A Model for Sustaining Administrative Improvement

UCI - Administrative and Business Services

Ronald S. Cortez, Vice Chancellor

Program Objectives and Overview

The University of California, Irvine (UCI) is engaged in a multi-year, multifaceted program of process improvement. The objectives of this program are to simplify administrative processes, decrease organizational complexity and layering, improve productivity, reduce reliance on paper, and tap employee ideas to "de-bureaucratize" essential administrative functions while eliminating tasks that contribute limited value.

Over two hundred process improvements have been completed by multiple teams through deployment of a comprehensive management change model. Procurement, hiring, facility renovation, travel accounting, and student parking processes now function, on average, seventy percent simpler and faster. Two-thirds of the institution's delegations of authority have been pushed downward in the organization to where faster, better-informed, more accountable decisions are enabled.

Over seven million pieces of paper that recurred yearly have been eliminated. NACUBO (National Association of College and University Business Officers) recognized this program with first prize (tie) in the 1996 Higher Education Awards Program, and the program received a 1998 RIT/USA Today Quality Cup Award and the 1997 Best Practices Award from CAUSE, the association for managing and using information resources in higher education.

Pyramidal Model

Why a "Model"? Read more about Analytical and Normative Models

Pyramidal Model

The UCI "Model for Sustaining Administrative Improvement" utilizes a set of process improvement tools -- plans, performance targets, customer feedback, and "effectiveness principles." These quality improvement tools are built on foundations and principles which are, in turn, grounded in a set of goals -- broad, institutional goals as well as specific administrative productivity and service goals. These components constitute a model depicted as a pyramid. Program elements nearer the top of the model are increasingly specific, supported by the more fundamental components nearer the base. The component parts of the model are interrelated, with elements toward the top of the pyramid dependent on the clarity and success of the underlying elements.

This construct is more than illustrative. The organization and integration of program elements lend structure and sustainability. And, as a behavioral model, this program recognizes that changing the patterns of a bureaucracy requires altering the dynamic of values, expectations, rewards, disincentives, and belief systems that define the "administrative culture" of the University.

Foundations and Principles

Foundations and Principles prepare the University for sustained, rather than episodic, process improvement. They cut across process, organization, and technical boundaries, ensuring a common base of management skills, quality design principles, and technological readiness, while focusing on pivotal dimensions of the "administrative culture" of the organization.

Streamlining Tools

Streamlining Tools provide analysis, training, and an influx of new ideas for process improvement; establish productivity targets; and shape improvements through enhanced, systematic communication between customers and administrative services providers.

Results and Performance

Results and Performance comprises the activities of measuring performance and meeting productivity improvement goals in a manner that supports both strategic goals of the organization and customer satisfaction expectations.