Last Update: September 2014

OVERVIEW
What is the Tufts Effectiveness in Administrative Management initiative?
Why is TEAM needed now?
Why is administrative effectiveness important?
Does TEAM examine any academic areas?
Is Tufts in a financial crisis?
Do administrative employees have input into this effort?
What role will the trustees have?

PROJECT APPROACH AND TIMELINE
What is the process and time frame?
How will progress of TEAM be communicated?
How did the executive committee make decisions about what to change and which opportunities to pursue?
How long before Tufts sees benefits from TEAM?
What was the purpose of the Activity Analysis that staff completed in July?
Who was surveyed?
I’ve heard the term “shared services” used in relation to TEAM. What does this mean?

PROJECT SCOPE AND IMPACT
How will TEAM affect my department and other departments that I work with closely?
Has TEAM considered the unique culture at each Tufts school?
What are some specific examples of change we can expect from TEAM?
Will this have any impact on jobs?
Will efficiency lead to diminished services, especially for students?

RELATIONSHIP TO OTHER INITIATIVES
How is this effort related to the strategic planning process that David Harris is running?
How does TEAM relate to other initiatives at Tufts, including the development of a Capital Plan?

ENGAGEMENT WITH THE TUFTS COMMUNITY
TEAM does not include a review of labs, classrooms or clinics; how are faculty involved in TEAM?
Can you tell me more about the TEAM working groups?
How can I provide additional input to the TEAM initiative?

SAVING MONEY
Is Tufts expecting to save a specific amount of money as a result of this project and if so over what period of time?
Are you planning on cutting budgets by a certain percentage across the board?

GENERATING REVENUE

Is Tufts considering new programs to generate revenue?
Can we cut costs and boost revenues by leveraging technology, such as MOOCs?
Can we increase the number of students we admit or admit more full-pay students?
Can we alleviate future financial challenges by launching another fundraising campaign?

CHOOSING THE CONSULTANT
What criteria did you use for selecting a consultant?
How much will the consultant cost?

OVERVIEW

What is the Tufts Effectiveness in Administrative Management initiative?
Tufts Effectiveness in Administrative Management (TEAM) is a university-wide initiative designed to ensure that our administration supports our core academic mission to the greatest degree possible. It began with a comprehensive assessment of all administrative services at Tufts, including comparisons to best practices among our peers. While we know we have a very talented and dedicated staff, TEAM will ensure that we all work together as effectively as possible to support Tufts’ core mission of teaching, research and impact on society. TEAM will incorporate feedback received through our Excellence at Work survey, in which many employees told us that we should reduce red tape and streamline administrative processes. It also complements Tufts: The Next 10 Years (T10), the academic strategic planning effort being led by Provost David Harris, and builds on Tufts’ tradition of managing resources carefully to maintain our financial strength.

Why is TEAM needed now?
Our nation has emerged from the acute economic collapse of 2008, but growth has been slow. Higher education nationwide is facing unprecedented challenges, and Tufts is no exception. While we are currently healthy, both academically and financially, this is the time to take thoughtful action to ensure continued strength over the long term. Tufts’ major sources of revenue—tuition, gifts, investment income, and research funding—are under significant pressure. Government funding for research is being significantly reduced and we cannot expect to make up our budget through large annual tuition increases, especially at a time of growing public concern about the cost of higher education. While Tufts provides an outstanding education, our costs are among the highest in the country. Undergraduate tuition, room, board and fees, for example, exceed $61,000 a year. Our financial aid resources have not kept up with peers, despite the generosity of many donors. We must limit tuition hikes and increase financial aid if we are to live up to our value of keeping Tufts accessible to those of moderate means.

Why is administrative effectiveness important?
Administrative costs – such as employee salaries, facilities, libraries and IT support – currently account for approximately half of Tufts’ operating budget. While our costs are comparable to those at peer institutions, it’s important that our processes make the most efficient use of our resources and reduce red tape. TEAM will ensure that we spend our dollars wisely on administration while allocating as much funding as possible to our mission-critical programs.

Does TEAM examine any academic areas?
This effort looks at administrative areas only; activities in classrooms, clinics, or research facilities are not within TEAM’s scope. However, we will ensure that efforts to enhance administrative effectiveness are integrated with and supportive of academic planning, including the T10 plan led by David Harris.

