UW Strategic Planning

2y2d Organizational Excellence Program

Finance and Facilities receive National Recognition for Best Practices

New online training for process improvement

To request an invitation to the training, please send OEI (oei@uw.edu) your full name and UW email address.

Free consulting services

Available to all UW units. To request services, submit a request to Organizational Effectiveness Initiative.

Units across all three campuses have been working steadily over the last decade to achieve organizational excellence, efforts that strengthen the UW’s infrastructure for the future to fully support and enable the University to advance its core vision for learning, research, and discovery. The work of the following three groups is especially notable for scope and leadership:

The initiative distilled extensive input from 2y2d focus groups and other sources into the following principles for administration at the UW:

  • Operate more effectively and efficiently to focus on core values.
  • Collaborate across departments to decrease costs and improve services.
  • Create a culture of continuous innovation.
  • Demonstrate performance through data.
  • Be fiscally and environmentally sustainable.

Read the full visioning document Administration for the 21st Century.


The UW currently saves well over $70 million each year as a result of energy conservation, improved purchasing practices, streamlined processes, and other efficiency measures.

  • In the last ten years, we have avoided over $95 million in energy costs on the Seattle campus alone and we divert over half our waste from landfills through recycling and composting efforts, saving money and the planet.
  • Switching from paper-based to automated systems in areas such as admissions, payroll, purchases, and electronic reimbursements is saving hundreds of thousands of dollars and allows staff to focus on higher-value, mission-focused work that supports students, teaching, and research.
  • Enterprising teams such as Ceremonies and Creative Communications have found ways to increase revenue by providing new or improved services and products.
  • More examples are available at the database-driven website UW Activities & Improvements, which allows UW community members to search these activities and share best practices.

Finance and Facilities

In January 2010, Finance & Facilities (F2) began using Lean, a system to analyze and improve work processes that engages staff to identify and solve problems, and trusts them to do so. F2 now has more 140 Lean projects under way, including internal process improvements and external projects in which F2 practitioners help others launch Lean efforts.Estimated return on investment (ROI) for Lean efforts exceeds 4:1, saving over $2.1 million in 2012.

Efforts within F2 account for many of the energy and administrative efficiencies in the totals noted above. These projects include:

  • Master Contracts: Over 75% of UW contracts are now under consolidated, negotiated agreements that leverage the UW’s buying power, saving over $31 million in 2012.
  • Conservation and Waste Reduction: Thanks to extensive efforts to save power and water, the UW avoided over $12.8 million in utility costs during 2012; recycling and waste reduction efforts avoided $1.23 million in disposal fees in 2012.

Information Technology (UW-IT)

UW-IT collaborates with units all over campus to develop and support technology that improves performance. Contributions specifically aimed at teaching and learning are described under the 2y2d Teaching and Learning Initiative. Administrative projects include:

  • Improved online Financial Aid status tool linked to MyUW: allows students to track accumulated deb, manage award status, and request changes.
  • Data Center Consolidation: Reduced the number of primary data centers from 5 to 3; one center increased capacity by 63% with only a 0.3% increase in power.

 Joint F2/UW-IT Efforts

  • Automated Purchasing: Thanks to development of new systems and procedures, 95% of transactions are now automated, saving units about $42 per transaction.

Organizational Effectiveness Initiative

During 2012-2013 consultants from the Organizational Effectiveness Initiative (OEI) in the Office of Research provided a wide-range of consultative services to 17 UW teams, including UW-IT, the Office of Planning and Budgeting, Environmental Health and Safety Services, and the Schools of Law, Social Work, Public Health, and Nursing. Savings resulting from these efforts are expected to total $2.5M to $3.9 M, an estimated 10:1 return-on-investment (ROI).


OEI offers consulting, facilitation, and training on:

  • Organizational assessment
  • Strategic planning
  • Process improvement
  • Change management
  • Leadership development
  • Metrics
  • Other organization development topics

Because the Organizational Effectiveness Initiative (OEI) team is centrally funded through the Provost’s Office, consulting services are offered free-of-charge to UW units.

Next steps

  • Continue providing high quality assessment, strategy development, and process improvement services to UW units.
  • Continue adding tools and templates to website as a resource for campus.
  • Network with organizations similar to OEI in other universities for new ideas and benchmarking
  • Work to evolve OEI metrics.
  • Create additional on-line training.


Steering Committee and Working Groups