The College of Arts and Sciences Shared Services center opened as a two-year pilot in June 2011. The pilot’s launch followed an intensive 16-month study and development effort involving department administrators, central office subject matter experts, and College and University sponsors. Unlike most shared services initiatives across the U.S. that are motivated by executive-level mandates, the CASSS pilot, with support from central finance (F2), including Lean coaches, was a grass-roots reaction to diminished staff resources, increased workload, unmet department needs, and heightened risk exposure. Shared Services relieved department administrators of University-level transactional responsibilities and allowed them to redeploy scarce resources to mission-specific needs such as undergraduate advising and curriculum support.
Originally staffed by a manager and two Fiscal Specialist 2 staff members, the pilot “Humanities Shared Services Center” managed 12 discrete purchasing and payroll processes for 14 Humanities units (all save the Department of English). In the intervening years, the now permanent “College of Arts and Sciences Shared Services,” or CASSS, has grown to encompass 20 discrete transactional areas for 21 academic units in the Humanities (including English), Arts, and Social Sciences.
The results of this effort are very positive from multiple perspectives. CASSS assumed approximately 65% of the high-risk transactions that had resided in overworked departments. Since reaching a full staffing level (4) in 2012, transaction volume has increased 113% while error rates have remained steady at less than 2%. Departments have redirected resources to address gaps in student and faculty support. Unit Administrators and CASSS team members collaborate actively in continuous process improvement aimed at perfecting policies, tools, and workflow.
In the midst of tremendous institutional change, CASSS’s goal is to be a prompt, innovative and reliable resource in the College of Arts and Sciences and a trusted partner among the University’s central offices.