Why Shared Services
The University of Oklahoma has historically operated in a very decentralized manner. While there are central offices for Human Resources, Payroll and Employee Services, Purchasing, Financial Services, etc., each department is responsible for a portion of functions related to these areas. Typically, in departments, staff maintain various responsibilities ranging across faculty tenure and promotion support, student support, class scheduling, payroll, payment processing, office management, account reconciliation and other tasks.
This siloed structure has led to the following issues impacting the University's ability to operate efficiently and effectively:
- Staff “Generalists” - OU has a great staff that is the backbone of almost everything it does. However, the number of processes and systems staff manage does not allow for an individual to be an expert in any one area. For example, each central office mentioned above has its own system (e.g., Taleo, PeopleSoft HR, Crimson Corner, PeopleSoft Financials) staff must access. This lack of expertise leads to slower processing times for all parties involved and unnecessary risk from an internal control perspective.
- Inconsistency – Certain processes and policies have been tailored to individual departments and colleges, which inhibits efficiency and accuracy. While central policies exist, departments have often been provided latitude to institute their own operational procedures which can be duplicative or inefficient. This inconsistency also reduces the likelihood that established internal controls, while designed properly, will operate effectively.
- Bench Strength – Departments are often dependent on one key employee. If they are out on vacation or sick leave, department operations grind to a halt. This single point of failure causes undue stress on the individual staff and limits our ability to adequately serve faculty and students. Administrative work that should be managed by staff can fall to faculty or other staff instead.
- Financial Information – The three bullets above contribute to a varied quality of financial information from departments and colleges. This makes it very challenging to develop and maintain internal financial reports for analysis and decision making.