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Reengineering Reengineering
Are Academic Institutions Reshaping Reengineering?

Madeline Carnevale, Director of Desktop Technologies;
Sandra Berestka, Director of Serial and Monographic Services;
Debra Morrissey, Assistant to the Director of LITS;
Library, Information and Technology Services
Mount Holyoke College

Madeline Carnevale

How many variations of the term reengineering have you heard lately? Restructuring, best practices, work simplification? Campuses are finding that reengineering, in its purest form, has to be slightly altered for the higher education environment.

This is our collective story also. We shifted the name until it felt more comfortable, and experimented with tailoring the process.

This is not a "How To" reengineering session. Instead we want to encourage you to think outside your training. Each of us probably needs to look at our accomplishments in a different framework in order to see how much good process change we have established.

There are campus-wide structures and practices that should be in place to ensure the continued success of a reengineering program, no matter what form it takes. Basic principles that contribute to our continued success are reviewed in Appendix A - "Components of a Successful Reengineering Environment".

Many academic institutions were optimistic as we all began studying Business Process Reengineering and hopeful, that if the process were applied diligently, we would achieve results similar to those of the business world. There was probably even a tinge of guilt thrown in, because we were late in applying these practices. We might all have had doubts about the outcome, knowing that academic institutional structure varies greatly from a for-profit business focus, but we were silent because we lacked experience.

At Mount Holyoke, when our outcomes of the Business Process Reengineering diverged from training expectations, we tried to identify what was different and why. The first notable difference was not being able to implement the radical redesign and achieve dramatic improvements in cost, quality, speed and service . We also experienced delays in implementation that gave us a sense of failure when we measured our progress against what we were told we could expect.

We've all read articles stating that a corporation�s need for radical redesign and dramatic improvements rests on both creating a marketable product and having the ability to capture its share of customers on the first pass. In some cases corporations may be in life-threatening situations when they decide to employ Business Process Redesign. Because of the urgency they fund the project up front, pour resources into it, move it along quickly, make all the changes needed for implementation, all to roll out the radically new and improved product, on which their existence depends.

While this may be the story for a few academic institutions it was not ours, and probably not yours. At this time we aren't seeking to change our core product which is "education ". We are more concerned with the products of "administrative support of the institution" and "marketing the institution to prospective students".

My colleagues, Sandra Berestka and Debra Morrissey will provide you with a closer look at how we diverged from the standards yet came out with successful reengineering projects. These two presentations represent the first two reengineering projects Mount Holyoke undertook. Sandra will begin with a departmental level view in which she was the project implementer. Debra will follow with an example from an organization level merger.

Reengineering Rengineering: A Departmental Experience
Sandra Berestka

Before we undertook the redesign of the Mount Holyoke College library technical services department, we spent time reading business process reengineering literature. We read that radical redesign and sweeping changes were key elements of a successful reengineering project. Admittedly, those of us charged with restructuring technical services were dismayed after reading the literature. We knew that discarding our current processes and management structure wasn�t going to happen given our environment. We were very uncertain, and perhaps doubtful, that our work as a restructuring committee would come anything close to a "successful" reengineering project.

We persevered for an entire year. We interviewed each department staff member to gather their ideas, toured other sites that had gone through a reengineering process, met with consultants and learned workflow analysis. It was difficult work, and sometimes contentious. Our work culminated in a written report that outlined a set of goals and then presented a revised workflow based on the team concept.

Significant changes did not occur overnight. A flatter management style and team-based concept of work evolved over time. Was our reengineering project a failure? We thought so when we compared our slow progress to the kind of change delineated in the BPR literature. In reality we had not failed. We were adapting a "lifestyle" of change; a style that was and is better suited to our academic culture. What follows are two BPR principles that we altered while still managing to effect significant change in the process.

What do you do with a valuable, respected manager who doesn�t see the need for a reengineering process? Do you exclude the person from the process as Hammer and Champy would suggest? We weren�t comfortable with that approach. We chose to include the manager on the reengineering team. The team consisted of three technical services staff, one public service staff member and the head of technical services. Here are some outcomes of including the head of technical services on the reengineering team.

