Planned move to off-campus Shared Services Center postponed

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The Operational Excellence Executive Committee recently approved a request to postpone the move to a Campus Shared Services Center by four months.

The planned move to a Fourth Street building off campus is part of the Operational Excellence initiative, which aims to save the campus $75 million annually beginning in fiscal year 2016 by streamlining and consolidating administrative services under one roof. While the “early adopters” — a group of 170 campus employees who will be the first to transition into the new center — were originally scheduled to move in September, a number of concerns has pushed the move back to January 2013.

According to a June 12 announcement from the committee, concerns over the preparedness of the building, the readiness of the center’s information technology infrastructure, the increased number of early adopters, the additional stress on staff during the fall semester and the desire to get staff engaged in the move all contributed to the delay.

“Because of the substantial investment of resources and the interconnectivity with many other campus initiatives, we need to have in place and tested as much of the (center’s) infrastructure as possible,” said Emily Howe, communications consultant for Campus Shared Services Implementation, in an email.

Before the early adopters move into the center, it will be renovated by October, and furniture and technology will be installed by mid- to late November, at which point training and testing activities will begin, Howe said in the email.

Although the center could then theoretically be ready to open in mid-November, the official opening of the center will occur in January 2013 to avoid the stress of moving during the fall semester, according to Howe.

On June 28, the committee will notify staff members who will be reassigned to the center as early adopters. Chris Morrison, a computer resource specialist for the campus, saw an unintentional consequence of the combination of the postponed move with the looming staff notifications.

“It gives the campus time to absorb what’s about to happen and have time to push back,” said Morrison. “A lot of people will find out they are about to move, and hopefully their clients will find out. I would hope that people start to see what they are going to lose and what’s going to be moved across town, and maybe that will change how people feel about this move.”

Morrison and many other staff members have recently protested the move to the center, as they feel the committee has not acceptably listened to the staff’s perspective. However, Howe stated that she believes postponing the move has improved staff morale pertaining to the center since the protests.

“We have heard near unanimous support for the adjustment, and the additional time and thought it affords the process,” said Howe in an email. “We hear that this change is being viewed as a positive one, and have gotten feedback that the campus community appreciates having more time to ready their units and plan for transitioning into (the center).”

But Morrison still does not feel the initiative is effectively trying to represent staff interests.

“They’ve done a lot of going through the motions of getting input, but there’s a difference between listening and hearing,” he said.

Whether or not all staff are behind the move, Operational Excellence will continue to operate on the same larger timeline as it did before the initial move into the center was postponed. According to Howe, all of the 500 to 625 staff members slated to move to the center are still set to do so by the original deadline of late 2014.