Thomas Edison, America's most prolific inventor, once explained his passion for innovation by saying, "There's always a better way." That's the spirit, if not the directive, for the campus departments profiled in the first round of 2011 Models of Efficiency honorees. When it comes to finding ways to streamline business processes or save time and money, the stories you'll read on the following pages will, we hope, inspire you and your department to look for your own ways to better serve constituents.
I know that spring is finally upon us because my wife has started organizing her vegetable garden. The garden, like the start of baseball season and the sound of lawn mowers instead of snow blowers, is a sure sign of longer days and warmer evenings.
When developing and refining a business continuity plan, "you have to look beyond voice and data," urges Bryan Mehaffey, vice president of technology at Ave Maria University (Fla.). "You have to think about facilities and life safety." Campus buildings and the equipment they contain are worth millions of dollars and shouldn't be forgotten once students, faculty, and staff are safe.
Four feet of snow in a week might be awesome if you run a ski resort, but it causes havoc if you run a college or university campus. That is just the quandary campus leaders in the mid-Atlantic were dealing with in December 2009.
"We couldn't open campus," says Joy Hughes, CIO and vice president for information technology at George Mason University (Va.). "You couldn't drive around."
People rarely work in isolation. But it's not always easy to meet in person to work on a project. Connecting online can be done from almost anywhere. The collaboration possibilities run the gamut from passing a Word document back-and-forth via e-mail to holding a multiparty videoconference.
Read on to learn how a variety of online collaboration tools are helping college and university administrators execute projects more efficiently.
WHEN LYNNE SCHAEFER STARTED HER position as vice president for administration and finance at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County in 2005, the institution's financial reporting tool left much to be desired. Developed internally to pull data from UMBC's PeopleSoft ERP, the tool has produced complex reports that make it "hard to find exactly what pieces of information you're looking at," she says. "This creates frustration, especially for the untrained eye. ... I'm sure in some cases it has resulted in people throwing up their hands and just hoping it all goes ok."
Welcome to the third Streamlined of 2009! My colleagues and I are proud to continue this series of publications designed to inform college and university administrators about new and innovative methods of streamlining business office operations.
In the fallout of significant budget cuts at public universities, it's difficult to see a bright spot. Programs are being eliminated, salaries are frozen, faculty furloughed, and institutions with a strong history of serving their communities are forced to make bone-deep cuts. There is, however, a solution that can help us navigate through this crisis and we're seeing it at work: private, market-driven institutions of higher education.