Delta Team Eyes New System For Facilities Use

Several groups at work

By Sean Smith
Staff Writer

A Project Delta design team has completed preliminary plans for a new, technology-based facilities management system, and several other teams are actively working on projects related to finances, student services, faculty and staff support, desktop computer systems, and infrastructure.

The teams of administrators, faculty and staff were formed late last year to design operating models that will improve productivity and customer service while reducing cost across the University.

Project Delta design team leaders include, from left: Project Delta Manager James Kreinbring, Director of Enrollment Systems Rita Owens, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Associate Dean Patricia DeLeeuw, Buildings and Grounds Director Thomas Devine and Information Technology Resources Director Martin Smith.
A team led by Buildings and Grounds Director Thomas Devine has submitted a proposal for managing University facilities and space to the Delta Executive Committee, which is reviewing it. The other teams are consulting with various offices and departments to understand their systems, responsibilities and procedures.

With this phase of Delta, said Project Manager James Kreinbring, the principles outlined in the Delta direction statement are being applied, and that process involves extensive, direct contact with the University community.

"From the beginning, getting the employees' point of view was considered a vital part of Delta," Kreinbring said. "The University's strongest asset is the people who work here, and Delta needs to have their ideas, observations and opinions on how BC functions as an institution.

"So as the design teams talk with groups and individuals in various departments and offices," he continued, "it's important to understand that this is information-gathering, not evaluation."

The model proposed by Devine's team would establish a more integrated system for managing University assets, documents, finances, processes and events. Under this model, effective use of technology would allow for better access to and exchange of information concerning these areas, Devine said.

"If someone wants to reserve a room on campus for an event, for example, it may be necessary to get certain details," he explained. "Does the room have a screen available for audio-visual presentations? Are there kitchen facilities near the event that can be utilized by Dining Services? What we propose will entail placing a work order on-line, at any time, without having to call someone. The request will be in the system and assigned a confirmation number, and it will be easier to find the appropriate information."

In the next few weeks, a team under the direction of University Controller Michael Driscoll will finalize proposals for short-term financial initiatives. These measures would automate personnel action forms and time cards, reduce redundant approvals and institute a new small-dollar procurement system, among other goals.

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Associate Dean Patricia DeLeeuw is leading another design team working on a model for faculty and staff support. Its areas of focus include clerical and technical services, as well as budget, payroll and travel administration. The team expects to finish its information-gathering by the end of February, DeLeeuw said, and hopes to have a pilot program ready by summer.

"We are taking ideas we had formulated last summer and comparing them with what we see out there," said DeLeeuw, a member of the Delta core team which helped draw up the project direction statement. "You have to find out how things are done on a daily and weekly basis, such as who in the office uses the U-BUY system the most. But it's also important to ask people what they think could be better about their office and the way it works."

The design team developing a model for student services, directed by Enrollment Systems Director Rita Owens, also plans to implement the first of its pilot projects by the end of the academic year. The system they envision would emphasize self-service.

It would enable a prospective student to electronically apply for admission or check the status of financial aid request, for example, or allow an undergraduate to initiate and pay for a meal plan, order textbooks and "sign" a work-study timecard through a single menu of services on a Web-based interface or voice response unit.

Kreinbring heads a team assigned to promote a streamlined and simplified system for purchasing, maintaining, replacing and tracking desktop computer systems. It anticipates finalizing the system for the next fiscal year, which begins June 1.

In addition, two Delta "infrastructure teams" have been formed to consider the broad institutional needs emerging from Delta. Employment and Employee Development Director Bernard O'Kane is overseeing one team, which is exploring changes in organizational policy and procedures relating to employment, compensation and training issues.

Another team, led by Information Technology Resources Director Martin Smith, will assess applications and network-based technologies required to implement Delta projects.

Also, a business review team has been appointed to analyze the Biology Department, the first in a series of such groups that will look at academic departments. The review teams will recommend ways to streamline work flows, improve management, maximize resources and reduce costs in the individual departments. While an outside consultant is taking part in the Biology review, Kreinbring said he expects that future review teams to be composed entirely of BC personnel.

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