Operating Model

A key recommendation from university-wide Operational Excellence teams was the need for a reimagined administrative operating model that:

  • Increases campus-wide access to high-quality services
  • Develops stronger professional development pathways for staff  

In this new model, functionally-specific support teams (located at the college or central administrative unit level) deliver services to all faculty, staff and students within a college or unit. These support teams are empowered by cross-campus Centers of Expertise that develop templates, guidelines, trainings and other resources.  

Operational Excellence Terms

Success for Operational Excellence @ Illinois depends on a common understanding of key concepts and terminology.

Operating Model
  • An operating model describes how an organization functions to deliver on its key strategies and priorities.
  • In the case of the administrative areas involved in Operational Excellence, their operating model consists of the processes, services and people that ensure smooth administrative operations at Illinois, which in turn empower the institution to deliver on its research, teaching and learning missions.  
Support Teams

(Service Delivery) Support Teams: A group of administrative, area-specific staff that manages the day-to-day operations within a specific unit or across several units. Support Teams work directly with requesters and Strategic Partners who oversee the team’s operations.

Strategic Partners: Leaders who are embedded within and oversee Support Teams. As part of their responsibilities, they 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 area expertise and a keen understanding of unit-/discipline-specific needs to ensure operations align with institutional and unit-specific missions.

Center of Expertise

A Center of Expertise (CoE) organizationally consists of experts in an administrative area that provides skills and support to campus. Centers of Expertise help deliver the highest quality of service to the university community. The centers:

  • Create university-wide resources, such as templates, trainings and guides
  • Define best practices, area-specific strategy and policies
  • Provide core support services for all campus units

Centers of Expertise function as a source of support to unit-specific services, not as a replacement. Discipline- and unit-specific support will continue to serve and be located within schools/colleges and centrally budgeted units.

Community of Practice

A Community of Practice (CoP) is a campus-wide group of functional experts who exchange and informally scale innovations. The communities:

  • Provide advisory support to service support/delivery teams on campus
  • Operate within limited/no formal accountability structure, often volunteer-based
Shared Services Center

A Shared Services Center is a formally defined team or unit that provides specific services to two or more campus units. The centers:

  • Work directly with customers to deliver value-add services
  • Operate within clear accountability, reporting and funding structure
Service Desk and Self-Service

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.