High-Level Operating Model

Operational Excellence Terms Open to Collaborative Revisions

Success for Operational Excellence @ Illinois depends on a common understanding of key concepts and terminology. As the initiative progresses, the terms on this page will be used to denote the corresponding concepts throughout each project phase and across each functional area. Over time, the terms and their definitions may be collaboratively revised to best reflect the needs, preferences, and decisions of institutional constituents regarding the initiative’s final outcomes. Critically, Operational Excellence @ Illinois concepts and model components are equally necessary for the function of the new model and thus will not function in isolation.

Scope of the Proposed Operational Excellence Operating Model

An operating model is the structural mechanism through which an organization or a component of an organization delivers on its strategy and mission(s). In the case of Operational Excellence @ Illinois, the administrative operating model describes the organizational and functional structure of the in-scope functional areas that enables their support of the University, its constituents, and its research, teaching, and service missions. The in-scope areas include:

  • Finance: Budget & Procurement
    • To be sub-divided into separate Budget and Procurement workstreams in future phases to account for functional nuances
    • Human Resources
    • Information Technology & Data (management and governance)
      • To be sub-divided into separate IT and Data workstreams in future phases to account for functional nuances
    • Marketing & Communications
    • Space (management, allocation, and leasing)

The graphic below represents the intended operating model, illustrating Dedicated Support in which each Support Team offers services to only one unit. However, units may elect to receive Shared Support, sharing one or multiple Support Teams with other units based on their preferences, resources, and needs. Detailed definitions for each model component are included below the graphic. Importantly, this graphic is not an organizational chart, and it does not denote reporting structures. Rather, this is a flow chart that demonstrates how various elements of the model connect and support each other.

Centers of Excellence

Center of Excellence (CoE): An administrative unit that provides expertise and support to all of campus for a specific functional area (e.g., Marketing & Communications) or for specializations within that functional area (e.g., Web and Content Management), depending on institutional and unit-level need. A Center of Excellence often reports organizationally into a central unit that consists of multiple CoEs or other units and that provides support to more local campus units. Staff in each Center of Excellence have functionally specialized skillsets, positioning each CoE to:

  • Define functional area-specific strategy
  • Develop, interpret, and/or implement policy for units across campus
  • Provide core support services, whether tactical or strategic/advisory, for all campus units
  • Define functional services and develop standard for service quality
  • Provide core training for all corresponding functional roles on campus, including Strategic Partners and Support teams
  • Oversee shared Support teams, when necessary, in cases where multiple units decide to pool resources for administrative support
  • Of note, in most cases, discipline-specific support will continue to report to or be located within schools/colleges and centrally budgeted units. CoEs will serve as a source of support to unit-specific functional service, not as a replacement of local functional expertise and relationships required of certain disciplines.

Functional Specialists: Staff located within a CoE who exercise specialized expertise in a specific administrative functional area to ensure the effectiveness of CoE operations and its interactions with other units and staff on campus.

Service Desk: Support administered by functional area generalists who address routine requests and provide live help directly to requesters. The Service Desk manages only routine activity and does not replace the localized function of Support Teams.

Self-Service: Technology-enabled and often automated functional area support that allows requesters to quickly identify answers to common questions or make routine changes and updates.

Support Teams

(Service Delivery) Support Teams: A group of administrative, functional area-specific staff that manages the day-to-day transactional operations within a specific unit/division or across several units/divisions that elect to pool administrative resources related to that functional area. Support Teams consist of functional staff members – who hold both functional knowledge and unit/discipline-specific expertise and work directly with requesters – and Strategic Partners who oversee the Team’s operations and work with unit leaders and CoE Functional Specialists.

Strategic Partners: Leaders who are embedded within and oversee Support Teams. As part of their responsibilities, strategic partners assume the role of unit-level functional strategists, thought-partners to unit leadership and CoEs, and conduits between CoEs and unit-level Support Teams. Strategic Partners exercise both functional area expertise and a keen understanding of unit-/discipline-specific needs to ensure that tactical operations of their reporting team are informed by a robust strategy that aligns institutional and unit-specific missions. Therefore, Strategic Partners may hold senior administrative positions and be part of the college/unit’s leadership team.