E-Storage for Research Administration

Description: As the University’s research engine, Research Administration manages the lifecycle of a project.  Staff members work in close collaboration with principal investigators and department administrators to develop and submit proposals, accept awards, provide fiscal oversight, manage billings and collections, submit timely reports to sponsors, and ensure awards are properly closed out.

Annually, Research Administration submits over $1.5B in research proposals, yielding an average of $350M in new awards.  In FY2013, new awards along with ongoing projects totaled annual expenditures of $366M.

Until recently, operations within Research Administration have been managed much the same way since anyone can remember.  Proposal development and awards were processed via paper with a top sheet that routed the file.   The manual movement of files wasted time and effort. 

In June 2013, Research Administration began a new path.  Campus leadership issued a challenge to make Research Administration paperless.  Rising to the challenge, staff members within Research Administration came together to form the E-Storage Committee to address the issue and to develop a strategy to become paperless. 

At CU Boulder, the Office of Contracts and Grants (OCG) and Sponsored Project Accounting (SPA) are collectively known as Research Administration.   Externally funded research is handled by three distinct teams within OCG and SPA:  pre-award (proposal preparation and submission), post-award (award receiving), and fiscal administration (Sponsored Project Accounting).  The pre-award team handles the initial proposal, budget and sponsor requirements.   The post-award team accepts and negotiates awards and programmatic requirements, and prepares budgets for entry in the accounting system.  The sponsored project accounting team reviews the award package, enters budgets into the People Soft financial system, audits and track costs, prepares and submits financial reports to sponsors, and closes out awards.  Before the paperless initiative, these three teams performed their respective functions independently, creating their own systems and processes, resulting in duplication of effort and overall inefficiencies. 

Prior to September 2013, the pre-award team printed all proposal documents and stored the documents in the file room for a minimum of three years.  This could include as many as 200 pages per proposal.  Historically, less than 30% of all proposals became awards.  Thus, many documents were printed and simply recycled three years later. 

If a proposal successfully received an award, the post-award team would print the required award documents. This could range from tens to hundreds of pages per award.  On projects that required multiple accounts, paperwork was often duplicated in order to provide clarification for the other research administration departments.

When the award reached Sponsored Projects Accounting, the accountants and billing techs would print portions of the award that pertained to their work processes, further duplicating effort. A proposal that began with 200 pages could easily result in a 1,000 page file. 

The paper file was passed back and forth between post-award and SPA many times before being permanently stored in OCG’s file room. This process was slow, labor intensive and linear.  A permanent file could easily be misplaced leading to major delays.

Along with the time and paper the processes required, there was no central way to track an award’s progress. Progress of the award was tracked on a paper routing sheet, signed off by post-award and SPA at each step.  Yellow sticky notes attached to the routing sheet were the common practice for communicating issues and problems.  While the staff member with the paper file knew the status of the award, the status was not available to anyone else in OCG, SPA, or the departments.

The E-Storage Committee quickly realized that the printing of paper was not the issue.  The real issue was the antiquated process that had organically grown from years of processing proposals and awards.  The team began mapping out the process, evaluating the steps where paper was printed, and identifying how those documents could be stored electronically. 

Proposals were the first files to go paperless. The E-Storage Committee developed operating principles and procedures for storage of proposal files in a shared drive, creating new communication channels between pre-award and post-award.   Now that the two teams could save and access documents from the same electronic repository, advantages of the new system were quickly realized. When an award arrived, the post-award team no longer needed track down a physical file to process an award.  If someone was out of the office all of his or her documents were available on a campus server available to authorized staff members.  Staff could access all electronic documents while in the office or remotely if working off site.  In September 2013, Boulder County and CU experienced the worst flood in recent history. Many of our staff members experienced significant personal damage to their homes.   Many staff members could not get to work because of unpassable roads.   The campus was closed for several days. Because of the E-Storage Committee’s work, staff members within Research Administration were able to continue working from home, accessing the electronic files as needed, and ensuring that proposals submissions were electronically submitted by the sponsor’s deadline.  

