Comprehensive Administrative Report FAQs - 2018

Comprehensive Administrative Report FAQs - 2018

CAR Report Frequently Asked Questions


Updated Dec. 13, 2018. Questions marked with a () are new additions.

Below are common questions about the Comprehensive Administrative Review. The questions and their answers are divided into the following categories:

To submit questions to the working group, please email askcar@gatech.edu.

frequently asked questions

Value of this Process

What is the benefit of this process for Georgia Tech?

This is an opportunity for Georgia Tech to examine and address practices, processes, and policies that relate to our mission. Through this process, we will strengthen the aspects of our operations that are working well, and make changes where needed.

This process will focus on strengthening the education, research, and economic development activities that directly benefit our students.

The report reflects where Georgia Tech administrative processes are working well, and where we have opportunities to improve.

Why did the USG start this program?

Chancellor Steve Wrigley initiated the CAR in the spring of 2017 to achieve the following objectives:

  • Refine how USG and its institutions are structured to enhance our mission of teaching, research, and service.
  • Develop a more effective and efficient organizational model that is sustainable for a multi-campus, diverse university system in the 21st century.
  • Identify how to be more administratively effective and efficient at all levels of the organization.
  • Identify administrative cost savings that can be redirected into the System’s core functions of teaching, research, and service.
What did the CAR assessment entail?

As part of the assessment, Huron Consulting, on behalf of the USG, collected organizational data for the Institute as a whole. In addition, they asked employees to provide input through three methods:

  • An activity assessment that includes input from 3,500 Georgia Tech employees who perform administrative functions. This assessment was designed to understand the tasks and activities performed across the Institute.
  • Participation in the assessment was expected for the selected individuals. Supervisors reviewed and validated the responses from their direct reports.
  • An opportunity identification survey was completed voluntarily by approximately 1,000 Georgia Tech supervisors, managers, and leaders across the Institute. This survey was designed to understand which functions and processes work well and where there are opportunities for greater effectiveness.

Finally, focus groups and interviews were held with selected individuals and groups to explore the results of the activity assessment and opportunity identification survey.

Back to the CAR Report website

NEW ► How is student benefit defined?

Student benefit refers to investments that can be made to enhance or expand the learning experience, provide student support services, or reduce or avoid increasing student costs. These are the three major objectives of the action plan with regard to redirection of administrative savings.

Back to the CAR Report website

NEW ► What does Student Services mean?

Student Services refers to any service provided to students that assists them in succeeding academically or in having a positive, high-quality experience outside of the classroom. They include but are not limited to: advising, counseling, career assistance, diversity and inclusion programs, and mentoring.

Back to the CAR Report website

NEW ► Is CAR an effort to “homogenize” Georgia’s 26 institutions of higher education irrespective of their uniquely focused missions?

No. This is not an effort to homogenize all 26 institutions. While the assessment methodology has been consistently used across all of the schools, each institution will develop a customized action plan specifically responsive to its own strengths and opportunities for improvement. At the same time, we have an opportunity to collaborate with other schools that have challenges similar to our own. In addition, there may be functions and activities that would be better performed at the system level (e.g. benefits administration) to achieve consistency and economies of scale. In those instances, the system office will work with representatives from each institution to determine the cost/benefit of any such changes.

Back to the CAR Report website

NEW ► Has the USG considered the fact that state funding to higher education has decreased, resulting in tuition costs increasing?

Actual state funding to Georgia Tech has increased, and in FY19 we received our largest state allocation ever. However, when compared per FTE it has not recovered to pre-recession levels. The intention of this effort is to reduce the cost of performing administrative functions and direct any saving to the academic function of the Institute. At Georgia Tech, we have the opportunity to define how and where those savings can be achieved and redirect those resources toward investments with direct student benefit.

Back to the CAR Report website

NEW ► What is the target set by USG for administrative savings at Georgia Tech?

The USG has not articulated any specific savings target or goal. In fact, no specific numbers have been mandated or provided. We are expected to make every effort to create a meaningful action plan that will redirect administrative spending towards the academic enterprise. Any savings will remain with the Institute to be redirected as appropriate. This is not a “cost reduction exercise” it is an “efficiency improvement exercise.” Through the action planning process, the working group will identify monetary and non-monetary benefits that can be achieved through more efficient and effective administrative operations. The action plan will be updated as we achieve realized savings and as we gain new insight through implementation.