First, including a manager who doesn�t see the need for change will slow down your process. However, our experience tells us this isn�t always bad. Our department manager knew the history of why certain procedures were performed. The restructuring team was able to learn that history and decide whether or not the reasoning behind decisions of the past still applied today. We were forced to defend change and have real reasons for it. Though this made for a time consuming process, we ended up with a better product.

Second, our current manager was able to consult and learn from the head of technical services. Not only were they both on the reengineering team, they also worked together for an entire year before the management change occurred. A consultative relationship developed and continues today, even though the previous manager now works in a different part of the organization. The outcome of these two individuals working together was that staff trusted and respected the process. Staff "buy-in" occurred more naturally than expected. Transitioning from one manager to another wasn�t forced which meant staff loyalties shifted more easily and distrust for the process dissipated. While this approach may not be possible in all situations, it is one to consider as you think about moving your reengineering efforts forward. Managers resistant to change may be one of your best assets if you approach their inclusion with respect, patience and vision for how they can benefit your efforts.

As stated previously, change did not come quickly in our process. It took us three years to complete about 90% of our original reengineering goals. While our lack of speed was a source of discouragement, we no longer regard it as a failure of our process. Taking time to implement our goals allowed us to evaluate them and identify new and better goals along the way. Change became a continual process rather than a one shot deal. Staff members fearful of change didn�t have to cope with it overnight. Over time our departmental culture changed from one resistant to change to one that expects it. We consider this a positive outcome of a slower paced reengineering process.

Our department looks very different than it did a few years ago. We have three fewer staff positions than in 1995. Our director made it clear that cutting positions was not a goal of our reengineering process. However, achieving a more efficient workflow allowed us to relocate 2.5 staff in other areas of the organization and not refill one part-time position. We continue to rethink our workflow as resources and needs shift. Teams of staff are "owning" their expertise and the management style is more collegial. We are a healthier group and fully expect that our work and responsibilities will continue to change.

Reengineering Reengineering: An Organizational Experience
Debra Morrissey

When Mount Holyoke decided to merge and reengineer Library and Computing Services, there were a number of factors both internally and externally that made it an ideal time to do so. The campus factors were a change in the college presidency, a moderately new College Librarian with a strong technology background, a strong working partnership between the College Librarian and the Director of Computing and some campus service issues. The external factor was the rapid pace of technological change and how it was impacting the academic world.

As a service organization on a college campus we were not given this option. The Provost, in consultation with the Director of Computing and Information Systems and the College Librarian, decided to merge four groups: Library, Computing and Information Systems, the Language Resource Center and Electronic Services. The mandate was to merge the units while maintaining their primary roles of support for the academic program of the College. We were given six months to consult broadly both internally and externally and to devise an organizational structure which seemed workable.

An additional difficulty we had to address was that some groups on campus were not happy with the method used to make the merger decision. It was felt the decision to merge the units should have been made only after consulting with the larger college community. The concerns expressed mostly by the faculty were strong opinions on the process and what they envisioned as the outcome. During the six months transition period an enormous amount of energy was put into communicating with the campus. Regular updates were made to the Provost, to both faculty advisory committees (one for Library and one for Computing), and to the monthly faculty meeting. Even choosing the name of the new organization was a political decision. There were many opinions on what its name should be. There were faculty members who felt library should to be prominent, others felt that service and information were essential and, lastly, high end users felt technology was crucial. The naming of the organization was the one of the most difficult early decisions. The final outcome was a combination of the unit�s previous names � Library, Information and Technology Services (LITS).