The E-Storage Committee realized that this process could extend from the pre-award stage all the way through billing resolution (cradle to grave), but a communication method was needed to facilitate the process flow from post-award to accounting.  While the E-Storage committee was considering their options, the post-award team independently created an enhancement within Research Administration’s database, Filemaker.  Referred to as the “Blue Box,”, the enhancement served as a communication tool to track issues affecting an award.  In October 2013, the E-Storage Committee adopted this new communication tool replacing the paper routing form used by post-award and accounting. 

After a successful soft roll out of the paperless proposal system, the pre-award team went entirely paperless for all new proposals on September 11, 2013, for the first time ever!  However, for all of Research Administration to become paperless, all three teams needed to be paperless. 

The E-Storage Committee developed new systems and processes in which all proposal and award documents are stored electronically in a shared drive that is accessible to all members of research administration simultaneously.  When an award is received, the post-award team can access proposal documents from the shared drive and start processing them in the FileMaker database. 

By further developing the Blue Box to enhance its capacity, a new electronic routing process was created within the internal database, Filemaker.  We created a standard business process flow that was electronically tracked within FileMaker.  Employees are assigned to specific business processes, and tasks are associated with those business processes. Employees are then notified electronically when a task is ready to be completed. As each task is completed, new tasks are assigned based on the next step in the business process. Each staff member’s task list is electronically communicated to the staff member, and is also available for supervisor in order to track workloads, identify critical issues, and take a proactive approach to managing their area of responsibility.   Rather than having stacks of files on a staff member’s desk, the staff member now refers to her electronic task list allowing her to better organize and prioritize her day.  This provides not only a robust internal communication system, but also provides a mechanism to track the progress of a proposal or award, understand where there may be bottlenecks, and reassign tasks if needed.   External parties, department administrators and PIs can also view the electronic work flow tool to check the status or note any issues affecting an award.

Along with the impacts outline below, the paperless initiative led to our three teams working more closely together, understanding how each team’s process affects another, and better understanding each team’s work. Communication among staff members and with the campus personnel has also improved. What began as a project to reduce paper turned into a winning team effort that increased communication and trust across three teams in ways not expected, thus improving the overall workflow for all staff members.

Team Leaders: Steve Sheldon, Garrett Steed, Melissa Englund, Roger McCormick

Team Members:  James Uhes, Stefanie Furman, Beth Kingsley, Sharon DeCarlo, Justin Mack, Andy Wang and Bev Baran

How does this impact the University?   The implementation of the electronic routing process decreased the expenses associated with the paper process (paper, toner, tabs, etc.) by 50% immediately.  Moving forward, it is reasonable to predict overall supply costs to be a third of what they were previously.  Research Administration is more environmentally friendly than it ever has been before.  The team is conserving resources on a daily basis.

In addition to converting all new proposals and awards to an electronic format, we undertook a separate project to scan all previous paper proposals.  Completed in March 2014, the scanning and archiving of paper documents allowed us to remove a dozen file cabinets creating much needed space for workstations. 

A greater impact has been felt in the area of workplace efficiency.  The time it takes to deliver information has been greatly reduced.  Files are no longer hand delivered to each person.  Once information is saved, it is immediately available to all other team members.  The workflow is no longer linear, and awards can now be routed to multiple team members at the same time.  The time it takes to fully process an award has been reduced by weeks.  Additionally, the new system allows us to measure effort, collect metrics and develop management reports so that Research Administration can redirect focus to align with our strategic priorities.

For SPA’s billing, earlier access to new contracts, grants and modifications will speed up the issuance of the first bill to the sponsor, leading to earlier receipt of sponsor payments and reimbursement of expenses incurred by the university.  This improves the university’s cash flow and reduces accounts receivable.

The new e-routing process has allowed Research Administration to do away with thousands of paper files.  This has created much needed space for our newly hired team members.  It has also allowed the team to move electronic storage to campus servers, thus providing a higher level of security and making it possible for team members to work remotely.  Creating a paperless/electronic system paved the way for establishing a telecommuting policy to allow for work-at-home arrangements or to work at other locations on campus, thus supporting the strategic initiative to create satellite support offices across campus.

