Phase 1 of the STAR Review identified eight critical initiatives to improve Drexel’s administrative performance and efficiency, which began in April 2013.
The first three initiatives—budget, student lifecycle management and procurement redesign—have been identified as our highest priorities because of their scope and fundamental importance. They are discussed in more detail below, and they will be implemented first. (Click here to learn more about the timeline for those initiatives.)
We will be creating and transitioning to a new “Drexel Model” of budgeting that directly assigns revenues to the units that generate them, and collects funds from those units to support the central activities of the University.
The existing budget process does not successfully align the flow of funds with activity or performance. Stakeholders ranging from the Faculty Senate to our Strategic Planning Task Forces have called for a new model that offers better incentives to our colleges and schools while increasing transparency and accountability.
The Drexel Model will be based on Responsibility-Centered Management, which provides some centralized control along with easily customizable incentives to emphasize Drexel’s strategic needs. Here are our guiding principles for the new model:
- Translates our strategic goals into operating plans that advance the academic mission and enhance collaboration
- Aligns budgetary authority with responsibility and accountability
- Ensures that resource management and planning are inclusive, transparent, informed by data and easy to understand
- Provides a clear connection between performance and rewards, to encourage service improvement and cost reduction
- Allows for long-term planning and analysis, including multi-year forecasting
- Provides exceptional stewardship over our resources while allowing for flexibility in decision making
- Promotes entrepreneurship and enhanced revenue growth across the institution
Implementation of the Drexel Model is taking place over a 28-month period. Huron Consulting Services has helped us develop a baseline model that allows deans and budget officers to weigh the effects of various assumptions and decisions, and we will work to build consensus for the final form of the model and take ownership of its principles across the University.
During the 12 months of FY2014, resource decisions will follow our historical model, but the structure of the new model will be in place to help deans and budget officers understand and train in the new environment. For FY2015, the Drexel Model will be in place, but units will be “held harmless” for losses resulting from its changes, allowing further understanding of its rules and effects.
Student Lifecycle Management
We will be introducing an “admit-to-retain” strategy for student recruitment and services, managed throughout the student lifecycle. Students will be engaged seamlessly by the University from the day they become prospects to the day they graduate to ensure their success and persistence.
Drexel’s current approach to student lifecycle management has been shaped by a strategy of growing applications to grow the first-year class, and the numbers show that we have been exceptionally successful. Now, however, it is past time for us to ensure that recruitment, enrollment, academic advising, financial services and financial aid, co-op and every other student service work along a single, coordinated continuum to support our students.
Some of the most critical issues to improve student retention include establishing a clearer, need-focused approach to financial aid; shifting our applicant selection strategy to identify students we can help to persist at Drexel; continuing the effort begun with Drexel Central to improve operations and policies in financial aid, billing and registration; and better supporting academic advising that meets consistent standards, has strong oversight and tracks student progress and challenges.
We are exploring a new governance strategy for student lifecycle management featuring an SLM committee to ensure that all parts of the lifecycle team are integrated, and that all major decisions are weighed for their impact at every point on the cycle. The committee will likely include representatives of the Provost’s Office, Enrollment Management, the colleges and schools, Student Financial Services, Finance, Academic Advising, Student Affairs, Residential Life, Facilities and University Housing, Co-op, Athletics, Institutional Research and more.
We will be redesigning and strengthening Drexel’s central procurement infrastructure to buy more intelligently, reduce risk and better manage spending.
Some years ago, Drexel’s purchasing strategy began favoring decentralized activities. As a result, we have fallen behind the best practices in the industry.
The procure-to-pay transformation will help everyone at the University make strategic rather than tactical spending decisions. We will focus on realigning our procurement strategies and functions, implementing strategic sourcing and demand management, automating invoicing and paying, investing in new technology including an end-to-end e-procurement solution and redesigning the procurement organization.
With an improved procurement process in place, Drexel will realize newfound price opportunities, increased buying power, better demand management, simpler and better product and service specifications and easier policy compliance. The monetary and efficiency savings we create will be critical to our ability to provide proper resources to our strategic priorities.
Drexel’s usage of instructional space is lagging behind industry-identified best practices, and we are evaluating how to bring the University in line with those best practices by increasing transparency into departmental space and promoting and enforcing institutional policies.
Drexel has taken major steps to promote responsible energy management, but there are additional opportunities including possible chargebacks or unit-level budgeting and developing a holistic energy reduction plan. The hiring of an energy manager is one possible strategy to promote our goals and encourage accountability.
Benefits and Perquisites Rationalization
We need to make sure that benefit programs and perquisites are designed and managed as fairly and efficiently as possible. As a result of the STAR Review and a parallel benefits review already underway, we are evaluating ways to improve these areas.
Span of Control
Low supervisor-to-direct report ratios in many departments point to reorganization opportunities, and the University is evaluating span of control at all levels for maximum efficiency.
We are evaluating an investment in a comprehensive position management framework and the addition of Finance in the approval process for in-year hiring, to make enterprise-wide resource allocation more practical and effective.