SPEP becomes part of U of S budget adjustments

With the university gearing up to address its current and long-term operating deficit, it will be taking advantage of the two years of work that has already gone into finding efficiencies and savings across the campus.

Greg Fowler, acting vice-president of finance and resources, said the Service and Process Enhancement Project (SPEP) is being rolled into the work of the operating budget adjustments steering committee as a way of sharing both information and resources. "We also don't want to duplicate the structure," he said. "We'll continue to move forward with SPEP initiatives but we'll do it under the structure of the steering committee."

SPEP began in 2010 with an external review of university operations by PricewaterhouseCoopers with an eye to ensuring resources are being used effectively and efficiently. The resulting 138-page report, released in January 2011, identified 26 areas within the university where in service or efficiency improvements could be made.

With a budget of $250,000 per year, SPEP moved into a second phase, said Fowler, focusing on developing business cases for improvements in three areas. In the financial services areas, some change has already taken place: "We've moved forward to make sure that as many payables as possible are handled electronically," he said. Work is also underway to streamline procurement across campus, "an area where we see the largest potential savings," and on improving travel and expense claim processes.

Communications was also selected for attention in the second phase of SPEP. A restructuring, overseen by Heather Magotiaux, vice-president of advancement, is currently underway with the goal of better co-ordinating the communications function across the university, he said.

SPEP has also addressed internal printing services, said Fowler. A number of distributed copy centres have been closed, replaced by an online request system for copying and printing, and efforts are being made to rationalize the number and location of copiers.

The next phase of SPEP will be "to prioritize what to do next, to educate ourselves about the up-front costs of change as well as the potential savings and efficiencies," Fowler said. "That will now be provided by the operating budget steering committee."

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