From the perspective of department administrators and principle investigators, because they can view the routing process in FileMaker online, the new system allows them to see who is handling their award as well as where the award is in the routing process.  It has made research administration transparent to the rest of the university.  It also allows department administrators and principal investigators to receive access to their funding more rapidly than in the past.

In December 2014, Research Administration will transition to a new electronic research administration (eRA) system, called InfoEd. The paperless/electronic routing process now in place within Research Administration will make the transition to the new eRA system much easier.  Award documents will be transferred automatically from the shared drive on the campus servers into the InfoEd system.  The ease of transferring thousands of awards into InfoEd would not be possible without the structure built for the new paperless/e-Storage system.

Implementation status:   The pre-award (proposal) team went paperless in September of 2013.  The rest of Research Administration went paperless in late March of 2014.  Adopting a strategy for continuous improvement, we will continue to examine our processes, adopting quick, easy wins, while laying the groundwork to pursue more comprehensive improvements. 

Now that documents and business process are managed electronically, we have begun the process of collecting measures and metrics to understand the work flow and how we are performing. Metrics will guide decision-making to improve operations, including how to best deploy staff, allocate strategic resources, and eliminate non-value activities, all of which will improve our capacity to support research administration across the campus.

Submitted by Steve Sheldon, Manager, Proposal Development, Office of Contracts and Grants, University of Colorado Boulder

Posted in 2014 CUSP Submissions | Leave a comment

Residence Life Professional Staff Duty Handbook

Description: I created a pdf of the Residence Life Professional Staff Duty Handbook (for the Boulder campus) via my @colorado.edu Google Drive account, and then shared it with all the professional staff.  Additionally, I wrote an instruction manual for using Google Drive on the work phones provided to Residence Life Staff to encourage participation in the use of Drive.  Implementation of the virtual Duty Handbook was requested, and supported, by Associate Director for Residence Life John Fox and Assistant Director Maria Hoffman. 

How does this benefit the University?  By making the Duty Handbook available on their phones, Professional Staff in Residence Life are able to more quickly respond to emergent events.  They can respond when they are on-call without having to tote around a large binder and can more easily locate the exact protocol they need via the search option (rather than having to page through).  This utilization also comes at no cost, since all university employees have Google accounts already, and in fact will save many dollars in printing costs.

 Implementation status: This idea was implemented for the 2013-2014 academic year in Residence Life on the Boulder campus.  Because I have since left the position, I am not aware if Residence Life will continue to use this for the next year.  I would encourage them do so! 

Submitted by:  Jessica Minck, Administrative Assistant III, Housing-Administration, University of Colorado Boulder

Posted in 2014 CUSP Submissions | Leave a comment

Using Google Hangouts for Flash Meetings

Description: Our team began using Google Hangout flash meetings in January 2014, and it has been an extremely successful and popular solution to our team meeting challenges. Using Google Calendar (available on the Boulder campus), we created a repeating event using Google’s built in Google Hangout video conference link. Each Monday everyone visits gcalendar.colorado.edu and clicks on the link to join the video conference. The meeting reserves 5 minutes for personal check-ins, 3 minutes for supervisor announcements, and then 2 minutes for each team member to report on their weekly project priorities. The remainder of the time is reserved for team members to suggest opportunities for collaboration. Since we’ve deployed this we’ve seen an increase in both communication and collaboration on the team, and a reduction in group-wide emails requesting help or asking questions. Best of all, we’ve never exceeded the 30 minutes allocated, and occasionally end the meeting early. Efficient and effective!

The Academic Technology Design Team includes:  Mark Werner (Manager), Viktoriya Oliynyk, Brad Grabham, Doris Cheung, Courtney Fell, Tim Riggs, Dave Underwood, and Kate Allison. 

How does this impact the University?  Our group is geographically distributed across the Boulder campus, making team meetings expensive and time consuming (and also, infrequent). By having easy, well-structured virtual meetings we have increased collaboration without requiring significant work time and travel investments. 