Back to the CAR Report website

NEW ► What is the expected timeline to achieve meaningful redirection of administrative spend?

The action plan will be developed for an initial five-year period. Some savings will be achieved within the first six months, while other efforts may take a few years to reach fruition. For instance, efficiencies that will be achieved through implementation of our new ERP systems will not be measurable until after those new systems are effectively utilized by the campus community.


The Report

Where can employees access the full report?
What did the report indicate?

There were three primary areas noted in the report:

  • Organizational Layers and Spans of Control
    Although there is no “right size” that fits all organizations, too many or too few spans or layers can affect organizational and operational effectiveness. Georgia Tech has 11 layers of administrative staff hierarchy (levels of reporting) in our structure. Current spans of control average 3.7 employees for every supervisor. In both spans and layers, the guideline is between six and eight. The working group will closely examine each layer and areas where span of control is higher or lower than necessary.
  • Alignment and Distribution of Administrative Functions
    The results suggest that similar work is performed both in the units across campus and also within centralized functions. Four key areas noted were information technology, communications, human resources, and procurement/expense processing. A detailed review of subdivisions and departments will focus in these areas to determine whether efforts are misaligned and duplicative, or if the division of labor is intentional and supportive of the Institute’s mission.
  • Best in Class and Room for Improvement
    Select processes within information technology, communications, and human resources were noted for best-in-class operations. Other processes in human resources, communications, purchasing and travel, and information technology were commonly identified as opportunities for improvement. The working group will determine where a positive impact can be made.

While the report presents a variety of analyses and data, our “unit of analysis” at this stage in the process is the individual department. Put another way, the action plan response team will consider the inputs relative to a specific department in light of the three primary areas noted above and in relationship to that department’s mission.

Back to the CAR Report website

NEW ► Regarding Spans and Layers, does the size of the college matter?

Spans of control refers to the number of direct reports that a supervisor has, and layers refers to the number of reporting relationships in the chain of command at all levels of the organization. The size of the college may be relevant as we understand the optimal number of direct reports that a supervisor should have based on the nature of the work performed. In any case, the working group and the decision group will work with leaders in each area to determine the appropriate response to the spans and layers analysis.


Action Planning Process

What is the action planning process?

Action planning is a process to understand, interpret, and develop a focused response to the results of the CAR report. As part of this process, the working group will prioritize where it can make the most progress in supporting the chancellor’s four objectives. The action plan will be a multi-phase plan of action that will be updated on a regular basis.

Who is leading the action planning process?

With the guidance of the USG, a working group and a decision group have been formed. Members of the working group include:

  • Sandi Bramblett, Assistant Vice President of Institutional Research and Enterprise Data Management (bringing an Institutional Data Perspective)
  • Mia Reini, Director, Enterprise Risk Management (bringing a risk management perspective)
  • Juanita Hicks, Deputy Director of Human Resources (bringing a talent and human resources perspective)
  • Robert Foy, Senior Director, Institute Finance Support (bringing a strategic finance perspective)
  • Rusty Edwards, College of Engineering (bringing an academic unit finance perspective)

Responsibilities:

  • Perform deeper analysis of the CAR data, including any other relevant information available.
  • Engage with leaders and subject matter experts from across the Institute.
  • Identify immediate, emerging, and longer term opportunities for efficiency.
  • Document conclusions and creatively develop options for action.
  • Meet with the decision group monthly to share progress and early conclusions.

Members of the decision group include:

  • G.P. “Bud” Peterson, President
  • Rafael Bras, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs
  • Chaouki Abdallah, Executive Vice President for Research and Associate Vice President for Research
  • Jim Fortner, Interim Executive Vice President for Administration and Finance
  • Joe Hughes, representing the Faculty Senate
  • Tina Clonts, representing the Staff Council
  • Maryam Alavi, Dean, College of Business

Responsibilities:

  • Set the prioritization of data analysis for the working group
  • Review, discuss, and make decisions based on the analysis of the working group.
  • Ensure decision support is sufficient and conduct additional discussions where needed.
  • Challenge assumptions and push for bold actions.
  • Be a champion for this process across the campus community.
  • Meet with the working group at least once per month for status reporting and initial conclusions.
  • Help lead the mobilization of actions based on final decisions.
What areas will the action planning focus on?

