Shared Services Steering Committee

President William Powers Jr. endorsed the final report and recommendations produced by the Shared Services Steering Committee in a letter dated Monday. 

In the letter, addressed to the UT community, Powers said he expects Kevin Hegarty, vice president and chief financial officer, to carry out the change in a “thoughtful manner.”

“I thank the Shared Services Steering Committee, Vice President Hegarty, the campus leaders who have volunteered to participate in this next critical phase of transformation, and all members of the UT staff for the important work they do every day,” Powers said in the letter. 

As defined by Hegarty, Shared Services is a plan to centralize University services across campus. The plan outlines the elimination of 500 jobs — primarily through attrition and retirement, according to University officials — to centralize finance, information technology, human resources and procurement services.

The committee’s final report, endorsed by Powers, outlines the findings and recommendations produced by the committee through its exploration of Shared Services implementation at UT. 

In the report, the committee provided recommendations on how best to conduct a pilot version of implementation. According to the report, the committee will take a closer look at existing forms of Shared Services on campus, particularly those at the College of Liberal Arts and McCombs School of Business, as well as pursue test runs in colleges, schools and units that volunteer and have structures conducive to centralization.

Now that Powers has endorsed the plan, UT spokesman Kevin Almasy said the Shared Services project team will start meeting with pilot participants to begin developing a transition plan.

President William Powers Jr. endorsed the final report and recommendations produced by the Shared Services Steering Committee in a letter dated March 31. 

In the letter, addressed to the UT community, Powers said he expects Kevin Hegarty, vice president and chief financial officer, to carry out the change in a "thoughtful manner."

"I thank the Shared Services Steering Committee, Vice President Hegarty, the campus leaders who have volunteered to participate in this next critical phase of transformation, and all members of the UT staff for the important work they do every day," Powers said in the letter. 

As defined by Hegarty, Shared Services is a plan to centralize University services across campus. The plan outlines the elimination of 500 jobs — primarily through attrition and retirement, according to University officials — to centralize finance, information technology, human resources and procurement services.

The committee's final report, endorsed by Powers, outlines the findings and recommendations produced by the committee through its exploration of Shared Services implementation at UT. 

In the report, the committee provided recommendations on how best to conduct a pilot version of implementation. According to the report, the committee will take a closer look at existing forms of Shared Services on campus, particularly those at the College of Liberal Arts and McCombs School of Business, as well as pursue test runs in colleges, schools and units that volunteer and have structures conducive to centralization.

Now that Powers has endorsed the plan, UT spokesman Kevin Almasy said the Shared Services project team will start meeting with pilot participants to begin developing a transition plan. 

More information about Shared Services and campus feedback

Original article about the committee's recommendations

The Shared Services Steering Committee sent a report to President William Powers Jr. on Wednesday with recommendations for the implementation of the Shared Services Plan. 

Powers is currently reviewing the report, which outlined the findings and recommendations produced by the committee through its exploration of Shared Services implementation at UT. The original Shared Services Plan called for the centralization of a variety of University procurement, information technology, human resources and finance services at various colleges, schools and units. 

According to Kevin Hegarty, executive vice president and chief financial officer, the logistics of Shared Services have changed based on feedback from campus dialogue sessions. 

“One of the things that we’ve learned as we’ve gone through this dialogue phase on campus, and in looking at a number of experiments that are already happening on our campus, is that maybe the approach ought to be different across different units,” Hegarty said. “I do think that the transformation from where we are today to where we ultimately get, it can’t be done [immediately] — it’s not logical and it’s too risky to take one giant step from a very decentralized model to a very centralized model. Maybe you two or three step it.” 

The report included a list of five common themes the committee heard from campus dialogue sessions. According to information provided in the report, campus feedback consisted primarily of concerns about transparency and community involvement in the plan’s development and the potential impact of implementation on people working at UT. 

In the report, the committee provided recommendations on how best to conduct a pilot version of implementation. According to the report, the committee will take a closer look at existing forms of Shared Services on campus, particularly those at the College of Liberal Arts and McCombs School of Business, as well as pursue test-runs in colleges, schools and units that volunteer and have structures conducive to centralization. 

In the report, the committee said it will determine the success of a pilot based on whether the centralized services maintain or improve service quality, based on feedback it receives from faculty and staff within a particular college, unit or school and through monitoring the volume, accuracy and cycle-time of a centralized service. 

According to the report, it will be difficult for the University to see financial benefits from the pilot programs, but UT will work to establish an accurate estimate of savings based on the other information obtained in a pilot program.

In a post on his blog, “Tower Talk,” Powers said he is currently reviewing the recommendations submitted to him by the committee. 

“Change is never easy, but I believe we must share services across the campus for three reasons,” Powers said in his post. “To improve service, to improve career paths for our staff, and to reduce costs, allowing us to better serve our core missions of teaching and research.”

Graduate Student Assembly passed a resolution requesting more information about the Shared Services Plan at its meeting Wednesday. 

The resolution calls for the addition of one graduate student employee, selected by GSA president Columbia Mishra, to be added to the Shared Services Steering Committee.

“The main thing we’re really asking for is just [to] give graduate students a seat in this process,” said David Villarreal, communications director for GSA and the bill’s co-author.

The Shared Services Plan is a set of recommendations that calls for the centralization of University human resources, information technology procurement and finance services. According to University officials, the plan calls for elimination of 500 jobs, mainly through natural attrition and retirement. Before pursuing a full-scale implementation of the Shared Services Plan, the Shared Services Steering Committee will design and conduct a pilot version of the plan in specific University units. 