Google Hangouts is provided for free as an addition to the Google Apps for Education package used by the Boulder campus. Google Apps manages all of the student and retiree email, while providing collaboration software to all campus affiliates. Google Apps for Education is a free service provided by Google to educational institutions, and is used by two-thirds of the US News and World Report’s top 100 colleges and Universities, and nearly 100% of Denver-area K-12 school districts.

 Implementation status:  The use of Google Hangout Flash Meetings is a fully implemented and ongoing work process within the Academic Technology Design Team within the Boulder Office of Information Technology.

Submitted by: Cory Pavicich, Academic Technology Consultant, Office of Information Technology, University of Colorado Boulder

Posted in 2014 CUSP Submissions | Leave a comment

HRMS Electronic Access Request Form

Description:  Previously, HRMS PeopleSoft access was requested using a very complicated form. This form was somewhat confusing for many employees, as it presented an array of options for all levels of HR access, requiring users to weed through information that didn’t necessarily pertain to them.  Many users would “over-request,“ and select access they thought they might need.  It was then up to the Security Coordinators to determine if the user needed everything that was requested based on the user’s job requirements and position.

Because of these issues, I developed a new online interactive HRMS access request form that simplifies the approval process for requesters, supervisors, HRMS security coordinators and UIS provisioning.  The form presents only the appropriate role information based on the job prompts that HRMS PeopleSoft users select.

User/requesters must first identify the type of User Set-Up they are requesting.  The selected check box triggers the form to build and display only the roles available under that category of set-up.   This saves the requester/user, supervisor and security coordinator much time scrutinizing the non-pertinent information that the old form presented.  For instance, if a requester simply wants to Copy HRMS roles from an existing user, the form doesn’t present the entire list of role categories, as it would for a New User request. Instead, it prompts role categories for only the User ID the requester wishes to copy. This same “smart” methodology is utilized throughout the form to display to users only what they need to complete their requests.

The electronically-created form can build from 2 pages to 9 pages depending on the HRMS access needed by the user.   In addition, individual fields within those pages are generated depending on radio buttons or boxes selected.  For example, a box for Access to Additional Departments reveals a text box for the user to fill in.  Otherwise, this text box stays invisible to the form.

For a live look at the Human Resource System Access Request Form enter the following link in your Internet Explorer browser:  

 https://content.cu.edu/ums/security/CUonly/AMPS/Forms/HRMS-Access-Req.pdf

How does this impact the University?  The entire HRMS PeopleSoft Access process for System was streamlined and clarified as part of this form project. Role names and Access naming were standardized between departments.

This new form also identifies the training requirements for HRMS roles, and includes role descriptions and responsibilities  to help educate requesters on the use of these roles. 

The new form modeled the format of the Finance Access Request Form that was introduced 6 months before, giving FIN and HR users a sense of cohesion in requesting access.

The electronic form minimizes paper waste; use of this more efficient online interactive form eliminates the need to print a hard copy to review all the options of the form.  Offering a more efficient method online also saves valuable time processing and moving the form electronically for electronic signature approvals.

Implementation status:  I saw a need for the revision of this form and voluntarily built it for University Information Services (UIS).  The form has been in use by all System employees since May 2013.

Submitted by Jim Dages, Business Operation Analyst, System Administration

Posted in 2014 CUSP Submissions | 1 Comment

CPE Instructor Course Development Guide

Description:  The University of Colorado Continuing Professional Education Program for Certified Public Accountants (CU CPE for CPAs) is a National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) sponsored provider of Continuing Professional Education (CPE). Because all instructors are non-professional instructors, or subject matter experts, I had to develop guidance, and a course template, on how to assist the subject matter experts to take an instructional design approach to their course development, and to also ensure that the course development adhered to NASBA’s Statement on Standards for Continuing Professional Education.  The Instructor Course Development Guide outlines the instructional design approach to take in course development, based on current research, and the Development Template demonstrates how to apply the Instructor Course Development Guide into practice.