While the opportunity identification survey and activity assessment revealed several areas where things are working well and where we have room for improvement, the data reflects four key areas where the working group will focus their attention:

  • Talent and people management processes and alignment of those functions
  • Information technology functions at the central and distributed levels
  • Communication, events, and marketing functions across the Institute
  • Procurement and expense processing functions

The working group is also exploring the opportunities for improvement noted in the report about facilities and space management. In addition, the working group will review organizational structures in response to the spans of control and organizational layers analysis results. This will involve examining organizational structures across the Institute.

What’s the timeline for this process?

The major activities for this planning process include the following target timelines:

  • October-November
    Working group analyze assessment results and discuss with functional leaders (central and distributed)
  • December
    Working group to engage functional subject matter experts from across campus to provide suggested solutions for consideration in the action plan
  • January
    Working group prepare the draft action plan
  • February
    Decision group decide which recommendations of the draft action plan to accept
  • March
    Decision group to advance the action plan to Georgia Tech president and USG chancellor for review and comment
Does the CAR process consider the fact that Georgia Tech is a Research I university?

Yes, the University System appreciates the unique characteristics of a research institution. At the beginning of Georgia Tech’s involvement with this process, we helped develop the assessment tools to reflect the unique functions, characteristics, and challenges of an R1 institution.

In addition, the CAR Steering Committee includes multiple members who currently serve in a variety of roles at each of the four research institutions within the University System of Georgia.

It also is relevant to note that the feedback and data in the report almost exclusively reflects the feedback from employees and stakeholders of Georgia Tech.

Will this process address issues associated with unproductive employees?

No, this process is not intended to address individual performance issues.

Back to the CAR Report website

NEW ► Why doesn’t the working group include anyone from research?

The working group is composed of members who bring perspectives needed to assess changes in administrative costs – budget and finance, enterprise data, human resources, and risk management. Although the group is small in number, they are actively engaging people from the academic, research, and administrative units. While some units are not directly represented in the working group, the process will engage all facets of Georgia Tech through ongoing, interactive discussions. Specific to research, the decision group is composed of senior leaders including Chaouki Abdallah, the executive vice president for research.

Back to the CAR Report website

NEW ► Does the CAR recognize that student research and instruction are intermingled?

Yes, the working group has been engaged in discussions with people from the academic and research units and recognize the inter-relationships and inter-dependencies of these important activities on campus. The decision group and working group recognize both academics and research as central to the mission of the Institute and all the ways that students benefit through research projects that augment their classroom experiences.

 


Impact of this Process

Is the CAR process expected to generate immediate cost savings?

While some cost savings may be realized immediately, others will be realized over the course of several years. Cost tracking is a component of the action planning process and will be communicated as part of the multi-phase plan of action.

How will the CAR change Georgia Tech’s organizational structure?

The results of the CAR action phase will likely result in some new or modified organizational structures and processes. The analysis of spans of control (the number of reporting to a supervisor or manager) and layers (the number of levels of hierarchy) indicates Georgia Tech may need to adjust its structure to be more efficient and effective.

In addition, the activity assessment reveals that similar functions and activities are performed by people across the Institute – both in central administrative units, and in the academic and research units.

There are good reasons for this, as the academic and research units need to have the right levels of responsive support available when they need it. At the same time, there are activities that could be performed more effectively and efficiently if organized differently.

How will the CAR process change our work processes?

The opportunity identification survey results indicate that some processes and procedures may need to change to be more efficient and effective. As the working group engages with people who perform administrative functions across the Institute, they work to identify new models to address operational challenges.

How will the CAR process change jobs at Georgia Tech?

Through this process, it is expected that some administrative roles will change. Responsibilities may be combined, adjusted, or distributed differently. Some positions (vacant and filled) may no longer be needed.