Once the Provost announced the merger a Transition Team was formed. It was led jointly by the Director of CIS and the College Librarian and included representatives from each of the units affected (5 people) as well as 3 faculty members and 2 students. It is at this point that the restructuring work began. Although we were told which units had to merge, the functions and staffing of those component units were not predetermined by the decision to merge. The transition team appointed several task forces to work on particular issues and report back. The merger did not force any unnatural relationships. Personnel were placed based on skills and to some extent the interests of the staff member. At the time of the merger some functions or services could have fit in one of several units. The decision on where to place the function was made based on where it had previously been or in some situations it moved with a particular manager. These decisions were revisited at a later time.

Although the actual formation of the component units, the staffing of the units, and the choosing of a name were completed in six months, the implementation stage of the reengineering has become a life style. The academic year made it impossible for some processes to be implemented quickly. The academic budget cycle caused the implementation of a combined budget to be delayed until the following academic year. Yet another result of an academic year cycle was that the creation of a new faculty advisory group was delayed for 10 months. The faculty advisory groups for the Library and Computing met jointly during that time and a new advisory committee for the LITS was elected by the faculty the following academic year.

During the first year we discovered that some functions did not fit well in their units. They were then shifted with the staff to another unit. At this point in reengineering the initiative to shift functions came from the staff involved. In one example two managers approached the Director to discuss the functions that did not fit in one unit but seemed more natural in the other. A second unit experiencing a number of vacancies used the opportunity to reconfigure the positions in the unit and to share responsibilities across the broader group with more cross-training.

The most-time consuming aspect of the restructuring was the merger of the library and information technology cultures. Within a month after the merger was announced by the Provost, the merging units closed for a one day staff retreat. This retreat focused on commonalties among the merging units, similarities in services and what made these units a good fit. The staff retreat is now an annual event. Topics covered in subsequent years include a review of the organization, work plans, and mission statements; working together, and understanding diversity. During the first six months of transition all-hands meetings were held each week, updates were given on progress and questions were answered. After the merger date the meetings became monthly and had a different content. As part of the cultural merge each of the units in the new organization (Library, Information and Technology Services) did a presentation to the staff on their unit highlighting who they are and what functions they perform. As we move into the third year the meeting format has expanded to include other campus departments discussing what they do, how LITS can support them and discussions of particular issues that effect the organization such as preservation of electronic media and the year 2000 issues.

One of the tools that helped merge the cultures was the Middle Managers group, which consists of the manager from each unit and the Director of LITS and the Senior Technology Planner. They meet every other week to discuss issues, to craft work plans, and to update the status of projects. The merging of cultures took time but the group has become a cohesive team that works well together. This group is a good example of embracing the differences in culture and using those differences to create a strong working team.

-The organization flourishes in spite of the many internal and external pressures exerted on its creation.

-The flexibility created by restructuring has allowed LITS to reduce positions by five and more importantly, to shift staff to where the demand is.

-Channels of communication are more evident from the campus to LITS and from LITS to the campus. There are regular mailings from LITS to the campus on activities, accomplishments, changes and all units work plans are posted on the Web every six months.

-A long-term benefit is that LITS in a position to be flexible when dealing with the fast pace of technological change. This new organization is open to change.

-Reengineering has put LITS in a position of campus leadership on information, technology and work restructuring.

-Lastly and maybe most importantly, in the spring of 1997 the College was reviewed for reaccreditation. The accreditation committee noted in their report that the LITS organization "has achieved a level of deployment and support for Information Technologies that is certainly at the top rank of peer colleges and, by many indicators, is competitive with universities more widely recognized as leaders in the area."

Reengineering Reengineering:Summary
Madeline Carnevale

Have we then reengineered reengineering? No, not by Hammer and Champys definition, but we have made modifications to the process that are more suited to higher education's environment. It became clear we would not be reengineering our core product, education, but pursuing administrative and marketing sub-products. We were not experiencing fast, radical changes but gradual, open-ended ones. Funding and the academic schedule became key factors in the timing of implementations. The research phase of the reengineering projects stayed on schedule, but the projects then queued, waiting for appropriate budget cycles or grant funding. Completing thorough research sometimes meant waiting for faculty or students to return before proceeding to subsequent steps.

