Administrative Services Design Project

Updated November 1, 2021

Overview

In fall 2020, the Office of the Chief Financial Officer conducted an Administrative Activities Survey (AAS) to learn more about the administrative functions and activities across the University, including finance, human resources, marketing and communications, procurement and purchasing, research and general administration services.

The survey’s goal was to help us think strategically about administrative services across the University. Importantly, this was not an effort to reduce current staff, but rather an opportunity to identify efficiencies including how to fill staffing vacancies such as those from early retirement programs – evolving together to best support the University’s current and future needs.

To assess and act on survey insights, the University initiated the Administrative Services Design Project (ASDP). This project aims to better understand ways to make administrative professionals' lives easier and more efficient, as well as improve the experience of those University members who rely on their work.

For example, the project might identify that many people are doing similar tasks, like procuring supplies, but without any connection to each other. As another example: The project might consider ways to remove silos, like Pitt IT did through the “One IT at Pitt” initiative to integrate IT services more effectively and consistently throughout the University.

Thanks to Functional Work Team participants who provided valuable feedback, ideas, and suggestions to address administrative function pain points, Phase 1 is complete. Using this input, the ASDP Steering Committee considered a menu of service delivery model options and evaluated recommendations, providing direction to proceed to Phase 2 which is now underway.

Thank you for your continued support of this opportunity to build Pitt's future together!

Survey Highlights

More than 4,700 faculty and staff with administrative roles completed the Administrative Activities Survey (AAS) in fall 2020. The survey provided the following feedback:

  • Duplication of Services: A prevalent theme was the duplication of administrative activities across the institution. Respondents attributed that duplication to current organizational structures.
  • Communication: Respondents commented that various services are fragmented across the organization, making it difficult to know whom to reach out to for functional support.
  • Silos and Capacity Constraints: There is a perception that many units/departments operate in silos, and in some cases, lack sufficient support. 
  • Mission Focus: Many respondents felt that they spend a lot of time doing administrative activities that fall outside of their job descriptions, placing a focus on transactional work as opposed to high impact contributions that better align with and advance the University’s mission.

Project Team 

Dave DeJong, senior vice chancellor for business and operations, and Hari Sastry, senior vice chancellor and chief financial officer, serve as executive sponsors of the project team.

Timing

The project team completed Phase 1: Discovery and Concept Development, which involved engaging functional stakeholders across the University in solution set ideation and concepting. The team has launched Phase 2: Service Delivery Design which will advance design from concept to implementation planning while identifying staffing needs, services to be provided, and expected benefits, to transform administrative services in key areas. Some solutions, including human resources, marketing and communications, and research administration, will continue with Steering Committee oversight while others will advance through respective University unit-level teams. Implementation will follow Phase 2, with timing varying based on the initiative; Phase 2 is targeted for completion in spring 2022.