The shared services business model is scaled to support UofL's growth.
The shared services business model is scaled to support UofL's growth.

Plans are quickly turning into activity as Belknap Campus prepares for implementation of a new shared services model designed to improve effectiveness and efficiency of business operations. Part of the “University of the 21st Century Initiative,” the plan will be rolled out in phases, with Phase I well underway and the second phase planned through 2017.

Shared services will be housed in a to-be-determined Business Operations Center on campus and will focus on customer service, operational excellence, efficient transactional processes and analytics to continually improve operations.

According to Lee Smith, associate vice president of performance improvement and business analytics, the move to a shared services model will streamline the transactional business processes that are currently “fragmented.”

The existing process does not meet the university’s current and future needs, Smith said during one of two town hall meetings recently held to address the Belknap Business Operations Center initiative. The university’s current setup is complex, with nearly a dozen acronyms, for example (XPR, PAR, PAT, JDF, etc.), and inefficient redundancies. For instance, the onboarding process for students includes 36 pages of information and 13 forms.

“That means they have to fill out their name 13 times, their Social Security number 10 times and their address nine times. The documents are then reviewed by the department and sent to payroll,” Smith explained.

By contrast, the “future state” – or post-shared services rollout – includes an online form that asks these questions once and is then submitted to the Business Operations Center for review. Smith noted there are some processes that will still need to be done in person, such as filling out an I-9 form.

“The goal is for everything to be done within one business day,” he said.

Smith added that the future workflow will entail departments and central units working seamlessly with Business Operations, which will consist of customer service generalists, who will address many units’ basic needs, questions and issues, and functional specialists, who will be specially trained to quickly and accurately push transactions through the system. 

Lead fiscal officers, focus groups and other business officers have been providing input regarding improvement opportunities for the initial rollout. Phase I began in April and is expected to continue through December. It includes more than 500,000 transactions and the identification of a top 10 opportunities list. The Phase I focuses are onboarding, position maintenance, job changes, additional payments, time reporting and expense transfers.

Phase II is expected to be rolled out in 2017 to include more than 100,000 transactions. It will focus on the processes of Procard reconciliations, program/account reconciliations, travel and expense reimbursements and leave management.

According to Smith, the phase rollouts and work group and focus group tests will help produce the core tenets of a successful Business Operations Center:

  1. Centralized
  2. Automated
  3. Responsive
  4. Data driven
  5. Standardized and simplified

“Our goal is to make these processes more efficient for the end users and to maximize value, efficiency and accuracy,” Smith said. “This model is the best way to get us there.” 

More information about the shared services initiative, including a Q&A session with the standing-room-only crowd, is available in the town hall video below:

Alicia Kelso
Alicia Kelso is the director of social media and digital content. She joined UofL in 2015 as director of communications at the Brandeis School of Law. She also serves as a senior contributor at, writing about the restaurant industry, which she has covered since 2010. Her work has been featured in publications around the world, including NPR, Bloomberg, The Seattle Times, Good Morning America and Franchise Asia Magazine.