How does this process impact current efforts to reorganize units, reclassify roles, or hire additional people?

Due to the organizational changes resulting from the CAR action plan, all reorganizations, reclassifications, and new positions should include an additional review for potential intersection with the CAR results. This additional review is not intended to impede critical business decisions or actions, but is necessary to ensure personnel actions are not reversed or changed again when the action plan is implemented.

This additional review applies to reorganizations, reclassifications, and new positions that involve administrative staff positions. The following positions are not included in this additional review:

  • Faculty positions
  • Research positions
  • Roles related to ensuring campus safety and health
  • Roles that support or deliver direct student services
  • Tech temp positions to bridge departures and seasonal workloads
  • Positions already posted and in the search process
Should the mission of our departments be re-evaluated?

Due to the potential changes that may result from this process, significant changes should be avoided.

Will this process address BOR/USG expectations and requirements that create inefficiency at Georgia Tech?

The working group and decision group may offer recommendations to the USG about ways that they can assist us in being more efficient through modifications of expectations or requirements.

Back to the CAR Report website

NEW ► Is this CAR process going to lead to massive layoffs?

Massive layoffs are not expected as part of this process, nor are they the goal. Rather, the goal is to achieve administrative savings by improving the efficiencies of the existing processes and structures. In some cases, this may result in a reduction of roles and positions needed to perform these functions. It may also result in situations where tasks or activities are realigned or reassigned. These decisions will be weighed carefully and with consideration for the Institute’s longer-term workforce needs.

The CAR working and decision groups will work with campus leaders to look for opportunities for position realignment or redirection of administrative costs through vacancies and attrition first. Positions that become candidates for redirection will follow the Georgia Tech and Board of Regents Reduction in Force policies and procedures related to notifications and support services. In all instances where individual roles or occupied positions are affected, a thoughtful discussion with the affected employee will take place in advance of the change.

For additional information as it relates to BOR Reduction in Force policy, please visit https://www.usg.edu/hr/manual/reduction_in_force/. The Georgia Tech policy on Reassignment and Reductions in Force can be found at https://policylibrary.gatech.edu/employment/reassignment-and-reductions-force.

Back to the CAR Report website

NEW ► Will the CAR lead to smaller staffs in the colleges and units?

The action plan may lead to instances where colleges and units are able to reduce some administrative activities and centralize functions. This does not necessarily mean that the positions in those units will be moved or eliminated. By freeing up college and unit staff from performing activities that could be provided as a service elsewhere, it can create capacity to focus on more program-specific work while providing room for programmatic growth.

Back to the CAR Report website

NEW ► Are all administrative functions going to be centralized and removed from the colleges and research units?

Given the complexity and specialization of our operations across Georgia Tech, complete centralization of administrative functions is not a likely solution. However, there may be activities being performed by many units across the Institute that could be more efficiently and effectively performed by consolidating those activities to a focused group or unit. This group or unit might be located at the level of the college, EVP area (e.g. academic, research, or administrative), or at the Institute level. There are leading practice models of transactional consolidation where the results show improved quality, timeliness, career ladders for administrative staff, better workload distribution, and other benefits.

At this time it is too early to determine the right solution for Georgia Tech. These are the discussions that the working group is having with functional leaders and will be discussed in the upcoming Collaborative Solution Workshops.

Back to the CAR Report website

NEW ► Will the CAR look at student retention and the money lost if/when a student is not able to make it to graduation due to staff reductions from the CAR?

For every option under consideration, the risks and disadvantages will be considered, including any potential impact on programming. The goal of this process is to achieve administrative efficiencies without any degradation of quality to the student experience or impingement of student success; in fact, greater degree attainment is a primary goal of both Georgia Tech and the University System of Georgia and any CAR recommendation will be assessed with that goal in mind.


Existing Improvement Efforts

How can we build on past or current efforts to become more effective and efficient?

There are many improvements that have already been made in administrative functions across the Institute. Where improvement efforts are in progress or have already implemented, the action plan can build on those successes.

Georgia Tech may be able to scale or replicate practices that are working well. These improvement projects should be shared with the working group for potential inclusion in the CAR Action Plan recommendations.

