Employees in the first departments on campus slated to undergo a business realignment sat down recently with the administrators leading the effort. The Q&A session, which could be described as the first chance for the two groups to size each other up, gave everyone a reason to breathe easier.
“We recognize that employees are the university’s most important assets and we’re going to act that way,” Scott Inkley (pictured above) told the audience in Burns Auditorium on Sept. 12. The meeting was attended by about 100 employees from the College of Design, College of Education, Poole College of Management, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Office of Information Technology and several other departments.
Inkley was candid but optimistic as he made the case for moving many business services from departments into shared service centers called Business Operations Centers, or BOCs. Over the next two years about seven all-in-one BOCs will be phased in to handle a range of finance and human resource transactions. A separate onboarding center will also be set up to coordinate all the activities involved in processing new hires.
Shared Services Essential
The reason for the reorganization is easy to understand, Inkley said. Budget cuts over the past few years have left many departments without sufficient staff to adequately handle important business transactions. Employees have been asked to assume more and more tasks and responsibilities, with less and less support and training, yet they are getting the job done, he noted.
But that’s not sustainable over the long term, he added. That’s why it’s important to design a system that provides for greater efficiency, better training and more effective use of resources.
“Improved quality and effectiveness is what this is all about,” he said. “This is a chance to make the university better for everybody.”
Employees, in particular, will benefit from advancement and training opportunities, he said.
“We’re going to build the centers around you,” Inkley told the audience. “You are the key to our success.”
For their part, employees seemed eager to learn more about the planned reorganization and offer their suggestions. Inkley said later that feedback following the meeting was generally positive.
That’s a good sign. Inkley, who formerly directed business services for the state of South Carolina, joined NC State last December as executive director of the new division of University Business Operations. He’s relying on support from finance and HR experts across campus to successfully streamline the university’s highly decentralized operations.
The ongoing effort includes an implementation team that meets weekly to oversee the planning, design and implementation of the BOCs. Two task forces, one for human resources and one for finance, recently began the effort of analyzing a long list of business processes. And soon a number of process improvement teams will be established to drill down even further. Transition teams will be formed for each BOC to oversee the transfer of people and functions, and to evaluate how well the process is working.
More Answers to Come
Inkley couldn’t answer every question posed at the meeting with employees. He doesn’t yet know, for example, which people will move to the BOCs and which will remain at the departmental level and in the university’s central HR and finance divisions.
The onboarding specialty center is scheduled to open next January, followed in July by the first two all-in-one centers. The Office of the University Architect is working to find locations on campus for the new centers.