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What is Shared Services?

“Shared Services is the provision of a service by one part of an organization or group where that service had previously been found in more than one part of the organization or group.” (Wikipedia)  Thus the funding and resourcing of the service is shared and the providing department effectively becomes an internal service provider.

There are four capability levers in shared services:  analysis, people, process and technology.  A variety of shared service models exist and there is certainly no one-size fits all.  Different modes need to be employed to standardize and adapt processes into a shared services product.  Efficiencies are gained by employing the theory of continuous improvement which results in standardization and automation by leveraging best practices and technology.

The purpose of Shared Services is to enable, serve, and support others.  This is accomplished by providing timely and accurate information about UT resources by giving clear direction, offering thoughtful guidance, and delivering quality service.

What does shared services mean to UT Administration?

The concept of Shared Services within UT Administration is very simple:  We connect dots where they weren’t previously connected while employing continuous improvement of business processes.

With the implementation of various existing Enterprise Resource Systems at the University, many administrative functions have been decentralized. Accordingly, over the last few decades, this decentralization has led to duplication of efforts and labor burdened processes which are performed by department specific staff on only a periodic basis. Due to both complicated processes and staff who only perform these functions a handful of times per year, inefficiencies have grown as a result of the decentralization.  In an effort to combat this inefficiency, Shared Services is working to not only centralize certain functions within the division, but to standardize and streamline them as well.

Initial processes implemented by Shared Services within the VC for Finance and Administration area include travel planning and post-travel processing, payment card processing, contract review forms, purchase requisitions, employment searches, compliance tracking, and cost accounting.  In addition, Shared Services has been engaged in special projects related to aggregation and dissemination of complex Campus-wide data from varied sources as well as streamlining of current processes within departments in the division.

Vision and Strategic Objectives

The strategic intent of moving to a shared services model is to reallocate university resources, reduce costs and increase the quality of services provided.  Administrative functions are the primary scope of the shared model focusing specifically on three components:  financial transaction assistance, administrative assistance and business consulting.  Initiatives will fall within one of the three components of the shared services model and the platform will be designed for either internal or external maintenance.  Internal maintenance defines functions which will remain internal to the shared services organization and be maintained on behalf of constituents.  External maintenance defines functions which will be developed by the shared services organization, yet maintained by the constituency.

Existing in the ever-changing world of technology, especially when striving for continuous improvement, it becomes necessary to evolve processes to become more effective and efficient.  Several initiatives are currently underway to enhance productivity. The goal, in time, is to create a highly effective business office within the division and an example for other business offices across campus.