Is Tufts in a financial crisis?
No, Tufts is financially stable. We have highly competitive academic programs with top students and faculty, a balanced budget and strong credit rating. But in order to maintain that position long-term, we need to do more to control costs and align administrative processes with academic needs. We believe it’s better to act now rather than wait until a crisis arises.

Do administrative employees have input into this effort?
Yes, a successful project depends on employee input and more than 700 individuals have already provided us with ideas during our planning process. During TEAM’s assessment phase (January-April 2013), we offered multiple opportunities for staff to participate through interviews, focus groups, surveys, town hall meetings, online forms and other feedback channels. In the design phase (July-October 2013), working groups were formed around 10 areas of focus. These groups were charged with designing new operating models for these areas, which were presented to the board of trustees in early November 2013. Following an implementation planning phase (December 2013-June 2014) we are now in the implementation phase of TEAM putting our carefully developed plans into action.

What role will the trustees have?
We are keeping the board fully engaged as we proceed. Several trustees are sharing their expertise and participating actively in TEAM. The board of trustees reviews all recommendations for administrative changes.

PROJECT APPROACH AND TIMELINE

What is the process and time frame?
In order to ensure that our assessment was thorough, thoughtful and objective, we worked with an outside firm that is experienced in helping higher education institutions effect positive change: Deloitte Consulting LLP. During the project’s assessment phase (January-April 2013), the Deloitte team took a close look at Tufts’ administrative organization and operations and helped us benchmark ourselves relative to peers. They also identified 10 administrative areas in which we could improve, and recommended possible improvements.

During the design phase (July-October 2013), sponsor and working groups were formed around specific administrative areas at the university. These groups were charged with designing new operating models for these areas. The trustees reviewed all recommendations for administrative changes at the November 2013 board meeting.

After rigorous planning (December 2013-June 2014), implementation for several individual TEAM projects kicked off. The implementation of some projects may take a few months while other, more complex, changes may require several years.

Executive Vice President Patricia Campbell is spearheading the TEAM initiative. A Steering Committee including vice presidents, deans, faculty, and other administrators from across our campuses guided the process through the assessment phase. The university’s existing Academic and Administrative Councils provided input during the design phase. Teams have been formed to implement specific projects, each with its own timeline, activities and milestones.

An executive committee made up of President Monaco, Provost Harris, Executive Vice President Patricia Campbell and Vice President for Finance Tom McGurty makes final decisions.

How will progress of TEAM be communicated?
One of our priorities is keeping the Tufts community well informed about TEAM. We will continue to share regular updates through multiple channels, including in-person meetings, emails to the Tufts community and this website as new information is available.

How did the executive committee make decisions about what to change and which opportunities to pursue?
When the assessment phase was completed in April 2013, the executive committee reviewed the relative benefits and overall impact of the Deloitte team’s recommendations. Utilizing input from the community, the steering committee, the Academic and Administrative Councils, the trustee advisors, and results of the analysis conducted by Deloitte, the executive committee conducted a comprehensive, deliberate review of the recommendations and prioritized 10 areas of focus for the initiative’s design phase.

How long before Tufts sees benefits from TEAM?
Tufts has made a long-term commitment to improving administrative efficiency and effectiveness, and the implementation process will unfold gradually. We are already seeing some benefits. For example, savings from changes in the procurement process went to directly supporting bridge professorships. In December 2014, Tufts will launch Tufts Support Services (TSS), a new model for delivering services to faculty, staff and student-employees. TSS will consolidate resources and provide a simple, service-oriented approach to conducting many of the administrative human resources and finance tasks currently carried out by many different groups within the university. Other benefits will take a number of months or even years to complete fully. We will continue to share details as our implementation roadmap develops.

What was the purpose of the Activity Analysis that staff completed in July?
The Activity Analysis survey asked selected employees to estimate the percent of time they have spent on various administrative tasks over the last year. More than 1,100 staff who perform tasks related to finance, human resources, research administration, and general office and IT support received the survey. This information, when aggregated, provided insight into the time required to complete or deliver individual tasks and services. The survey also included open-ended questions to enable staff to provide feedback, including identifying areas they believe are working well and areas that could be improved. The objective was to look for ways to continue to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of Tufts services. This information was instrumental in the creation of Tufts Support Services (TSS), which will launch in December 2014. TSS will consolidate resources and provide a simple, service-oriented approach to conducting many of the administrative human resources and finance tasks currently carried out by many different groups within the university.