How does this impact the University?  The instructors in the University of Colorado Continuing Professional Education Program for Certified Public Accountants (CU CPE for CPAs) are all teaching on a volunteer basis, and the majority of the instructors have limited knowledge of instructional design theories and practice. Also, because the program is sponsored by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA), the course development processes must adhere to their Statement on Standards for Continuing Professional Education. The course development guide impacts the University in that it is efficient; the template saves instructor’s time by outlining the instructional design specifics required for each course. The CU CPE program is also subject to desk audits by NASBA to ensure all courses adhere to the standards, therefore, the course development guide will save the University time and money if/when we become subject to a NASBA audit. The course development guide also provides economies of scale; the learner analysis section of the course development guide is consistent across all 43 courses offered by the CU CPE program.

Implementation status:  The Instructor Course Development Guide has been in place since September of 2011. At the annual National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) Summit on Continuing Professional Education, it was discussed and discovered that the University of Colorado’s Continuing Professional Education (CPE) Program is currently the only NASBA sponsored provider to take this rigorous, detailed, and efficient approach in assisting Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) in course development. The Instructor Course Development Guide was also selected for Training Magazine’s Online Learning Conference as a Best Practice Roundtable Session in September 2014.

 Submitted by Lisa Vallad, CPE Program Manager, Office of University Controller

Posted in 2014 CUSP Submissions | Leave a comment

The Executive Advisory Council Database

Description:  The Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Dean of the Graduate School, coordinates a committee of 20 faculty members from a variety of academic areas who meet monthly to review Research Professor Nominations, as well as Graduate Programs and Certificates.  The committee is called the Executive Advisory Council (EAC).  In the past, the Executive Assistant’s role was to staff the EAC meetings, receive and review the nomination packets that are submitted (hard copy), make copies of all documentation for faculty attendees and hand deliver the dossiers and program nominations via hard copy to all faculty on the committee. The agenda items for the meetings often required so much discussion between faculty members that, at times, items had to be tabled pending further information or future discussion. 

The Executive Assistant and the Vice Chancellor for Research/Dean of the Graduate School discussed how the procedures for submission, review and approval could be streamlined, freeing up the Executive Assistant to complete other, higher level tasks, and giving committee members an opportunity to review and exchange ideas prior to the meeting. Out of this discussion came the EAC Database, an online system whereby departments can review policies and procedures pertinent to their nominations and/or proposals, submit agenda items, and obtain meeting schedules and deadline information. Faculty members are assigned a special secure login, so that each member can go online, review back-up documentation, and enter comments that can be read by other members of the committee. The database also has a back office, managed by the Executive Assistant, which allows for meeting updates, agenda management, and uploads of documentation pertinent to the upcoming meeting.  . The database also serves as an archive of approvals, summaries and follow-up letters that can be posted after each meeting. 

The public site for the database is located at http://eac.colorado.edu/eac/submit_agenda_item.php .

 How does this impact the University?  Prior to the development of the database, several reams of paper were used to create the large packets that were delivered to faculty members.  The database has reduced expenses for both paper usage and staff support time.   Additionally, the database is environmentally friendly as all faculty members can read the back-up documentation on line.  Faculty members can now post their reviews and converse prior to the meetings, which reserves meeting time for high level discussion and allows for completion of a vote on each agenda item. Meeting times have been reduced from two hours to one hour!  Finally, the database impacted how the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and the Dean of the Graduate School do business.  The EAC database, being the first of its kind, led the way for other databases to be developed.  Now the office has a database for the Distinguished Research Lecturer Review, the Beverly Sears Student Grant Contest, and the SEED Grant Proposal Review.   All of these reviews were previously handled in a similar fashion as the EAC meetings.

 Implementation status:  The EAC Database was implemented in the Fall of 2010.  I am happy to report that, after three years of use, the database has had no glitches and works like a dream!   Although our database manager, Jeff Lewis, is no longer working with this office, the database has become a self-sustaining tool for the Executive Assistant. 

