Project Timeline

Operational Excellence @ Illinois is structured to occur in five phases – Imagine, Decide, Bridge, Detailed Design, and Implementation – as depicted below. These phases represent the sequence of project milestones and collectively encompass all steps needed to accomplish the initiative, from inception of a new operating structure to its full implementation. We have recently concluded the Bridge phase of this initiative, socializing the recently approved high-level operating model with the University community and prioritizing the opportunities outlined by function.

Huron’s Project Phases for Achieving Operational Excellence

Project Phases

Imagine Phase:

During the Imagine phase, Illinois envisioned a future state that achieves the goals of Operational Excellence as outlined in The Next 150. This phase included data collection and analysis, spanning both institutional data and structured discussions with University faculty, staff, and senior leaders. In addition, each of Functional Work Teams (see Project Governance) identified a list of Functional Opportunities critical to address through the initiative. These functionally specific lists shaped the overarching recommendations that Huron presented to initiative leadership on an effective structure to realize Operational Excellence.   

Decide Phase:

The Decide phase supported Illinois in deciding which changes to implement. This phase included the review and approval of previously generated Functional Area Opportunities with Work Teams, Executive Sponsors, and cross-campus representatives (see Project Governance), as well as the translation of these opportunities into a high-level operating model. The phase concluded with institutional leadership’s decision to press forward with the recommended operating model. 

Bridge Phase:

The third phase of the initiative entailed prioritizing and finalizing Functional Area Opportunities developed by Work Teams, socializing the proposed high-level model with the campus community, developing a roadmap for subsequent phases, and charging a project management team with overseeing the design and implementation of the proposed model. The Bridge phase has been key to ensuring that faculty, staff, and senior academic and administrative leaders feel prepared and supported to enter the Detailed Design phase.

Detailed Design Phase:

Given the high-level vision for the new operating model, each Functional Design team (see Project Governance) will determine and define the specifics of the approved model. Throughout this effort, institutional community members will evaluate functional area needs, define corresponding roles and responsibilities, determine resources required for implementation, and identify any additional steps toward or impediments for successful execution of Operational Excellence @ Illinois.

Based on analysis of Work Team recommendations in tandem with interview, focus group, survey, and benchmarking data, the University has identified human resources and information technology support as the two most critical areas of need. As a result, the Detailed Design Phase will start with Huron Consulting Group engaging HR- and IT-specific Design Teams. With HR and IT efforts as a model, Design Team formation and design efforts for remaining functions will move forward in a phased approach throughout 2022 and into 2023.

Implementation Phase

Institutional leaders and Operational Excellence team members (see Project Governance) will begin the process of building out the operating model – no longer high-level and now precisely defined. The transition to the new operating model will take thorough and detailed implementation planning and widespread University community engagement in implementation of the new model. While the right time to embark on the Operational Excellence initiative is now, the institution is most concerned about methodically implementing an effective model, rather than speeding through the process.