centralization of resources. In this context, integration means moving transactional processes shared by most units to a central function, allowing units to retain control of mission-critical activities.
Individuals in leadership positions, including deans, vice presidents, college and senior financial officers, and BSC directors who represented their customer base, have been involved in the project from the start. Focus groups performed analyses on transaction analytics, created process inventories and process maps, among other activities. These activities focused on services and transactions that are generated in units and pass through BSC.
Senior leadership has approved a phased implementation of a single shared service center. The center will consolidate all BSC and deliver financial transaction and management services to campus from one central organization.
- Implementation Plan Goals
- Categorize work: What we must do, should do, what is nice to have, and what we need to eliminate. Efficiency at every level is a priority.
- Ensure critical services are not left without needed resources to meet customer needs with little to no interruption or additional burden.
- Determine structures with clearly defined roles, delineating central service and college/unit responsibilities.
- Agree on service levels between service partners to ensure satisfactory service and compliance.
- Develop clear measures of success (key performance indicators).
- Develop a communication plan for all stakeholders.
- Ensure growth opportunities and professional development.
- In collaboration with Organizational Development and Effectiveness, support staff members and units to navigate change using existing university tools as part of career and professional development, training, coaching, and mentoring plan.
- Implementation Benefits
- The number of “touches” on transactions will be reduced, creating efficiencies.
- Integrating and standardizing processes will enable greater compliance.
- Adjusting thresholds for reviews, authorizations, etc., will result in greater effectiveness.
- More opportunities will be created for centralization
- Unit administrators will retain control and management of mission-critical activities and some business processes.
- Employees will receive cross-training, development opportunities and enjoy more opportunities across the university.
- Proposed Implementation Timeline
- Now that senior leadership has approved the implementation plan, the project team will create the Shared Services Center (SSC). The SSC will be a large, multifaceted center that provides transactional support, including procure-to-pay transaction processing, travel-related support and processing, financial management, payroll support, revenue, contract management accounts receivable, and other institutional support services across multiple and varied funding sources. Its staff will comprise experienced staff members from all BSC and will serve the entire campus.
The SC Johnson College of Business BSC has already been incorporated into the UBSC. In addition, the UBSC will be restructured into the three phase-one functional areas: procure-to-pay, travel, financial management. The UBSC will absorb and align the Card and Payment Services department (part of Procurement and Payment Services currently) within that structure. See The Proposed Structure sections for information on the phases.
The project team will implement the plan in a well-sequenced and transparent manner. The team will continually assess the implementation as it progresses.
Every BSC will be integrated one by one on a volunteer basis. The general timeline is estimated below and is subject to change.
- 2021: Reorganized the UBSC and Card and Payment Services
- Integrate Unit #1: College of Arts & Sciences
- Integrate Unit #2: College of Veterinary Medicine
- Proposed Structure
- The following is a proposed structure and is subject to change. At this time, all BSC are considered part of the implementation. The center will report to an executive director in the Division of Financial Affairs, who will report to the associate vice president and university controller.
The team will implement the plan in two phases. The first phase (indicated below as P1 in the red boxes) includes procure-to-pay, travel, financial management, and identified unit liaisons. The second phase will consist of payroll and revenue/accounts receivable. Each functional area will handle activity specific to that function.
The diagram below is subject to change.
The SSC executive director will lead the university’s SSC supporting all university colleges and units.
The unit liaisons will have a solid reporting line to the SSC executive director with a dotted line to colleges or units. The liaisons will work closely with units to ensure high service-level standards are met, facilitate and address any concerns with college or unit leaders, and be a resource to the colleges and units.
The SSC functional directors (Procure-to-Pay, Travel, and Financial Management) will report to the SSC executive director and direct, coordinate, oversee, and manage the functional service areas.
The training director will supervise the trainers and training efforts in all functional areas while working closely with each functional director. Each functional area will have at least one trainer responsible for providing internal and external customer-facing services. The training director’s position involves assisting with developing website content, overseeing standard operating procedures updates to create consistent business practices, and developing and updating how-to guides and training documentation.
The remaining positions within the SSC are classified to a particular job title based upon the predominant level of expected work complexity.
Some system changes may be required or desired to optimize SSC operations. New and modified reporting will be necessary to manage workloads and reduce touches. Lean Six Sigma techniques will inform process improvements.
System work and enhancements will take time and have differing levels of complexity. The team will use a phased approach with appropriate analysis, prioritizing simpler, higher impact changes in early phases and postponing other work. The team will employ technical and functional experts analyses to create the optimal plan, including system testing and quality assurance components. The team will prioritize work using the DFA IT Governance process.
Some likely areas for work include:
- Kuali Financial System
- Data access modifications
- Approval Limits
- Procurement Card (pcard) documentation collection system
- Cardholder submission form (NextGen)
- Card coordinator processing system (Perceptive Content)
- Procurement Systems
- Procurement Gateway
- Timely Assurance (post-transaction review)
- Task/Workflow management systems
- I Want document
During the integration phase of a college or unit into the SSC, conversations will occur about how and what local customer systems and KFS e-docs are used (e.g., I Want docs). As part of the internal control process, roles and responsibilities will be clearly defined. Customers may be asked to submit requests using the I Want doc to gain efficiency and streamline operations.
