Delta Leaders Update Managers On Project's Plans

By Sean Smith
Staff Writer

Approximately 170 administrative and academic managers heard Project Delta representatives discuss current and future Delta-related initiatives at a special presentation on Oct. 21 in Gasson 100.

The audience, which included deans, associate deans and departmental chairs, as well as professional staff in non-academic offices, also had an opportunity to ask questions about the project and its impact on Boston College during the hour-and-a-half session.

Project Manager and Delta Executive Team member James Kreinbring moderated the presentation, part of an ongoing effort to provide details regarding the three-phase implementation of Delta - scheduled for completion in June, 2000 - to various segments of the University community. The first implementation phase, which will cover the next 12 to 18 months, focuses on reshaping academic and non-academic services for students and increasing faculty and staff use of technology.

Financial Vice President and Treasurer Peter C. McKenzie, a Delta Executive Team member, provided an overview of the implementation plan. He described the continuing centralization and automation of many student services related to housing, meal plans, financial aid and other areas. McKenzie also outlined Delta proposals for faculty and staff support, including technology consultants who will help offices integrate technology into their work and the eventual establishment of service centers to provide fiscal and other needed consultation to offices and departments.

Executive Vice President Frank B. Campanella, another Executive Team member, told the audience that keeping employees informed is a major priority for Delta. Recent announcements of initiatives like the management reviews for approximately 60 offices and departments, he said, have likely raised some concerns about how the University will achieve Delta objectives of cutting costs and improving services.

"The worst sickness in an organization is uncertainty," Campanella said. "We recognize Delta is creating a lot of uncertainty and speculation in the University community. It's important for everyone to know what is going to happen in the coming months and years, and to have some reliable information about why these changes are occurring and what they mean."

Employee Development Director Bernard O'Kane discussed current and forthcoming initiatives the Office of Human Resources is undertaking in relation to Delta. These include the formulation of a comprehensive compensation and award system, as well as an employee learning and development program.

In his presentation, O'Kane responded to frequently voiced concerns about Delta. These include unsubstantiated rumors that Delta will result in major layoffs, he said, as well as complaints that the project only involves high-level administrators and relies too much on unfamiliar terminology to describe goals and plans.

"There were over 100 people involved in Delta activities over the past year, representing different levels of management and this number will increase with future initiatives," O'Kane said. He added that Delta is "making efforts to express ideas in ways people can understand."

Campanella addressed other questions about Delta during the discussion period. Asked whether the management reviews are supposed to produce a 40 percent reduction in employees, Campanella pointed out that the figure does not refer to staffing levels, but is a budgetary "stretch target" which individual offices and departments use to complete the process.

"Part of the review technique is to ask units how they would operate if they had to reduce workload and expenses by 40 percent," he explained. "There is no way we could run Boston College with 40 percent less of a workforce."

Campanella also was asked how much consultation and comment the University community would be able to offer before Delta initiatives are implemented. He said the planning stages involved extensive conversation with employees likely to be affected by Delta and in some cases this has resulted in changes to the project's timetable.

"We've talked to a lot of people," he said.

Campanella emphasized that the approach and philosophy behind Delta reflects a desire to capitalize on institutional strengths, not a reaction to some impending crisis.

"We are not in the same position as some colleges and universities, who have had to lay off employees," he said. "Boston College is financially quite strong. We are not in a panic. This gives us an opportunity to pilot new programs, to test them out and see if they need adjustments."

McKenzie sounded a similar theme in his talk on the implementation plan.

"It's going to be a gradual process. We're not going to do this fast," he said. "We know as an institution we can do a better job, because we have bright, capable people. New kinds of organizations and processes, with the help of technology, will help us do better."

An outline of the Project Delta implementation plan is available through the Delta Web site. For those who are interested in learning more about the management reviews, Delta will provide a description of the Activity Value Analysis method being used in the process. The document, published by AVA creators McKinsey and Co., can be obtained from Judith Canty at Project Delta, at ext.2-1912 or by e-mail at cantyj@bc.edu.

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