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Woodson OKs Business Transformation

With the stroke of a pen, Chancellor Randy Woodson has given his approval to a sweeping restructuring of the university’s business operations, setting in motion a flurry of activity that will ultimately transform the way NC State does business from the ground up.

In a memo endorsing the effort, Woodson touted the benefits promised by the reorganization. Better service, reduced cost and enhanced opportunities for staff were at the top of the list. At the same time, he touched on the challenges ahead, including “a schedule that is as aggressive as possible.”

In fact, the deadlines established for the project would challenge an Olympic relay team. By next January, the university plans to have a special onboarding center up and running to coordinate all the activities involved in processing new hires. Six months later it will open the doors of two new business operations centers. By the following July, five more centers will be humming along.

Wave of the Future

These streamlined, centralized centers—called BOCs—are the wave of the future, says Scott Inkley, a seasoned business operations manager who joined NC State in December to lead the new division of University Business Operations. Universities that have adopted the shared services model have achieved the same goals envisioned by Woodson: higher-quality service at a reduced cost.

It’s not magic, says Inkley, but good old fashioned customer service.

“This is a very rare opportunity for an organization of this size to reinvent itself,” he says. “It’s a chance for us to create something new, to do the things people wish a business center could do for them and do them well.”

The seven BOCs will take over the financial and human resources transactions now conducted in 36 units across campus. They’ll tailor their services to the needs of their customers, so faculty and staff can focus on the education mission, Inkley says.

Who Goes Where?

Staffing is a critical issue involving three workforces: the university’s central offices, the colleges/departments and the new BOCs. Reorganizing business services essentially  means figuring out who goes where and who does what.

Some employees will choose to transfer to the BOCs while others will remain in place. It’s a complex process but Inkley has made a pledge he intends to keep. “No decision will be made about you, without you,” he tells people. “This is going to be a participatory transformation.”

“We want to make the transition as smooth as we can,” he adds. “The existing work has to get done and the existing practices have to continue. But we also need to identify the best practices moving forward. We don’t want to just take the current  transactions and do them in a different place.”

All Hands on Deck

Inkley has plenty of support as he leads the reorganization effort. Charles Leffler, NC State’s vice chancellor for finance and business, has appointed an implementation team to oversee the planning, design and implementation of the BOCs.

Two task forces, one for human resources and one for finance, will analyze business operations and make recommendations on staffing and processes. And transition teams will be formed for each BOC to oversee the transfer of people and functions, and to evaluate how well the process is working.

“Yes, we will make mistakes, and there will be hiccups and unintended consequences,” Inkley says. “But we will listen to our customers, respond quickly and fix them.”

Inkley’s optimism stems from his faith not just in the process but in the people at NC State.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that we have the best people in the country,” he says flatly. “If we all agree to make this work, it will work.”