- Workflow Management
- The SSC will use TeamDynamix, Cornell’s IT service management and ticketing tool, to triage, respond to, and assign customer inquiries. The training director will provide key performance indicators and other metrics in a dashboard setting to identify themes and further develop the TeamDynamix knowledge base, job aides, website updates, and various training materials.
Post-transaction reviews will be used to avoid duplication of effort and ensure financial records are accurate. Sharing expertise and knowledge between those currently performing functions within each BSC and those working in the functional areas will be vital to the SSC’s success. We will also create a customer library for each college/unit to house unit-specific instruction. The ultimate goal is having consistent business rules and procedures, approval thresholds, etc., to create an overall effective and efficient process.
- Software Licensing
- DFA will negotiate with software vendors and explore methodologies. Still, not all applications have been vetted or priced at this time. Enterprise licenses will be pursued to avoid access limits.
Each functional area will handle activity specific to that function. The goal is to standardize processes for the entire university and keep practices consistent within each functional area. Ensuring that the integrated units receive high-level services while maintaining the budgeted cost structure will be a priority. To this end, the team evaluated an inventory of all functions that currently reside in the BSC. The UBSC has produced process narratives, process maps, and risk assessments of many of these functions. This information will be provided to and used by the SSC. The SSC will execute service-level agreements with each unit and (with the assistance of internal audit, regular meetings with unit leaders, and the unit liaisons) ensure that these service levels are met or exceeded.
- Transactions and Processes
- Transactions within each functional area will be many and varied. The corresponding functional area in the SSC will process transactions and perform processes that the unit BSC would normally handle. In addition to the BSC functions, the current functions of the accounts payable and card services areas of Procurement and Payment Services and some transactional procurement processes and customer service will be integrated into the SSC.
Travel services will be part of the SSC, including the Concur and Travel and Meal Card program management.
Financial management services will consist of core services, including sponsored activity and other services optional to the unit. These responsibilities may include managing account delegations and providing ad hoc reports, chart of accounts maintenance, account setups, budget development, post-transaction reviews, among many others.
- Delegations and Approvals
- How delegations and approvals will function has yet to be determined. The core leadership team will work with the functional area directors and the unit liaisons to make these decisions.
- Customer Service
- The SSC will establish and communicate its turnaround standards and expectations to meet staff and faculty needs. The SSC structure allows for front-line customer service. While customers should get help from the redesigned website, contact information will be available on the site should they need further assistance.
Staff members will be guaranteed positions at their current band level, salary, and benefits (endowed or contract college). Current BSC staff members do not have to apply for the jobs they will fill. The organization’s structure will accommodate the current BSC staffing levels at the university. The team does not anticipate downsizings. While we don’t yet have all the answers, the team and colleges and units will work together on issues of equity and compensation.
The project team’s objective is to put staff members in the best possible position to advance their careers. Band levels depend on position types, not on the functional areas. Because of the rolling implementation (one unit at a time), positions will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Organic turnover is expected to occur over time, which will open more opportunities for existing staff members.
Before each college/unit is implemented, staff members will receive information on the SSC organizational structure and staff position descriptions (SPD) and the various tasks involved in each functional area. Before being integrated into the SSC, staff members will complete a Talent Profile document to provide information on their key strengths; areas for development; goals and career aspirations; certifications; training; and education they have acquired and would like to pursue. In the profile, staff members will rank functional areas in order of where they would prefer to work. Gathering this data will help the project team balance the organization’s needs with employees’ preferences and match employees’ skills and competencies with those necessary to succeed in their positions. The team will identify gaps to address in aligning staff members in positions with appropriate classifications.
Training and Opportunities
Creating a culture of belonging and development is of utmost importance. The team wants the SSC to be an excellent place for everyone to work. The SSC will provide training within and across the functional areas to address identified gaps and provide growth opportunities and institutional knowledge sharing. By partnering staff members across functional areas, staff members will have greater opportunities to learn the activities of and interact with more colleges and units and become a resource of financial talent for the entire university. Professional development opportunities will also provide a path for advancement.
Initially, SSC staff members familiar with a particular unit will work with that unit and pass along their institutional knowledge to other SSC staff members. This plan will allow more people to learn the business of a particular unit, including unit-level practices, accounts, etc.
Moving forward from initial placement, staff members who show proficiency in a functional area will participate in activities in other functional areas. The variety of tasks in each functional area will offer opportunities for cross-functional interaction and movement to other functional areas.
Further details about cross-training will be provided during implementation.
In large part, the plan aims to allow most staff members in the SSC to work remotely. Some functions may require hybrid work (some remote days, some in-office days), and some functions will need to be performed on campus. Hybrid or on-campus activities are determined by necessity, and the staffing plan cannot accommodate personal preferences. Office space for on-site activities is located at 377 Pine Tree Road in East Hill Plaza. This office includes conference space and temporary workstations for occasional on-campus needs.