The UT Shared Services Plan will be revised to address public concerns collected at campus dialogue sessions regarding job security, funding and restructuring.
The plan is a list of recommendations intended to reduce University costs. The plan outlines the elimination of 500 jobs in order to combine services in the areas of finance, information technology, human resources and procurement into one centralized office. Currently, those services are provided through individual units within varying colleges and departments, according to Kevin Hegarty, executive vice president and chief financial officer and chair of the Shared Services Steering Committee. University officials predict the bulk of these jobs will be eliminated through staff reductions — in what they hope will mostly be regular attrition — and retirements.
The steering committee hosted a variety of dialogue sessions throughout the past few months to present a detailed overview of the plan and address questions and concerns raised by those in attendance. The campus dialogue will end later this month, following two small scale meetings with IT governance groups, UT spokesman Kevin Almasy said.
Christopher Adams, manager of the department of geological sciences, said he thinks the time allotted for campus discussion should be extended to accommodate the drastic change outlined in the plan.
“We don’t always have a lot of time to just sit and ponder the consequence or the positive outcomes that could come with something like this,” Adams said.
The plan is projected to cost the University $160 million to $180 million over 10 years, with much of the cost going toward replacing the Departmental Financial Information Network, the current enterprise resource planning software. The plan estimates the University will save $120 million to $140 million in the same time frame, which includes the predicted cost and profit of the plan.
Adams said he has concerns about how quickly the plan is being finalized. He said by attempting to transition to a new enterprise resource planning software while simultaneously implementing the plan, the administration could negatively impact work quality.
“I just feel like there are a lot of things changing all at once and it’s kind of like a roller coaster,” Adams said.
Almasy said the committee has kept a detailed record of the questions raised during public meetings and those submitted via email.
“We have a listing of over 350 comments we’ve received,” Almasy said. “That is all kind of being reviewed and we’re trying to develop a set of major themes, which are the same kinds of questions and topics that were repeated over and over, and those are going to be reincorporated into a set of recommendations that will build off the draft plan and be delivered to the President [William Powers Jr.].”
The recommendations will likely be delivered to Powers in January and include a recommendation to conduct a pilot program of the plan before implementing it campus-wide, Almasy said.
“The steering committee has been charged with identifying a number of things: what would be tested in a pilot, what would determine the success or failure of a pilot and who would be the participants,” Almasy said.
Staff Council Chairwoman Erika Frahm said the council will continue to collaborate with the steering committee, even though the formal dialogue phase has ended.
“I have been incredibly proud of how the staff has approached this plan,” Frahm said. “All questions, concerns and suggestions raised by staff have been intelligent, respectful and professional. Communication with the shared services project team will be ongoing through all phases of this project.”