As we have moved forward through these untested modifications we have experienced very positive results.

- Our underlying structure is very healthy

- Senior Staff and Managers are trained in the fundamentals of reengineering

- Staff is open to change and will even initiate it

- Most changes incorporate Web solutions

- Grant funding is supplying us with the staffing resources for implementation

- Restructuring is becoming a lifestyle

At Mount Holyoke we have the leadership structure to keep reengineering in the forefront of campus priorities. We have "Promoters" on the senior staff level to make budget and priority decisions. "Leaders," for training and specific projects, who have reengineering as a part of their work. They represent strengths in technology and finance, with a plan to add a Human Resources component as well. Our Senior Staff and Managers have participated in a conceptual version of reengineering training. This has helped them understand , support and recommend reengineering efforts.

Administrators have done an excellent job in reassuring staff that they will not lose their jobs as a result of restructuring projects. Our college has had a practice of reviewing every vacant position for whether or not it should be replaced, but the college has not used layoffs as a means of budget reduction. We have successfully used attrition and work reassignment. Because staff have confidence in this process, they have maintained a more open attitude toward change surrounding restructuring projects. In fact staff recently initiated the restructuring of the compilation and publication of the College Catalog.

As we upgrade college business software we require that it be combined with reengineering the department or process. In general we are making decisions away from any customization of purchased software. If we want additional functionality we are looking to providing them through web solutions. Currently most of our redesign implementation solutions involve web development. Recognizing this direction we have outlined training programs for staff to increase their skills in web development.

Grants have played an important role in providing additional staffing and resources to carry us through the implementation phases of reengineering. Two recent grants have provided us with a Web Master and a Web Trainer. The Web Master has done substantial work on the college web site and in solving structural and process needs to provide the solutions recommended in restructuring projects. The Web Trainer successfully launched a three-year training project for faculty and staff, paired with students, to accomplish web projects that facilitate the efficient administration of their departments or courses. Even though grants sometimes have an additional twist to them to meet grant requirements, we still find they help keep us focused on the future and reaching our goals.

At Mount Holyoke we are confident and encouraged that restructuring is becoming a part of our lifestyle and culture. We are identifying how our experience with Reengineering differs, evaluating whether that is good or bad, making adjustments, and continuing forward - committed to a lifestyle of change.

APPENDIX A: Components of a Successful Reengineering Environment

You are done tightening your belt:

One of the tests for whether your institution is ready for reengineering, or a version of it, is that you are at the end of the belt tightening process of budget reductions. There is no more to be squeezed. The only way to gain is by recreating processes so they free up staff time in part or in whole.

You want your institution to be attractive to customers:

Your institution has been saturated with computers and you are helping offices using them to transform processes so they are efficient and pleasant for customers. You are trying to take advantage of technology and put information directly into the hands of the customer both for updating and inquiry.

You have strongly positioned "Promoters":

The key people to make reengineering a success are the promoters. They need to believe they will be responsible for selling the need for Business Process Reengineering to the entire institution, starting from the top. They also have to believe they will provide the recharging to keep it going. Promoters have to be positioned within the institution to be main influences at all levels. They provide key budget, staffing and prioritizing decisions.

Your "Leaders" have reengineering as a part of their jobs:

The number of qualified leaders to be developed depends upon the number of Business Process Reengineering projects you want to undertake. In building a balanced team of leaders it is helpful to choose individuals who have skills in technology, finance, human resources, change management, people skills, systems analysis, institutional views, and leadership. The Leaders actually oversee the projects and report to the Promoters on their status, or recommend changes in focus.

Your Institution Cares for Staff:

Some staff enjoys change as they can modify their current job responsibilities to include new challenges or, if lucky, offload something they don't like. But, probably more often, change still is uncomfortable for most. For a few, productivity can actually be inhibited during changes. Leaders and Managers need to look out for these situations and create temporary "safe" job definitions even during the transitions, to keep staff able to be productive.

Appendix B