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Editor's Note

Efficiency Explained

University Business, Feb 2011

The judging has begun on the next round of Models of Efficiency entries, the first of three installments for 2011. We continue to be encouraged by the number of entries that are coming in for each round, a sign that colleges and universities are eager to share their stories about how they saved time or money with technology enhancements or business process improvements.

But not everyone can be named a Models of Efficiency honoree, so I'd like to take a minute to talk about why some entries fall short of the mark.

The Models of Efficiency program, as you know, is about recognizing those campus departments that have found ways to streamline operations to deliver superior service to students in less time and at lower cost than previously possible.

The quality of the entries demonstrates that there are creative, enterprising thinkers out there, and our goal is to share their stories with our readers. But our judging panel reports that two points are often lacking from entries:

  • Quantifiable results of the efficiency enhancements
  • The ability for other departments to replicate the enhancement.

The best entries not only show us with numbers how they are more efficient, but they also take the extra step to tell us the short- and, ideally, long-term impact the changes have made on their departments. That's just what the combined departments of Enrollment Services Operations, Admissions, and Information Systems and Technology at Boston University did when they submitted an entry last fall (see University Business November/December issue).

In the past, when flooded with some 38,000 applications and more than 200,000 supporting credentials, the school would have had to hire extra staff, worked longer hours, and generally taken much longer to review applications.

The quality of the entries demonstrates that there are creative, enterprising thinkers out there.

After switching to the new system, the departments were able to cut temporary staff from 12 to six, saving $66,000, as well as one full-time position. BU also showed how they saved money on resources as well. For example, they were able to reduce paper use by more than 620,000 sheets. Think about that: 620,000 sheets equals 1,240 reams of paper which, stacked one on another, would reach more than 200 feet high. And those numbers don't even include related cost savings in toner cartridges, file folders, and labels.

When it comes to replication, well, that's really what the program is all about. Everyone is looking for solutions to help do their jobs better and more efficiently. Past honorees have told us that they were contacted by other schools that were eager to make similar improvements. That's what is most important to our readers, and that is what we are emphasizing as we head into the second year of the Models of Efficiency program.

We hope you will share your success stories with us.


Write to Tim Goral at