Who was surveyed?
The Activity Analysis focused on staff who perform tasks related to: finance, human resources, research administration, and general office and IT support. More than 1,100 staff across all schools and central administrative divisions received the Activity Analysis.

I’ve heard the term “shared services” used in relation to TEAM. What does this mean?
As part of TEAM, Tufts will establish a university-wide “shared services” model to deliver administrative services. Shared services enhance quality and reduce costs by pooling resources to provide specific administrative functions such as travel and expense reporting, IT support, and budgeting and forecasting. Services will be delivered with greater quality and speed because they will be coordinated, using common systems, by people who have developed the necessary specialized skills and knowledge. This model frees up time now spent by multiple people across different departments who perform these tasks with varying levels of training and may use systems that are not compatible across all groups. The shared services model will allow schools and departments to focus more of their time and resources on strategic, mission-critical efforts. Schools and departments will continue to have oversight of administrative functions in their area; however, they will rely on a shared unit to perform the specific tasks that support them. The shared service model will be nimble and responsive to client needs; roles and responsibilities among schools, departments and shared service units will be clearly defined and managed.

PROJECT SCOPE AND IMPACT

How will TEAM affect my department and other departments that I work with closely?
In June 2014, TEAM began its implementation phase. Many TEAM projects are now underway with specific activities, timelines and milestones. We will keep the Tufts community informed as details are available. One of these initiatives is Tufts Support Services (TSS), a new unit that will consolidate resources and provide a simple, service-oriented approach to conducting many of the administrative human resources and finance tasks currently carried out by many different groups within the university. The effect on Tufts staff will vary by function, position and location. Tufts school, division and department leaders will work closely with the appropriate HR business partners for their areas to determine how best to manage each situation.

Has TEAM considered the unique culture at each Tufts school?
Yes, the TEAM project fully recognizes the range of strengths and challenges across all of Tufts schools and departments. Input from each school is essential to the success of the overall project. Through greater awareness of the similarities and differences in administrative functions across Tufts, leadership will be better able to determine ways to improve administrative effectiveness and efficiency while still preserving each school’s unique elements.

What are some specific examples of change we can expect from TEAM?
While we don’t yet know exactly which administrative processes will change, the following changes have either been made or are planned:

  • IT Customer Support: Rather than waiting for regular business hours to receive support, faculty, students and staff at all three campuses now get IT Service Desk support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Travel and Expenses: Rather than departmental assistants managing ad hoc travel and expense processing for faculty and staff, dedicated Tufts Support Services (TSS) personnel will create expense reports, scan and attach receipts and review expenses to ensure they are in compliance with university policy.
  • Benefits Administration: Rather than filling out paper forms to make qualified status changes (e.g., marriage, births), employees will be able to use TSS to make changes online or through a TSS representative.
  • Budgeting and Forecasting: Rather than department assistants completing budget and forecast templates, there may be dedicated central Finance support staff who will work with department heads to incorporate strategic plans into the budget and forecast templates.

Will this have any impact on jobs?
We expect that TEAM will result in Tufts adding some new administrative positions, redefining some existing positions, and, over time, reducing the overall number of administrative positions. We also expect that these changes will provide staff with better professional development opportunities and career paths.

It is too soon to know exactly what personnel changes may take place. However, personnel changes will likely occur over time, and Tufts’ leadership is committed to a supportive transition through training and other staff development programs. Wherever possible, we will minimize involuntary job loss through managed attrition (the process of not filling voluntarily vacated positions that are no longer needed), re-training personnel and realigning responsibilities.

One thing is certain: proactive planning now is the best way to avoid a serious situation down the road.

Will efficiency lead to diminished services, especially for students?
No. In fact, because the project’s focus is to increase administrative efficiency and effectiveness, we expect that service quality will be enhanced in many instances.

RELATIONSHIP TO OTHER INITIATIVES

How is this effort related to the strategic planning process?
Tufts: The Next 10 Years is a university-wide academic strategic plan that charts a course for our institutional vision and priorities over the next decade. Process improvements and cost savings achieved through TEAM will help support the implementation of T10 initiatives.

How does TEAM relate to other initiatives at Tufts, including the development of a Capital Plan?
TEAM is one of the five strategic initiatives, along with the Tufts: The Next Ten Years (T10), the Capital Plan, the Council on Campus Sustainability, and the Council on Campus Diversity – that collectively will position the university to address challenges facing all of higher education, while remaining true to its core values of teaching and learning, research and scholarship, and impact on society. By improving administrative effectiveness, TEAM will provide a strong foundation for the Capital Plan as well as the vision that will be articulated in T10 and the Councils.

