Solution: Document, Educate and Inform, Decentralize, Verify
team began by identifying all financial forms used,
and matching them with related financial processes.
They then prioritized the processes to target those
with the greatest inefficiencies. For each process,
they collected performance data, developed a flowchart,
and then identified improvement areas. They realized
that one of the issues related to all of the processes
was availability of needed information, and they created
an online, internal directory of budget and project
information. The team then addressed the four areas
below. Several months following implementation of the
improvements, the team met again to verify that they
had accomplished the desired outcomes.
Travel: Budget reductions resulted in a decrease in the number of staff
processing financial forms. The team determined that 90% of
the financial forms processed were related to travel. To deal
with the reductions, the team decided to decentralize processing
of forms related to travel, and involve staff not previously
involved. To accomplish this, the team: provided customized
training to staff assistants not previously involved in handling
travel; revised the related departmental forms; and then decentralized
the travel support activities. It was expected that this change
would also result in better service to faculty. Feedback has
indicated that both faculty and staff are satisfied with services,
and the team is looking at ways to expand this decentralization.
charges: 46% of outgoing mail did not have billing information,
and staff time was needed to gather that information after
the mail had been sent. The team improved forms used for mailing
and educated staff and faculty, to reduce the time to identify
the correct budget for billing, and increase the billing accuracy.
After this, forms with correct billing information were returned
for 75% to 80% of the outgoing mail. Departmental mail costs
continue to decrease.
Copying: In one 6-week period, 60,000 copies were made with no information
about who was making the copies, or for what project or class.
The team developed a list of codes to increase billing accuracy
and provide detailed information on which to base any future
plans. Staff had access to the whole list so they could easily
identify the code to be used. More detailed information is
now available on the amount of copying and printing being done
for specific projects or classes. Now the baseline information
is available to look for opportunities to reduce costs.
Telephone: While telephone charges have been decreasing, a lot of time
was spent on internal rebilling to ensure correct charges to
budgets. The team encouraged increased use of authorization
codes to reduce the time needed to assign and recover charges
related to grants. The use of these codes (making use of technology)
has resulted in a reduction of tedious staff work to recover
minimal charges (freeing staff to concentrate in other areas),
without a significant increase in telephone charges for the
department. However, there is more work to be done in this
team published information about their changes on an internal
departmental web site, and discussed the changes at regular
faculty and staff meetings, as the changes were developed and
implemented. Early changes resulted in increased accuracy in
financial processes, with less staff intervention. Staff assistants
also indicated that they had a better picture of the department
and University activities. The team members will continue to
track financial performance data, and look for additional opportunities
to reduce costs or save time.
more information about this team, contact Linda Mace at firstname.lastname@example.org.