Any department interested in seeing how the database works can meet with the Executive Assistant, Lisa Kippur, who is happy to explain and demonstrate its use.   It uses a very elementary coding procedure that has saved the office a lot of money and staff time and has allowed faculty members an online opportunity to share great connections with the Council members.

Submitted by Lisa Kippur, Executive Assistant to the Vice Chancellor for Research, University of Colorado Boulder

Posted in 2014 CUSP Submissions | Leave a comment

Stop Lift Document Imaging Process

Description:  There is a business process between the financial aid and student financials office that is called “stop lift;” this process allows the aid office to request a temporary lift of a hold on a student’s account to allow the student to register. Prior to automating this process, students would come to the student aid office and have a form filled out.  The form was then copied in our office and scanned into our imaging system.  Then, the student would take the form to the student financials office and sign the bottom section with them.  The student financials office would also scan a copy of the form for their records. Now, thanks to our employee’s idea, the request comes in from the student, the form is completed through an online form in Singularity (our imaging system), and a copy of the form is then uploaded and stored in the imaging system, where it can be accessed by both offices.  Finally, the form is emailed to the student for submission to the student financials office to have the registration hold temporarily released so the student can register.

How does this impact the University?  This impacts the university in a few ways. First, from a customer service perspective, the student is not physically sent back and forth between offices. Second, by using an online form, we have reduced the amount of paper used in printing, copying and scanning these requests. Third, the student financials office no longer needs to scan the request form, as it is already available to them in Singularity. Fourth, the business process involving two very busy offices has been streamlined, and finally, there is an improvement in terms of the audit trail maintained in the ISIS system.

Implementation status: This process was fully implemented in December, 2013 and has been extremely successful. The fact that the form is completed and submitted into imaging at the same time means that any staff member can pull up the document in real time and there is no delay waiting for forms to be processed.

Submitted by Jevita Rogers on behalf of Brooke Allen, Document Management and Quality Assurance Analyst, Financial Aid Office, University of Colorado Colorado Springs

Posted in 2014 CUSP Submissions | Leave a comment

International Career Advisory Team

Description: In 2013, I was promoted by the leadership team in Career Services to a new role, Program Manager for International Employment, to help CU progress in the internationalization goals identified in Flagship 2030. In this role, I serve both international students and American students seeking international job opportunities

With regard to my responsibilities for supporting students seeking to go abroad, I reached out to faculty and staff across campus to gain a better understanding of our students’ needs. Through these meetings and individual conversations, it became clear there was a need to develop an ongoing committee dedicated to supporting these students and sharing resources across campus.

This was the beginning of the International Career Advisory Team (ICAT), a cross-campus initiative dedicated to helping students gain knowledge and resources on international volunteer, internship, and job opportunities, here and abroad. We currently have about 40 members from units across campus including advisors, faculty, assistant deans, and professional staff. This committee consists of various departments across campus, including Career Services, Center for Asian Studies, Office of International Education, Continuing Education, International Affairs, Leeds Business, UROP, Global Studies RAP, and more. Our goals are the following:
• Provide professional development and resources related to international volunteer, internship, and job opportunities, both here and abroad.
• Collaborate on international career programming and/or help spread the word to students to increase attendance and decrease duplication of efforts.
• Provide a centralized communication system for students to access information regarding international opportunities.
• Share student successes with international experiences.
• Build knowledge among students so they know where to go to find information on international experiences.

Danielle Rocheleau Salaz, Assistant Director of the Center for Asian Studies, and I serve as co-chairs for the committee.

 How does this impact the University?  Through these efforts, there has been an increase in collaboration among staff members, departments, and programs related to international careers, and by extension, international academic programming as well.
Each meeting includes program updates relating to international employment and then focuses on a resource, theme, or issue that has been identified by group members as a topic for discussion. After meetings, individuals connect with each other as they learn about new opportunities they can share with students or opportunities for interdepartmental collaboration. Therefore, this has impacted all our work in addition to providing more opportunities to students. At a decentralized university like CU, networking and sharing resources is a necessary, but challenging, activity that we can all benefit from. In addition, there are few forums on campus that include such a wide swath of CU employees (faculty, instructors, professional exempt staff, classified staff, occasional student representatives, etc.), which helps to further break down silos.

