Office of the Provost

October 31, 2017

Transforming administration with shared services

Jerry Baldasty

As provost, I spend a good deal of time thinking about how to support the UW’s research, teaching and service mission with limited resources. How can we move ahead?

In reading the 2016-17 budget plans from the UW deans and chancellors, I was struck by how many mentioned shared services as something they were already doing, or that they hoped to do soon. So I asked for examples from those already under way — examples featured in the latest provost report, also available in PDF — to show how these units have shifted from decentralized modes of operation to various forms of shared service models. Those who have made the shift report that they’ve saved time, some money and improved service.

Cost-savings are not the only goal or benefit, and shared services are not top-down centralization. From these examples, we learn that shared services work best when they reflect the individuality, culture and expertise of participating units. The people involved most closely in the work are the key: they must be involved in creating common goals, developing expectations and measuring success.

The groups featured here measure impact, and continue to gather feedback to ensure improvement. They approach this work as a process, knowing that it takes time.

Most importantly, they have looked to colleagues as a resource, sharing ideas and experiences. I hope that their example will inspire others — to reach out and ask colleagues for ideas and assistance in rethinking how best to provide service to our faculty, students and staff.