About Operational Excellence

Operational Excellence is one of three important components in the overarching mission of Project 50 Forwardenhancing our fundamental teaching, research, and service missions while building a platform to support the future growth of the University and strengthening Stony Brook’s role in the economic renewal of New York State.

Operational Excellence focuses on University operations streamlining procedures, growing revenue streams, and taking advantage of every opportunity to optimize programs and support services for students, faculty, and staff. With input from an experienced management consultant, and by using information gathered from an open-ended invitation to the campus community to provide feedback, a comprehensive review and analysis of campus operations and administrative structure is under way.

Collaborative Approach
Operational Excellence is being guided by a 17-member Steering Committee under the leadership of President Stanley with assistance from Bain & Company, a global consulting company with significant experience and expertise in operational optimization and cost containment at major research universities. Faculty and student participation, both formal and informal, will be incorporated into every part of the process, including the following:

  • Focus groups will expand our efforts to collect feedback at multiple levels, identify areas in need of improvement, and discuss changes and their potential impact.  Five faculty focus groups, each with approximately six participants, will be formed to discuss information technology needs, facilities needs, human resources and finance, procurement, and revenue generation. Participants will include representatives from:

    • Engineering
    • Health Sciences Center
    • Humanities
    • School of Medicine
    • Life Sciences
    • Social Sciences

Three student groups will focus primarily on information technology and facilities needs. Representatives will include:

  • Graduate Students
  • Undergraduate Students
  • Health Sciences Students
  • Faculty initiative teams will be established to incorporate feedback from the focus groups and develop recommendations for respective administrative areas.

  • A student group from the College of Business’ newly formed chapter of The Association for Operations Management will review and suggest process improvements in areas providing services to students, to be evaluated by the Steering Committee.

  • A Faculty Advisory Council will provide input for consideration to the Operational Excellence Steering Committee on the overall direction of Operational Excellence initiatives.

  • Individual input mechanisms such as the Contact Us page on the Project 50 Forward Web site are live. Feedback is strongly encouraged.

Timing
With a start date of July 2010, overall implementation of Operational Excellence is projected to take approximately 18 to 20 months, with milestone markers to assess progress and make adjustments as needed.

Operational Excellence will be conducted in four phases:

The Diagnostic Phase creates a fact base of operational data, gleaned through faculty and staff surveys, interviews, benchmarking, and cost and performance information from which opportunities can be identified and prioritized and strategies can be formulated. The Diagnostic Phase has spanned four months in other university settings.

The Design Phase will provide detailed solutions that are developed to capture value. The Design Phase will also span approximately four months. Opportunities surfacing early will move into the Design Phase sooner.

The Delivery Phase will involve the implementation of initiatives. The timing of this Phase is dependent on the complexity of the initiatives implemented, and could range from a few weeks for simpler initiatives to a period of six months to a year for more complex changes.

The Sustaining Changes Phase is the final phase of Operational Excellence. Technically this phase has no conclusive time threshold. Change is sustained through implementation, evaluation, analysis, and adaptation to support and enhance the initiatives undertaken to realize the Project 50 Forward mission.

Early Findings
Although the Operational Excellence program Diagnostic Phase is not complete, the Steering Committee is able to share three preliminary findings:

  1. Stony Brook is relatively lean in administrative areas compared with those of other universities.
  2. Stony Brook has the opportunity to save between 5 percent and 9 percent of University dollars spent each year on purchasing goods and services.
  3. Stony Brook has opportunities to improve both the efficiency and effectiveness of many departments by streamlining processes, clarifying decision-making, and optimizing organizational structures.

November, 2010