Operational Excellence teams present projects to streamline administration

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Members of a UC Berkeley cost-cutting initiative held an event Thursday to explain how current and future projects would streamline existing administrative services.

Ten project teams of the controversial Operational Excellence initiative presented timelines for implementing their projects, which range from streamlining administrative services such as timekeeping, human resources and technology support to restructuring student advising.

Implementation of various projects started last year, and a joint procurement program between UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco that now provides an online portal for departments to purchase office goods will roll out to another group of campus departments in April. According to the project team, all campus departments will use the portal by mid-May.

This year, departments will also adopt a standardized online timekeeping system called CalTime to replace the paper timesheets that many departments still use to track employees’ work and vacation hours.

According to the CalTime project team, some staff have already begun training to use the new system. The project is expected to save the campus about $3.2 million annually, and will be fully implemented by September at the cost of about $3.18 million, according to the June 2011 project charter.

Rob Poole, a senior and intern with CalTime, said the project would help students with multiple jobs keep track of their hours better and avoid discrepancies with supervisors about recording time.

The shared services project team recently gained approval from top campus administrators to begin consolidating administrative tasks such as human resources, finance, research administration and informational technology into one campus location by December 2014.

Administrators approved the project’s estimated $18.62 million to $20.72 million budget developed in a February proposal, which is being funded through a portion of a loan of up to $50 million from the UC Office of the President. The approved budget estimates that shared services will save the campus between $53.3 million and $60.6 million by 2020.

The team said they had begun an initial assessment of how different offices handle administrative tasks, but consolidation will actually begin in September with the first group of departments starting to shift administrative tasks to the designated center.

The audience at the event mostly consisted of staff and faculty who would be directly affected by most of the projects, but also included students who sat on advisory boards or held intern positions within project teams. Throughout the event, project directors and team members emphasized maintaining the efficiency of campus operations and administrative tasks to keep “costs down.”

Cathy Lloyd, project manager of a system that would automate the way offices develop annual budgets, said current administrative methods would be sustainable if the campus’ budget was not shrinking every year.

In budget strapped times, “we need better tools to forecast (campus) revenues and expenses,” she said.

Amruta Trivedi is the lead academics and administration reporter