Following a period of significant growth in terms of student numbers, geographic spread and research activity, our client, a large public University, recognised the opportunity of support services improvement. Having received funding from Government under the “Workplace Productivity Program”, it embarked on a Shared Services initiative with the view of improving the effectiveness and efficiency of support services, and directing savings and benefits to the University’s core teaching and research activities.
The University’s support services were characterised by high levels of decentralisation, devolution and local autonomy. Whilst this model served the University well in the past, management decided to review these arrangements and investigate the delivery of support services through a Shared Services model. WDScott was engaged to assess the feasibility of a new Shared Services model, quantify the potential benefits, outline future operating models and propose a feasible implementation ‘road map’.
WDScott used sector insight and benchmarking to enable a focused investigation. Over a six-week period, the investigation reviewed existing support services in Student Services, Advancement/Marketing, Finance, Human Resources, Information Technology and Facilities Management. Functional and Faculty representatives were engaged in the review to gain both a quantitative and qualitative insight into current service performance and improvement opportunities. The quantitative assessment involved a review of the relative effectiveness of each of the functional areas through comparisons against a range of sector and function-specific benchmarks. This revealed significant cost savings potential in most of the investigated areas.
In parallel to the quantitative assessment, a series of interviews and workshops were conducted to gain a qualitative understanding of existing support services and their positioning in the context of the support services framework. The qualitative assessment highlighted that existing arrangements were characterised by some of the negative attributes of both devolved and centralised service delivery. This assessment confirmed the feasibility of a Shared Support model to gain more effective and efficient service delivery.
The investigation revealed the ‘size of the prize’ and provided the foundation for an informed way forward. It identified significant opportunities to improve service performance and established annual cost savings potential in the order of $40 million. Furthermore, by providing a clear roadmap, the University was able to progress the initiative, creating the opportunity to channel more funds to core research and teaching activity and continue to demonstrate leadership in the sector.
WDScott identified significant opportunities to improve service performance and established annual cost savings potential in the order of $40 million.