All seven Oregon State business centers are now open and fully operational, and staff at the newest centers are completing training on new roles and procedures. The launch of the final three centers was accomplished several weeks ahead of schedule.
The Auxiliaries & Activities, Forestry & Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences and Agricultural Sciences & Marine Sciences Business Centers all commenced operations this month. They join the Arts & Sciences, Health Sciences, University Administration and the Business & Engineering Business Centers.
“Having all seven business centers operational represents the achievement of a very significant milestone for the Business Center initiative, as well as for all of the folks in each of the business center and the central units’ staff who have worked so hard on the implementation activities to date,” said Aaron Howell, director of Business Affairs at OSU. “It has taken exceptional efforts by so many people to bring us to this point and I’m thankful to, and proud of, everyone who has contributed thus far. We recognize, however, that commencement of operations is still an intermediate step in the overall process and so we are excited to work with all of the Business Centers to identify continuing process and customer service improvements.”
The centers were created to consolidate financial, human resource and administrative services into central offices serving multiple colleges and departments, with the promise of achieving both economies of scale and more consistent quality of service across campus.
That promise is already becoming reality, as the centers are yielding savings in process and money. For instance, there as been a dramatic reduction in the time it takes for the Arts & Sciences Business Center to reimburse travel expenses (from 15 days to eight), and a reduction of 80 percent in the number of overspent grants by the Health Sciences Business Center.
Year-end closing also showed huge improvements this year, reducing the number of documents having to close from thousands to only 60.
Other improvements include a significant drop in the number of late or manual paychecks being written, according to Payroll Manager Steve Nash, and work continues on reducing the number that are typically issued at the beginning of fall term.
Cost savings are already being experienced by the business centers by a variety of innovative approaches to accounting and finance procedures. For instance, the Office of Human Resources has made employee benefits information available online, eliminating the need for business centers to create hard copies, and thus allowing customization of information while reducing thousands of dollars in printing costs and saving many hours of labor.
Each business center has its own website, making employee contact information, forms, instructions and the latest news available to everyone. Access to the sites is located at http://oregonstate.edu/fa/bc.