A Farewell to Project Delta

A Farewell to Project Delta

University estimates plan will generate savings of $50 million by 2006

By Jack Dunn
Director of Public Affairs

Four years after it was introduced as an innovative cost-cutting measure designed to improve services and slow rising tuition costs, Boston College's much-debated Project Delta will come to an official, and largely successful, close on June 6.

Conceived by Executive Vice President Frank B. Campanella, Project Delta, which derived its name from the mathematical symbol for change, set out to change BC's business operations and management culture by utilizing technology to increase productivity and reduce costs. It was portrayed by administrators as a bold attempt to redirect money achieved from administrative savings towards supporting BC's $260 million "Advancing the Legacy" initiative to fund academic programs and resources.

If successful, proponents argued, Delta would not only transform Boston College, but would also serve as a model for universities nationwide that were routinely raising their tuition beyond the rate of inflation.

From the outset, Delta drew a mixture of praise and criticism from members of the University community who had grown accustomed to BC's longtime business practices. While proponents argued that change was needed to control spiraling costs, others in the University claimed that Delta was an attempt to run BC like a business, an approach they insisted that was incompatible with the ethos of academia.

Ultimately, both sides agreed, Delta's success or failure would be determined by the total savings achieved upon the project's completion, as well as the degree to which services were improved.

With Delta's self-imposed end date in sight, Campanella points to $3 million in Delta savings realized in this present fiscal year, along with $5 million in accumulated savings that will be reached by June 6, as evidence of the project's overall effectiveness. In addition, he notes, accumulated savings will reach $10 million by 2002 and up to $50 million by 2006, and although a number of positions were eliminated through slot management, all savings were achieved without having to lay off any personnel.

More importantly, however, Campanella points to Delta's service improvements through the unification of financial, business and administrative services, and the creation of BC's information system Agora, which drew praise from students and parents alike.

Frank B. Campanella

"Project Delta put Boston College in the forefront of national collegiate efforts to control spending and established us as a model for other institutions who were seeking to create a service environment for students, parents, faculty and staff," said Campanella. "As a result of Delta, we have changed the way people on campus accomplish their work, improved operations, and eliminated millions of dollars in administrative costs."

In addition to the savings, members of the Project Delta Team look with pride on the long-term benefits the University will receive as a result of Delta's introspective look at the University's business practices.

"Project Delta was about people who tried to better their University," said Rita Owens, a Delta project manager and strategist for Student Services. "Two hundred people from all corners of the University got together and took a good look at BC and how it operates. This was an unprecedented exercise in the University's history, one that enabled us to improve services while establishing new principles and guidelines for our future."

Added Associate Academic Vice President Patricia De Leeuw, another Delta team member, "Through Project Delta we saved money and improved services while not laying people off and not destroying the culture of BC. Delta was a planning project for the future. We asked the tough questions that all universities will face, and we created detailed plans and new leadership that will benefit the University into the 21st century."

Delta Project Manager James Kreinbring, who oversaw the effort from its outset, points to the successful implementation of the on-line Agora services, the new Student Services Center and the popular technical consultants (TCs) as lasting evidence of Delta's accomplishments. Yet he believes many of Delta's benefits will probably not be appreciated for years to come.

"However Delta will be perceived we can't say, but we have created a legacy by establishing and testing new principles and management guidelines for the future," he said. "The initial savings from Project Delta have helped to pay for ["Advancing the Legacy"] through redirected financial resources, and the self-examination process has been and will continue to be very helpful for Boston College."

While Delta will officially come to a close next week, its end, officials say, is actually a beginning. Activity Value Analysis studies will continue over the next few years, with each department examining its operations and expenses with the goal of reducing costs that will be redirected to improve facilities and increase financial aid.

In addition, the University's mainframe-based applications for financial accounting and student information will be replaced and an e-commerce environment will be created for all University transactions. While the Local Service Center project has been postponed indefinitely, new systems have been proposed through Delta for on-line course management and campus event scheduling, all with the intended goal of improving services and reducing administrative costs.

"Delta's success was largely the result of the ingenuity, courage and hard work of our own people," said Campanella. "I'm so proud of the people who worked on Delta. While we didn't accomplish everything that we had hoped, I hope people will agree that Delta has accomplished a great deal and put into motion important changes that will serve us well in the years to come."


Return to May 26 menu

Return to Chronicle home page