ENGAGEMENT WITH THE TUFTS COMMUNITY

TEAM does not include a review of labs, classrooms or clinics; how are faculty involved in TEAM?
Administrative effectiveness touches all members of the Tufts community, including faculty. Improved processes will help faculty focus on their core mission of teaching and research, and their insights will complement that of staff and administrators. Faculty have participated in TEAM by providing input to the steering committee and, currently, through input sessions and select faculty advisory groups. In the future, both faculty and staff involvement will continue to be vital as working groups are formed to plan the details of implementation.

Can you tell me more about the TEAM working groups?
Working groups were an important part of the program’s design activities. Working groups were formed around nine of the 10 administrative areas identified by the steering committee as opportunities for change. Each group included staff with the background, expertise, and perspective to plan the most efficient and effective ways to conduct work in these areas in the future. Select administrative areas such as information technology and research administration included faculty advisory groups as well.

How can I provide additional input to the TEAM initiative?
We appreciate the more than 700 people who have already shared insights with the TEAM project through open input sessions with staff and faculty, faculty meetings, individual meetings, and comments submitted through this website. Please continue to share your thoughts with us through the online TEAM Community Input form. This feedback can be submitted anonymously and will be reviewed by the TEAM Project Management Office.

SAVING MONEY

Is Tufts expecting to save a specific amount of money as a result of this project and if so over what period of time?
No. While reducing costs is one aim of the project, we did not enter the TEAM project with preconceived ideas or specific target numbers. The overall intent of the project is to best support our core mission of teaching, research and impact on society, through both improved service and lower costs.

Are you planning on cutting budgets by a certain percentage across the board?
No. Our goal is to ensure that our administration is organized in ways that best support our core academic mission. We want to be smart and strategic about this. We don’t anticipate rigid, across- the-board budget cuts. We may find areas that are under-resourced or instances where we can redirect resources from non-essential activities to priority areas.

GENERATING REVENUE

Is Tufts considering new programs to generate revenue?
Tufts is always open to new ideas; a good example is the School of Medicine’s physician assistant program that enrolled its first students in January 2013. The T10 plan will look at the possibility of new academic programs that reflect our academic priorities, strengths and strategic vision. Cost savings and process improvements achieved through administrative planning will help support implementation of T10 initiatives.

Can we cut costs and boost revenues by leveraging technology, such as MOOCs?
As the T10 strategic plan notes, Tufts will pursue innovations in online and distance learning that enhance our educational goals and remain consistent with our values and strengths. We do not foresee that such technologies offer significant opportunities to reduce costs or increase revenues.

Can we increase the number of students we admit or admit more full-pay students?
Enrolling many more students, while maintaining the quality of a Tufts education, would require investment in the necessary additional support resources, such as faculty, labs and classrooms. Because Tufts has less financial aid resources than peers, we already enroll more full-pay students than our peers. While we could certainly admit more full-pay students and still maintain the quality of our class, one of Tufts’ values – dating back to its founding – has been inclusivity and socioeconomic diversity. We don’t want to stray from this guiding principle and become a university that only the wealthy can afford.

Can we alleviate future financial challenges by launching another fundraising campaign?
Our fundraising efforts serve our academic mission, so Tufts will launch its next major campaign after doing the necessary academic planning. The T10 strategic planning initiative, planning at the school levels, and TEAM will all help shape our fundraising priorities. As always, Tufts relies on, and is grateful for, the generosity of its alumni, parents and friends. However, if we are to be successful long-term, cost control and efficiency have to be part of our model as well.

CHOOSING THE CONSULTANT

What criteria did you use for selecting a consultant?
We reviewed credentials of a number of well-respected firms. In the end we believed Deloitte was best able to provide excellent strategic advice to Tufts. Criteria included proven ability to help complex organizations effect positive change, knowledge of the special needs of higher education, and demonstrated understanding of Tufts’ mission, character and values.

How much will the consultant cost?
We are keeping costs as low as possible while ensuring that we conduct a comprehensive, effective effort. We believe that hiring a third-party to advise us was a good investment because such a firm provides objective advice based on extensive experience, including benchmarking comparable institutions.