Initiative will transform administrative processes

March 7, 2019

The University of Wisconsin System and UW–Madison are launching an initiative to upgrade and modernize core administrative processes that support an increasingly complex teaching and research environment.

UW System and UW–Madison finance and administration leaders in February presented broad-scale plans to transform university financial and human resources processes to the Board of Regents’ Business and Finance Committee. The regents approved continued planning for the initiative with the expectation of a full implementation plan and budget ready for further review and approval by summer or early fall.

According to an assessment done with help from a consultant, UW System and UW–Madison should develop and launch a single, integrated program leveraging cloud-based technology to standardize administrative processes. The intent of the project is to provide timely and meaningful data to support decision-making, streamline processes and improve the quality of service to the campus community.

It has been clear for some time that current administrative systems have not kept pace with the growing and evolving needs of UW System and UW–Madison, according to Laurent Heller, UW–Madison vice chancellor for finance and administration.

“Shortfalls in our systems have led to an excess number of business processes across the campus, which has resulted in what are known as shadow or bolt-on systems,” he says.

Heller says these redundant systems substitute for or augment campuswide administrative systems that may not meet the specific needs of a department or administrative unit. The extraneous systems create risks and inefficiencies that add unnecessary complexity to many routine administrative tasks.

“To put in simpler terms, our systems make it more difficult to accomplish the basic work of the university — despite the fact that we have resourceful, hard-working staff,” Heller says.

While the upgrade to new technology is a key component of this effort, Heller says a holistic transformation is required, one that reviews and evaluates all elements of the financial and human resources systems and processes. A significant portion of the project’s budget will be dedicated to change management, communication and organizational design.

“With the endorsement from the regents, we will move rapidly to communicate the full scope of this project to the campus community,” Heller says. “We will set up governance structures to guide us, and reach out to key users of our systems to better understand their challenges and what they want to see in a new system.”

Due to its size and complex systems, UW–Madison will join UW System Administration in being the first to adopt new administrative systems and processes. Implementation at other campuses will take place in subsequent phases of the initiative.

Heller says all members of the UW–Madison community will have opportunities to participate and contribute to the multi-year initiative.

More information will be forthcoming as project planning continues. Questions can be sent to vcfa@vc.wisc.edu or Associate Vice Chancellor for Finance David Murphy (dlmurphy3@wisc.edu).