Operational Excellence: Efficiencies, yes–but at what cost?

What is Operational Excellence?
Whatever it’s called at your campus, “Operational Excellence” (OE) is already changing the way UC does business. OE is the bureaucratic term for any number of business process redesigns that are being implemented throughout the system.

“Shared service centers,” “working smarter,” “consolidations,” “initiatives,” and a variety of other terms are used to describe a series of organizational changes in various stages of implementation at different UC campuses. The purpose of these changes is to make operations more “efficient” by making it possible for fewer people to do more work with fewer resources.

Areas targeted for redesign and/or elimination
Areas most commonly targeted for consolidation are human resources, information technology services, financial services, and grants management. Some of the developments that will affect all employees include conversion to a single systemwide payroll processing unit and the implementation of electronic time sheets.

Layoffs and department closures are part of the plan
OE is designed to result in layoffs and department closures as part of the cost savings. Hundreds of employees have already received layoff notices. Some have been invited to apply for a reduced number of jobs created to supply the services previously performed by a greater number of employees.

Knowledge, specialization, responsiveness and quality suffer
Loss of people has also resulted in the loss of institutional knowledge (particularly as more senior employees opt for early retirement rather than work under ever declining working conditions). The loss of positions and the redesign of the work load has also lead to losses of responsiveness, specialization, and quality of service. For example, on some campuses, grants managements personnel have been pooled together and now have numeric requirements for the number of faculty they must service and the number of grants they are required to prepare and submit.

Collaboration can lead to stable funding
Years of declining state revenues threaten not only the direction of research (as we increasingly rely on private funding) but also the very existence of a vibrant, desirable, affordable and accessible university. Employees and unions need to work together with university management and the public to establish a stable income for the University of California.

Employees need an effective voice
University Professional and Technical Employees (UPTE) supports efficiencies that do not negatively impact the ability of the University to fulfill its missions of teaching, research and public service.  Front-line employees need to have an effective voice in identifying, designing, and implementing changes in processes. Without genuine employee input, the University runs the risk of further eroding the critical services staff provide.

The University of California stands at a crossroads of being able to continue as the world’s premiere public university. Let us have a voice so that we can see that it succeeds.

How can we help?
If you haven’t yet signed an authorization card saying that you support UPTE for administrative professional employees, now is the time. If you want more information, please visit our website orcontact us.  Check us out on Facebook!

Read more about OE at UC
Operational Excellence at UC Berkeley
Organizational Excellence at UC Davis
Focus on Excellence at UC Irvine
Restructuring Steering Committee at UCLA
Working Smart at UC Riverside
Operational Excellence at UC San Francisco
Operational Effectiveness at UC Santa Barbara
Working Smarter at UC Office of the President