The assembly’s resolution also asks Kevin Hegarty, executive vice president and chief financial officer, to provide regular updates on implementation, information about centralized services that already exist on campus, specifics on management-consulting firm Accenture’s involvement and specific information about the process of a pilot version of the plan. The resolution also requests that Hegarty begin sharing information by the next GSA meeting March 5. 

In January, Faculty Council passed a resolution requesting more information about the plan and for two non-administrative individuals to be added to the Steering Committee. Hegarty responded to the resolution a week after it was passed by posting a list of the requested information online. In his response, Hegarty agreed to add two non-administrative individuals to the steering committee.

Despite concerns voiced by faculty and staff, the Shared Services Steering Committee will hear recommendations for the implementation of a Shared Services pilot program next week.

The Shared Services Plan is a list of recommendations intended to reduce the University’s spending through the elimination of 500 jobs and the centralization of several University services.

Kevin Hegarty, UT’s executive vice president and chief financial officer, said the centralization will focus on services in the areas of finance, information technology, human resources and procurement. Currently, these services are offered through individual units within varying colleges and departments. Hegarty, who is the chair of the steering committee, said the elimination of 500 jobs will be made primarily through natural attrition and retirement.

The committee created the pilot subcommittee after a series of campus-dialogue sessions, in which members of the steering committee sought to receive feedback from the UT community. University spokesman Kevin Almasy said the pilot program would take place in small-scale University departments on a volunteer basis to accommodate for some of the apprehension voiced in dialogue sessions. 

“As campus dialogue progressed, it became clear that there was an understanding for the rationale behind Shared Services, but that there was not a willingness for campus-wide implementation,” Almasy said.

At the last Faculty Council meeting in December, a pair of professors introduced a resolution calling for “the immediate suspension of pilot Shared Services implementation.” The resolution, which was co-authored by Dana Cloud, associate communication studies professor, and associate English professor Snehal Shingavi, supported the suspension of further implementation of the plan until more data is produced about the effects of the Shared Services Plan. The council did not vote on the resolution.

“Shared Services is expensive and risky,” Cloud said in an Opinion column she co-authored for The Daily Texan. “The proposal presents no measures of likely success or failure. We urgently need a transparent discussion of the plan’s risks.” 

Associate vice president Mary Knight, a member of the steering committee, said she understands the cautious attitude some individuals on campus have regarding Shared Services.

“There’s still skepticism, and we understand that,” Knight said. “I think it’s healthy for people to be skeptical because they’re going to provide good questions, and we’re going to have to figure out answers to those good questions.”

“I think one thing that some people are not thinking about is the plan that we are on, and that we’ve been on for the last handful of years,” Hegarty said. “We have been, as I’ve told the campus, not filling positions and not laying people off, but that is the future, if we do nothing. We will reach a point where we will have to start laying people off.”

Almasy said the committee intends to submit a final copy of their plan to President William Powers Jr. in February for him to review. 

Editors' note: This news story has been corrected to reflect the fact that Cloud co-authored an Opinion column, not an editorial, in the Texan. 

The UT Shared Services Plan will be revised to address public concerns collected at campus dialogue sessions regarding job security, funding and restructuring.

The plan is a list of recommendations intended to reduce University costs. The plan outlines the elimination of 500 jobs in order to combine services in the areas of finance, information technology, human resources and procurement into one centralized office. Currently, those services are provided through individual units within varying colleges and departments, according to Kevin Hegarty, executive vice president and chief financial officer and chair of the Shared Services Steering Committee. University officials predict the bulk of these jobs will be eliminated through staff reductions — in what they hope will mostly be regular attrition — and retirements.

The steering committee hosted a variety of dialogue sessions throughout the past few months to present a detailed overview of the plan and address questions and concerns raised by those in attendance. The campus dialogue will end later this month, following two small scale meetings with IT governance groups, UT spokesman Kevin Almasy said.

Christopher Adams, manager of the department of geological sciences, said he thinks the time allotted for campus discussion should be extended to accommodate the drastic change outlined in the plan.

“We don’t always have a lot of time to just sit and ponder the consequence or the positive outcomes that could come with something like this,” Adams said.

The plan is projected to cost the University $160 million to $180 million over 10 years, with much of the cost going toward replacing the Departmental Financial Information Network, the current enterprise resource planning software. The plan estimates the University will save $120 million to $140 million in the same time frame, which includes the predicted cost and profit of the plan. 

Adams said he has concerns about how quickly the plan is being finalized. He said by attempting to transition to a new enterprise resource planning software while simultaneously implementing the plan, the administration could negatively impact work quality.

“I just feel like there are a lot of things changing all at once and it’s kind of like a roller coaster,” Adams said. 

Almasy said the committee has kept a detailed record of the questions raised during public meetings and those submitted via email.

“We have a listing of over 350 comments we’ve received,” Almasy said. “That is all kind of being reviewed and we’re trying to develop a set of major themes, which are the same kinds of questions and topics that were repeated over and over, and those are going to be reincorporated into a set of recommendations that will build off the draft plan and be delivered to the President [William Powers Jr.].”

The recommendations will likely be delivered to Powers in January and include a recommendation to conduct a pilot program of the plan before implementing it campus-wide, Almasy said.

“The steering committee has been charged with identifying a number of things: what would be tested in a pilot, what would determine the success or failure of a pilot and who would be the participants,” Almasy said.

Staff Council Chairwoman Erika Frahm said the council will continue to collaborate with the steering committee, even though the formal dialogue phase has ended.

“I have been incredibly proud of how the staff has approached this plan,” Frahm said. “All questions, concerns and suggestions raised by staff have been intelligent, respectful and professional. Communication with the shared services project team will be ongoing through all phases of this project.”