At the community level, this program and my new role have given CU Boulder visibility in the local news, as evidenced by this article that appeared in the Daily Camera in December (http://www.dailycamera.com/cu-news/ci_24672891/cu-boulder-career-office-helps-students-find-jobs?IADID=Search-www.dailycamera.com-www.dailycamera.com). 

Implementation status:  Danielle Rocheleau Salaz, Assistant Director of the Center for Asian Studies, and I serve as co-chairs of the committee, and continue to lead this effort and bring in new topics to engage the group and continue our learning and collaboration. For example, this spring, we are focusing on international internships and how departments can develop programs that meet student demand while also maintaining academic integrity and conducting appropriate risk management steps

Since fall 2012, the committee has been meeting twice each semester with subgroups meeting more frequently to complete specific projects, such as planning events and finding ways to best communicate the resources and events to students. We have a website (http://careerservices.colorado.edu/students/icat.aspx), an email list, and a general email account to field questions and facilitate committee communications (ICAT@colorado.edu).

As a group, we are planning to seek external funding to create professional development opportunities for committee members, and most importantly, to expand opportunities for students to gain access to international experts across the nation and to increase resources for global employment for students from around campus.

Submitted by Jodi Schneiderman, Program Manager for International Employement, and Danielle Salaz, Assistant Director of the Center for Asian Studies, University of Colorado Boulder

Posted in 2014 CUSP Submissions | Leave a comment

CU Denver Events Management System

Description:  Before I came to the Facilities Department two years ago, this campus did not have an events management system, nor did we have a place where folks could go to understand how to schedule various aspects of events on campus.  Through research and conversations with campus leadership, we came up with a plan to save energy and increase our effectiveness as customer service providers, by expanding our current room scheduling system, we added functionality that would manage ALL aspects of events including HVAC, lighting, housekeeping, electronic access, police security, event setup and parking.  The system also has functionality built in to help folks get in touch with the right people at the university to build registration forms for events and market their events through multimedia avenues.  Notices also go to our Risk Management group and Grounds crew so that virtually everyone on campus is notified of an event taking place, whether it is big or small.  While I initiated this process and championed it through the ranks, many, many people came together to make this possible from Betty Charles and her group in TSS, to Doug Abraham and his crew and all of the people in facilities that touch events on campus.

How does this impact the University?  We no longer have to point customers in twelve different directions to schedule events.  The site is a one-stop shopping area for all your events needs.  A website, which I designed, is scheduled to go live on April 1, 2014.  That website will have all the dos and don’ts for a successful event and will cover everything a person needs to know about events on this campus, IN ONE PLACE, regardless of what unit their need falls under.  Our Outside Agency constituents will have quicker access to the right documents and the rules that govern events for their agencies.  The amount of electricity and energy the campus will save per year (once implemented) is significant, just by installing a plug-in to the already existing system that automatically turns the heating and air conditioning on and off with the scheduling of events and classes in the system.  Prior to this implementation, we were doing this manually, by having a person program the system daily for all events.

Implementation Status:  The new system went live on January 6, 2014.  We are in the process of bringing the Events on Campus website up (target date on April 1, 2014) and the electronic HVAC management module will be in place by the end of the fiscal year.  Phase III of this project, which is to bring all conference spaces on the Anschutz and Downtown campuses online in the system, is scheduled to begin July 1, 2014.  We have experienced high praise for the new system and events are now running much smoother and more orderly.  We are able to track events and gauge staffing and service demand appropriately.  Clients are being given better customer service and are able to have all their needs met in a one-stop-shopping fashion.