How will this process impact the new ERP Financials and Human Capital Management system projects?

The new financial and human capital management systems are expected to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of administrative processes across the Institute.

Some of these improvements will not occur until after the systems are implemented (July 2019 for financials and December 2019 for human capital management).

To align the CAR action plan with these projects, the working group is working to identify how the new systems will address the CAR results and ways to include those improvements in the action plan.

My department has already implemented several cost saving initiatives. Should I begin tracking those savings?

Yes. We can highlight practices that have already been implemented and track and report ongoing cost savings associated with those improvements.

Cost tracking is a component of the action planning process and will be communicated as part of the multi-phase plan of action.

If you have cost saving efforts that are ongoing, you can submit those documents to askcar@gatech.edu.

Back to the CAR Report website

NEW ► Can we get credit for things that we've already put in place?

Yes. There are a number of cost-saving initiatives that were already planned and launched before we began the CAR process. If those efforts will be continued and additional savings are expected, those actions should be communicated to the working group for inclusion in the CAR action plan where appropriate.

Back to the CAR Report website

NEW ► Have unit heads within departments been asked how they would control costs and achieve administrative cost reductions as part of the CAR?

Yes, several unit leaders have been actively working with their teams to identify ways to control costs, redirect administrative savings, and operate more efficiently and effectively. Where these leaders are proactively engaging in this planning, we ask that they inform the CAR working group of their efforts so that all savings are integrated into the CAR action plan. The working group has already received several ideas from unit leaders about ways they can reduce administrative costs in their units.

Back to the CAR Report website


Community Involvement and Input

Who will be involved in the process?

More than 3,500 Georgia Tech employees have contributed through the activity assessment, opportunity identification surveys, and the focus groups and interviews.

Everyone at Georgia Tech is invited to submit ideas to askcar@gatech.edu. Please provide a reference point from the report (page number preferred) along with your suggestion.

The activity assessment and opportunity identification survey results identified opportunities for improving structure, process, and support in four areas.

Those who have functional responsibilities in these areas will be asked to provide input to the action plans through focused collaborative workshops. The workshops will be held for the following functional areas:

  • Talent and people management processes and alignment of those functions
  • Information technology functions at the central and distributed levels
  • Communication, events, and marketing functions across the Institute
  • Procurement and expenses processing functions

Due to the large number of people who have responsibilities in these areas, it will not be possible to include everyone in these workshops. However, the working group will identify and engage a representative sample of people who have insight about these areas and who can focus on solutions for the future.

Will people who perform other administrative functions have a voice in this process?

At this time, the working group is only planning collaborative workshops for the four mentioned functional areas. Individuals who work in other areas can provide suggested solutions at askcar@gatech.edu.

How will academic and research faculty have a voice in this process?

The chair of the Faculty Executive Board, Joe Hughes, is a member of the decision group and will arrange opportunities to gain input from faculty. Faculty members are also invited to provide input through the askcar@gatech.edu inbox.

How can ideas from people across the Institute be considered for the working group and the decision group?

Membership for the working group and decision group is set. However, input can be provided through the collaborative workshops and at askcar@gatech.edu.

NEW ► Will the working group gather input from academic and research leadership?

Absolutely. The working group has already been engaging functional leaders from the academic and research units in the first set of discussions about the detailed CAR assessment data. Next, people from across the academic and research units will be engaged through Collaborative Solution Workshops to provide input to the action plan.

NEW ► Will there be a Collaborative Solution Workshop for Facilities and Capital Planning and Space Management?

The working group recognizes that this functional area was noted in the CAR report. However, since the Facilities and Capital Planning and Space Management units have recently participated in organizational review and have an action plan in place that looks at each of their respective roles for the Institute, there will not be a CAR collaborative solutions workshop for this functional area. However, it is expected that those functions will show progress on the actions plans already in place for those areas.

NEW ► Will there be a discussion group to talk about the organizational structure of Facilities or Capital Planning and Space Management?

At this time, a discussion group around this topic area of the report is not planned. However, if anyone in Facilities or Capital Planning and Space Management would like to recommend a discussion group, it will be considered by the working group.


Contacts

Where can I get more information?