Please Note: The Administrative Excellence initiative has been closed. As of July 18, 2014, this site will not be maintained with project statuses or other updates. For current project information, please refer to the Administrative Process Redesign (APR) site.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the goals of Administrative Excellence (AE)?

“Administrative Excellence – Shaping our Future”  is a key UW–Madison initiative surrounding the engagement of the Huron Consulting Group to identify opportunities for our campus to become more effective, efficient and flexible.

The goal is to leverage existing continuous improvement efforts and foster new ideas to create optimal administrative practices. Striving to redefine our administrative future in a challenging economy, we will identify efficiencies and savings to help the university manage significant reductions in state funding.

What are the guiding principles of AE?

The Administrative Excellence guiding principles  have incorporated the principles of Administrative Process Redesign (APR) to engage the campus in inclusive and transparent activity. A broad range of stakeholders—faculty, students, administrators and other staff—are working closely with Huron consultants to provide both high level and detailed assistance in recommending and affecting change.

What role did Huron Consulting Group play in AE?

UW–Madison engaged the Huron Consulting Group to identify and quantify opportunities for improving UW–Madison’s resource stewardship. The individuals we worked with were part of Huron’s Higher Education Consulting practice. Huron brought an external perspective. They were not here to make decisions but to identify a range of opportunities.

What role does Administrative Process Redesign (APR) play in AE?

APR’s philosophy and approach including Administrative Process Redesign (APR) principles, methodology, and past findings are directly informing the Huron work. Huron adopted these and added an “enterprise” perspective. This means that this initiative will engage the campus in inclusive and transparent activity. All stakeholders will be involved in recommendations for change and prepared to successfully implement agreed-upon best business practices and recommended models for improved service delivery.

What is the timeline for AE?

The work of Administrative Excellence will be advanced in three phases: Identify and Prioritize Opportunities (Phase I); Refine and Develop Solution Sets and Action Plans (Phase II); and Implement (Phase III).   

What subject areas are targeted for review?

Areas of focus include the university’s administrative structure, accounting and financial reporting, human resources, facilities, construction management, information technology, internal auditing and budgeting, procurement and other areas. In October 2011, the Steering Committee identified the first five opportunities for further consideration by work teams including consolidating email and calendar systems, streamlining of computer bundling purchasing, data center aggregation, improving space utilization and coordinating product strategic purchasing.

Once the results of the initial review are completed, who decides which cost-saving opportunities warrant further review?

The Advisory Committee comprised of governance and key stakeholders including representatives from labor, external representatives and administrative staff is responsible for providing perspectives to inform the consultants’ analysis and for vetting and prioritizing the recommendations developed by Huron consultants. The Steering Committee comprised of the Chancellor, the Provost and the Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration is responsible for overseeing the Administrative Excellence initiative and deciding how best to move forward on the consultants’ (Huron) recommendations.

What are the criteria for moving an opportunity forward for further consideration?

The Steering Committee articulated three criteria to evaluate an early round of high-level savings opportunities presented by Huron: (1) quick wins – broadly viewed and broadly received, (2) ease of change – evaluating cultural acceptance, dependency on other things, existing knowledge and skills to effect the change and the level of organizational redesign required to make the change successful and (3) the financial impact – net savings.

The Advisory Committee then weighted the criteria (financial impact ~ 45%; quick wins ~ 30%; ease of change ~ 25%) and after a thoughtful exercise, prioritized five opportunities in the areas of space utilization, information technology, and purchasing.

What are the projects that are currently underway as a result of the efficiency study?

In Phase I, five opportunities for budget savings were identified, including consolidating email and calendar systems, streamlining of computer bundling purchasing, data center aggregation, improving space utilization, and coordinating the purchase of commodities such as office, scientific and maintenance supplies.

As part of the first wave of Phase II projects, seven work teams met regularly to understand the data and develop the recommended solutions.  In June 2012, these teams were approved by the AE Steering Committee to move forward with their recommendations.  A second wave of projects key to future institutional strategies and goals commenced in March and April 2012.

The work teams file weekly updates on their progress. The updates can be tracked on the project website.

How is staff chosen to work on projects?

Subject matter expertise is a key factor in seeking staff to work on project teams. It is also helpful to enlist staff from a variety of work units who serve in different roles from schools and colleges across campus. Staff who have been trained in Lean Six Sigma and/or who have previous experience working on APR teams can offer this expertise to work teams.

How can I get involved in working on AE projects?

Please feel free to send an email to  to indicate your interest in working on an Administrative Excellence team.

What is the time commitment for working on a project?

Each project has a specific timeline—most of the projects in the first wave had 18-22 week time frames to accomplish their work. Team members are asked to commit eight hours of work time a week to the project, however, most staff currently serving on work teams are averaging 3-4 hours a week.

How will the university use the savings generated by AE projects?

It depends on the project. For example, the project focused on strategically purchasing office supplies, will produce an opportunity for savings for individual departments when they are able to purchase their office supplies at a reduced cost. Some projects will impact services in a more centralized way and savings will be balanced with other funding decisions. Some projects will have a “green” effect like utilities where savings will tie to sustainability measurements. The work of some projects will not necessarily result in cost savings but rather in improved service.

Other Frequently Asked Questions:

Web Chat – Strategic Purchasing teams (transcript) – May 31, 2012

Web Chat  – Email and Calendaring, Data Center Aggregation, Classroom Space Utilization teams (transcript) – June 18, 2012

FAQs – Strategic Purchasing (PDF)

FAQs – Email and Calendaring

FAQs – Data Center Aggregation (PDF)

FAQs – Instructional Space Utilization (PDF)