Submitted by: Layna Breyare, Regulatory Affairs Manager for the Associate Vice Chancellor for Administration, University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus

Posted in 2014 CUSP Submissions | Leave a comment

PROCESS MAPPING ***

 DESCRIPTION:

The Department of Neurology at the Anschutz Medical Campus, like many other School of Medicine departments, has seen incredible growth in clinical and grant revenue over the last several years, requiring the hire of 9 additional faculty and the creation of 12 new administrative positions in the past 3 years alone. Additionally, the very nature of working in an academic medical community means that employee turnover can be quite high, as employees gain experience in the department’s clinics and/or labs, and then move on to medical school or graduate school. Like many departments, there is little training documentation in the department – institutional knowledge is slowly gained, highly valued as it is used in daily work, but then is lost when employees retire, transfer to other departments, or leave the university’s employment, and new employees struggle to figure out the best way to perform their job functions, reinventing the wheel each time.

Last fall, Kathy Illian, MA who is the department’s Director of Finance and Administration, and Leah Lleras, BA, the department’s Manager of Human Resources and Faculty Affairs, decided that creating a Succession Plan was a high priority for the department, so that even in a time of rapid expansion and fast-paced activity, the Department’s administrative needs would be met at all times. Out of this discussion came the Process Mapping project.

 

Process Maps are essentially swim lane diagrams that describe in a visual fashion the tasks, decisions, and timeline of specific departmental functions, by each participant in the function. They are created in Microsoft Visio (flow-charting software), converted to PDF, and loaded on the Neurology Intranet with links to additional forms, supplemental documentation, screenshots, videos, and even audio files as appropriate. The maps are reviewed, edited, and approved for publishing by the entire administrative staff in twice-monthly meetings. This mass review is critical as it ensures that there is no assumption of prior knowledge – the map should be clear enough that an employee on the very first day of work could perform the function using the process map as a guide. The Process Map team uses a standard template, and they color code each ‘role’ and all of that role’s functions. They use the same color coding on all maps for consistency, and use a naming convention for the files that clearly identifies the administrative unit and the function being described. The goals of Process Mapping are to shorten the learning curve for (and instill confidence in) employees who have taken on new positions, to capture the institutional knowledge of the longer-term employees, and most importantly, to provide checklists for critical functions to ensure deadlines are met.

HOW DOES THIS IMPACT THE UNIVERSITY?

Most training materials are a ‘wall of words’ – often inside a Word document or a Power Point slideshow. Bullets and indents might attempt to parse information into meaningful sections, but at the end of the day the training material is just words. There is overwhelming evidence, supported by the last 15 years of global research into technology and adult learning, that people learn better from pictures and words than from just words alone. By using only words, the opportunity to transfer knowledge more quickly and with better retention is lost. In addition to improving the speed with which one becomes proficient in a job, the process map serves easily as a printable checklist, which can be annotated with notes and reminders for each instance of its use. Process maps also provide, at a glance, an overall indication of the complexity of a process, the optimal timeline and deadlines, and the extent of the involvement of the participants – valuable information when allocating resources.

Unanticipated, but welcome outcomes of the Process Mapping project are:

 It teaches and encourages ‘systems’ thinking

 It fosters a team spirit

 It offers an opportunity for all employees regardless of position/professional level to practice critical thinking and problem-solving

 It teaches information design and a rather unique software program that most of the Process Map team have enjoyed learning

 It creates cross-training opportunities

 Perhaps the most important unseen benefit of the Process Mapping project is that it quite often reveals flaws in existing processes, which can then be revised.

IMPLEMENTATION STATUS:

By June 30, 2013 we will have 50 process maps on our website, with an additional 75 links to supporting documentation. Each administrative unit is tasked with completing 2 process maps per month, so by year’s end we hope to have an additional 80 process maps live. We have hired a full-time student worker to assist with this project, and it is a project we expect will never end.

NOTE: All of our process maps are on our Intranet, and so these documents and many of their links are not accessible outside of the campus network. For the purpose of this submission, we have loaded one on our public site:

http://www.ucdenver.edu/academics/colleges/medicalschool/departments/neurology/Documents/hr-newProviderCredentialing-Internet.pdf

Also included below are some of the various Process Maps already live, as well as our standard template, color-coding guide, and a tips sheet.

Submitted by Kathy Illian and Leah Lleras, University of Colorado School of Medicine (Neurology)

Posted in Business Process Enhancements | Leave a comment